Japan has an amazing range of scenery — lush mountains, crystal blue lakes, stunning beaches and seasonality that totally alters landscapes; which is in fact ideal for anyone fly drones. Drone photography is still relatively new so I feel the whole country is still practically unexplored from the 4k birds-eye lens of a DJI Phantom of Mavic. Here’s a snapshot of some of my favorite pictures of the past three months around Japan.

Consider it part one of many to come!

1. Lake Shikotsu-ko, Hokkaido

Japan’s northern island is a true wonderland in the winter, and lush with green fields in the summer. I go there when I want to escape the crammed and stuffy concrete jungle that is Tokyo. In Hokkaido there’s nothing but open space, and consequently a fantastic place to fly.

It’s also freakin’ cold. In fact, it’s so cold that my Phantom 4 wouldn’t take off and I received an “DJI battery too cold for lift off” error on my iPad. The quick fix to this is take your battery inside and charge it for a few minutes.

Alternatively wrap up it up in a blanket and rock it like a precious baby until it’s ready to fly. 

japan aerial drone

 2. Tokaido Road, Shizuoka

The Tokaido Road was historically used as the trail connecting the rest of western Japan to Tokyo during the Edo Period. It was the path well trodden by samurai and crucial to the Tokugawa shogunate. I wonder the reaction on their faces today if they saw a Chinese manufactured flying machine hovering above their sacred road.

The road is lined with delicious (free) mikan, or Japanese tangerines, that you can pick freely as you walk along. Locals also leave bags of mikan in front of their houses that you can purchase for just a 100 yen coin. That’s breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Oh, and there’s a great view of Mt. Fuji.

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Japan aerial drone shizuoka
Shizuoka Aerial drone

3. Akamizu Falls, Shizuoka (赤水の滝)

Shizuoka is an hour south west of Tokyo by shinkansen. These waterfalls are an hour north of Shizuoka city, through about an hour of luscious mountains and valleys. The only way there is by local bus or a very pricey taxi ride… or you could hitch hike it if you’re feeling adventurous.

There are tons of great places to stay (Japanese hotels — “ryokan”) nearby that will welcome you with open arms. I couldn’t believe this water fall was in Japan.

Shizuoka Aerial drone
Shizuoka Aerial drone

4. Uruma, Okinawa

Japan’s southern islands are accessible by high-speed ferries, planes and hovecrafts. This is the future, and it also involves drones. You could spend weeks exploring the maze of rocks, caves and islands.

It doesn’t get much better than this. 

5. Rusutsu Resort, Hokkaido

Part ski resort and part winter wonderland theme park. Rusutsu is the new Niseko — except less crowded, cheaper, better powder snow (the best, really), and great onsen. Check out the Westin hotel for a pretty sweet hot spring that’s free…if you sneak around the back.

The roller coasters aren’t open during winter but there’s plenty of beer and double black diamond slopes on the mountain to keep you occupied.

 

aerial drones Japan