Sunrise Country – DAY ELEVEN

After the Ginza and Akihabara experience, this next day was a special one. We have decided that our 5 person group should split in 2 different groups of interest, to cover more of the amazing Tokyo, based on what we intended to visit. The first group went to the Zoo in Ueno, a destination that didn’t bring me much excitement, compared to what I had as an alternative; so the second group, me and my best friend, had a different plan in mind.

Our journey started at Shinjuku Station. It is one of the largest train / metro stations with multiple exits where you could easily get lost. This day was the time when we returned to actually the first place we visited in Japan, since coming from the Narita Airport. This was a destination with a specific purpose.

I wanted to come back to my favorite photo camera shop – Map Camera, in Shinjuku, where I needed to get a new zoom lens, the Fujifilm XF 55-200mm OIS, that I could use for what we had ahead of us in that day.

It was a pleasure to revisit those places; same fervor on the small streets, through the lines of electronic shops. As I feel more attracted to the electronics stores, than those dealing with anime, manga, spare parts and video games, I may find Shinjuku district more interesting than Akihabara.

After completing my photo bag with a new tele zoom lens, we arrived, by train, in our main place of interest: Roppongi Hills. In the center of this district, there is one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo: Mori Tower.

With a height of 238 meters and 54 floors, this building is mostly used for offices. The first floors are reserved for restaurants and shopping galleries and the top floor is dedicated to the Museum of Modern Art and finally, an observation deck, the Sky Deck that is a great place to be.

The Mori Art Museum was using an advertising banner with one of the greatest artwork of the greatest sculptor from my country: Constantin Brancusi and his “golden bird”, standing gracefully as a statement of his creative genius and powerful universal spirit.

We have visited the museum and also the Star Wars exhibition (taking pictures was not allowed) and finally we went to the top floor, the roof observation deck, that also kept the Star Wars theme alive, by playing the orchestral music from the movie and having a chance to get photographed near a very realistic statue of Lord Vader.

But we were there for the view. And what panoramic view over the entire city!

It was my first chance to test my new tele photo zoom lens, up to a maximum of 200mm focal length on my APS-C sensor inside the Fujifilm X-T1. It was exactly what I needed, to get the distant areas of Tokyo, closer into my frame.

I was enjoying switching from my standard zoom lens, with a wide perspective over the panoramic view and the tele zoom lens, when some far away details were captivating for my cityscape panorama series over Tokyo.

It’s much better to let the photos speak for themselves. The sensation and the beauty of the moment are hard to describe in words. I was simply amazed by the immense 360 degree perspective over this urban infinity called Tokyo!

We stayed for almost an hour, contemplating the power of human will in this endless urban endeavor to conquer space, shape it and build it according to a never-ending, more demanding need for habitat space.

We left Mori Tower building with a sense of awe, while starting to discover the vicinity, walking on both large boulevards and the small streets.

During the daylight, we blended ourselves into the cheerful street atmosphere. Lots of people, heavy traffic, busy streets – every corner of every street that I photographed was like a genuine symbol of Tokyo’s energetic life.

After a while, we entered a bar for a refreshing local beer and then started again to explore. But the evening was already falling over the city, as we roamed the streets and interacted with the local people, asking for specific places of interest.

The night was coming fast as I was preparing to get my last set of photographs, documenting the streets and the places we have visited on our route.

It was about time to say “goodbye” to the Roppongi district, as the clock was moving towards the hour of our meeting with the rest of the group.

We thought about what route would be best to take to meet the others, somewhere in Omotesando. We decided we should get to the rally point by foot, as we always appreciated the calm and quietness of the nights, while walking in full security on the small streets of both Tokyo and Kyoto.

We used our map and our route went on a combination of map guidance and geographical instinct, trying to find some shortcuts through Roppongi’s narrow and dark streets. It was a completely safe walk, even if we heard that Roppongi, during the night (in some areas) could be the one zone of Tokyo that offers the least safety feelings, while walking alone in the night.

After a long time of walking on our shortcuts, the streets became wider, more crowded and with more lights and more activity. It wasn’t much longer until we finally reached our friends in the right meeting spot; in front of a restaurant where we intended to have diner altogether. But the restaurant was full with clients who already made reservations, so we tried to find another one. Our group became bigger, since one of our friends met 3 of his Japanese courses colleagues that were already living in Japan for a few months. We finally found a small restaurant that was open and had a long free table for a large group of already 8 persons and the food was delicious.

After the diner, we walked together for a while until our paths went on separate ways. His school colleagues went home and we took a very late night train to Nippori, where our hotel was located – our temporary home in Tokyo. We shared our Roppongi Hills impressions as the others shared their excitement about the Ueno Zoo experience. It was, as usual, a very long day with many kilometres “on board” from our daily Japan prowling discoveries. The next day was already planned; it included a shinkansen ride. Stay close as I will tell you another story of the greatness of Japan!

All photos and text – © Sebastian Boatca 2018 /

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