Recent Posts About Japan
- Concluding our Photo Tour: Cherry Blossoms and Mt. Fuji at Fuji Five Lakes
- The Old Capital in Bloom: Experiencing Kyoto during Cherry Blossom Season 2023
- Capturing the Ethereal Beauty of Himeji Castle with Adobe Photoshop’s AI Generative Fill
- A Castle in the Blossoms: Capturing Himeji Castle in Cherry Blossom Season 2023
- Island Life and Urban Reflections: Cherry Blossoms in Miyajima and Hiroshima 2023
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Jun 24 | Evan | No Comments |
The next chapter of our 2023 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour took us to the enchanting island of Miyajima and the city of Hiroshima. Miyajima, with its serene beauty and iconic Itsukushima Shrine, is a popular spot for tourists, but we opted for a different approach – we decided to stay on the island.
One of the biggest perks of staying on Miyajima is the chance to enjoy the island in the peaceful mornings and evenings, after the day tourists have departed. The atmosphere is tranquil, the scenery even more stunning, and the local deer – who are remarkably friendlier and less aggressive than their counterparts in Nara – roam the streets, adding to the charm.
The cherry blossoms on the island were in prime condition during our visit, their delicate pink blooms contrasting beautifully with the lush greenery and traditional architecture. We were blessed with wonderful weather, and the clear, sunny skies made for stunning shots of the cherry blossoms against the backdrop of the Itsukushima Shrine’s famous torii gate.
After soaking in the tranquility of Miyajima, we made our way to Hiroshima. Here, we explored the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum, a moving tribute to the victims of the atomic bomb. Our cameras captured not only the physical remnants of that tragic day but also the profound sense of peace and resilience that permeates the city today. It was a deeply moving experience, reminding us of the power of photography to tell stories of both sorrow and strength.
For lunch, we indulged in Hiroshima’s famous okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is a savory Japanese pancake packed with a variety of ingredients like cabbage, green onions, meat, and seafood, all held together with a wheat-flour-based batter. In Hiroshima, the ingredients are layered rather than mixed, resulting in a deliciously satisfying dish that’s as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the palate. And yes, we did take a moment to photograph our okonomiyaki before digging in – it was too good to resist!
The contrast between the serene beauty of Miyajima and the poignant history of Hiroshima made this part of our journey particularly memorable. The 2023 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour continues to be a journey of unexpected discoveries, visual delights, and profound experiences. And as we packed up to head to our next destination, we carried with us a piece of Miyajima’s tranquility and Hiroshima’s resilient spirit.
Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Japan’s cherry blossom season in 2024! Reach out now to secure your spot on our guided photography tour, or explore our 2023 cherry blossom tour of Japan posts to get a glimpse of the unforgettable experiences that await you.Jun 14 | Evan | No Comments |
What you should expect when eating sushi at a kaiten sushi, converter belt sushi.
Do you like sushi? Who is excited to go to Japan to eat fresh sushi?
Well, sushi has become an internationally well recognized Japanese food in the 20th century. However, not everyone has been to kaiten sushi, the sushi that comes around on a converter belt! Today, let’s learn about kaiten sushi and what you should know before going to one so that you can prepare yourself for the photo tour of Japan, especially when you have an opportunity to venture out to eat!
What is “kaiten sushi?” Is it different from regular sushi?
So what is kaiten sushi? You all know what sushi is so what does “kaiten” mean? Kaiten in Japanese means “rotaining.” Thus, kaiten sushi is a particular sushi that comes on a converter belt, which rotates around the restaurant.
Sushi comes in many different forms in Japan, which also varies in prices. In general, you can consider “kaiten sushi” to be a cheap option. In comparison to sushi where you eat at a counter seat, kaiten sushi is much more relaxed, casual, and accessible to everyone. The matter of fact, because of such nature, it is popular among families to go to kanten sushi. Of course it is a sushi restaurant, so you will have a lot of different sushi, but at kaiten sushi, many other options such as sides, soup, and desserts can also be ordered at an accessible cost as well.
