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Photography has changed the way I see the world around me.

Through it I discover new things and rediscover old ones. Like my island, New Caledonia.

This blog is just me sharing my world through my photography.

Hope you enjoy.

Posts tagged tokyo
HITACHI SEASIDE PARK AND ODAIBA

Japan

day nine

Our second last full day in Japan. Today we head to Hitachinaka, just north of Tokyo, to visit the Hitachi Seaside Park. Then we head over to Odaiba island for the evening.

There’s about an hour train trip and a half hour bus ride from Tokyo to get to the Hitachi Seaside Park. This place is a lot bigger than I had ever imagined. We spent about two and a half hours and only saw a fraction of what there is to see and do. Most of our time was spent in the beautiful nemophila (baby blue-eyes) and poppy fields on Miharashi Hill. With different flowers blossoming every season, you can be amazed all year round. The park has so much more to offer though. Hitachi Seaside Park is also a huge amusement park for families with cafes, restaurants, boutiques, stores and that’s not all. BMX course, golf games, trampoline, water games, ferris wheel, a 400 metre obstacle course in a tube and lots more. You can even hire push-bikes to wander around this enormous 350 hectare park. We came for the baby blue-eyes fields and other flowers but if you decide to visit, give yourself a whole day. You won’t regret it. There’s so much to do and see here.

We headed back to the hotel a little early to relax a bit and freshen up before going to Odaiba. To get there, we took the Yurikamome, a computer operated train that runs on rubber wheels. There are no drivers nor guards onboard. Pretty cool, I must say. Another reason we took it is because it crosses the Shuto Expressway No.11 Daiba Route. Publicly named Rainbow Bridge because of it’s beautiful lights at night. We, unfortunately, didn’t get to see the multi-coloured lights. We got off at the iconic Statue Of Liberty replica for some blue hour photography. Lady Liberty is only 11.5 metres in height but looks much taller because of it’s strategic placement, overlooking Tokyo Bay and Rainbow Bridge. Beautiful views from there.

Once blue hour was over, we made our way to the Oodeo-Onsen Monogatari. This place is a complete onsen theme park. It’s literally a replica of a town from the Edo era. This place is open from 11 am to 9 am the next day. And you need all that time to experience the place. There’a so much to do and see here. There’s a food court with street foods, there are restaurants, shops, bars, saunas ,spas, onsens, relaxation rooms and tatamis, massages, the list goes on and on. Checkout my last post where I talk a little more about this amazing place. As I mentioned on the post, a must visit but give yourself a full day to appreciate and immerse yourself in the experience. Two days if you’d like to visit Odaiba.

That’s it for day nine my friends. Thank you for watching and hope to see you for the last video of Japan. Oyasuminasai.

EDO TOWN

Odaiba, Japan

In a little corner of Odaiba, near the docks, you’ll find the Oodeo-Onsen Monogatari. This is an onsen city, literally. With an indoor replica of a Edo Town (photo below), indoor and outdoor baths and spas, multiple rooms to meditate, sleep, relax, a food court and restaurants, boutiques, stores, stalls, games and a watch tower. Open from 11 am to 9 am the next day, you can immerse yourself in this absolutely amazing and gorgeous onsen theme park. So much to see, do and experience here.

This is where we came after our blue hour photography from the last post. There’s a little ritual entering this place. As soon as you walk into the main front doors, you must remove your shoes and store them in a small locker located nearby. You walk pass a small stand where they give you a pass and make your way to the front desk. There they explain how things work. They give you a bracelet with a key and a tag with a code bar on it (I’ll explain that later). From the front desk you make your way to the Yukata Shop where you get to choose your Yukata. Once chosen, you go into the change room (separate change rooms for men and women) where you strip down and put on your Yukata. Your clothes and anything else you don’t need, like your wallet, go into the locker (the key you received at the front desk). From the change room you enter Edo Town (photo below). Here you use the code bar tag for all your purchases. Whether it be food, souvenir, a massage, whatever you have to pay for is done with that tag. Leaving is the same but in reverse, with one exception, the Yukata is placed in a clothes bin in the change room. At the front desk they scan your code bar tag for all your purchases and add the admission fee. Once you’ve paid, they give you a pass that you hand over on your way out at the same stand you entered through. Oh and don’t forget to put your shoes back on. You kind of get used to walking around barefoot.

