Medium format in Japan

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by mooseontheloose, Apr 18, 2009.

  1. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,517
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Location:
    Currently in Finland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    To make a long story short:

    I used to live in Japan (1999-2005), mostly in Western Chugoku, got serious about photography there, bought my first SLR there, shot a lot of chromes, and was just getting into medium format/black and white when I left.

    Now I've been offered a short-term contract there (in Niigata) for July and August and I'll have time beforehand (about two weeks) to revisit some favorite places and hopefully some new ones. I'll be bringing a variety of cameras with me but I hope to use my Bronica SQ system for the majority of my shots.

    So my question for those that live there, or who have recently travelled there is: Will I have any problems using the Bronica (that is, a fairly conspicuous MF SLR) in most places? My assumption, based on my experience, is no. That being said, I'm aware that no MF cameras or tripods are allowed at Kinkakuji in Kyoto. Do they check bags? I don't remember. I do remember a "guard" of some sorts watching over everyone, but that's it. I'm assuming I could get away with my Holga -- what about a small TLR? (I'll likely bring my Yashica or Autocord). Also - what about the other temples, shrines, gardens, etc.? Are there any others that have similar policies? I'll be going to Tokyo (never been), Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, and smaller places in between. I've tried finding specific information/policies about MF camera use on the web but have been unable to do so.

    I'd appreciate any advice or comments -- it will help me finalize what kind of equipment I will take with me when I go.
     
  2. kavandje

    kavandje Member

    Messages:
    150
    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2008
    Location:
    Windhoek, Na
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Why would MF cameras not be allowed in Kinkakuji? My Rolleiflex is considerably less bulky and certainly a lot quieter than my Nikon D700... and it's less 'professional' too. So why the MF prohibition?
     
  3. Aurum

    Aurum Member

    Messages:
    923
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Location:
    Landrover Ce
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I suspect the restriction is more on using tripods and getting under peoples feet, unless MF is considered "Professional" and 35mm isn't
     
  4. firecracker

    firecracker Member

    Messages:
    1,954
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    Location:
    Japan
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I don't think you'll have any problems. Just don't claim yourself as a professional when you're shooting in busy streets in Tokyo or at temples and shrines in Kyoto. If you're not shooting for commercial purposes, then don't even mention the word "pro" to the security people and/or to the police.

    For the general restrictions on the cameras in some areas, there are signs and you will see them. For the use of tripod, it depends, so just ask.
     
  5. coriana6jp

    coriana6jp Member

    Messages:
    810
    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Location:
    Japan
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I live in Niigata, been here for a dozen years. If you have any questions please send me a PM.

    Gary
     
  6. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,517
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Location:
    Currently in Finland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Alright - thanks everyone. I guess maybe it's not the problem it's been made out to be (that I've seen on other forums). That's good to know.

    Gary -- I'll send you a pm in the near future.
     
  7. Dirk-san

    Dirk-san Member

    Messages:
    62
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Location:
    Japan
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    It's no problem, you see all sorts of people on the streets with all sorts of cameras, including 4x5 and bigger. The likelihood of photography in public being disallowed is equal to banning the consumption of raw fish on rice.

    http://tokyocamerastyle.com/

    Enjoy!
     
  8. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    post removed
     
  9. Aurum

    Aurum Member

    Messages:
    923
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Location:
    Landrover Ce
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Having been in London when a Japanese tour bus pulls up outside a major tourist attraction, I can confirm that the stereotype of the Japanese tourist liking to take the Occasional photograph is alive and well.

    I can also confirm that if you hang around for more than a couple of minutes, you will be asked to use a wide selection of state of the art compact cameras on their owners. The whole coach's worth!
     
  10. Dirk-san

    Dirk-san Member

    Messages:
    62
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Location:
    Japan
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    That's because they left their high end DSLR, Leicas etc. at home because they think it is dangerous abroad (perhaps not totally unjustified). Many Japanese photo people I have spoken to have a camera for home, and a cheaper one for travel...
     
  11. shinjuku

    shinjuku Member

    Messages:
    9
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Maybe they changed the rules at Kinkaku-ji but I had no problems using medium format there. The last time I visited was a few years ago however.