Travel Photographer to Japan
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
What about Japan ?
For me it was the first time travelling to Japan, I can't really express with enough words how it was, but I'll use the words: spectacular, cultural and different. As a travel photographer it was the most amazing experience. I was super excited about the photographic possibilities and the photos I could make in this country.
Spectacular: all the lights in the streets, the lifestyle, the food, the culture.
Cultural: everywhere you go you are confronted with the Japanese culture, and the differences there are between our culture; in restaurants, transports, in the streets, stores... Different: like I just said; the culture is so different, but also every city I've been to is so different from each other.
During this trip we travelled to the cities: Osaka, Nara, Kobé, Kyoto, Beppu, Hiroshima and Tokyo. We also went to the North Island Hokkaido.
OSAKA Is known for it's gastronomy. The specialities (that you definitely should try!) are fried skewers (fish, meat, cheese, vegetables..), Udon noodles, Tako Yaki and Okonomiyaki. Everything is fresh, but also greasy. If you're on a diet, Japanese food isn't the best option.
Dotonbori & Sinsekai are the two main neighbourhoods where to find a lot of restaurants, bars and shops. It's very Japanese with a lot of street lightning everywhere. In Sinsekai go check out the Janjan Alley for local food restaurants. And next to Dotonbori and its canal, there is a local and fresh food market; Kuroman Ichiba.
From Osaka it takes 35 minutes by train to arrive in Kobé, here is the possibility to try the famous Kobé beef but also to wander around in the local China town. An other 45 minutes train ride from Osaka brings you to Nara. Nara is famous for its tempels and "wild" dears running around in the streets and asking people for food.
KYOTO Is famous for it's geisha culture and is more touristic than Osaka. There's a lot to visit: the Bamboo Forest, Ryoanji & Kinkakuji Tempel, Yasaka Pagoda Tempel, Fushimi Inari Taisha, Imperial Palace etc.
Less touristic will be the Myoshinji Tempel, it's a small place with a lot of typical houses and different tempels, it's very quiet, very traditional and we barely crossed any tourists. It seems a little more upper scale and it's kind of a small "residential neighbourhood".
The Gion neighbourhood is very "Geisha" and traditional with a lot of small and typical houses. Same for the neighbourhood around the Yasaka Pagoda where we find a lot of small streets with Japanese shops selling souvenirs, kimonos, typical handbags, kitchenware etc.
For me the best thing in Gion, apart from the cute little streets, is the Nishiki market, with the best seafood; fresh and well prepared!
All of this was also a great scene for street photography, I felt a photo journalist for some moments capturing this amazing people and culture !
In Hiroshima we change of ambiance, there is not that much to do except visiting the Memorial park and museum, which are very interesting but also very sad. There is only one building left in the city that survived the bombing (photo right). Further there is a castle to visit, it's nice from the outside and from the top there is a nice view on the river and the city. Having drinks and diner is possible in the animated neighbourhood of Hondori.
From Hiroshima you can go for a day trip to an island, MIYAJIMA it's a 45 minutes travel.
A lot of tourists are visiting the island, because it's very beautiful, there are tempels to visit, a shrine and nice hikes to do.
TOKYO Is HUGE ! There are so many different neighbourhoods to visit.
There is Akihabara; the manga neighbourhood. Here we find mostly girls, dressed up as mangas trying to get you in a bar or restaurant, but also stores with old games and toys. Asakusa is the historical neighbourhood with the famous Senso-ji Tempel and a lot of typical Japanese shops. Ryokan is the place to be for Sumo, there is a possibility to view sumo trainings in the early morning (depending of the season). For fashion and more stores you need to be in Harajuku, all big brands are to find here but also small cute shops. Don't forget to pass by Catstreet and catch some delicious gyoza for only 300Y (little less than 2.50eur). In Ueno there is a big parc with a lot of shows and animation, 30 minutes walking from there you can find the Yasaka street which is less touristic and again a lot of Japanese shops. I mention quite a lot the Japanese typical shops because it's very interesting and cultural, also they make such beautiful products it's just very nice to walk around and to windowshop ! For me the best neighbourhood is Shimo Kitazawa, it's also very local, not too touristic, and most of all it's all about Vintage ! Uncountable thrift shops with amazing clothes, bags, accessories... For having a couple of drinks or even party you should go to the Roppongi neighbourhood or even better to the Golden Gai next to the Shinjuku Station, with Piss Alley, where you find the most little streets with the smallest and cutest bars and restaurants for around 10 people max. In Piss Alley you find the restaurants, in Golden Gai the bars (it's near to each other).
Last but not least, the Tsukiji Fish Market. Oh my, so fun to walk around, to see all these local products and especially try the freshest sushi!
Tokyo is very impressive, there is a lot of fashion, a lot of people but also a lot of Japanese culture, and so load of photographic options!
There are many ways to visit and places to go to, around the Mt. Fuji. We chosed to visit through the 5 lakes. You need to be lucky with the weather to see the mountain because it's not perceivable when it's cloudy. The reconstructed Japanese village "Saiko Iyasmi-no Sato Nenba" is very cute and traditional, we were waiting there for the clouds to move and after a while waiting we could finally see the top of the mountain. It is very impressive how big it actually is when you stand there! To go around the five lakes and hike around to see and visit everything you need at least 2 days.
If you have any questions or comments about this article, just send me an e-mail.