Articles Tagged with: Japan
Tokyo | Rail Station
Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

People use the word magical too much, especially in reference to Tokyo.

But I now get it because I did have several moments when wandering and looking and searching in solitude that I felt myself transported from this world into another place of waking dreams, a state of mind where anything felt possible, where the air felt pregnant, moments where anything could happen, intersections where I could choose a direction and never return to the life I’ve lived and known.

It was like walking through the gauzy cloth of a Murakami story, a Miyazaki film, a ukiyo-e woodblock print made manifest and real.

This one night I paused by this subway station and its few passengers and watched the trains come and go, the still water reflections confusing my senses, the music of the city lulling me into a trance. Time was not moving. Or it was racing ahead. It did not matter. There would be another train soon.


Tokyo | Ueno
Ueno, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Ueno, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

I don’t know why, but I cannot stop shooting crosswalks. I think it is just the collision of humanity and the geometric and graphical nature of the crosswalk. People are also a bit captive and can’t escape my lens. My shots are not always successful and I do catch myself repeating myself, taking similar shots in crosswalks around the world.

But I do like this one.


Tokyo | Kanda Yabu Soba

I have a simple rule when I am traveling or doing my wandering thing: when I see a line of locals waiting for a restaurant, I must abandon my plans and also get in line. Even if I have just eaten, it does not matter, because this has nothing to do with hunger. Traveling is about experience and if you can, experiencing a place like a local as much as you can. I know that the chance that I will ever return to a place I have visited is very low, so these are always once a lifetime opportunities.

My cousin who lives in Tokyo took me to this soba place in Chiyoda and the day was sunny and hot and the line was long, wrapping around the corner. She apologized profusely and suggested that we go someplace else. I told her I was fine with waiting because the long line of locals was very enticing. We waited about 45 minutes to get a table.

My God, that is some soba. One of the best meals I had in Japan and there were many exceptional meals.

To read more about this restaurant, read this article from The Japan Times.

Kanda Yabu Soba, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Kanda Yabu Soba, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Kanda Yabu Soba, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Kanda Yabu Soba, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Kanda Yabu Soba, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Kanda Yabu Soba, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim


Tokyo | Shibuya

When I am traveling and wandering, I have a simple rule: if I see a crowd or a line, I must go investigate. If it is a restaurant, I will likely eat regardless of my level of hunger. I know I’ll likely never return so might as well take advantage.

One day I was browsing the Tower Records in Shibuya when I saw the crowds of people waiting for some event for unfold. There were many kids but there were also people of all ages waiting in an orderly mass. I decided to stick around to see what would be unveiled.

It was some mascot for some fucking thing. I stayed long enough to expose a few frames because after all, I had waited for a while.

Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim


Hiroshi Watanabe | Rikishi (2005)

My expenses are almost as high as my photography income and I have so little left at the end even when I am lucky. So, maybe I am not qualified to answer this question. Then why am I doing photography? I think it is a combination of passion and stupidity. For me, photography is intellectual, …artistic, and curiosity fulfilling. I love making photographs.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Touki, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Touki, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

I am not sure if I am successful professional photographer. If “successful professional” means I can live a good, somewhat luxurious, life by the profession, then I am certainly not.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Fukujumaru, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Fukujumaru, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

I make every effort to be a faithful visual recorder of the world around me, a world in flux that, at very least in my mind, deserves preservation, and that I constantly seek to expand.
I strive for both calculation and discovery in my work, studying my subjects in preparation, while at the same keeping my mind open for the surprises. The pure enjoyment of this process drives and inspires me. Mostly, I seek to capture people, traditions, and locales that first and foremost are of personal interest, while other times I seek pure beauty.
I always go to places with some kind of expectation and I come back with a lot more, with images I never expected.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Kumanosato, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Kumanosato, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

I believe there’s a thread that connects all of my work — my personal vision of the world as a whole. I make every effort to be a faithful visual recorder of the world around me, a world in flux that, at very least in my mind, deserves preservation.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Ichinoya, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Ichinoya, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

