Yokohama Illuminations (or The Loneliest Day of the Year)
December 24th is probably the loneliest day of the year. At least, it is if you’re living in Japan and you’re single. Christmas Eve in Japan is unlike the rest of the world in that it has somehow become the equivalent of Christmas Day and Valentine’s Day rolled into one. Kids get presents, couples stroll about hand-in-hand looking doe-eyed and love-dumb, and everyone eats cake and KFC. If you’re not one of these couples, December 24th can put you in the mood for wishing everyone would choke to death on their cream-filled patisserie – that, or each other’s tongues.
But I’m not bitter,no. Instead, I went to Yokohama with a group of 16 photographers and spent the day shooting. My friends Jess and Hai over at Notes of Nomads organised a trip to Minato Mirai in Yokohama for photographers of all levels and experience. Not only does it give everyone the chance to practise their photography skills, you have the chance to meet new people, swap tips, and help raise money for It’s Not Just Mud, a disaster-relief volunteer-group based in Tohoku.
We met in the afternoon and wandered around by the harbour for a while before heading over to the fairground across the way from Cosmo World. The timing was perfect. The sun had just set, but there was still enough light to make for some great background colour in the sky as we photographed the fairground rides. I had lugged my unwieldy tripod around with me all day just for this, as I wanted to play around with long-exposure shots, something for which a tripod is absolutely necessary.
Later, we thawed ourselves out in a coffee shop and made bokeh covers for our lenses. I had neglected to bring my zoom lens, so was unable to get any really good shots, but it was a good chance for me to help pass on my own experience of experimenting with this last winter.
For each photo-event, Jess and Hai organise a competition for the participants. As a belated Christmas present, I found out this morning that my image (the one at the top of this post) had won the competition! So, I shall shortly be in receipt of a DIY pinhole camera and a gift voucher to go crazy with on Amazon. I suspect I shall invest in a good pair of earplugs for doing all the live shows.
Thanks to Notes of Nomads, to everyone who voted and to all the photographers who braved the freezing temperatures to make a lonely day much more fun!!