From New York to Tokyo

This is the boring part of Times Square, as you can plainly see. Hardly anything happens there… not much to see… hardly any lights… not much activity on the street. Quite dull, really.

I have a long photo adventure scheduled for Japan, and I’m very excited! I have a rail pass and not much of a plan… other than visiting a few places I’ve always wanted to go. After seeing countless movies, I have quite a romantic vision of what it will be like out in the countryside. I just am not sure what to expect… Do you guys and gals have any suggestions for must-sees or must-dos in Japan? I’ve been to Tokyo before, but never out in the rest of the country, which I plan to do this time.

And also, I am very glad you guys like the new feature here on the site. It looks like many of you have been dragging photos to Facebook, Twitter, and the like! I hope that “mouseover” works well for you… remember that that little thing does not appear unless you actually put your pointer on top.

From New York to Tokyo

  • Japan is great!
    I guess you have already all the “regular” places like temples, mount Fuji and such. I have read a blog from a couple, who spent a lot of time in japan, and there is one thing, that stuck in my mind. If you want to eat good sushi, eat it in japan, but you will never ever eat it anywhere else over the world, because the japanese is better than any other.

    If you have some time visit the Miho Museum it´s an intereseting building in a great area. In Kanazawa there are a lot of traditional houses, a great 21st century museum, and lots of great japanese gardens.
    The beach should be worth a visit too, if you have the oportunity to travel to one.

    Kioto as such is one of the best citys to visit, lots of traditional and modern stuff to see.

    You can always rent a bicycle, they do not let you drive a car, so you can cover distances also in a city. I think you need it, if the small city has 5 million residents. They have reversed traffic, so look in the other way, and they have silent cars, so keep on watchin where you step down :).

    I hope you will have a great tip, and i guess the photos make it to the site as soon as possible :).

  • Christian

    Drop me a mail if you want to meet one of your readers in Tokyo.

  • Trey, I visit every year! Osaka, Kyoto, Shinjuku, Tokyo Tower (section of Tokyo), If you go during the winter or summer…the most beautiful place is the hot springs…Hokone! Amazing! Every little city has its on flair…whenever I have a day…I just take the trains and stop off every other city and walk around the station and then get back on again! You will love it!!! Watch out for Godzilla!!

  • lucky henry

    I spent a lot of time in the area around Misawa (northern Honshu). Absolutely stunning landscapes.

  • Gail

    Wow, that’s so easy, Trey. Already have your picture posted on facebook!! When I was at Times Square, it wasn’t boring anywhere, lol, as there are lots of shops to look in, like the Disney Store, Coke Store, etc. I had a blast there in 1997 with my daughter. Great photo, brings back happy memories. Thanks for sharing!!! Have a great time in Japan. Looking forward to the pic’s you take there 🙂 .

  • Gimpat

    Hey Trey, been living in Japan for 2 years, and seen almost everything, from Sapporo to Miyajima.

    What I really recommend you is the little (well quite big) temple / shrine in Nikko. By train it’s about 2 and a half hour to 3 hours from Tokyo. They say in Japan: “You can’t say the word beautiful if you haven’t seen Nikko” and well… go see it.

    Miyajima and Hiroshima are 2 great places to visit as well. As one of the reader wrote, Hakone is also a good place to take a hot spring. I would suggest Nagano area if you are during winter time. Being in a hot natural spring under the snow is something very relaxing.

    Nara is a must see. I would recommend the old town of Nara (a little south of Kyoto). Of course Tokyo and Kyoto are great places.

    If you can, I would say try and go to Gunkanjima. It’s a little abandonned island that has been closed since the war, and just reopened in April 2009. I am planning to go there to take some shots, but I am sure your talent will capture well that place.

    Well, if you need more info, please let me know

  • Oh! Oh! Sephora!! Ok, I’m ready! Let’s go!

  • Absolutely breathtaking…nothing like the city at night. Keep up the great work Trey!

  • nick

    Hi Trey,

    I’d have to second the recommendation to see Nikko. We were in Tokyo a few years ago and needed a quiet place to go and happened upon Nikko. It was a beautiful place, one of our favorites. Plus our little hotel had an indoor hotspring with large windows looking out into nature. Lovely.

    Love your photos.

  • Awesome – thank you guys for all the suggestions. I am copying them down into a little travel journal… and thank you for all the nice emails and invitations as well. I don’t know how much spare time I will have, but we’ll see!

  • casusan

    Cool shot of New York Trey! You’re trip sounds wonderful – can’t wait to see the photos!

  • Another fab image Trey .. just makes me want to go back to NYC … HDR guide in hand 🙂

  • Fantastic Trey.. RT !!!

  • Andrew

    We were in Japan in April 2008 for cherry blossoms, and I have heard that fall is out of site also. My favorites were Kyoto and Miyajima Island. Get in touch Mitsuyo in Japan; who is a Tokyo free guide and she call help with Tokyo as well as other guides. The guy I knew in Kyoto has retired. contact Mitsuyo at:
    [email protected]
    She can help, even though she may not be active herself. If you can do it (and, again, I don’t know of they still allow access) visit the Tokyo Fish Market in the morning.
    Have a great time, I enjoy your photo’s very much.
    -Andrew Brozek

  • Andrew
  • I am heading back to Japan myself next month and am looking for different tings to do and see. Found this blog:

    For some stunning Tokyo photography:

    And remember on a clear day you can see Fuji from Tokyo. I took this photo from the top of the TMG building in Shinjuku:

  • Gustavo

    You must go to Nikko, its about 2 and half hours from Tokyo and its easy to get there.

