meetup in tokyo with andy

andy from austin

The first two weeks of December I was in Tokyo, Ikebukuro, Japan, providing technical support for Yama Sakura 67. This is the second year I’ve supported Yama Sakura; the very first time was last December, about this same time, in Chitose, Japan. I used that trip as the launch for this blog.

It just so happened that my first week in Tokyo overlapped the last week of Andy’s stay, who writes and maintains the atmtx web site, one of the better photography sites on the web.

I started my travel by leaving Orlando on the first Monday of December. After about 24 hours traveling and the international date line, I arrived mid-afternoon of the following Tuesday at Narita in Japan. It took several more days for me to get synced with the local time and to get the initial work tasks taken care of for Yama. Since Andy needed to leave that Friday, by simple process of elimination that left sometime on Thursday for the two of us to meet up and get introduced.

On an early Thursday evening Andy dropped by my hotel and we spent the next several hours just chatting, having dinner, and walking about a bit and photographing Ikebukuro, the part of Tokyo where I was staying (those photos, and others, will show up in later posts).

andy's primary cameras

Andy showed up right on time with his Fuji X100T and Pentax Q7 in tow. He’d taken a train from where he was staying to meet me in my hotel lobby (the Hotel Metropolitan Tokyo). It’s literally across the street from the Ikebukuro train station, and the same train station also serves as a destination for the Narita Express. You can thus fly to Japan via Narita and then take a very nice train from the airport to the front door of this particular hotel. It was a very nice place to stay for both comfort and accessibility to key locations around the Tokyo megalopolis.

After a few moments going through introductions we left the hotel and began to wonder around the train station. We eventually settled on supper at Seiryu, a chain of Japanese Izakaya similar to the old Stake and Ale franchise restaurants here in the US in that they specialize in local cuisine (Japanese in this case) as well as many types of beverages, such as ales, beers, and mixed drinks. Neither one of us drank anything that night, choosing instead to have a few Cokes and just fill up on the good food.

andy chimping his q7

Towards the end of the meal we really began to talk in earnest about our gear and how we use it. Andy is warmly enthusiastic and positive about the art and practice of photography. He pulled out his Q7 and let me look at some of the work he’d created on it, and I was immediately struck by the overall quality of the images, not necessarily because of the camera, but because of the artist using it. As happens too often in my case, I began to think I should pick up a copy, but in the end I passed on the opportunity; I’d brought one of my E-M5s and an E-M10 (which I used that night) with me to Japan, along with a motley collection of lenses. I spent so much time working those two weeks in Tokyo I barely had time to get out and to use the E-M10, let alone both.

Andy is the third person I’ve met face-to-face that I’ve first met on line via my interest in photography[1]. The second is Matthew Robertson, he of Thew’s Review fame. I and my wife motored through the north eastern US up to Toronto back in 2012 to meet Matthew and his lovely wife. We had a wonderful time in Toronto (and everywhere else we stopped). Although Andy and I only had a few hours to visit with one another, I found Andy to be like Matthew in a number of key qualities; bright, enthusiastic, artistic, with a deep love of photography. All that and the fact I had to travel a long way from home to meet both. In both cases I certainly didn’t mind at all.

[1] The first person, Jim Thompson, actually lives locally here in Orlando, but originally hales from England. His wife is originally from Brazil. And he has the same temperament as Matthew and Andy.