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My first year at Japan-guide.com was filled with exciting trips and opportunities to film astonishing nature and landscapes as well as having fun experiences with the team along the way. I'm looking forward to what next year brings, but before that, here are my top five highlights of 2020.
#5: Making food videos in the Office
Different times meant exploring new ways to create. This summer, (while maintaining social distance) we quickly adopted our video making and launched a Japanese food series Simple recipes to try at home, for the YouTube channel. Not only did I get to eat a lot of the tasty foods that Raina cooked up during the sessions, but I also got to dive into a new way of filming and editing. It was so enjoyable it made my top five rankings this year, and who knows, perhaps 2021 also brings more delicious foods!
#4: Mountain worship on Mount Ontake
Not only is Mount Ontake Japan’s second-highest volcano, it is also a sacred mountain with a profound connection to the mountain worship religion Shugendo and frequently visited by pilgrims. On this particular day, I visited three of the major shrines around the mountain. Small stone stairs covered with centuries-old moss lead the way up to one of the shrines, and the surrounding trees, partially blocking out the sun really added to the vibrant feeling, spending time in nature.
#3: Hiking on Kinkasan
On the last day of a film trip in the northern parts of Japan 3 Day Trip Hiking the Michinoku Coastal Trail along the Sanriku Coast, I made a hike to the peak of Mt. Kinka (Kinkasan), an island located around Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture. The actual climbing was a beautiful experience and I was able to witness a variation of wildlife, deers, monkeys, insects, and bugs. The Island is covered with bulky Japanese Zelkova trees and stretching around it, untouched white beaches, cliffs, and rocks. On the day heavy mist occasionally rolled in, making it a bit mystical, yet a very fun experience, and my top three this year.
#2: The Kitayamazaki Trail
Extending around a small section on the Sanriku coast. The Kitayamazaki Trail covers eight kilometers of it and is an impressive cliff formation with up to 200 meters tall rough cliffs crashing down into the pacific ocean. I spent a few hours on a hiking course climbing around the cliffs, seeing both wildlife and flora. Being able to film such a majestic view and flying the drone around this area made it into one of my top memories of 2020.
Visiting the inner parts of Nikko (Okunikko) in Tochigi is an experience by itself and something that should be enjoyed by anyone visiting Japan. On this occasion, I got up very early to catch the first sunbeams rising over Lake Yunoko. It was truly an extraordinary view flying with the drone from above. The mountainous landscape, the lake and clouds all melting together with the morning colors and shadows playing on it was remarkable, and made the biggest impression on me throughout this year.
By Thomas Rönnlund, japan-guide.com