Six months prior to landing in Tokyo...
Justin contacted me about my pre-wedding portrait services. I am always impressed with folks like Justin, those who want their time in Japan to be special and ensure that it is by crafting a well-planned trip. Justin and his beautiful fiancé Tori were interested in having a multi-location portrait session in Tokyo. But they wanted to see some of the city that is a bit off of the usual tourist circuit.
Justin, a designer by trade, also needed to ensure that I would be able to provide a variety of imagery (fine art, lovey-dovey portraits, and street style). I was stoked to hear that the Canadian couple were looking for a wide-range of images and I quickly realized that Justin and Tori fit my "ideal client" description.
Over the next months, I scouted Tokyo for the perfect locations, spots that would offer Justin and Tori the variety of imagery they were looking for. I also made sure that the locations would be far removed from Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo Tower, or Shinjuku Gyoen. I was determined to delivery a set that no other couple would have framed on the wall.
Location One | Kagurazaka
Months later, Justin and Tori arrived in Tokyo. As soon as their jet lag curbed we met at Kagurazaka station, close enough to downtown to be convenient but far enough away to get some breathing room from the droves. After getting to know each other a little bit we began meandering downhill through Kagurazaka, a neighborhood with a rich history.
During the Edo period, Kagurazaka was located just outside Edo Castle's outer moat. Because of its location the neighborhood became an entertainment district, complete with restaurants and a slew of geisha houses. The neighborhood is now affectionately known as Tokyo's "little France." Sure, the bakeries, cheese stores, and amazing cuisine on offer are appealing. But, was Kagurazaka's alleys that I wanted to show Justin and Tori.
We meandered through the cobblestoned back-streets and admired the modern facades of the still-active geisha houses (one of the very few geisha districts still operating in metropolitan Tokyo), stopping every so often to make a portrait.
Before leaving Kagurazaka, we stopped at one of Tokyo's famous game centers so that Tori and Justin could try their hand at electronic taiko drumming (a bit of a couple's portrait shoot tradition). After a quick game, we hopped on a train at Idaibashi station and headed west to our second location.
Location Two | Nakano
Nakano station is just outside of Shinjuku (one stop on JR's super-express to be exact). Still, the special ward is much less busy that its rowdy neighbor. I selected Nakano as our second location because the neighborhood's iconic streets, old Tokyo ambiance in a condensed area. I knew that Justin and Tori would vibe with Nakano and I was eager to show them some of the character that can be found right outside of the big-city bustle.
We started next to Nakano station's mural, an attraction that is often overlooked but keeps me coming back. The happy, animal-covered mural made for an excellent backdrop before we moved to Nakano's trademark alleyways. For the next hour or so, we popped here and there, stopping for portraits and a break on my favorite bench in Tokyo.
Are you interested in a pre-wedding, engagement, or couple's portrait shoot in Tokyo? Don't wait... Contact me today to reserve your own portrait session in Japan's capital or beyond!
Award winning photographer based in Tokyo, Japan. Specializing in portrait photography, he shoots a variety of portraiture, editorial, and event, and commercial photography assignments. Andy is a husband, father, and lover of fried food.