32mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/1250, 8 images stitched
As I have mentioned many times in previous posts from 2016, I doubt I will ever run out of things to do or see in Japan while I am here. From the countless temples and shrines to the annual festivals across the country, and the meticulously-kept gardens to the many scalable mountains (Fuji-san, I hope to conquer you this summer…), I find it funny that I am beginning to run out of local destinations close to base. Sure, I could probably go to Tokyo and Yokohama five more times each and still not see the half of these cities, but in a lot of ways these cities are a lot of the same that end up lending similar photographic opportunities.
As it stands, I only have time about once or twice a week to go out and explore, and in those times, I am pretty confined to someplace within a couple hours train ride. On the occasional 4-day weekend or two weeks of leave in summer, I have the chance to really go outside my comfort zone like I did in Osaka and Sendai! Otherwise, I end up in these dead months of winter twiddling my thumbs trying to figure out a new and exciting place to visit within arms reach. Thankfully, I am not quite to the point of having seen everything, as I managed a trip with a friend to visit Odawara for a while last weekend on a beautiful but cold Sunday afternoon. Continue Reading
16mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/400
Ah, I can’t argue with the fact that breaks are nice. Especially around the holidays (if you’re able to avoid the stress!), some well-deserved time off with friends and family can do wonders for the mind and body. My two-week “reset” really helped fix some of my health issues I have been having, notably regarding my sleep. Though it is likely temporary since I am headed back into the same conditions of barracks living like I have lived for the past year, I’m enjoying the respite from exhaustion and sleep deprivation while it lasts.
As such, I am getting out and photographing even in the cold of winter here in Japan, and while I am still working on photographs from late 2016, new sights aren’t going to see themselves around here! Back on the subject of catching up on 2016, this post contains my first adventure into Yokohama, what some consider as the “little brother” to Tokyo. Easier to access, and a bit more spread out than the megacity many around the world already know, Yokohama is a large but manageable Japanese city on its own that holds many attractions for everyone. Best enjoyed with friends, a day trip to Yokohama (this one in the tail-end of November!) is sure to end with some fun and memorable times. Continue Reading
16mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/100
Well, day by day, I’m still editing and posting up what’s left of my previous photo excursions into the late November/early December time of year here in Japan. As the chill of winter starts to set in, the flora all around is slowly dying off, with colors fading and leaves falling to be swept up the next day. Pretty soon, the hum-drum of my least favorite season will take over for a few months, leaving me a bit more time to a) Sleep in more b) Work on some lens/gear reviews and c) Hopefully sleep in again some more! Of course, when the cold does get here to stay, I will make my best effort to get some snow shots, maybe even as far north as Hokkaido’s epic snow villages if I get a 3-day weekend.
But, if my current photos have anything to say about it, that time has not yet come! Right near the peak of Fall color in Tokyo, some friends and I headed on a late afternoon trip to the 143-acre Shinjuku National Garden to catch some late November sights. I did not realize just how impressively the park expands into about a third of the size of New York’s Central Park. As are many things in Japan, however, the park is very space-efficient and contains many smaller vistas and gardens for visitors to enjoy, in addition to vast stretches of open field for picnicking and recreational sports. At the super-reasonable 200¥ admission price, I’ll likely see myself coming back again later next year. All photos below with the NEX-7 and Rokinon 16mm f/2, Zeiss Touit 32mm, and Laowa 105mm T3.2 (the last of which I really, really am trying to find time to review!). Continue Reading
16mm, ISO 100, f/2, 1/100
In my first catch-up post (of likely a few to come from November), I went on a mini-tour of the Sankeien Garden located in the southern outskirts of Yokohama in early November. My base’s Liberty Center is experimenting with cheap afternoon/morning tours to local hotspots lately, and I am glad to participate in as many as possible for some easy ways to get more photographs and explore my cozy little corner of Japan. Continue Reading
16mm, ISO 100, f/2, 1/125
When you live near the most populous metropolitan area in the world, it pays to get out and experience all there is to see, as often as you can. When that city is also just an hour’s train ride away, there is really little excuse not to go! As I am always finding out, Tokyo is a city I will likely never be able to see all of during my stay here in Japan. Its sheer size and density makes planning out a day trip all the more difficult. Nowadays, when I do go to Tokyo, there is rarely a specific place in mind I try to go to. Instead, based on the weather conditions and local happenings, I vaguely plan my route as I am on the train ride over!
105mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/500
Whew! Seems like with every passing day I am getting further and further behind in my personal photographic work. The files just keep piling on, while I can’t find the time to edit and post up the shots! I have to admit that this is a great problem to have, though, especially given my photographic drought in 2015.
Up for posting today is day two of my photographic journey in the Kansai region, specifically my time in Osaka at the Rice Planting Festival (Otaue Shinji) and a brief stop at the majestic Osaka Castle. For more information on the rice planting festival and its history, please see this link. Since I already made the fortunate mistake of arriving to Sumiyoshi-Taisha a day before the festival, I had a decent mental map of the area to navigate the grounds easily among all the visitors and performers. Note: a video recapping much of the festival’s events will be near the bottom of this post. Continue Reading
105mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/1000
The spirit and tone of sightseeing varies greatly depending on who you are with, the weather of the day, as well as whether or not you brought a camera along. The last time I visited Kamakura, my camera gear had not yet arrived to Japan. Granted, it was also December, and a little too cold14 to be holding a camera all day. For a long time, I wanted to go back to this historically significant city and take a closer look around with my trusty camera in tow. Continue Reading