A week in Tokyo

A week in Tokyo

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At the end of October I had the privilege to spend one week in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. What an amazing city and country! It is bursting with energy and activity during both day- and night time. It provides a mixture of atmospheres of the historic, ancient and traditional times and the modern, luxury, electronic- and gadget driven era we live in today. The food is healthy and outstanding and it’s people are friendly and extremely helpful and polite.

We arrived just before super-typhoon Lan, the second largest tropical cyclone on record, made landfall near the Tokyo area with ferocious winds and very heavy rainfall of more than 100mm a day. Luckily, shortly after Lan had moved on the weather turned for the better with blue skies, sunshine and comfortable temperatures.

With the digital version of the Lonely Planet Tokyo guide on my tablet, I started to explore the city, rapidly discovering that one week would be far too short. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world with almost 38 million inhabitants in the Tokyo metro area and more than 13.5 million inhabitants in the Tokyo metropolis area. Where was I to start?

The underground system in Tokyo is working flawlessly with trains running very regular on the 13 subway lines covering the city. This enabled me to quickly transport myself to and from the interesting districts, not losing too much time in transport. During my short stay I managed to visit many districts. From our base in Akasaka I visited Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi, Asakusa, Sumida, Ginza, Tskuiji, Harajuku, Shinjuki and Shibuya.

The centrally located Akasaka is a residential and commercial area and is famous for the Hie Shrine, a Shinto Shrine dating from 1478. From Akasaka it is walking distance to Tokyo Midtown, with the tallest commercial buildings in the city, and the Roppongi district, well known for it’s sprawling night-life. In the northern located Asakusa district lies the Sensō-ji, an ancient Buddhist temple and Tokyo’s oldest and most significant temple. In neighbouring Sumida stands the Tokyo Skytree, a broadcasting, restaurant and observation tower. With its 634 meter it is the next tallest structure in the world.

Ginza is a popular upscale shopping area in Tokyo, with numerous internationally renowned department stores, boutiques, restaurants and coffeehouses. It is considered one of the most expensive, elegant and luxury streets in the world. Close by is the Tskuiji fish market, which is worth a visit during the early hours of a working day to have sushi for breakfast, as I did. Another popular shopping area is Harajuku, with Takeshita Street and Cat Street, and is considered the Japanese youth culture and fashion district.

Shinjuku is a major commercial and administrative centre, housing the busiest railway station in the world (Shinjuku Station) which is crawling of people most of the day. Just north of Shinjuku Station you will find Piss Alley, a tight pedestrian street with many very small restaurants who can host only a few guests at a time. Although its name is not appealing, the food is fantastic! South of Shinjuku is Shibuya, another busy shopping and night-life district, and is most famous for the Shibuya Crossing. This large intersection stops all traffic to let pedestrians cross in any direction at the same time for approximately one minute. The Shibuya Crossing is often featured in movies, such as Lost In Translation and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

Enough with the words! A selection of 32 photos can temporarily be viewed on the Tokyo, Japan featured project page.

Cuba Book Preview

Cuba Book Preview

I am thrilled today! The proof copy of my first photography book is of to the printers this week.

The book is showing a selection of my Cuba photos, including some never before published images. It has been on my to-do list for a long time, but I never got around to finish it, until now that is!

Below is a preview of some of the pages of the book.


Fishermen of Polkata – Photostory on IGVP

Fishermen of Polkata – Photostory on IGVP

Today my first photo-story has been published on the site of the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers (IGVP).

The photo-story is about the daily life of the fishermen of Polkata at the coastline of the Bay of Bengal in east India. I visited the fishing village during a few days when I was staying for a week in the nearby city of Puri.

The selected black-and-white photos are from the gallery India: Polkata.

Postcards from Holland

Postcards from Holland

Windmill near Volendam, Noord-Holland

Due to family reasons I am currently spending some time away from home and back in my country of birth, the Netherlands.

Although I have visited the Netherlands the past years frequently I never spent much time to seriously photograph it. Actually, some Dutch cows are currently the only gallery in my portfolio from the country I lived in for more than 30 years (you can view them here).

Now that I have lived abroad for many years it seems that I view my previous home with different eyes. While I was living there it would not have had my preference to go out and shoot some images in stormy and cloudy weather, but it was different two weeks ago.

There was a heavy storm with very strong winds and regular rainfall a few weekends ago. Flights from Schiphol airport were delayed or even canceled and traffic on the roads was seriously effected. These were the conditions I went out with my camera (I did not even bother to take my tripod with me) and shot the attached photos.

“Towards the end” at the coastline of Petten, Noord-Holland

The “Mallumsche Molen” of Eibergen in Holland

The “Mallumsche Molen” of Eibergen in Holland

The “Mallumsche Molen” (Mill of Mallum) is located in the eastern part of Holland (the Netherlands) in the village of Eibergen, my hometown.

This wheat-mill was first built in 1188. The villagers of Eibergen were required to get their wheat grained at this mill. The mill existed out of two parts, a wheat-mill and an oil-mill. During a fire in 1746 both buildings were destroyed. In 1748 the wheat-mill was rebuilt. In 1960 the mill was completely restored.

Even at present day the mill is in operation on every Saturday afternoon and can be visited by the public for a demonstration.

The village of Eibergen, located along the river Berkel, originated in the 12th century. The river Berkel runs from Vreden, in Germany, to Zuthpen and was an important transportation route at the time.

For more information about the village of Eibergen please visit VVV Eibergen or Historische Kring Eibergen (both in Dutch).

The above image is a panorama photo built out of 8 individual images stitched together using photo-merge in Adobe Photoshop CS5. The image below is a single photo and a close-up of the water wheel of the mill.