Towadako is on the border of Akita and Aomori Prefectures. Towadako, which is Japan’s 3rd deepest lake, has beautiful water that depending on the time of year and the weather changes to various shades of blue. Towadako is situated in the crater of an extinct volcano and as a result is surrounded by small mountains. These make for nice overhead shots of the lake, but there are also trails that go around the lake if you feel up to some hiking.
The Hozu River Boat Tour is a one-way, two hour boat ride from Kameoka to Arashiyama, which is about 40 minutes to an hour from Kyoto. While it is a little expensive (3900 yen or $35 for adults) the 16 km boat ride down Hozugawa does offer some wonderful views of mountains, cliffs, gorges, rocks and the occasional wildlife such as birds and I even saw a monkey! That being said, as a photographer, it may not be worth it just because it is a little expensive and of course since it is a moving boat you can’t really take your time with your shots and people often get in the way. Now, with that being said, as a tourist, I really enjoyed the boat ride! For the most part the boat ride is fairly calm and relaxing; however, there are a few parts with some small rapids. Even with the rapids (really it is very few), I would say that the boat ride is safe for children even though nobody wears a life vest (seriously, it doesn’t appear to be dangerous at all). Here is a short video I took to give you an idea what it is usually like and how it sometimes gets a little fast.
Finding the dock in Kameoka can be a little tricky as there are no signs (in English anyway), but if you ask anyone about Hozugawa (gawa means river) they should be able to point you in the right direction. It is about a 8 minute walk from the station. Basically, after leaving the station turn left (you should be walking in the direction the train just came from). You will go strait and follow the road as it curves to your left. Crossover the railroad tracks and keep walking strait. You will then see a bridge on the right, pass the bridge (do not take it) and you will see a small road with a huge parking lot (which is kind of underneath the bridge if I remember correctly, but I could be wrong).
To get to Kameoka, you can take the regular JR line which I did, but if you have time I recommend taking the Sagano Romantic Train Ride which runs slower and less frequently but offers great views (especially of the river) and if the weather is nice has open windows. Below you can see a photo of this train hidden behind the Japanese Maple trees.
Kobe is a really nice city between mountains and the ocean, about 40 minutes to an hour by train from Kyoto or Osaka. In 1995 there was the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake which left about 1 out of every 5 people homeless and killed over 5000 people. Because of the earthquake, a lot of Kobe has been rebuilt to make a fairly modern city. Even though the two days I was there it was raining, I still got a really good feeling from Kobe. Since it was raining I didn’t do much photography and cannot recommend much from a photographer’s view but as a tourist it was great! Since I wasn’t taking that many photographs I did the next best thing: eat! Kobe has some great food, both international like Brazilian, Mexican, Chinese and of course Japanese food. Maybe you have heard, but Kobe beef is fairly famous and really delicious. To be honest though, if you are coming from America, it tastes as good as any real good steakhouse such as Morton’s of Chicago or Ruth’s Chris. I went to a place called A-1 and for paid about $65 for a course meal including, a glass of wine, rice, soup, salad, vegetables french fries and of course a fillet of Kobe beef. All in all it was delicious, but coming from America I can’t honestly tell you that the price is worth it.
Most of the happening places in Kobe are fairly close together, either in Sannomiya or Harborland (above photo) . Sannomiya is perhaps the busiest part of Kobe with many restaurants, bars, shops, and 3 different train stations! Harborland is a few minute walk from Kobe Station, think of it as a huge (seriously I mean huge) shopping mail with more shops and restaurants than you can care to choose from. Also there is a ferris wheel which offers a nice view of Kobe.
For more information about the city of Kobe, check out The Kobe City Info page which has a lot of useful information about Kobe.
Yamadera is one of the more popular tourist spots in the Tohoku Region of Japan. Yamadera is located on the Senzan Line about 15 minutes from Yamagata and is about one hour from Sendai. You only need about 2 or 3 hours to see all of Yamadera so if you have more time and like hiking, I suggest getting off one stop before at Omoshiroyama Kogen and walk from there.
Yamadera is built into the mountains and offers great views. To get to the top takes about 45 minutes from the entrance. A common thing to do in, as seen in the photo on the right, is to put some money into the bark of trees at temples and then make a wish. See more photos and read the rest of this entry »
Hakone is close to Mount Fuji and about 100 km away from Tokyo. Hakone is perhaps most famous for the hot springs but also offers great views of Mount Fuji and outdoor activities such as camping and hiking.
One of my favorite places in Hakone is the Open Air Museum, where the above photo was taken. This outdoor museum displays lots of modern, abstract and interesting artwork in the surrounding grounds with mountains, vallies and the ocean as the backdrops. I highly reccomend checking this place out if you make it to Hakone.
For more information please see the Japan-Guide.com.
Miyajima is considered to be one of the 3 most scenic places in Japan, and in my opinion, of the famous 3, Miyajima is the best place for a photographer. To be fair it is also the most diverse having everything from Itsukushima Shrine (the tori gate that is floating in the ocean) to it’s own mountain… with monkeys that live on the top. Who doesn’t like monkeys? I mean really?
Also it should be noted that deer walk around the island like they own the place. I went during cherry blossom season and it was really beautiful, but Miyajima is worth going to at anytime of the year. Also I was surprised that sometimes the floating tori gate, isn’t floating. All the famous photos you see of it are when the tide is in, but when the tide goes out you can walk up right next to (or search for clams like some people do).
Miyajima is about 20 minutes to one hour away from Hiroshima by boat–depending on which boat and from where you leave. Be sure to check ferry schedules going both ways before you go, if you miss the last ferry there are not too many places to stay (they can also be a little expensive) and during peak travel season you may end up without a place to stay!For more access information see the Japan-guide.com.
Also here is the official site of Miyajima.
The Chugoku region consists of the following prefectures: Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Shimane and Tottori. Okayama is commonly included, although only Bitchu Province was considered a Middle Country, Mimasaka Province and Bizen Province, the other two components of modern-day Okayama, were considered Near Countries. The Chugoku region is characterized by irregular rolling hills and limited plain areas and is divided into two distinct parts by mountains running east and west through its center. The city of Hiroshima, the “capital” of the Chugoku region, was rebuilt after being destroyed by an atomic bomb in 1945, and is now an industrial metropolis of more than one million people.
Here are some places worth photographing/seeing.
Chūbu (中部地方 Chūbu-chihō) is the central region of Honshu, Japan’s main island. Chubu is most famouThe Chubu, or central, region encompasses nine prefectures in the midland of Japan, west of the Kanto region: Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Ishikawa, Nagano, Niigata, Shizuoka, Toyama, and Yamanashi. The region is the widest part of Honshu and is characterized by high, rugged mountains. The Japanese Alps divide the country into the sunnier Pacific side, known as the front of Japan, or Omote-Nihon, and the colder Sea of Japan side, or Ura-Nihon, the back of Japan. The region comprises three distinct districts: Hokuriku, a coastal strip on the Sea of Japan that is a major wet-rice producing area; Tosan, or the Central Highlands; and Tokai, or the eastern seaboard, a narrow corridor along the Pacific Coast.