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Author Topic: January in Japan...Advice?  (Read 4361 times)

Leejo

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Re: January in Japan...Advice?
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2013, 02:08:46 PM »
For good advice try contacting Martin Bailey -
martinbaileyphotograpy.com
He's from England - lives in Tokyo and has been running tours to see the snow monkeys, and Hokkaido for years.

He has a few old podcasts as well dealing with the trips, what to bring etc.
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Re: January in Japan...Advice?
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2013, 02:08:46 PM »

csmithinva

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Re: January in Japan...Advice?
« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2013, 03:40:32 PM »
I went to Japan in 2011 and 2012 during the January to April timeframe both times. The lenses I had were the 16-35, 24-105, and 75-300. I had the 5D and 7D camera bodies. The 24-105 stayed on my camera 90% of the time for the 5D. When I needed to go wider or use in low light, I switched to the 7D. I usually left the 16-35 on the 7D. When visiting the snow monkeys, I would use the 16-35 and the 24-105 or 24-70 if you have that lens. A zoom is best there as the monkeys move quite frequently if they are not in the water. Most of the ones in the water are docile and seldom move. I would keep the lens at least 2 feet away from the monkeys. They are quick and curious. Also, the place will be packed with tourists jockeying for position for pics. The area where the monkeys are in the water is quite small, probably less than a 1500 square foot area. I also recmmend YakTrax on your shoes as the path is about 1/2 mile to the park and most of it is snow and ice.

Kyoto is doable by bullet train. I did that for a weekend and didn't have enough time to see hardly anything as most temples and places close early (4pm-ish)

I HIGHLY recommend Kamakura. PLENTY of temples and architecture, and not so spread out like Tokyo or Kyoto. It's only an hour train ride from Tokyo (Shibuya or Shinagawa train stations).

Good luck on your trip!

eosuser1234

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Re: January in Japan...Advice?
« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2013, 11:52:01 PM »
Check out Takayama Gifu, Ouchi Juku in Fukushima, and Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma.
Although some tourists, way less than other places.   

Easily the best towns for winter photography in Japan on Honshu.

You can google them and see the scenery, but its spectacular.
Japan can be very cold, snowy, and you do a lot of walking so a good pair of boots is good advice.

eml58

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Re: January in Japan...Advice?
« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2013, 12:56:04 AM »
For good advice try contacting Martin Bailey -
martinbaileyphotograpy.com
He's from England - lives in Tokyo and has been running tours to see the snow monkeys, and Hokkaido for years.

He has a few old podcasts as well dealing with the trips, what to bring etc.

Excellent advice, my trip last December/January was a Private 2 week Tour, Martin & His Wife showed us Kyoto, Osaka & Nagano, fantastic time, Martin doesn't do Tokyo, but you will find you can manage mostly on your own (we did, Train systems are at first confusing, even for Japanese, but it's good fun getting lost in one of the Worlds safest Cities) The Kids at Akihabara are a must, Sunday worked for us, the Tsukiji Fish Market is worth seeing but be aware you need to get there early, we arrived 0300 and they only allowed the first 75 People to enter for that Morning.

I'm again with Martin on one of his Monkey/Crane/Eagle tours in February 2014 (these are not expensive and absolutely worth doing at least once), looking forward to that, Martin is an amazing Photographer and a genuinely lovely Guy, been established in Japan for 20 years, Yoshiko his wife is Japanese and Martin speaks the Language with total fluency.

One word, or so, of caution, be prepared for few People speaking English, this initially surprised me, but getting around outside Tokyo needs to be prepared well as the further from Tokyo the less chance people speak English, Road Signs etc pretty well all in Japanese, we hired a 4 wheel drive for the Snow in the Nagano area, absolute must, 2 wheel drive won't cut it when the ice & snow forms, our vehicle had a GPS that was in English so that was a huge help. The local Ryokan Inns are mostly used by Locals but we stayed at a few and it was great, worth the effort, be prepared though to sleep on Futons about an inch thick, I loaded up two.
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eosuser1234

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Re: January in Japan...Advice?
« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2013, 02:38:21 AM »
For good advice try contacting Martin Bailey -
martinbaileyphotograpy.com
He's from England - lives in Tokyo and has been running tours to see the snow monkeys, and Hokkaido for years.

He has a few old podcasts as well dealing with the trips, what to bring etc.

Excellent advice, my trip last December/January was a Private 2 week Tour, Martin & His Wife showed us Kyoto, Osaka & Nagano, fantastic time, Martin doesn't do Tokyo, but you will find you can manage mostly on your own (we did, Train systems are at first confusing, even for Japanese, but it's good fun getting lost in one of the Worlds safest Cities) The Kids at Akihabara are a must, Sunday worked for us, the Tsukiji Fish Market is worth seeing but be aware you need to get there early, we arrived 0300 and they only allowed the first 75 People to enter for that Morning.

