Cooled was published in @Camerapixo Body Language

Another photo, Cooled, has been published in Camerapixo, in the Body Language edition, p34. See the original Cooled in Shino’s gallery. Thanks so much to Camera Pixo for choosing this photo for yet another great edition put out by them.

Cooled published in Camera Pixo's Body Language, April 2015.

Cooled published in Camera Pixo’s Body Language, April 2015.

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Sexy Japanese AV idol shoot

I’ve been lucky to work with quite a few great models in the past, including Ana, Hieu, Brooke, and including the very sexy Bella Vu. Last week, I’ve been ever so lucky to be invited to do a boudoir shoot with one of Japan’s top idols, the stuff that fills every school boy’s manga mags… and their pants. Here’s the first photo from that very sexy hotel room collection. More to come later today.

 

Boudoir shoot with one of Japan's top AV models.

Boudoir shoot with one of Japan’s top AV models.

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Models in Osaka needed on 10th and 11th April

Only for models in Osaka, Japan.

Wanted, male or female models, Japanese or expat for street shooting. Shoot will be similar to this past one, of Ana and Brooke, like this on LookBook. For general model call in English click here or モデル求人 日本語.


10th April, Time: 8-9pm (night street shoot)
11th April, Time: 10am-12pm (street or sakura shoot)
Clothing: Please wear anything stylish, but no brand names or trade mark logos
Place: Yodoyabashi Stn, Osaka.
Required: All models will sign a model release
Pay: Trade For (TF). No payment. But, you will get 5 electronic files (jpg) in large and small (for printing and web use), for social media self promotion and portfolio.
Examples of my other work: Models, in my PhotoShelter portfolio.
Contact: Here.

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Renting a kimono in Kyoto is easy

The following article was written by the model you see in the photos, Mariko. It was a pleasure to work with her, and despite the cold, she did really well. A special thanks Mariko for writing your experiences below. These photos are available in the Mariko II Gallery.

 

Renting a kimono in Kyoto
By Mariko

Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to wear a kimono? Well, if you’re in Kyoto you can rent one. It’s not expensive, and you can drop in and be on your way fairly quickly and easily. Kimonos are usually worn in winter and the intermediate seasons, and the lighter yukata is worn in summer. Men can rent kimonos, too, but this is my experience on the day of the photo shoot.


Andrew and I arrived at the kimono rental store not long after opening at 9am. When we entered, a lady behind a counter took the name of my reservation and then directed me to remove my shoes and put them in a bag, along with the rest of my belongings. I said bye to Andrew (no men allowed!), then I was led into the kimono room. There were rows upon rows of beautiful kimonos hanging on racks. There were two racks that were listed as around 5000yen, and a third rack was listed at 8000yen. The 8000yen kimonos were brightly coloured and absolutely gorgeous of course, and you could tell they were higher quality. That’s not to say the other kimonos weren’t beautiful as well, but if you want brighter colours and don’t want to pay for the more expensive choices I would suggest getting there early as there were only a handful left that weren’t more muted purples, blacks and blues.

A size chart hanging on the wall listed sizes as being S,M,L and LL, these refer to height! Compared to Japanese women, I’m pretty tall (174cm / 5’9”) so I chose size L and that worked well for me. It was really difficult to choose a kimono! They were all so lovely and there were so many of them. There were lots of young Japanese women also choosing kimono and we were all taking our time looking through the racks. Finally I settled on a purple flowered kimono and then came the next tough decision; the obi, a kind of cummerbund for women’s kimonos. There were shelves piled with obi of every shade of every colour imaginable. At this point I needed a professional and so asked the opinion of the lady working in the kimono room (who also spoke a little English). She recommended me a yellow obi telling me it would look “nihon-poi”, Japanese style, which goes well with the purple kimono I chose.


Taking the kimono, obi and the bag of my things in hand into the next room I waited for my turn to be dressed. There were two women working very efficiently in the room, wrapping and tying kimonos onto women in front of full-length mirrors. The first thing they put on you is a lightweight plain undergarment, a kind of a kimono-slip. After that goes on it is easy to remove jeans or other bottoms without showing everyone your underwear. It’s a good idea to wear a tank-top or some other non-baggy top that you can keep on under the kimono if you’re uncomfortable undressing fully in front of other people. Because it was late winter, I wore heat-tech, a kind of thermal undershirt popular in Japan.

After the slip, there was a second under-kimono that was yellow and a little less plain, and then finally the purple kimono. In the photos you can see the elegance of the yellow layer under the purple. I only needed to stand there while the woman worked around me, occasionally raising my arms as she wrapped, tied and tightened. After the kimono and obi were on I was told to choose either a shawl or a kimono jacket from the back of the room as well as a purse. I chose a light shawl for the photo shoot, but if I were hanging out with friends in winter, I’d prefer the kimono jacket. Then I was sent to another room for hair.

