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05.17.2016

We just recently returned from an awesome 30+ day tour of Japan and the people, food, opportunities, and sights were all amazing, it seemed like there was always a surprise or something new around every corner.

During my winter wildlife tour we visit a few different areas of Japan but before that tour officially begins we had the chance to spend a few days in and around the greater Tokyo area doing street shooting and visiting some of the most photogenic tourist hotspots. This post features some of my favorite images from around Tokyo.

The 24-105mm F4 DG OS Art is my standard short travel lens, the focal length range and compact size makes the perfect compliment to my 120-300mm F2.8 DG Sports and 150-600mm DG OS Sports lenses, giving me coverage from 24-600mm. I never leave home without it!

© 2016 Robert OToole | All Sigma 24-105 art lens and Nikon D810.

© 2016 Robert OToole | All Sigma 24-105 art lens and Nikon D810.

© 2016 Robert OToole | Tuna being cut to order at Tsukiji using a long Maguro bōchō or Tuna Knife. Sigma 24-105 art lens @ 48mm and Nikon D810, 1/60s, f/4, ISO 140, EV +0.0, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.

© 2016 Robert OToole | Tuna being cut to order at Tsukiji using a long Maguro bōchō or Tuna Knife. Sigma 24-105 art lens @ 48mm and Nikon D810, 1/60s, f/4, ISO 140, EV +0.0, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.

© 2016 Robert OToole | Tokyo tower and Roppongi hills view. Sigma 24-105 art lens @ 48mm and Nikon D810, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 4000, EV 0.0, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.

© 2016 Robert OToole | Tokyo tower and Roppongi hills view. Sigma 24-105 art lens @ 48mm and Nikon D810, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 4000, EV 0.0, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.

 

First Stop Tsukiji

Tsukiji is Tokyo’s biggest fish market that sits right on the waterfront of Ginza, one of the most luxurious and upscale shopping districts in the world. But the Tsukiji central wholesale inner market is about as far from luxurious or upscale place as you can get. It’s a huge super busy chaotic cold wet place where thousands and thousands of slimy, rough, spiny, bony, shelled and sometimes bloody, wet creatures of all shapes and sizes are being sold. This somewhat crazy mix of people and things offers photographers almost unlimited opportunities and lots of fun if you can avoid getting run over by the motorized market carts.

© 2016 Robert OToole | Tuna seller boss negotiating a sale. Sigma 24-105 art lens @ 82mm and Nikon D810, 1/60s, f/4, ISO 500, EV +0.0, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.

© 2016 Robert OToole | Tuna seller boss negotiating a sale. Sigma 24-105 art lens @ 82mm and Nikon D810, 1/60s, f/4, ISO 500, EV +0.0, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.

© 2016 Robert OToole | Tuna being cut up with a bandsaw after being raised with a motorized lift. Sigma 24-105 art lens @ 75mm and Nikon D810, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 1100, EV +0.0, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.

© 2016 Robert OToole | Tuna being cut up with a bandsaw after being raised with a motorized lift. Sigma 24-105 art lens @ 75mm and Nikon D810, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 1100, EV +0.0, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.

The biggest draw to the Tsukiji market is without a doubt the wholesale tuna sellers in the central market. Chefs, restaurant owners and other buyers from all over Tokyo stop there every morning to buy fresh tuna. The sellers will cut up the huge tuna with bandsaws then slice them down into big chunks with long tuna knives called Maguro bōchō. This is the type of thing that brings tourists and photographers from all over the world. Each year I look forward to visiting Tsukiji with my tour group but sadly, this is the last year at its current 81 year old location. It is being moved down the street to a new updated facility and the current layout with inner and outer sections, wholesale and retail, will be separated.

© 2016 Robert OToole | Tsukiji fishmonger taking a moment getting ready to process a giant tuna. Sigma 24-105 art lens @ 24mm and Nikon D810, 1/60s, f/4, ISO 1100, EV +0.3, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.

© 2016 Robert OToole | Tsukiji fishmonger taking a moment getting ready to process a giant tuna. Sigma 24-105 art lens @ 24mm and Nikon D810, 1/60s, f/4, ISO 1100, EV +0.3, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.

 

Mount Fuji

We escaped the high rises and commuter rush hours in Tokyo to visit a small town on the slopes of Mt Fuji which is Japan’s highest mountain and best known symbol. Along the way we had the pleasure of meeting some very helpful and friendly locals. In Japan all you need to do is look a little lost and the locals will stop and offer help.

© 2016 Robert OToole | Pagoda with a snow-capped Mount Fuji in the distance. Sigma 24-105 art lens @ 24mm and Nikon D810, 1/500s, f/8, ISO 200, EV +0.0, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, Jobu Design Algonquin Carbon Fiber Tripod and Acra-tech GP ballhead.

© 2016 Robert OToole | Pagoda with a snow-capped Mount Fuji in the distance. Sigma 24-105 art lens @ 24mm and Nikon D810, 1/500s, f/8, ISO 200, EV +0.0, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, Jobu Design Algonquin Carbon Fiber Tripod and Acra-tech GP ballhead.

Tokyo City and Culture

© 2016 Robert OToole | Sigma 24-105 art lens @ 24mm and Nikon D810, 1/250s, f/4, ISO 360, EV +0.0, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.

© 2016 Robert OToole | Sigma 24-105 art lens @ 24mm and Nikon D810, 1/250s, f/4, ISO 360, EV +0.0, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.

Every time we visit Tokyo we always stop and visit with this shop owner in Akihabara electronic town. She speaks zero English and none of us speak Japanese but is always a nice experience to see her again. The size of her shop is almost shockingly small for a someone from outside of Japan.

© 2016 Robert OToole | Takeshita street in Harajuku district is a good place to see tokyo youth sub cultures and always worth a visit to people watch and have a chance to do casual street shooting.

© 2016 Robert OToole | Takeshita street in Harajuku district is a good place to see tokyo youth sub cultures and always worth a visit to people watch and have a chance to do casual street shooting.

Takeshita street in Harajuku district is a good place to see tokyo youth sub cultures and always worth a visit to people watch and have a chance to do casual street shooting.

 

Coming soon, Japan Photo Tour: Winter Wildlife on Hokkaido

© 2016 Robert OToole | All images Sigma 150-600 sports lens and Nikon D810.

© 2016 Robert OToole | All images Sigma 150-600 sports lens and Nikon D810.

 

For more information on my 2017 city/wildlife tours to Japan visit this link. If you have any questions or comments be sure to share ’em in the comments section below.

Robert O’Toole is a Sigma Pro and has been a professional photographer for more than 20 years. As an accomplished instructor, Robert leads photography workshop tours across the US and internationally. For more info visit Robert’s web site at robertotoolephotography.com

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