Spring photoshootsBLOGCouple Photography


Studio Trip March 03, 2024

Couple photoshoot in a landscape with cherry blossoms in Kyoto, Japan

There are thousands of posts and blogs out there on how, where and when to shoot the perfect cherry blossom photoshoot. The sakura season is probably one of the most important and popular times of the year here in Japan. Watching the pink and white petals becomes an excuse to go out for a picnic with your family or friends. It’s the perfect time to appreciate the present and the bonds with your loved ones, surrounded by the ephemerality of the flowers.

When arranging a spring photoshoot, it’s essential to consider the dates. The specific dates during which the sakura blooms may vary depending on the year and region. Nonetheless, in Kyoto, the first shy cherry blossoms usually start to tinge the landscape with pink around the last week of March (this year from the 23rd) and reach full blossom on the last days of the month. The flowers start to fall usually after 10 to 14 days, which leads to the popular phenomenon portrayed countless times in anime: the pink rain of petals that creates an otherworldly atmosphere.

As Kyoto photographers, one of our biggest challenges consists in navigating the ever-growing crowds in the main tourist spots of the city. In order to achieve the perfect cherry blossom photoshoot, it’s essential to count with detailed knowledge of the sakura season as well as of the area you are planning to shoot at.

The photographer in Kyoto only has two options: either shoot at the most popular locations at an unfriendly hour (just before sunrise, for instance) or look for a lesser known area that provides the same or best cherry blossom shots. In our case, since we are a team only formed by local photographers, we have the advantage of knowing more deeply both the city of Kyoto and its surroundings. In this post, we will share with you one of our favourite locations for an ideal sakura photoshoot: Yodogawa Riverside Park.

Sky and cherry blossom in Kyoto, Japan
Sakura against the sky of Kyoto.

Sakura tunnel | Yodogawa

Imagine a 1.4 kilometres long corridor of cherry trees, surrounded by two extensive shores of lush green. A space famous among the locals but yet to be discovered by the foreign tourists. Of course, although mostly only visited by Japanese people, it can easily get crowded as well, so it would be wise to plan the photoshoot with some time and taking into account the peak hours. It takes around 30 minutes to get there by train from the Kyoto Station.

We had the chance to show the Yodogawa Riverside Park to Lucy and Hugo, a young Spanish couple who were visiting Japan for the first time. They contacted us because they wanted to immortalise their memories of their once-in-a-lifetime trip with a cherry blossom photoshoot, which seems to be the quintessential type of photoshoot for foreign couples, but they needed assistance on selecting the location. Since, in Kyoto, photo spots like the Maruyama Park or the Philosopher’s Path seemed to be crowded to a prohibitive level, especially at noon, they wanted to be portrayed in a less recognizable environment.

The perfect contrast of the white cherry blossom petals with their also chess-coded clothes matched perfectly. We looked for the perfect tree for a while and, once we found it, we were able to shoot both couple photos as well as portraits.

Spring portrait photoshoot of girl among sakuras in Kyoto Japan
Portrait of Lucy surrounded by sakura.
Spring couple photoshoot among sakuras in Kyoto Japan
Candid moment of Hugo and Lucy merging with the landscape.
Spring couple photoshoot in Yodogawa, Kyoto Japan
Walking through the sakura tunnel.

After enjoying for an hour the Sakura Festival of the Yodogawa Riverside Park, we decided to continue a common route for the visitors with a visit to the Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine. In order to access this sanctuary located on the top of a mountain (Mt. Otokoyama), travellers usually resort to a cable car that also offers a candid landscape for photography:

Couple photoshoot in a train in Kyoto Japan
Powerful couple portrait by the window of the cable car.

Shinto shrine photoshoot

Once we arrived at the shrine, we began a more traditional photo shoot, a couple portrait with the vibrant red of the Shinto architecture in the background. Lucy and Hugo’s body language was so natural that it felt like we were filming a documentary of two specimens completely unaware of the cameras. It’s always a joy to work with such spontaneity.

Couple photoshoot at a Japanese shinto shrine
Lucy and Hugo waiting in line to pray at the Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine.
Couple photoshoot at shinto shrine Kyoto Japan
When praying at a shinto shrine it’s essential to respect the traditional manners.

After showing them how to properly pray at a shinto shrine, we ordered a couple of matcha ice-creams for them in order to close that round of Japanese experiences for first-timers that the day had become. After three hours of shooting, we said our goodbyes at the train station, wishing them the best and with a warm, candid feeling in our hearts.

If you are looking for a photographer in Japan or have already started to negotiate with one, don’t forget that you need to enjoy the photoshoot as well, not only the results. If our more than 10 years of experience in photography and videography have taught us something, that would be that the more genuine the portrayed feelings are, the more time-resistant the photographs will be. So don’t hesitate in expressing how a perfect photoshoot looks for you, the kind of activities you would like to engage in, what atmospheres you would like to explore… And, of course, be sure that you hire a professional photographer or videographer that can assess and guide you, propose you locations and design with you your future memory.

Couple photoshoot at a Japanese train station