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Camera Girls debutin picturesque Tokyo neighborhoods!

There is a growing number of Camera Girls who take stylish, delightful photos of everyday scenes with a single-lens camera. We accompanied a popular photographer on a walk to snap pictures and explore the backdrop behind the boom! We learned about the appeal of photography and some photo-taking tricks. (Top Image: Sculptured candies, Yoshihara)

An interview and walking photo session with ...
Kyoko Kawano (Kyon♪)

A photographer specializing in carefree, cute photos and a mother of one. Prompted by a strong desire to photograph the sky with an even more vivid blue, she purchased a single-lens reflex camera and became enthralled with the enchantment of photography. Her easy-to-understand photo blog has proved popular, and she began teaching women about photography and writing on the topic. Her publications include “Carefree, Cute Photography Lessons for Beginners” (Gijutsu-Hyohron Co., Ltd.).

http://camera.na-watashi.com/(Camera Woman Kyon♪: Simple and Sensational Photography)
http://photochocot.na-watashi.com/(Atelier photo*chocot: A teeny, tiny photography school)

More Japanese women are reaching for a camera! What are the reasons behind the boom?

There is a growing number of women discovering photography with a single-lens camera not only during trips, but in everyday life as well. Photography sessions at restaurants and cafes that exclusively cater to women are also enjoying popularity. What is behind the boom?

“About 1 or 2 years ago the number of women participating in camera events began significantly rising. There’s a boom going on. One reason for the popularity is probably the prevalence of blogs. Anyone can easily create a website, and more people want to take and share attractive pictures of their hobbies, such as cooking or crafts, that are a part of their daily life. Another reason is the fact that the marketing of mirrorless cameras allows them to easily take professional quality photos with the ease of using a compact camera. The amount of photography-related goods that target women, such as cute straps, has also sharply increased.

What is the real enchantment of photography?

“We constantly view our world with a casual eye, but looking attentively through the lens gives it a special beauty. It heightens sensitivity and brings joy to each day.”

Strolling downtown with a camera in hand♪Visiting Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi

The Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi area still retains nostalgic downtown scenery, including old-fashioned shopping streets, temples and shrines, and parks. Strolling along while looking at shops and taking an occasional break at a café, you can easily enjoy away a half day. Take a hint from Ms. Kawano’s pictures and explanations, and try taking a walking photo session yourself!

Tokyo Skytree seen from near the south entrance of Nippori Station. “To make the buildings surrounding the tower look like toy blocks, I took the picture with plenty of sky and cut the jumble of street stores that were in front of me. I put the white balance on “bulb mode” and added blueness to make the achromatic subject like this tower stand out.”

Yanaka, which is known for its numerous cats, has many different unique cat-shaped objet d’art here and there! “Taking a head on shot would be boring, so I took it at an angle and split the scene to give it movement. On the left is a path leading to the outside world, and on the right is the inside world of the store. The Skytree sign straddles the two worlds.”

Strolling and sampling old-fashioned rice crackers

“I took the rice cracker out of the wrapper to bring a vividness to the experience of strolling and sampling foods. As in this picture, taking a photo with the rice cracker in front and the store farther in the back makes it easier for the background to become unfocused. (Taken in “aperture priority mode” with the F value at minimum.)

A long-established rice cracker shop has continued producing its traditional flavor since the founding 100 years ago. The store has 8-10 types of rice crackers lined up in a row, including the popular “kenmaru” for 65 yen each! Between 1:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon, visitors have the chance to sample freshly made, savory soy-sauce flavored rice crackers.

“I wanted to create a nostalgic aura, so I set the white balance on “shadow mode” to add warmth. When photographing the outside of a building, make sure to check that the straight line is parallel to the picture’s edge. A photograph including the roof to the street would be too much information, so I selected the area I most wanted to show and cut out what was unnecessary to get a streamlined shot.”

Yanaka Senbei

7-18-18 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo Tel.: 03-3821-6421 Hours: 9:30 a.m.-6:00 pm.  Closed: Tuesdays

A shop specializing in the traditional Japanese art of sculptured candies

The beckoning cat is 1260 yen, and the crane 1155 yen. “To snap this photo, observe which lighting direction makes the subjects look most attractive. In this case, light was shining on the subjects diagonally from behind, so the transparency of the candies was nicely captured.”

This store demonstrates and sells sculptured candies. Heated candy is twisted and notched to create over 90 different shapes, including animals and flowers. Customers can also request different colors and poses. They taste good, but are so adorable that they are fun to look at for a while.

The “amepyon” starts at 945 yen. “Be careful of light reflecting and glaring off the wrapping. Change the direction to adjust for lighting position so that the reflection won’t cover the area you want to snap. To convey a girlish image, I set the white balance on “fluorescent mode” and covered the reddish-purple.”

Amezaiku Yoshihara

1F Tomoe Bldg., 1-23-5 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo Tel.: 03-6323-3319 Hours: 12:00 noon-7:00 p.m.  Closed: Mondays/Tuesdays (or the following day when it falls on a holiday) * The demonstration fee is a separate charge of 105 yen. Requests for demonstrations are accepted until 6:00 p.m.

Magnificent Shinto shrines and spring azalea are a spectacular sight

“Capturing long, vertical subjects at an angle fills the photo and tends to produce a closed-in feeling. To take a carefree, cute photo, I recommend snapping it at an angle and creating a margin. People walking under the stretch of torii archways would make the photo even more interesting.”

This ancient shrine is said to have been built by Prince Yamatotakeru. The Chinese-style gate and main shrine constructed in the Gongen-zukuri style in the Edo period by the 5th shogun Tsunayoshi Tokugawa still exist today, and have been designated national important cultural properties.

“Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples are really beautifully adorned! Each one has a different motifs so it’s fun to take photos from close up. Placing greenery in the background when photographing vermillion-lacquered shrines and gates sets off the red in the foreground.”

Nezu Shrine

1-28-9 Nezu, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo  Tel.: 03-3822-0753 Visiting Hours: 6:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (In summer, 5:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.)

Taking a break at a retro café reminiscent of the Showa period

The melon float is 600 yen, and the egg toast 350 yen. “It is best to utilize natural light streaming in from a window when photographing dishes at a café. The light coming from behind the subject gives the drink an enticing appearance and the food a radiance, making them look delicious.”

This café had been a place for the locals to enjoy some downtime since 1938, but closed its doors in 2006. Three years later it was reopened through the efforts of volunteers. The sentimental spot is a renovated town house from the early Taisho period that has an amazing at-home feel.

Kayaba Coffee

6-1-29 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo Tel.: 03-3823-3545 Hours: 8:00 a.m. -11:00 p.m. (Sundays until 6:00 p.m.) Open year round.

This is the camera I used!

For this shoot I photographed everything in “aperture priority mode.” I set the exposure compensation at about +1 and used an OLYMPUS PEN equipped with light tone auto filter function.