I visited the 21_21 Design Sight museum this morning, and was lucky to catch The Outline, an exhibit about the work of product designer Naoto Fukasawa. I'm a fan of his work and really enjoyed looking at the flowing, organic shapes of his designs.
I love Tadao Ando's architecture as well, and looking at the 21_21 museum he designed, I thought it would be a lovely thing to shoot in the evening light, but alas I was there at noon and nothing worked. It wasn't all wasted though, as I managed to catch these autumn leaves behind the museum, my first in Tokyo. Even though I visited Tokyo in late November and everyone was telling me how beautiful the autumn leaves were going to be, I hardly saw any (the Japanese were also telling me how unusual it was raining so often – global warming, I'm looking at you).
I then walked over to the National Art Center. I didn't want to spend too much time shooting it as I wanted to move away from shooting architecture this time round, but I enjoyed playing with how its shape interacted with the beautifully blue sky that day.
These birds flew by just as I lined up the camera to shoot the Art Center dome. There was no way to see it coming, there was only time to shoot one frame – it's just one of those happy coincidences where I was in the right place at the right time.
Finally, autumn leaves! It was a beautiful scene, and I wanted to convey the slow, contemplative feel of a lazy afternoon in the warm sun, cool breeze blowing, light lunch and good book in hand. It felt like it would be really rude to disturb the people enjoying themselves, so I only took a few shots here. Ah, the Japanese are so lucky to have beautiful places like this.
I then took a slow, lazy walk through Aoyama, getting lost. I found myself wandering into Aoyama cemetery, which I admit, hardly sounds like the best tourist spot, but it was so quiet and peaceful there.
I'm not sure, but it looked to me like the Japanese have a different attitude towards cemeteries than Singaporeans do; I saw a family playing ball inside, somebody reading, and people jogging around the periphery. Instead of looking gloomy and abandoned, it looked clean and even beautiful. I know I had an interesting time looking through at some of the very old tombs – it was almost like walking through a history museum.
As I looked at graves of people who have been dead for decades, some for centuries, I tried to picture them as they once were; real, living people, who were brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, husbands and wives. I felt a profound sense of gratitude wash over me, for being alive to witness this scene while they weren't, knowing that one day, I too will join them. Although it would have been interesting to photograph, I felt like it would have been deeply disrespectful, so I left it at that. It's going to sound strange of me, but this accidental visit to a Japanese graveyard was one of the highlights of this trip for me.
My feet were killing me after all that walking (seriously, they would be hurting days after I returned home), and as I came out of Aoyama cemetery I saw a little cafe called Chocolat Chic tucked away near the exit. It was a great find, the coffee was rich and the dessert was delicious. This is what I love about letting yourself get lost while traveling, if you're lucky you stumble upon great places you would have otherwise never found. The composition in this photo isn't anything to shout about and the light is all wrong, but unlike 90% of the other shots I took, I didn't take this for anyone else, with interesting leading lines and clear center of interests. I took it for me, to help remind me someday that one beautiful autumn afternoon, I enjoyed a delicious snack, lost in the suburbs of Tokyo.
I wanted to capture what an autumn late afternoon felt like on the streets of Tokyo before I left. I'm not sure if I got it with this one, but I like how the light catches the man on the right just as he's glancing across at the two ladies on the left, and the long shadows that stretch across the pavement cast by the setting sun.
The shot that became a favorite amongst my friends almost never happened. I touch-downed near evening, hands full of luggage, stepped off the plane and this view greeted me. I was exhausted by then, and just snapped a customary shot using my iPhone. I wanted to go off there and then – but something made me dig out the Canon 7D from my luggage and snap another couple of photos. Lucky for me.
And that concludes it. I shot around 6000 photos over 6 days of travel, and these few are amongst my favorites. I hope you enjoyed looking through them as much as I did shooting them.