We only spent an evening in Odaiba and were very impressed by it but you really need a whole day, if not two, to visit everything. You can easily spend half a day in Oodeo-onsen Monogatari alone. This place and Odaiba in general should be on your bucket list when visiting Japan. A must visit.

28 mm, 1/30th second @ ƒ/11, ISO 3200

RAINBOW LIBERTY

Odaiba, Japan

Situated on the artificial island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay, this replica of the Statue Of Liberty was originally a temporary fixture for The Year Of France In Japan in 1998-99, a celebration of the two countries relations. Her popularity though won her a permanent return in 2000. Standing at 11.5 metres hight (1/7th of the New York original) and weighing 9 tonnes, the statue is impressive and beautiful. Lady Liberty is not an only child though, she has a sister in Shimoda and another in Osaka but neither with such magnificent backdrops.

And talking about backdrops, the Rainbow Bridge is the best way onto the island. Opened in 1993, Shuto Expressway No. 11 Daiba Route is the official name of the bridge. Named Rainbow Bridge by the public, I’m guessing, because of the multi-coloured lights cast on it at night. We took the Yurikamome to get to Odaiba. It’s like a train but with rubber wheels and guide-rails. Completely controlled by computers and there are no drivers onboard. The ride was petty smooth and quite fast. Lots of fun.

We arrived at blue hour and only a green light was cast underneath the bridge with white on the towers. Though we took photos till dark, an hour after sunset, the bridge didn’t live up to it’s name. Well, I say that but maybe it did. We went elsewhere where the bridge wasn’t visible and came back over it around 11:30 pm so it may of lit up in the meantime. Where did we go? Find out on the next post.

Not the best framing but the best I could do while it was still blue hour. There were a lot of people around so I couldn’t pick the perfect spot and didn’t have much time to look around either. A single five second exposure with minor editing and a very subtle Orton Effect added. I think if the bridge was lit like a rainbow, it would’ve given a very different mood to the photo. A festive feel rather than the peaceful mood this image has. I like it.

75 mm, 5 seconds @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

SAKU AND SHINJUKU

Japan

day eight

Today we spend the day with my best mate and his wife, Marcin & Chie, in Saku then head to Tokyo before nightfall.

After last night’s late nightcap, we got up late this morning. In fact, just in time to checkout of our hotel, the Ueda Plaza. A small room but clean, comfortable and affordable. The hotel is also well located near the Ueda Train Station and centralised to, just about, everything else. We both wished we had more time to visit Ueda a little. Not just the city but it’s surroundings too. There’s so much to see here.

We caught the train to Sakudaira Station, the next stop on the line, to spend the early afternoon with Marcin & Chie. They picked us up from there and we drove through Saku city to the beautiful Pinkoro Jizo, the guardian deity of children. In general, Pinkoro Jizo means to wish for a long and healthy life with a quick and peaceful death. I wish for that. With a small Shinto Shrine and a couple of large Buddhist Temples, this place is beautiful, peaceful and fascinating. Very happy Chie brought us here.

As you walk out of the temple’s main gate there is a long, narrow pedestrian alley with one stall held my an elderly man. I could imagine this alley busy with stalls, people and festive on weekends or special days. The man was selling a lot of things but also did palm readings. My mate, who’s interested in that sort of thing, decided to get it done. It was a 30-40 minute reading that I won’t go into. Suffice to say, Marcin wasn’t too impressed.

On that same corner, is a restaurant specialising in carp, called Kagetsu. Cooked and prepared in different ways, it was an eye opener and a delight to the palette. No b-roll of the meal as I wanted to enjoy these last moments with my friends before heading off.

They dropped us back at Sakudaira Station where we caught a bullet train to Shinagawa Station in Tokyo then a local train to Shin-Okubo Station. Our hotel, the Shin-Okubo Sekitei, was only a ten minute walk from there. A Japanese-style Ryokan (Inn) with decos from the Showa era. Though the rooms are small and doorways low, they are very nice, comfortable, clean, inexpensive and well located. Great as a base to travel in and around Tokyo. It was perfect for us.

