Not Over Yet (but it’s Getting There)

FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (14mm, f/4, 1/160 sec, ISO160)

Yes, I have been before but when I entered Japan in May 2022, when the country hasn’t opened up to tourists, I expected a quiet place. I was wrong.

In May 2022 Japan it was tricky to enter Japan. I needed to apply for a single entry visa for which I had to visit the embassy of Japan twice. One of my distribution partners needed to  get a permission for my visit and my main contact had to vouch for me. In addition there was a pre-flight Covid test. Another Covid test after arrival and of course I had to wear an FFP2 mask for the whole flight. And when in Japan all the time including outdoors. There is no rule to wear a mask outdoors but back then everyone did.

Even when I was in Japan again in December it was still the same. If you don’t want to stick out you better wear a masks.

FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (14mm, f/5, 1/140 sec, ISO160)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (14mm, f/7.1, 1/240 sec, ISO160)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (14mm, f/4, 1/60 sec, ISO1000)

I always thought that the young ladies in traditional clothing were tourists from China. Well, it seems I was wrong. Tourists from China were not allowed in May so it is likely that even some Japanese dress up to take pictures here.

The reason I came here was to see this place without all the tourists. It was still extremely busy. I must follow the advise of TokyoRohan on dpreview and come here after sunset. He took some fantastic shots here on a rainy evening.

FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (14mm, f/4, 1/60 sec, ISO320)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (23mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec, ISO160)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (23mm, f/5.6, 1/105 sec, ISO160)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (35mm, f/1.4, 1/1700 sec, ISO160)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (35mm, f/3.6, 1/800 sec, ISO160)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (35mm, f/4, 1/1800 sec, ISO160)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (35mm, f/2, 1/1000 sec, ISO160)

This place is special, those pictures don’t do it justice. The light was tricky that day. Very bland like it can happen in Asia sometimes where the sky is just a featureless white element in the picture. There is little you can do about it except to avoid outdoor shots altogether.

I took some very nice images on previous visits and the very best on my first visit which is strange. On the Taj Mahal my third and so far last visit produced the best images because I simply was overwhelmed when I saw it for the first time.

I think this temple is nice and is a good photo opportunity but I guess I got spoiled by the temples in India or Vietnam. Especially those in India offer a very special experience. The temples in Japan or Korea are “too clean” and even though they can be quiet busy the also feel kind of lifeless compared to the ones in India. I can’t really express this in English and to be honest I doubt that I could say it much better in German. A temple in India challenges all your senses, it truly moves you. It’s a completely different thing.

FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (14mm, f/7.1, 1/200 sec, ISO160)
FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (14mm, f/7.1, 1/125 sec, ISO160)

At the end I saw a couple of tourists and wondered how the managed to enter. Maybe they entered with a student visa or they also came for business, just like me. Anyway Japan felt very different last May compared to the times before Covid but I’m happy to report that it was almost back to normal on my last trip in December. All restaurants opened again and most finally printed English menus again. It was busy in the trains and on the street.

The only thing that remained were the masks. I guess it needs another summer before the Japanese finally stop wearing face masks.

FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (14mm, f/3.6, 1/60 sec, ISO250)