I spent the Easter holidays on a family trip to Japan and wanted to share some of my images and impressions of this amazing country.
As it wasn’t a photography trip I had to adopt a more casual approach to making images. Nonetheless, I am extremely happy with our trip and we all enjoyed our experience in such a different environment.
We started off in Tokyo, a city or, rather, a megalopolis, which is hard to describe if you have never experienced anything on that scale. The greater Tokyo area has some 34 millions inhabitants and is the biggest city in the world. Luxembourg city, with its 120 000 inhabitants, puts you on an altogether different scale. Quiet, peaceful moments, as far as we experienced, are few and far between. Even green areas, secluded from the concrete jungle, were busy. Taking pictures with no people in them is a big challenge in this city.
I’m not sure I would enjoy living in such a huge city but as a place to visit for a few days it proved to be a great experience. The atmosphere is great and despite its size we were pleased to see the relatively low levels of air and noise pollution. Most cars are hybrid and electric and you rarely see old ones.
Two places that stood out for me were the Rainbow Bridge (the image on the top) and the crazy Shibuya area.
After the craziness of Tokyo we headed further north to the town of Nikko, founded in the Edo Period. After 3 days in Tokyo we were keen to escape to somewhere quieter and enjoy a more traditional side of Japan.
The UNESCO World Heritage Shrines and Temples of Nikko are really worth seeing, despite the high number of tourists, something one has to get used to in Japan unless you head for the less renowned rural areas.
After a last night in Tokyo, where we enjoyed some delicious ramen in a small but busy eatery, we headed for the area around Mt. Fuji where lake Kawaguchi offers great views of Japan’s most beautiful, prominent and famous mountain. I was really looking forward to getting to this area and managed to attempt a sunrise on the lake shore. Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side and Mt. Fuji was not visible. We had only a few glimpses at Mt. Fuji when we arrived in the evening and as we were leaving the area on the train. In any case, it was a great place to be and, as a landscape photographer, I am used to experiencing all kinds of weather and accept it is something I’m not in control of.
After lake Kawaguchi we headed for Shizuoka on the east coast, south of Tokyo. I was also looking forward to this area and its views of Mt. Fuji with tea plantations on the hills offering some beautiful compositions for my images. Again the weather was not on our side and the elusive Mt. Fuji kept its beauty hidden from us.
From Shizuoka we headed south to Kyoto, where we spent 4 days. Kyoto is very different to Tokyo. It used to be the ancient capital of Japan and one can see a more traditional, dare I say conservative, approach to life compared to Tokyo. We loved Kyoto and its wonderful atmosphere.
Bamboo forests were something I had never seen before, and even though I only saw what can be described as small forested areas, they greatly impressed me.
We ended our trip around Hiroshima and the island of Miyajima. Hiroshima had to me the best food on offer and we really enjoyed eating there. Otherwise the most remarkable thing was the harrowing Peace Memorial Museum. To tell you the truth I had more than once a knot in my throat and left the memorial with a heavy heart, however, it is a worthwhile experience that even our 12 year old daughter thought it was important to see. She was full of questions and amazed at how cruel and stupid humans can be.
Miyajima island was a nice place to lighten the heart and enjoy the beautiful landscape and culture of Japan. I wanted to photograph the famous Itsukushima Shrine and once again the conditions were not the best for photography. The tide was very low when we arrived in the evening and also in the morning so that meant I had only about 45min before we were due to leave the island to get some images of the shrine with some water covering the base. It is a “floating” shrine so when there is no water it does not look the best, apart from the fact that the hordes of tourists swarm around it making it look even less appealing.
I leave you now with a selection of images I took through the places we visited in Japan and thank you for your time. I can only say that I truly recommend a visit to Japan and depending where you come from or live in the world I am sure it will not disappoint you.
All the best!