Photographing Mt. Fuji from Yamanashi Prefecture

Jan 14 | Evan | No Comments |

If you had some time to already look through Japan Photo Guide’s past photography tours of Japan, you probably noticed that he has many beautiful photos of Mt. Fuji at Fuji Five Lakes. As you might have already guessed, Fuji Five Lakes are the lakes around Mt. Fuji in Yamanashi Prefecture, which are known for the outstanding locations to see and photograph the mountain. In this article, let’s discuss photographing Mt. Fuji from the Yamanashi Prefecture and let’s find out what’s so special about touring and capturing the beauty of Japan in Yamanashi. 

Fuji Five Lakes

As introduced already, Fuji Five Lakes are the lakes around Mt. Fuji, which stretches over the northern side of the mountain on the Yamanashi Prefecture. These lakes include Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Yamanashiko, Shojiko, and Mototsuko and are said to be the best places to view Mt. Fuji as well as photographing the mountain. Japan Photo Guide’s photography tours also visit the Fuji Five Lakes almost annually where he and his guests can photograph stunning images of the mountain. Just look at the photograph he captured at one of the lakes at Kawaguchiko below. Yes, you can photograph a beautiful reflection of Mt. Fuji in the lake at this location. 

Of all the lakes, if you are new to Japan and not sure how to get around, the easiest and the most accessible lake is Kawaguchiko. It is the most developed of all the lake areas. However, if you join Japan Photo Guide’s Japan photo tour, you don’t need to worry about how to get around etc. by yourself. He will take you to other lakes as well so you get to photograph many faces of the mountain! For example, if you are curious to know how the Mt. Fuji looks like from Shojiko, take a look here at the 2015 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan!  Additionally, during 2017 Cherry Blossom Tours of Japan, Japan Photo Guide took his tour not only to Kawaguchiko, but also to Shojiko and Yamanakako. 

Btw before going forward, let’s have a mini Japanese lesson here! 

If you look at 5 lakes listed already, you might have already noticed that all of the lakes end in “ko.” This stands for “lake” in Japanese, thus you know it is a lake we are talking about. If you are wondering what is the Japanese character, it is “こ” in hiragana, and “湖” in kanji. If you are visiting a lake, you will see this character “湖” so you might like to keep an eye on it when you are looking for a lake in Japan! 

The best location to photograph “sakasa fuji” 

Have you ever heard of a Japanese term “sakasa fuji?” Sakasa in Japanese means “upside down.” Thus, sakasa fuji is the Mt. Fuji, which is reflected in the lake of Kawaguchiko and is one the most popular Mt. Fuji photographers enjoy capturing. Japan Photo Guide has of course photographed sakasa fuji many times and has taken his photography tours of Japan to Kawaguchiko annually. Below are some of Japan Photo Guide’s sakasa fuji images as well as those who have joined his previous Japan photo tours. As you can imagine, this is something you definitely have to go close enough to Mt. Fuji in Yamanashi at these lakes to view and photograph a flipped/reflected mountain in the beautiful body of water.

Photo created by and courtesy of Dan Leffel

For those of you who cannot wait till the photo tour of Japan to see sakasa fuji, why don’t you check out the live camera dedicated to Kawaguchiko’s sakasa fuji here

Tell me more about Yamanashi! 

Of course, there is more to learn about Yamanashi! The best thing about the photo tour of Japan is how you can enjoy photographing all the beauties of Japan, but also actually feel and experience Japan as you tour. So let’s learn some of Yamanashi’s delicacies and other unique spots you want to know before you make your way to Japan with Japan Photo Guide. 

