Tokyo is listed as one of the most expensive city to live in the world. However, Tokyo with a very strong culture and heritage from Edogawa, Japan has been a very interesting country to visit for most of people especially myself, making it very photogenic for Street Photography. There must be a reason why global is very reliable to Japan industry in terms of both technology advancement and entertainment industry. Moreover, you name most of Global camera brand in the world are originated from Japan. Canon? Nikon? Sony? Panasonic?
After my first visit last year to Japan, I swore to myself that I will come back for more detail exploration in Tokyo. A year passed until this year trip happened just as spontaneous as it is. Initiated by Rubin who wanted to experience snow and Agus threw an idea of having Winter Illumination Festival in Shirakawa-Go; I, then, decided to have them both onboard for the trip and Japan here we came!
As a photo enthusiast, I have to say I opt for urban-scape rather than nature though I cannot say no if I face to a beautiful landscape. However, I just love to see how people are passing by on the road with their own 1000 of daily missions, different character, and different stories. To me, street photography is a photography genre which I feel, personally, challenging as I need to possess not only basic photography technique, but also eagle eyes to chase unique moment or personal approach if I happen to photograph strangers. It is not like you can repeat the moment once you miss it; either you take it or you miss it. That’s the beauty of this genre, I reckon. Don’t you think so?
My photography career was started with journalistic type of photography, so I always practice my eyes to not lazy and wander around. On the other hand, I am very weak at inquiring pose for portraits. Nobody is perfect, isn’t it?
In conjunction to my Japan trip 2018, I will be splitting the story in several articles so I don’t have to jumble everything in one fat-ass article. As for now, I am about to share you Tokyo Street Vibes that I snapped with my new compact Ricoh GR II; all will be in BW photo series. So, I hope you can enjoy Tokyo in Monochrome.
1. City Vibes
Playing role as Capital city of Japan, there is no denial that Tokyo is congested with ultra busy high-mobilty people. The vibe is very interesting for me to snap random street stories during my walk.
2. Train station
We all know Japan possess an ultra speed Shinkansen to support their high mobility. Apart from Shinkansen, there are a couple more train operators across Tokyo and also other cities. To the Japan first-timer, it will be very confusing to comprehend how Tokyo subway line works whereby it is a very messy-messy lane. I am also very confused to the second I am writing this sentence.
THANK GOD! We have a technology called Google Maps and a GIFT FROM GOD called Mouth as Japanese officers are very kind and humble, their hospitality is TOP NOTCH! If you have no idea which platform you should take, kindly go to the information office and they will gladly tell you which platform to take.
I would say queueing system in Japan deserves 2-thumbs-up. Nobody shows any intentions to cut lane and you REALLY don’t have to experience people-push-people either you are onboard or offboard. Completely comfortable.
While we are onboard, we are expected not to make any noises. The train is kept silent so is our mobile phone. Thus, the subway vibes is very calm and silent while most of the passengers are busy with their own thing, either reading book, dealing with their smartphone,
Or fallen asleep
Point to note; the reading habit in Japan must be the reason they have very wide and good knowledge, thus, able to be creative and do the thing we perceive as awesomeness. On the other hand, we are very lazy to read and prefer to judge from what we see or what we hear without reliable proof. Hear hear?
3. Cross Road
The number of pedestrians in Tokyo is completely outnumber we have in Jakarta. They walk a lot in high pace mode from place to place. I usually take this opportunity to snap several stories occurred while people are waiting in the traffic light.
Thus, cross road is going to be interesting for photograph too especially Shibuya Crossing Road which has been one of Instagram spot you cannot miss while in Tokyo.
It is basically junction with multiple crossroad at a time. As the traffic light turns Green, the junction becomes very messy with hundreds of people crossing in different directions. The crowd is often used for background while we are posing on the street.
4. Electronic Town
Are you familiar with AKB48? That cute Japanese girl band is originated from Akihabara where this area is popular as Electronic town.
For me, this is so-called heaven especially in Yodobashi Akiba (the biggest Yodobashi across Tokyo) where I can fulfil my craving to my every needs. Go and check yourself how you can find like most of the thing you need through Yodobashi Akiba.
Akihabara is a very Anime environment friendly. As far as my eyes works well, there are so many billboards and building decorated with Anime characters. Some girls wearing Anime costumers offering you something can also be found easily (disclaimer: you are not allowed to take photograph of them as they will automatically cover their face right away; no idea why)
Not only selling brand new stuffs, we also found several 2nd handed camera shops offering mint condition camera and lenses.
To my surprise, everything is not brand-new but the condition is like 90% and working nicely. Let’s bet if you can find vintage cameras with very mint condition in Indonesia easily. Japanese used equipment are total different game to what we have in Indonesia.
You can also pay a visit to Sofmap (subsidiary of BIC Camera for used equipments); price are affordable and might poison you to work harder when you get home. I bought a used Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 lens for 55% of the brand-new price, box-less but 98% mint condition. Why not?
5. Nightlife Photography
Japan is not only good during daytime, there are so much to explore during night time too. Neon and lanterns will tickle you to pull your camera off the bag. To me, the red lantern signifies strong Japanese character to the image. Let me tell you my favorite areas you can explore when the sun goes down.
Is practically a small alley in Shinjuku area. There are many restaurant or let me say kiosks selling Yakitori and beers for diner. As Japanese known to be hard worker, they usually don’t come home straight away after work, but drinking and having fun with colleagues till midnight.
At Omoide Yokocho, you expect to see the red lantern with dim-light vibes, people wandering and queuing in front of the kiosk, and also businessmen half-drunk walking by which can be your interesting object.
Omoide Yokocho in color will look more interesting. Well, I will share the color version on the next post. Sorry not sorry, all BW pictures here.
Still in Shinjuku area, Kabukicho shall never go to sleep. A lil bit different to Omoide Yokocho, Kabukicho is very noisy and happening. People are everywhere and they might offer you something which I don’t know as they offer me in Japanese. I have no bloody idea what they were trying to say. Pity them.
There is one alley also in Kabukicho, similar to Omoide Yokocho, named Golden Guy. There are drinking bars, KTV, and some said prostitutes
Where exactly the prostitutes occur, I don’t know. We wandered and see no clue. Next time we can explore it together to find out more. HAHA!
To sum up, Japanese is very kind and helpful as in they do great hospitality. Although most of them don’t speak English, yet they will do anything to kill our curiosity. The reading culture is somewhat amaze me, I visited public Book store in Tsutaya Shibuya around 10pm and many people are still lining up to buy books or even read books freely. The more we read, the wider our knowledge is, the better we handle our problems.
I hope you enjoy my writings here, my apology for abandoning the blog for months and there will be more Japan blog after this with color version of photographs. So, thank you for reading and let me know if I can help you with my experience in Japan.