The Japan Expedition - Part 2

 I'm sitting in Dubai international Airport as I'm typing this, and I'm on my way back home. I'm sure I'll post this later, though.

I'll be honest and say that I'm sad to have just left Tokyo. Tokyo was incredible. As much as it was a bit of a struggle adjusting in the beginning, I'd do it a million times over for the experience it was at the end.

That being said, I'm excited to go home. I'm excited to return to my life, my girlfriend, my friends, my job, my dogs, and my pillow… 

Geez, I miss my pillow.

This blog post will have the same sort of structure as the first - all the cool, happy, photo stuff first, and then the personal stuff. I threw that into the middle this time, though. If you haven't read the first blog post about my trip, check it out HERE.

Okay, let's get right to it! First thing's first: Japan is a country that is absolutely saturated in anime and manga. Everywhere you look, you'll see little anime/manga style characters. Even the info boards all over the place have little anime characters on them. There's one specific part of Tokyo that's the home of all the anime, and that's a place called Akihabara. Akihabara has stores that are entire buildings, and all they sell is anime figurines. I went to a couple of these, and it was quite interesting. You'll see loads of this:


I went to get one of my friends a Danbo/Danboard figuring (and ended up getting myself one):

You can't go to Japan and NOT buy a Danbo...

Speaking of Danbo - there's an entire museum dedicated to Danbo in Shibuya. And entire museum. What the heck, Japan?

Black people, and the state of racism in Japan: 

Coming from South Africa, I'm no stranger to racism. Oddly, I even come from a somewhat racist family, so it's not new to me. But I discovered on my trip that the discrimination towards black people is crazy! I got off the train at Shibuya one morning and met this guy:

That's Patrick. He's in Japan from Ghana. He told me that some Japanese people are really horrible to him. If he gets on a train and accidentally brushes his arm against a Japanese person, that person would literally clean off their arm/shirt in a "dust off" sort of gesture. Some have come up to him and told him to leave and go back to his country. I was surprised, I wasn't expecting that from such nice people. Of course it's not true for all of them. While we were talking, this gangsta showed up:


He was such a nice guy, and loved Patrick.


Where my loneliness disappeared

So, if you remember from the last post, I was feeling pretty lonely. Well I got a text from my girlfriend - she said there was a chance we could meet up the following day. And that chance materialized! Goodness, I needed that so bad. I praise Jesus for giving me that opportunity. We met up outside a bakery in Akihabara and went to the zoo together. The Zoo in Ueno, Tokyo, is amazing btw. Anyway, I got to take some photos of Shan. How amazing is that? I got to shoot the girl I love in the country I've always wanted to go. Boom!

The big segment: Street Photography

Street photography in Japan is great. It's tough sometimes because often I either have to STEAL a portrait, or I have to ask, and I got shot down a LOT in Japan. I think I had 1 or 2 females allow me to photograph them, and maybe 10 males. And the males that were keen were mostly old men. Younger females in Japan didn't want me to photograph them, except for all the girls in Harajuku. So actually ASKING for shots from girls proved to be difficult. Here's a video of me trying to steal some shots, shooting street in a more traditional fashion. I talk the whole time through the video, so that you can get an idea of my thought process, and how I go about doing this:


 So I mentioned before that Harajuku was an awesome spot for portraits because of the way the people (primarily the girls) there dressed. I had been there but hadn't had the balls to ask any of them if I could photograph them. Well that all changed and I got some awesome shots. Shooting here was a bit of a challenge, though - here's why: There were almost NO guys that dressed anything as crazy as the girls. The only photos I got of guys in this area were guys that just looked awesome, dressed well, etc. The girls, on the other hand were a lot more interesting. Some of them dressed really over-the-top-japanese-pop-culture, and some dressed  more "normal" but then had some crazy makeup/contact lenses. 

These photos do a pretty good job at illustrating what I mean about the way they dress. 

And here's a video of me shooting some of these photos. This shows how I approached these photos, my attitude, etc. You'll see that I don't take 50 thousand photos of each person, just two or three. I don't want to keep them busy, but at the same time, I'm usually shooting at about F2 or even F/1.8, and on an 85mm lens paired with a full frame sensor, your DoF is razor thin, so it's SUPER easy to miss the shot.

 Contact lenses are huge amongst the youth in Japan. I can understand why - the Japanese have SUCH dark eyes, almost black. So the contact lenses just give something a little different.

Now one LAST thing about Harajuku, and this one will blow minds: The way most of these people are dressed is 100% acceptable in Japan. As in, it's not frowned upon, it's not weird, it's not something that people will turn back and stare at, nothing. This sort of dress, makeup, etc is almost commonplace. I must've seen hundreds of crazy contact lenses being worn in these 10 days. This one point still blows my mind.

I've got loads more to share, but I thought I'd cut it off here. The blog post would honestly just be far too long if I posted everything I want into this one post. 

In the next post: 

  1. A full size Gundam
  2. Festivals
  3. Masks
  4. The depressing world that is the Japan Subway
  5. Japan's markets
  6. The Japanese are so, so tired
  7. Some more street photography
  8. A book given to me by one of my favourite photographers
  9. And lastly: My favourite photo from the entire trip

Hope you enjoyed it! Leave a comment or drop me a tweet and let me know what you thought! 

EDIT: Be sure to check out Part 3 of this series:

The Japan Expedition - Part 3