Switch to English Language Passer en langue française Omschakelen naar Nederlandse Taal Wechseln Sie zu deutschen Sprache Passa alla lingua italiana
Members: 70,011   Posts: 1,524,669   Online: 803
      
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11
  1. #1
    Jeremy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Denton, TX
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    2,767
    Images
    56

    Photographing in Japan

    I know we have at least one Japanese member who goes by the name Firecracker here on Apug, but do we have any more? Or are there any here who have previously visited and photographed in Japan?

    Can anyone share any cultural hurdles that I need to look out for while photographing in Japan? I'll be in Takamatsu on the island of Shikoku and while it is a city of 330k+ as of the year 2000 my girlfriend has told me that there are probably fewer than 250-500 caucasians in the city. Because of this fact she said people will probably stop and stare on occasion (not to mention adding to the crazy gaijin factor will be the LF camera I'll be lugging everywhere with me).

    I have one friend who is from Japanese (foreign exchange student to the US) and she has called a couple of places to ask if there are any tripod restrictions, but they didn't even know what she was asking about. Her advice was to be open and up-front about taking photos, but if I get into any trouble to rely on the fact that I can't speak any Japanese (she also said that this is what she and her Japanese friends do when something goes wrong while they are in the US )

    Any further comments and suggestions?
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

    blog
    website

  2. #2
    Ailsa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Southeast England
    Shooter
    Medium Format
    Posts
    244
    Images
    17
    Hi Jeremy

    I've been lucky enough to go to Japan twice, and I envy you - it's a truly fantastic place for photography. The best thing is, they're such a huge nation of photographers themselves, that you'll never be looked upon as unusual on that front - possibly not even with a large format camera!

    The first time I went it was cherry blossom season, which is a huge deal in Japan. We visited one temple in Kyoto where it was all lit up at night, and I couldn't get anywhere near the best viewpoints because of the hordes of photographers - and I don't mean snappers with tiny digi cameras, either. The majority of them had Hasselblads, Mamiyas and the like - as well as large format gear - and all on tripods. The likelihood of you getting into trouble for taking pictures is pretty small, I would imagine.

    The other thing you needn't worry about is security. I've never felt as safe in any country as I did in Japan.

    Have a fantastic time. Look forward to seeing some of the pictures!

  3. #3
    rbarker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Rio Rancho, NM
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    2,222
    Images
    2
    I spent a couple of weeks in Japan back in the early '90s, and didn't encounter any cultural issues when photographing. I'd be surprised if you encountered "staring at the gaijin", as I think most Japanese are too polite for that. I had the same experience while in Taiwan, although I did encounter a bus-load of young school girls who ran up and wanted to practice their English, and take pictures with the bearded American.

    In Japan, I ran into only a couple of areas where photography was prohibited, and this was clearly posted with multi-lingual signage. I have no idea about tripod restrictions, though. On several occasions I also encountered English-speaking locals who were part of a large group who try to assist tourists as they go about their daily routines. Apparently, I looked confused when trying to figure out which subway to take, so they'd come up and, speaking in English, ask if they could help. I'm not sure if that practice still exists, or will be available in the city you'll be visiting, but I thought it was great.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  4. #4
    Jeremy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Denton, TX
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    2,767
    Images
    56
    Thanks, Ailsa! This is pretty much what I've been hearing so far which is great news. My girlfriend said that women walk around by themselves at night through the middle of the downtown area without a care in the world--this is amazing to someone who lives in a major US metropolitan area.

    I've got a block of over 60 hours to photograph while I'm there not to mention the shots I'll be taking with my ever-present 35mm camera. When I come back you'll have to tell me to STOP posting pictures!
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

    blog
    website

  5. #5
    Ailsa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Southeast England
    Shooter
    Medium Format
    Posts
    244
    Images
    17
    One other essential - make sure you get thee to a karaoke bar. The best thing about them is that they're private rooms, so it's just you and your friends to be embarrassed with. One of my enduring memories of my first trip to Japan is being down at the opposite end of the corridor to the room we had booked, and at a decibel level that drowned out anything coming from the surrounding half-dozen doorways was my husband bellowing 'Anarchy in the UK' into a microphone. Aah, magic moments...

  6. #6
    Aggie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    So. Utah
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    4,925
    Images
    6
    Quick note too, Our Jeremy is a poor student who is doing this trip mainly to see his fiance who is in Japan for the next 6 months. Aw young love on a shoe string. What he is doing and I applaud him for his efforts is raising money by a presale of photographs. Jeremy is one of our own. He is a very good photographer. Those that believe in him and want to help can easily join in on the presale and help him raise the necessary funds.

    BTW he didn't ask me for this plug. I do these things all on my own.
    Non Digital Diva

  7. #7
    BradS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    S.F. Bay Area, California
    Shooter
    Large Format
    Posts
    3,951
    Jeremy,

    I've been to Skikoku four times for about a month each time. As you are probably already aware the island is small and mostly rural. It is much, much different from the big island and the big cities. The place is ultimately civilized and polite. Honor is everything. Genereally, if you are quiet and polite, if they percive that you are making an effort to not be a jerk, you'll be fine. Try to learn a few words of japanese - if you haven't already.

    Briefly, with respect to photography, if you are taking photos of just about anything other than people, you will not have any trouble at all. There will not be an issue with your tripod or any of your gear. You will never have to fear that somebody will steal something (at least none of the natives) nor will they be upset or tell you that you cannot photographe this or that...as long as there are no people.