If you have already visited Japan, many of you know that fruits in Japan are so sweet and delicious. Yamanashi offers a lot of fresh fruits such as strawberries, cherries, peaches, pears, and grapes to just name a few. It is because Yamanashi of all Japan has the longest daylight hours, thus providing ample Sun for sweet fruits to grow. Of all these fruits, Yamanashi grows the most grapes in Japan and they are in season now during August to October. Yes, as you have guessed, since Yamanashi grows the most grapes, there are wineries in Yamanashi too! Wine making started in Japan during the Meiji Era (Jan 25th 1868 – Jul 30th, 1912) and today, Yamanashi’s wine is internationally well known for its rich taste, which matches perfectly with washoku, Japanese food.  

And for those of you who enjoy outdoors, Yamanashi offers many outdoor activities such as fruit picking, camping, BBQ, golfing, and even riding on an Olympic road cycle race track! It may not have the Ocean, but Yamanashi still offers abundant nature, which is so fun to tour and photograph the beautiful nature including lakes, waterfalls, and depending on the season, you get to see beautiful cherry blossoms in spring and colorful changing colors of leaves in autumn. 

Photo created by and courtesy of Daniel Leffel

Finally…

Just by going over what Yamanashi has to offer, I am getting hungry for Yamanashi’s delicacies and dreaming of the fresh air by Kawaguchiko looking at sakasa fuji. When you are in Yamanashi, you need to be always ready to photograph Mt. Fuji because as well as the famous sakasa fuji, there will be many faces of the mountain with unexpected collaborations that Yamanashi has to offer. If it is during cherry blossom season or rich summer green with blue sky reason or even during vividly colored autumn leaves season and snow white winter season, Yamanashi always provides picture perfect locations for us photographers. 

If you are now more than eager to join Japan Photo Guide’s tour in 2021 or 2022, find out more details about the photo tour of Japan from here

Photographing Mt. Fuji from Shizuoka Prefecture

Sep 14 | Evan | No Comments |

Mt. Fuji (Fujisan in Japanese) is without a doubt the most famous mountain and the landscape of Japan. It is also one of the most photographed landscapes of Japan and is a very popular destination for Japan Photo Guide’s Japan photo tour. 

Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic, Mt. Fuji is closed for 2020 and traveling to Japan is very restricted at this time, in September 2020. We can’t climb the mountain nor get close enough to photograph the mountain any time soon, but why don’t we take this time to revise the best spots and concepts of photographing Mt. Fuji from the Shizuoka side. 

Where is Shizuoka? 

Before going in depth, for those of you who do not know the geography of Japan, let’s take a look at the map of Japan to familiarize yourself with where Mt. Fuji is located and what I mean by the Shizuoka side. 

As you can see from the map, Mt. Fuji is located SouthWest of Tokyo and is over two Prefectures, Shizuoka to the South and Yamanashi to the North. As it is the highest mountain in Japan, even from Tokyo, you might be lucky enough to see this national symbol in the distance on a sunny day such as from the observatories.  However, if you really want to get close to Mt. Fuji and experience the majestic beauty up close, you definitely want to travel to Shizuoka and/or Yamanashi to capture its beauty. 

In this article, we want to focus solely on the idea of photographing from the Shizuoka side. (Yes, don’t worry! I will be visiting the best spots and concepts to capture Mt. Fuji from the Yamanashi side in the other article. ) Btw for those of you who are hoping to not only photograph Mt. Fuji, but also eventually climb to the summit of Mt. Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture has 3 routes called, “Subashiri Trail,” “Gotenba Trail,” and also “Fujinomiya Trail,” which offer more options than 1 route that starts on the Yamanashi side called “Yoshida Trail.” 

Let’s learn about Shizuoka 

Shizuoka Prefecture is a huge prefecture of abundant natural beauty, which is located SouthWest of Tokyo, next to Kanagawa Prefecture. It attracts many Japanese tourists as well as international guests for its delicious seafood, rich green tea, fresh wasabi, relaxing hot springs to just name a few. With its rich nature, many Japanese often find Shizuoka as the resort spot that is easily accessible from the busy city life of Tokyo. Thus, if you are interested in photographing Mt. Fuji, but also enjoy Japan’s delicacy like wasabi and tasty seafood, Shizuoka is the perfect location to join the photo tour of Japan with a finishing touch of onsen, hotspring to relax your mind and body at the end of the day. 

