Tokyo and Photography

Black and White Digital Feature Japan Travel

My friend Flapro‘s Fuji XE-1. He brought this when we met in Shibuya for dinner.

A handful of friends and acquaintances decided to visit Japan last 2013, and I think majority (if not all) were ecstatic to visit Akihabara and see Japan’s Animelandia. The situation was a bit different for me, because I looked forward to visiting several exhibits and stores related to photography.

A few film rolls and a Fujifilm acrylic film case from Kichijo-jin. Thank you!

I heard that Japan is a great place to visit when you are into photography, because the scene dedicated to it is vibrant and really friendly compared to all the nonsensical gear talk and “high brow” technicalities that you get to see and hear on the internet (not that they are not enjoyable, it gets annoying depending on who talks about it, I guess?). Some people do not understand that photography is a very flexible tool and it can be both interesting and fun. So glad that a lot of Japanese photographers deal with the subject coolly.

I know my destinations seem minimal compared to others, but given my itinerary, this was the best that I could do. K and I plan to visit Japan (his first, if it pushes through), and maybe that time we’ll able to see more places and hopefully taken more film-based photos.

3331 Arts Chiyoda 102, 6-11-14 Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

I went to the Lomography Store in Tokyo to pick-up some gifts given to me by a friend whom I had a film exchange with. The place was pretty hard to find and I ended up walking for hours, feeling like an idiot along the way.

Anyway, the store is actually less full than what I imagined it to be (comparing it to the now-closed Toronto store). Though what I noticed is that the people manning the store (hats off to K-san who helped me a lot) are friendlier and seem to know what they are talking about in terms of how their products work.

TIP: 3331 Arts Chiyoda, the building where the store is located, used to be Rensei Junior High School (Rensei Chuugakkou). An old gentleman who runs a store along Akihabara does not know where Arts Chiyoda is (or what it is). Even the maps available in the area does not list Arts Chiyoda, HOWEVER, still have the name old school on the maps.

Take the Chuo line and go down Nakano Stn

My friend Kichijo-jin brought me to Nakano to check out some several camera stores in the area. We visited three branches of Fujiya Camera, including their junk camera branch. I was in film camera heaven at that point, lol. Surprisingly, I did not find anything to my liking; but I was able to score some photography books at Mandarake.

Daini Fujikawa Bldg. 1F, 22 Yon-chome, Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

At John Sypal’s show last July 2013

If not for my friend I probably ended up getting lost again. Turns out that TPG is hidden somewhere in Shinjuku and was indeed, hard to find.

With the ‘tokyocamerastyle guy’ himself, and me with my diminutive height lol

I was lucky to catch John Sypal (of tokyocamerastyle)’s Checki exhibit (and welcoming us at the gallery, no less) as well as spend some time talking to him and a couple of his guests. Students visited the exhibit in small groups, and I really liked the place’s overall atmosphere. It was very welcoming and not snotty. For me it felt like everyone who visits just want to enjoy photography and see how the artists view the world through their cameras, which is right up my alley.

International cameras! Whoo!

Shinjuku Mitsui Building 1F, 2-1-1 Nishishinjukuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

epSITE was not in my itinerary, yet I found the location by accident. I was supposed to just visit the Nikon Salon in Shinjuku, however I got lost (again). As I searched for my destination, I found epSITE and remembered the exhibit that Kichijo-jin has mentioned. Motoda Keizo’s “Sunday Harajuku” was up with photos taken using Widelux. I was so glad I went there because the photos were literally and figuratively, larger than life. It was a fortunate accident for me.

c/o Nikon Plaza Shinjuku, 28F, Shinjuku L Tower Bldg., 6-1, 1-chome, Nishi-shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Nikon Salon is divided into three sections – the service centre, the showroom, and the exhibition area. While I spent a few minutes at the service centre I ended up spending more time at the exhibition site. I caught two shows that day, “NYC/Yellow-Blue” by Shimada Yugo and “Takaramono ~Fukushima Kara~” by Ogawa Tetsushi. The place looks like epSITE where it feels like a more “formal” gallery as opposed to the more laid-back feel of TPG. Regardless I still enjoyed visiting the place and seeing more photography works by Japanese photographers.

Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (Syabi)
1-13-3 Mita, Meguro, Tokyo (near Yebisu Garden place)

I saw SHASHIN and I knew I was at the right place

I really looked forward going to Syabi because I have never been to a museum that is solely dedicated to Photography.

One thing I noticed that Syabi does not have a flat-rate entrance fee to see all shows. You have to pay to see each exhibition. I ended up visiting two shows, one was Yoneda Tomoko‘s “We shall meet in a place where there is no darkness” and the World Press Photo 2013. Yoneda’s photographs were profound and weren’t so sure what to think of it really. There were this feeling of quietness and eeriness to her work. This was the second time that I saw a WPP exhibit (the first one was when the show was in Toronto) so I knew what to expect.

TIP: Check out the store at the first floor at the gallery. You’ll find interesting photobooks and some photo-related stuff. I found a cute TLR rubber stamp there (to my regret, I should have bought more).

3F Ura Omotesando, 4-21-10 Jingu-Mae Shibuya, Tokyo

These images were from the previous location at Nakameguro

Another place that I had a bit of a hard time finding (as you can tell, this has been a frequent occurrence during my trip). The store has now moved from Nakameguro to Shibuya, so I don’t know what the new place looks like.

The staff spoke minimal English, to which I struggled a bit because it was already in the afternoon, and the amount of Japanese I can speak is proportional to how tired I get. However, the salespersons were really nice (even lent me an umbrella because it started pouring), and helped me with my purchases. The books and installations at the store were really beautiful. A word of caution, if you get easily offended with NSFW images, try to skip some of the books that they have available for your viewing pleasure (whoops, sorry).

The store accepts credit card payments, in case you decide to hoard more than what you intentionally want to buy.

Omori, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo (close to Omori Stn, Kehin-Tohoku Line)

My last photography destination during my trip. My friend Tatsuya brought me there as it is located within his turf. I think I ended up at camera heaven again as soon as I set my foot inside the shop.

The place is not short of film related selection, and when I didn’t find the first item on my list (Konica Hexar AF; I heard it was hard to find now), I ended up getting an almost-new Nikon F100 body. Holy moly, that place is awesome for finding really good things. The owner is really nice as well and was really patient with me and my friend. I took some photographs of the store’s interior, but I will not be posting them here.