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.
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?
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.
I’m always a little anxious when Mt. Fuji is included on the plan for our photography tours as mountain can be quite shy hiding behind clouds days at a time. For the 2019 photography tour of Japan during cherry blossom season, we had 4 nights planned in the Mt. Fuji area. Two nights in Shizuoka Prefecture and 2 nights in Yamanashi Prefecture.
It’s certainly possible that we could have had 4 nights with no mountain to photograph but luckily, Mt. Fuji was kind enough to make a few appearances on different days during our photography tour of Japan! While we had Mt. Fuji in view during the tour, the cold weather that helped hold the cherry blossom earlier in the photography tour of Japan, finally caught up to us. The cherry blossoms around Mt. Fuji were just a few days before full bloom so we had to search for the few cherry blossom trees that were ahead of the rest. The good thing about Mt. Fuji though, even without cherry blossoms, there are always fantastic photographic opportunities.
The two photos below 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.