Day 3: Tokyo

12th October 2007

After a good night’s sleep, we felt like a million bucks and could take on Tokyo properly. We woke up at about 7am although we had agreed to only go out at 7:30am but I was too excited now to contain my excitement and wanted to make full use of that day.

I had also set myself a challenge that day, I would only use my 17-35 lens on my film building making it truly a wide angle lens (using my 17-35mm on my film body removes the crop factor of digital camera but if you want to know what it was like think of putting a 12mm on Nikon camera and you know what true wide angle mean) and an 85mm or higher zoom on my digital body.

at about 7:45am we set off, the streets were quiet and peaceful. It was at this point CC told me that he would be going to Nagoya for that prefecture’s Matsuri (festival). I decline as I don’t like events with a lot of people. Although in retrospect I should have if I wanted to see actual Japanese culture. I then decided to make a trip to Kamakura if I could see the majority of the places I wanted to go in Tokyo today first.

Here are some shots of the street in Tokyo early morning.

A shot of the hotel we were staying in Tokyo. A wonderful and affordable place if you’re just looking for somewhere to park for the night.

A little underexpose

Here is where we had dinner last night.

I like how the majority of my film shots turned out. Although I shot most of these using center weighted metering which cause some of my shot to be underexposed but as long as the scene’s main subject was metered correctly and showed what I saw, it was acceptable.

Anyway, I talked to CC last night if he wanted to try out my plan on going about in Japan as he didn’t have anything in specific except for visit either Akihabara or Jinbochi. So he decided to give my plan a try since it consisted of visiting some of the scenic places in Tokyo. After having break fast, our first stop was Kanda Myojin Shrine which was not very far.

This temple was 1,200 years old though the current structure is actually a reproduction of the old one which was destroyed in an earthquake in 1923 but in terms of the establishment, it was considered one of the oldest shrine in Tokyo.

A scenic view of the river we crossed to get there after getting of the train.

We soon reached the temple after a short walk.

This was our first time visiting a shrine so we were excited and we hoped to see all the many things we have always heard about them (yes, we were also especially to see the famous Mikos of such shrines which are always made famous in animes).Just beside the entrance was a gift shop which I thought to myself to visit later as I wanted to get some souvenirs for my family.

The main entrance of the Kanda myojin shrine.

The sign at the entrance of the shrine giving a detail description about the shrine. Sadly I could not understand a single word on it.

CC at this point seem to be enjoying himself so I was glad my plan was not boring to him. We then entered the compound.

The shrine was silent and peaceful. I think it was because we were here very early and that it was a week day. The sun was started to rise up and so was the heat (it really didn’t bother us but that much as it does in Malaysia).

The main shrine

A shot of inside the shrine CC managed to get permission for after asking (a good idea is to bring someone who can communicate in Japanese. CC was worth his weight in gold for a lot of things), the only restriction was from behind the donation box and no flash. So I pumped up the ISO to maximum for this shot.

Another thing you will always notice at all shrines and temple throughout Japan is the place to wash your hands before entering, I believe it’s purpose is to bless your or something to that effect. The procedure is fairly simply, use the scoops to hold the waters that comes out of the dragon’s mouth, then use the water to wash each hands and the remaining water you either drink a bit and then wash your face.

Here is the dragon.

Here is the scoops to hold the water.

I initially did not do the process as I wasn’t sure how to go about it but then I saw how other people were doing so I followed along as well.

Moving on, we finally saw one of the famous things you’ll always find at all temples as well as shrines. The places where they tie the fortune slips onto to ensure good fortune happens and such.

Somethings you would find a different type of fortune slips like this paper fan version I found on that thing above. At this point I started to use my sigma 70-200mm instead of the nikkor 85mm on my digital as I wanted to get some insane bokeh.

Shrines or temple would also offer worshipers the small wooden things you see commonly in Japanese shows after making a small donation to the temple, where you can write on your wish and desire then hang them here in hopes of it coming through.

Generally anything can be written on these things including drawn pictures.

I went and bought some lucky charms from the temple and asked if I could take a picture of the miko that was there. I have to say, while I do like the shot, I wish she would smile. It would have made the picture a whole lot better.

So with that, we decided to head to our next location, the korakuen garden also located nearby. The name means Garden of pleasure last and is considered one of Tokyo’s best traditional stroll garden although I should mentioned here that it’s best visited in March or mid November where either the Cherry blossoms are in bloom or the “koyo” (autumn leaves) have fully arrived in Tokyo.But before then I managed to get some more shots especially of that gift shop that was outside the Myojin shrine.

