This is the first of five posts in my little Japan-memoirs-series.
Part 2: Tokyo-two
Part 3: Tokyo-three-Kyoto
Part 4: Tokyo-four
Part 5: Tokyo-five
It’s been 10 days.
10 days since I returned home from what has been a big mark on my bucket list for quite some years now.
Ever since I started getting involved in street photography I’ve visited, and shot, three of the “Big 4” – New York, London and Paris. I always hoped that one day I would be able to close the circle and photograph life on the streets of Tokyo. Ever since getting increasingly involved with the inner circles at Fujifilm HQ the dream suddenly didn’t seem so far away. This summer I got an invitation to go with a delegation from Fujifilm Nordic and have some meetings while I was there.
To say that I was excited about going would be the understatement of the century. I had been wanting to go through camera choices more than a thousand times, but not knowing what to expect was a big hindrance. So I ended up bringing the following gear:
– The X100F
– The GFX 50R + GF45mm and GF63mm
– The XT3 + Laowa 9mm and XF35/1.4
– The Contax G1 + 28mm and 45mm
– The EF-X20 flash
I really wanted to shoot some different styles. Obviously I wanted to shoot some film, hence the Contax. I wanted to see if the GFX50R could keep up with the fast pace of the Tokyo streets as well as trying to do more “in your face flash street photography” with the EF-X20 mounted. The X-T3 was brought for the more quirky stuff and sightseeing images. And the X100F….well because…. It HAS to be right by my side at all times. And it would be my safe-house if all the above failed on me.
Obviously flying from Denmark to Japan is quite the plane ride. 10 hours straight in conditions that resembles nothing better than a sardine-can. Next time I will fly on something else than monkey-class.
While we were flying somewhere over northern russia insomnia set in. So I removed the plastic blinders, and to my disbelief I could see a slightly green tint at the horizon. I grabbed the X100F. Placed it firmly against the window, leaned it softly on my travel-cushion and did a 2 sec handheld shot – And sure it was just that – The Aurora Borealis. Captured 40.000 feet above the northern hemisphere. Now THAT is something you don’t get to see that often!
We landed in Tokyo, Narita Airport with me having slept zero hours. – It was full on zombie mode! But I didn’t care. I wanted to suck in all the atmosphere that I possible could. After all I only had 6 full days in Japan.
My first impression of Japan and Tokyo was one of great calm and order. Everywhere was super neat and tidy. Super clean and very well organised. Everybody was travelling at the same pace. Swiftly, but not hastily. No one was yelling, no one was running amongst each other. It seemed peaceful. I had imagined noise from the city on a whole different level. But this was not the case. It was perfectly dampened.
The Japanese people are extremely polite. And they actually smile back, if you give them a smile. I met nothing but extreme hospitality and friendliness throughout my entire trip.
The first day was all about getting settled in, and exploring the Shinagawa area where we were staying. We had delicious ramen for lunch, and went for street photography before late night dinner with some of the guys from Fujifilm Tokyo.
The food in Japan is awesome. Period. I had the best food of my entire life in that short 6 day trip. It was nothing short of amazing. They take so much pride in preparing the food, and they have so much respect for the ingredients that you’ll be hard pressed to find any bad food in Tokyo.
This first evening we had “Izakaya” which is basically the Japanese form of social dining while drinking. Think of it as a more substantial form of Tapas.
We went to see, and walk, the Shibuya Crossing. And we also had access to a terrasse high above the streets. What a view.
We went back to the hotel bar for drinks before heading to bed. The view from the 39th floor bar reminded me of the movie Lost in Translation.
Jonas, love your work and your stories. We were in Japan for the first time in 2017 for ten days and I totally had the same feeling about the generosity and charm of the Japanese people and their incredible culture. We got to visit five cities on our bucket list tour. Like you my trusty X100F was my weapon of choice for most of my images. Looking forward to your additional galleries from this trip.
Thank you so much Mark.
Yeah, the X100 is hard to beat in any setting if you ask me. A perfect camera, if there ever was such a thing
Great write up and imagery! In February we are doing Melbourne, Australia and the next stop is Japan! What a fascinating culture!
Oh that will be exciting!
And thank you my friend 🙂
Loved the story and the imagery.
Thank you so much!
Just gorgeous and I am soooooo jealous….. hugs.
hahaha. Thank you. I would be too if I wasn’t the one visiting Japan!
Beautiful images Jonas. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you Glenn!
Wonderful pics…cant wait to go back to Japan, and can’t wait to see more of the series!
Thank you so much!
Japan is a place I think all street photographers would love to visit. For me, there is no better place than a city street somewhere, anywhere in the world to make street photography happen. Great photos as usual.
Thank you so much. And yes, street photographers needs to visit Japan at least once in their lifetime!
Really enjoyed this, thanks for posting. One question: Can you describe your use of the 50R on this trip? When were you inclined to use is vs the 100F for instance, and how did it perform in that setting? Have the 50R on order and also planning another Tokyo trip. Thanks!
Always enjoy your work, but this is really timely as I’m headed there at the end of January. Thank you!
Very nice blog and photos. Is it possible to expand this into an e-book with more photos ?
Awesome work, envy you! Thanks for sharing.
I love Japan, especially Kyoto. I’ve been to Tokyo and Kyoto twice on two separate trips, 30 years apart. The last one was two years ago with my family for vacation. We spent 2 weeks in China before spending a week in Japan.
We ate sushi at 9am at the famous fish market in Tokyo. It was awesome!
Thanks for sharing this series. Fantastic!