Sep 132011
 



 
The skyscraper district of Nishi-Shinjuku (西新宿) is one the defining attractions of Tokyo. Large avenues and lots of tall buildings in many shapes and sizes makes this neighborhood an impressive sight. Especially later at night, when the traffic has subsided and the crowds of office workers and businessmen have left for the nearby izakayas of Shomben Yokochō (しょんべん横町) or the amusement centers of Kabukichō (歌舞伎町).

Although I’m occasionally in the area, only this time did I bring my camera and a tripod thingie to shoot some long-exposure cityscape photography. I just love the futuristic look of the office towers in this ward, especially the Tokyo Government building (see above). It looks so unreal at nighttime.

The Tokyo Medical University Hospital opposite of a huge mural of a turtle with the 勝 (Victory) kanji on its back.
The Tokyo Medical University Hospital opposite of a huge mural of a turtle with the 勝 (Victory) kanji on its back.
Weird white balance setting: Looking towards Tochō-dōri from Minami-dōri with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office on the left and Shinjuku NS Building on the right (and the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building in the distance).
Weird white balance setting: Looking towards Tochō-dōri from Minami-dōri with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office on the left and Shinjuku NS Building on the right (and the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building in the distance).
Another nighttime view of the Shinjuku skyscraper district from Chūō-dōri: Shinjuku Center Building, Mōde Gakuen Cocoon Tower and Keiō Plaza Hotel.
Another nighttime view of the Shinjuku skyscraper district from Chūō-dōri: Shinjuku Center Building, Mōde Gakuen Cocoon Tower and Keiō Plaza Hotel.
 Posted by at 23:50
Sep 112011
 



 
Today it was exactly 6 months after the big 2011 Tōhoku earthquake hit Japan. The most serious long-time effect of this natural disaster was the nuclear meltdown in the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Damaging several reactors beyond repair, releasing a large amount of radiation and forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, this catastrophe is severely affecting the Japanese psyche and everyday life. For example, while food from the Fukushima prefecture is still being sold in supermarkets and normal life goes on outside of the 30km evacuation zone, some people start to wonder about the reactions of the Japanese national government and local authorities. Few even question the official information policies and urge the government to protect their children from radiation leaking from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

However, taking to the streets is still an extremely unusual stance and reserved for political fringe types. Demanding answers about nuclear safety issues and openly criticizing the authorities in the form of a public rally does not draw big crowds. Even in the metropolis of Tokyo the “9.11 Shinjuku Stop Nuclear Power protest!” (9.11 新宿・原発やめろデモ) was rather lightly attended, I guess about 1500-2500 people showed up. The demo route was through the busy Sunday shopping frenzy in Shinjuku. A large number of police kept the protesters in line, although incidents did happen and arrests were made.

An anti-nuke activist desperately tries to keep the police from arresting him.
An anti-nuke activist desperately tries to keep the police from arresting him.
Although without any real riot gear, the work of the police was only interrupted by shouting.
Although without any real riot gear, the work of the police was only interrupted by shouting.
Japanese policemen finally arrest the exhausted anti-nuclear protester.
Japanese policemen finally arrest the exhausted anti-nuclear protester.
Another tense situation at the 'Stop Nuclear Power!' demo in Shinjuku.
Another tense situation at the 'Stop Nuclear Power!' demo in Shinjuku.
Protesters struggle against policemen to avoid another arrest in Shinjuku.
Protesters struggle against policemen to avoid another arrest in Shinjuku.
Japanese policemen and anti-nuclear protesters clash in Shinjuku six months after Fukushima.
Japanese policemen and anti-nuclear protesters clash in Shinjuku six months after Fukushima.
Japanese policemen forming lines to to contain the rally on its route.
Japanese policemen forming lines to to contain the rally on its route.
The angry protesters were pretty aggressive and loud, but did not physically attack the police officers.
The angry protesters were pretty aggressive and loud, but did not physically attack the police officers.
The police is busy trying to herd the anti-nuclear power demonstrators in Shinjuku.
The police is busy trying to herd the anti-nuclear power demonstrators in Shinjuku.
'Do not buy from the manufacturers of nuclear power plants Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Hitachi!' (原子プラントメーカー - 三菱、東芝、日立 - 絶対買わにゃい!).
'Do not buy from the manufacturers of nuclear power plants Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Hitachi!' (原子プラントメーカー - 三菱、東芝、日立 - 絶対買わにゃい!).
A masked woman protesting next to a banner at the 'Stop Nuclear Power' demo in Shinjuku.
A masked woman protesting next to a banner at the 'Stop Nuclear Power' demo in Shinjuku.
Public anti-nuclear protests are still an mostly extreme leftist issue in Japan, as these punk activists show.
Public anti-nuclear protests are still an mostly extreme leftist issue in Japan, as these punk activists show.
The demonstration was accompanied by a 'sound car' with punk bands playing anti-nuke songs.
The demonstration was accompanied by a 'sound car' with punk bands playing anti-nuke songs.
The 'Stop Nuclear Power' protest march on the Yasukuni-dōri in Shinjuku.
The 'Stop Nuclear Power' protest march on the Yasukuni-dōri in Shinjuku.
A Japanese man injured by the police still determined to continue protesting.
A Japanese man injured by the police still determined to continue protesting.
 Posted by at 20:42
Jul 062010
 



 
At night Tokyo turns into a glittering sea of lights. It is one of the brightest cities I know and especially in the more frequented areas it is definitively one of the most beautiful. Unfortunately, I rarely go out with my camera at night-time to shoot the city. But this picture was taken on one of these occasions — as I walked from Roppongi back to Shibuya along Roppongi-dōri (Metropolitan Expressway No.3).

 Posted by at 23:59
Jun 152010
 



 
I went out to Shibuya (the terminus of “my” Inokashira line) to shoot the lights and people in the evening. I wanted to try to capture the contrast of the glittering lights of the modern shopping and entertainment district Shibuya with the worn-out buildings next to it, so I took only my fast 50mm lens. But while I was exploring the area, it started to rain and I turned back towards the station. Halfway there I rested on a bench provided by an electronics store, reviewing the few photos I’d taken. Noticing the still ongoing rush of passers-by unfazed by the light rain, I started taking pictures from right where I sat. I deliberately unfocused the lens, taking advantage of the nice bokeh (rendering of out-of-focus areas) of my glass.

 Posted by at 22:28
Jun 062010
 



 
Like any modern democracy, Japan has its fair share of political fringe parties. On my return from Shibuya I came across the loudspeaking truck of the so-called “Happiness Realization Party” (幸福実現党). While the name sounds characteristically Japanese cute, they are actually the political front of a cult-like spiritual movement. Their goals are a mixture of very agreeable policies for Japan’s future, jingoist fear mongering about North Korea and the “Happy Science” religious doctrines and donations acquiring.

 Posted by at 19:10
May 212010
 



 
The Aroma Garden massage parlor in Shibuya seems to have some problems with its foreign customers. While the Japanese know what to expect and how to behave, their English-speaking clients are apparently hoping for something… different. So they put up a second sign stating: “Welcome! Aroma Massage. Not adult entertainment. Only beautiful girls.” I hope it helps…

 Posted by at 18:29