This is the last of my five posts in my little Japan-memoirs-series.
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