Tokyo Photo Walk :: Seijo 成城

I usually go out shooting by myself. The only exception is when I’m in Tokyo, where I have a couple of friends that share the same passion about cameras, cuisine and walking. When my biz trip to Tokyo covers the weekend, I’ll try to assemble everyone to have one what we called Photo Walk.

This past trip to Tokyo, we chose Seijo (成城), a suburb area that’s 30min~40min from the center of Tokyo. This is one of those high-end suburbs in Tokyo where rich families escape the crowd of the city center and surround their mansions with gardens. The famous high-end supermarket chain Seijo Ishii (成城石井) was originally from this area. Definitely not my type of “machi (町)”. However, since one among the usual Tokyo Photo Walk members, a professional photographer named Koichi Mitsui (三井公一), is holding a small exhibition of his works, we decided to go visit the exhibition and take a walk nearby.

In front of the Seijogakuenmae station (成城学園前)

I arrived 20min earlier than our appointment time so I had time to walk around the metro station by myself. It’s not unlike most other metro stations in Tokyo: clean, proper and full of shops. The weather was great though, so the clean streets shined and reflected, giving the distinct look of the clarity often seen in winter in Tokyo, though here it was already late spring time.

While cherry blossom season ended a week or two before, other flowers were still blossoming, making it a very pleasant experience to walk around the very residential area. That said, as the density of passengers is relatively low, hit rate of my street photography went down naturally.

Group shot at Koichi Mitsui’s photo exhibition at Setagaya Art Museum / Taiji Kiyokawa Memorial Gallery

Koichi Mitsui, our friend that’s exhibiting, is a well known fashion and model photographer in Japan. However, his private works probably gain him a lot more followers than his paid job - he was the first iPhone photographer in Japan, starting in the era of iPhone 4. This exhibition featured many of his selected iPhone works, with prints deliberately pasted on cardboards instead of framed. Despite the lack of resolution and sharpness, especially when blown up to large sizes, these photos showed perfectly that it’s the eyes and brain behind the camera that take photos, not the camera itself. In a pair of good hands, iPhone outshined any DSLR in the hands of less inspiring users.

At Koichi’s recommendation, we went on to visit a local private gallery that was the residence of a famous Japanese architect, Isoya Yoshida (吉田五十八). The so-called Inomata Garden (猪股庭園) features a very beautiful Japanese garden surrounding the Japanese house. We enjoyed every bit of it in almost silence, along with other visitors who were as well mesmerized.

The Japanese garden of Inomata Garden

The day ended with two rounds of awesome dinners — in London people crawl bars, in Tokyo we crawl restaurants! — and a drink at a local whisky bar. This gave me some motivation to visit the area again. But then again Tokyo is full of street photography paradises. One shall never promise too soon!

Jerry YangComment