Make sure to pay attention to the colors of the sushi plates!
One thing you might like to be aware of is the color of plates. Yes, kaiten sushi is much cheaper than other options, but depending on the colors of plates, some are more expensive than others so make sure you are aware of the colors of plates, thus prices. Otherwise, you could be eating all expensive options, thus at the end of the day, you will be paying a lot more than you were originally planning.
In general, at kaiten sushi, the different colors of plates indicate different prices. It is usually 3,4 different colors of plates that are rotating so it’s not that hard to keep a track of the price. You also keep all your plates at your table where you eat so that staff can count the number of plates at the end to calculate the cost.
This clear identification of price is so crucial and why kaiten sushi became so popular. For example, some or all of the items are market price so you may not know the price till the end at high-end sushi places like eating at a counter table. Kaiten sushi is created for its accessible/cheap cost and clear identification of price so different colors of plates is one of the key features of this venue.
History of kaiten sushi
So how did kaiten sushi come to life? Originally, sushi was an expensive food, which was not for everyone. However, everyone wanted to eat sushi and the idea of kaiten sushi came to life. At the beginning, it was more like “all 100 yen ($1),” but later on, different colors of plates, thus different prices of sushi, automatic tea dispensers, and sushi robots were introduced.
Interestingly, the idea of kaiten sushi was born in Osaka at a beer factory in 1948. 10 years passed since the idea emerged, the first ever kaiten sushi opened in Osaka in 1958, called “Mawaru Genroku Sushi 1st Store.” Since then, the first franchise opened in Sendai city in Miyagi Prefecture in 1968, followed by the creation and placement of automatic tea dispensers in 1973. From 1975 to 1985, the kaiten sushi boom came to Japan with the introduction of sushi robots, major chains entering the competition of the industry.
By 2007, kaiten sushi became a 500 billion yen industry and now it is becoming international. If you are around the Los Angeles area, you might have seen “KULA,” Japanese kaiten sushi chains. There are around 10 KULA stores around the LA area and is popular among American people. As well as KULA, another major chain “Sushiro” is focusing its international market expansion in Asia, opening stores in Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong in recent years. In 2018, there were 12 stores internationally and in 2019, there were 13 more additional stores opened, a total of 25 international stores operating outside of Japan. Currently the international market is expanding more than Japanese market in that each international store produces more revenue per year than a store in Japan.
So who is hungry for sushi after reading this article? As you learned, there are different chains of kaiten sushi in Japan so if you are so keen, you can try different chains of kaiten sushi when you are on the photography tour of Japan to see, which one suits you the best. Each kaiten sushi has unique features that are different from one another so try a few and let me know what you like about each kaiten sushi! Of course, with COVID19, kanten sushi is most likely not the same today, but let’s hope that in 2021 when we are on a photo tour of Japan, we can go to a kanten sushi to enjoy fresh fish together!Mar 17 | Evan | No Comments |
Sakura Flowering Rush about to take place in Japan 2021 March
One of the most popular times of the year for international travelers to visit Japan is spring when sakura, cherry blossoms are blooming. If you have visited Japan during this time, you know the beautiful pink sakura flowers spotted all over the country. For Japanese, sakura is extremely important and symbolic. There are many songs about sakura, and this time of the year, sakura truly holds a special place in Japanese people’s hearts. In this article, let’s dig in deeper about sakura, what it means to Japanese people, but also find out when we are expecting sakura to fully bloom in 2021. Of course, with the travel restrictions, we international travelers cannot visit Japan, but let’s learn about it so that maybe next year in 2022, we get to take a part in a photography tour of Japan to view the beautiful flowers and photograph them.
The significance of sakura to Japanese people
For Japanese, March is the month when you graduate or end the school/work year while April is the month of new beginning, to start a new grade, school, or work, thus sakura is extremely symbolic to Japanese to signify these special times of the year. For many Japanese, sakura is the flowers that are blooming at graduation and/or entrance ceremony so they often hold special feelings and memories to Japanese such as departure, end of school, end of relationship, as well as new beginning and new relationship. Yes, it’s a very complex feeling, thus sakura holds a special place in Japanese people’s hearts.
