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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Urban Life & Travel Talk 
Thread started 18 Nov 2013 (Monday) 19:01
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NEED ADVICE: My detailed Winter Japan Trip (Dec-Jan)

 
killagbear
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Nov 18, 2013 19:01 |  #1

I'll be heading to Japan for vacation Dec 17th-Jan 6th and would love everyone's advice on where I should go, do and eat. I'm planning on bringing my Canon 5D3, a recently acquired 17-40L, 50 1.4 and 70-200 2.8LII. Will the 50 be needed at all? Can I just move and expect my 17-40 and 70-200 to cover the distance?

Here are a list of places I'm thinking of going. Would love everyone's feedback on whether it's a must for me to go or not and just as important WHEN I should go for optimal shooting times. I also plan to eat at 3-4 of the top sushi restaurants so advice on that would be helpful too!

Tokyo:
Rainbow Bridge - Nighttime Shoot
Mori Tower vs. Metro Govt Tower - Nighttime shoot
Jigokudani Snow Monkeys

Kyoto:
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
Kiyomizudera Temple
Kinkakuji Temple (Is it worth going on New Years eve? My buddy wants to go clubbing... but I hear the illumination is nice)
Fushimi Inari Shrine

Osaka:
Hot Springs?
Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium
Nara Park


Canon 5D3 | Sigma 50 1.4 | 70-200 2.8L IS II | 580 EXII

  
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john-in-japan
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Nov 18, 2013 19:29 |  #2

Greetings Killagbear -
First, to your question on the 50mm - Probably not, although the f/1.4 will help in low light and it takes up little room/weight. Tripod for night shots a must.
In addition to your places, I'd recommend the Tokyo Fish Market in Tsukiji, perhaps Fuji Five Lakes area for a shot of snow-capped Mt. Fuji and Nikko is an easy day trip from Tokyo. Asakusa is photogenic, as is the Meiji shrine and Harajuku. Everywhere will be crowded on New Year's eve, and Kinkakuji is better visited when there are not a million others with the same idea. Eat blowfish while here. December is a good month to try it.
Cheers and have fub,
John


JohnW
5D Mark II Dual Battery Grip, [COLOR=black], 200 f/2.8L, 70-200 f/2.8L II IS, 24-70 f/2.8L 180Macro f/3.5L[COLOR=black], 85 II f/1.2L[COLOR=black], 17-40 f/4L, 50 f/1.4, 50 f/2.5 Compact Macro, MPE-65, 550EX, 400L f.2.8L IS, 580EXII, Canon RingFlash, RRS Perfect Portrait Pkg., Velbon with PH275 and Slider, bunch of filters, Canon 1.4X & Having Fun! http://kamogawa.smugmu​g.com/external link

  
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killagbear
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Nov 18, 2013 20:05 |  #3

Hey John,

thanks for the advice on the 50 mm - I was debating whether the bokeh from the 1.4 would be worth it anyways - and tripod. I hear that tripods are mostly banned at the towers and was thinking of just buying a gorilla pod? If not do you think it's worth it to bring one with me on the flight?

Ooh great recommendation for the fish markets! I will look into the Fuji Five lakes and Nikko ( I think we may go for the hot springs and snowboarding?).

Do you have any reputable places to go to try blowfish? I hear it can be poisonus if not prepared properly. Also kobe beef? Is it worth the trip?

Finally should I buy a train pass? They only sell them outside of Japan so I'm not sure how useful it will be.

Thanks!


Canon 5D3 | Sigma 50 1.4 | 70-200 2.8L IS II | 580 EXII

  
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Scrumhalf
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Nov 18, 2013 20:09 |  #4

Are you going to be on Honshu pretty much? Hokkaido should be beautiful in winter, and I really liked Miyajima down south in Kyushu. At least try getting up to Tohoku.


Sam
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If I don't get the shots I want with the gear I have, the only optics I need to examine is the mirror on the bathroom wall. The root cause will be there.

  
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davidtan
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Nov 21, 2013 03:11 |  #5

Tokyo really comes alive at night - recommend checking out Shinjuku / Shibuya (in particular for Scramble crossing on a busy Friday night). I'd also second heading up to Asakusa to see senso ji.

Rail pass is definitely worth it if you're going to be making a Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka round trip as shinkansen tickets are otherwise extremely pricey.




  
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Go4EVA!
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Nov 22, 2013 13:40 as a reply to  @ davidtan's post |  #6

Lots of excellent suggestions from everybody here. I echo the recommendation about purchasing a JR pass for your trip -- just remember that you must purchase it BEFORE you enter Japan.

Also, I'd like to point out that the Jigokudani wildlife preserve (snow monkeys) is not located in Tokyo - it is in Nagano Prefecture. I visited there on two occasions back when I lived in Japan. It's a wonderful place to visit, but the area is somewhat "remote," and you may need some Japanese language skills to arrange lodging and transportation to/from the park. (Do you speak Japanese?)

Monkey-cam:
http://www.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/livecam​/monkey/index.htm (external link)


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killagbear
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Dec 02, 2013 23:19 |  #7

Scrumhalf wrote in post #16462265 (external link)
Are you going to be on Honshu pretty much? Hokkaido should be beautiful in winter, and I really liked Miyajima down south in Kyushu. At least try getting up to Tohoku.

