Here is part 2 of the Japan trip. My next assignment was for Honda Tuning Magazine at J’s Racing in Osaka, Japan. I would not need a translator for this as they have someone at their office who speaks English. One of the things I hate about photographing cars in Japan is that 9 out of 10 times you have to shoot the literally where it sits, they don’t move it or want to take it anywhere, so many times you have these great cars in lame locations and this shoot was no different. It sat in the service bay and it did not move just shot it where is was parked
This was a pretty quick shoot and I was back on the Shinkansen bound for Tokyo by 3pm so at least I got back at a decent hour. Before I got on the train had some soba and tempura.
For the last 14 days I was staying at Tokyu Stay in Shibuya, nice business hotel, quiet the one nice thing was that there was a washer and dryer in the room so I didn’t have to bring so many clothes. The one thing that sucked was that each day there was at least a 15 minute walk to the main part of shibuya.
On the 27th it was time to change hotels, I used some points to stay at the Hilton, ah it was nice, big room comfortable bed, executive lounge access for breakfast. This was supposed to be the start of a week vacation but my editors had different plans. I had planned to spend 5 days going through my list of things to do but I had to work 3 of those days.
So a couple of days before I moved into my nice hotel I was told that I had a few more shoots. So myself and my translator Kenta took the Shinkansen down to Nagoya
When we were in Nagoya we transferred on a couple more trains and ended up in the sticks at a shop named common snapper.
By the time we got to the shop it was 3pm and we had 3 cars to shoot and it gets dark at 5pm. Nothing too memorable about these shoots, just wanted to work through them and get back to the hotel.
We stayed the night in Nagoya as the next day we had an NSX to shoot at Esprit in Suzuka, Japan. this was a very nice place, lots of highly tuned vehicles there along with a huge nice showroom.
This was a really nice car just with I could have taken it to a better location. That is one of the hardest things about doing photo-shoots in Japan are the limitations. Before I even went to Japan for my first time, I saw Wes Allisons photos in Super Street and always wondered why his choice of locations were so bad when he was in a country with such diverse locations. On my first photo-shoot at a company in Japan I quickly learned why. The shops we visit won’t go anywhere and in some cases want the car shot literally where it sits, also the time of day usually isn’t optimal for great photos. So I do the best I can with the locations given to me.
About halfway through the shoot my translator Kenta told me that the Shinkansens were not running due to a problem on the tracks. Since we were not due to catch a train for another 3 hours we were hoping it would be resolved by then. Wishful thinking on our part. Once we got to Nagoya we found out that nothing was running, the train guys thought maybe in another couple of hours. We talked about it and came to the conclusion that when the trains do start they will be packed for a few hours to work through the backlog of stranded passengers. So we went to an itsakaya to kill time.
Once on the train we were making good time but that soon ended as we approached Yokohama station. We stopped for a while before getting to the station, because the trains ahead of us had to unload. Once at the station we were stuck there for 45 minutes for the same reason. After finally getting underway we had the same issues once we approached Shinagawa station, they told us that there were 5 trains ahead of us, a little before midnight we finally got to the Shinagawa station. I was so done with trains and hauling my gear around that I opted to take a taxi to my hotel at the Hilton in Shinjuku
After the Nagoya trip I was really hoping to get at least three uninterrupted days to see some sites Ive been wanting to see. Well that all ended when I got an email from my editor at Super Street Magazine. They wanted me to go down to Fuji Speedway to cover the HKS Premium Day. As usual was only given partial information and a contact name. One thing I did know was that the event started pretty early in the morning so I had to spend the night near the track. Once again I was to leave my comfortable surroundings at the Hilton and stay in a business hotel. I spent most of the morning figuring out how I was going to get down to where Fuji speedway was, getting a hotel and packing minimal clothing and gear for a one day trip.
Here is the plan, get bus ticket, dinner, get on bus where no one speaks English, hopefully get off at the correct stop, check in to hotel, wake up around 6am, take taxi (30 minute ride) to Fuji Speedway, attempt to get credentials from media person who doesn’t speak english and I don’t speak Japanese, walk uphill about a mile to the track pulling 30 pounds of gear, luckily get pickup by someone who recognized me, shoot event, walk about 10 miles of stairs, walk back down hill, return media vest, have the office people get me a cab which they did not want to do but realized that the only way they are going to get this gaijin out of their office is to get a taxi, get to train station, get ticket get on train and relax for the next hour and a half having a few pints of Sapporo while on my way to Tokyo. That in a nutshell was the Fuji trip.
The next day and a half were spent in Tokyo just taking it easy which I really needed then back home on Feb 2. On my last night in Tokyo We had Sh it was cold enough to snow, while this is no big deal for those live in show areas it is for me and was interesting giving the city a different feel with a few inches of snow.
Since I have a lot of photos and text I am going to break this post in two sections . I’m now back in Japan for 3 weeks for work and one week for vacation. Yesterdays flight was brutal, the flight itself was good, but was unable to sleep because the person sitting next to me was passed out for the entire flight and snored the entire way even overpowering my ipod.
This will be my 14th time to Japan, but I’m almost bored with Japan now, Tokyo been there done that. If I go again for vacation, I’m going to attempt to pack lite and see more of the country aside from the bid cities. I already have a 10 day trip planned, where I’ll go to see some of the World Heritage Sites, Onsens, basically more of country that’s not a big city. When I travel for fun I’m not really a be on a schedule person but this next personal trip I’m going to plan it well to get the maximum time to get images I want that I haven’t been getting in the past few trips. There are also a few photo stories I want to do. I’ll leave it at that, don’t want to give out my ideas but it has nothing to do with cars.