I'm again with Martin on one of his Monkey/Crane/Eagle tours in February 2014 (these are not expensive and absolutely worth doing at least once), looking forward to that, Martin is an amazing Photographer and a genuinely lovely Guy, been established in Japan for 20 years, Yoshiko his wife is Japanese and Martin speaks the Language with total fluency.

One word, or so, of caution, be prepared for few People speaking English, this initially surprised me, but getting around outside Tokyo needs to be prepared well as the further from Tokyo the less chance people speak English, Road Signs etc pretty well all in Japanese, we hired a 4 wheel drive for the Snow in the Nagano area, absolute must, 2 wheel drive won't cut it when the ice & snow forms, our vehicle had a GPS that was in English so that was a huge help. The local Ryokan Inns are mostly used by Locals but we stayed at a few and it was great, worth the effort, be prepared though to sleep on Futons about an inch thick, I loaded up two.

Another good travel advice is outside of the major cities, very few places take credit cards.  Even hotels, and inns in the countryside rarely take credit cards.  Even McDonalds and Starbucks in the big cities sometimes do not accept credit cards.  Most banks won't take your ATM cards, and the best bet to get your ATM card to work is going to be 7-11 ATMs or post office banks in major cities.  Bring and carry cash is your best bet. 

vanshyosaka

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Re: January in Japan...Advice?
« Reply #20 on: October 24, 2013, 04:59:57 AM »
If by history and traditions you mean some of the serene temples and buildings, yes, I am absolutely interested. I've always wanted to go to Kyoto for the blossom in the spring, but I just wasn't sure if the same splendor is captured in winter.


Do you think Hokkaido is doable in 2-3 days? If I do 2 days in Tokyo, a day in Kyoto, 2-3 days in Nagano (monkeys), that leaves 2-3 for Hokkaido or something else. If I make the trip all the way north, I'd hope to see the red crowned cranes and whooper swans. Think that's doable in 2-3 days? Are there local tour operators to facilitate this or is it possible "self-guided" so to speak? Are there any particular places or "spots" you can recommend for either of these?

hi again,

IMO kyoto is always beautiful specially in autumn, and i am sure its still stunning in winter too.

 i am sure martin bailey can provide you with more helpful information about your trip to hokkaido, give him an email on his blog :)

good luck
« Last Edit: October 24, 2013, 05:02:50 AM by vanshyosaka »

shashinkaman

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Re: January in Japan...Advice?
« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2013, 09:47:47 PM »
Check out Takayama Gifu, Ouchi Juku in Fukushima, and Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma.


With all due respect, you're 'off your trolley'!  ??? ??? ???
« Last Edit: October 24, 2013, 09:50:12 PM by shashinkaman »
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Re: January in Japan...Advice?
« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2013, 09:47:47 PM »

rmfagan

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Re: January in Japan...Advice?
« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2013, 01:57:19 PM »
I do plan to avoid Fukushima. I'm sure it's lovely and all, but to quote Jimmy Buffet, "I don't wanna see my skin a-glow"

gfoulk

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Re: January in Japan...Advice?
« Reply #23 on: October 25, 2013, 04:42:40 PM »
I'd love to see Fukushima - the abandoned villages and such would be very interesting. With some basic protective gear and a Geiger counter, it should be quite safe for an isolated visit. Of course it's a restricted area so I don't think "I wanna take pictures" is going to cut it :)

Brand B

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Re: January in Japan...Advice?
« Reply #24 on: October 25, 2013, 09:34:16 PM »
Ben to Tokyo about 60 times for work, including living there a couple years in 1999-2001.  I'd second (or third, didn't read all the posts too carefully) Kamakura as a good day trip from Tokyo, and Nikko as well.

In the Tokyo area, some interesting sights are Ueno park (museums, scenery, temples) as well as the rather interesting shopping area right outside the Ueno station off the Yamanote line (train that does a big loop around the Tokyo metro area).

On that topic, you might look at buying one of the JR (Japan Rail) passes that are sold at a pretty hefty discount for tourists.

Harajuku is cool, Akihabara is an interesting experience if not photographically desirable.

There some interesting futuristic architecture out by the bay in Lalaport/Divercity including a life size Gundam that makes an interesting spectacle at night.

I'll ponder other suggestions since you have a couple of months before you go.


