I’ve had the good fortune over the past 20+ years to be able to travel at least once or twice a year to Tokyo, Japan for work projects as well as on my own time and dime. Before that, I worked in Tokyo as a correspondent for an international financial news service.
My approach to photography in Tokyo is shaped by the knowledge that I’ll be returning, and thus am not pressured to try in a few days to photograph everything of interest. In fact, I’ve developed an approach that’s quite deliberate. I’ll return to locales to keep working the scene, sometimes for a number of years, until I feel I’ve done all I can at that location.
For the past two years, my main photographic focus in Tokyo has been the publicly accessible Eastern Gardens of the Imperial Palace in Central Tokyo. I shoot with both digital and film cameras, and my current “Imperial Palace Portfolio” is heavily weighted toward film capture. On my most recent trip last November, I had a few days for myself to do some shooting. I brought a Contax G2 rangefinder, with three of its magnificent prime lenses – the Zeiss 45mm F/2 Planar, Zeiss 28mm F/2.8 Biogon, and Zeiss 90mm F/2.8 Planar. I shot 15 rolls of film, five of Kodak Tri-X, and 10 color rolls, mostly Fujicolor Superia X-tra Premium 400, a domestic emulsion. I also included in the mix a couple rolls of CineStill X-Pro, the C-41 color film whose box speed is 50 ISO.
The pro-focused Richard Photo Lab in California processed all of the film. Kaimuki Camera, my long-time scanning and printing service bureau in Honolulu, produced high-res scans.
In nearly all of my photographs in the Eastern Gardens, I try to include part of the walls that dominate the outer edges of the Imperial Palace. Even after years of photographing there, I still find myself in awe of the strength and skill it took to cut the huge stone blocks, and then fit them together to make a graceful curve in every huge wall on the 379-acre imperial compound.
Floyd K. Takeuchi