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