Does it snow in Yokohama while Cherry Flowers are in full bloom?

Does it snow in Yokohama while Cherry Flowers are in full bloom?

I’m going to answer the question from the very beginning. This is a question to which most people(including me) would have answered until last weekend with a big smiling face saying a big NO. Yet, nature has its own way to spice things up from time to time. Luckily for me, I am a photographer ready to shoot at all times. I knew the fairytale will last only for a short while, so I rushed out to enjoy.

Although spring has come and Cherry Trees are in full blossom, the past weekend has brought over some parts of Japan a thin layer of watery white snow. This phenomena doesn’t usually happen in Tokyo Metropolitan Area and there are explanations why it doesn’t happen often which I’m not going to cover in this article. When the snow does fall, it will only last for a little while, exactly how it has happened this past weekend. Winter wonderland is brief but charming sight to see. Down bellow you can see a short movie recorded with my iPhone on the street I live. Later on I’ll post another video I made during a bight sunny day in Seseragi Park from Yokohama.

Snowing on the street I live in Yokohama

This time around, the snow fall caught me at home, in Yokohama. I always enjoy snow and especially snow fall, when I want to be outside and enjoy shoveling it. Or just simply be outside and enjoy watching the calmness of the snow flakes coming down from the sky.

The past Sunday (29th of March 2020), I got to enjoy this rare phenomena in Yokohama. Needless to say, I used my bare hands to clear the snow off of the flowers and off of the car, just to be able to have a little bit of winter sensation. 

Snowing in Yokohama, Tsuzuki-ku, Japan, March 2020
Snowing somewhere in Yokohama

After that I decided to take my camera and walk around my neighborhood taking a good few photos while snowing. I might actually be the only one in the whole neighborhood  to go out with an actual camera to capture and document the mood of the moment; after all, I’m the only professional photographer in know around here.

My walk has lasted for about one hour, during which time I had only seen a hand full of people and just a couple of kids playing with the snow. It is always interesting to see my neighborhood changing over the year and this past weekend managed to make me very happy.
Although maybe a sad scene for some, this was for the first time I could see Cherry flowers covered with snow. Most people aren’t that happy to see such a rare sight.

Very near my house there is a little kids park that’s usually full of children paying cheerfully. This time there were only 2 of them who managed to gather some snow and build something which looked like a snowman. Amazing how fast kids can do something only by playing.
At some point, one of my neighbors came out the house only to take a couple of photos with his phone and then he has rushed off inside the house.

Snowman in a local small park in my neighborhood in Yokohama, March 2020
Snowman in a local small park in my neighborhood in Yokohama

Wish I was in down town Tokyo this time so I could Frame more Life Stories, with more people in my photos. It’s probably not the best time around …

I know that parts of the world are now quarantined and for a while now I refrain myself traveling by public transportation for no good reason (I actually don’t travel if is not a must) and I only use my personal car, event though the Japanese government doesn’t enforce any travel restrictions. Strange times we all get to live these days due to corona virus (COVID19).

Until next time, I let you enjoy the gallery I made with the snow and Sakura photos from the tiny cosy neighborhood I live in Yokohama, not until you see another movie I made very recently in another near by park. There are some Cherry Trees too in it.

Another Park in my area, during a windy, yet sunny day

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Lifestyle and Casual Portrait Photographer in Tokyo Metropolitan Area

Lifestyle and Casual Portrait Photographer in Tokyo Metropolitan Area

Lifestyle Portraiture nowadays had become a photography genre by its own, in my own opinion. It’s more popular than ever in this digital era. I’m not going to impose my own opinion on this topic and is all right if there are other views. Lifestyle portraiture for me as a professional photographer (especially since I live in Tokyo) means that I am there for my clients to put up my technical skills and help composing the photos with my vision. It also means when and if needed I will give directions to be able to achieve better and consistent results, all under a positive and happy approach. Whenever I make photos, I am happy and I tend to pass along a lot of my happiness. 

Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan
Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

People take thousands of photographs of themselves (the ever so popular selfies) or of their family, kids, in all kinds of environments without a special occasion like it used to be in the analog era of film cameras limited to only 36 frames. Now only sky is the limit. Or the hard drives. Digital era of 21st Century, has brought us so many options to make photographs starting with smartphones, small digital cameras and ending with top notch professional cameras readily available to anyone. With all this, de demand for hiring professional photographers is more popular than ever. According to some research I have done, Japan needs a lot more professional photographers. It’s interesting how in a country that produces the most amount of cameras for a world wide market has such a need. I always thought that here photography should be at the highest level possible, with the biggest amount of photographers.

Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan
Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

What is the difference between lifestyle, casual and vacation photography, according to non-photographers?

In big cities like Tokyo in Japan, it is very common for a photographer to have inquires for casual vacation photography sessions from tourists coming to visit this beautiful and amazing place. Now you probably have noticed I have been using lifestyle, casual or vacation photography. I have been asking some of my friends what is the difference to them. Answers were enough so I could draw a clear line between these intertwined photography genres, at least in a sense as what general public thinks. 

According to Wikipedia, “is a kind of photography that mainly aims to capture portrait/people in situations, real-life events or milestones in an artistic manner and the art of the everyday.

Casual Portrait In Shiba Park, Tokyo

In big cities like Tokyo in Japan, it is very common for a photographer to have inquires for casual vacation photography sessions from tourists coming to visit this beautiful and amazing place. Now you probably have noticed I have been using lifestyle, casual or vacation photography. I have been asking some of my friends what is the difference to them. Answers were enough so I could draw a clear line between these intertwined photography genres, at least in a sense as what general public thinks. 

To some of them, lifestyle shots are tied up to the place and area where they live in the sense that they feel “at home”, in familiar places. It is not related how the photos are made, whether or not the photographer gets involved. They get prepared, carefully put on makeup, take care of all the small details.

Casual photography on the other hand (according to Wikipedia it doesn’t even exist), in the opinion of some other friends of mine, relates more to being on the household grounds. Clothing, makeup and all the rest of the possible preparations are left behind and nobody really thinks about it. Posing and composition are a matter of spontaneity and is not planned ahead. 

Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan
Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

Vacation photography, on the other hand, according to the case study I had done, is a term to which will be referred to only in cases of travels, while visiting other places, cities or countries, such as Tokyo. In this case, people would do their own research, find a suitable photographer like myself (Cristian Bucur Photography), research places, poses, other photos published in the same place. They will know already where to go and at what time, although the latter in my opinion is hard to comply with; after all, the main goal of a vacation should be relaxation and not a tight schedule which most of the times can get delayed. In my experience, anyway.

Lifestyle photo shoot in Shiba Park

A while back I had and enquiry from a client who wanted to have some casual, lifestyle photos taken in Shiba Park, which is very near the Tokyo Tower and Zojo-ji Buddhist Temple. Actually, the temple is wrapped up by the Shiba Park. I went ahead and did my research about the park and the surrounding areas to know what to expect and be able to perform and easy going photo shoot.

Lifestyle portrait at Shiba Park, Tokyo, Japan
Lifestyle portrait at Shiba Park, with Tokyo Tower in the background, Japan

Luckily my client is a beautiful woman from Philippines who works in Japan. She wanted a very casual shoot, although she brought two outfits. The photos were meant to be send back home to showcase herself in front of the family. 

After spending a while talking and walking in the park I made a couple of portraits of her including in the background the Tokyo Tower. Perfect day to be there as the weather was perfect. There were even a few clouds which helped to filter the light to be more pleasing for portraiture.

After that we decided to head towards the Zojo-ji Temple and do there some more portraits. At this point I must say that her shyness only helped to get better photos of her: instead of going in the middle of the crowds, we went sideways under the trees where the amount of people was very little.  This is a goof tip for those who wants to make photos without the ever stepping in tourists. 😉

Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan
Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

The photo shoot went smooth as a walking in the park, exchanging information about how each other experience Japan. Always a pleasure to hear what others think and how they see the world around us. Everyone see and feels differently, which is good.

Thank you for reading the article this far. Your support is very much appreciated and sharing would be great way to repay my time spend typing in front of the computer.

Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan
Lifestyle portrait near by Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

As always, if you have questions about photography photo sessions and are looking to hire a photographer in Tokyo, or for that matter anywhere in Japan, please send me a message using the contact for by clicking here or the button down bellow.

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Story of the Worst Day I have chosen to visit Instagram worthy Hot Spots in Tokyo, Hie Shrine (Tokyo’s own like Fushimi Inari Shrine) and Tokyo Tower

Story of the Worst Day I have chosen to visit Instagram worthy Hot Spots in Tokyo, Hie Shrine (Tokyo’s own like Fushimi Inari Shrine) and Tokyo Tower

This travel article was born after I decided to leave comfort of my home during the extreme heat that covered the entire Japanese Island last summer. After being prisoner days after days due to summer high heat and high humidity, I finally decided to go out and explore sites in Tokyo. After all, I was in the first year living in Japan and exploring a Metropolis that is home for around 37.000.000 (thirty-seven million) people is both huge and impressive. Before deciding where to go and what to take with me (if you have a friend that is professional photographer you already know is not that easy to decide whether you need all the gear you have or you need to buy more 🙂 ) gear wise, I did my research as where to go to and so I decided to choose some of the best Instagrammable spots in town.

