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Film Photography in Japan: Best Locations For Spring



Nicole here from the Film Processing team! Welcome to my journey with film photography in Japan - not only was it my first time in Japan, but it was my first time delving into film photography.


It's undeniable from behind a phone screen that Japan is an incredible country to photograph because of the sheer variation of aspects you can shoot from travelling through Japan. During our trip we had the bustle of the city and the mountainous landscape of the countryside to explore.


Our trip was also perfectly timed for the arrival of Sakura season (cherry blossom), a real bucket list item to tick off that is widely celebrated throughout Japan.


After getting 3 films developed and scanned, I wanted to share a selection of the film photos along with some of the best locations to shoot in Japan during Spring.


Films I shot with during the trip:


Film Photography in Japan: Best Locations For Spring


Togurajuku Kitty Park


The height of Sakura season in Japan generally begins at the end of March, but varies from region to region and can last into May. It typically lasts for 2 weeks when it blooms, with the South of Japan seeing the start of the season before the North.


If you're visiting Japan during Spring, trying to tie it into your trip is something I would highly recommend. As you travel throughout Japan on train or bus, there is certainly no shortage of Sakura, it really is everywhere.


Whilst we saw some gorgeous Sakura in Tokyo, as expected, it's incredibly busy with both locals and tourists. Togurajuka Kitty Park was an amazing find, and completely off the beaten track. It's situated just behind Togura train station, and well, you can't miss it!


As you climb the hill, you are greeted by masses of Sakura, it is so dense that you will struggle to see through it. There's even a slide! If you are staying in the area, it's well worth the climb for the Sakura, and view.





Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Kyoto


Bamboo is perhaps one of the most iconic materials in Japan and is used in structures to tableware and tatami flooring.


Arashiyama bamboo forest in kyoto is as breathtaking as it gets. As you enter the forest your eyes are thrust up to the sheer height and density of the bamboo, creating a gorgeous walkthrough.


It gets super busy here, so I would definitely recommend making your way there before 9am to beat the crowds. There are also a number of temples nearby that you can head to afterwards.




Fushimi Inari Taisha Kyoto


The Fushimi Inari torii gates are a bucket list place to visit in Kyoto. There are approximately 800 of the iconic red gates. It takes around 2 hours to get right to the top.


This tourist hotspot is busy whenever you go, but the further you rise through the gates, the quieter it does get so it's much easier to get some snaps!


Dotonbori Osaka


If you've spent time in Tokyo, you'll understand how different Osaka is in comparison on so many levels. It's more of a rough and ready city, but a lot of fun, and a beautiful space to capture.


Dotonbori is a district in Osaka, known as Japan's kitchen district. It's lined with amazing food stalls, shops and more.


This vibrant street was a joy to shoot, and I love the candid shot I got of these locals.




Nagano Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park


One day we ventured off to the snow monkey park, and it's such a wonderful place to visit in Spring. It's around a 30 minute hike up to the top, so you don't have the challenge of snow and ice like you'd endure during the winter.


The snow monkeys are nothing short of incredible to see in their habitat, and of course shoot! They have the entire mountainous area to explore, as well as the natural hot onsen that they drink from and warm up in.


I could have used up an entire film on these gorgeous monkeys.






Narai Juku


Whilst this photo came out slightly under exposed, I loved Narai Juku so much and had to include it in this Japan photography round up!


We hiked two hours from Yabahara on a section of the Nakasendo trail. Narai Juku is a well-preserved traditional post town located in Nagano's Kiso Valley, this historic settlement flourished along the Nakasendo Trail during the Edo Period (1603–1868). Serving as a natural midpoint, it provided a resting place for travellers journeying between Kyoto and Tokyo.


After experiencing the bustle of the cities, this was a welcome treat, and it photographs beautifully during sunrise when it's at its quietest. As you can imagine it gets incredibly busy during the day as it brings in a lot of day trippers.





Tokyo Backstreets (Harajuku)


Whenever I visit any city, I always much prefer the backstreets. This is when you get to see the real bones of the city and experience things off the beaten track.


I loved shooting unexpected and real moments in Harajuku, with the salary man going to work and locals going about their day.





Kusatsu Onsen Sainokawara Park


Kusatsu onsen town was our first taste of rural life in Japan, and it didn't disappoint.


It is a hot spring resort located in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, northwest of Tokyo. There are 13 public baths at Kusatsu Onsen.


Pictured below was a short walk from the town centre. The natural hot spring is evident with the smell of sulphur and you're free to dip your feet into the warm spring. After days of walking, it felt like heaven!


I love how well the fujifilm 200 captured the flowing hot spring in this photo.





Akihabara Tokyo


Of course, if you're in Tokyo you've got to visit the vibrant district of Akihabara. Akihabara is a bustling shopping district renowned for its wide array of electronics retailers, from small stalls to large department stores.


Whilst not as busy as the famous Shibuya Scramble crossing, there's just something about crossings in Japan that are so fun to capture.


I could share so much more from this incredible trip, but these are definitely some of the highlights from this trip that I would definitely recommend visiting during Spring. Head over to our Instagram account to keep an eye out for more photography from this trip!

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