Ahh, Japan. I recently returned from this gorgeous place and it was my third time here. Every experience has been so different. This is a country and a culture that has so much to offer, and I’ve never even been close to seeing it all. From the mini bar stands in bustling Tokyo alleys, to the temples filled with thousands of sakura trees, and finally to the unexpected crystal clear waters of the tropical islands in Okinawa - this was one unforgettable trip.
My partner, Ethan, and I decided to see Japan while it was in the Sakura (桜) season, which is the Japanese term for ornamental cherry blossom trees and their blossoms. These incredible cherry blossoms are only in full bloom for about 1-2 weeks of the year and are highly dependent on the weather. There’s even forecasts on when you might be able to catch them, depending on their location. I love how fleeting and fragile their beauty is—appearing just as quickly as they disappear.
I can’t wait to share these photographs with you. I felt that I couldn’t capture the sheer beauty, tranquility and the diverse culture that this country has to offer on my last two trips, so here it goes… These photos feature my adventures through Tokyo, Nara, Kyoto, Osaka and Okinawa. Stay tuned until the end to see the gorgeous tropical paradise that is Okinawa ;)
First off was Tokyo—a bustling metropolis. The nightlife here was one of my favourite scenes to photograph on this trip. Tokyo has infamous small alleys that are full to the brim with tourists and locals alike, looking for dinner and drinks from tiny restaurant vendors and bars hidden away.
And the streets look absolutely gorgeous when the lights are on! The locals will also stay out late here, and even though it could be the middle of the night, it’s still thriving.
Even though I was struggling to not photograph everything I saw (the most mundane things like taxis, vending machines and street signs look way better than what you’d find in Australia!), it wasn’t long before I noticed how quiet the streets, trains and general public spaces were. This sense of calm and tranquility in such a populated place was a joy to experience.
The Japanese culture is unbelievably considerate and respectful to all that is around them. And it’s amazing how 126 million people can do that collectively.
Moving on to Nara. First off, there’s a huge public park where wild deer roam free. It’s now filled with tourists since the novelty caught on with the rest of the world, but it’s worth visiting!
The deer are so used to the presence of people and cars around them now and I even saw them waiting at lights to cross the road. Not to mention they bow three times to you when you hold their food up for them. I never knew they were so polite, it was adorable!
The more traditional side of Kyoto was so gorgeous! I could easily get lost in these streets and roam for hours. I loved how the mix of traditional and modern culture blended together here too.
Because of the sakura season, hundreds of women and men walking on the street were dressed in traditional Japanese garments and on their way to celebrate at one of the many sakura festivals. It was a whole sight in itself!
Heading to Osaka now, which was like a smaller, more relaxed version of Tokyo. It's known for its modern architecture, nightlife and hearty street food. I especially LOVED the architecture here — we found hidden gems all over Osaka, including huge highway overpasses and concrete jungles that photographed so beautifully.
We also searched for the best food spots for each meal we had here and didn’t even scratch the surface of what’s out there - every bar, cafe and restaurant we went to was amazing. Next time we’ll just have to stay longer to explore this place further!
Jump on a plane for a few hours and you’ll arrive right at the bottom of Japan is Okinawa — a lesser known tropical paradise.
Okinawa prefecture comprises of ~150 islands in the East China Sea between Taiwan and Japan's mainland. It's known for its tropical climate, white sand beaches and coral reefs. You wouldn’t believe this place is part of Japan and the quality of the beaches it provides is so stunning! We stayed on the main island, also known as Okinawa Island, and traveled to a few remote tropical islands to see the landscapes and the culture in these more isolated areas.
This part of the holiday felt like we were in a different country altogether, with the culture and architecture being the complete opposite to Japan’s mainland. It was a little rundown too, especially when compared to the other cities of Japan since they’re immaculately clean. Oh, and we also didn’t really pack for the temperature change and so we went from experiencing freezing wind chills at 8° to humid weather at 31° (oops).
Did I mention that the colour of water here was ridiculous?! Any shade of blue you could imagine and these islands have it.
Although we only had a chance to visit a handful of these islands, each one we saw was filled with tropical greenery, deserted beaches and lush mountains. We visited in the off season, so we actually had some beaches to ourselves. There’s a huge variety of marine life in the coral reefs filled with tropical fish and sea turtles too, so snorkeling or diving here is a must!
That’s it for now. I already miss the stillness, culture and beauty of this country. If you haven’t already had the pleasure to go here (and not just for skiing), just do it and I promise you won’t regret it.
Until next time Japan…