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Do As Tokyo Does Shinjuku Photowalk - Dusk till Night
(Entered Oct. 12, 2009)
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The west side of Shinjuku is another of my favourite weekend 'escape' areas offering wide sidewalks, few people and interesting architecture. There are no shops or malls here and only a few restaurants, the landscape being dominated by massive brooding skyscrapers and empty open courtyards. Well at least on the weekends. From Monday to Friday something like 2 million people pass through Shinjuku station to fill these buildings up. On weekends however, you'll have the place practically to yourself, even more so in the evenings.

shinjuku cocoon building framed

I arrived in the late afternoon wanting to capture some of the fading light, and was soon joined by my friend Dale. We both wanted to capture some nighttime shots of Shinjuku from the streets, and from some top floor observatories if possible.
Unfortunately neither of us knew of, or could find, any outdoor viewing platforms in these buildings, so we stayed on the ground. If anybody knows of one please tell me.

shinjuku tocho building dusk

The Tocho goverment building, maybe my favourite, dominates the landscape and draws the eye.

shinjuku tocho from bottom

There's something almost Bladerunner-esque about West Shinjuku at night, and unlike most buildings in Japan which are small, grey and ugly, the skyscrapers here are beautiful.

shinjuku building group night

We didn't follow any particular route, just walked randomly and took shots when interesting opportunities presented themselves, which was often.

shinjuku buildings bridge night

Shooting at night presents different challenges from shooting in daylight. To get clear and sharp pictures while shooting at slower shutter speeds, a tripod is pretty much a necessity. The extreme wide shots were taken with my trusty Tokina 11-16mm lens, my default lens these days.

shinjuku buildings night

From west Shinjuku we eventually wandered to the east side and the contrast between the two is starkly clear. The buildings go from tall, brooding and impressive to short, gaudy and covered with signs and neon. And although you can't tell in the picture because I cropped it out, this side of Shinjuku is seething with people. The east side of Shinjuku is where you go to shop, to eat, to be seen, to party and to make noise. I'm sure I don't have to tell you which side I like more.

shinjuku lights night

Love it or hate it, Shinjuku represents the epitome of 'modern' Japan, and no trip to Tokyo would truly be complete without a look around both sides of the station, be it day or night.


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