    You will need to be very, very careful about photographing people - especially in the smaller towns. The farmers and fishermen live according to the old ways and adhere to strong beliefs.

    Respect and courtesy is everything. You will screw up - because thier ideas about what is polite and what is not are, in some cases, exactly opposite from ours. Don't worry too much about it.

    It will be a fantastic adventure. I wish I could go back.

    Oh, and if you get a chance go see the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Japan
    Shooter
    35mm
    Posts
    1,957
    Hi Jeremy. About your tripod, I don't know. I can't really tell you since I don't know exactly how/when/where you want to use it. But I don't think you'll run into much problem. It's always good to be polite and ask first, and that's probably all you have to do.

    I think the toughest hurdles you might experience in Japan is probably when you try to take out cash from ATM, you might find no English menu on the screen. Outside of Tokyo, that's common. Indeed, a lot of ATM machines (especially the ones in convenience stores) don't take foreign ATM cards. So, just bring a VISA or Mastercard in case and have enough cash(yen) ready wherever you hang out and stay. That's all.

    Starbucks is everywhere if that's also one of your main concerns. Don't worry you'll probably find one there.

    About your chance to run into English-speaking people, I give you an idea: Even in every rural community, there's at least one or two English speakers teaching English in public schools. You'll be amazed when you see them.

    I've been to Takamatsu once. It was late last summer in the aftermath of the hard-hit typhoon. I was a disaster-relief volunteer and spent two weeks working with the locals. Although it was an extraordinary time, I think I managed to get along with those people pretty well and took pictures on the side.

    Takamatsu, also known as "Sanuki" region is famous for making thick udon noodles as its traditional style. There are many noodle shops, and they are all good and cheap.

    Also, the city of takamatsu, according to the local men, is a mecca for erotic bath houses: t has a high reputation for pretty girls. I didn't explore in that area, so I can't really tell you much about it, but it's a big culture there.

    But one thing, seriously you have to be aware of is that one of the nearby islands (I forgot the name) has a facility for leprosy (we call it, "hansen-byo") patients and is known for that. Those people come to Takamatsu on some occasions. They live in the area. I don't know if you can tell from a distance because most of the time, they hide their faces or put makeup to cover up what they don't want you to see. So, just be aware that you'll be in that area with your camera. It's a very sensitive issue because they have suffered from the discrimination in a long history, and they want to keep their privacy protected. I don't know if your Lonely Planet tells you this or not.

    Meanwhile, there's an island called, "Shodo-shima" which is only a short ferry ride away (about an hour) from the Takamatsu port. I would say, it's a Japanese version of Martha's Vineyard (in a way). It's not big for tourism, but it's pretty. A couple of films were shot there.

    Anyway, have a safe trip to Takamatsu. I'm near Nagoya (and Kyoto), far from where you'll be at, but in case if you need help and/or reach me for something, send me a personal message here.

    Firecracker

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Japan
    Shooter
    35mm
    Posts
    1,957
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Moore
    but if I get into any trouble to rely on the fact that I can't speak any Japanese (she also said that this is what she and her Japanese friends do when something goes wrong while they are in the US )
    You can do that to the police, but not to the local residents. Or you'll be cooked in a pan.

    Generally speaking, the Shikoku people don't really like outsiders of any kind. I felt that strongly in some parts of Shikoku when I did another trip there. In Kochi, someone put a nail and busted the wheel on my car overnight. It wasn't hard to guess because my car was the only one with an out-of-prefecture/state license plate in the parking lot. Also I wasn't very welcomed in a cafe when I went in there to get breakfast near there. I had a few bad real ugly moments, and that's not uncommon.

    But at the same time, I had fun, too. In a fishing village called Hiwasa in Tokushima, in a small eatery, I was invited to the table shared by the local fishermen and the farmers. They poured a lot of "Shochu", Japanese gin into my glass out their daily kept bottles, and we talked and talked. We talked a lot of things. They liked me as an unusual guest, and later, they introduced me to another friend of theirs, also a fisherman. He took me on a boat ride at mid-night to go catch "Iseebi", Japanese lobster. It's was real fun, but I don't think they do so often to the tourists.

  10. #10
    Jeremy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Denton, TX
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    2,767
    Images
    56
    I have started a basic Japanese language program to try and learn some polite phrases and key words. In addition, I've started to build up a list of places that I would like to visit while I'm there, if possible, including Ritsurin Koen Park (very near my girlfriend's apartment), Yashima Plateau, the standing Mizute Gomon Gate at the Takamatsu castle, and especially the Takamatsu Heike Monogatari Historical Museum. Currently I am in the middle of an intensive Japanese history class (by intensive I mean for this class alone we read over 300 pages/week and write over 10 pages/week which is pretty unusual for an undergrad class at my university) which is making this trip even more exciting. Since it's a 14 hour plane trip I plan to buy a condensed copy of the Heike Monogatari to read Any suggestions on a good translation?
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

    blog
    website

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast


 

APUG PARTNERS EQUALLY FUNDING OUR COMMUNITY:



Contact Us  |  Support Us!  |  Advertise  |  Site Terms  |  Archive  —   Search  |  Mobile Device Access  |  RSS  |  Facebook  |  Linkedin