By Malaysian Explorer & Photographer, Zung
There’s nothing I enjoy more than travelling and immersing myself in the bursting flavors and culture of each place I have visited. With my immense passion for photography, I have been seeing the world through my lens across 30 countries, in all seven continents to capture beautiful and spontaneous moments. It’s an exhilarating journey and each experience is priceless.
Entranced by Tokyo
My recent trip to Tokyo was to soak in the ever so euphoric atmosphere surrounding the fascinating city. I was entranced by the city, the culture and the people in more than a million ways.
Tokyo, Japan is a mega-city overflowing with a harmonious balance between tradition and modernization and anyone can be inspired by anything and everything surrounding the bustling streets. I would say that, of all the countries that I have travelled to, Tokyo is probably the most unique and accommodating in its overall flow of the city, especially its people and their culture.
Infinitely, what awaits your discovery is a cultural feast of systematic vibrancy yet serene at the same time – totally worth the visit. There is always something happening around the streets of Tokyo, especially Shibuya whereby you can witness the famous crossing and capture the scene of at least 3000 people crossing the streets at a single light change.
Bird’s Eye View
There’s no better way to get a bird’s eye view of Tokyo city than at Roppongi Hills Mori Tower – so, make it the first pit-stop in your itinerary.
The Tokyo City View Observation Deck located on the 52nd floor gives you a better view than the renowned Tokyo Tower itself and trust me, with such a good view of the city, it will help you in getting around effortlessly. And if the sky is perfectly clear on that day, you may even be lucky enough to spot Mount Fuji.
Fishy Business in Tokyo
Apart from the regular tourist spots, the most gratifying part of my trip was the visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market, a must-see excitement when you are in Tokyo. At this legendary and renowned wholesale fish market (the largest in the world!), you are bound to witness a grand display of an entire ocean of fresh fish and seafood.
One wouldn’t expect to find that the most intriguing gastronomy experiences does not need to actually involve eating, and sometimes it requires one to wake up as early as 4:00AM in the morning for the feast of your eyes and senses instead. It is undeniably a great place to learn about the origins of Japanese seafood and the great scale of the fishing industry around the world.
Here fishy fishy fishy
One of the highlights of the Tsukiji Fish Market is definitely the tuna auction. The fish market is divided into two distinct areas – the inner market, which is a licensed wholesale market for sellers and buyers alike whilst the outer market is a combination of both wholesale and retail stalls catered to consumers.
By just wandering around the wholesale area of Tsukiji Fish Market, one can discover endless varieties of unbelievable sea creatures. There’s just so much action to feast your eyes upon!
Photographers Pro Tip:”Carry just one camera and a lens with you while shifting the shutter speed”
It is insanely gratifying to be able to capture spontaneous moments of the chaotic market scene here. However, although most of the vendors are very friendly and allow you to take photos, it is still important to be mindful of everyone here – flash photography is a definite no-no and do keep out of the way of those working.
This whole area is good for some close-up action shots of vendors trading, the slicing of a giant tuna, hagging items for sale and more. With such busy ambience at the market, my best suggestion is to be a gear minimalist if you are planning to do street photography here and carry just one camera and a lens with you while shifting the shutter speed.
The Freshest Sushi and Sashimi
And, your trip to Tokyo will not be complete without having a taste of fresh sashimi and sushi right from the Tsukiji Fish Market for breakfast.
Undoubtedly, one will be spoilt for choices as there are many sushi joints here – with or without a queue, the standards of each outlet will not be too far off from the next. Honestly, I feel that the freshness of sashimi and sushi is so good that you will never see fresh Japanese food in the same light ever again.
Tokyo On Foot
For the rest of my trip in Tokyo, I managed to visit a few more places as well like Ginza, Shibuya, Roppongi and Yurakucho. I have always loved walking; taking in the sights and meeting new people, and Yurakucho was definitely the place to be!
The difference between Yurakucho and the nearby luxurious district of Ginza is plainly noticeable as the Chiyoda neighbourhood is surrounded with more traditional and lesser modern elements.
Underneath the elevated train tracks of the JR Yamanote Line, you will see a very neat hidden alley with an endless array of izakaya stalls. The izakaya culture or “Japanese-style bar” is famous for serving the crowd with two main options – nomi-hodai, all you can drink and tabe-hodai, all you can eat packages.
Hence, this place made it a welcoming venue for the post-office hour crowd, city slickers and tourists alike for a good drinking session and of course, food!
Photographers Pro Tip: Izakaya is great place for shooting early evening shots with lots of life and edgey pictures
It is one of my favourite places to capture the human element as it is ideal for an early evening photography. As you walk along the maze of little alleys of izakaya stalls, it is filled with a great mix of people, smoke, lights and food that makes it a great atmosphere for very interesting photography that gives an edge to the picture.
And, if you want to do some street photography practice, here is the best place to be – it is lively and somehow transports one back to the past.
Farewell at Narita
When my little excursion to Tokyo came to an end and I was ready to leave this amazing city, I have made a quick stop at Narita, not Japan’s renowned airport but the actual city in which the airport was located, and I was surprised to discover that Narita was more than just its airport; it is a must-see city – a vibrant city filled with enticement.
Do add this city to the list for your next trip to Japan as it is just a few minutes away by train from the airport and if you are on transit flight, this is the best place to spend a few hours to relax and rejuvenate.
My trip to Tokyo gave me enough reason to plan more trips with layovers there and I will definitely return for more discoveries!
Photographers Pro Tip: “Gear up with wide angle and telephoto lens and always opt for the window seat, because you may happen to capture amazing shots of the landscape below. Trust me; you will never fall asleep on airplane again!”
Image Credits: Expedia, image licensed under CC 2.0