5 frames with...

5 Frames With A Contax G2 – By Floyd K. Takeuchi

January 13, 2019

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

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  • Reply
    Adrian Rose
    January 13, 2019 at 10:13 am

    Hello Floyd. Many thanks for these 5, which I enjoyed very much. Having had the good fortune to see the walls first hand I fully understand why they have this draw for your eye! Sadly we arrived too late to enter but the exterior views were very impressive. A nice post.

    • Reply
      January 14, 2019 at 6:06 pm

      Thanks, Louis and Adrian, for the kind comments. I should have also noted that time of year also plays a big role in how one “sees” the Eastern Gardens. In late 2017, I was in Tokyo in early December. Many trees still had their fall colors, which led me to print a few images from that trip in color (I was shooting digital with a Fujifilm X100, the first generation model). But I still managed to get a wall into the shots!

  • Reply
    Louis A. Sousa
    January 14, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    Wonderful images.

  • Reply
    Kevin Thomas
    January 16, 2019 at 1:53 am

    Great – now you’ve made me want to visit there 😁😁. I can totally understand the draw of the location. Great pictures, too.👍

  • Reply
    January 16, 2019 at 2:21 am

    Thanks, Kevin. Let me know whe you’re headed to Tokyo. I can recommenda terrific noodle shop very close to the Eastern Gardens’ public gates on Hibiya Dori.

  • Reply
    January 28, 2019 at 1:20 am

    These are, needless to say, enlightening shots of the gardens. The last time I was there was in 1968 when I experienced the late razing of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel. I am still kicking myself for not getting inside the barricades and shooting the event. Five shots may have said it all if chosen wisely.

    This needless and bitter feuding between a man and his concept of security currently seething in the U.S. has drawn attention to concepts of the use and intrinsic nature of walls in general. When one considers the majesty and humbling beauty of the East Garden walls, it is almost impossible to conceive of their original purpose. When I am forced to reflect on that sole purpose, I am repulsed, and unfortunately, the grander the wall the more forceful the the more humiliating the notion of exclusion.

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