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04-01-2008, 05:35 PM   #1
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My Trip to the Pentax Forum, Tokyo-Japan December 2007

Hi all,

I thought I'd share a little from my visit to the Pentax Forum in Tokyo, December 07. I'm a little slack in posting and can't believe i've left it to now to do so.

Here is a link to the forum: PENTAX Forum : PENTAX

Anyways myself and my wife had 1 full day in Tokyo and it is amazing how much you can do in 15hrs. Prior to leaving Australia on our 6 week world trip I made it a priority to visit the Pentax Square just to check it out. It was a challenge and going off unrelaible maps we found it. It is nestled away and you would only really find it if you knew where you were going. But it was a rewarding experience nevertheless. Infact it was like a kid in a candy store. On display and available for play were all the camera body models like the K10, 100 etc. Also the medium format camera as well. As well as all the DA & DA* lenses and medium format lenses. Even old film bodies displaying a timeline of cameras were set up.

Being December the new ones like the 200mm, 300m and 35mm macro weren't realesed and the K20 would probably still have been in production or awaiting release. The announcement was 6 weeks away.

I had a great time and no doubt my favourite was the glass cabinet with all the Pentax lenses. I wish I could have taken them all. But a stint in a Japanese jail wasn't appealing.

Availabe to buy were lenses and things like a shirt, cap accessories, calenders etc. Having to buy something as a reminder I managed to get a really cool hard cased weather sealed 8 SD card holder, which came in very handy for the rest of my trip.

For any Pentaxian heading to Tokyo the Forum is a worthwhile visit. The attached Gallery was great and an exhibition runs all the time. I was luck enough to talk with a Pentax Pro who was displaying his work. He loved the fact that Australians were using Pentax and encouraged me to spread the word. He also was very happy to give some pointers and explain the story behind each of his images.

Here are a few images from the forum, but it is much better to be there in person.

Cheers,

Matt

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04-01-2008, 05:40 PM   #2
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Looks like a really cool place. Were you drooling when you walked out? haha
04-01-2008, 05:46 PM   #3
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More like crying! Being a millionaire would have been nice. I'd have bought everything and sent it home.
04-01-2008, 11:01 PM   #4
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I was there less than a week ago and in the second room behind the customer service counter there are a bunch of computers and they appear to teach photography classes. I believe the classes are taught in Japanese, so it is of no use to me.

I walked into the room, looked around, decided that something was going on, and walked out.

Pretty cool place, but really not much to buy, especially when compared to the other Shinjuku stores selling all those lenses next to other brand lenses.

04-02-2008, 09:41 PM   #5
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hey bud, i'm heading to Japan in about 27 days... Care to share some other photos you took in japan? I could use some inspiration, tips, etc.
04-03-2008, 12:44 PM   #6
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I discovered that I have bad allergies in Tokyo, and if you have Cedar or Juniper allergies, I'd suggest starting loratadine or similar OTC stuff one week in advance of your trip, to get it in your bloodstream and have it work. Japan doesn't sell OTC antihistamines, and I had to buy benedryl as a "sleep aide", after consulting the internet for a long time and searching high and low for a pharmacist who had it.

My photos tend to be tourist stuff – things like my head being an inch below the shower ceiling, photos of me in front of big buildings, and photos from a baseball game. I can dig out some of my better shots later, if I remember.

If I had it to do over again, I would catch more "Japanese" only events. I'd watch a Kendo tournament, or sumo. It will probably be too late for cherry blossom photos, but I don't know for certain. I'd catch some drumming.

Baseball in Japan was something else, and I'm glad I went, and it is very different than in the states. But the photos still look like baseball.
04-03-2008, 05:48 PM   #7
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Here are some of the photos I took. I am not a trained photographer, and the photos are just for fun.

The egg shaped building is right next to the underground market where Pentax Square is located. The night photo was taken from the bar seen in the movie Lost in Translation - the Park Hyatt hotel. If you go before 8pm there is no cover charge and you can drink something for $17 and enjoy the view. Much better than paying $15 to see the top and not get a drink.

The park photos are from the Imperial Garden in the heart of Tokyo. It is possible that the steps leading to the tree are from another park.

I was only there three days.
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04-04-2008, 09:32 PM   #8
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Sounds and looks awesome. I'm sure i can find my way around to all the places you mentioned. I can't wait to go, i'm going to take so many pictures. I'll be spending a week in Tokyo, a week in Osaka, and another week in Kyoto. Was getting around difficult for you at all? Did you subway it? $17 for drinks is expensive. I hope not everything is pricy.

04-05-2008, 06:46 AM   #9
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I bought day passes for the subway for $15, and I think it saved me just a little cash vs. buying individual tickets every time I travelled. These day passes go by a specific name, which I don't remember, and look like a scratch-off lottery ticket. You scratch your month and date. Then you walk through at the attended booth instead of using the electronic gates. The attendants often handle multiple people at once, some complaining, some using day passes, etc. Cut through the rabble with a determined stride, holding your ticket out just enough to keep the attendant from closing the gate. Most of the time the attendant won't even really look at the ticket and you'll just walk through. I've heard nasty rumors that you can choose not to scratch the date and nobody will notice. But that would be wrong. And every once in a while a zealous attendant will scrutinize carefully.

