The land of the rising sun, a land I call my second home, beautiful landscape, unique culture between high tech and tradition...
Best Time: Not specific, but be very early
Remarks: The first of the three famous "follow the line" shots in Kyoto: Sagano Bamboo Forest, located in Arashiyama on the western outskirts of Kyoto. Like other locations in Kyoto, I can really recommend to get up super early. I arrived at 6 AM and had approximately an hour before it got crowded. To be there alone is also a so much nicer experience as with thousands of tourists later on. The challenges for the shot are mainly light and wind. The forest is covering a lot of the sky, making long exposures necessary. Unfortunately, bamboo is very flexible. Even very little wind is causing a lot of movement. So the main post-processing was blending different exposures together. A lot of detail work but it is definitely worth it. A must-go place in Kyoto.
GPS Location: 35°00'53.4"N 135°40'13.1"E
Best Time: Sunset or blue hour shot
Remarks: The second of the three famous "follow the line" shots in Kyoto: Hōkan-ji Temple is located in Kyoto old town. If you are walking through these ancient streets you automatically think about hate to find a good spot. It took me a bit but finally, I chose this one for shooting the sunset, blue hour, and night time. The sport got now much more famous. If you are shooting like me the whole period, make sure you are at the very left of the road. From time to time, there are cars on that street. If you set-up in the middle of the street, you lose the opportunity to blend afterward everything together. This area of Kyoto is very famous for Japanese tourists wearing Kimonos. If you want to try it, there are dozens of Kimono rental shops around. To avoid a "follow the line until there is nothing" shot be prepared to switch fast to a higher ISO mode to get some shots of them or hire your girlfriend as a model.
GPS Location: 34°59'53.3"N 135°46'48.4"E
Best Time: Very early or super late
Remarks: The third of the three famous "follow the line" shots in Kyoto: Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of the Shinto shrines in Kyoto and probably one of the most popular photo spots of Japan. Behind the shrine's main ground there is the entrance to the hiking trail flanked by thousands of red torii gates. The gates are not all the 8km long hike that close together but just at the beginning. There are two parallel trails that look like this. As this place is super famous, ff you want to shot it I really recommend a very early start. This shot was done at around 7 AM. 30min later it got already very crowded. I prefer this shot without anybody in it, but similar to the other two spots, there are chances to talk a local girl into modeling a bit for you. I also saw some "ok" night shots, but from my point of view, the red color needs some sunlight.
GPS Location: 34°58'00.7"N 135°46'29.7"E
Best Time: Sunset
Remarks:Kawaguchi lake area is like many places near Mt Fuji known for "wellness" holidays. Japanese people love to come to that region to relax in one of the traditional Ryokan (classic Japanese hotels, mostly with spa/Onsen). To get here is very easy, just get a bus straight from Haneda Airport, Tokyo. Besides the wonderful perspectives from the lake to Mt Fuji, you should visit the Chureito Pagoda. From the south-east corner of the lake, it is a 40-50min hike. As this is area is not very known by foreigners, I didn't experience it very crowded. So no special things to be aware of, just get there and enjoy the show. In my case, we had really bad weather but at the final moment, the sun came through - just for 1-2min. Lesson learned - never give up hope ;).
GPS Location: 35°30'05.0"N 138°48'05.4"E
Best Time: All day
Remarks: A little bit different picture opportunity is at the Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo. The subway is fully autonomous, so you have the chance to sit in the very front and back of the train. If you are not lucky to get instantly one of these seats, just ride the train until the very end (not far) and shot on the way back. Space is a bit limited to I used my tripod a bit line a monopod. You have to play a bit with the exposure time but once you find your setup it's a lot of fun. The cars on the right side are driving at a similar speed as the train, so they appear pretty sharp. If you are anyway in that area, leave the train at Daiba Station to see the Statue of Liberty (yes you read right) or/and visit Wedding Village (Anniversaire Tokyo Bay) for some crazy Insta-Shots. Enjoy...
GPS Location: 35°38'17.0"N 139°45'18.1"E