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  • Experience Japan, A Japan Photo Guide With Andre and Evelyn

    Jan 23 | Evan | No Comments |

    This post is a LONG time overdue! After returning from my latest trip to Japan, everything just steamrolled together and between work and moving into my new home/studio, everything got delayed. In any case, I’m about to launch my new Japan Photo Guide website and decided it was about time to getting this post up on my blog. So without further ado…

    Andre and Evelyn were the latest couple to hire me as their Japan Photo Guide. Andre had been to Japan before for business but hadn’t had much time to explore on his own and speaks very little Japanese. Andre is also quite the hobbyist photographer so it made a lot of sense to hire me rather than a traditional tour guide.

    I’ve met a lot of people during my travels around Japan and taking Andre and Evelyn around Tokyo, Kyoto and a few places in between, felt more like traveling with friends and family than a job. Whether it is before photo shoot or tour of Japan, I always get a little nervous before meeting my clients-after all I had only emailed with Andre before meeting him at Narita Tokyo International Airport-but soon after picking them up from the airport, I knew I had nothing to worry about. Meeting and working for such warm and wonderful people, makes my job the best in the world! Furthermore, between our mutual interest in photography and our sincere love for yakiniku (Japanese style Korean BBQ), I knew we would be great friends!

    We spent most of our time in Kyoto and Tokyo, but did make a few stops in between. This was one of my more memorable trips, highlighted by our dinner experience with a geiko and maiko (geiko is what the geisha in Kyoto are called and maiko is a geiko/geisha in training)! I was going to arrange for just the two of them to experience the traditional meal and company of the trained entertainers, but since the geiko and maiko didn’t speak English, I came along as the translator–poor me!  Seeing a geiko walking around Kyoto is a rare opportunity that most travelers don’t get to see, but actually having a chance to have dinner and drinks with one is even rare for Japanese. Part of this is the price tag that comes along with such a treat, which can easily run $2,000 USD for about 1.5 hours of company and dinner for 3 people.

    Before going, Andre and Evelyn wanted to get dressed in some tradtiional Japanese clothes, and after a quick phone call, I was able to reserve some kimonos that were appropiate to wear to our experience. We arrived at the traditional restaurant and were of course greeted as VIPs. In our private room, the first course of our kaiseki (traditional Japanese course meal) was waiting for us. I’ve often heard that traditional Japanese food is “eaten with your eyes,” because of how beautiful the preparation is. This meal was delicious as it was carefully prepared and presented!

    About 20 minutes into our meal, the geiko, maiko and a musician arrived. I’ll never forget the moment they walked in and all 3 of us were suddenly silent and struck with awe. After introductions, things loosened up quickly and I was translating a lot of questions from Andre and Evelyn but also they had a lot of questions for us, as foreigners traveling in Japan. After teaching high school for 3 years in Japan, I can honestly say that the young maiko, really didn’t act too different from some of my students. Especially after the maiko insisted on playing with my iPhone and Andre’s camera!

    It is easy to forget that under all the clothes, makeup and tradition, that they are just like you and me. After about an hour or so of chatting, eating and drinking with them, the geiko and maiko performed two beautiful traditional dances. I’ve experienced quite a lot in Japan, but this experience with the geiko and maiko was incredibly wonderful and surreal. Certainly a memory I will never forget, but more importantly, I made friends in Andre and Evelyn that I will also never forget.

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    Evan vs Japan | Tokyo Destination Wedding Photographer

    Feb 17 | Evan | 3 Comments |

    Once realizing that I was going to have the opportunity to return to Japan to photograph a wedding photographer, I made two lists. Friends to reconnect with and food to destroy! Unfortunately, both lists were too ambitious and I didn’t get to see as many friends nor eat as many different kinds of food as I wanted to. Although, to say that the trip, portrait session and the wedding I photographed in Japan were wonderful, would be a huge understatement! Tomoko and Kohei, were simply adorable and perfect together. Between their broken English, my spotty Japanese and gestures, we were able to communicate fairly well (it’s good to know I haven’t forgotten too much). I had a blast hanging out with them and could really appreciate their kindness. It is always refreshing to meet wonderful couples like Tomoko and Kohei and such a pleasure to see how they interact with each other, which for them, the best way I can describe is like innocent school kids in love. Seriously, they were always playing with and making the other laugh. Very sweet and adorable! More

    Portrait Photography at a Japanese Restaurant … in Tokyo, Japan!

    Feb 13 | Evan | No Comments |

    I am so lucky to have a job that allows me to travel! Especially, when it means I get to go to places I love, like Japan! At the end of January, I returned to Japan for the first time since leaving in 2008 to photograph a wedding. I was only in Japan for one week and had a lot of friends (and a lot of food and coffee drinks) to catch up with, but in addition to the wedding, I decided to take on one portrait photography session as well. High school senior portrait photography isn’t a popular at all in Japan, but instead, especially for women, it is common to get some portraits done for Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi). Wikipedia explains it better than I can:

    [Coming of Age Day] is a Japanese holiday held annually on the second Monday of January. It is held in order to congratulate and encourage all those who have reached the age of majority (20 years old) over the past year, and to help them realize that they have become adults. Festivities include coming of age ceremonies (seijin-shiki) held at local and prefectural offices, as well as after-parties amongst family and friends.

    So in honor of Ayumi turning 20 years old, we did a photography shoot with her wearing her kimono. As you can see, both Ayumi and her kimono were beautiful! Ayumi and her family had picked out a spectacular restaurant to use as the backdrop for our session and after we finished taking photographs, treated me to a delicious lunch (again, I am so lucky)!