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.
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
A Chōzuya, for pre-worship purification
Then for shopping, there is the Nakamise arcade area.
It’s a smallish area but you can still be sold the guided tours
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.
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.
The inherent risk of bringing your 40 year old film camera on holiday is of course that it decides to call it a day. Before loading the Trip, I always give it a quick check to ensure that it responds reasonably appropriately to light – particularly that the wee red underexposed marker appears in the viewfinder. Day 2 of a trip to Tokyo and before the Fomapan was loaded, it was clear that the Trip meter had finally given up the ghost. However, before putting it back in the suitcase and relying on the Nikon F60, I remembered the manual aperture settings – a quick check showed these to be responding.
So, a pretty useless 1/40th constant shutter speed in a bright summer Tokyo day and it was Sunny 22 to see how the Trip would go on manual only. F22 for the bright outdoors and guess for the shade and indoors.
And… it went ok. Fomapan 100 is pretty forgiving anyway and with the bright harsh sunlight and deep shadows, I couldn’t really complain with the results from a 40 year old malfunctioning compact and a £3.50 roll of budget Czech film.
It would have been a challenge getting any sort of shadow detail here given the contrast between the umbrella and background.
Of course, with an aperture setting now to consider on the Trip, there was the added risk to forget about adjusting the zone focussing from “mountains” to “2 blokes“.
The Trip of course, is a great street camera, all you have to remember is to set the zone focus. My immediate reaction when the meter went was to retire the Trip and have a look on The Bay for a replacement. But doing a quick Sunny 16 setting of the Aperture is no problem, and you can learn to live with the constant 1/40th shutter. The lens is as sharp as ever (after remembering to check the focus) and frankly there is no better looking 35mm compact out there. My meter-less Trip hasn’t had its last holiday just yet.