KYOTO & SETOUCHI PHOTO TOUR 2019
9 days tour – April 2019
Group Photo Tour – 7 people
This year we have chosen central Japan to capture the beauty of Sakura. We have focused on Kyoto and The Inland Sea of Japan, best known as Setouchi.
Let us tell you how it went!
We started the tour in the ancient city of Kyoto, where we spent a couple of very intense days. Our base in the city was the Granvia Hotel, located right in the same Kyoto Station. The Granvia is a great meeting point for the arrival day and is also perfect as a departure point when we move to Setouchi. Plus the hotel’s view and the station itself are already very interesting photo spots due to the beauty of its architecture designed by the architect Hiroshi Hara.
Kyoto is a very popular and crowded city nowadays, especially in the cherry blossom season, so in order to avoid the crowds of tourists, we woke up both days very early to be ones of the first visitors to arrive at the bamboo forest as well as to Fushimi Inari sanctuary, two of the most popular spots in Kyoto.
Other beautiful locations we stopped by and captured were Tofukuji zen temple, Philosopher’s path, Nanzen Ji, Maruyama Park, Pontocho or Gion, among other spots. During the first couple of days some of the cherry blossom were at their full bloom and others were a bit early, but we mostly enjoyed the scenery.
Next stop: Shikoku!
On the third day of the tour we took the shinkansen (bullet train), to Okayama and from there another train to Takamatsu, a very lively city in the coast of Shikoku that became our hub for a few days. In Takamatsu we also visited and photographed the stunning Ritsurin Koen, one of our favorite Japanese gardens in the country!
Takamatsu is probably the most convenient place to visit the islands of Setouchi, since there are ferries to almost all the islands with daily services. Our goal for the following days was to visit Megijima and Ogijima, two tinny islands where life moves on at a very slow speed. These two islands as well as Naoshima, where we went the following day, participate actively in the Setouchi Art Festival, a triennial that take place every three years in the area.
The beauty of the Inland Sea mixed with the contemporary art displayed either in museums, villages, old houses or the beach itself makes this festival a very special one. Rural Japan and art combine perfectly to the point that you are not sure what is art and what is just reality. Photo opportunities appear at every corner!
On the way back from the island we even had time to enjoy hanami (picnic under cherry blossom trees in a park, a very popular Japanese tradition among families and friends) and take pictures of the park and the sakura during the blue hour, when the dark blue of the sky matches perfectly with the pinky color of the flowers in full bloom.
From Takamatsu we headed to the rural areas of Shikoku to experience a ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel). We had a delicious kaiseki dinner and we could enjoy the outdoor bath surrounded by bamboo trees. Spending a couple of nights in a ryokan is a must in Japan, and of course it is something we always include in all our tours.
In the heart of Shikoku we visited a very famous cherry blossom spot for the locals, a park on top of a mountain, full of cherry blossom trees melted with the view of Setouchi with its tinny islands … a breathtaking moment, for sure. It was right here where we came across with the TV crew of the Japanese national TV station, NHK, who actually interviewed on of the participants of Akashi Travel photo tour! Here we attach the picture!
Other attractions of this year’s tour included the Oboke & Koboke canyons, where we took a boat and also photographed the koinobori, carp streamers, flying over the river, the castle of Matsuyama city and the Shiranami Highway.
The tour ended in the city of Onomichi, where we spent the last night in the famous U2 Cycle hotel, located by the sea, in an old warehouse transformed into a fashion hotel with only a few rooms. It was a nice experience that all participants enjoyed a lot.
Last morning, we went up the hill with a cable car to photograph a panoramic view of the city of Onomichi, the last shots of the cherry blossom and all the temples on the way back to the sea. Onomichi was the final stop and a very unique one, due to its amazing location and to the few tourists that stop to visit the town on the way to Hiroshima.
This is always the main goal of Akashi Travel Photo Tours, to take you to places were most visitors never think of stopping at. We are here to introduce our participants to rural, charming and amazing hidden spots in Japan!