From previous visits in Japan before moving here, I have learned that a maximum of two locations for an afternoon is more than enough, otherwise the time wouldn’t suffice to wonder around with my Nikon Camera. For those  camera geeks I will write down bellow the list with all my gear. Qualifying for the short list, Hie Shrine and Tokyo Tower made my list for the day.

Hie Shrine, afternoon view
Hie Shrine, afternoon view

Qualifying for the short list, Hie Shrine and Tokyo Tower made my list of some of the most Instagram worthy places for the afternoon trip to Tokyo

You might be wondering why exactly I have chosen to write down in the title “story of the worst day”…. Well because it was due to high heat and humidity, and because I have hurt my back after carrying around my camera backpack with all the gear, from which, to be honest, I could leave at home some without issues.
Down bellow you can see some of the photos and print screens I have posted on Facebook on that day. The past summer was the hottest summer ever for me, with the heat going on for months and although the temperatures weren’t absolute extreme, in Japan… “feels like 37” have a different feel compared to the rest of the world. High humidity makes it unbearable. The not so top notch, without insulation houses with questionable sliding windows and doors, makes the air conditioning running twenty-four hours a day, to be able to keep the moisture out and a decent temperature inside the house to be able to breathe and sleep.  It’s that bad, especially because the temps never lower under 30 (thirty) degrees Celsius even during the night, so most of the houses never get the chance to cool off. During this past hot summer, I even have done a long ride from Yokohama to Boso Peninsula. A total of 148km with an elapsed time of little over 14 (fourteen) hours along a great partner who showed me the way, an avid cyclist and photography passionate man (you can read his blog here).

As you can see on the photo posted above, after walking around for a couple of hours I have decided to buy towels from a convenience store to wipe off the sweat from my face, because I couldn’t keep my eyes open, let alone use my camera to make photographs.

View from inside the premises of Hie Shrine, Tokyo

To be able to get to Hie Shrine, I had to take a bus to Tama Plaza and from there the subway to Tameike-Sanno Station which is in Akasaka Area. From the station, only a couple of minutes walk and I was at the entrance of the Shrine where I was a little bit confused because there is no English directions. To make my sweat worthwhile, I had decided to go right (wrong!) around the hill where I could find another entrance to the Shrine, not knowing that if I would have gone left only after a couple of steps I would have arrived at the stairs covered in the famous red torii gates. Lesson learned, since I have been there a couple of times already for personal exploration. Of course, Hie Shrine is well known for portrait photo shoots. A lot of tourists go there with the aim to enrich their Instagram feed (this is mine). No worries if you aren’t a selfie person, you can hire me as your personal vacation photographer in Tokyo and I will be delighted to to show you around.

Man walking up the stairs covered by torii gates at Hie Shrine in Tokyo

Step by step I was enduring the heat and humidity but I couldn’t stop exploring, the joy of hanging around with my camera exploring a new place made it worthwhile. Hie Shrine is located almost dead Center of Tokyo and is an extremely beautiful Shrine which attracts lost of local and overseas visitors. Known for the red torii gates that covers the stairs which goes up to one of the entrances, it is nicknamed Fushimi Inari of Tokyo.  Locals and tourists visit the Shrine for it’s famous Love Knot/Marriage Tie known as Enmusubi.  Due to it’s location, during and after lunch many business people can be seen taking a break under the big trees with surrounds to Shrine premises. It’s a little green Oasis in the middle of the city. On one day during a portrait photo shoot I had here, I could witness parts of a traditional Japanese wedding and I must say, I was impressed. Is there anyone who can invite me over to observe a traditional wedding? 🙂 

Torii Gates tunnel at Hiw Shrine, Tokyo
Torii Gates tunnel at Hie Shrine, Tokyo

I consider this to be one of the best places to visit  in town or to make great photographs. From certain angles you can see the contrast of old and new, of a great traditional architecture and the new high-rise buildinds which surrounds the place. If you are lucky and patient enough you may be able to get a great photographic effect of the path line made of torii gates even without stagers wandering into your photo.
While enjoying a well deserved cold drink, I have contacted my friend who lives just near by in Akasaka to see if I could meet him to say hi. To my surprise he was at home and have invited me to see where he lives. I took the chance because I was in acute need of cooling down and refill my blood with some caffeine. Said and done, here is the view where I had the coffee with my friend. I bet the views he is having throughout the year are awesome. 

