The Beauty of Tokyo When Night Falls

Tokyo is an amazing place filled with life, light, and interesting people. This is a city that never sleeps, the energy exuded by everything in Tokyo is still felt even at night and one might even say that Tokyo transformers itself into a totally different city when the sun goes down.

Enjoying the Nightlife of Tokyo: Where to Go and What to Do

The capital city of Japan has one of the weirdest and most interesting nightlife options in the world. From robots to maids, this quirky city holds nothing back with their concepts. Here are a few examples of the best and most interesting places to be in Tokyo after hours.

  1. Robot Restaurant
    The world famous Anthony Bourdain has once been recorded saying that this place has the best show on earth. Robot Restaurant is filled with lights, women, and robots. Sit back in their futuristic chairs, drink a bottle of beer, and watch a show of women in bikinis battle it out on top of robots. It might sound like something only a man would love to see, but many women have said that they thoroughly enjoyed the show as well. This is definitely something that can only be seen in Japan.
  2. Kodoji
    Kodoji is a very small, yet famous, photographer’s bar located in the Golden Gai district in Shinjuku. It is a cool little bar where many of Japan’s local photography scene gathers. From the sheer amount of rare art books to the prestige of the photographers who visit, Kodoji is a fun place to grab a drink.
  3. Zoetrope
    Located in the cool and hip Shinjuku district, Zoetrope’s main point of attraction is the amount of top shelf whiskey that it serves. With classic silent films playing behind them, the bartenders guide guests through their selection and help them choose an appropriate glass for their night. The one thing most people go there for is the Minnoh Beer. This stout from Osaka has won the award of the best beer in the world multiple times.
  4. Any Maid Cafe in Akihabara
    These cafes are something that one must experience when traveling to Japan. They might be pricey, but it is something of a cultural phenomenon that one must see to believe. Some of them stay open late at night with hostesses being a little bit less childlike and more sensual to court guests into buying more drinks. Just head on over to Akihabara and let the maids on the street guide you to one of these cafes.

Low-light Photos: Photography Tips for Explorers of Tokyo at Night

It is not uncommon for places around the world to keep things quiet and calm once the sun sets. Tokyo, on the other hand, is one of the rare few that gets livelier and more beautiful. The neon lights and the tall buildings are the beautiful backdrops to the numerous people still roaming the streets. Everything within this urban jungle is picture perfect and will make any photographer giddy with excitement. Even for amateur photographers using their smartphones, this city will make you want to take your next Instagram photo. Here are some tips for those who want to make the best out of their Tokyo at night photography session.

The first thing that one must always prepare when taking nice photos is the equipment. Aside from your choice of camera, one good piece equipment to take with you would be a tripod. The flexibility and usage of a tripod do wonders on expanding a number of pictures that you can take. It effectively lengthens your reach, thus giving you more angles to shoot from and it provides a stable base which is crucial to low-light photography. The second piece of equipment to consider would definitely have to be wide-angle lenses. While not 100% necessary, wide-angle lenses work wonders in night photography. Wide-angle lenses allow the sensor to gather as much light as possible at faster shutter speeds. The use of this type of lens will allow you to capture images faster while keeping blur to a minimum. The third item to consider would be a lens hood. This prevents lens flares from light sources that you do not intend to include in your composition. An example of this would be when you are shooting the Shibuya crossing and want to exclude the cars from the shot. The lens hood prevents the light from the cars from entering the sensor of the camera. Another good item to bring with you would be a flashlight. Flashlights are used to lighten up foregrounds without the use of a flash.

Another big thing to consider would have to be the exposure time. This is the biggest question asked by most amateur photographers. The understanding of photography basics really come out when taking photos at night. When the sources of light are few but powerful, a simple change in aperture or shutter speed would turn the simple combini store into a mess of lights or complete darkness. There is a bright side to this corundum. The number of ways to capture a single image multiplies at night. This allows the amateur photographer to play with the different settings and create photographs that they have not done before. Simple things such as changing the shutter speed can change the image of Shibuya crossing into a river of blurred people crossing the street. The best way to get past the question of what is the exposure time would have to be to take as much varied photos as one can and maybe take note of how each one was taken for future reference. A trick that professional photographers use in determining exposures in low-light situations, is called High ISO Testing. This involves the use of high ISO and a fully opened aperture. The idea here is that each click in increasing the ISO and keeping the aperture fully opened cuts the exposure time in half. So using a little math, one can backsolve their way to the corresponding ISO and aperture size with a right amount of exposure time. This allows for less time wasted on experimenting and more time composing and taking the actual photo.

The last thing that most professionals advice to amateur night photographers is preparation. At night, everything is harder to maneuver around. Looking at the screen, to fidgeting with the setting, and grabbing equipment from your bag is much harder in low light situations. This makes a good understanding and familiarity of one’s own camera, its settings, and dials, as well as equipment, key to making the night photography session a success. It is also vital to brush up on the basics of composition as it is close to impossible to get a good shot using the auto function of the camera. This is where the flashlight, mentioned earlier, comes into play. It allows the photographer to see the dials at night, as well as get a handle on the surrounding area. It is also best to prepare for the night photography session beforehand by getting the layout of the intended subject areas during the day. It is best to prevent accidents or unforeseen occurrences from happening by familiarizing oneself with the area beforehand. The best thing to do would be to travel to your intended destination a little bit before the sun sets to give some leeway for setting up the equipment. Asides from the extra photos that one can take during the magic hour, one is given sufficient time to see the differences in lighting situations during this time.

