One of the first thing you’ll notice when visiting Tokyo is that in the evenings, more than half of the traffic on the roads are usually taxis. Tokyo taxis are parts of the visual make up of the city and I know many photographers and tourists who have a soft spot for the mostly yellow, green and red taxi cars! They’re a given for any collection of “the” Tokyo tourist photo collection!
A fun thing you can do with almost any camera to get some interesting travel photography is “tracking traffic”. I took these photos outside Tokyo’s Ikebukuro JR station a while ago of the traffic zooming past the station. Tracking shots like this are really easy to do but sometimes tricky to get just right. What you do is move the camera to follow the car or object, blurring the background but (hopefully) keeping the moving object razor sharp.
I set the camera to 1/10s, f10, and ISO 500 for this fairly bright city street. Then I waited for a car to come into my viewfinder. I follow the car with my camera and while moving, press the shutter, keep following (or tracking) the car and don’t stop until the picture is done. Repeat, try different settings, and enjoy!
No photoshop was used to alter these images.
Probably the biggest and most famous temple in Kawasaki city right on the south western border with Tokyo is the Kawasaki Daishi. It is a huge temple complex divided into several different parts, one of which is dedicated to traffic safety and cars! The temple building itself is a modernistic almost south east asian looking building in the middle of a huge parking lot where cars are staged in group depending on their order of taking part in the ceremony. Once an hour monks hold a ceremony praying for the safety and good fortune of the cars and their passengers and most people who have their cars blessed do so once a year. The ceremony itself costs 5000 yen but it is customary to give an additional donation to the temple when you return. Cars thus blessed gets a small bumper sticker that looks quite neat. You can see it on the temple’s home page. I was very lucky with the weather this day!
Have you ever wondered where those narrow party boats you see cruising on Sumida river and in front of Odaiba at night come from? Well, here’s two of the companies at home in Tokyo’s Asakusabashi district, the Tanakaya and the Suzukiya let their classic Tokyo style party boats, the yakatabune (屋形船), to groups and companies that have something special to celebrate. At night dozens of them gather at scenic spots in Tokyo harbor where they are served by a small armada of ships delivering food, necessities and of course, booze. I have always wondered where they go during the day, and now I know. After all my years in Tokyo I have still never been invited on one of these, but some day I hope I will be! At over 10 000 yen per head (usually this includes all you can eat and all you can drink) per evening it is a little out of my budget at present, and you usually need to be a group of over 20 for them to even bother! I’m sure there are also cheaper boats and arrangements for smaller groups but I have never had reason to investigate. Maybe some well traveled reader can tell us of their yakatabune experiences in the comments section?
All through New Year’s there’s a tremendous amount of emergency vehicles, police officers, officials, public workers and men and women in uniform standing by to keep Tokyo safe. Here’s a few of the random snaps I got in and around Asakusa and Ueno on New Year’s Night. Not the best quality shots but at least bloggable. By the way, isn’t the fire department Kumade (熊手) fantastic? I don’t think I have ever seen one like this! Stay safe in 2013 everyone!