Ginza, Tokyo, Japan


Ginza is an area in Tokyo that’s known for its luxury brand name stores and lavish dining experiences. It’s not overflowing with teenagers like Shibuya, and it’s not filled with pop culture like Harajuku. It’s a place for sophisticated urbanites that attracts many, many visitors all year around.

Not everything in Ginza is expensive, either. There are plenty of delicious, affordable restaurants and cafes (especially if you go at lunch) and it also has fast fashion retailers like Zara and H&M. (And an enormous Uniqlo with 12 floors! It has a nursing room too, for any moms out there.)

Anyway, when I was still in Japan, I wandered around the streets of Ginza with my tiny Rollei 35SE, one of the smallest full-frame 35mm cameras ever made. It looks and feels kind of like a toy and I had no idea how my photos would turn out. It’s all about zone focusing (or in my case, some serious guess-focusing) since there’s no rangefinder or anything to assist you when you focus. I’m not good at guessing distances so I just preset to infinity and took a few shots, hoping that they would turn out decently.

Not knowing how your photos will turn out until you get them developed is another part of film photography that I love.

The photos I took in Ginza didn’t turn out too bad.

And I found they made me a tiny bit homesick for Japan.

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Last Friday my parents took E and I on a short day trip to Hakone. As we were driving along the highway, I spotted Mt. Fuji peering its head out from the clouds. It was a brief moment and I just barely managed to get the shot above before my view was obstructed by power lines.

Somehow, I always seem to forget the scale of this Japanese landmark. It’s big. It’s gorgeous. And contrary to what I used to think, it is not named after a person. (In Japanese, Mt. Fuji is called Fuji-san. “San” means mountain but it’s also used at the end of names. When I was little I used to think that Japanese people named the mountain after someone with the last name Fuji and referred to it lovingly by adding the honorific “san” out of politeness. I was so sad when I learned people were just saying “Mt. Fuji” and not “Mr. Fuji.” “Mr. Fuji” seemed so much more original!)

Anyway, Hakone.

It’s a place that’s mostly famous for its onsen or hot springs, but we didn’t go to any this time. (I really wanted to though! Maybe next time…) We just went to escape from the city, get some fresh air, and enjoy the autumn colors that I so dearly love.

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Yesterday, I posted some portrait shots of R that I took at Shinjuku Gyoen and I didn’t post pictures of the park itself because…well, I didn’t really take that many.

Ugh. I wish I had. It was so gorgeous there. (I am obviously not a multitasker.)

If I had more time, I would’ve loved to wander around the various areas within the park. Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to go back again sometime. But for the time being, I’ll share just a couple of shots that I did get yesterday.

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So I finally got to spend some time with my sister-in-law, R, who kindly offered to be my guinea pig so that I could practice taking pictures of people who are older than two. (I love my little E to pieces, but I want more experience in taking pictures of adults!)

We headed over to Shinjuku Gyoen, a beautiful, enormous park in Tokyo. It was freezing cold and about to rain at any minute, but we had so much fun just shooting photos and chatting that the not-so-ideal conditions didn’t really seem to matter. Once again, I took too many pictures, but for the sake of this post I’ve narrowed it down quite a bit. (I really need to learn how to do that better!)

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So here is part two of my photos from Kagurazaka. (See part one here.) I was blessed with great weather, few tourists walking about, and an adorable cat who was willing to model for me while I snapped shots with my DSLR and then switched to my film camera and fumbled with the settings. (The cat gave me an annoyed glance and swiftly walked away the moment I pressed the shutter. It was obviously patiently waiting for me to get the shot. Sorry, cat!)

And I apologize for the photo overload… It’s just so hard for me to narrow things down. (I actually had twice as many photos as I’ve shared in parts one and two combined. Yikes.)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this virtual stroll through “old” Japan!

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