This new years’, our 13th at Mitakesan, a cold wind and rain blew from the desiccated Kanto plain rice paddies into the Okutama mountains and cedar forests. R and I slipped and slided on silvery trails through mist-draped woods. The sun stayed behind the clouds – did it ever really shine in these cold shadows, on this frigid earth? Rain and sweat chilled us both: hypothermia country. Fortunately, we made it off the mountain and onto a heated JR train back to the city and… a hot bath. Looks like we owe another one to the guardian spirits of the mountain – and the city.
Shinjuku is a micro-cosm of the city as a whole. A circumnavigation of Shinjuku Station reveals to the visitor Tokyo high city and low, from Asia’s largest blue-light district to the international architecture of the Skyscraper District, the unique six-block warren of hipster dive bars that is Golden Gai, Shinto shrines and shopping areas, and more. This photo gallery, made up of images taken over 13+ years of my time in Shinjuku, complements the visitor’s guide I recently posted, Tokyo High City and Low.
Shinjuku Station and Area “A perfect storm of busy-ness”
A peaceful Shinto shrine in the nightlife heart of Shinjuku
Not the most likely location, maybe, but one of Tokyo’s major Shinto shrines lies at the end of either of two nondescript paths. The name Hanazono means “flower garden”, so you can think of this jinja, “shrine”, as a secret garden just outside the Golden Gai and Kabukicho nightlife neighbourhoods of northeast Shinjuku.
The rest of the time, during the day at least, the shrine’s grounds make for a quiet retreat from Shinjuku’s bustle. Leastways, it felt that way when I visited the other day, during a welcome break from Tokyo’s August heat wave.
I took the pictures posted here with my (new!) Olympus e-p5 digital camera and M.Zuiko 18mm f/1.8 lens – a pretty sweet combination, I must say! The new electronic viewfinder really makes a big difference, especially for someone such as I who really has a hard time seeing screens in bright sunlight. I shot the stills in RAW and, after applying lens corrections in Lightroom 5, also added my usual tweaks including vignettes, exposure adjustments, and one or two other light treatments – my usual secret ingredients!