This is the last of my five posts in my little Japan-memoirs-series.
Part 1: Tokyo-one
Part 2: Tokyo-two
Part 3: Tokyo-three-Kyoto
Part 4: Tokyo-four
After Friday nights extravaganza at the karaoke bar and on the dancefloor, saturday morning was not an easy one to get through. It was also the day where I had to switch hotels. So after having phoned the receptionist asking if it was possible to have a late checkout so as to clear my hangover I finally dragged my sorry excuse of a body out of bed at around 1 o’clock in the afternoon.
I had arranged for a new hotel near Tokyo station so I could easily take the train to the airport early Sunday morning. I had also arranged to meet up with my very good friend Stephan Geyer, that I have known since 2004. You recently moved to Tokyo for work, so it was really ideal that I got to spend some time with him in this gorgeous city.
After having switched hotels I agreed to meet with Stephan at Tokyo station. That decision turned out to be a very poor one. Tokyo station is probably one of the most confusing places I’ve ever been, and the map of the place did not help one bit. At the end however we didn’t manage to meet up and I got to see a different piece of Tokyo through the magnificent guidance of Stephan and his wife Lara.
Stephan is also an avid street photography, and he’s also an X-photographer, so obviously he wanted to show me some of the sites where you could really take good pictures. Ever since I can remember I’ve been a fan of Blade Runner. And because of that I’ve always wanted to photograph Tokyo in the rain to get that dystopian feeling into my images. So far the trip to Japan had meant nothing but nice weather and sunny skies, but that Saturday was different, and in the afternoon we actually got rain.
We started out going to the Harajuku District for some good old hipster vibes. Very calm neighbourhood, with loads of coffee shop and small nice delicate stores. While we were going towards the coffeeshop, we suddenly found ourselves at one of the most exciting camera stores I’ve ever been to. This was a camera store that dealt with analog gear, but not only normal analog gear. They dealt only the best analogue gear. I have never seen so many luxurious film cameras in one place. And there it was.
The Fujifilm TX-1
The very camera that I had seen at Tokyo midtown at the Fujifilm offices just a couple of days prior. Only this camera was like brand-new. I checked the shutter count and it equalled running one test film through the camera. After about an hour of soul-searching while having coffee at the nearby coffeeshop, I decided to go back and buy the dream camera.
Not having brought any lenses for the system with me, meant that the beautiful TX-1 was bound for confinement within my bag until I got home to Denmark.
For the photo walk of that afternoon, I brought the XT3, the X100F and my Contax G1 loaded with Cinestill 800T film for those neon night scenes. This actually turned out to be the perfect combination for that night. As soon as we left the coffeeshop everybody brought out their umbrellas and set the scene in conjunction with rain and neon lights. To say that I was in photographic heaven would be a gross understatement.
Below are some of my images shot on my Contax G1. The Cinestill 800T is a tungsten light film perfectly suited for late night neon light shooting. As you can clearly see, there is an amazing glow to the lights, and everything has perfect colortone. Not bad for analogue gear huh?
For dinner we went to a very cosy Izakaya restaurant near Stephan’s workplace. It was quite apparent that he was a very well-known at the place and we had an amazing dinner with great beer.
After that we went on to shoot different areas around Shinjuku.
We ended the night by going to the Golden Gai (新宿ゴールデン街) This magnificent place is made up of small bars that will fit a maximum of 4-5 people, most of them even less and some only the bartender and one guest. Before 1958 it was actually known as a place of prostitution, but nowadays it’s only bars. Probably for the better. All I can say is the tequila was really good, and so was the highball. Around midnight we crossed Shinjuku soaking in the very last of the Tokyo atmosphere, and I ended the night with a taxi ride to the hotel.
And just like that, one of the greatest travel experiences of my life was over. – The next morning I was bound for Narita, heading back to Denmark.
Even now six weeks after my initial visit to Japan, I still find my thoughts wandering back to that incredible week in October. A place so incredibly fascinating, the people as polite as can be, my friends at Fujifilm HQ, the atmosphere, everything made a lasting impression on me. I have a feeling that this visit was only the first of many to come.
I sincerely hope you enjoyed this little blog series. I had too many images that I wanted to share instead of just leaving them on my harddrive.
Until next time – stay safe, and keep photographing.
Shot on X100F, XT3 and Contax G1
Such beautiful imagery, loved the whole series – made me want to save up for a ticket to Japan! 😀
Thank you so much Luís! Glad you liked it!
Totally amazing set!
the photo of the embracing couple (the young lady with her hands on her cheeks), if this was the only photo you came back with from your trip i would consider it a success.
This series is really amazing. Thanks for the write up. I have been to Japan the whole of November and enjoyed my stay so much. I loved Tokyo and especially the neighbourhood of Shimbashi that my hotel was located in. So many Izakayas, bars and restaurants. I am in love with the Japanese style of bars. So laid back and relaxed.
I am still waiting for my film to be developed. I bought so many rolls of Fujifilm, Cinestill, JCH and Kodak over there. Way cheaper than here in Germany. Went shooting with my Pentax MZ-3 and the 43mm and 77mm Limited which are splendid lenses and are a pleasure to use adapted on the X-Pro2 as they don’t block the OVF at all and have such a good focus ring. If you can get your hands on those I highly recommend them.
I had my X-T3 and X100F with me as well. I enjoyed shooting with the X100F the most. Always took it with me in the bustling nightlife and when waiting for the check-in time of the hotels. But my photos are nowhere close to capture the atmosphere of those places like yours do. Kudos to you as it feels like I am back in Japan when I look at your photos. My X-T3 I used mostly for land/cityscape, food, videos and on rainy days (I really wish the X100F had WR, but I also wish for an analogue X100F :D).
I recommend you to visit Sapporo. The Susukino district is perfect for street photography and in winter (especially during snowfall) it looks amazing.
Wonderful trip and with wonderful illustrations!
Jonas, I love the photos. Thanks for sharing this series.
As a science fiction geek, I want to say that Blade Runner is one of my all-time favourite movie adaptations of a Philip K. Dick novel. The action in the movie takes place in Los Angeles, not Tokyo.
Härliga bilder! Blir riktigt sugen på att åka till Tokyo och vandra runt med kameran…
These photos are awesome! Thank you for sharing.
Jonas, why did you not bring out the GFX 50r, was is strictly due to size & wanting to be nimble in the streets?
Not at all man. As you can see, I used it the first 3 days, but my charger broke while I was there so I was left with a bricked out GFX on day 4 and 5 🙁
Bummer. Great write up on your trip to Japan. Thanks for sharing, makes me want to get back there ASAP. What a magical place!
Amazing photos. Very inspiring xx
Great series! My first visit to Tokyo was as an X-photographer (FUJIFILM Middle East) for the release of the X-Pro2 and the 5 years X-series celebration. Had a very similar experience! What a great Street photo city! I’ve since gone back regularly and still e joy every moment of it.
As a airline pilot flying all over the world, Tokyo is defenitively in my top 3 of Street photo cities. Likely nr 2 after NYC. Nr 3 probably being Istanbul, with the obvious cities I like Paris, London further in the list.
Lovely Cinestill 800T shots!!!
Thanks, Jonas—great article.
Would you mind sharing the technique of how you were able to get sharp portraits shots with a motion blurred background? I am referring to the picture of the two subjects taken with the x100F with flash.
Looking at your images it felt like I was taking a long walk in Tokyo, fascinating city and country…
Stunning photos! I love your use of natural light and your creative use of flash. Just curious, did you find Bladerunner 2049 as visually inspiring as the original?