Ueno Park is a large green space in central Tokyo and a great place for a walk around the city with the camera. There’s temples, museum, a zoo, entertainment – including Taiko drumming blogged here, flea markets and plenty of people. It’s also beside a large shopping area, the Ameyoko Shopping Street so you can easily fill a day here. And like Tokyo there’s any number of JR and metro stations in the area to get here.
All shot on the Nikon F60 and Kentmere 400 or Kodak Tri-X
Osaka is a nice city to visit and works well as a base for trips elsewhere (Kyoto, Hiroshima etc) albeit without an overwhelming must-see identity of its own. It is however clean, safe, friendly – and has a Universal Studios park. I’d only a few days in the city armed with the Nikon F60 and Huawei P9 and got some shots.
A good place to start is downtown at the Shinsaibashi shopping street, 600 metres of covered shopping.
There’s also every conceivable eating place, including a bit of crab.
One of the main sites for a visit is the Osaka Castle in its large gardens. It focusses on local history and art as well as some viewpoints of the city.
Osaka is also the site for Japan’s Universal Studios theme park. Cue lots of Minions but I was particularly taken with Hogsmeade, Asian style.
Practicalities – we stayed in the suburbs at the wonderful Rainbow Hostel near Imazato train station about 20 minutes from downtown. The area was nice and quiet and you’ll not go hungry
And of course in Shinsaibashi there are plenty of camera stores. Nice that film is still widely used in Japan.
Most visits to Japan will include a trip to Hiroshima – to the Peace Park with the Atomic Dome and the various monuments, and to the museum. Like many war and memorial sites, they’ve been photographed countless times but it’s still the best way of recording your own visit, your thoughts and having an aide-memoire as one gets older.
All pictures taken on Kentmere 100 in the Nikon F60.
There are a number of peace activists and displays around the park. This is an in-utero survivor from the bombing meeting with tourists.
Compared to Northern Ireland, Tokyo is an assault on the senses – the crowds, the skyline, the neon – and I love it. Another major difference is the abundance of camera stores and the availability of second hand kit and film. I stocked up on Fuji Acros 35mm – at about 60% of the UK price. (as news arrives of its imminent disappearance..)
Shinjuku and Ginza are districts that don’t seem to stop and are probably most like the image many people have of Tokyo before visiting. There’s the architecture…
The taxis are classy looking 80’s styled Toyotas. They are however bloody expensive, so it was exterior shots only.
Tokyo Taxis, Ginza
There are many eating options – local as well as global burgers
And claw grabbing is a local pastime..
Of course, at some point Godzilla was going to make an appearance
Kit was Fuji Acros 100 and the ever reliable Nikon F60.
Taiko is traditional Japanese ensemble drumming – a full-on percussion experience with visuals to match. These were shot in Ueno Park, Tokyo on a Sunday afternoon but there are all sorts of shows, classes and competitions to go and watch and take part in Taiko.
These shots were taken on Kentmere 400 film – cheap and cheerful but very grainy on scanning (they do sit nice and flat though..).
It does however do a much nicer darkroom print.
And of course, when in Tokyo – give it a go yourself.
Kit: Nikon F60 with Kentmere 400.
Me and Oskar shot on a Huawei phone
There aren’t many places you visit just to cross a road. We’ve loads of crossings in Northern Ireland – press a button, wait until a green man appears then dander across the road. Occasionally this will involve a car or two stopping and perhaps a few other pedestrians. Certainly nothing for tourists.
The Shibuya district in Tokyo has one of the biggest crossings in the world. Roads from all directions get a red light and then it’s a pedestrian free for all.
It is of course best seen from above – there is a ridiculously packed Starbucks overlooking the crossing – the phone is best to record this this.
There is of course more to the Shibuya district than a pelican crossing no matter how big assed and busy it is. It’s a vibrant shopping, eating and socialising area making it great for street shots.
I’ve always had mixed feelings towards the Queen’s area in Belfast. I grew up around this part of Belfast and it’s got an undoubted charm, but as a graduate of the University, studying there was nothing special – dull and uninspiring, even. Maybe it’s an age thing but I’ve had much more productive learning through part time study and of course, through life experience.
Still, it’s one of the city’s nicest areas for a walk with the camera. These were shot on a Canon T70 (underrated and not the slightest bit ugly) and Ilford HP5+, not too grainy and a pleasure to scan.
Queen’s has Belfast’s leading Art House Cinema and while there’s always an eclectic mix of films on show, the seating is most uncomfortable and at my last visit, I surprisingly witnessed numerous Wittertainment Code Violations.