My Photo Travels during the first month after I become a “local” in Japan

A year later after moving to the Land of the Rising Sun I decided to write about what I have done in the first month living in Yokohama. You’d probably think that wasn’t much…. well, it kinda was: I have been walking more than 100km according to what my iPhone was counting for me.

View towards the end of Ōoka River in Yokohama; very near the place I have been living for on full month.

Leaving South Korea after five beautiful years and moving to a new country wasn’t easy. I have left behind friends, places, memories. It’s true, I took with me all of the good memories and left behind the struggles but… even though I have been visiting Japan before more than once, little things like buying toilet paper can be troublesome at first for newcomers. Where do I go to buy proper sized socks? You know, asian sizing… “in/frustrates” me quite often but it also keeps my pockets fuller. 😉

What it is like to live in Japan as an expat

I had a month for myself before moving from the short time rented apartment in Minato Mirai to a more quieter detached house with a yard and garden, to decipher how things works. And I thought I had discovered…

Vertical panoramic view of the Landmark Tower
Vertical panoramic view of the Landmark Tower made out from many horizontal frames stiched together using Adobe Lightroom

Every day I would take long walks with my camera hanging around my neck (by the way, all the photographs you can see here are taken exclusively during the first month here) and snap here and there things, people, cityscapes I would consider interesting. Because most of my walks weren’t meant for street photography solely, I kept decent the amount of photographs I took.

These Japanese taxi cars, most of them Toyotas, are very well know for their automatic doors.

So… you probably know the big super or mega markets all over the world, right? Well, it took me a month to realize that except Costco, they don’t exist. Most of the “super-markets” look closer to convenience stores in South Korea for example and are very focused on the local consumers with a couple of blocks rather than having an exact range similar to other places.

View of the Yokohama Bay during evening filled with flying seagulls
View of the Yokohama Bay during evening filled with flying seagulls

The first couple of days I have been sick and the weather wasn’t up to the Land of the Rising Sun, but nothing to worry, only cloudy days with little rain and only with degrees on the positive side of the scale with a minimum raging between 5-7°C and a maximum ranging 12-17°C. It seems that Yokohama and Tokyo have a warmer climate compared to the rest of the country due to the mountains sheltering the area, combined with opening to the sea. As a photographer I can’t even ask for more. Once I felt better I started to discover Minato Mirai Area which is beautiful. It’s a relatively newly built area, with plenty of high-rise buildings, both designated for living and offices and companies headquarters.

Fuji Xerox in financial district Yokohama, during evening
Fuji Xerox in financial district Yokohama, during evening

In the mean time I stick with Save the Date and After Wedding Photos, the latter known as Trash the Dress too in some parts of the world (sometimes quite literally).

Ferris Wheel and Anniversaire Cafe Yokohama
Ferris Wheel and Anniversaire Cafe Yokohama, the latter being an exclusivist wedding hall

I’ve been waking all around the Rinko Park, Yokohama Cosmoworld, Kishamichi Promenade; from the last place seeing the Anniversaire Cafe, which is both a restaurant and a wedding hall, quite exclusivist if judge by the prices. I couldn’t help myself thinking about shooting as a professional photographer weddings in such a place, but… later on I had found how things go for these events on the local market. Most brides and grooms are renting a wedding venue which in turn comes with a planner that brings the whole package needed for the entire event, including teams of photographers, videographers, wedding dress, tuxedo, shoes, table and floral arrangements, menu, wedding invitations. Wedding last for about one hour and half and at the end the entire visual production is already edited and photos and video are given to the groom and bride on the way out. Thats… this sounds like a factory, but if the local wedding market pays for it… many $$$$ more often than not.

In the mean time I stick with Save the Date and After Wedding Photos, the latter known as Trash the Dress too in some parts of the world (sometimes quite literally).

Ferris Wheel Yokohama seen in section against the blue sky
Ferris Wheel Yokohama seen in section against the blue sky
Red Porsche convertible parked in front of a building

Day by day I was learning new things about how things work in Japan, how people seemed to adapt to be living in such small homes and even got stunned seeing restaurants, very well rated, taking activity in places not much larger than my actual bedroom. Uhh! 

Ferris Wheel Seen from across the Ooks River

Next discovering was “Fit Care DEPOT” for which, you have guessed already, my wife was very grateful. 😉 Google that if you don’t take my word for granted. 😛 Near by it there is Yamashita Park, a very nice park that has a beautiful structure  with a green dome, built and donated by the Indian Union to console the souls of Indian people who have died in Japan during the Great Kanto Earthquake. I hope I got that right.

The park has more landmarks and attractions, another one that I like a lot is the garden area, filled up with various flowers. Now I know about the flowers, but in January (2019th) last year there weren’t many, the fact that I didn’t even notice them.

