Tohoku Photo Tour - Hirosaki Blending Architecture & Nature Photography Workshop
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Friday, June 07, 2019
By Japan Dreamscapes
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Tohoku Photo Tours have many appeals, and Hirosaki is a flagship city in Aomori Prefecture and a must see destination for those interested in landscape photography.  So many buildings and areas are designated as tangible cultural properties, so everywhere you look, you are face to face with an amazing photo op and an opportunity to focus on a part of Japanese culture.  Simply walking the path that Japan Dreamscapes (JDS) Photo Workshop Leaders suggest could be done in less than two hours, but the angles you will discover and to truly capture and appreciate the photographic subject will take at least a day if not more.


Your first photo op is the glorious Fujita Memorial Garden.  It is second in size in the Tohoku region only to the Motsu-ji garden in Iwate Prefecture.  The garden boasts a spectacular view of Mt. Iwaki as well as a traditionally Edo-influenced construction.  The garden is so expertly constructed that it appears almost as a 3-D rendered map as elements from beyond the garden, naturally occurring landscapes only improve the foreground of your photographs with an enriching frame.  Once you have strolled the garden grounds and photographed the ample flowers, a different one for every season including cherry blossoms during the spring, you are ready for your next stop.


The Shimoyama Family Residence, although finished in 1945, still demonstrates several important traditional Japanese architectural elements.  The first is the gabled roof.  Because Hirosaki is so far north, heavy snow during winter is something that architects and carpenters had to always be aware of.  As such, the first thing that will strike you as you gaze upon the house is how dramatically slanted the roof is to make sure that the snow always sloughs off so the roof would not be damaged by the mounting weight of the accumulating snow.  Another eye catching element is the ‘Azuma-dachi’ orientation of the home.  It is a widely held tradition that houses should face the east where gentler winds blow with varied vegetation or kainyo is planted.  These are all elements that your JDS Photo Workshop Guide will make note of as you soak in this unique photo op.


The final stop on your Hirosaki Photo Tour is the Kimura Family Residence.  The location came to prominence after its construction was completed due to the large number of samurai that dwelled there during the feudal government period.  The Yakuimon gate, made famous as a mainstay in Edo Period Japanese dramas, denoted that you were entering into a samurai residence, and as one did, visitors fell under the rules and expectations set forth by the residents because if the samurai felt a hint of a slight against their honor, the residence would be the last place a visitor would see.  The gravity of the period still resonates throughout this historical photo op and is a must see during a Tohoku Photo Tour.  Other features such as the tall, black wooden gate and the down to earth garden clearly gesture back to the high social standing of the Kimura Family Residence’s boarders during the Edo Period.  You will marvel at your fulfillment as you take in the splendor that is this magnificent samurai symbol.

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