Man's portrait in a coffee shop in Akasaka Tower Residence
Man’s portrait in a coffee shop in Akasaka Tower Residence

Tokyo Tower, one of the most known landmarks in Tokyo, is visited by millions of tourists annually-h3

After the coffee break I had and cooled off with a great view, I decided to get back and face the heat again and go on foot to Tokyo Tower. This wasn’t my first time visiting the Tower, because in 2014th I was visiting Japan for the first time. I had no idea at the time that it will come a time when I will move in Yokohama and become a professional photographer. But guess, what, the life is awesome and here I am living the dream.

The view I had while enjoying my coffee on top of Akasaka Tower

I was lucky I had chosen to walk to the tower, because on my way I could find by chance the showroom of Mitsuoka Motors, a small car manufacturer founded in February 1969 with a special retro design, although I can assure you, the cars are brand new. Since then I remained a fan of this car manufacturer, scoring one more point than Toyota  on my Japanese car podium. Down bellow are a couple of photos I took of one of their car displayed in the showroom.

Tokyo Tower makes for a perfect start of the evening showing off the iconic glowing orange tower. In case you are wondering why white and orange, according to Wikipedia, “The structure is an Eiffel Tower-inspired lattice tower that is painted white and international orange to comply with air safety regulations.

What is Tokyo Tower? Tokyo Tower is the Eiffel Tower Replica

This Eiffel Tower replica is 13 meters taller than the Parisian Structure and nowadays is more a source of tourism than a radio and television antenna. 

Tokyo Tower view during night time; photograph taken using a tripod and Nikon D750.
Tokyo Tower view during night time; photograph taken using a tripod and Nikon D750.

Because the Tokyo Tower is taller than most of the surrounding buildings it can be seen from far away while walking towards it. That fooled me and got me a little lost through the side alleys somewhat behind it. It wasn’t all that bad as I could make some photos that aren’t that popular online. After drinking some cold water I headed up hill to find new vantage points to make some photos. You can see here, I was all sweaty and using the little neck towel to wipe off and keep my eyes clear and salty free. After some time, I took a break and bought one Crepe (pancake for the rest of the world) to fill up the emptiness in my stomach. After my snack I have continued to do some photos around the Tokyo Tower. All this time it made me think how to do some portrait photos for possible clients having the Tokyo Tower in the background. Due to how tall the tower is, being that close it would make it very unlikely to be able to make flattering portraits, with no distortion. Checking the map, I was thinking there must be a near by open space with clear view towards the tower. After calling out the day, I went walking around and have discovered Shiba Park near by. Later on, I had the chance to put to work the insights I knew about Tokyo Tower and even did a couple of photo shoots in the Shiba Park premises with the Tower in the far distance. I was a great time I have spent with two amazing women, one from Italy and the other from Philippines. Here you can see my other post  about photo shoots I have done near by.

Self Portrait of me Cristian Bucur Photographer
Self Portrait of me Cristian Bucur Photographer

Although I have been choosing the worst day ever to go out shooting due to the heat outside (as far as i recall, it was the hottest day last year in Japan), despite the heavy pain I got injuring my back, visiting Hie Shrine and revisiting Tokyo Tower was a great time spent.

Tokyo Tower view during night time; photograph taken using a tripod and Nikon D750.
Tokyo Tower view during night time; photograph taken using a tripod and Nikon D750.

I managed to make new memories, new photos, remember where I have been to in 2014th. To top it all, now I can be a great tour guide too while doing what I love the most: be your professional photographer anywhere in Tokyo. Starting with this coming spring I will be able to provide photo shoots outside of Tokyo too. Most probably this would mean Kyoto and places near by Fuji Mountain like Oshino Hakkai, Lake Kawaguchi. 

Here you can access my Travel Facebook Page and the Tavel Instagram Profile, sharing and supporting me with a follow and like will go a long way for me, thank you in advance.

If you are looking to hire a photographer in Tokyo, please don’t hesitate to contact me, i’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for staying with for so long, I promise I will keep creating new content soon. Cristian Bucur Photography, the only photographer you want to follow via the buttons down bellow.

Frame Your Life Stories!

Gear used:

Nikon D750
Nikon 20mm, f/1.8
Nikon 35mm, f/1.8
Nikon 50mm, f/1.8
Nikon 85mm, f/1.8

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

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.

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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

Vacation & Street Photography during the Japanese Cherry Blossom, also known as Sakura

Vacation & Street Photography during the Japanese Cherry Blossom, also known as Sakura

Last year, in January, my wife and I have moved in Japan after living for five years in South Korea, a place that has grown on us and had become something we proudly have called Home. Slowly but surely, our time spent in Tokyo and Yokohama has made the Land of the Rising Sun feels like home too.

