Pretty much any & everything in Japan gets anthropomorphised – not sure if it is inherent kawaii-ness, or there is some nation-wide course of study, but here’s a selection of iconic characters snapped with my phone in my first week (ok the first shot is the x100s, rest is iPhone)




















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Yesterday I tried to find this location, in the Shinsekai area of Osaka – I even had a reference photo & resorted to showing it to a local who gave me directions… but to no avail, I was there at midday & the place was closed with curtains drawn… So today I went back in the early evening & success!

First attempt I used my 5D and the Distagon lens – prefocused so I could shoot rapidly without annoying anyone, and got maybe 3 or 4 shots off when one of the guys in the green top noticed me – I gave him a thumbs up & he smiled, so I shot a few more & wandered off… Then swapped to my x100s and came back for another pass, to discover he had sent one of the other guys out to clean the windows! I shot a few more in wide and then went right up to the window & shot a few close up, before disappearing again… As much as I want to try capturing people more, I really don’t want to annoy anyone, so I greatly appreciated the gentle acknowledgement & toothy grin – ‘its ok…’


I LOVE the drama in this closer shot – check out the concentration, the stages each pair are at in their game… I don’t even know how to play Go, but if I lived in Osaka I think I would learn just so I could hang out in a space like this!

Click either photo for a large version…

Below is from the same area – Osakas great retro sky tower, apparently the original Tsutenkaku Tower was built in 1912 & had a height of 64 meters, which was the tallest structure in the Orient at the time. The current Tsutenkaku Tower was built in 1956 with a height of 103 meters…



Favourite Osaka Camera Shop

While Yodobashi is an overwhelming large scale store for all sorts of technology, it can feel a little impersonal almost like a high tech supermarket, so it was super fun yesterday to re-find a camera store that my friend Ian introduced me to, many years ago….


I had a few attempts at finding it from memory, but finally resorted to this great google maps guide to camera stores in Osaka and of course there it was: Tokiwa Camera Store – as the link says it is a “good old-fashioned camera store. They have a large selection of used camera bodies and lenses, as well as a broad range of new lenses including rarer lenses from Zeiss and Voigtlander.”

Years ago I bought my first macro lens there, and when visiting yesterday discovered they had the entire range of Zeiss ZE lens for Canon EF cameras, so you know what that means right? I tried out the 50mm F2 MakroPlanar and compared it to the 50mm F1.4 Planar and ended up buying the latter (I already have the Canon 100mm macro lens) Its a beautiful lens with almost painterly bokeh – heres a shot of those autumn flowers I took with it:


The guys at Tokiwa Store were super friendly & helpful, it made me wish I had gone there first & bought the 21mm Distagon from them. I bought the obligatory lens protector for the Planar lens, and when I asked if they had a lens pouch to protect it while in my camera bag, they dug out this great old Nikkor leather lens case and included it for no charge.


The guy said that case is probably over 50 years old – like good lens they should last a life time, and a lovely antidote to disposable consumerism… I didn’t discover it until I got home & unpacked the bag but he also included a Tokiwa lens cloth and this great catalog from 1976!


Ever wondered what a Mamiya RB67 cost in 1976? or a Hasselblad 500c?



So awesome to see the massive range of Super 8 film cameras & projectors back then too



Tokiwa Store is a 5 minute walk from Nanba Station in Osaka, take your passport & you save sales tax/duty on any purchases… I will go take a few more photos next time I am over that way – so great to eg see half a dozen Hasselblad 500s for sale in the front window!



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Autumn flowers by Muko River, Osaka – shot with Canon 5DmkIII, Zeiss Distagon 21mm lens & Lee grad filters