If you ever searched on YouTube for songs titled sakura, you find plenty (You might need to search using katakana, hiragana, and kanji to look for all!). Let me introduce one from Naotaro Moriyama, which is a very popular graduation song with a title sakura. If you can read the comments in Japanese, take some time to read the comments. Many Japanese people are leaving comments with personal stories associated with this song. Besides from the incredibly talented singer’s voice, the lyrics really speak to Japanese people. If you are curious about the lyrics, you can easily find the lyrics online, which can be translated instantly in Google search.
In addition to Naotaro Moriyama’ sakura, let me introduce another sakura by Ketsumeishi. While Naotaro Moriyama’s sakura has a feeling of students graduating from schools and departing from one another, this Ketsumeishi sakura version is for more grownups who are now working and are starting a new chapter in life.
Besides these two, there are many more songs titled sakura and songs that sing about this time of the year depicting sakura blooming and/or falling down. If you are curious, search more on your own and share with us which sakura song you like.
Japan is expecting the Sakura Flowering Rush in the 3rd week of March in 2021!
Ok, let’s get back to this year’s sakura forecast. According to the (use google translate) Japan Weather Association’s Ms. Yoshida, the 2nd week of March has had little ups and downs with temperature, but it has been on a high end so it is expected that sakura is going to start blooming in the 3rd week of March.
According to Ms. Yoshida, sakura has already flowered in Hiroshima on the 11th of March 2021 and Fukuoka on the 12th of March 2021, which are both the earliest since this recording has been made. This year’s flowering is roughly 10 days earlier than usual and Kyushu Region to Kanto Region is expected to see a flowering rush in the 3rd week of March.
As of March 13th 2021, Tokyo is expected to flower on the 16th, Nagoya on the 17th, and Osaka on the 19th. The full bloom is expected a week to 10 days since the flowering starts. Unfortunately, sakura viewing, “ohanami” to get together under a sakura tree is prohibited this year again, but Japanese people will be enjoying beautiful sakura very soon.
Unfortunately, except for Japanese people living in Japan, we cannot enjoy sakura blooming this year in Japan, but I am pretty sure many people will post these beautiful flowers very soon on social media so let’s keep an eye out for it. Also, there are some sakura in the US too so hopefully if you live near sakura in the US, you get to enjoy the beautiful spring flowers soon. Maybe when you see them next time, you might be thinking about what it means to Japanese by remembering perhaps your new favorite sakura song, which Introduced today or you discovered by surfing YouTube.Jul 15 | Evan | No Comments |
After spending 2 nights in Tokyo, the 2019 cherry blossom photo tour of Japan traveled by bullet train to Miyajima. While tour was without rain so far, colder than normal temperatures had Japan feeling more like Japan in the winter rather than Japan during cherry blossom season. For the most part, the cooler temperatures during cherry blossom season in Japan helped by slowing what started as an early blooming cherry blossom season and the cherry blossoms held their pose for us just a little longer!
The two photos above are courtesy of and created by one of our group’s photographers, Daniel Leffel. Take a look at Daniel’s website for more excellent photography not only of Japan but all over the word.
Miyajima is one of my favorite places to bring photographers in Japan. Actually, even for my less or non photography oriented tours of Japan, Miyajima and Hiroshima are always a pleasure to visit.
The 2019 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour took a small group of photographers to Japan. We started in Tokyo and continued to Hiroshima, Miyajima, Himeji Castle, Kyoto and Mt. Fuji from Shizuoka and from Fuji Five Lakes. Here is the trip report from the 2019 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan and the 2018 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour of Japan. The 2020 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour of Japan is already planned and live! Limited spots are available for the 2020 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan, with first booking already reserved!
Below is a gallery of cherry blossom photos from our days in Miyajima.