We then slowly made our way there and did have some trouble locating the place and korakuen was a district and since we never said anything about the garden park part to people we asked for direction, they weren’t so sure of what we were looking for until we actually met some other tourists who were leaving the district and asked them. They managed to tell us where it was located and thank them. So now we knew where was the place.The garden was not as impressive as I had hope but then it was because the koyo was not here yet else I think the whole trip here would have been fully worth it. But still the trip here help me yield some pretty good shots.

Here is a shot of the gift shop.

The main entrance which we paid 300 Yen as fee to go in.

At this point I was getting worried as well as disappointed as I did not see any autumn leafs as I had hope. Sadly the Koyo would only come to Tokyo in mid-November so I came to Japan too early for them (or so I thought until I went to Kyoto later on in my trip, more about that in later entries). So I decided to make the best of a bad situation and press on, it’s not everyday I can take photos of Maple leafs now do I?

I am really starting to love how my 17-35 performs on film! Also I love how fortia works! I can’t wait to see how the other type of film I bought handles!

Taken using Sigma 70-200mm, tip here. It may not look much but use glare to your advantage if you need to make it stronger, use a polarizer and exaggerate it further instead of reducing it.

When taking pictures of leafs or plants, try and position so that the light is shining through the it. Why? it makes it look nicer by showing more details

Soon it was time to move to our next location, CC had recommended this one since it would allows to cover more places without making us double back later.Our plan now was to take the subway to as close as possible to the sumida rover bay area then take the Sumida boat ride which would brings us up to the northern region of Tokyo where we can then head to Senso-ji temple. After which we can take another train ride down to Akihabara or even Jinbochi if we felt like it.

After reaching the Shidome subway station, we reached topside and decided to have lunch at a Korean like place? I can’t be sure but I don’t think Kimchi is part of the Japanese staple of food.

We then proceeded to what we thought was the Sumida boat port.

Unfortunately upon inquiring at the ticket office, we were told that the Sumida boat ride was actually ten minutes away from where we were, this was the cruise liner port. So in “24” ala fashion we ran all the way as the boat was schedule to leave in 15 minutes!

This was taken by accident as I had left the camera on aperture mode but I decided to keep it as it convey the urgency of us getting to the that port so we wouldn’t missed the boat.

We managed to reached the port in time buy our tickets.

I had switch out my 17-35 from my film lens to my digital body during lunch as I wanted to go back to digital for now so I put my 28mm back on my fm2n.

The boat ride honestly was somewhat overrated, there wasn’t really anything for me to shoot but I tried my best and hope my efforts were not in vein. The boat would then stop at the northern region of Tokyo near our next location, Senso-ji temple.Some shots of the boat ride.

As I said, pretty uneventful though I have to admit, it was incredibly relaxing, it allowed to reflect on what was happening in my life and what I plan for later whether it would be good or bad I could forget it for a moment. Though I discovered I had mis-loaded the film in my camera so a lot of good shots were lost as the film never advance. The problem was rectified after I correctly loaded the film.We soon reached the Asakusa port where we disembark from the boat and found overselves within the Asakusa district.

We then slowly made our way to the senso-ji temple. Upon arriving, I regretted coming to such a popular tourist location, there were a lot of people which really ruined the experience for me. I hated when a place is overcrowded with people, it made taking photos next to useless and every lame Joe and Jane would be in your way.

Still, we were already here so we decided to make the best of a bad situation no matter how much I hated it. We proceeded into the temple.

I so hate a tourist trap.

The sky was very heavy overcast that day so a lot of things were washed out.

Lots and lots of people.

We reached th Benten-yama Shoro but was so crowded we decided to divert to the Asakusa Jinja shrine instead (which was a smaller shrine located next to the main temple) as the crowded was literally nil over there. I was fine with that.

One of the only un-crowded shots I managed to get as every freaking senior tourist got in my way. Have they no courtesy or brain?!

Ah! So much better! I can now breath!!

Once again the place to bless ourselves. I was starting to like this part as it really invigorates me from the all that walking.

And it comes with visual guide!

I don’t know why but I would always find myself drawn to these as I try to read whatever that I could understand and see what were other people’s wish. I think it allowed me to look into other people’s lives albeit in a very small way. I could imagine who were the people that wrote these, all their thoughts and desire.

