Old & New, Tōkyō

Old & New, Tōkyō

Despite a reputation for being a “futuristic city”, the very fabric of Tokyo is very much a blending of old and new. Japan and Japanese people may have (from a surface level) embraced technology, and modernity it is never really far from their deeper connection to traditional Japanese culture. Modernity is only a layer on top of a much richer history that is pervades all aspects of society. It may seem obvious that this is the case, however, the way that Japan is able to synergistically mesh history and modernity is noteworthy.

This post will focus landmarks of Tokyo that anchor Japan both in the past and present. The first image is a panorama of the Imperial palace, featuring the Nijubashi Bridge. When we first went to see the palace we did not realize that it entrance into the palace is generally closed to the public, except for two days of the year; the emperor’s birthday and the day after the new year.


Looking Towards Chiyoda

Even though we were not able to enter the palace it was a site to behold since it is prominently featured in middle of Tokyo amongst vast office blocks and towers. Two moats separate the palace and the palace grounds from the rest of the city. The image above depicts the outer moat dividing the palace grounds with the office buildings of Chiyoda, as well as the view from the palace.

Shibuya Crossing

One can not speak of Tokyo without mentioning Shibuya Crossing, the world’s busiest crosswalk. A stark contrast from the historical landmarks in the city but one that illustrates the duality between the “high-tech” Tokyo and the rich past of Japan.

Entering University of Tokyo

Akamon or the “red gate”, one of the main entrances into the University of Tokyo. One of the things I like doing is visiting universities wherever I travel to as it is one of the few places that tends to maintain historical elements of a city or countries. They are often like living time capsules that capture the essence of a place and its various transitions through time. Universities have the ability to form a bubble that is simultaneously disconnected from the world but have a tremendous impact on society. Below are some of the beautiful buildings in the main (Hongo) campus: Faculty of Engineering and Yasuda Auditorium.

University of Tokyo

Yasuda Kodo

Statue of Ōmura Masujirō


  1. Tell a Photo Story
    Many photographers, myself included focus heavily on getting that “one” image, the hero image of a trip. One image can have a strong story in it, but series of images tell a better story. Especially in travel photography, there are so many styles or elements that you have the opportunity to explore it would be a disservice to you and the locale if you came away with a series of unrelated but outstanding images. So the next time you venture out, think of how you can capture the essence of place through a series of images, they don’t all have to be technically astounding, but they should fit together in a manner that conveys an emotion or feeling for the place you’ve visited.
  2. Be thoughtful in Editing
    Further to telling a story with a series of photos, being thoughtful and reflective after the fact is immensely helpful. Often there is an overwhelming sense of excitement after taking a great photograph to edit and quickly publish it to the world. I’ve learned that it is far more beneficially to review your photos not only after you’ve finished a day of shooting but weeks or months later (depending on your timelines). The value of being reflective really helps you put together a story as you start finding gems that were initially cast aside. Personally, I filter through the same album 3 – 5 times from the time I finish shooting to when I publish a blog post or share the photographs online.

Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed the read.


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