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.

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





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. 

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