Osaka

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.

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Shinsaibashi shopping street, Osaka

There’s also every conceivable eating place, including a bit of crab.

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Downtown Osaka, seafood restaurant.  Crab on the menu.
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Downtown Osaka, Dotobori Canal

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.

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Osaka Castle
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View of the city from Osaka castle
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Osaka Castle gardens
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Osaka Castle gardens

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.

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Hogsmeade, Japan (snow not real)
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Hogsmeade staff (Owl not real)

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

 

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Out in the suburbs

And of course in  Shinsaibashi there are plenty of camera stores.  Nice that film is still widely used in Japan.

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just over a tenner for a three-pack of Acros

Kit:  Nikon F60 / Kentmere 100 and the Huawei P9

 

Hiroshima

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Atomic Dome, Hiroshima

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.

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Atomic Dome detail
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Atomic Dome – rear view
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Memorial by the Motoyasu river

There are a number of peace activists and displays around the park.  This is an in-utero survivor from the bombing meeting with tourists.

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In-utero survivor
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Eternal flame – possibly colour would have been a better choice
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Students memorial
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Workers memorial
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More riverside statues
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Memorial Hall
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Children’s Peace Monument
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Inside Memorial Hall
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Museum

A few practicalities.
The best way of getting to Hiroshima is by the fast JR train – the pass is great value
http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/

At the station there is a free bus that goes around the city including a stop at the Peace Park.  There are also Tourism Meeter/Greeters around the station who are really helpful.

 

Tokyo: Asakusa

The Asakusa district in Tokyo is a real tourist trap, traditionally a ‘pleasure quarter’ – we don’t have many of those in NI.. – it’s a great day trip for the temple and the market.

Photographically I arrived with an  Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100 which had a broken meter so was shooting manually on 1/40th – and a Nikon F60 loaded with Tri-X.  On probably the brightest sunniest day of the year.  Probably a case for digital..

Anyway  – the Sensoji temple

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Sensoji Temple – Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100

 

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Sensoji Temple – Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100

 

A Chōzuya,  for pre-worship purification

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Chōzuya.  Nikon F60/Kodak Tri-X

Then for shopping, there is the Nakamise arcade area.

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Entrance to Nakamise, Nikon F60/Kodak Tri-X
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Posing in kimonos while shopping.  Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X 
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Souvenirs.  Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X

It’s a smallish area but you can still be sold the guided tours

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Tour guide. Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X
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Random music parade.  Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X
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Kimomos and umbrella.  Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100
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Just the umbrella.  Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100
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Just the kimonos. Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X
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Quieter moment.  Nikon F60/Kodak Tri-X
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Covered arcade. Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X
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Information.  Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X

The magic of travel is that at home two of the least likely things I would do would be worship and shop. With or without the camera.

Tokyo: Shinjuku and Ginza

It’s busy…acros_tokyo_shinjuku_shopping

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…

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Curvy Tokyo
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braided Tokyo

The taxis are classy looking 80’s styled Toyotas. They are however bloody expensive, so it was exterior shots only.

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Tokyo Taxis, Ginza

There are many eating options – local as well as global burgers

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stand up for the sushi, Shinjuku

And claw grabbing is a local pastime..

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restocking the minions

Of course, at some point Godzilla was going to make an appearance

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Cinema and Godzilla, Shinjuku

Kit was Fuji Acros 100 and the ever reliable Nikon F60.

Tokyo: Taiko

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.

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A wee hand held drum
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Traditionally a male dominated art – not any longer.
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A  chū-daiko. 

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Calm before the storm

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.

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very ungrainy darkroom print – Ilford Multigrade RC Matt

And of course, when in Tokyo – give it a go yourself.

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Me and Taiko teacher Oskar.  He’s the one on the right…

Kit: Nikon F60 with Kentmere 400.
Me and Oskar shot on a Huawei phone

Tokyo: Street Portraits

Candid street portraits are one thing – asking to take a picture is another.  And there’s no harm in asking, especially if the subject is willing or doing something to attract attention.

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The Noodle King.  Shinjuku, Tokyo

Or if you’ve just had the third consecutive lunch in his restaurant.  The Shinjuku district of Tokyo is coming down with cafes and restaurants – many at inflated tourist prices.  There are however plenty of cheap noodle bars – often without any English menus or signage.  This particular place had a vending machine to select from a picture which then printed out a ticket.  You give the ticket to the guy in the photo and he’s cooks up some noodles.  No need to speak – just some positive body language, a smile and a thumbs-up.  After the third day, I asked to take the photo.  He obliged.

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Free Gag.  Gag is innocent

Then there are those who are on public display.  The guy above hangs around Shibuya station with his signs.  Other than that I’ve no idea what he’s about, but he likes his photo taken.

The girl below was intent on selling me a t shirt.  I resisted.  I’m a bit old for Mickey Mouse which she seemed to eventually agree.

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she sells T shirts by Shibuya

All above shot on the Nikon F60 and Fuji Acros 100.  Having an old film camera also seems to help with street portraits

Tokyo: Shibuya

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The Crossing:  Nikon F60, Acros100

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.

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Crossing the crossing.  Nikon F60, Acros 100

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.

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Marlboro Men of Shibuya. Nikon F60, Acros 100
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Queueing for a traditional Japanese Wendy burger. Nikon F60, Acros 100
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Signage. Nikon F60, Acros 100
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Bunting. Nikon F60, Acros 100
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Shibuya street scene and a Barcelona FC fan shop…    Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100
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Tokyo Taxi . Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100
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Shopping Nikon F60, Acros 100
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Night shopping Nikon F60, Acros 100
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Struggling handheld at night on 100 ISO.  Nikon F60, Acros 100
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True.  Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100