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.

Patience Pays Off: Capturing Mt. Fuji and Cherry Blossoms in Shizuoka

May 02 | Evan | No Comments |

After a spell of endless rain and unexpected adventures in Tokyo, our 2023 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour continued towards Shizuoka. Our mission? To capture the majesty of Mt. Fuji framed by the delicate cherry blossoms. As anyone who’s tried to photograph this elusive mountain knows, patience is key, and a little help from Mt. Fuji never hurts either.

On arrival, I have to admit, my heart sank a bit. The mountain was shrouded, hidden from sight, and I couldn’t help but feel our trip might be a lost cause. But one thing I’ve learned in my years of photography is the power of patience, and so we waited. As the day faded and the sun disappeared, something incredible happened – for a brief 15 minutes, the clouds around Mt. Fuji parted. It was like the mountain knew we were waiting, and it rewarded our patience with a stunning, albeit fleeting, appearance.

The next morning, we set off for Miho no Matsubara, a stunning beach known for its pinetrees and views of Mt. Fuji. The haze that morning was heavy, masking much of the mountain, but we could just make out its iconic outline. We captured what we could, the hazy silhouette of Fuji adding a mysterious touch to our shots.

Even as the sun came out later in the day, Mt. Fuji remained stubbornly hidden. But if there’s one thing our rain-soaked Tokyo adventure taught us, it’s to make the most of unexpected circumstances. So we turned our lenses towards Shizuoka’s beautiful tea plantations. Bathed in sunlight, the vibrant green fields offered a whole new world of photographic opportunities, a stark contrast to the elusive snow-capped peak we’d been chasing.

We also took the time to delve deeper into the history and significance of Mt. Fuji at the Fuji World Heritage Centre. The experience added a layer of depth to our photographic journey, reminding us that the mountain we were so keen to capture is more than just a beautiful landscape; it’s a symbol of Japan’s natural beauty and cultural heritage.

Our time in Shizuoka was a testament to the unpredictable nature of photography tours. We didn’t get the clear, sunlit shots of Mt. Fuji framed by cherry blossoms that we’d envisioned. But we left with something possibly even more valuable – a deeper appreciation for the process, the patience, and the ability to find beauty in unexpected places.

Whether it’s rain in Tokyo or a shy Mt. Fuji, the 2023 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour has taught us that the best way to capture Japan’s beauty is to embrace the unexpected. And for that, I wouldn’t change a thing.

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.

Embracing the Unexpected: Cherry Blossom Photography Tour in Rainy Tokyo 2023

Apr 20 | Evan | Comments Off on Embracing the Unexpected: Cherry Blossom Photography Tour in Rainy Tokyo 2023 |

Back in March of 2023, I had the unique pleasure of guiding a photography tour in Tokyo during the cherry blossom season. This was the first cherry blossom tour I lead in Japan since covid so we were all super excited to be in Tokyo for Now, Tokyo in cherry blossom season is nothing short of magical, but this year was different. What made it stand out? Rain. And lots of it. From gentle drizzles to dramatic downpours, rain was our constant companion, redefining our adventure and pushing us to think outside the box.

As a seasoned guide, I’m always prepared for a curveball from Mother Nature. After all, one of the joys of photography lies in embracing the unexpected. And so, we took the wet weather in our stride, swapping sunny cherry blossom picnics for moody rain-soaked shots, reflections, and indoor explorations.

We found ourselves, umbrellas in hand, wandering towards the Tokyo International Forum one day. Inside, I spent hours experimenting with slow shutter speeds and panning techniques, capturing the pulse of the city in a way that’s impossible under the bright sun. The rain may have pushed us indoors, but it also pushed us creatively, and I couldn’t have asked for more.

Another favorite spot of ours was the grand Tokyo Station. The rain-soaked ground in front of the station turned into a natural mirror, reflecting the splendid architecture and bustling city life. The sight was awe-inspiring, and our cameras were thrilled with the unexpected gift from the skies.

With our eyes set on indoor locations, we sought out buildings with interesting architecture that could offer us unique photographic opportunities. The rain had given us a chance to explore Tokyo’s architectural marvels from a different perspective, and we relished the chance.

In between our photographic escapades, we were invited into a local Japanese chef’s home for a meal. The delicious, home-cooked meal was a welcome break and a heartwarming experience, making us feel a little bit more at home in the sprawling city.

However, the rain did grant us a few free moments to catch the cherry blossoms. We seized these precious opportunities and headed to Chidorigafuchi, Aoyama Cemetery, and the Meguro River. We may have been damp and a little chilly, but seeing those delicate blooms against the grey sky was worth every drop.

