The first time I ever visited Yosemite some 7 or 8 years ago, I saw signs for the John Muir Trail. I’m not sure I fully understood it was a 250mi trek at the time, but whatever it was, I wanted to conquer it. I had to know where that trail led.
I’m so sad to share that this is the final installment of my Japan trip! Japan has been an incredible country to photograph and experience. The vibrant colors, moody weather, and attention to detail just made me want to photograph everything. I can’t wait for my next trip there and to explore new parts of the country.
On our final day in Kyoto, we took a day trip to Himeji and Osaka. From there, we ended our trip in Fujiyoshida; a small town at the base of Mt. Fuji.
After exploring the heart of Kyoto for a few days, we decided to venture out a little further. We took the train south to our first stop; none other than Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine.
If the name Fushimi Inari doesn’t ring any bells, surely a photo of it will. Fushimi Inari is probably one of the most well-known shrines in Japan when it comes to tourism. Its orangey-red torii gates stacked against one another lead up and up and around a mountain serving up plenty of photo opportunities along the way. The Instagrammers love this place. All the more reason to go as early in the day as you can.
The next stop on our Japan trip was Kyoto – a city most notorious for its temples, shrines, and geisha. Kyoto was one of our most anticipated cities because of its richness in culture and history. The city is more intimate feeling than Tokyo and is also a fantastic base location to take day trips from. We spent 3 full days exploring the city itself and a day and a half on day trips.
About an hour from Takayama is Shirakawa-go; a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its traditional A-frame style farmhouses, or gasshō-zukuri. The houses are surprisingly tall, with thick hand-built thatched roofs that provide protection from heavy snow. The upper floors of the farmhouses were used for growing silkworms, but many of them serve as guesthouses, restaurants, tourist shops, and museums today.
We arrived to the village early in the morning which gave us the opportunity to wander the streets before the crowds arrived. It was cold and overcast. The fog lingered low between the trees. It felt surreal to be walking on the stone paths between the houses with the snowy mountains in the background. Small man-made canals provided a constant sound of running water. Each house had their own garden with veggies and rice waiting for the arrival of spring.
After our first three days in Tokyo, we woke up before the sun to catch a train to Takayama – a city surrounded by mountains in the Gifu prefecture. We took the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagoya and then switched to an express train that zig-zagged across a remarkable crystal blue river for 2 and a half hours, eventually landing us at Takayama Station.