Worst Day to visit Hie Shrine&Tokyo Tower as a Photographer

This travel article was born in Tokyo after I decided to leave the 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 a professional photographer you already know is not that easy to determine if you need all the gear you have or you need to buy more 🙂 ) gear wise. I did my research as to where to go, and so I decided to choose some of the best Instagrammable spots.

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 below 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, make 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 with 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.

Photographer in Tokyo
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 show you around.

Photographer in Tokyo
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 that attracts lost of local and overseas visitors. Known for the red torii gates that cover the stairs which go up to one of the entrances, it is nicknamed Fushimi Inari of Tokyo. 

Locals and tourists visit the Shrine for its famous Love Knot/Marriage Tie known as Enmusubi.  Due to its 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 photoshoot 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 buildings which surround 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 nearby 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.

Photographer in Tokyo
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 take some photos that aren’t that popular online.

After drinking some cold water I headed uphill to find new vantage points to take 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 about 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 nearby open space with a clear view of the tower. After calling out the day, I went walking around and have discovered Shiba Park nearby.

Later on, I had the chance to put to work the insights I knew about Tokyo Tower and even did a couple of photoshoots in the Shiba Park premises with the Tower in the far distance. It was a great time I have spent with two amazing women, one from Italy and the other from the Philippines. Here you can see my other post about photoshoots I have done nearby.

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.

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Gear used:

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

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