Tokyo by Night Photo Tour

Capture the city when the sun goes down

 By Claire Rieuneau   Apr 21, 2015

A huge city like Tokyo has a lot of places to discover. During the night, the city reveals secrets to those willing to explore the streets on foot. For those you would like to discover the beauty that Tokyo can offer after the sun sets, we advise the “Tokyo by Night” walking and photography tour.

The Tour “Tokyo by Night” is accessible to everyone. All you need to enjoy your 2 hour walk between Shinjuku and Shibuya is a good camera (that allows you at least manual settings) and a tripod (tripods available for rent if you do not own one).

In small groups of around six people every Saturday at 7 pm, the “Tokyo by Night” tour allows passionate photographers to develop skills in night shots. From Traffic lights,  to billboards, to people eating in street food shops, the tour offers a variety of situations to learn more about photography and enjoy the animated areas of Shinjuku and Shibuya in two hours.

Our journey into the Tokyo night began at the JR station of Shinjuku. The meeting point is detailed on the tour page, and we met our guide and fellow group members at the East entrance.

The maximum number of participants is six persons and the variety of nationalities in the group can be quite interesting: while walking to the first spot near Shinjuku JR station, I talked with people from Canada, South America and another living in Tokyo but willing to discover the city in another way. All the explanations are in English.

Axel offers a tripod for 1,000 yen if needed, which was rented in my case. For everyone not especially experts in photography and the use of a tripod there are explanations available here as well.

Our first spot near Shinjuku station is a setup point to help us correct our setting to capture the intensity of the lights dancing on the road. Thanks to a long exposure technique, we are able to create beautiful effects by taking pictures of the road.

The second spot is a different kind of work, but also very interesting: small streets hide in Shinjuku. A very nice tiny place full of people and restaurants, where salary men and tourists share the counter to eat Yakitori or Soba and drink in one of the numerous Izakaya or bars. Some of the owners of restaurants and bars here do not accept pictures, but the experience is interesting and allows you to discover Japanese during their night life.

Pictures of the last spot of Shinjuku were taken from one of the last floors of a high shopping building. This exercise taught us how to take good pictures through a glass with light as a parasite. My personal results were not as interesting as the ones I took on the two first spots, but some of the group shots were quite beautiful.

The tour continues at Shibuya Station, a quick ride on the Yamanote line from Shinjuku. We used the Shibuya Hikarie exit and walked to our first spot in this area, under the bridge. The place is perfect for a traffic shoot and I felt like a professional as I take some incredible long exposure picture of the traffic with some assistance from the leader. We have everything in this place: buildings lights, traffic lights, and bridge lights all coming together to create some nice visual effects.

The last spot of the tour is the most famous crossing road in the world: The Scramble, aka the Shibuya Crossing. Near the Hachiko entrance of the station, the crossing is always crowded, whatever the hour of the day. The interesting thing to study here in terms of photography is to use long time exposure, but short enough to still see the people on the picture. It is like taking pictures of ghosts. This is a very interesting effect to use and ca also be a good way to appreciate the view of one of the most famous places in the world.

The tour ends after our time in Shibuya. During the 2 hours of our tour, Axel showed us a variety of nice places that any tourist or resident living in Tokyo would appreciate to discover with the eye of a photographer at night. I can completely recommend the experience if you are even slightly interested in photography and taking pictures during your journey.

You can find all the information about this tour on JapanTravel.

Written by Claire Rieuneau
JapanTravel Member

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Alexandar Barratt 2 months ago
I love the photos! Are most taken on 50mm on a full frame?
Joseph Bautista 5 months ago
Great work! Would like to try that photowalk next time I visit
Jihad Mahmoud 8 months ago
Such a great opportunity.
Elena Lisina 8 months ago
Tokyo at night is very dfferent from daytime! Few times I got confused as couldn't recognize the places! :)
Andrew Choi 8 months ago
very nice photo!