Street photography is something candid that can be captured in an instant and is much like a postcard in the sense that it speaks to us and offers a representation of what we have experienced and seen. Many of the types of photos that you have seen of Japan would probably make you think these are the type you could take yourself or send your loved ones with the words scrawled across them ‘Wish you were here’ that you picked up from a tourist shop. The art of travel can have a fine line between tourist and creative, seeking to capture a body of work in a culture that is subversive and saturated with life like Japan. This is what makes it even more attractive when travelling and taking photographs.
Japan is truly a street photographers dream. A playground with cities like Tokyo teeming with urban culture, architecture, hidden streets plus alleyways like mazes with thousands of people working around the clock similar to the organization of a beehive. Imagine the photographs you could capture and create! It’s no wonder Japan and western culture are so obsessed with one another as we both seek to have experiences that are similar to our everyday lives but also provide something that is different and unique.
Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe or even the countryside, as street photography goes doesn't require the presence of a street or even an urban environment. These are areas where tourists, hobbyists, professionals and photojournalists can 'hit the ground' while capturing their experiences of Japanese culture. However, it is important to know where you stand as a photographer in unfamiliar territory. Knowing your rights as a street photographer with the places you visit can keep yourself out of doing 'the wrong' by applying common sense and respect. Traditional landmarks such as shrines and temples normally have photography restrictions as well as heritage sites. You should also be aware when taking shots of people. For example, a distressed looking local person would probably prefer not having their picture taken without their permission if it does not relate to a deeper story or breaking/worldly news. But don’t forget to say hey! The hospitality of Japanese locals could create and lead to a unique experience which you, as visitor, would not know about otherwise.
A tip for travelling photographer wanting to take photos in Japan would be to plan your journey in advance. As there is so much to see here a list of locations and seasons would help you narrow it down. Don't forget to be creative in your thought process before you capture your images and your Japanese street photography scenes will teem with life and experiences you couldn't put down into words.
Kyoto and its Temples and Gardens - The most famous attractions in the district of Kyoto is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
Cherry Blossom Season - Photographers will want to be up bright and early to capture the trees blossoming flowers before the crowds arrive.
The city of Tokyo - A lot faster-paced, photographers will enjoy photographing some of the weird and delightful sights that this cityscape and night scene has to offer.
Mount Fuji - You can climb the mountain from July to mid-September when it is open and there is little to no snow.
The Famous Snow Monkeys - When you visit the grounds of Zenko-ji Temple near Nagano a beautiful forest trail nearby will bring you to the home of the snow monkeys; a group of local macaques that have turned the local hot spring into a day spa.