What is the Tokyo By Night tour?
Tokyo is a very large and spectacular city that holds a vast amount of different and unique places you can visit everyday. Going to some of the most visited places during the day time will let you see only half of what this city can offer but when you take away the light, the light of the neon signs cast a glow on the dark and gritty side of Tokyo. I Lead a tour for Eyexplore Tokyo that lets you see this first hand along with a basic crash course on using your camera at night time to create unique and amazing images of the Tokyo area, I call this tour Tokyo By Night. It’s a Tour that teaches you how to see the world differently and takes you to the places where have been in films like The Lost in Translation and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift just to name a few. If you would like to join one of my tours, Please contact me here.
Meeting spot in Shinjuku Station.
We start our night by meeting in the mad chaos of rush hour inside of Shinjuku station at the East gate information desk. This is where we meet and greet, and talk about the night and the events we will covering. Once we introduced ourselves, we head out towards the first location where we will see the crazy side of Tokyo in rush hour.
Location #1: Walking street
In this first location we get out our tripods and cameras and talk about camera settings and how to freeze people, or make them disappear all together. We capture the never-ending amounts of neon signs that run above people walking up and down the street. Once we feel comfortable with this, we pack up our gear and keep walking down the street till we come to our next location.
Location #2: Godzilla crossing
I love this intersection for the neon lights and the large amount of people hang out at this spot. It has wonderful leading lines along with the right amount of neon lights with Godzilla hanging out in the back ground(have to look hard to see him). This crossing can also be seen in the opening scenes of Lost In Translation as Bill Murry rides in the back of a taxi driving down the road. I talk about leading lines and how this helps the draw the eye from the foreground to the background. We use the white sidewalk lines as this leading line and it helps to lead the viewer’s eyes to create a more interesting image. We play around in a few different spots capturing the people run from one side to the other. This location is all about leading lines. Now it’s time to head off to the next location.
Location #3: The Underpass
At the underpass Location, we take what we just learned about leading lines and we add Light Trails to the mix. Here we create Leading lines with Light trails from the traffic that will lead us up to the neon lite buildings. We talk about what we look for and what makes a good light trail. On a rainy night, this is a great location cause it’s COVERED. Here is where the night can go either one of 2 ways. If you have a wide angle lens(17mm or wider or 11mm on a APS-C body) then you can go either route A or B. However, if you don’t have a wide angle lens or not every one in the party has one, then we have to go route A. Route A takes us inside yakitori alley for a darker/grittier side of Tokyo. Route B is a over pass shot of the Sompo Japan building but this location is only worth going if you have the right lens. Before we pick the route, I show you images from both places and let you choose. Now off to our next location! Let’s go with Option A first.
Location #4: Yakitori alley(Route A)
Here is where we take the cameras off the tripods and bump up our settings to photography the craziness of yakitori alley. There are holds about 40-50 little shops that sell yakitori(Meat on a stick). Each little shop is very small and can only fit 5 people in them but all of them are packed at this time of night. There are all kinds of people eating and drinking here, from the salary man to the tourist who had a good guide book. Most people are in blown away by the look and feel of this tiny hidden place.
Location #4: Sompo Japan Building(Route B)
If you have a Wide angle lens and want to go to this location, you will see some very unique buildings of the Shinjuku area. The Sompo Japan Building has a curved base that gets narrower as it gets taller. At the base of the building is a intersection that has traffic that moves in 4 different directions. If you time it just right, you can capture some amazing photos from this location. From here we walk back over to Shinjuku Station where we go inside the building to show you how to shoot through windows without getting reflections.
Location #5: Restaurant look out
Finding a view to look out at Tokyo can be very challenging and finding one that is free is almost impossible. Here we go up to the 12 floor and look out at the Shinjuku bus terminal along with the skyscrapers of Shinjuku. Here is where I show you how to take a image through a window without getting any reflections. I go more in depth about it in person and show you the best way to get a clean sharp image. I also love to point out some other great places to visit from up here. Next we hop on a train down to Shibuya but along the way we get some classic Subway images of the train moving behind people.
Location #6: The subway transfer
we have to take a train down to Shibuya from Shinjuku, so why not try and take some great images along the way. Here we set up our cameras to have a slower shutter speed so we can have the train blur in the background while we have a person in the foreground. We hop on the train after spending a few minutes capturing people and each other. See more over at this link
Location #7: Back side of Shibuya
We get off the train and head to the back side of Shibuya for the famous overpass. Here in Tokyo we have a lot of elevated roadways that run through out the city. Here we capture the Light Trails of the cars as they go in every direction under this massive elevated roadway. Here we play with different types of Light trails, the long ones and the short ones. Both can create amazing images that are very different and unique. Learn more about Light Trails HERE From here we head to the last Location, SHIBUYA CROSSING!
Bonus Spot: The Canal
Right next to the elevated roadway is a little canal that runs through out Tokyo. I show you this little hidden gem and if we have time, we go down and shoot this spot before we head to the crossing.
Last Location: Shibuya Crossing
This is one of the busiest crossing in the world. Every 1:30 minutes the lights change and a flood of people cross from 4 different sides in any which way for 45 seconds. After the mass rush of people, the traffic begins with bright buses and speeding taxis pass you as you stand within arm reach of them with thousands of people waiting to cross again. Here I show you two great spots to capture the intersection. You can view the Crossing Live HERE.
Spot #1: The middle ground
Here you can have buses and cars scream by you on either side as you photograph the crossing. I love this location for the different types of light trails you can capture.
Spot #2: The Light Pole
At this spot, we are right next to the light pole on the station side looking out towards Starbucks. You can photograph people waiting to cross, the light trails from the traffic as they fly by you, or shoot the crowd of people as they start to cross. It’s up to you on what you want to capture at this location. Either way, you can’t go wrong from this spot in Shibuya.
Bonus: From the walkway
On rainy nights, We go to this spot from the station to one of the many shopping malls on the foot bridge. Here you can see Shibuya crossing from above. On a busy night, you can really see how many people come and visit this area.
Private Tour Only: Shibuya from Above
If you do book a Private tour with ME(Heath Smith), I will take you to this wonderful spot on high above Shibuya Crossing that lets you get a birds eye view of the city around Shibuya. I would love to take everyone to this spot but this is a bonus location which is not on the normal tour. Here you get to see everyone running across the intersection along with maybe a football game…LOL
The night has come to a close…
At this point, our time is up and we have to part ways. It’s always fun to see the excitement in people’s eyes when we are done. They look like they have stepped into a different world and seen things they have only imagine in movies. I love teaching and showing people this great city which is full of excitement and wonder. I really do enjoy seeing a person that started the night knowing nothing about their camera and now they are capturing unique images of Tokyo. I try and answer any other questions about the city and where to go and see before we depart.
Tokyo By Night is about going out and seeing a different side of Tokyo then you normally see in the daytime. It does not matter if you are from a large city or a small town or even Tokyo. My goal by the end of the night is to show you the different side of Tokyo and let you capture something that you would remember forever. If you wish to book a tour, Please fill out the form below.