Today I’m going to write about my experience as a street photographer, living aside stories about shooting families or pets. I know this is a long debated subject, but I will focus on my photos and experience in this amazing country.

Park Picnic in Tokyo during Sakura Season
Park Picnic in Tokyo during Sakura Season

Seeing couples enjoying outdoor scenery is very common and especially during Sakura Season. People around the Globe are having planned the vacations to Nihon land to see and enjoy the Cherry Blossom. For many people the Land of the Rising Sun is also synonym with Sakura and planning the vacation during the photogenic Cherry blossom peak comes without much thinking. 

Sakura Season it’s the best time to schedule a vacation photography session in Tokyo 

Hanami (花見, “flower viewing”) is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers” according to Wikipedia and indeed I can tell you that hanami is a custom very popular among both local Japanese people and also tourists. Locals take it even a step further and share the joy of viewing the Cherry Blossoms with the entire families, friends, kids and pets (yes, taking your favorite pet for a walk under Sakura petals is quite nice) with whom they toast a glass of champagne (pets don’t react well after champagne 😉 ). Möet is a real thing during Sakura on Nippon land.

Sakura/Cherry Flowers in Tachikawa, 2014th, Tokyo
Sakura/Cherry Flowers in Tachikawa, 2014th, Tokyo

During Sakura, the amount of crowds are something I have never seen before, tourists and locals are pouring on the streets and alleys where Cherry Trees are. People are photographing every side of every tree hoping they’ll get the best shot ever, or at least the best memory. Not to mention the photography aficionados, be it hobbyists of professional photographers with the latest trends in camera gear, tripods, lenses and huge backpacks to accommodate all of the above spend hours creating millions of photographs that will probably will never be consumed. Couples and families hire photographers to provide them great memories for the loved ones or just to capture beautiful moments for years to come. Photography is indeed one of the best solutions to “Frame Our Life Stories” as I like to say. As a tourist on the Nippon land during Sakura (and not only) you can book a photography session with me (Cristian Bucur Photography) and even rent out a Kimono to complete the Japanese experience from Yae in Asakusa

Friends wearing Komonos in Asakusa, near by Sensoji Temple, Tokyo

Couple photo shoot in Tokyo

As a photographer, my Sakura adventure started in the first year living in here at Nakameguro canal. Trust me, this is the Cherry Blossom Wonderland, the most accessible place if you are in downtown Tokyo. On the sides of the canal you can experience street food, the aforementioned champagne, coffee shops and more. Couples and families arrange photo shoots during walks under the Cherry Blossom which will become memory treasures for years to come. After all, this is the Land of the Rising Sun, with the most relaxed and easy going people.

Sakura/Cherry Blossoms in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park
Sakura/Cherry Blossoms in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park

Cherry trees were one more beautiful than the last one. Birds were chirping and people enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. Occasionally I would stop so I can take more photos or steal portraits of people enjoying their time in the park. Some of the more talented people were painting and drawing the beautiful trees in full blossom, with patience and dedication. Blending in as a tourist helped me as a street photographer to create beautiful photographs to remind me of the first Sakura Season as a “local”.

Man painting Cherry Trees during full blossom in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park
Man painting Cherry Trees during full blossom in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park

I couldn’t stop telling to myself what a dream I live to be a photographer located in Tokyo 23 wards; this city has so much to offer, any time of the year. It feeds my photographic appetite any time of the day, be it with street photography or photo shoots with beautiful big families of four or more members. You can actually read here my latest post I have wrote about the experience I had during a family photoshoot in Roppongi Hills.

After walking almost all of the Nakameguro canal, I decided to head off to the Imperial Palace which is located in the center of the city, only a very short walk from the beautiful Tokyo Station. Here I have spent quite a bit of time admiring the palace’s architecture and the beautiful Japanese gardens that amazed everyone around me, from local to tourists alike. Having my heart and soul filled up with great memories and my memory cards with amazing photos, I went for a late lunch to have Japanese noodles, known also as ramen (wheat noodles). Of course, there are a lot of other kinds of noodles, but you know, we humans have only one stomach and to be faire I kinda looked for menus in English. 🙂

Entrance to Imperial Palace Tokyo
Entrance to Imperial Palace Tokyo

Said and done, I left the restaurant and decided to go visit Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. On my way there, I kinda got lost in another park…. Even to this day I can’t figure out where that was. It might have been the park around the Akasaka Imperial Property, or Meiji Jingu Gaien Nikoniko Park. I have no idea. Down bellow is one table that has a similar concept (to me) with The Table of Silence carved by Constantin Brancuși. Interesting, isn’t it?

