2017 Private Summer Tour of Japan | Nikko

Aug 07 | Evan | No Comments |

After an awesome morning photographing and learning from a Japanese master sword smith, our small group continued our tour of Japan to Nikko.  Nikko is in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo and well regarded for it’s beauty in both nature and man made structures like the mausoleum of the Tokugawa Shoguns, Toshogu.  Nikko is also a fantastic spot in Autumn to see the the Fall foliage with it’s hiking trails, lakes (Lake Chuzenji is most famous), scenic mountains and waterfalls (Ryuzu Waterfall and Kegon Waterfall are both great).  There is actually a famous Japanese saying that translates something like “you haven’t seen beauty until you’ve seen Nikko” or substituting beauty with magnificent. 

This day though, while not Autumn was a Summer day but thanks to some overcast and misty weather in Nikko, the temperature felt closer to a day in October than a day in June!  For a place like Nikko, this misty weather isn’t horrible for photos and it did let me slow the shutter speed down quite a bit to play with the awesome IBIS (in body image stabilization) of my Olympus OMD-EM1 Mark II.  For other photographers, the shutter speeds of the photo just above this paragraph and the photos below, in order from top to bottom are 1/13th of a second, 1/5th of a second and 1/10th of a second.  All of those are handheld, no tripod.  

Back to the private tour of Japan though! As much as I would have liked to visit Lake Chunzenji, Kegon Falls and Ryuzu Falls, photographers do tend to move at a slower pace than most tourists in Japan and we just had time to visit Toshogu and Kanmangafuchi Abyss. Toshogu is the mausoleum of the first Tokugawa Shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu and walking around it certainly makes you think of the famous Japanese saying I mentioned earlier. The Kanmangafuchi Abyss is a pleasant walk along a gorge and also known for it’s “Narabi Jizo” or “Jizo in a line.”  See more more photos of our time in Nikko below.  


2017 Private Summer Tour of Japan | Japanese Sword Smith

Aug 04 | Evan | No Comments |

This Summer I had a great opportunity to create a custom and private tour of Japan for a local family here in North Carolina. Last Summer I lead a tour of Japan for a mother and daughter and this tour of Japan was for a father and son.  I love creating private tours for Japan because I can really focus on the specific interests and reasons for visiting and traveling to Japan.  

Each tour of Japan goes at a different pace.  Private tours of Japan tend to move at a much faster pace and this custom tour of Japan was certainly off to a fast start as the first morning we took an early train from Tokyo up to Tochigi Prefecture to visit with a Japanese sword smith. The Japanese sword smith I’ve visited with and photographed in the past was unavailable, so I was excited to visit with a different Japanese sword smith for the first time.   


The three of us, along with a Japanese guide, spent a few hours watching and photographing him perform his craft.  I really enjoy arranging these special experiences to mix photography with Japanese culture and Japanese craftsmanship. Spending time with the sword smith in Japan was a special way to start our private tour of Japan! Next up for our tour of Japan would be to visit Nikko to see Toshogu Shrine and Kanmangafuchi Abyss!