Ueno Park, that’s where I’ve been

what did you do there? I took photos

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Kaneiji Temple, Ueno Park

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.

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Another Kimono photo
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Ameyoko shopping
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Oul lads, Ameyoko
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Blind among the flowers
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Oul lad in the park
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Strange cabbage-like plants, Ueno Park
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Flea Market bargains
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Seller of weird shit, Ueno Park

All shot on the Nikon F60 and Kentmere 400 or Kodak Tri-X

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: 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

O Fortuna. Part 1

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Toni Turek.  Fortuna’s most famous player – and goalkeeper in the 1954 Miracle of Bern West Germany world cup winning team

When travelling it’s always a pleasure to check out a local football club.  On a visit to Düsseldorf, the grandly named Fortuna Düsseldorf were playing the lowly 1. FC Heidenheim 1846.  Or  Düsseldorfer Turn- und Sportverein Fortuna 1895 to give the home side their full unedited title.  (The book Tor! by Uli Hesse explains the background to the glorious naming conventions of German football).

As to the match itself, it was a cracking 2-2 draw ending up with a mass brawl between both teams,  coaches and substitutes –  and a referee who clearly lost control and the general ability to referee a football match.

From a photographic point of view however, armed with a 1970’s Ricoh KR-5 and a few prime lenses, it was going to be some documentary shots to give a flavour of the matchday experience.

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Industrial estate setting

The Espirit Arena is a big multi-function trade fair venue (Messe) and sports arena in an anonymous looking industrial estate.  It does however hold over 54,000 and the Rolling Stones have played here.  For a 2nd tier yoyo club, it’s an impressive home stadium.

And with typical German efficiency, getting to the ground and around the stadium couldn’t be easier.

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Fortuna Station (ESPIRIT Arena / Messe Nord)

The regular train service connects the city centre and the stadium with a loop to get the train heading back out again while the next train comes in.

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End of the line – train heads straight back out again

Unlike many city centre stadia, there’s plenty of space when crowds start to arrive – ticketing and queing is all very efficient.

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Pick your seat
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Then buy the ticket

Of course, being in Germany the onsite food and drink is top quality and decently priced.

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My Club, My Stadium, My Sausage.

The last pre-match task – the Club Shop. For a hat.

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Fortuna Fan Shop

Kit:   The robust and utilitarian Ricoh KR5, 50mm f2 lens and a roll of Kentmere 400