Here more about it.

Round stone table with round chairs in Tokyo
Round stone table with round chairs in Tokyo

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is a large park where one can stay for hours to enjoy the tranquil scenery for only 500 Yen. No wonder why this park has a paid entry, because it’s both huge and has a great landscaping maintained all year round. The park is somewhat divided in smaller units, some that look more like Japanese traditional gardens while other have more of a Western look. The bad news is… or was… I haven’t checked the opening hours of the park. Mondays (or following day if Monday is a national holiday) are the days when the park is closed, probably for maintenance. So…. No Sakura photos in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park that day. Because I’m a relentless photographer, days later after my first attempt to photograph this park from Flowery Kingdom, I came back to the park fully geared up with my camera, lenses and tripod. I have even did some long exposures using neutral density filters.
It is worth mentioning especially for people who what shoots in parks in Tokyo, that in most of the parks commercial photo shoots require a permit after paying a fee, information available from the local ward if I understand right.

Sakura long exposure photograph taken in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park, Tokyo (around 30 seconds was the exposure if I remember well).
Sakura long exposure photograph taken in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park, Tokyo (around 30 seconds was the exposure if I remember well).

Don’t think I have kept myself in a continuous photo shoot all over the places, but here and there I stopped when I considered a good spot would help me get a good photograph. In the following days I have continued with my adventure for vacation/travel photos, visiting parts of Tokyo and Yokohama.

Landmark Tower in Minato Mirai makes for such great views over Yokohama and if there is a clear day, even Fuji is visible.

Yokohama Bay panoramic view from the top of the Landmark Tower.
Yokohama Bay panoramic view from the top of the Landmark Tower.

To be precise, you can drink a coffee with spectacular views of Mount Fuji. Red Brick Warehouses, Ohsanbashi Pier and Yokohama Chinatown are also some of the top picks with my favorite place being the Chinatown. I just can’t have enough of it.

View over Yokohama; amazing how many constructions are, right? And all of them perfectly aligned.
View over Yokohama; amazing how many constructions are, right? And all of them perfectly aligned.

Since you red all of my words until here, keep an eye on my blog as I am always trying to write about my experiences as a photographer living in The Great Nihon. This is the first blog post I write about my other photography experiences here and where I show you places and people through my city/landscape and street photography. I have a lot more photographs published on my Instagram Travel Profile which is accessible directly from here or simply type @crisphototravels in Instagram Search.

Are you looking to hire a professional photographer in Japan? Make sure you click the contact button down below and book your photography session with me anywhere in Tokyo or Yokohama and allow me to tell your story through my vision.  Are you going to fly in Osaka and have time to visit only Kyoto? No worries, I can travel there too and show you around. 

Make sure you visit my Instagram profile and support me by hitting that follow button.

Family Portrait Photographer in Tokyo

Family Portrait Photographer in Tokyo

November was a busy yet a beautiful month for me as a photographer based in Tokyo Metropolitan area. Beautiful weather and great temperatures only helped me and the clients I had to spend a great time outdoors. My clients are ranging from professional models, individuals, pets, families, Goldsmith and Jewelry maker (@diaroxx) and even a bodybuilder who won 1st place in Amateur Olympia 2019 in Japan.

Perfect image to illustrate how dynamic these brothers are

Some of you may know that in January this year my wife and I have moved in Japan after living 5 full years in Seoul, South Korea. Things are quietly falling into place and day after day life becomes easier and more beautiful. Technically we are living in Yokohama,  45 minutes away from the overcrowded Shibuya crossing, which by the end of the day is only a good thing. We live in a stand alone house, have a garden and our area is regarded as a family area, so a quiet and quite serene place, where people say hello to each other and kids play on the street. Here and there an earthquake shakes my computer, one even recently while writing another blog post.

At the beginning of November, Brinley had contacted me to be her family’s photographer. Her e-mail started like this:

“Hi Cristian,

We are the Bradley family. We are from Utah. We lived in Tokyo from 2013-2014 and then moved back to the U.S. In 2019 we moved back to Tokyo, but now with 3 children, ages 5, 4, and 1. We love to travel together. We also love hiking and exploring the mountains.

We have been to Canada, Mexico, France, England, Hawaii, and Japan. Next year we are hoping to visit Thailand or Bali. I work as a nurse, and Kolby works in sales for a tech company.