From the park people have access to Kihawa Maru, a retired luxury liner which had been used from 1930 to 1960. It can be visited and view the inside, something that I have yet to do.

NYK Hikawamaru, Yamashita Park, Yokohama
NYK Hikawamaru, retired luxury liner, Yokohama, Japan

During the first month I have learned a lot of things, some worth being brought up and some other not so much. Because I’m an avid cyclist (please read “was”) I was checking all the bike shops in the area accessible on foot, from Y’s Road to Trek.

In one of the days I have even walk past a huge cemetery, and by the looks to the map it seems that it’s not only one but more of them, one next to another. The house agent even took my wife and I to a near by house to see it if we want to rent it. My wife didn’t like the idea of having so many silent neighbors. I couldn’t care less; I even liked the house. 🙂

Another place I have discovered was the docs where workers have restored the Sail Training Ship; unfortunately I didn’t visit the place every day with my camera, but I did it without it. However I could see the entire process with every step they took to drain the water around it, how they have cleaned it, welded and painted it. The photo you can see down bellow is from the beginning of the process.

Sail Training Ship Nippon Maru
Sail Training Ship Nippon Maru

On the west side of Sakuragicho Station (on my way to Y’s Road bike shop) I was walking one late evening through the tunnel on the side of the street (not sure what purpose is serving) and got me thinking to go back there with my camera and do some street photography during the night time capturing the people going to the station, most probably returning from work. Quite interesting. This reminds me that I have some great night shots I took in September 2018th while raining. Yeah, sounds intriguing right? That’s for another blog post tho 🙂

Night view of man walking under an underpass near be a street
Night view of man walking under an underpass near be a street
Car parked in front of the Moon Cafe Yokohama

Going further “down” towards south-east I have found Mooneyes which has been a bless to my eyes a vintage car and parts store. Ohhh! Beauties over there are so classy and well maintained that you can’t just walk past without noticing that a something goes on, on a big scale.

Red Vintage Car Parked in front of Moon Cafe Yokohama
Red Vintage Car Parked in front of Moon Cafe Yokohama

During my walks I could find a lot of small alleys which have their own feel, which sets them apart from the big boulevards. I could say nor only their vibe, but also musicality that draws me to rise my camera to the eyes and photograph them. Unfortunately at the time I didn’t have my computer with me discard the photos from the camera’s memory cards (remember, just moved here and all my stuff was in a container) and I have kept low the number of them. Next time I’ll be better prepared, although I’m absolutely not looking forward to move again soon.

Bicycle parked in a small alley somewhere in Yokohama
Bicycle parked in a small alley somewhere in Yokohama

Of course I have been walking through the amazing Yokohama China Town, but since I was lazy, I haven’t had my camera with me, so no photos; remember, not I am talking about only about the first month here, fear not, since then I have hundreds of photos and videos taken in the best looking Chinatown on Earth. In the middle of it, there is the Chinese Masobyo Temple, but for that I will write an entire article, as it is absolutely beautiful. This place is absolutely amazing for me and I can’t get enough of it, be it street photography, Chinese foods, restaurants, vibe, everything.

Politness beyond words in Japan

Having the opportunity to visit many places on Earth, not as many as I wish-I shall say, I can clearly see the differences between Japan and anywhere else. One of the most astonishing thing for me is that people smile and are extremely polite, Extremely Polite; they go over and beyond the definition of politeness. Sometimes I feel awkward because I say thank you and do a little bow only once, while the locals follow a proper etiquette, until the last bit of it. Thank you for taking the time to thank me is the daily norm. Something that could be spread in many parts of this beautiful world we live in. The explanations I got about this behavior is that Japanese people are educated to treat everyone, every day, no matter what, like it’s the first and the last time they meet someone. I find this to be very interesting and in the same time I appreciate it.

Man walking during evening time on one of the many pedestrian overpasses available in Yokohama
Man walking during evening time on one of the many pedestrian overpasses available in Yokohama

With the above I am closing the short version of the story of my life in the first month on Nihon land.

If you plan visiting any place in Japan, please drop me a message, I might have some insights to share. It goes without saying to contact me if you need to hire an English speaking photographer in Tokyo, Cristian Bucur Photography is at your service, “day and night” depending on my schedule.

Take your time and visit my Instagram Travel Profile here, or just type in the search tab of IG @crisphototravels and follow my profile.

Down bellow you can directly click for my business IG and Facebook Page. I appreciate every like, follow and comment you might have, so don’t be shy!

The last but not the least, I have already another blog post in the making about my experience as a professional photographer in Japan, so, stay close, will follow shortly.

As always, thank you for reading my blog posts and make sure you check other posts too! Sharing is caring and it could help me boost the traffic to my website.

Screen video of some of the workflow I do while editing. This is specific to this bdibuilder photo shoot I have done in Shibuya Area in Tokyo

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