Btw, if you don’t know much about Japanese food, wasabi is the green spicy paste when you eat sushi. You can’t grow wasabi just anywhere. You can only grow wasabi with truly clean water. Shizuoka grows the most wasabi in Japan and its traditional cultivation is recognized by FAO(Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) back in 2018 March. So yes, there is so much to learn about and eat in Shizuoka! 

Anyways, if you are hoping to join Japan Photo Guide’s Japan photo tour when the pandemic is over, you have more to expect from touring Shizuoka than simply photographing Mt. Fuji (even though photographing Mt. Fuji is most likely the highlight of the tour). You will for sure enjoy amazing Japanese food in Shizuoka and the best hot spring experience one can imagine. 

What’s so special about photographing from the Shizuoka Side 

Well, we got side tracked a little so let’s get back to why photographing Mt. Fuji from the Shizuoka side is so special. As I pointed out, Mt. Fuji is over Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures. When you photograph from the Shizuoka side, you can photograph Mt. Fuji with the ocean (Yamanashi does not face the ocean), the mountains, cities, and also shinkansen, the bullet trains. If you have already traveled to Japan previously and have been on shinkansen, you know you can also photograph Mt. Fuji with shinkansen at some locations in Shizuoka by the railways as well as photographing the mountain from the train. 

 The Mt. Fuji and shinkansen combination is fun, but you can also photograph Mt. Fuji with the famous tea fields such as below in Shizuoka. Like wasabi, Shizuoka produces the most green tea in Japan, which is approximately 40% of the entire nation. This is from one of Japan Photo Guide’s previous Japan photography tours he has led. Yes, the rich green of the tea field and the majestic Mt. Fuji combinations are also stunning, right? 

Conclusion

So are you now excited about traveling to Shizuoka and photograph Mt. Fuji and perhaps enjoy onsen? The photo tour of Japan is of course to photograph the beauty of Japan, but also a way to learn about Japan. There is obviously so much more to learn what Shizuoka has to offer, but I wanted to give you an introductory course of Shizuoka with the idea of photographing Mt. Fuji as a base. 

By the way, some of you might have been curious if the famous Japanese painter, Hokusai’s Mt. Fuji and waves are from the Shizuoka side or not, right? The answer is No! The title of the painting is called “The Great Waves of Kanagawa,” so the angle of the painting is from Kanagawa Prefecture, which is located right next to Shizuoka. Having said that, Shizuoka faces the ocean too so from the Shizuoka side, you will be able to photograph a great combination of the Pacific Ocean and Mt. Fuji as well. 

Finally, for those of you who cannot wait till the Japan photography tour, and want to check how Mt. Fuji looks from the Shizuoka side, you can check the Shizuoka Prefecture’s official website here to see Mt. Fuji Live View

Tour of Japan | Cary Academy Goes to Japan 2019 – FAQ Part 3

Aug 01 | Evan | No Comments |

Sometimes when you’ve visited a place a few times, it can be easy to forget all the little things that you noticed when you first visited. Traveling with someone who has never visited a place helps you to remember what you first noticed and to notice new things as well! Teenagers are especially fun to travel with because they’re not afraid to ask questions. The next couple of blog posts will focus on the “frequently asked questions” that this year’s group asked. Perhaps you’ll have some of the same questions when we visit Japan!

TeamLab Planets

Can we do that again?

Of all the questions our students ask, our favorite is “can we do that again?” or its twin, “can we stay longer?” Most students’ favorite experience on our trip was visiting Team Lab: Planets, an immersive art installation is Odaiba, one of the newer areas of Tokyo created out of reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay. Team Lab is an artist collective that creates pieces unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. At “Planets”, we jumped in giant bean bags, walked through knee-high water with digital “fish” floating in it, and walked through strings or lights and a room of giant floating spheres. Elements of the installations were static, but typically you’d never experience the same room the same way twice. Your movements and the timing of your visit, combined with the movements of the people around you, create a unique experience each time you visit. Students wanted to go through another time after we finished!

