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Photographing in Japan

Updated on September 30, 2014

Japan is well known for its temples, which they call pagodas. They are also known for their beautiful cherry tree blossoms which have been used in countless poems, art and in literary works.

You can also find vestiges of their ancient life by photographing individuals dressed in the traditional kimonos, Geisha outfits and even samurai clothing. Not to miss in any project featuring a particular country would be the national flag and japan's flag is unmistakably not similar to any other.

Their food like sushi, offers yet another viable option to capture something that traditionally stands for the location.

These and many other subjects are not only well known across the world but clearly represent the country itself.

Japan has many natural wonders such as Mount Fuji and plenty of bamboo forests and they too serve the project well.

There are very well lit business centers featuring characters form the language which are unmistakable Japanese and you should include them in your photo montage.

I have been a fan of traveling to various countries and taking advantage of the photogenic opportunities each region of the world allows us.

One of my favorite spots is the country of Japan. Like any modern country it has its share of scenery and photographic places where I can conduct a photographic project centering on capturing the essence of what the country is and how its people live.

Basically any country can be used for this type of project and a good photographer knows what scenes and vistas will do more for the telling of the story than not. It does not mean capturing a ton of images.

You must carefully judge which image is truly representational of each country and do the best that you can in transmitting this "look" to your images so that any audience who is not familiar can readily identify it as this or that country.

Japan also features quite a few ancient castles which have been meticulously maintained and offer a glimpse of their ancient traditions and customary attention to detail. Including some of these views does wonders for you r project. A good tip is to include other elements such as cherry tree blossom in either one side or at the bottom of a photograph that features any of these magnificent structures as doing so gives your images perspective. The same can be applied when recording images of mountains or other interesting terrains, with special attention to photographs of Mount Fuji and its ever present snow cap.

"Mount Fuji (富士山 Fujisan?, IPA: ,located on Honshu Island, is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft).] An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mount Fuji lies about 100 kilometres (60 mi) south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji's exceptionally symmetrical cone, which is snow-capped several months a year, is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers. It is one of Japan's "Three Holy Mountains" Wikipedia

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CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Including images of its people is a great way to transport your viewers to this ancient land but be very polite and always ask permission to photograph anyone.

Rules regarding people photography vary from location to location and the customs are not always the same. Not only is it rude to take someone's image without asking first but can often lead to some unpleasant results.

Keep in ind that this is an ancient land with ancient and very well established traditions and some things are considered taboo or bad luck. Don't risk being offensive to others while you are in their neck of the woods.

Will you do a similar project in the near future and what do you plan to do with it?

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Japan is proud of their very well manicured gardens featuring semi arched brides that go over beautiful ponds ,rivers and streams. They should be part of any photographic project featuring the country. So too will be images of the traditional fish;carps, that often are permanent residents of most bodies of water.

Speaking of gardens, a must is to include images of their intricate sand gardens and the many beautiful stone images that often adorn them.The proper name for these "gardens" is a Zen garden and a great example can be found at Ginkakuji,Tokio.

Bonsai are beautiful mini versions of real trees and photographing them is not difficult so long as you can incorporate a full image and keep any distracting elements from entering the plane of view.

Here is a little more information regarding this 1000 old custom: "Bonsai (盆栽?, lit. plantings in tray, from bon, a tray or low-sided pot and sai, a planting or plantings, pronunciation (help·info))[1] is a Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in containers. Similar practices exist in other cultures, including the Chinese tradition of penjing from which the art originated, and the miniature living landscapes of Vietnamese hòn non bộ. The Japanese tradition dates back over a thousand years, and has its own aesthetics and terminology."Wikipedia

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CC BY-ND 3.0) | Source
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CC0 1.0 | Source

Include images of some traditional Japanese shows and folklore presentations, street photographs and people in general.

Japan is also known for its busy thoroughfares and busy streets.

Capture images of the business districts as well as other quaint villages and the more traditional looking the better.

Your goal is to portray as many different aspect of japan's culture and its life style.

Your images are well suited to use in a publication that focuses on exotic travel destinations and cultures. Also use your images for blogs and on e books.

Accompany your images with articles depicting the life style and give as much information about each shot as you can.

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CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source
CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

Make sure that your images are well composed and that they also exhume a high degree of technical quality as this topic has been covered quite well in the past.

Your best bet if you want them to be published is to devote as much attention to the writing as you would to the creation of each image.

Let your stories complement the writing and be capable of "telling" a story as much as the writing does. Keep your style simple and concise. You should not have comical looking images alongside more stoic ones.

There are variations and you can pretty much let your creativity rule but try to do a project with one main theme in mind instead of going in different ways at once.

The project attempts to display all the wonders and thus reasons for someone to seriously consider visiting Japan and your images are the catalyst that will help them make the choice.

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CC BY 2.0 | Source

© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Mike Robbers: Thank you

    • Mike Robbers profile image

      Mike Robbers 4 years ago from London

      Beautiful photography, Luis. The photo of mount Fuji is my favorite. Voted and pinned!