Posts tagged “Photography

The Misconception of “Tokyo = Japan”

This topic has been on my mind for quite some time especially after living abroad and hearing from my non-Japanese friends talk about their travel experiences in Japan. Especially after the 3.11 crisis, one of the first reactions I noticed was the foreign concern over whether or not Tokyo was affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Second impression was people saying “Oh Tokyo is not affected, phew then everything is cool”. I agree, Tokyo is the capital city; center for Japan’s politics, economy, culture and society and if Tokyo was hit hard by the earthquake and tsunami, the effect on Japan and the entire globe would have been detrimental(hence the nuclear reactors were strategically tucked away in a local environment but we can talk more on this later). But from my experience abroad, besides a small number of Chinese people who have come to  love the flower gardens in Hokkaido, most people will definitely start off in Tokyo and maybe visit Kyoto to see the “ Real Japanese culture” if they have time. I think it’s right to say that most people can’t name another prefecture other than Tokyo or Osaka. From this concept  it is not a mistake for foreigners to think that Tokyo is what Japan is all about. But from this 3.11 crisis and the effect of the Tohoku region to the rest of Japan has taught us that a much more balanced country with resources spread across the entire country is desperately in need.  But domestically speaking, why is everyone moving to Tokyo? This summer I have spent much of my time traveling around the local scenes around Japan and I can clearly see that not only the birth rate in Japan is in decline but it’s even more severe in the regions outside of Tokyo. “The youths have all left and found a new living in Tokyo and Osaka” said one of the shop keepers in Miyazaki prefecture.

This trend of human resources, information technology centering in Tokyo has stopped the development of other areas in Japan. When in times of crisis I can’t stop but to think of how the US has New York as its financial center and Washington DC as the center for politics; China has Shanghai and Beijing … you get my point. But this nuance of “If I go to Tokyo, I can make something/prove something for myself” ideology still exists today especially within the youth. It’s also interesting to note that the flexible and easy passage to Tokyo, making it possible for anyone in Japan to relocate to Tokyo. For a comparison with China, it’s not that easy for a Chinese person living in a third tier city to move into Beijing just because there’s more opportunities in Beijing. You need to have enough money saved up to get by in Beijing. Either way, this crisis has taught us many lessons and this idea of centralizing everything into Tokyo needs to stop now and regional government bodies need to step up. Is another round of Tokyo re-bidding to host the 2020 summer olympics really necessary? I’d prefer seeing Hiroshima and Nagasaki co-host it more than anything. Surprisingly enough I run into people who are surprised that the city or Hiroshima still even exists today…

I don’t know the GDP break up of Korea off the top of my head but Seoul as the financial center and capital could be similar to Japan as its proximity to the North Korean border(DMZ) has always been a concern to many of the Korean specialists that I have come into contact with.

Around Shibuya Station in Tokyo in the afternoon with busy traffic

A platform at JR Shibuya Station

The JR Subway Map at Shibuya Station. Most prefectures surrounding Tokyo have benefited from the proximity to Tokyo and its relatively cheaper real estate.

[Photo Essay] 798 Art District During Blue Hour

Beijing may not have the flash of Shanghais bund view and skyline but 798 Art District is Chinas answer to Greenwich Village and SOHO in New York. This art zone is a thriving artistic community that attracts artists and visitors from in and out of China. Located in Dashanzi of Chaoyang District, Beijing, this art district and its galleries thrives among 50-year old decommissioned military factory buildings, making it interesting to look at the archetecture. This photo essay takes a look at 798 Art District during blue hour, which refers to the period at twilight in the morning and evening where there is neither full daylight nor complete darkness.

6:30pm: Man walks by a dinosaur exhibit. Visitors can interact with public art throughout the entire art zone.

6:45pm: It is starting to get darker but on the bright-side, its only during this time that one can enjoy a moment with the artwork since daytime is always crowded with visitors.

6:50pm: The outlines of this cage-exhibit is seen in contrast to the blue hour-sky.

7:00pm: One of the main galleries, 798 Space Gallery, is seen in this image.

7:15pm: This artwork is titled "Man at Work". Sky is completely blue at this moment.

8:00pm: One of the sub-factories at 798 art district is seen next to an old railroad.

[Photo] View from Jingshan Park, Beijing

It’s been an interesting year as many of my friends from Japan and the US has visited me thus far. I think I was slowly getting used to the same old routine of sleep, eat, and work and I rarely had a chance to get out and see Beijing these days. Here is a photo that I took from the top of Jingshan Park, located directly north of the forbidden city.