Could you take our family portraits around Roppongi Area?

Thank you,
Brinley Bradley”

Even when posing, the kids are on the move

I was very glad reading all her e-mail filled up with so much information. Let me tell you, families with many members are a bless to work with. Do you think this statement sounds confusing because in fact that means more challenging work for a family photographer? Well, large families do have a very distinctive dynamic and usually members (read “the children”) are more willing to show off their playing skills in a more competitive way. 

Please allow me to explain this for you: my work as a photographer gets actually much easier, although I have to physically run many times during the outdoor photography session. In the same time, I don’t have to ask the kids to do anything  for me, which automatically translates into natural and genuine reactions beautifully captured into amazing photographs. They will just do it, and I, as a professional photographer I will be ready to capture the essence of each one.

If you tend to think that photographing a toddler is hard, or, on the contrary, it’s easy… well, let me tell you that being a kids photographer is not really a rocket science; you only need to love kids and know when to stop, yes, stop. I always concentrate on discovering the personality of who the little man or the young lady is. I approach any child smiling and trying to be as friendly as possible, but with the same work ethic and  seriousness as I would during a corporate head shoot. And that translates into great photographs where the mother’s will wow like Brinley did after seeing her daughter’s portrait:

“Oh my gosh. That is PERFECT. That is my favorite photo of her I’ve ever seen!”

“Oh my gosh. That is PERFECT. That is my favorite photo of her I’ve ever seen!”

Of course, having a very fit and great looking family in front of my camera, is from the start a very good recipe for making great family portraits and the Bradleys are just that: a very beautiful family, with a smile cut from tooth paste commercials. Yup, I just said it 🙂

Now let me properly introduce you the Bradleys, the way I got to know them at Roppongi Hills in Tokyo. I will start with the mother, Brinley,  which is a very dynamic and strong woman who manage raising while keeping safe her three beautiful children, two boys and one girl. She is smiling all the time and during the photoshoot I never heard her complaining about anything. That’s a skill a need to learn myself 🙂 

The family’s oldest child is a boy, who’s name is Kai. As you can see bellow, he is already a model. His smile says it all: I’m smart, I’m beautiful, I am conquering everyone and everything. It was and absolute bless to make his perfect smiling portraits.

Look at that perfect smile!

Presley is the only daughter of the family, and she is a climber. She would climb anything if she could, while having a giant victorious smile on her face. Even if I see a lot of active children during the family photoshoots or kids parties I photograph, Presley managed to raise my heart bit while climbing after a flyer that was a little (maybe more than a little) bit too high for her height. That’s a good attitude to have: nothing is too hard to reach at any point in life. Parenting success one to one here.

Yup, climbing all the time 🙂

Ledger, is the youngest man of the family, who expresses himself more through cries than words, but that’s what means to be a one year old toddler. He manages to get whatever he wants an he doesn’t stop until everyone around complies. So… he may be the next CEO or a great entrepreneur. I think we need more entrepreneurs than CEOs, but that’s for him to decide, and he has at least 17 years  to take that decision 🙂

You’re guessing right if you think he was looking for his mother.

Last but not the least, Kolby is the husband and the father of the family. I personally believe that he is one of the most involved man in both the photoshoot and being a father for his children.  Usually the fathers gladly takes a place on the side but he was actively involved all the time. Ohh, I appreciate men who aren’t afraid in front of the camera; that’s yet material for another post about about a robot engineer and her girlfriend. He was so scared!
Going back to Kolby, he’s a great person and we connected and start to communicate from the first second we met. This is the best ingredient for a perfect portrait.

Roppongi Hills is a very touristic place, both because of the two observatories  which gives amazing indoor views of the city at 250 meters above sea level or the Sky Deck outdoor at 270 meters above sea level and the exclusivist shopping available in the area.

For me as a photographer, taking family portraits around Roppongi Hills is a great opportunity as I like a lot the ever changing light around the immense glass tower where I can get both park looking photos or city like portraits against the skyline or Tokyo Tower.

Most probably this is the longest blog post I ever made, but hey, great time and memories deserve to be shared. You can guess I love my work and I put a lot of passion into it. I consider photography as great tool to preserve memories but also food for soul, that’s why if you need a portrait photographer in Tokyo or anywhere in Japan  to frame you life stories, please feel free to write me  an e-mail by hitting the contact button bellow.

Instagram @cristiancbucur and Facebook are also just a click away if you want to get in contact with me.

