If you happen to come to Japan in July or August, then I highly recommend you visit the two lotus ponds at Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura.
There are other places in Japan where you can find lotus, such as Sankei-en in Yokohama or Ueno Zoo Gardens in Tokyo, so if you are in any of those areas, give them a try as well. But if you are in Kamakura, you just have to stop in here for an hour or so! I lived in Kamakura for almost 15 years and made an effort to go there as often as I could. I have a lot of gorgeous photos as a result!
To beat the crowds (and the heat), come very early in the morning. It’s quiet and tranquil, and the air is fresh. Some people say that when lotus open in the morning, they actually make a kind of popping sound, but I have never heard it. In any case, you will be in your element as a photographer with all the time and space in the world to find those perfect shots. Lotus are sometimes very shy, so I sometimes like to get down low—below the level of the flowers—to see what I can find hiding beneath that huge canopy of green leaves. A lot of factors will influence what kinds of pictures you end up with. The angles you shoot from, combinations, background, lighting, shadow, and so on. Too much bright sunlight is not good, but a bit of sun can create interesting shadows.
When you reach Kamakura Station, come out the East Exit and turn left. Enjoy a leisurely stroll up the long, narrow Komachi-dori shopping street. When you reach the end of the street, turn right. The shrine grounds will be on your left. The entrance is just a minute or two from there. When you come into the grounds, the first pond is almost immediately to your left. This pond is smaller and tends to be a lot less spectacular than the second pond, but there are nuggets to be found in it for sure. The second pond, up ahead on the right, is quite large. You can spend at least an hour here, circling around, looking for shots. The lotus are either white or pink, and the leaves are large and green with a lot of fine detail in them. There is a tiny bridge (not the one by the entrance) that you can take photos from (or under!) or better yet, work out your angles so that the bridge appears in some of your shots with the lotus.
Whether you’re a pro, semi-pro, high level amateur, or just enjoy fooling around with your camera, these lotus ponds have got to be seen to be believed, so don’t miss this chance. DON’T MISS IT!