At the hair station I could choose which style I wanted from photographs hanging on the wall. The hairstylist worked very quickly and the result looked great! As a finishing touch I picked a yellow flower hairpin from an assortment of pins and combs. I transferred my important belongings to the purse I borrowed, while the bag with my shoes and my regular purse was put in a back room for safe-keeping. After paying for the rental I slipped on a pair of zori (kimono shoes) and went back down the elevator with Andrew, ready to walk around Gion dressed in beautiful traditional Japanese style.


After the photo shoot we returned to the store and returned the kimono. I left still with my stylish hair in place, and I could keep the tabi, which are a kind of sock for kimonos.


 

Note from Andrew:
Mariko looked fantastic on the shoot. The colours were complimentary, and the main patterns were striking and others subtle. Also her hair was absolutely elegant, and her hair decoration nicely matched her obi. Her zori nicely matched the kimono, so the whole look was superb. We returned the kimono to the store, but some stores allow you to return it to your hotel reception, but double check the details first. We couldn’t really walk fast in the kimono, as walking seemed a little restricted for her, so we casually had time to properly enjoy the sights around Yasaka Shrine and the main Gion tourist area. In all, it was great working with Mariko, and a fun shoot.


If you’re in Gion or in the Kiyomizu Temple area and you see women in kimonos, a “maiko”, or a “geisha”, and if you think she might be Japanese, listen carefully, she might actually be Taiwanese or Chinese, though many young Japanese ladies do rent kimonos in Kyoto, too. Kimono rentals are quite popular, where this one kimono store we went to apparently handles about 200 clients a day, and there are quite a few in Gion. You’ll see some young couples and groups of ladies enjoying strolling about the tourist areas of Gion all dressed up, and some stores can dress you up in full maiko or geisha garb. Some stores will even give you a special “passport” which can give you discounts at certain stores, including two-for-one lunch deals in high class restaurants, but only if at least one person is wearing a kimono or yukata.

So, why not enjoy the experience yourself. It’ll be a photo op and bragging rights you won’t soon forget.

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Moving season in Japan

It’s moving season in Japan. Especially for company employees and their families, and some university students, it’s that time of year when a portion of the nation packs up and relocates. Moving companies and furniture store companies are booked out from about mid March until mid to late May, and I guess car rental agencies get busy too. Moving companies are very organised. You don’t have to pack a thing. For a one-person studio apartment (aka “1DK apartment”) they can just turn up, pack things in specialist boxes, and have your place empty within a couple of hours. You jump on the train, and meet your stuff at your new apartment. See the video below for more on this.

Removalists working in front of a condominium in moving season in Japan.

Removalists working in front of a condominium in moving season in Japan.

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Japanese real estate agents have a code system for describing apartments and condominiums. The number means the places to sleep; D is Dining; K is kitchen; L is Living room. So you could get a 3LDK place, which is a large, three bedroom place with a living area, dining area, and kitchen. These are typically the open plan style. Most single people live in a 1 DK, which can be likened to a shoe box with a bathroom. These are kind of cheap, but ok.

There are typically condominiums and apartments. Condominiums are typically owned by the occupants, and apartments are typically rented. Condominiums have solid concrete walls, whilst apartments have less sound-proof walls.

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#POTW Exploring a Japanese castle

This Photo of the Week is of a model I’ve recently had the pleasure to work with, Allyce, and we shot at Nagoya Castle. It was her first visit there, and mine for many years. Nagoya Castle was originally built in 1610 and destroyed in May 1945 during the second world war. What you see here is a concrete keep, with air conditioning, electrical lighting, toilets with heated seating, elevator, a museum, and gift shop all inside. On the other side, and hidden from view is a reconstruction of the palace, known as the Honmaru Palace, which is much smaller than the military donjon you can see behind Allyce. The original was built in 1615, and the reconstruction began in 2009 and is due to be completed in 2016. More photos to come in the near future.

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A young lady using a guidebook in Japan.

A young lady using a guidebook, whilst travelling in Japan.

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Spring coupon, 15% off purchases

It’s rare that these are offered, but here is a great coupon. Get 15% off until 15th May 2015. Minimum USD$20 purchase, unlimited downloads, use the code “Spring2015” only at my PhotoShelter portfolio. Offer includes prints, products, personal downloads, royalty free, and rights managed licensing. So, get your newest favourite t-shirt, wall picture, or mousepad now.