I had a tour book that listed sights, foods, etc. by district, so I'd hop on a train to a part of the city and refer to the book for recommended activities. This worked out pretty well for me.

The subway system is intimidating. I always carried a subway map. The lines will be listed by color, by name, and by destination. So if you know you want to go on a red line, look for the red signs with the Marunouchi name and then know the names of stops on the direction you want to go, because one side of the building will go towards your destination and the other side will go away. Then throw in that a single subway station can connect 4 or 5 lines, each with two platforms for either direction, and most stations have multiple underground floors. The system is easy enough to use when you know what to look for.

Pay attention to the line names too, because they use similar colors. Dark blue can look like light blue.

Japan is expensive. Really expensive. If you don't have much money, research the free things you can do and eat at 7-Eleven.

I have no idea about cities outside of Tokyo. I can only imagine that they have even fewer signs in english and are probably very difficult to navigate as a foreigner.
04-06-2008, 04:44 PM   #10
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Japan is a photographers paradise on a number of fronts. shops shops and shops of camera gear. I've never been more excited in my life. There are a few 2nd hand stores, one in Kyoto I can remember had a good selection old old and new Pentax lenses. It is one one of the main streets near a Huge Bowling alley, not much to go on though.

You should visit in Tokyo: Shibuya at night, infact anywhere at night will be better, i like doing night shots and the colours made available from the lights are cool. Asakusa Markets, Government Building in Shinjuku - has a good looout over the city. Try to get there just before dusk to get day, sunset ansd night shots all in one. Note, getting a good night shot of the city will be tough. I wasn't allowed to set my tripod up on the window sill and there is too much reflection from the inside lights. If you use photshop you can mess with the levels to make the shot acceptable.

Kyoto - you should not miss the Fushimi Inari shrine, that was my favourite place by far and very different. I've had a shot accepted in the PPG of this, check it out:

PENTAX Photo Gallery: Artist Bio - Matt Streatfeild

There is also a large temple on top of a hill in Kyoto, the name escapes me but you will get some good shots. Do plenty of walking there is always something unique to shoot. You'll be surprised what a BW conversion can do some some of your pics.

Can't speak for Osaka, didn't make it there. Have a great time.
04-06-2008, 10:15 PM   #11
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you guys have been a great help! My gf thinks we're going as her post-graduation getaway, i'm really going for the photo opportunities! I got about 20 gigs of free space on my laptop... it might not be enough! Switch - did you think it was expensive there as well? I love your photos man, good eye, great job - especially the picture of 'one in a million'. Night shots would be really cool. i'm gonna bring my tripod for sure now, i don't care how heavy it is (Manfrotto 190). btw, i planned a stop at Shibuya station...
04-06-2008, 11:52 PM   #12
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Thanks for the comments. Expense wise I didn't it was too bad. At the time the aussie dollar to the Yen was pretty much even given or take a couple of cents. If you're smart with where you eat and sleep you can do pretty well. If your happy with backpacker accomodation you'll get a great service and product. We stayed at a place Sakura Hostel in Asakusa, real close to the temples and where the "one in a million" shot was taken. The bullet trains are a bit expensive. From Tokyo to Kyoto you'd be looking at about $120-130 USD one way and maybe a little less from Kyoto to Osaka. Don't forget that time is money also. I'd rather spend a little extra on transport for a comfortabe FAST ride than take a slow train or bus. It's all relative. A good Tripod is a must. You'll kick yourself if you don't take one.
04-07-2008, 06:59 AM   #13
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Be sure to browse the local casinos in Tokyo! My friend got himself an FA* 200mm macro for $100!!! And just two weeks ago, another friend was approached by a Japanese casino player (who lost most likely!) and was offering him an FA*200mm (non macro version, but brand new in box, plastic and little silica gel packs) for about $500... still cheap for an FA*! Dunno what's with losing casino players and FA*200's but their casinos are definitely worth a visit!
04-09-2008, 03:09 AM   #14
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I've lived in Japan for over three years now and I'm always finding something to take pictures of, even though I don't live in a major city.

I find Osaka and Kyoto very easy to get around and take photos and during festival time it's a blast. If anyone has any more specific questions about Japan, let me know. Here's some photos:

Random Japan

Kyoto
04-09-2008, 04:56 AM   #15
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Hey! I have just been there (Pentax Forum in Tokyo) in January too! My wife and I were on our honeymoon in Japan for about two weeks. We spent about 1 week in Kyoto and another in Tokyo. I took heaps of photos in Kyoto but not much in Tokyo. I most of my photography shopping in Tokyo I think. Compared to Australian Pentax price, Japan is pretty cheap. But if you compare to US price, then I think they are pretty similar.

cheers
Kenny
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