Update to the JapanesePhotos Instagram at: http://bit.ly/2JcXUZK.
Wanted: Models. Men, women, young, old, whatever.
Theme: Japanese summer.
When: Summer (Any time now to mid-September), but contact me as soon as possible, so I can fix my schedule.
Where: Mostly Nagoya (Sakae, Shin-Sakae, Higashiyama Botanic Gardens, Tsurumai Park, or even Shin-Maiko on the Meitetsu Line), but I may also do a trip to Tokyo and Kyoto. For travelling models, look at my Nagoya, Kyoto, and Tokyo pages for ideas.
Why: Actually, I’m not normally available to shoot in summer in Japan, and so I have this big gap in my portfolio. Also, I really don’t know what to shoot, and so I need some practice and a chance to experiment with a summer theme.
Paid: For the right model, yes I can pay. Otherwise, TFP (Trade for photos), which is perfect for models wanting their first photos for their portfolios, for professional models wanting shots for their Instagram feed, and creative models & MUA wanting help on a project.
What: I’d prefer to show typical Japanese summer themes like fireworks, festivals, but also water and sea. However, I’d be happy to hear your ideas and creatively plan a shoot together.
What to wear: Depends on the theme and creative style we can plan. If a summer festival, then a yukata would be great. If in the city, then summer fashion themes. If you have another idea, please tell me.
In Kyoto, you will see the most beautiful city scenes ever. Kyoto cannot be recommended enough! Whenever I do these “5 Things” lists, I always feel a little apprehensive because I wonder, “Can I think of five things, whilst avoiding the clichés?”. However, the problem with Kyoto is the boundary between highlight and cliché is not clear, but it doesn’t matter. Everything you see in Kyoto will be a highlight of your life! My advice: Don’t care, be shameless, use a selfie stick, enjoy Kyoto to the fullest. This list is spectacularly short compared to what Kyoto has to offer. I plan to do another “5 Things to do in Kyoto” list another… five or six times? We’ll see.
I don’t normally like buses, as I don’t really trust them. They appear and arrive out of nowhere, and then disappear into the traffic to nowhere; I don’t know where they will take me. Trains, on the other hand, have tracks and a clear map that show definitely where they’ve come from, and where they are going. You cannot get (very) lost with trains. However, Kyoto city buses are AWESOME! As soon as you arrive at Kyoto station look for the tourist information centre, buy a City Metro day pass and get a map in your language. The map is very clearly laid out, very simple to read, and you can quickly and easily see how to get to the places you want to go. Also, the buses are very clearly marked. The buses in Kyoto are the only buses in the world I trust. However, they can be slowed down when stuck in afternoon traffic. To use them, get on via the back door, and then at your destination insert your day pass through the machine as you get off through the front door. There are multilingual TV screens on most buses that announce what the next stop is, so you can’t go wrong. The auditory announcements can also help you learn the correct pronunciation of the place names.
1. Kinkakuji Pavilion
This is Japan’s premier tourist attraction. This is the number one must see for all Japanese and non-Japanese in Japan. You haven’t visited Japan until you’ve seen this. However, remember that it is just a humble building, gold leaf coated, rebuilt in the 1950’s. This site alone receives visitors in the millions annually. Consequently, arrive at or moments after 9am, and rush to get ahead of the school and tour groups, but be prepared to get swarmed anyway. You will probably have just five minutes to enjoy this scene before you get elbowed or bumped one too many times. Walking around the place is calming, even if the main viewing area isn’t. Fortunately the grounds staff and security are very, very well practiced in shepherding people, and so the first real sight you see is the Pavilion itself, and then you can relax and unwind in the twenty or thirty minute stroll through the rest of the grounds.
2. Rickshaw rides & Gion
Yes, you can have a hot sweaty man pull you about in a comfortable rickshaw. It’s actually a great way to meet a local who can give you an introduction to the area, and give you ideas and travel advice. Besides, how many times in your life can you get this opportunity? Try it at least once. Also, I have seen women rickshaw pullers in Tokyo, so may be there are some in Kyoto now. Most rickshaws can be found in Gion close to the Ginkakuji Pavilion (the “Silver” one).
Gion boundaries are not clear, nor traditionally defined. I guess the definition of “Gion” is the nighttime geisha/maiko area, and the temple and shrines that are super popular with tourists. So this area includes Ginkakuji, Kiyomizu Temple, Yasaka Shrine, Kodaiji Shrine, and more.
3. Fushimi Inari
I’ve said before that “Tokyo is made of stairs” here. Fushimi Inari is also made of stairs. In fact, you will do a lot of walking in Kyoto. As if travelling and new experiences aren’t energy sapping enough, walking and stairs add to it. However, Fushimi Inari is grand. Take a picnic lunch, get there early, and slowly wander through the tree and orange-torii covered hill. This is a place where you can relax and recharge and forget about the stress of travel.
4. The food
To be honest, I find Japanese food salty and not to my liking; consequently, I don’t actually have any Kyoto-food photos to show. That said, there are a very many Westerners who absolutely love Japanese food. For them, Kyoto is a Mecca for Japanese culinary cuisine. How do I survive there? I look for the ramen shops, the “yakitori” (grilled meat on skewers) restaurants, and franchise places. The best places for anyone for dinner is definitely in Kyoto station on the upper floors, where you can browse and even find Korean and Chinese restaurants. For a truly unique experience, the “restaurant” below is near Kifune Temple, and the platforms are literally over the stream and surrounded by trees. It’s quiet and tranquil. The other place is near Gion by the river on the balconies that overlook the river.