Professional Photography Session for a Bodybuilder

Professional Photography Session for a Bodybuilder

Last time I had photographed a bodybuilder/fitness athlete  was in Seoul, South Korea. That time around was my Serbian friend who has been competing for Asia Grand Prix, Figure Pro Qualifier. I was quite stoked when she contacted me “ You live here in Seoul? Im here for competition” as I knew she had moved from Belgrade to New York. World’s so small right?

Sometime later, here I am in Japan, receiving this e-mail from Mohammed:

“Hi Cristian,

This is Mohammed.

Am a bodybuilder in Tokyo now, I wonder if you can do a fitness photo shot session on next Sunday 17 November. Sorry for the short notice.



It was indeed a short notice as I had prior plans, but I can never say no to a photography session in Tokyo, with a bodybuilder.  Now, probably my shape doesn’t show it (obviously, I am a photographer after all living in Japan 😉 ), but I did studied in the past bodybuilding and I have trained for quite a while myself, that’s why I have a great understanding and respect when it comes to this sport and to the people doing it. The amount of work and discipline involved is extreme and many people really live their life for it, respecting daily specific meals, train and sleep. And often times, a lot of pain, because building muscles involves pain. There is a saying among bodybuilders, “No pain, no gain”.

Moving back to my bodybuilder client, he’s one of the most amazing people I had the pleasure to meet. Back home in Qatar he is a police officer, passionate about sports in general with kick boxing and bodybuilding being at the top of his preferences.

After a few short e-mails, we decided to meet at Shibuya, where is one the most know crossings in the whole world. Shortly after meeting him, I have discovered a very passionate bodybuilder, very positive and happy person. On the day of the photo shoot he had woke up at 6 AM to get ready. Why on Earth a man would woke up at 6AM for a shoot at 9AM? Hmm, there is and explanation.

On the day before Mohammed had been competing in Amateur Olympia 2019 held in Tokyo organized by IFBB Professional League and NPCJ (I don’t quite know what NPCJ stands for) where he won 1st place!!! Well, I wasn’t overall, but for 90kg if I’m not mistaken. Still extremely impressive! Because of this, he had been artificially tanned so he would show off his musculature easier. This comes at a cost, it’s really hard to remove it in a very short time, so, there you go, he had to wake up and get ready from 6AM. 🙂

How’s that to be professional photographer for such an athlete, based in Tokyo? Well, first of all, it was amazing. Second, also amazing. Because Mohammed was in his best shape, right after a big competition, his shape was crazy good, and all I had to do was to translate that into amazing photographs. Sounds easy right? Well, keep reading, at the end of the article I have embedded an YouTube video I made while editing his photographs.

He didn’t have a clear idea of what he wanted from the photography session he had booked in Tokyo. That’s why on our way to the shooting place, which is only a couple of  minutes away from Shibuya, I was asking a lot of questions so I get to know who he is. I started to take photos of him wearing clothes, but that wasn’t doing justice for all the hard work he’s been doing. Previously I have seen he brought some spare outfits with him, so I asked what else he have. And only then the real fun had begun and I have installed my sofboxes and flashes.

My worry was that weather on the day might have been a little cold for him to be “naked” but then… when you are a pack of 90kg of pure muscles… you tend to warm up pretty quickly. 

He would then take off his shirt and jeans for a more “relaxed outfit” which brought to light his lean body and muscles. Right there and then I realized and told him, to never ever cover his muscles for a photography session held after a competition. It’s a no-no, considering all the work and logistics involved to get to a such perfect shape.

The rest of the photoshoot went as smooth as it could get, with Mohammed doing his competing poses to show off his muscular body and absolutely impress me behind camera. Above you can see his great flexibility too, a chapter at which my body acts worse than a stone. 🙂

He had inspired me so much, and I will use the inspiration to drive me to become better and better at producing amazing photographs.  If you have a dream, do your best to make it true; the amount of satisfaction you’ll get is priceless. I can say I am living my dream of being professional photographer, and not anywhere, but in one of the biggest metropolis in the world: Tokyo.

Few days later after WahtsApping him some photographs, I got this feedback:

“Wow great editing 🔥🔥🔥

Like it
Wow a lot of work !!! Great job 👍
Thanks bro nice to meet and work with you

You are really talented photographer 🔥👍
Wow the editing next level 😍😍😍”

Now, here you can see a video I have posted to my YouTube Channel with the workflow I did while editing his photographs. I use these professional photography editing techniques whenever it is necessary to accomplish the best results for my clients, using both Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.

This video shows over 30 minutes of editing compressed down to under 5 minutes 🙂

As always, if you need a professional photographer based in Tokyo, hit the contact button bellow, follow my Instagram and like my Facebook Page to stay in touch with the latest images and stories I produce.