UntitledI rode the train to Tokyo today. Deliberately. Arrived at the Tokyo Station. Walked through the section of the city nearest the station. Slowly and deliberately. Met two men who hailed from Ottawa. We were all on our way to look around the Imperial Gardens. They caught my attention because I understood what they were saying to one another, and one of them had an Olympus Pen, an E-PL-something-or-other, hanging from around his neck. On the way out of the gardens I took a photo of a very nice Japanese couple with their camera. Turned out “A-OK” for them.

I had a nice French lunch at Le Café La Boutique in the heart of downtown Tokyo. I got to sit for a while, resting my knees, while watching people eat inside and out of the cafe. I saw faces and heard voices from around the world. It was a quiet yet magic moment to realize all that had transpired to allow me to be in that particular spot at that particular fortunate moment, crossing paths with all these other strangers. Friendly to be sure, but people I’d never seen before, and for the most part never will again.

I then spent ¥1,600 to see Impressionistic paintings on loan to the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum from the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Worth every yen. It was crowded, but not overcrowded. I believe the Japanese take art quite seriously and support it by paying to view it in places like the gallery. Besides, I haven’t seen this much Impressionistic painting since I was studying art in the 1970s and went to the Atlanta High Museum.

As I was slowly walking through the exibit it dawned on me that there is nothing more antithetical to today’s photography than the Impressionist period. Moving through the gallery and viewing the paintings produced by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, and so many others, reminded me of how timeless art can be produced when you mix genius with paint on canvas (or wood, or whatever else you had at hand). Today we spend way too much time on the trivialities of digital photography (primarily through measurebation). Way, way too much time and energy. Way too little on the art and emotion of the image.

Walked around the huge buildings close to the train station feeling rather small and insignificant. Noticed that Mitsubishi is on a lot of things in this area, including the Bank of Tokyo. I also discovered you can’t loose site of the train station in this area. Go inside a building and there are signs leading you underground back to the train station. It’s big enough on the outside, but it’s like it has roots that spread out to everything under the ground.

Did find another Bic Camera. It was the largest I’ve seen so far, with two sub-basement floors. Finally found a decent camera section. But I still felt cold moving through all the gear. I felt odd in there anyway, what with me having an E-M5 and an E-M10 hanging off my body, one with the 17mm and the other with the 45mm. That, and two spare batteries is what I took with me to Tokyo (and what I carry on my train trips). It was a quick in-and-out. Bic Cameras are too crowded, bright, and noisy for my taste.

All in all, including travel time, I spent about six hours going to and slowly meandering about the little section of Tokyo. Tokyo is way too big to take in in just one day. It would take weeks, if not part of a lifetime, to get to know the city and really see it. And that’s just one city in one country on this planet. My little trip today was like dipping my little toe into the ocean, and calling that swimming.

a small trip to shinjuku by way of tokyo

Somewhere near the Shinjuku Rail Station

Today was supposed to be a day of light adventure, a dry run to learn how to navigate the Japan Railway subway system to the point I could get around without getting totally lost. It would have been more elaborate but I’m still trying to finish out my right ear infection, so I was still tired and took another morning nap for about an hour, ruining my big plans to actually leave Tachikawa right after breakfast.

As it turned out I didn’t leave for my big adventure until around noonish. I went to the Tachikawa train station and paid my 470 for a one way pass to Shinjuku. I managed to find the right platform and board the right train. The only problem is I wasn’t paying close enough attention to when they announced the Shinjuku stop. When I finally noticed I’d already ridden right past it. I finally got off at the Tokyo station, and started to look for a way back to my original destination. That’s when I found these folks on the platform, waiting to head to Shinjuku themselves.


They were a very nice vacationing couple from New Zealand going to see their son, who’s currently living and working in Shinjuku. Between the three of us and a very helpful Japanese lady who understood Shinjuku and who figured out we all three needed help getting there, we got on the right train and got off at Shinjuku station. After leaving the station we said goodbye and good luck to one another, then headed on our separate ways. As it turned out I exited the station right in front of Yodobashi Camera.

yodobashi camera shinjuku

Funny thing is, I was supposed to go visit Map Camera, an all-camera camera store. But I couldn’t find it (to be honest I wasn’t looking all that hard), and I was taken in by Yodobashi and the memories I had of it some two years ago in Sapporo. But as it turned out, this Yodobashi was something of a let down. Out of eight floors in that store, the cameras were tucked into a corner of the first floor.Yodobashi now sells just about everything there is to sell in consumer goods, not just consumer electronics. There was more space given over to selling Apple and Apple geegaws than there was to all the camera brands they had stuck over to the side.


Sure enough the Apple Watch was on sale, and in spite of what the photo indicates, there was a large crowd hanging around to look at this new product from Apple. Whether that translated into sales or not I have no idea. But it sure was crowded (this one photo was taken with me sticking my camera over the crowd just to get this shot). I don’t know about the rest of the world, or even the rest of Japan, but I have a feeling the Apple Watch may just yet turn into a raging sales success. Only time will tell.

Once I got out of Yodobashi I just wandered around, sort of soaking up the ambiance around the train station. I have to say it’s the largest train station I think I’ve ever been in, even larger than the one in Sapporo, or at least rivaling it in sheer size.


The next-to-last photo is, to me, the Japanese equivalent of a speed trap. I’ve spent years documenting speed traps in Orange County Florida, so my spider sense is well honed when I get near one. And my spider sense went off when I saw the four of them just standing and waiting for something to happen. You know, like in a speed trap.

And the last photo is a Prius, the Japanese version of the Prius C, except in a color I’ve never seen in the US and nicely tricked out. That all-black grill treatment looks really sharp against the neon orange (trust me it was orange, but the art filter I was using at the time pushed it into yellow. Whatever. It looks sharp, and I almost want my next Prius to look like this one).

The most valuable item I picked up on this trip is a printed map of the JR lines, but with all the stations printed in English. Using that map I was able to quickly find the right line and my trip back to Tachikawa was completely uneventful. But I still payed close attention to make sure I got out at my proper station.

Next weekend I intend to head into Tokyo proper on Saturday, then go to Mt. Fuji on Sunday. Maybe I’ll even head back to Shinjuku when I get off work sometime this week. Yes, I feel that comfortable.