Travel Photography guide to Japan Part one Intro, Tokyo and Mt Fuji

Mount Fuji. For a larger view click on the image

Travel Photography guide to Japan Part one Intro, Tokyo and Mt Fuji

Earlier this year I visited Japan for the first time, and I was knocked out. Not literally but WOW! what a place!

I will follow up with more articles on photographing Japan

Let’s start with a bit of prep.

This is not intended to be a travel guide but a few tips on what, where and how to photograph some of the areas of Tokyo and Mt Fuji areas of Japan.

What to take

I’m not going to repeat what I said in Planning and Preparation for Travel Photos

but I will highlight some of the things I recommended there as they are important.

Depending on where you are travelling, I would recommend you take the following:

Everywhere:

  • Camera Body or Compact Camera with Optical Zoom Lens
  • Lots of empty memory cards.
  • It’s one of the most photogenic countries in the world regardless of what time of year you go. Take lots of 32GB Memory cards you’ll need them.
  • More than one charged battery for the same reason as having lots of memory cards. Have one in the camera and 2 charged spares
  • A lens cloth
  • Filters, if you use them, particularly Polarisers and Neutral Density,

If you intend using only a smartphone you will need lots of storage. See How to Back up your Travel Photos. to see the best ways to back up a Smartphone.

You also need to be aware that, with only a smartphone, you won’t have the flexibility to get shots of a lot of what Japan has to offer.

Cities

There’s lots of subject matter in Japanese cities.
So depending on your interests you need the following, if you have them.
If you don’t, put them on your wish list if you have plenty of time:

  • People and Street – 50 or 80MM Prime Lens plus a 28-150mm Telephoto
  • Journalistic or lifestyle – 80 or 100mm Prime Lens plus a Telephoto Lens of 28-150mm
  • Architectural – 24-100mm Telephoto and a 35 or 50mm ‘Fast’ Lens i.e. F1.2 or 2.4.
  • Restaurants, Bars etc. – For low light plated food, a wide angle or 50mm lens with a large maximum aperture of F1.2 or 2.4.

Outside of cities

  • Landscapes – Tripod and a 24mm Wide-Angle plus a Telephoto with a minimum focal length of 100mm
  • Culture – 80 or 100mm Prime Lens plus a Telephoto Lens of 28-150mm

Again, this is a wish list. If you only have a telephoto because you have a compact camera, or you can’t afford a prime lens then you can get by.
A Telephoto Lens plus an 80mm Prime Lens ticks the 80/20 rule.

What will you see that you might want to photograph?

I travelled from Tokyo south to Mountains, Hiroshima and a few points in between before getting back to Tokyo.
The area I covered has a wide variety of different subjects.
This area, I’m led to understand is similar, with exceptions, to the rest of the country.

The following is by no means exhaustive. It’s the subjects that I found interesting from a photographic point of view. Others may have a different opinion.

I’ve only selected three items from each area that have some degree of photographic interest.

Tokyo

Tokyo is everything you expect and more. It would take a lifetime to discover everything it has to offer

Shinjuku Station

The World’s busiest transport hub where nearly 4 Million plus passes through every day. Here it’s worth watching and waiting to get some good people shots.

Shibuyu Junction

It’s humanity at its most compressed as literally thousands of people cross the junction every day.
At its busiest nearly a thousand people cross at one time.
Again, it’s people but don’t expect to get portraits it’s way too crowded for that.

Tsukiji Market

Like food? Like to take food close ups and people involved with serving it and cooking? Then Tsukiji is the place. Food is also pretty good if you want to put down and rest your overworked camera.

A boat of Tuna and Otoro served up in Tokyo's Tsukiji Market
A boat of Tuna and Otoro served up in Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market. Click on the image for a larger view and other options

Mount Fuji

Away from the madness that is Tokyo, Mount Fuji is usually viewed from 2 sides:

Kawaguchi-Ko

The centre of the area called Fuji Five Lakes, Kawaguchi-Ko is a very busy place and the town itself is ok. What it’s famous for is the views of Mount Fuji.
There are 2 well know photos locations of Mt Fuji and both are near Kawaguchi-Ko.

Fuji-Sengen-jinja is known for the photos of the shrine with the backdrop of Mt Fuji.

Mt Fuji from the famous shrine of Fuji-Sengen-jinja
Mt Fuji from the famous shrine of Fuji-Sengen-jinja Click on the image for a larger view and other options


On the north side of Lake Kawaguchi-Ko is another famous spot to capture Mt Fuji and its reflection on the lake. Sadly, it was too windy when I was there, so I couldn’t replicate that shot.

Hakone

Whilst the view of Mt Fuji from Hakone is not so well known.
It’s much smaller (and quieter) than Kuwaguchi-Ko and the views are much more varied.

Take the Hakone circuit which is a combination of different transport modes such as cable car, ship, narrow-gauge rail, gondola and bus.
On this circuit you will see lots of different scenery and some small towns all of which provide ample reward for the travel photographer. More info can be found here

Watch out for the next article on Japan:
The Travel Photography guide to Japan Part two Kyoto and Surrounds

In the meantime check out the Lonely Planet guide to Japan and the Japan Visitor Centre

Summary for Travel Photography Guide to Japan Part One Intro, Tokyo and Mt Fuji

  1. Japan has that WOW factor that you want to make sure you capture with your travel photos
  2. You need plenty of Battery Power and Storage
  3. To give you the best opportunity to take some great photos you need more than just a smartphone.
  4. A removable lens camera will do that for you
  1. Tokyo has many, many interesting a diverse attractions but you can’t see them all
  2. Mt Fuji is as spectacle in the flesh as it looks. Take lots of shots from different locations and angles.

Do you see yourself taking some great travel photos that you can share or display?
Or can you see yourself reliving your travel experience by bringing home some emotive travel photos?
Maybe you aspire to getting your travel photos published.

If one or all of these is YOUR goal, I can help. Sign up in the box below to subscribe to my exclusive Travel Photo Tips Newsletter.

Remember if you want to take great travel photos

  • that you can share and display.
  • that help you relive your travel experience
  • that give you a chance to have your travel photos published
  • then sign up below and subscribe to my exclusive Travel Photo Tips Newsletter.

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