Tour of Japan | Cary Academy Goes to Japan 2018 – Food

Oct 26 | Evan | No Comments |

This summer, Japan Photo Guide by Evan Pike was once again able to offer a spectacular trip to Japan just for Cary Academy students. Katie Taylor, 6th grade Language Arts teacher and Japan enthusiast, co-led the group with Evan. We began our trip in Tokyo, then traveled to Nagoya, Hiroshima, and Kyoto before returning home from Osaka. This post is written by Katie Taylor, a 6th grade teacher at Cary Academy and Japan enthusiast.

Read about our 2016 trip to Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Kyoto or see all reports from the 2018 tour of Japan.


When I tell people about traveling to Japan, they inevitably ask about the food. Along with swords and anime, sushi is probably the most famous Japanese “stereotype” for people in the U.S. Of course, there’s so much more to Japanese food than sushi, but the sushi is pretty amazing! Our students particularly enjoyed conveyor belt sushi restaurants. Two of them had competitions as to who could leave the tallest stack of plates… and the highest bill. Evan knows a good conveyor-belt sushi place in pretty much every corner of Tokyo.

 

Ramen and udon were also favorites of our students. We learned how to make ramen at a cooking class with Yuca, an Insta-famous home chef in Tokyo. We ate at several ramen restaurants during our trip. Each student had his/her favorites, but most of us agreed that ramen and udon are better than soba.

We had a lot of fun dining at izakaya, which are like laid-back small plates restaurants. One of our favorites in Kyoto specializes in “yakitori”, grilled chicken on a stick. I think a couple of our students would’ve eaten there every day if there was one at home!

One of my favorite foods in Japan is the soft-serve ice cream. This usually surprises people, but the ice cream in Japan is amazing! You can get all the typical flavors (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry), but there are so many unique flavors too. One soft-serve spot in Hiroshima had blue “ramune” flavored soft-serve; we went there twice! My personal favorite was in Miyajima. After a long hike down Mount Misen, we enjoyed lightly coffee flavored ice cream. Delicious! I didn’t get a photo of it, but one stall in Kyoto sold cod-roe flavored soft serve. I thought it was strawberry from afar, but luckily I read the sign before anyone ordered it!

 

Here is a gallery for more of the delicious food we had in Japan!

Tour of Japan | Cary Academy Goes to Japan 2018 – Souvenirs and Shopping

Sep 26 | Evan | No Comments |

This summer, Japan Photo Guide by Evan Pike was once again able to offer a spectacular trip to Japan just for Cary Academy students. Katie Taylor, 6th grade Language Arts teacher and Japan enthusiast, co-led the group with Evan. We began our trip in Tokyo, then traveled to Nagoya, Hiroshima, and Kyoto before returning home from Osaka. This post is written by Katie Taylor, a 6th grade teacher at Cary Academy and Japan enthusiast.

Read about our 2016 trip to Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Kyoto or see all reports from the 2018 tour of Japan.


Shopping could probably be considered a national pastime in Japan. Many foreign tourists visit Japan just for the shopping, and Japan is one of the world’s top markets for luxury brands. This includes high-end purses, perfumes, designer clothing, and watches! Of course, we didn’t do too much luxury shopping since we were traveling with teenagers, but we did our fair share of shopping just the same!

Shoes were an especially popular purchase on this trip. Japan is a sneakerhead’s paradise. Many styles are only available in Japan, or available there early.

Another popular souvenir for our travelers was what I like to call “backpack swag.” Pins, keychains, and stuffed animals all ended up decorating backpacks. Disney bears, Totoro-shaped giant change purses, Toyota pins, tiny golden Buddhas, you name it—we have it on a backpack or purse.

One student was excited to find a wallet that was made out of leather using no sewing or metal fixtures. It was basically an origami wallet and was handmade in a shop in Nagoya. The Osu shopping street area in Nagoya had quite a few interesting shops. “Alice on Wednesday” even had a line out front like an exclusive club!

Some of our favorite souvenirs we made ourselves! At Orgiami Kaikan, we made bookmarks and “beating” hearts, which Japanese school children use to share a secret crush! We also found lots of neat shards of pottery on the beach at Miyajima, which we plan to make into jewelry someday!

2018 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour of Japan | Maiko Portrait Session in Kyoto

Jun 01 | Evan | No Comments |

I’ve been photographing this maiko san since 2014 and this past photography tour will be the last time I photograph her as a maiko as she is finished her apprenticeship and became a geiko (geisha are called geiko in Kyoto) in May!  A portrait session with a real maiko is always a popular request from photographers visiting Japan with me on the photography tours.

I’ve really enjoyed the portrait sessions with her in Kyoto over the years and it’s been fun to see her grow and become a fantastic model to work with.  At this point, I don’t have say anything to her until I’m ready to move to the next location or pose.  I’ve also grown and improved as a photographer myself, so it’s been fun working with her multiples times on the photography tours of Japan.

I’m already looking forward to next portrait session in Kyoto with her as a geiko san which will include a lot of changes in her style and appearance!  I will have to put together a book for her as a gift with some of my favorite portraits of her in Kyoto over the years! 

The 2018 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.  Here is the trip report from the 2018 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan. The 2019 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour of Japan is already planned and live!  Limited spots are available for the 2019 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan, with first booking already reserved!  Below is a gallery of more photos from our maiko portrait session in Kyoto.

2018 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour of Japan | Kyoto

May 20 | Evan | No Comments |

 

By the time our small group of photographers reached Kyoto, time earlier than normal cherry blossom season was starting to catch up with us.  Even that being the case, there were still areas of Kyoto where we could still find cherry blossoms in good condition and also many places in Kyoto are picturesque with or without cherry blossoms.

Often visitors of Japan tell me they want to go “off the beaten path” which sometimes we will do, but sometimes the view from the path is too great to pass up on. Kyoto has many of these high traffic paths with great views like Fushimi Inari Taisha, Golden Pavilion and Bamboo Groves of Arashiyama.  After all, there is a reason they got on the path in the first place!

 

So now the challenge becomes creating your art at this often photographed place in a way that is your unique view.  Usually I find myself having to take the “standard” photo just to get it out of my system, then I can look for my view off the path.  If you do visit Japan, even though Kyoto IS the beaten path, don’t pass up on it.  There is no city in the world like Kyoto that can match it’s mix of modern, tradition and culture and with more than 400 shrines, 1600 temples and plenty of small side streets, you will have many paths, on and off, to explore and photograph in Kyoto!  

The 2018 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.  Here is the trip report from the 2018 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan. The 2019 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour of Japan is already planned and live!  Limited spots are available for the 2019 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan, with first booking already reserved!  Below is a gallery of cherry blossom photos from our time spent making photos in Kyoto.

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