TeamLab Planets 2

Students also really enjoyed Orizuru Tower in Hiroshima. The top of the tower has an amazing observation deck that overlooks the “Atomic Bomb Dome” and the Peace Park and provides a beautiful vantage point to see the entire city and the nearby mountains. “Orizuru” means crane, a reference to the ubiquitous paper cranes associated with Sadako and the children’s peace monument. Students especially liked the slide (yes, like a playground) that made up part of the path down from the top of the tower. They wanted to walk back up and slide again! Other popular “repeat” spots included arcades, ice cream shops, and covered shopping arcades like Teramachi in Kyoto. It’s fun to return to a favorite store or restaurant when I visit Japan, and it’s so rewarding when students want to return too.

That’s it for the “FAQ” and our 2019 trip report. We’re excited about the 2020 trip. Traveling in Japan is always a great experience, and we hope that our students will stay curious and keep asking questions!

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 or 2019 tour of Japan.

Tour of Japan | Cary Academy Goes to Japan 2019 – FAQ Part 2

Jul 31 | Evan | No Comments |

Sometimes when you’ve visited a place a few times, it can be easy to forget all the little things that you noticed when you first visited. Traveling with someone who has never visited a place helps you to remember what you first noticed and to notice new things as well! Teenagers are especially fun to travel with because they’re not afraid to ask questions. The next couple of blog posts will focus on the “frequently asked questions” that this year’s group asked. Perhaps you’ll have some of the same questions when we visit Japan!

“Why do they do that?”

For example, why do they stay so quiet on the train? Since most Japanese cities are very densely populated, travelers are often surprised at how quiet it is. The trains/subways are particularly quiet, especially when one is accustomed to travel on trains in the United States. Our students this year actually downloaded a decibel meter on one of their phones to help them judge their volume compared to those around us. We talked with students about cultural differences and how in the United States we typically have a “individual first” mentality whereas group comfort is typically more important in Japan. You may have heard that the new Japanese era is “reiwa” – the character that is pronounced “wa” means harmony, but not musical harmony. It specifically relates to harmony within the social group. 

Another common question is why the Japanese remove their shoes when indoors. Most people know that the Japanese generally don’t wear shoes inside their homes, but we make sure that students are prepared to remove their shoes in some restaurants, temples/shrines, and even in the fitting rooms in clothing stores. We also have to be careful not to step with our clean socks on the dirty outside floor or step on the clean inside floor with our dirty shoes while taking them off. I’ve been to Japan five times, and I still don’t get it right all of the time! This is also related to “wa”, the concept of harmony within the social group. In this case, it’s a matter of taking special care to keep shared areas clean. Our tea ceremony gave us a great opportunity to learn about and practice “wa.” We also learned about “kei”- respect; “sei”- purity; and “jaku” -tranquility. Our host taught us how we can consider these four concepts as we participate in a tea ceremony. It was amazing how calm and focused we were during the calligraphy lesson after the ceremony!

“What is this?” 

This question came up pretty much every day, usually at least once during every meal! Students fell in love with conveyor belt sushi and wanted to try everything, but wanted to know what they were trying! This was also a common question in convenience stores, which we visited most days. This year’s group loved trying new snacks and drinks. “Straight Tea” and chocolate were both especially popular this time around. Another favorite was momiji manju, maple-leaf cakes filled with soft fillings in various flavors. It was fun to discover different flavors and compare the different bakeries’ styles. Students were also curious about pretty much everything at shrines and temples. “What is this gate? What are those little wooden thingies? What is this cow?”

Picking the right momiji manju
How the sushi comes if you order off the menu (iPad)
How the staff calculates your bill

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 or 2019 tour of Japan.

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