The 2023 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour in Tokyo was unlike any other. We may have been rained out, but we didn’t let that dampen our spirits. Instead, we found beauty in the unexpected, captured memories in the rain, and left Tokyo with a newfound appreciation for the unpredictable nature of photography.

If you’re a photographer who loves a challenge, I highly recommend visiting Tokyo during the cherry blossom season – rain or shine. You never know what surprises you’ll find, and that’s the real magic of photography in Japan.

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.

A Photographic Journey through Japan’s Landscapes and Culture

Nov 29 | Evan | Comments Off on A Photographic Journey through Japan’s Landscapes and Culture |

In the fall of 2022, I had the unique opportunity to lead a photography tour of Japan for a small group of passionate photographers. This was the first photography tour of Japan I was able to lead post COVID and I couldn’t have been more excited! Our journey took us to some of the most picturesque locations across Japan, from the bustling streets of Tokyo to the serene landscapes of Fuji Five Lakes to the cultural hub of Kyoto. As a photographer myself, I was thrilled to share my knowledge and experience with this talented group, and together we captured some unforgettable moments and memories.

Our first stop was Tokyo, a vibrant and energetic city that offers endless opportunities for street photography. Japan’s bustling metropolis, Tokyo, is a photographer’s paradise. From the serene Showa Memorial Park to the neon-lit skyscraper district of Shinjuku, the city offers a variety of stunning sights and experiences to capture. From the classic architecture of the Imperial Palace to the neon lights of Shinjuku, Tokyo never fails to inspire. We explored some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, visited a Japanese chef’s home for a private cooking lesson and meal. The first stop on our photography journey was the Showa Memorial Park. Located in the suburbs of Tokyo, the park is a peaceful and serene oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a great spot for nature lovers who appreciate the beauty of autumn leaves and cherry blossoms in the spring. As we walked around the park, we captured some amazing moments of locals and tourists alike enjoying their day out. And the wide open spaces allowed me to experiment with different angles and perspectives to create some truly unique shots.

Next up was Fuji Five Lakes, a breathtaking mountainous region that boasts some of Japan’s most iconic landscapes. We had a chance to photograph the stunning Lake Saiko with its turquoise waters and rich foliage, as well as Lake Tanuki and its picturesque reflections of Mount Fuji. We also visited the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum, where we marveled at the intricate beauty of the kimono artistry.

After taking photos of Mt Fuji from the Fuji Five Lakes, we transferred to Hakone via Gotemba. Unfortunately, our photography tour was met with a lot of rain in Hakone but we at least had a nice sunrise while visiting Hakone Shrine.

Nagoya was our next stop, where we immersed ourselves in Japan’s rich cultural heritage. We visited the Nagoya Castle, a magnificent example of feudal architecture that has stood for over 400 years. We also toured the Korankei Valley, a magical forest that puts on a dazzling display of autumn leaves each year.

Our stay in Okayama was equally inspiring, as we explored the Okayama Castle and the tranquil gardens of Kurashiki. We also visited the Bitchu Matsuyama Castle, one of the few surviving mountain castles in Japan. In the autumn seasons is the best chance to photograph the sea of clouds along with the castle in Okayama prefecture. We went two mornings, the first morning we had too many clouds but the second morning was a nice experience and provided photographic opportunities with this amazing Japanese castle.

Our final destination was the ancient capital of Kyoto, a city that never ceases to amaze with its beauty and charm. We visited some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Kiyomizu-dera Temple and the Fushimi Inari Shrine. We also explored some of Kyoto’s hidden alleys and backstreets, discovering the city’s intricate architecture and rich history.

We had a chance to witness the traditional geisha culture up close, as we attended a private portrait session with a geiko. The trip concluded with a farewell dinner where we shared our favorite photos and memories from the tour.

Leading a photography tour of Japan was a truly unforgettable experience, and I feel grateful to have shared it with such an incredible group of photographers. Japan’s landscapes and culture are truly unparalleled, and I hope that our journey has inspired others to explore this magical country through the lens of a camera. From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the tranquil gardens of Kyoto, Japan’s beauty is truly beyond compare. I look forward to returning to this incredible country and discovering even more hidden treasures along the way. Thank you to all the participants of our photography tour for making it such a special and rewarding journey. I hope that everyone has taken away plenty of amazing photos and memories from this experience.

Thinking about visiting Japan on a guided tour? Whether you want a private photography tour, a group tour of Japan, reach out to Japan Photo Guide to help create the experience and trip of a lifetime in Japan.

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