[Photos] Beijing Jungle, Behind the Scenes of Pets Conspiracy

I’ve been posting and tweeting a lot about Japan these days, for obvious reasons, and I didn’t get a chance to post photos from the beginning of the month when I was an honorable extra for a China based band, Pets Conspiracy‘s music video shoot.  When people ask me what Beijing is like compared to other cities around the world, I can’t come up with a better analogy than saying that “It’s like a jungle”. There’s so much going on in Beijing  and I believe this energy level I can feel from this amazing city and its people is what attracts so many people to come here. Survival of the fittest might even fit in this analogy with Beijing. But what happens when you actually have animals taking over Beijing? This is what happens: Beijing Jungle. Enjoy the photos from the shoot and I will update my site when the actual music video comes out. Also, see if you can find me.

[Flashback] Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture 2010

I debated whether or not I should post these photos but I can’t stop but to think of Matsushima, one of the three views in Japan. Located in Miyagi Prefecture, Matsushima is a group of 260 islands, in various sizes, covered in pine trees. With the earthquake last Friday, I have seen many sources that this scenery is now gone and 600 people were killed in this area. I saw twitter feeds saying that the tsunami came through Matsushima and now it is empty and it doesn’t have the same feel that it did last week before the earthquake hit. For the latest updates on Japan’s situation and road to recovery, I am translating Japanese media into English on my twitter feed @gokatayama. Feel free to follow me and join in on the conversation.

[Photos] Jinshanling Great Wall

There’s a famous saying不到长城非好汉 – “He who does not reach the Great Wall is not a true man”. I don’t like writing about some of the touristy aspects of China, since Beijing has way more to offer than just the main tourist destinations and other writers can rant about that, but not many people know that there are various sections of the Great Wall that is open to tourists. The most touristy part of the wall is the easiest to get to and, in my opinion, the most un-authentic part of the wall: Badaling Great Wall. During peak season at Badaling, you will have to physically wait in line to climb the great wall. There are many other sections of the wall but here are some photos from Jinshanling Great wall from November 2010. It’s a bit harder to get to since it’s 100 kilometers away from central Beijing but if you want to experience the Great Wall where there’s not to many people and hike through the beaten paths, Jinshanling Great Wall is the best choice for you.

[Photo] Fukuyama, Japan

There’s a saying in Japan “haya oki wa san mon no toku” meaning “Waking early gets you three mon”, in other words “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” So this past break in Japan I tried to get up early enough so that I can capture the start of the day in Fukuyama city in Hiroshima Prefecture. Nothing special as you would see in the metropolis of Tokyo but it’s got a nice vibe to it.

[Photo] Bank of China Building in Hong Kong

This photo was taken earlier this year when I was in Hong Kong at night. The reflection of the building across from the Bank of China building can be seen.


[Photos] Wuyuanqiao, the far North East Corner of Beijing

Way past Sanyuanqiao and Wangjing, to the north east is Wuyuaniqao. Not too many people get to come out this far, well, since there’s nothing out here but a bunch of migrant worker communities, repair shops and factories. But I used to walk around here a lot when I was teaching English at the migrant school on weekends. In the early mornings at 7am theres already a lot of movement in this area as workers and shopkeepers get busy making breakfast food. You can get here easily by taking the .4rmb(7 US cents) buses from either Lianmaqiao or even from Guomao and get off at Dongxindian.

In front of a cleaner are pool tables and locals enjoy a game of pool as they await customers

A man prepares a giant crape for breakfast. 2 rmb(30 US cents) per crape.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Photo] All Aboard

I enjoy taking trains all over China exploring the various landscapes but the moment you board the train is always an exciting moment filled with anxiety for the journey ahead and relief that you caught the train on time. The photo  below is my attempt on trying to capture this moment and feelings before I boarded the train at Baotou, Inner Mongolia en route back to Beijing for a 14 hour train ride. The longest train ride that I have ever experienced in China is 45 hours from Wuhan to Urumqi in Xinjiang province to the far west. You basically have 4 options in China on a train: standing, sitting, hard sleepers and soft sleepers. Obviously, the soft sleepers are the most expensive and you get a private compartment that can fit up to 4 people. Long distance train rides are great environments to converse with local people and connect with their lives over instant noodles or drinks.

At Baotou Railway Station boarding the 14 hour train ride back to Beijing

Creative Commons Licence
Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at