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International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day (Wikipedia). Japan isn’t exactly the symbol or beacon of gender equality, but there are some highlights. Over fifty years ago, women in Japanese universities were extremely rare or not even allowed in, however, they are now making up over 50% of university entrants. I have read somewhere that Japan probably has the world’s best educated housewives. Women are taking up an increasing number of office jobs, though some struggles remain. Sayaka Osakabe recently won an American award for promoting women’s rights in the workplace (on 7th March 2015, Japan Today). The number of women in Japan’s parliament has doubled in the last twenty years, and Japan has moved up 14 places in world rankings; albeit from 127th to 113th (6th March, 2015 Japan Times). There will surely be more achievements in the future, however, what is needed? What is the highest priority now?

JapanesePhotos.Asia wishes for a great day to all women everywhere, and a hope for fortune and happiness to all people.


An American and a Japanese women on the street in Osaka

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5 Things to do this Spring in Japan

Are you thinking of what to do in Japan these Spring holidays? Look no further. Of course I talk mainly of Nagoya in central Japan. In case you don’t know. Nagoya is the major city in between Tokyo and Osaka. It is the home of the Toyota Motor Corporation, and the famous blue Central JR bullet trains. Land prices here rival that of Tokyo and London, and it’s one of the richest cities in the world. It’s also a convenient base for travellers. So, if you’re going to be in Japan and looking for travel ideas, start with these. Oh, and here’s one little trivial point to mention. The Spring holidays start mid-Winter (end of January), and finish in early Spring (early April). Don’t ask me why, just go with it.

For each below, there are links that include How to Get There information.


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1. Plum blossoms

Plum flowers typically bloom in about the last week of February and last until about mid-March (depending on the species and the weather). These flowers have more petals than cherry blossoms, last longer, and have more vibrant colours. These flowers used to be the most revered until a Kyoto poet captured Japanese hearts for the cherry blossoms. Plum flowers can be enjoyed at many major parks, including private botanic gardens like Nabana no Sato, the Nagoya Agricultural Centre, and Higashiyama Park (at Higashiyama Koen Station, Higashiyama Line).

Plum flowers
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2. Osaka Sumo Tournament

The Osaka Sumo Tournament is a little unique. It’s the only sumo tournament where the wrestlers need to walk through the public areas between the fighting mound in the centre of the stadium, to the changing rooms out back. So you can get close enough to get clear photos of the wrestlers just before and after their bouts. The tournament runs from the second Sunday of March for fifteen days until the fourth Sunday. Tickets are available online and can be picked up at the venue from special machines; don’t forget your purchase code and info. Learn more about the sumo here at the Going to a Sumo Tournament post.

Osaka Sumo
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3. The Naked Man Festival

Don’t worry, they’re not all men; they’re not completely naked; and it’s not so much a festival that you have to take part in… unless you really want. It’s held annually on the 15th of January in the lunar calendar (usually between mid February to early March). In 2015 it was held on the 3rd March (Gregorian Calendar). The festival attracts about 13,000 participants (males from about 6 or 7yo, to those about 70 or 80. You’ll even see tattooed gangsters playing their part as members of the community, too. You’ll have to bump your way through a crowd of perhaps 150,000 to 200,000 spectators of mainly excited women and girls. The festival is also known as the Hadaka Matsuri (“hadaka” is ‘naked’, and “matsuri” is ‘festival’).


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4. The Fertility Festival

Like the Naked Man Festival, this festival traces it’s roots to ancient Japan and is held with strong religious connections. It basically is a large wooden phallus being joyously carried through the Tagata township. On the internet it’s also known as the penis festival. It’s held on the 15th March each year (Gregorian Calendar). See here for specific info on the Tagata Fertility Festival.


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5. Cherry blossoms / Sakura

Of course, no mention of Spring and Japan is complete without mentioning the delicate and fleeting petals of a tree that bears no fruit, yet covers almost every temple and shrine and park in the country for about one week. The image below was taken at Nagoya Castle. You can get there via the subway Meijo Line, at the Shyakusho-mae Station in downtown or central Nagoya. The castle is also a museum and has the Nagoya gymnasium which hosts the July summer sumo tournament. There are some specific things you can do in this fleeting time, typically one week, and it involves friends, alcohol, bad decisions, and can be day or night. Learn five things about hanami here (hanami literally means “flowers-see”).


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Bonus: Tado Horse Festival

The Tado Horse Festival is held in the Golden Week holidays, the end of April and early May. It’s held in Tado, a small township just outside of Kuwana city, which itself is outside of Nagoya. The festival typically attracts about 120,000 spectators. It’s major.


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