Operation Chiaki: Day 27

What a fantastic Sunday morning (6th December 2009). Clear blue skies and warm sun, really wished I had brought a lighter coat.

I must admit, today seemed like a day of bonuses. A lot of unexpected good things happened today…..


I decided to head down to Kenrokuen and as predicted, autumn has finally peaked. Its amazing how in 2 weeks since I was last here that autumn was now in full bloom.

Getting to the Kenrokuen park is very easy

  1. Just get to Iidabashi
  2. Look for the sky bridge at the intersection
  3. Take the road behind the Eneos petrol station.
  4. Walk straight for 5 minutes and you should be there.
  5. If you can’t find it, ask for direction or look up a map.

Entry into Kenrokuen is 300 yen and well worth it when timed properly.

Yup. They are what you think they are, Sakura flowers. Only one tree out of all the Sakura trees there. They call it “Winter Sakura” as informed by one of the staff members.

Beautiful and set against a red background as well as green really gives a fantastic shot. Well it would have if the tree wasn’t so isolated from everything. Its all by it lonesome making hard to work with it.

A lot of people had gathered around it taking photos with it. So this was the bonus for Kenrokuen, I spent nearly 3 hours there. Well worth not going to that other cosplay event at Plaza Heisei.


But it was Sunday and I had plans to go to Harajuku for their weekend street performances. Supposedly a great place for street photography as well and see some of the latest fashion trends (like that matters since my fashion taste is next to a lemur’s fur coat).

There are 2 ways to get to Harajuku depending on what kind of train day pass you have,

Firstly, if you have the JR pass, then its easy, takee the Yamanote line directly to Harajuku.

If you don’t then get the Metro day pass (710 yen), get onto the subway Chiyoda line and get off at the Meiji jingumae station which is located right next to the JR station.

I only realized this was a possible path after spending 150 yen to get to Harajuku using the Yamanote line when I had the Metro day pass. Total screw up!

My timing was either the best in the world or the worse. I had arrived during some sort of sale at Harajuku and as you can see the crowd was murderous!

Fortunately I wasn’t shopping and sidestepped the whole crowd. Though I was still too early for the Harajuku street performances and so just blindly stumbled around and soon found myself at Meiji Jingju. A Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his Empress Shoken although their tombs are in Kyoto.

He was the 122nd Emperor of Japan who had opened his country to the world from many years of isolation to embrace the many culture while taking in only the best and merging it with their own. A lot of stuff can be gleamed from the brochure there.

Deciding that the street performance hadn’t started yet (strange, it was noon), I paid a visit to the shrine with the explicit purpose of getting their stamp for my notebook.  Though I definitely got more than I bargained.

It was one BIG shrine with its own forest (each tree was hand planted)! A culminating work that had taken 90 years and still growing!

Since it was the weekend, lots of people. Families, tourist and couples who came to pray at the shrine.

Bonus point here was that here were a lot of cute girls at the shrine to pray. The day was fantastic, managed to get a few shot with this one being the best.

Then I noticed that a lot of Shinto priest or at least their assistants were moving about as well as security personal moving people away from the main walk path to the shrine.

Suddenly everything turned stone cold silent, the only thing I heard were the sounds of the birds, the wind rustling through the trees and the hushed footsteps of people. My visit had coincided with a traditional Japanese wedding that was being held. So today’s bonus was fantastic.

There were a few cameramen obviously tied to the event while everyone else were taking pictures with either their cellphones, and small camera.

I’m not familiar with the ritual and processes so I can only write what I saw. The wedding procession moved slowly to the shrine. Not a single voice was heard. Not even whispers, people were scrambling all about to get the best shots while taking great care not to get in the official photographers’ way.

Soon the procession disappeared into a a room? Hall? Can’t be sure, the map calls it Temizuya (Font). After that everything went back to normal for a while.

Then the wedding procession soon re-appeared from that room, and made it’s way to the Western side of the Shrine stopping short right outside of the entrance where the main priest (Not shown here) turned around and said something to the Bride and Groom. Thus it seemed that the process was over and soon another guy in a nice suit led the wedding couple and their families to another location for wedding photos.

Everyone followed them hastily, I stopped after that and soon made my way back to Harajuku. What I found there was simply amazing. Right outside the whole Meiji Jingu forest and where Harajuku started, I found many street performances with music and people gathering around to watch them (interpretive dancing here?),.

I really admired Japan, they have the incredible capacity to tolerate both old and new and merge into something so unexpected yet elegant in it’s design and beauty.

It was as if I had just stepped from a time machine returning from ancient Japan to witness a wedding ceremony and now here I was in the future where I could see people dancing in the street and selling both traditional and abstract paintings by the side of the street.

As well as people wearing all forms of outfit that seem like they were for a cyber punk future from Ghost int the Shell (Not shown here).  I spent a good solid 3 hours there checking everything out. But it was getting late and I needed to buy from stuff from Yodobashi. I then headed to Shinjuku and literally stumbled around looking for Yodobashi (I usually took another line to get there but I was using a different train line which dropped me off in a different part of Shinjuku).

I soon stumbled into a book shop where I found some of the magazines I was looking for from 2007 and 2008 and not far from it I found Kinokuniya Japan. Bought some books but I was still somewhat lost, I managed to get some directions finally from a Police (communicated entirely in Japanese and I managed to understand his direction).

After buying some film there, I made my way back to Akibahara where I bought a small stock of film supply for my return to Malaysia where they would have cost double.

So here is the loot for today. Cost me 30,000 yen. The film were the killers here. There’s more than what I have shown here but this shot shows the gist of it. Note to Fumi, yes you owe big time!

5 thoughts on “Operation Chiaki: Day 27

  1. Those photos from Kenrokuen are really amazing! The colors, lighting, bokeh and the entire landscape are sublime, impressive work!

    One day I hope to be able to make such terrific photos as well. Can you perhaps tell me what camera and lens you used to make those photos? (Did you shoot freehand or with a tripod?)

    • I shot using a nikon d700, with a mix of wide angle lens 17-35 along with an SP90. No tripod were used for kenrokuen and thanks!

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