After more than two years I’m finally back in Japan but it wasn’t easy.
During my last trip in February 2020 the headline news was a cruise ship in the harbour of Yokohama. On board the first Corona patients outside of China. Back then I had no idea that it would took more than two years to come back here. Since the outbreak of Corona Japan has closed its borders to foreigners and that is still the case today.
There is an exception for business people and students in place since April. In order to apply for a visa I needed a personal invitation from my distributor including a person who would vouch for me. In addition a lot of paper work, a negative PCR test according to Japanese standards, proof that I’m tripple vaccinated and an additional PCR test right after I landed in Tokyo in order to be allowed into the country. In short: it was complicated.
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (23mm, f/2.8, 1/170 sec, ISO160)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (14mm, f/2.8, 1/125 sec, ISO2000)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (14mm, f/2.8, 1/15 sec, ISO6400)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (14mm, f/2.8, 1/80 sec, ISO160)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (14mm, f/4, 1/60 sec, ISO320)
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max (5.1mm, f/1.6, 1/50 sec, ISO80)
Because my original flight got canceled I now arrived already on Saturday and flew off on Monday the next week so I had 9 days in total. So while during the week my schedule was busy with meetings, business lunches and dinners I also had two weekends. Time enough to do all the things I love to do when in Japan.
This is still the same great country that I love because of the people, the food, the safety and precision and also the geekiness but it felt different compared to two years ago. In Japan you could always see masks especially in the winter time but now it was all masks, everywhere and all the time. Everywhere includes outdoors. Strangely there is not even a mask mandate but simply every single person wears a mask all the time. So of course I had to do the same. The only time without mask was in my hotel room or when I was eating.
Next there were almost no foreigners on the streets. Japan used to have 30-40 million tourists a year and now they have zero. Even though I was covered with a mask I managed to scare some small kids that maybe saw the first foreigner in their life.
Last but not least: English is gone! Before the Olympic games Japan made big efforts to make life easier for tourists. There were more English signs than before and most restaurants had menus in English language. Well, that’s not longer the case and if there would be no Google translate app this “gaijin” would have been in serious trouble. I would survive though because my Japanese is limited but very food centric.
On this trip I took a lot of images. I mean really a lot. I just missed the experience to be in an exotic place again and for me Tokyo is an exotic place. Just as Vienna is an exotic place for someone from Tokyo.
On the weekends I shot my camera. This was the first time I brought my X-Pro3 on a trip and it worked exactly like my X-Pro2 before which is a good thing. The X-Pro2 is my favourite camera of all times and the X-Pro3 is just as good. The rear screen design is not an issue at all for me to the point that I forget that it is there. Like I always forget that cameras are competent video devices too I simply forget about the screen feature for street shooting. Maybe I should put a yellow sticker on the back to remind me that I have this option now. No changes on the lens front: XF14/2.8R, XF23/2WR and XF35/1.4R is what I took as always.
During the week I solely relied on my iPhone 12 Pro max which is good enough if there is no real time for photography. I will also make a blog post about all the food I had during this trip. I couple of years ago I took those food shots with my camera but changed that when I got my iPhone Xs. It just feels less strange to use my phone for that.
We always want to see something new and different. That’s the reason why we travel. And Tokyo is different, very different. More soon.