Jul 01 | Evan | Comments Off on Concluding our Photo Tour: Cherry Blossoms and Mt. Fuji at Fuji Five Lakes |
Our 2023 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour culminated at our final destination, Fuji Five Lakes. This region contrasts the geography of our previous Fuji stop, Shizuoka, offering distinct views and experiences of Japan’s most revered peak, Mt. Fuji. Nestled in the northern foothills of the mountain, the Five Lakes area provides a tranquil, picturesque setting, with the lakes reflecting the majestic beauty of Mt. Fuji.
We based our stay in Kawaguchiko, the most accessible and developed of the Five Lakes. Our mission? To find and capture the elusive Mt. Fuji framed with vibrant cherry blossoms. The mountain, as is its wont, was a bit shy, revealing itself sporadically amidst the changing weather. However, patience rewarded us with stunning views from Lake Tanuki and Kawaguchiko, where the iconic peak, flanked by blooming sakura, was mirrored in the serene waters.
In addition to our photographic pursuits, we immersed ourselves in local festivities, attending a cherry blossom festival bustling with local vendors and food stalls. The atmosphere was lively, filled with the joyous spirit of the season, a celebration of spring’s arrival, and the transient beauty of the cherry blossoms.
We also paid a visit to the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum, dedicated to the work of Itchiku Kubota, a master of kimono design. The museum showcased a stunning collection of his intricate kimono designs, each piece a testament to the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into traditional Japanese textiles.
After nearly two weeks of exploring and tasting the wide variety of Japanese cuisine, we took a slight detour on the culinary front. Cravings for a taste of home led us to one of my favorite burger joints in Japan, and it’s safe to say that everyone enthusiastically approved. It was a comforting slice of familiarity amidst our exotic journey, a reminder of the balance between exploration and comfort.
Our time at Fuji Five Lakes brought the 2023 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour to a fitting close. As we looked back on the unique experiences, the vibrant cherry blossoms, the stunning landscapes, and the unforgettable portraits, we were reminded of the beauty of Japan and the power of photography to capture these transient moments. As we bid farewell to Mt. Fuji, we carried with us not just photographs but stories, experiences, and memories that would last a lifetime.
Jun 30 | Evan | Comments Off on The Old Capital in Bloom: Experiencing Kyoto during Cherry Blossom Season 2023 |
The next stop on our 2023 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour was Kyoto, the old capital of Japan and a city steeped in history, tradition, and breathtaking beauty. After a challenging start with the weather, we were greeted with sunny skies and blossoming sakura trees upon our arrival in Kyoto. However, with each passing day, the cherry blossoms were shedding their petals, slowly transitioning from peak bloom to the ephemeral beauty of falling sakura.
Yet, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it turned out to be a blessing during our portrait session with a local geiko, a woman I’ve had the pleasure of photographing for several years now. She is always composed and elegant, but when a sudden “blizzard” of falling cherry blossom petals occurred, she burst into genuine, joyous laughter. The moment was pure magic, the falling sakura petals serving as the perfect backdrop to her radiant smile. It was truly a unique and heartwarming moment, reminding us of the spontaneous beauty that can occur in photography.
Kyoto, once the capital of Japan, is a city rich in cultural heritage. It boasts over 1,600 Buddhist temples, 400 Shinto shrines, and 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, each with its own unique story and beauty. This abundance of historical and cultural sites makes Kyoto a photographer’s paradise, providing countless opportunities for both classic and unconventional shots.
Of course, we made sure to visit the iconic sites like Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion), Ginkaku-ji (the Silver Pavilion), the Philosopher’s Path, Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Kiyomizu-dera, Ninna-ji, Ryōan-ji, and Fushimi Inari Taisha. Each location offered its unique blend of nature and architecture, the cherry blossoms adding a touch of seasonal charm to these timeless landmarks.
But our journey through Kyoto wasn’t limited to the well-known spots. We also ventured to some lesser-known sites, hidden gems that offered unique photographic opportunities away from the crowds. Whether it was a lesser-known shrine tucked away in a quiet neighborhood or a beautiful garden off the beaten path, these hidden spots allowed us to experience and capture a different side of Kyoto.
Our time in Kyoto was filled with memorable experiences, beautiful sites, and unforgettable photographic moments. As we witnessed the city’s transition from peak cherry blossom season to the fleeting beauty of falling sakura, we were reminded of the transient nature of beauty and the importance of capturing these moments through our lenses. As we packed our bags for the next leg of our journey, we carried with us the images and memories of Kyoto, a city that beautifully blends the old with the new, the iconic with the hidden, and the transient with the timeless.
Continuing our 2023 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour, we found ourselves in the charming city of Himeji, home to the breathtaking Himeji Castle. Our timing was impeccable, with the cherry blossoms in full bloom and the sun shining brightly in the sky, casting the perfect light on the castle and the vibrant pink sakura.
Upon arrival, I pointed out a few classic views that offered the perfect blend of cherry blossoms and the towering castle. Our photographers then had some free time to explore the castle grounds, each finding their unique perspective to capture this iconic site.
But the beauty of Himeji Castle extends beyond its immediate surroundings. We ventured to two different viewpoints that offered expansive views of the castle, showcasing its grandeur against the larger cityscape. We concluded the day at a spot where the castle stood majestically in the background of the modern city, offering a beautiful contrast between old and new, tradition and progress.
The magic continued the next morning as we found ourselves at another spot to capture the castle at sunrise. We were lucky enough to be there on one of the few days of the year when the sun rises directly behind the castle, creating a truly magical scene – a moment that felt like it was straight out of a fairy tale.
Once back home, I had some fun with Adobe Photoshop’s new beta software. Using the new generative fill feature, I was able to create alternative reality images of Himeji Castle almost effortlessly. These surreal, dreamlike images added a fun, creative twist to our collection of Himeji Castle photos.
The visit to Himeji Castle was a highlight of our 2023 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour. The perfect timing, the spectacular views, and the play of light and color offered a wealth of photographic opportunities. And with the aid of modern editing tools, we were able to push the boundaries of creativity and create images that were not only true to the moment but also a unique reflection of our artistic vision.
Our journey continues, each destination offering new sights, new experiences, and new stories to tell through our lenses. Stay tuned for more from our Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of 2023!
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.