The Gion restaurant district is desolate in the day time, except for the occasional delivery guy pushing a trolley about.
5. People watch in the HUGE Kyoto station
This is perhaps going to be the most grand train station you’ll ever experience. It has department stores, a few floors of restaurants (some with spectacular views), cafés, souvenir shops, and of course luggage lockers (claim yours before 9am before they’re all taken). The view in this photo below doesn’t even capture a quarter of this building, but you can get this wonderful view in the late afternoon early evening; and yes, that is Kyoto Tower reflected in the windows.
Bonus: Rent a kimono
Yes, both men and women can rent a kimono, or yukata (for the summer) for the morning or the day. Girls can even be dressed up like a maiko or geisha with the full makeup, hair styling, and garb. Prices start from about USD$50 and up to about USD$100. There are a bunch of places in Gion, and they offer English language support, which actually means, some minimal help. However, it’s actually very easy, so don’t worry about the language gap. This model below was nice enough to write up a story about her experience renting a kimono, thanks so much Mariko.
Update: Watch this space for “Another 5 Things to do in Kyoto”.
This is the first Photo of the Week in a long time. I have been busy, and so I’m sorry for letting this fall off. So, it’s with great pleasure to re-introduce the POTW with this one from Mariko earlier this year. You can see her story about her kimono photo shoot. You can purchase a licence to use this photo at Alamy.
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
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.
NB: The shoot is in Japan, and only open to anyone (aged 20 and older) in the Osaka area. The shoot can be scheduled for the afternoon or evening of the 23rd or the morning of the 24th January. Please note that the payment is in yen, not US dollars or other currency. This is reposted from the Model Mayhem model call.
Wanted: male and female models or couples (gay and straight) for (outdoor) traveller / tourist type of photos, and candid-like street portraiture. Clothing should be nice, simple, but of tourist-like appearance. Photos will be similar to this and further below.
Theme: Candid street portraits and traveller / tourism
Location: Streets and tourist areas of central Osaka (TBA), or Gion Kyoto.
When: 23rd Jan (afternoon or evening), and 24th Jan (morning only)
Required: Models will sign a model release to allow the photos to be used for commercial purposes.
For general model call information, see Model Call or Contact me here or via JapanesePhotos.Asia for more information.
General advice: Please where full length heat-tech or thermal underclothing, and no clothing with brand logos or print designs. Please do not bring large or heavy bags; you can keep them in a train station locker.
Looking for something a little bit different and to enjoy this weekend? Try Kyoto. Well, it is my favourite place and an obvious choice if you know me. Despite the flooding damage caused by Monday’s typhoon, it was reported that most shops at popular tourist destinations were already cleaned up, restocked, and re-opened by Wednesday. If you’re looking for something interesting, wanting to financially support a community, and enjoy the last of the summer sun, this is the place. For more photos go to the Kyoto gallery, and check the Kyoto blog tags for more info.
On the 3rd September 1868 the de-facto capital of Japan, Edo, was renamed “Tokyo”. At that time, Edo was already the cultural and political centre of Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate (Wikipedia: Edo), and so it only made sense to the Japanese at that time to move the emperor from Kyoto to Tokyo. In case you haven’t noticed, the Roman-spelling similarities between Kyoto and Tokyo, let me explain. “Kyoto” in Chinese characters is 京都, as in ‘kyo’ and ‘to’; and Tokyo is 東京, as in ‘to’ 東 and ‘kyo’ 京. Whilst ‘kyo’ is the same character, ‘to’ is the same pronunciation of two different characters. The Kyoto ‘to’ is a historical hangover from it’s early name, ‘kyo-no-miyako’ (京の都), which means ‘capital city’, but has since been shortened (Wikipedia: Kyoto).
As for photos… how can I say this? In all the years I’ve lived in Japan, I’ve never visited Tokyo (update 2016, I have now). I’ve been to Fukuoka, Kyoto (lots), Osaka, Nara, Fukui, Shirakawa, Takayama (of course you know these places), but not Tokyo. So, this photo represents the closest connection I have with Tokyo, an airplane-window view of downtown Tokyo and Tokyo Bay (Google Maps). Thanks to JapanThis on twitter for alerting me to this.
View of Tokyo & Tokyo Bay on a flight to Nagoya.
Earlier, the BBC News website reported that there was a fireworks explosion, injuring and seriously injuring about 50 people including children in Kyoto, and of which caused the cancellation of a fireworks display (BBC News). It was later revealed that it was a food stall or similar (like shown below) was using a generator and possibly was refilling the generator fuel tank when some fuel splashed onto the generator itself, causing a fire and explosion of the fuel tank. Then later a second fuel tank exploded, of which was recorded and released on the internet. Stalls like these below are typical scenes seen all over Japan for all festival and cultural events. See the Japan Today article for more information. These images, and others like them are available at my portfolio and my agent’s website.
Both images are typical stalls found at all Japanese festivals. The lights are typically powered by fuel generators.
Images like these are available at http://ablyth.photoshelter.com.