One of Japan’s most famous private television stations, Fuji Television, celebrates 55 years in business right now and is doing so with a fun and spectacular light show at its headquarter in Tokyo’s oceanfront Odaiba district. The show which uses most windows in their massive HQ in synched to music and is on between 1800 and 2300 hours every day with special shows on the hour and the half hour. The show will run until January 13th according to their website, which has videos and more information.
It is fun to take photos of fast moving light displays with a very slow shutter speed! The windows are lit up with very rapid patterns so some of these photos might not make any sense but I think you can spot a very colorful Mount Fuji in one of them.
The Comic Market, or Comiket for short, is Japan’s biggest indoor gathering hosted by a NGO. It started in the winter of 1975 as a market for young and aspiring comic book artists to meet, sell their books and to showcase their talent. Over time cosplaying fans would gather dressed up as their favorite characters and even corporations started attending. These days about 45 000 exhibitors apply for a spot in one of the 39 000 market places and about 600 000 people gather to attend the market. It is impossible to make this even justice in a single blog post but let me just say say it is massive, and the weather does not help either. There are two Comiket every year, one in the blazing hot summer and one in the bitingly cold winter. I tried the summer market once but didn’t last 30 minutes. The most popular comics sell out in a few minutes after opening and fans often make a point of cueing up before the event starts, which means that if you arrive early you might have to wait in line for a an hour or two.
There is no entrance fee and the NGO who manages the event (three main guys who work full time with this) relies on 3000 volunteers for everything from garbage collecting to crowd control. I know many comic fans who make a point of volunteering a year just to serve their time for the greater good of the underground comic community in Japan. When I say underground, I mean that most of the comics on sale break some copyright law or another but unlike western trigger happy media companies Japanese publishing houses accept and in some cases even encourage fan art and rewritings of their stories. You won’t find anything as vulgar as simply pirated stuff, but you will find that the authors of these “doujinshi” (同人誌 or self-published works) have spent a lot of time and effort on writing new stories for their favorite characters.
The open spaces around the many convention halls are taken up by cosplayers who make their own costumes in the likeness of their favorite characters. There are thousands of them and many times as many photographers and fans. Despite the seemingly chaotic situation there is a certain etiquette to be observed and things run surprisingly smooth. It is hard to move around in the crowd and the heat or the cold makes things even more difficult. I took these photos of some great looking cosplayers, it was exceedingly difficult to get good shots! I don’t know the characters but I am sure some readers might be able to point them out for us! The last photo is of two fantastically great looking people doing a Moomin cosplay! Snufkin and Little My, along with a couple of tiny home made Hattifatteners.
The last day of the 85th Comiket is today so if you are in Tokyo and hurry up you can still catch this event!
Winter fireworks festivals are not very common in Japan but throughout November and December there has been mini-festivals every Saturday evening in Tokyo’s oceanfront Odaiba district and I thought I should go see the last one for the year. I am terrible at taking photos of fireworks, I have absolutely no idea how other photographers do it. Maybe some of my readers can give me a few hints? The only thing I have figured out is that you are supposed to use a tripod. I own one but I haven’t touched it in 5-6 years. The fireworks festival was a great excuse to go out and the the Rainbow bridge in all its colorful glory once again. I was going to shoot from the bridge initially but the bridge closes for foot-traffic at 1800 in winter. Just a few days left of this year now, better make the best of them!
Recently quite a few people have asked me to give them advice on what to see and what to do in Tokyo and it’s always a difficult question to answer. There are just so many things to see and do here. Depending on your age, interest, physical condition you’ll have so many options. For me though, the best things in Tokyo are the simplest, and the most unique are the easiest: just walk around and experience the streets! Of course, if your walking has an interesting destination it is even better. One of my favorite walks, any time in the day, is from Tamachi station on the Yamanote line all the way over to Odaiba via the Rainbow Bridge. Going to Odaiba by train is always a little bit of a hassle so walking there is a great option! What you do is to exit Tamachi station from the Shibaura Exit (east exit), and just walk straight. Once you reach the Tokyo Monorail in the photos down below you keep walking straight but keep, if possible to the right. Eventually you’ll reach the bridge and you’ll have the option of walking the south or the north route. I’d recommend the north for being slightly more scenic and easier to photography (usually no sun into the camera). At the end of the bridge you’ll be at the famous Odaiba district! Lots of things to see there (and shopping). Total walking, about 4km.
I took these photos on a sunny afternoon, halfway on the route at Shibaura Island, and the last image from the top of Odaiba bridge. I have posted plenty of photos of Odaiba and the bridge before, so please browse the blog via the tags if you are interested in seeing more!