Wandering – Photographing Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park

Atomic Bomb Dome

Some places demand silence. The Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC. The endless rows of military graves in Europe. The remnants of the World War I trenches in France. The 9/11 Memorial in New York City. Others I haven’t seen or even heard of, equally important as the ones above to people touched by the events they evoke.

And there’s Hiroshima, synonymous with the unbelievable destruction mankind is capable of. Apart from one’s historical and political notions about the atom bomb that was first used in this city, a visit to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park and Museum is something you won’t easily forget, even if you don’t take a single picture. Combine it with the excellent novel Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse to get a sense of what the bomb wreaked.

Yet, modern Hiroshima is also very much a city risen from the ashes, a tribute to the resilience of mankind in the face of utter destruction and terror. Around the park you’ll find a bustling city, not much to look at but vibrant and forward-looking.

So, you might find yourself in deep awe looking at the A-Bomb Dome one moment and sipping coffee in a coffeeshop adorned to the hilt with Beatles memorabilia a little later, with Beatles songs playing in an endless loop in the background. Or shopping for unique Japanese goods in one of the many stores along the tram line that took you to the park in the first place.

Still, this is a photography website. As expected, virtually of all Hiroshima was build after the war, is modern and not very appealing to look at. While there are a few other noteworthy places, you’d visit Hiroshima for the park and the museum.

The Place

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Wandering – Photographing the Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market

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A visit to the famous Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo is a must for every tourist. Said to be the world’s largest fish market, its constant motion, colors and culture are a delight to be taken in. That also makes it a prime attraction for some serious photography.

The Place

The Tsukiji market has a long history. It’s located at the waterfront, since in the early years fish were brought in by trawlers. That vanished and railroad tracks were installed and the fish arrived by wagon loads. Nowadays the tracks are paved over and trucks bring in fish that’s sometimes flown in from faraway places to sate Tokyo’s appetite for fresh sushi. Word is that the current market will disappear in the coming years and be replaced by a new one a few miles from the present location.

That’s bad news for photographers. Over the years, tourists have become less welcome at Tsukiji. Until a few years ago, visitors could enter the market at any time and wander the many stalls while the main business took place. Then rude behavior by some tourists led to a complete ban on visitors. This ban is now partially lifted, but we can assume that a new facility will be designed to separate visitors from the vendors, which means photographers would not be able to see the action up close.

The guide books will tell you about the various areas of the market, but the one that you really want to capture is the so-called ‘inner market.’ That’s where the auctions take place and where the fish is prepped for shipment throughout Tokyo. It’s a maze of stalls and narrow passageways.

If possible you could spend hours walking the narrow corridors, seeking the best photo opportunities. The halls are vast, the stalls many and the concentrated activity captivating. The ‘if possible’ at the beginning of this paragraph is key, though, as time is your enemy.

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Blog Note: Travel Coming Up

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Been busy prepping for a trip across the Pacific, into the Japanese rainy season. I’ll be a few days in Tokyo, about a week in Kyoto and then a week on the Big Island of Hawaii.

After much hemming and hawing, I now have my carry-on filled with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO. This is my main shooting setup for Tokyo and Kyoto, since it has good weather resistance. Alternate lenses for the Olympus are the 12mm f/2.0, the 25mm f/1.8, the 45mm f/1.8 and the 75mm f/1.8. The latter two because they’re so good. The first two because I might need that bit of extra aperture at dusk. Plus, except for the 75mm, they’re so light that it hardly makes a difference in weight to throw them in.

For Hawaii, the main setup will be the Sony A7r with the Sony Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 FE, an old Olympus 24mm f/2.8 and a Contax 90mm f/2.8.

I’m also throwing in the Pentax WG-III waterproof point-and-shoot for fun shots at the beach and while snorkeling.

Finally, I will take the Fuji X100s. I think. It’s in the bag, because it’s made for city shooting like I’m planning to do. But it doesn’t offer the weather-resistance of the Olympus and only offers 35mm. I regard it as my go-to camera, but in reality it often stays home or doesn’t get chosen when I go out for serious shooting. I like using it, but if I find that even during this trip I don’t reach for it much, I fear it will have to go.

So, my first real post last year was about shooting in Paris with three cameras and this year it will be about shooting in Japan and Hawaii with three cameras.

Depending on time and internet connections, I will report back once in a while during the trip and share my experiences with the camera and about shooting in these places.