Tokyobling's Blog

Misty Imperial Palace Grounds

Posted in Nature, People by tokyobling on November 13, 2015

The Winter is coming but still the autumn lingers for a little while longer. I took these photos last year from a very misty Imperial Palace outer grounds, with the ground strewn with fallen red leaves and the mist covering most of the pine trees near the grand office buildings of Marunouchi. I hope you have the chance to go out and see the majestic autumn colors around Tokyo this weekend – despite the forecasted rainy weather!












Foggy Autumn Day – Marunouchi

Posted in Nature, Places by tokyobling on November 11, 2015

The autumn if firmly here and it has been a wet and cold one so far. Unusually so. Still, there is a lot of charm to the Japanese autumn, not least of which are the lovely autumn fogs we sometimes get settling over this city literally built on water. I took these photos on one foggy afternoon last autumn, in between the Imperial Palace and Marunouchi, Tokyo’s financial and business district above others.









Emperor Akihito 80th Birthday – Imperial Palace Grounds

Posted in People, Places by tokyobling on December 24, 2013

Yesterday, the 23rd of December was a public holiday in honor of Emperor Akihito’s birthday, his 80th. It is one of the two annual events where the emperor greets the public, both take place in front of the huge Chowaden, the reception hall at the Imperial Palace (Kyoden) at Tokyo’s most central address, Chiyoda 1-1. About 24 000 people gather in front of the balcony, guided by a very tight security show by the Tokyo police and Imperial Guards.

I got up early in the morning and made my way to the Sakuradamon metro station, from where it was just a short walk to the Imperial Palace. Police had set up a double security check point before you could enter the public outer palace grounds. While waiting in the second group of the third section I noticed the very large amount of foreigners in the waiting to see the Emperor. I had huge group of Taiwanese (there were several other groups in the other sections) next to me, as well as Americans, Russians, Chinese and Koreans, and those were only the ones I could identify. I am sure there were many other nationalities represented there as well.

It was my first time inside the Imperial Palace grounds (not counting the outer grounds which are open to the public year round) and it was thrilling to walk through the massive palace gates for the first time, crossing the elevated bridge over the inner moat after having admired the bridge from a far distance many times before. I also got to see the Imperial Guard in their red, black and gold uniforms for the first time. There were police stationed ever twenty meters or so, telling us not to stop and take photos, so I had to take all of these photos while walking fast! The Emperor makes three public performances, on which he waves to the public and gives a short speech. Despite his recent bout with cancer and a bypass operation he looked and sounded like a man in perfect health. I have heard many silly rumors that his speeches would be in an archaic Japanese even native Japanese would find it hard to understand but as usual his speech was brief, to the point, easy to understand and quite moving. If only half of the corporate speakers I have endured during my life was only half as good as the Emperor, my life would have been much easier!

Moments before the emperor came out with his wife Michiko and immediate family it was hats off for everyone in the audience and half a second before the door opened the man next to me (who must have a sixth sense) raised an ear shattering banzai! that was soon joined by many thousands of other voices. It was quite an experience! Well worth the wait in the December morning cold.

I took the close ups with my cheapo 70-300mm Sigma tele zoom, not the best camera but for the price of a nice meal out in Tokyo I think it is one of the best lenses ever made, and extremely light weight. I could have brought my backbreaker, the 50-500mm Sigma, but that beast would have been much too large for an occasion like this, so the smaller Sigma had to do. Sorry for the poor quality, but handheld at 300mm in poor light in a swaying crowd means you have to crank up both the shutter speed and the ISO! You can see my other photos of the Imperial Palace Grounds here!























Snowy Tokyo Palace

Posted in Nature, Places by tokyobling on February 25, 2012

Here’s the last of the photos I took on Tokyo’s one and only proper day of snow this winter! It’s been getting warmer during the last week and I for one is not sorry to see this winter go. It’s been unusually dark and cold. On this beautiful morning though, I got up early and took time off from work to go see the Imperial Palace grounds covered in snow. It didn’t last long and most of the snow was gone after a day or two, but it was gorgeous while it lasted. I saw quite a few TV news crews and many other photographers much more well prepared than me. Having gotten enough of snow in my childhood I am not one of the ski enthusiast you see every night in Tokyo, lining up for the sleeper busses to the mountains in Nagano and Niigata. I’d much rather make my escape somewhere sunny and warm. But every now and then, snow really is beautiful!

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