Notes on a Whirlwind Tour of Tokyo

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Happy New Year everyone! My wifey and I got to spend the holidays in the glitzy, glamorous, bustling – and surprisingly very serene city of Tokyo. This blog post will be the first of several on our trip, the rest to come out as I sort through my pics and go over what wifey and I learned. There’s no way we won’t go back to this wonderful city, it’s just a matter of either snagging a commission that’ll take us there or saving up til we have the funds! For now, some initial impressions and notes to self (that may also be useful for travelers and would-be travel photographers visiting Tokyo):

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A) Tokyo’s gardens are fantastic, both to relax in and to shoot. They’re very clean, safe, well-planted and beautifully laid out, specially those with ponds. Early winter’s a good time to see them, as there’s still autumn colors aplenty in the trees, and – a big surprise to me, born and bred as I was in the tropics – the light’s good all day.  Even at noon the sun’s pretty low on the horizon, with long-ish shadows and nice warm, crisp light.

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B) I’ll consider packing a long lens next time, if I’m hitting the gardens again. Specially the huge Meiji Jingu park, whose pond is frequented by herons and egrets, and is so expansive and forested that I spotted a falcon sitting in the trees. Lots of colorful songbirds too, even in winter. However:

C) Next time I’ll check each destination for its rules on photography. Some of the city’s iconic sites have a ‘no tripod’ policy. Among those places where we weren’t able to use our tripods were the Meiji Jingu shrine and park, the Imperial Palace East Garden, and the Metropolitan Government Building’s Observatory. We observed some photographers using tripods at the Shinjuku Gyoen Garden, though, so next time we’ll pack ours going there.

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D) Next time, we should exit the Imperial Palace East Garden earlier, well before sunset, to get a good sunset view of the Fujimi Yagura. This watchtower is one of the last remaining bastions of Edo Castle and makes an iconic shot I want to capture again, jidai geki and chambara film nut that I am.

Stay tuned for the next post!

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