We dumping our luggage, freshened up and heading back to the train station. We got off a few stops farther at Shinjuku Station. From there we navigated the underground labyrinth to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. This is the headquarters of the Government that governs all the towns, villages, cities and wards that make up the Tokyo Metropolis. It comprises of two high-rises, both with an observation deck. We were hoping to make it up there for, at least, blue hour but we almost gave up on the idea when we realised one of the decks was closed and saw the queue and bag search before getting into the elevator. To our surprise, they were very quick and efficient, and we arrived up there right on time. You are wowed as soon as you walk out of the elevator. An open, high ceiling room with a cafe and souvenir shop in the centre, and huge windows all around with magnificent cityscapes of Tokyo. I was so busy taking photos of the skyline that I forgot to take some b-roll of the interior. I tried a time-lapse but that didn’t turn out to well. Nonetheless, Tokyo’s Metropolitan Government Building is a must visit when in Japan. I highly recommend it.

We headed back to Shin-Okubo as there are a lot of places to eat and the hotel was only 5-10 minutes away. We had dinner at Tenkazushi, a small conveyor belt or sushi train restaurant. Fast, cheap and excellent quality. They have an English menu and very helpful staff. Oh and everyone says hello and goodbye. Everyone. Impossible to enter or leave discreetly. We loved this place.

OK my friends, that’s it for another day. Thank you for watching and hope to see on day 9. Oyasuminasai.

SHINJUKU PARK TOWER

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo skyline from the Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku. Amazing views, almost 360º. Even though there was a long queue and bag search before entering the elevator, we got up there fairly quickly and just in time for blue hour. The observation rooms huge and there a cafe in the middle. Worth going up if ever in Tokyo.

I’m not certain that all three of the buildings in this image are named the Shinjuku Park Tower because the Park Hyatt Tokyo is located in these towers too. What grabbed my eye to this scene was the roads that winds behind the towers which adda a colour contrast and helps lead the eye of the view into the image. It was a little challenging shooting this photo, actually all the photos, as there was a lot of reflection from inside the observation room. I set my tripod and camera as close as possible to the window, framed and set the exposure then used the 10 second self-timer to give me enough time to wrap my jacket around the camera and up to the window to avoid any reflection off the glass. It also gave the camera enough time to stop vibrating from the jacket being placed around it. The result, no reflection, sharp and a very happy me.

In regards to post-processing, I cooled the image quite a bit to represent what I saw at the time and added the Orton Effect to the three towers and the orange roads that wind around them. The Orton Effect adds a glow to an image or part of an image. It’s the first time I’ve actually used it and, to tell you the truth, I’m not sure if I like it or not. The towers seem slightly blurry even though they aren’t. I know it’s an effect primarily used on landscape photography to give a dreamy look and feel but I’ve seen it used in other genres too, like back-lit street photography, with great success. So there is a use case for it, I just have to figure out in which cases.

28 mm, 15 seconds @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

SHINAGAWA STATION

TOKYO, JAPAN

First of all, I’ld like to apologies for the lack of posts. I thought I was going to be able to post a photo a day but I quickly realised it wasn’t going to be possible. With early mornings, late nights, days full with travel and visits, the only time I had was on the long train rides between cities but I used that to catch up on some sleep. I didn’t think our days were going to be so long and full. Anyway…

The second train we caught on our first day in Japan was a bullet train to Kyoto from Shinagawa Station. Two high speed trains past our platform before ours arrived. The first one took us by surprise with a gust of wind pushing us off balance. I captured the second train with a slow shutter to show motion but fast enough to freeze the people waiting on the platform. They weren’t moving much. We don’t have trains in New Caledonia so this is a photo I’ve been waiting to capture for a while. Glad I got the Japanese characters on the board too.

All station notices are in Japanese and English so it’s was fairly easy to get around if you understand English. You just need to take your time to find the right signs. We also used two apps to get around by trains, Google Maps and Hyperdia. The latter is free to use for two (2) weeks then you need to pay for a month or a yearly subscription. The free offer was perfect for us. Oh and I highly recommend getting the JR Pass if you intend on traveling around Japan in high speed trains and/or a rechargeable IC Card for inner city trains. We didn’t use the IC Card as our JR Pass could be used on the inner city trains we used. You need to buy the JR Pass in advance though, before you head to Japan. You’ll received a ticket that you’ll exchange for the actual pass once in Japan. The airport is probably the easiest place to do that. It’s a little more difficult to find a place outside the airport. By our calculations, we saved around 40% by purchasing the pass. Up to you to do your research.

So I’m back home now but I’ve got a lot of photos of Japan I’d like to share with you. See you on the next post. Oyasuminasai.

1/15th second @ ƒ/11, ISO 400, 28 mm