How to Get Wallpaper Worthy Pictures in Tokyo at Night

Tokyo is one of the best cities to take urban photographs. It is filled with good amounts of concrete and foliage, as well as a diverse set of people. Many photographers, both amateur and professional, have used Tokyo as the setting for their images as this city is noisy, crazy, and beautiful. The possibilities for photographs are even more diverse at night as many areas of the city are beautiful to capture in the low light conditions. The following have been tried and tested to yield beautiful and powerful images perfect for your next Instagram photo, gallery showing, or desktop wallpaper.

  1. Shibuya Crossing
    Crowned as the busiest pedestrian crossing on the entire planet, Shibuya crossing is perfect for taking photos of people backdropped by the neon lights of the buildings. It has been estimated that around a million people use this crossing every day. This crossing has been used by many professionals in the past. From fashion campaigns to movie shootings, there are many images to draw inspiration from.
  2. Yoyogi Park
    Yoyogi Park has been known as a melting pot for many of Tokyo’s younger generations. Stuck between Tokyo’s most colorful and artsy streets, Shibuya and Shinjuku, Yoyogi Park has been known to many as the favorite place for the young, wild, and free to gather. This park is perfect for getting portraits of people having fun and interacting with each other. At night, this place will allow one to take photos of people with a more dramatic lighting, which allows more features to stand out more. 
  3. Chuo Street, Ginza
    Chuo street is the main road for the city’s high-end district, Ginza. This place features many modern buildings and fantastical architectural styles, unseen anywhere else. Perfect for taking photos of building lit up with the night sky as its background.
  4. Roppongi Hills
    Roppongi Hills, along with Ginza, make for the best places to get modern architectural photographs. 
  5. Aoyama Cemetery
    This is an area that has been long considered a secret treasure trove by local photographers. Aoyama cemetery is the oldest in the city and has many features that make it seem almost like a park. Using the graves as the subject and the city of Tokyo and the Tokyo Tower as the background can yield a very nice photograph.
  6. Harajuku
    Harajuku should come as no surprise as a great place to take photos. From the quirky street fashion to the rows of colorful stores, this area is ripe with interesting subjects that are a great contrast to the darkness of the night. For those who are determined to take photos of the eclectic youth of Japan, head on over to Jingu Bashi bridge by the entrance to Yoyogi Park.
  7. Kabukicho
    The is probably one of the grittiest places in the World. Located in Shinjuku, Kabukicho is filled with lights, strangers, and danger. This was known to be a place where the gangs of Tokyo gather and thus caution must be taken when taking photographs here. 
  8. Omotesando
    Omotesando is another area of Tokyo that is filled with many shopping arcades and local designers. From the interiors of the shops to the clothes of the people, Omotesando exudes cool. At night, when the stores close down, Omotesando turns into a quiet place where a few skateboarders and youngsters hang around in. It won’t be hard to grab a few shots of kids hanging around lit by the street lamps of this district.
  9. Yurakucho
    Yurakucho is one of those places where many of the older generations of Japan hang out after hours. This place has not changed how it looks or feels for almost 70 years and is a favorite place to capture the street food scene of Tokyo. This street, under the railway tracks, contains rows upon rows of izakaya and ramen stalls that light up under the darkness of night.
  10. Center Gai
    Center Gai, a small street in Shibuya, is the perfect place to take photos of the neon lights of the commercial signs. Several Japanese subcultures are also known to hang around in this area and one may take photos of them.

How Bright Does Tokyo Get at Night: Tokyo as Seen From Space

As mentioned earlier, Tokyo is amazing at night. It’s lights, people, and buildings, still come to life even in the darkness. This is true even when you are thousands of kilometers away in space. In the year 2002, an American astronaut named Don Pettit had made a way to capture photographs of cities at night from the International Space Station. He, along with his fellow astronauts had taken numerous photos that showed how beautiful the lights of the roads and cities look all the way up in space. Tokyo was one of the most raved about cities as it glowed a distinct blue-green color. This is because the streetlights in the little island nation are gas discharge lamps. The lamps used vaporized mercury, which is blue-green in color, in lighting up their streets. This has resulted in Tokyo keeping itself unique even all the way up in space. Another unique thing about Tokyo would be that right at the center of it would be a large dark circle. This spot in the center of the city is the Emperor’s residence. The imperial family of Japan did not want to live under the glaring lights of the city, so their residence and the park that surrounds it does not contain a single streetlamp. This has made it possible for one to actually pinpoint the emperor’s palace all the way up in space.

From way up in space to the small izakayas in Yurakucho, Tokyo has a lot to offer at night. The lights, the people, and the energy are totally different when the sun sets and everyone is bound to have a great time exploring the urban jungle that is Tokyo.