Hmm that's the plan but I do want to go snowboarding any suggestions?


Canon 5D3 | Sigma 50 1.4 | 70-200 2.8L IS II | 580 EXII

  
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killagbear
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Dec 02, 2013 23:20 |  #8

davidtan wrote in post #16468651 (external link)
Tokyo really comes alive at night - recommend checking out Shinjuku / Shibuya (in particular for Scramble crossing on a busy Friday night). I'd also second heading up to Asakusa to see senso ji.

Rail pass is definitely worth it if you're going to be making a Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka round trip as shinkansen tickets are otherwise extremely pricey.

David do you know what's the difference between the ordinary and the green train pass?


Canon 5D3 | Sigma 50 1.4 | 70-200 2.8L IS II | 580 EXII

  
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killagbear
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Dec 02, 2013 23:21 |  #9

Go4EVA! wrote in post #16472349 (external link)
Lots of excellent suggestions from everybody here. I echo the recommendation about purchasing a JR pass for your trip -- just remember that you must purchase it BEFORE you enter Japan.

Also, I'd like to point out that the Jigokudani wildlife preserve (snow monkeys) is not located in Tokyo - it is in Nagano Prefecture. I visited there on two occasions back when I lived in Japan. It's a wonderful place to visit, but the area is somewhat "remote," and you may need some Japanese language skills to arrange lodging and transportation to/from the park. (Do you speak Japanese?)

Monkey-cam:
http://www.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/livecam​/monkey/index.htm (external link)

Got it, I was planning on riding one of the train lines and then taking photos. Do you know if it's worth it to stay a night and wake up early to take photos of the monkeys or is it good enough if I leave Tokyo in the morning and arrive before lunch?

Thank you everyone for the great advice so far! :)


Canon 5D3 | Sigma 50 1.4 | 70-200 2.8L IS II | 580 EXII

  
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Scrumhalf
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Dec 02, 2013 23:58 |  #10

killagbear wrote in post #16497150 (external link)
Hmm that's the plan but I do want to go snowboarding any suggestions?

Sorry, not too sure about the snowboarding. Never been 'boarding in my life! :D


Sam
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If I don't get the shots I want with the gear I have, the only optics I need to examine is the mirror on the bathroom wall. The root cause will be there.

  
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Xymnslot
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Dec 03, 2013 02:40 as a reply to  @ Scrumhalf's post |  #11

I second the recommendation of Shinjuku/Shibuya. Extremely interesting characters, you *will* get interesting subjects here, particularly on the weekend.

Kinkakuji is breathtaking, in particular if you catch it in the right light. My girlfriend and I were running all over Kyoto trying to cram in every sight we could and made it to Kinkakuji just before sunset. Shots from across the lake during early sunset are EPIC. The entire structure positively shines with golden light, it's otherworldly and not to be missed.

I would recommend seeing the Buddhist graveyard in Kyoto as well. Look up walking tours on Frommer's, we used these to great effect in both Tokyo and Kyoto. A wide and plentiful variety of photo opportunities throughout.

Not sightseeing/photograph​y related, but have you made arrangements for your hotel? I can't urge you enough to try a Ryokan for at least a couple of nights in Kyoto, they can be reasonably priced and offer a distinctly unique experience, at least for most Westerners. We really enjoyed the smaller setting and traditional room accoutrements.

One less than positive note: I found the Imperial Palace tour in Kyoto to be both difficult to sign up for, tedious and time consuming to participate in, and to top it off the structure is highly underwhelming. Your mileage, possible variances, etc. etc.

Have a great trip, you'll remember it for a lifetime.




  
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Go4EVA!
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Dec 08, 2013 10:22 |  #12

killagbear wrote in post #16497155 (external link)
Got it, I was planning on riding one of the train lines and then taking photos. Do you know if it's worth it to stay a night and wake up early to take photos of the monkeys or is it good enough if I leave Tokyo in the morning and arrive before lunch?

The monkeys are "generally" around at all times of the day, so you can visit whenever is convenient for you. Just be advised that "getting there" is not as straightforward as simply "riding a train and then taking photos." The park is located in a fairly rural area - you will need to transport yourself from Tokyo to the small village of Shibu Onsen (www.shibuonsen.net/eng​lish/ (external link)). From there, you will need to buy a ticket for the small shuttle bus that takes you up the mountain to the trailhead entrance to Jigokudani Yaen Koen. Once at the trailhead, you will hike in about 15-20 minutes (be sure to wear boots, as the trail can be muddy) to reach the park entrance. There is a small "warming hut" at the entrance where you must buy a ticket to enter the park. The snow monkey "onsen" is located about 200m from the warming hut.

I visited Jigokudani twice while living in Japan, and drove my personal car both times, so I cannot advise you on bus/train transportation routes. Both times, I chose to spend the night and enjoyed the onsen village for a day or two. I do not remember seeing a train station in the village (I might have missed it?), so you may need to take a bus. Do you speak Japanese, or have a Japanese friend to "help" you along the way? Good luck!


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killagbear
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Feb 12, 2014 18:46 |  #13

Thanks everyone for all the help. Made my trip alot easier and a ton more fun :)


Canon 5D3 | Sigma 50 1.4 | 70-200 2.8L IS II | 580 EXII

  
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NEED ADVICE: My detailed Winter Japan Trip (Dec-Jan)
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