Located in Arashiyama, Kyoto, this mountain villa is the former home to period film actor Denjirō Ōkōchi, and is now open to the public. The property features tea houses, shrines, and carefully maintained Japanese gardens.
The Gion district of Kyoto was originally developed in the Middle Ages. It was (and still is) regarded as being one of the most exclusive and well-known geisha districts in all of Japan.
Walking through the bamboo groves of Arashiyama, an old Japanese man stopped to point us toward the "magic moss" of the Gio-ji Temple. In broken English he explained that it was the most beautiful garden in all of Kyoto.
Within the spacious grounds of the Nanzen-ji temple complex, a 19th century aqueduct looms over it's visitors. The raised aqueduct was (and still is) used to bring water from Lake Biwa to Kyoto, at a rate of 2 tons per second; today it supplies 97% of the city's water.
The Japanese concept "Wabi Sabi" is an aesthetic principle that places its value on imperfection, impermanence, asymmetry and humility, quite the opposite of the western aesthetic values of symmetry, grandeur and perfection. For over 1000 years, moss has been celebrated by Zen Monks for it's Wabi Sabi aesthetic. Today, many agree that no Japanese garden is complete without it.
The Dotonbori area was once known as the theater district until several theaters were bombed and destroyed during World War 2. With the decline of interest in theater, this area has transformed into a popular nightlife area known for its eccentric atmosphere and large illuminated signboards.
Tokyo's Harajuku is known internationally as a center of Japanese youth culture and fashion.
Here's an ultra wide shot of a Zen-Buddhist temple in Kyoto, known as the Kinkaku-ji. The pond in front is called Kyōko-chi, or in English "mirror pond", and contains 10 smaller islands. If you look closely enough you'll see the bronze phoenix ornament that tops the temple.
Also known as Rokuon-ji, the top two stories of the golden pavilion are covered with pure gold leaf and house relics of the Buddha.
Year after year the Fushimi Inari-Taisha of Kyoto is voted the best tourist site in Japan. Over 40,000 vermilion torii gates line the 4km pathway, which wanders up the wooded mountain towards the inner shrine. Each of the torii gates were donated by a Japanese business to honor Inari, the god of rice, agriculture and prosperity.
There are hundreds of stone foxes spread across the temple grounds of the Fushimi Inari-taisha. Many believe that the foxes are the messengers of the Shinto kami, or spirit, Inari.
A woman offers candy in Harajuku's Takeashita Street.
Founded by Empress Shōtoku in the middle of the eighth century, the Otagi Nenbutsu-ji is a Buddhist temple located in Arashiyama, Kyoto. The temple is home to over 1200 stone sculptures!
This stone sculpture represents a "Rakan", the Japanese word for the Buddhist "Arhat" - a saint or person who has attained nirvana, the ending of the rebirth cycle.
The 1200 rakan sculptures of the Otagi Nenbutsu-ji represent the disciples of Buddha. In keeping with rakan traditions, these statues are generally cheerful and humorous. This one looks like he's holding a portable tape cassette, which is impressive considering how ancient it is.
The Bentendo Hall within Daigo-ji is famous for the beautiful colored leaves in the fall when maples and ginkgos turn red and yellow. It is considered one of the most beautiful sites in Kyoto, an impressive feat given that Kyoto is home to over 1600 temples.
The scent of grilled octopus fills the air within Osaka's Dotonbori streets. This is one of the many vendors that offers Takoyaki; a grilled or fried octopus ball.
The word Kuidaore, which translates to "eat oneself bankrupt" or "eat until you drop" is often used to describe Osaka's popular street food destination and night-life district, Dotonbori.
Osaka's Dotonburi district is quite a different scene at 6:00am; the way is clear for trucks to restock and bikers to pass through.
One of Japan's most famous landmarks, the White Castle played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century. One story tells of a vastly outnumbered army defending themselves against a siege of 200,000 men!
Captured on a rainy day in Takayama, this is an ultra wide shot of Hida Minzoku Mura Folk Village; an open-air museum of close to 30 old farmhouses, showcasing the traditional architectural styles and village layouts from the mountainous regions of Japan.
The houses showcased within Hida no Sato were built during the Edo Period (1603 - 1867). In 1971 they were relocated from their original locations to create the open air museum on the outskirts of Takayama.
Known as the "Sleepless Town", Kabukichō is an entertainment district in Shinjuku, Tokyo. In the distance, you'll see Godzilla attacking a skyscraper.
When aliens attack Earth, expect a fight! Neon tanks battle alongside Godzilla, robots, ninjas, and samurai. Live taiko drum performers, dancing women in colourful outfits, and giant female robots join the ranks of dinosaurs and pandas in an epic battle to save the planet. It didn't make sense, but it was incredible.
A shot of Jenna in one of the halls of Robot Restaurant.
Located in Nikko, the lavishly decorated mausoleum and shrine complex of Tōshō-gū is nestled within a beautiful cedar forest. The ornate designs are Chinese-inspired and quiet rare to see in Japan, where simplicity is traditionally stressed in shrine and tomb architecture. It took 2 years, and 15,000 of Japan's most celebrated craftsmen and artists to complete.
One of the many clusters of carved grave-stones within the Fushimi Inari-Taisha.
Found just north-west of Nikko, "Senjogahara" means "field of battle". It was named after a story of two mountain gods battling for control of the nearby Lake Chuzenji. Today the marshlands are celebrated for their natural beauty, especially during the autumn season.
Meaning "sacred bridge", the Shinkyo Bridge serves as the entrance to Nikko's shrines and temples. It was also known as "the bridge of snakes" as legend tells of two snakes that transformed to create the bridge, allowing priests to cross the dangerous Daiya river.
Formed by an eruption of nearby volcano Mount Nantai, Nikko's Kanmangafuchi Abyss is known for its row of 70 stone statues of Jizo. These statues are known as Bodhisattva, and they represent those able to reach nirvana (the end of the rebirth cycle) but delay leaving out of compassion to save suffering beings.
A remote mountainous highland valley located in the Hida Mountains, the "Northern Alps" of the Japanese Alps. It has been preserved in its natural state and is designated as one of Japan's National Cultural Assets.
Translating to the "burning mountain", Mount Yake is an active volcano in the Hida Mountains. With a 2,455m elevation, it was a challenging hike up to the smoldering summit. Here is a shot before the climb entered the clouds.
A warning sign in Nikko's Senjogahara Marshland.