My father bought me a Minolta 35mm SRL and that was my first camera. I had no prior interest in photography. I played a lot and enjoyed the four years of college life, but somehow I became serious about photography as I studied it. When I graduated, I found a job in the US which happened to be a production company specializing in making commercials for Japan. I thought I would work for the company for a year or two and look for a photography job meanwhile. But one photographer whom I met suggested that I stayed on with the job. He said advertising and filming had much potential while photography had no future. At that time, I was starting a family and I had the responsibility. So, I stayed on with the job and a four years later I started my own production company. After I ran the business for 15 years, one morning, I woke up and all the sudden I decided to become a photographer again. I don’t know why but I had decided. I traveled and built up a portfolio between commercial jobs for 5 years and after that I closed down the business and became a full time photographer. It’s been 10 years since then and I am still a photographer.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Asakubo, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Asakubo, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

I try to find something that I don’t understand. That’s what drives me.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Rikishi 3, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Rikishi 3, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

My photographs reflect both genuine interest in my subject as well as a respect for the element of serendipity.
I wish for my images to distill scenes ranging from the ephemeral to the eternal, from the esoteric to the symbolic. A current that underlies my work is the concept of preservation.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

To view more of this series and the work of the master Hiroshi Watanabe, click here.


Tokyo | Chiyoda

I was leaving Sensoji, walked to Ueno and was on the way back to Shinjuku and back to my hotel. If you know Tokyo, that is a long walk and it had taken most of the day.

This was one of those days where I had exposed only a handful of frames. It happens. Some days are full of magic and I bang out roll after roll of film. Other days, it is more of a hunt, searching for those elusive bits of life to focus on. It’s not a bad thing at all. These days are just a reminder that the process of wandering and exploring is the whole point, the journey over the results.

I was nearing the end of the day. The sun had already set, the city was dark and I found myself in a deserted part of Chiyoda. I roamed the streets, generally heading southwest back towards Shinjuku and where I was staying. I did not know where I was exactly nor where my hotel was, but I generally find my way. Southwest then.

Along a narrow side street, I passed windows with a warm light streaming out and I could just see the top of this guy’s hair. I knocked on the door and walked in tentatively. The guy was there, still working and crunching his numbers. Some small office for a small design firm perhaps? He did not speak English and I had no Japanese. I very much liked his style.

For a moment, I was in the warmth of his presence and the coziness of his well-designed place.

I took two photos and thanked him and left.

Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim


Tokyo | Japanese Black Pine Trees

I am one for gardens. But I do not garden as a verb. I do not dream of owning some plot and working on weekends with a trowel and peat moss. I like other people’s gardens and I am always ready to appreciate someone else’s effort, to sit down on a bench and to contemplate the light through the trees, to wonder what the names of those flowers are, to think about shit and to sit for hours.

In Tokyo and Kyoto, there are gardens that reach a perfection of form and function, such places that are the ultimate in designed spaces. I was with my family on this trip and had a full itinerary, so I did not have time to sit and savor the day and the sun dappled air.

There is much to comment and remark upon in these gardens but one thing that continually struck me was the beauty of the Japanese Black Pine Trees, these elegantly tufted trees, trimmed and trained into rhythmic shapes undulating like a Calder, like a blossoming stack of clouds.

These shots were from the Kokyo Gaien National Garden in downtown Tokyo, in the Chiyoda neighborhood.

Kokyo Gaien National Garden, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Kokyo Gaien National Garden, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Kokyo Gaien National Garden, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Kokyo Gaien National Garden, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim


Tokyo | Harajuku
Harajuku, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Harajuku, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Tokyo is a special place. It is so wildly exotic, yet as safe and entertaining as an amusement park.

The fruits at Harajuku have been well documented. These young ladies were spellbound by their own images on a jumbo screen hanging over the main entrance to Harajuku which displayed a live feed that was pointed at them.

They stayed there for several minutes unable to leave their doppelgangers, taking pictures of themselves taking pictures of themselves.


Martin Parr | Miyazaki, Japan
The Artificial beach inside the Ocean Dome, Miyazaki, Japan, 1996 © Martin Parr

The Artificial beach inside the Ocean Dome, Miyazaki, Japan, 1996 © Martin Parr

Tourism is the biggest industry in the world, only oil comes anywhere close and lot of that is used in the tourist industry anyway. This folio of images shows the tourist (ie you and me) doing what we do when we arrive at the beach or another global honeypot. We queue up, we sun ourselves and spend cash on often useless souvenirs. We then take photos of ourselves in front of the visiting sight. This proves we have been there and are part of the world as we know it.

– Martin Parr