I also like the cute drawing that I would sometimes find on them. Though these are actually template that you can choose so not really drawn by those who hung them there.

Some even had bells attached to them.

One thing I did love about Japan, in one stretch of road I could find more variety of flowers then I could in the whole of Penang! Which provided me ample chance of shots!

Here is a pic of a pic of the shrine’s departed cat which passed away 3 years ago. I found it quite cute and sad because the cat was not there anymore but cute and happy the shrine people there still remembered it fondly.

CC bought one of those wooden things to hang up while I continued to take photos of the place, it was getting really gloomy and we decided to head back to the central region to Akihabara. But before then I managed to snag this shot as we traveled back

I then told CC I would be heading to Yodobashi at Akihabara as I wanted to thoroughly check it out (as well as drop off some of my slide film to be developed) and also a second hand camera shop that was nearby. I asked if he wanted to come along but since it was about cameras he might have gotten bored by it. He decline and said he wanted to check something else out (I didn’t asked as it was his privacy) and so we parted way and agreed to meet up later at the hotel around 7pm for dinner. If one of us was still not back by then, the other could go out for dinner on his own.So I went down to Akihabara to Yodobashi and went up to the 3rd floor which was everything cameras and as well watches and electrical. The guy at the film development counter told me that the slides would be ready by TOMORROW 6pm! (HOLY CRAP! Now that is service! Back in Malaysia it would take at least 2~3 weeks to be developed and that is assuming the guy did not fudged up the development!) so yeah I dropped off my film.

A majority of the stuff there at Yodobashi was not really that much cheaper then back in Malaysia but they did have a point system where 10% or so of the amount of the price you paid for would be accumulated which you could use (1 point== 1 yen) for later purchases, so the more you had previously shopped at Yodobashi, the more you could buy later. Sadly I was a tourist so the point system is of little value to me as I wasn’t staying long.

Though I have to admit, they have everything out for test and feel. I managed to try out a Mamiya medium format camera and it was really cool! Sadly, I don’t have the money to buy. They also have the biggest tripod section that would dwarf Matthew’s shop completely back in Penang!

I wish I had taken some pictures inside but there was again a no photo policy and they were pretty strict about it.

I then head to the second hand camera shop that was only located across the street from Yodobashi. It was located on the 4th floor of this out of the way building you wouldn’t have guessed was selling camera until you saw the little sign nearby.

I proceeded up and one thing I really like about Japanese business is that they will always greet you as you entered their shops unlike here where they couldn’t give a rat’s ass about you unless you wanted to buy something. I asked them if they had the Nikon F4s MB-20 battery grip and sure enough they have!! For RM144 I could now shed of some serious weight off my Nikon F4s! Next I looked around their used lens collection, now let me tell you, they had the widest as well as the cleanest lens collection I’ve ever seen.

Every piece they had on sell was given a rating base on its condition and thus would determine their price. It starts with AA, AB, BB, BC, CC ,EE with AA being perfect and never used condition with EE meaning superb crap! I managed to score a Nikkor ais 50mm f/1.2 (non-NOCT version) which was in AB condition (with minor wear on the mount but the glass was perfect!) for RM900! You can still buy this lens new on the market but would cost you RM1400~RM1600. Yodobashi was selling a used one for RM1200!

I’ve notice that in Japanese, ais lenses are not in any hot demand hence the reason why they can go for very cheap. While AFD lens I rarely saw any second hand ones for sale, it seems from what I gathered from the sale person (who spoke fluent english, THANK GOD!) told me that people where now selling off their old ais lenses (which they can taken great care of) and buying AFD or AFS lenses instead.

I saw a second hand mamiya 645 camera with all the trimmings such as lenses bag and box all for RM1500 and was tempted to buy but then I would have trouble bringing it back as it was heavy. I put that idea off for now and would decide later then (I never did buy that medium format cam). So here I was happy and fill with joy that I found the grip along with a really good lens! Though I still did not find the the type K focusing screen for the Nikon F4 though I was already happy with what I found.

I then headed back to the train station and realized it was rush hour time, at this point I was tired so I didn’t take any photos and just wanted to go back to the hotel.

So I then took a bath again (>_<;;;) and I waited for CC where we then had dinner at some place not far from the hotel. That was how my the 3rd day of vacation went so until my next entry, pleasant dreams. PS: I made a note to myself to not go visit tourist trap places and decided to go to Kamakura tomorrow!

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