I arrived in Japan 3 days before my main assignment the Tokyo Auto Salon. Since I was shooting it for 4 magazines I had to try and shoot everything to give my editors as much variety as one can get from a trade show. Anyway, first couple days just had to get situated and get my sleeping pattern to Japan time.
First couple days I stayed at the Conrad in Shiodome, I like Shiodome, since its mostly office buildings Shiodome is quite a contrast to the rest of Tokyo. There are very few people in the stations and even just walking around
Oedo line at the Shiodome station. Its always this empty even at rush hour
The Breakfast bar at the Conrad, the food is great, amazing view and its quiet
On Jan 15 was the press/vip day, well not really a day it was from 8-1. Then they let the hoards of unwashed masses in. So I try to get as much of the show covered as possible before 1, then spend the next 4 hours getting whatever I could. As the models come out the crowds get insane, the problems that the pervs will clog up an aisle with dozens of people taking photos of the models. The way they react to the models one would think these Japanese guys have never seen a woman before.
press registration for Tokyo Auto Salon
Tokyo Auto Salon
One of the aisles, they get even more crowded when there are some models
It amazes me each time I go to the Auto Salon how many of these creepy “photos” are lurking around the models taking dozens of photos. its like they all have just seen their first woman.
After TAS I was scheduled for the next 4 days to shoot for Super Street, but they didn’t have any shoots for me, so I was basically on call, not really able to plan or do anything as I was waiting for the editor to assign me something. So when I didn’t get an assignment I would just do some sightseeing. Still don’t understand it, oh well…
The Tokyo subway/train map. First time I saw this I was thinking WTF
Edo Museum, this place was interesting. I want to go back and spend more time there
At the exit of every train station there is a local map with major destinations indicated. These are very helpful as long as you have the name of where you want to go.
Salarymen, slurping ramen in Shinagawa
Amazing cheap sushi, Midoria in Shibuya, near the train station there is always a line unless you go to eat at off hours
On Friday the 22nd I met my translator for next two days, Kenta from at Ueno station. First we took the Shinkansen to Boss Auto Produce in Nagano to shoot two cars, it was pretty easy but not very creative as we were limited for a location. After the Boss shoot we went took a couple more Shinkansens about two hours worth to Niigata. By the time we got to the hotel near the station it was already getting late so we went to get some food. by the time we left the Itza kaya it had been snowing and there was several inches on the ground. I know what those of you will say who have to deal with snow yearly, but Im from California where we don’t get too much of the white stuff. So we walked around for a bit then back to the hotel.
On the 23rd we had a photo-shoot to SS Works in Niigata. this was a pretty important car as it holds several records. Since it had snowed about 6 inches the night before. I already knew I was going to have to shoot this inside, in Japan that can be a challenge since most shops are very small. Luckily this one was pretty big but narrow and very cluttered at the same time. I had my lights with me, so I could light the car and underexpose the background letting it go black. All in all I’m happy with the results. One thing I hate about shooting in Japan in the Winter is that with all the extra layers of clothes, shoots take longer
After the shoot at SS Works the owner took us to a fantastic Ramen shop where I had some very spicy ramen, perfect food for a snowy day
Part 2 of the Japan trip to come in a couple days
Ok, back from Toronto for 2 days then off to Winnipeg, then Calgary, Canada. I’ve never been to Winnipeg, even though im only going to be there for just one day I’m still looking forward to the trip. One thing I was not looking forward to was the flight. for the most part I fly American Airlines everywhere I travel in the US mostly out of convenience since my carry-on bags don’t really conform to weight guidelines, having elite status they don’t look quite as close. With that being said i didn’t want to have to check my bag and when i found out that I was flying on an Embraer 190, my experience with Embraer are the small planes that go from Orange County to San Francisco which is small, my backpack barely fits aboard.
So as I am boarding I ask the gate agent if I need a gate check, she says no it will fit under the seat in front of you…I questioned her a few times she assured me it would. Skeptically I boarded, the configuration was 2 seats on each side and I couldn’t believe it it actually fit under the seat. their policy is to have the heavy bags on the floor and the lighter ones in the overhead. Why can’t Boeing figure this out.
Winnipeg, I was there just a short time about 24 hours, my impressions of Winnipeg kinda reminds me of a Soviet era Eastern block city. The roads were the worst that I have ever experienced and the architecture was well just grim. I arrived late staying near the airport, was hoping to catch a bite to eat but this was an industrial area which at night is shut down and so are the restaurants, couldn’t even get food in the hotel, speaking of the hotel here is the scenic view from my room.
As far as work, Winnipeg was great, shot two very nice Hondas for Honda Tuning Magazine The one shown was one of the best detailed cars Ive shot in a long time. The bodywork that was done in the engine and interior was flawless. Its nice to shoot a car where the owner thinks the project through and shows attention to detail.
On Sept 5 I left for Calgary for 4 days, nice uneventful flight, checked in to my hotel and basically just did editing all day. It was nice not to have a shoot so I could get a little caught up.
As far as work goes this was a fairly easy trip. I was able to shoot the 3 cars for Honda Tuning Magazine in the same industrial area which is nice. Nothing too interesting to note on this trip, I am starting to feel a little burned out on travel so each day i just stayed in the room and worked till my shoot and did the same in the evenings, yeh I know i should go out and see some new things, but just didn’t feel like it.
The next couple weeks , did a couple shoot for Import Tuner, European Car and Super Street
The only thing I was looking forward to was my vacation at the end of the month when I was going to Japan for a week. I’ll do a separate post for Japan.