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Re: January in Japan...Advice?
« Reply #25 on: October 25, 2013, 11:15:10 PM »
For Kyoto, check out Jeffrey Friedl's Blog.  Jeffrey also produces export plug-ins for Lightroom plus lots of other neat tools, its a good site to be familiar with, he has a wealth of information about photography, even if he is a Nikon shooter ;)
 
http://regex.info/blog/

87vr6

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Re: January in Japan...Advice?
« Reply #26 on: October 30, 2013, 08:05:02 AM »
I live in Okinawa, and travel to the mainland occasionally (I suppose that's an appropriate term)


I went to Hokkaido last year for the snow festival. I shoot with a 5D3 and during the day my 24-70 II was more than enough, and at night I used my 24mm both indoors and out. I brought a tripod but rarely used it as this was a vacation, not a photo safari.

So, 9 days, flying into Tokyo. I'd try to find the flights going into Haneda and not Narita for starters.

As mentioned, those monkeys only need a day, unless you really have something for monkeys, but IMO there is much better stuff to see around.

But like mentioned, if you're going to see them, you'll want some focal length. You have that covered with the 70-200. I doubt you'll be able to set up a off camera flash close to them... They might grab it and run off with it...

Seriously. Monkey's are azzholes!! Look at these guys on Ishigaki-jima:

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ronspics12345/10504049004/" title="5D3_1328 by volksron, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7316/10504049004_316c400dc7_c.jpg" width="800" height="534" alt="5D3_1328"></a>

I wouldn't bother bringing a macro, especially as you'll be in the colder regions, in January. Spring/summer? Sure...

The 50 you have will be great for the markets, though you might find it a little tight... I like my 24L...

This is a 3-street wide market right outside Ueno Station
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ronspics12345/8460196012/" title="5D3_5374 by volksron, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8228/8460196012_138d2b026a_c.jpg" width="800" height="534" alt="5D3_5374"></a>

As far as travel, once you arrive in country, use Skymark or Peach airlines. They fly to all the cities, and cheaply...

There's so much I want to write here, but my mind wanders too much for it. If you would like to chat and discuss things in an easier manner, find me on FB (Ron Wroblewski), my profile pic is me with those monkeys, so I should be easy to find..



AttackMonkey

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Re: January in Japan...Advice?
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2013, 09:27:44 AM »
I go to Japan every couple of years, I love it there. My most recent trip was last year, and I climbed Fuji overnight to watch the sun rise, it was amazing!

To give you an idea, we normally do a couple of weeks, with 4 - 6 of us, and manage to visit 4 or 5 major cities or so. It's a LOT of travel though.

If street photography is your thing, Tokyo is the best, but Osaka and Kyoto are good too. If you want historical stuff like shrines, Kyoto is where it's at, and Nara is good too. I can recommend a few really good places that I've been:

Miyajima Island, it's in the top 100 places to visit before you die, and with good reason. It's a beautiful island off the coast near Hiroshima. IF you go, stay overnight in one of the island's many traditional Ryokan. There's a mountain there you can climb too, with great views across to the mainland, as well as the famous floating shrine and Torii gate.

The peace gardens and museum at Hiroshima are beautiful, and very moving. I imagine, the Dome (the only surviving building), which is pretty eerie at the best of times would be even more striking in the winter.

If you go to Kyoto, check out the Golden Shrine, the Silver shrine, Ryoan-Ji, Kyoto Castle and Gion. There's also a fantastic giant Flea market once or twice a month at one of the temples not too far from the main station.

Osaka has the castle, and an excellent aquarium.

If you want a good day trip and you're in Kyoto or Osaka, consider a day trip to Himeji Castle. It's the best surviving original castle in Japan, and if you've seen a film set in Japan with a castle in it, the chance are it was Himeji Castle.

Kamakura is a good day out from Tokyo, it has a wonderful small town feel to it, and there are some beautiful shrines there.

I don't know if giant robots are your thing, but in Odaiba in Tokyo, they have a life sized Gundam robot, which is light up at night, and is very cool indeed.

As others have said, the street food in Japan is amazing, and the Sushi is awesome. I'd also recommend trying the regional specialities of any region that you visit!

As others have mentioned, the further away you get from Tokyo, the harder it is to get around if you don't speak or read Japanese. Do your research in advance, it'll make your life much easier! A lot of the other major cities are easier to navigate now than they were on my first visit in 2005. Most of the major bus stations will have bus schedules in English if you ask.

If you plan on getting around by train, consider a JR Pass, you have to buy them before you go, but they allow you unlimited travel on the JR trains, and some of the ferries as well. If you're doing more than one or two long journeys, you'll save a ton of money. You can't use the fastest bullet trains though. Driving is OK, but again, it can be a bit intimidating if you can't read any of the road signs!

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Re: January in Japan...Advice?
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2013, 09:27:44 AM »