    For more information you can try this web:

  • Tanja Helms

    Trey, I lived in Tokyo for 2 years and have been back home in Austin for 3 years now. I go to Tokyo every year. My husband is there now (on business). The Tokyo Government Metropolitan Building in Shinjuku is great. I have taken all my friends (who visited Tokyo) there. The views are stunning and it’s free and open late. Mt. Fuji closes in early September. The Tori Gate near Hiroshima is awesome. You’ll need to do some research about the tide times. Sunset is spectacular. I have over 20,000 pics from my 2 years there. Priceless. Oh yeah, the most famous intersection is in Shibuya (near the Hachiko dog) and the busiest Starbucks in the world is right there. The train station, Shinjuku gets 3 million passengers PER DAY. The busiest in the world. If you can, go to a Sumo Stable (not game, stable), do it. I took over 1000 pics in 90 minutes. Those Sumo guys are fascinating. Ropongi night life is great. Just don’t go down alleys at night. Stay on the sidewalk! Kids are usually afraid of foreigners even if you say Konichiwa. Instead, say: Choshi wa do desu ka? (It means How’s your tune? – How are you?). HOw long are you going to be there? And Tokyo Narita airport is 90 minutes from Shinjuku on the Nartita Express. The Geishas are in Kyoto. Take a tour and find out which tea houses they hang in. I have some awesome pics of these ladies. Omotesando is a great street in Shibuya. Harajuku is a must (go on Sunday when the Bo Peep Goths come out). Tokyo Disneyland is great as is Disney Sea. Been many times. Crowded doesn’t describe it. Enjoy. Tanja

  • Igor – thanks for the RT! 🙂

    Everyone else — thanks for the great suggestions… I think I’ll be taking a bunch of photos too Tanja!

    My schedule is up in the air… but I want to squeeze in as much as possible

  • Kevin

    Hi Trey,

    Lots of good suggestions here. Drop me an e-mail if you need help here in-country.


  • Tom

    Outside the cities, Japan is a lot cheaper than you would imagine. 7-11 for cash withdrawals and sushi-to-go packs ($5 or so). Did you know 7-11 is Japanese owned? Tokyo for lights, but rural Japan is beautiful and full of farms. Your rail pass will keep you going from city center to center, so maybe it will take a bit of effort to get out.

    The buddhist/shinto shrines are more interesting than the shogun castles, which are merely quite interesting.

    Nagano Princesses. Nagano is the auto capital of Japan, and considered to be very stylish. The young ladies are over-the-top dressed to kill in a weird school-girl tart way. I asked about this, and what we would consider slutty is merely a costume so you can’t go assuming anything.

    Vending machines for beer and (even better) cappuccino where you can watch a video camera of your coffee being made to a salsa soundtrack.

    Learn a few phrases of Japanese, which will bring a big smile from the shop clerks and moms. We found friendly and courteous people everywhere we went, big city or rural.

    Central/West sights:

    Search out resort hotels with onsens (hot baths). A 3-day weekend is a big vacation for the japanese salaryman, and he can take the family to one of these resorts and eat, bathe, sleep, bathe, eat, bathe… Truly magnificent multi-course meals. These range from modest pensions to high-end hotels, but the best are japanese style ryokans. I stayed in an 8-star (I swear) version in Jigokudani (snow monkeys) called “Kanbayashi Onsen” with museum quality art, kimono-clad staff, 14 course meals, traditional japanese suites. I did this on a tour, but when I looked up the price it was $200 per person, which included the baths, tea service and mega-extraordinary meals.

    Shirakawa-go is a wonderful, alpine village and world heritage site of historic houses. You can stay in one of the farm houses, where the house wife presents you with (another) 14 course meal. The local specialty is a thick, sweet miso ladled on a mulberry leaf with some mushrooms and herbs. The thing is roasted over a sterno until the miso bubbles and caramelizes.

    Takayama is a city with a well-preserved old town, that is, 10 or so blocks of traditional shops with boutiques and saki shops. So much of Japan is modern, but here you get a feel of a 1920s streetscape.

  • Really good stuff! Thanks!

  • I can’t wait to see what you shoot in Japan. I highly recommend a day in Kanazawa. I lived there for two years, and its a really great little city, a bit off the beaten path and full of fantastic things to see, and photos to take. My favorite place in the whole country is the Fushimi Inari shrine. It’s right outside of Kyoto, free, and full of some of the most fascinating photo opportunities I’ve ever seen.

  • Chris

    Hey Trey, I follow your site every day, and when I saw this post I had to put my $0.02 in.

    Someone referenced the Shibuya intersection above, and I have to say that I have never seen so much energy in such a compact space (quite literally, too – the neon lights dwarf those of Times Square). There are also plenty of angles to photograph it from – on the street or from the surrounding buildings.

    Would be very cool to see your take on it when you get back.

  • Very cool – thank you Chris and Grant! 🙂

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