Island Life and Urban Reflections: Cherry Blossoms in Miyajima and Hiroshima 2023

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.

Time for Sakura in Japan!

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.

2019 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour | Miyajima and Hiroshima

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!

Miyajima Island
Miyajima Island

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.

2018 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour of Japan | Miyajima

May 13 | Evan | No Comments |

The 2018 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour departed Tokyo to travel to Hiroshima by bullet train, then took a chartered van to Miyajima Port and finally a ferry to reach Miyajima.  It’s a long journey but our small photography group arrived in Miyajima at perfect time to photograph the cherry blossoms.  When one thinks of Miyajima, most people think about the torii gate that floats in the water when the tide is in, but there are many photogenic spots on the island of Miyajima, especially during cherry blossom season. 

For me, it’s really important to stay on the island when visiting Miyajima as it gets overcrowded with tourists during the day, early morning and dusk are much more pleasant not only for obvious lighting reasons but also just to enjoy the atmosphere of the island. Besides the pagodas, torii gate, temples and shrines, the deer always are fun photograph and observe in Miyajima, especially when they pose with cherry blossoms!

And yes, there is the great torii gate which even when the tide is out, provides lot’s of photographic opportunities to create art in Miyajima.  It’s said that Miyajima is one of Japan’s 3 most scenic places in Japan and having traveled and photographed many places in Japan, it’s hard to disagree!


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 days in Miyajima.

Older Entries