Yakushi Onsen Hatago, Gunma: Japan Photo Drift

A photographer-friendly, photogenic site half-hidden in rural Japan.

We were on an overnight staycation in the mountains of Gunma prefecture, a couple of hours’ drive north of Tokyo. Kayabuki no Sato Yakushi Onsen Hatago is a traditional ryokan onsen hot spring inn half hidden on the shore of the Nurukawa River in a remote river valley.

Read the rest of the story at Big Sushi, Little Fishes 2.0…

Pictures from this photo shoot are available on my page at the Alamy agency website

Stock photography by Aaron Paulson at Alamy

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Mount Mitakesan Photo Drift, Winter 2016

Tenguno Koshikakesugi "Tengu Tree" Mount Mitakesan; Tokyo Japan

This new years’, our 13th at Mitakesan, a cold wind and rain blew from the desiccated Kanto plain rice paddies into the Okutama mountains and cedar forests. R and I slipped and slided on silvery trails through mist-draped woods. The sun stayed behind the clouds – did it ever really shine in these cold shadows, on this frigid earth? Rain and sweat chilled us both: hypothermia country. Fortunately, we made it off the mountain and onto a heated JR train back to the city and… a hot bath. Looks like we owe another one to the guardian spirits of the mountain – and the city.

Check out all the pictures on Instagram

Tokyo Photo Drift: Kichijoji

Hibana: Spark in Kichijoji

Kichijoji
Kichijoji

Netflix’s first-ever Japanese TV mini-series “Hibana: Spark,” a comedy-drama about a small group of struggling comedians in Tokyo, is getting decent reviews on imdb.com (8.9 out of 10 stars), though considerably less well on the Japanese edition of Netflix itself (2 out of 5 stars). I dunno: my jury’s still out, if that makes sense. On the one hand, I kind of like Kamiyasan’s rebel-without-a-cause, art-for-art’s sake character, and his ambiguous relationship with Makisan is intriguing. On the other hand, I’m not a big fan of manzai-style comedy, and a lot of the routines just don’t do much for me.

In any case, one of the biggest surprises about the show is the locations: a lot of the scenes are shot in K

ichijoji and nearby Kami Shakuji: R. lived in the latter when we first dated, and we both still spend a lot of time in the former. In fact, I was there today, and took the chance to shoot some rainy day pictures of the Harmonika Yokocho eating and drinking alley which figures prominently in Hibana, as well as some pictures of the new station building.

 

Japan “Koyo” Autumn Foliage Photo Drift: Mitsumine Jinja Shrine, Chichibu

 Autumn colours from a Shinto shrine in the mountains west of Tokyo

I’ll write more about Mitsumine Jinja shrine soon, if I can find the time. Meanwhile, enjoy the pics…Mitsumine-2

Continue reading “Japan “Koyo” Autumn Foliage Photo Drift: Mitsumine Jinja Shrine, Chichibu”

Shirakawago Photo Drift

Shirakawago

The giant-sized three- and four- story farmhouses of Ogimachi village in Shirakawago have the vibe of something out of a Japanese folktale perhaps, Momotaro Peach Boy, or a whimsical Ghibli Studios anime such as My Neighbor Totoro.

The nine-metre-tall steeply pitched thatch roofs gassho-zukuri “praying hands” style were built to shelter multi-generational families of farmers and their servants from the deep snows of this part of Japan, as well as to provide mixed-use space for raising silkworms and, of all things, manufacturing gunpowder to earn scarce cash.

The forested valley along the Shogawa River is remote. The area was only settled in the 12th century. The first road was built in 1925. Even today, Shirakawago is somewhat out of the way, about an hour’s bus ride from popular tourist towns Takayama or Kanazawa. Still, since receiving UNESCO World Heritage status in 1995, many more tourists make the trip by bus or car. My school group was lucky to get there ahead of the tour buses on a recent weekday morning in October, and for a couple of hours we pretty much had the run of the place.

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