Japan. Finally.

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima

Parked Truck, Miyajima

Harborland, Kobe

Digging for Oysters, Miyajima

Flowers, Kobe

White Van, Miyajima

Ferris Wheel, Kobe

Gondola Ride, Miyajima

Mount Misen, Miyajima

View from Mount Misen, Miyajima

Akasaka, Tokyo

Roller Coaster, Kobe

Meiji Memorial Hall, Tokyo

All Images © Emily Shur

Well gee, that only took three and a half months.  Above are 13 images from my most recent trip to Japan (which was 10 days in late March/early April).  This is kind of my first pass at an edit, and hopefully there will be more images to come.  This time I went with my husband, and we went to Tokyo, Kobe, Miyajima (a small island off the coast of Hiroshima), and then back to Tokyo for a couple nights before coming home.  I initially thought I would come back from this trip with a ton of new images.  Ten days in Japan, traveling to places we've never been before - it seemed like a definite recipe for photographic success.  But a couple things made this trip different from other ones.  For one, I did a shoot in Tokyo this time.  First time ever!  I photographed Shun Oguri for Vogue Japan which was pretty cool.  The last shot above is actually from my tech scout a couple days before the shoot.  Here is how the story looked:

It's funny how similar this shoot was to celebrity shoots here in the US.  I assumed there would be a ton of cultural differences, but in reality, there were almost none aside from the language barrier.  We shot at what was essentially a press junket, except in Japan press junkets happen at places like this beautiful landscape garden/historical building instead of The Beverly Hilton.  I had about 15 minutes with the subject.  There was a wardrobe stylist and a groomer.  He was quickly shuffled off our set and onto the next thing promptly after our time was up.  He was very nice and actually pretty cute.  One interesting difference, and one of the reasons I love Japan so much, was that we were not allowed to have any stands or carts on the grass.  So, no c-stands, no Magliner, nothing that could pierce the grass.  I put one pack on the ground and one assistant hand-held a light.  That's all we could do, so we were forced to keep it simple which I have absolutely no problem with.

All in all, the shoot took up a couple days between meetings, scouting, and shooting.  I was so happy to make the connection with Vogue Japan.  I stayed in Tokyo an extra day for the shoot and then took the train to Kobe to meet up with my husband.  The morning of the shoot I went to a pharmacy to get some meds because I felt slightly under the weather.  I assumed it was jet lag or just too much activity for this not very wild woman.  The pharmacist didn't speak English, but had a diagram of the human body with little call out bubbles to all of our different bits and pieces.  I pointed at the throat and the head, and he gave me three different types of medicine that I was to take at three different times of the day.  I followed his instructions the best I could based on his drawings of clocks and arrows to the respective medications, but by the time I got to Kobe I was full on sick.  I took a sleeping pill hoping I'd wake up in a different physical state, but if anything I felt worse the next day.  My husband took me to a Red Cross Hospital where we waited for an English speaking doctor.  Turned out I had tonsillitis, and he gave me (again) many different medications, but this time they worked.  So, I unfortunately spent the majority of our time in Kobe in bed or at the Red Cross Hospital.  I managed to take a walk one evening around Harborland which is the area on the water where our hotel was located and take a few pictures (above).  Hopefully one day we can go back and experience more of Kobe.  We did have a great meal at Medium Rare at the Oriental Hotel.  Highly recommend.

From Kobe, we took the train to Miyajima based on a recommendation from my parents.  We spent one night at a beautiful ryokan.  The majority of my favorite pictures from this entire trip were taken over the course of this 24 hours.  I could write a whole post on Miyajima itself, but I will nutshell it.  First of all, there are wild deer all over the place.  They come right up to you (mostly hoping for food).  It's sort of off-putting at first, but they are super gentle.  I eskimo kissed a few.  Second, the torii gate at the Itsukushima Shrine is pretty bitchin (first photo).  Your view of it  changes as the tide changes so there's a time of day where you can walk right up to it and another time of day where it appears to be floating.  It's definitely a tourist attraction and not an off-the-beaten-path type of thing, but there's a reason why so many people go to this tiny island specifically to see it.  Third, the hike up Mount Misen was actually really fun.  It took a while (a few hours), and was beautiful and kind of challenging.  At one point it looked like it was going to rain, but because of our altitude it actually snowed on us.  I was wearing suede Bottega Veneta ankle boots and was not really prepared for this amount of hiking or precipitation, but whatever.  It was a great experience that I doubt I'll get to have again.

Between the shoot for Vogue Japan, my tonsillitis, and all of our train travel, I wasn't able to dedicate as much time to picture taking as I have on past trips.  Surprisingly, I feel good about what pictures I did take instead of beating myself up for not shooting more (a new feeling I'm not quite familiar with).  And again, all I want to do is go back.

5 comments to Japan. Finally.

  • Lovely! Sounds magical all the way around… except for tonsillitis.

  • Hi Emily, your images are wonderful, I really enjoy reading your blog! I was curious to know how do you travel Internationally with film? Do you ever mail it ahead of time? Or do most countries let you get your film hand checked? Thanks

  • Hi Rashod,

    I usually do get it hand checked when possible. However, Japan is very film friendly, and their x-ray machines are made for much higher film speeds than the ones in the US and/or other countries I’ve been. I usually send my film through the machine in Japan and have never had a problem. Thank you for the compliment and for reading!

  • [...] Check out a slew of new photographs from Emily’s last trip to Japan on her blog. [...]

  • Thanks for the Response Emily! All the best