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shelly han & alfie goodrich take a walk from asakusa to ueno a japanorama production | japanorama.co.uk/stekki


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素敵 すてき su-te-ki /ste ki/

adjective: beautiful, great, lovely, splendid, wonderful, nice

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index/ credits

credits EDITOR IN CHIEF Alfie Goodrich. SPECIAL THANKS & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Hiromi, Joe, Ami and Charlie [for putting up with and supporting me throughout the years], Gianluca Carrero [for the initial magazine template design], Matthew Lamb [for that chat in tbe van, on the way back from Kinugawa]. produced by japanorama www.japanorama.co.uk/stekki

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WELCOME TO STEKKI

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his edition of Stekki focuses entirely on the work of Shelly Han and is all from a walk we did together here in Tokyo a week or so ago. By day Shelly is a Policy Advisor for Economics, Environment, Technology and Trade. She has also worked in the US Department of Homeland Security. She speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese and in her life away from work, she is a portrait photographer. Shelly and I first corresponded back in 2009, when she was plannng a business trip to Tokyo and wanted a day tour and lesson combined. We never

got our time together as Shelly came down with a terrible case of flu. It was to be another five years before we finally met up. I do lots of tours and lessons for people visiting Tokyo. Each tour is as different as the person who asks me to put it together for them. Shelly particular wanted to focus on sharpening up her composition skills, get to grips with capturing motion and to generally hone her eye and try something new.

Alfie Goodrich, Editor in Chief Photograph by Ben Torode

These photos are the result. All were shot directly to black and white in the camera......�

See more of Shelly’s work here: http://www.camerakarmaphotography.com/

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Photos: Shelly Han Text by Alfie Goodrich

FROM THUNDER GATE TO CANDY ALLEY A photo-walk in Tokyo, from Asakusa to Ueno.

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Visitors to Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, light incense sticks to offer in the purification rite of entering the temple grounds.

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Joy on the face of one visitor as she reads the contents of the good luck ‘wish’ [omikuji] she just received.... The city I live in, Tokyo, is a fascinating place to shoot photos and over the years I have had the pleasure of combining my enthusiasm for showing people around with my work as a photography teacher: offering combined lessons and tours to visitors who want to explore and to learn something about the camera at the same time. Shelly first approached me five years ago, but a bad case of the flu stopped us from doing the lesson and tour she’d asked me about then. Fast-forward to the first week of June this year and Shelly found herself back in town for work and eager to catch up. Asakusa is probably one of the most touristy places in Tokyo but it offers some excellent opportunities for photography and there are as many offbeat little backstreets as there are tourist spots. Starting at the famed Kaminarimon [or ‘Thunder Gate’], with its giant red paper lantern, we headed straight for the precincts of the nearby Sensoji Shrine to soak up the rituals visitors go through when wanting to enter the temple itself. Shrines are all about luck for the living. Temples are for the dead and Sensoji has its share of ways to attract the favourable luck of the gods; from buying a ‘lucky charm’ or ‘omikuji’ near the entrance, wafting the smoke from incense over you to cleansing your hands and mouth with the holy waters from the elaborately designed fountain. The pictures in the first part of this feature show Shelly’s approach at capturing every aspect of the first part of the visitor experience to the shrine....

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< ABOVE and RIGHT: Wooden draws containing good luck ‘wishes’ or ‘omikuji’. Rattle the silver canister, withdraw a marked stick and take your wish from the corresponding drawer.

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Once you have read your wish, you tie it onto special metal frames .....

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ABOVE LEFT and RIGHT: Children and their parents cleanse their hands and drink from the waters at the head of the shrine in Asakusa, as part of the purification ritual before entering. FACING PAGE: Local children sheltering from the strong mid-day sun by a large taiko drum, used in the procession at the festival in their neighbourhood. Early summer is a time of many festivals in neighbourhoods all across Japan.

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A family and their children - dressed up in the traditional clothing for a Japanese summer fesyival - wait to cross the road and join the procession.

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Backstreet Tokyo is a wonderful world of shops, restaurants, sights, sounds and smells. This local store in a covered mall in Asakusa sports an odd selection of geisha wigs, samurai swords and other trinkets....

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A shopkeeper on Kappabashi, Tokyoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most famous street for kitchenware and restaurant paraphenalia.

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Customers in a small, family-run cafe in Asakusa chatting and watching daytime TV.

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Street mirrors in Tokyo offer an excellent opportunity to caprture some unique street scenes....

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A family cross the road near Ueno Station and the famous Ameyokocho market.

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A monk stands on the corner of Ameyokocho market and Ueno, offering prayers and good luck in exchange for some spare change.


Cactus, toy-soldier and bonsai seen in the window of a backstreet shop near Kappabashi. From Asakusa we walked a fairly well-trod route for me but one that never fails to deliver some lovely photos: through the backstreets of Nishiasakusa and Matsugaya, to Ueno, via Kappabashi. Kappabashi is Tokyo’s premiere spot for buying anything to do with kitchens or restaurants. If you need either cooking equipment, pottery or the paraphenalia associated with owning a restaurant, Kappabashi is the place to go. The streets between Asakusa and Ueno, that sit either side of Kappabashi, are often missed by visitors heading for the more well-known main street. Filled with neighbourhood cafes, hardware shops, butchers and more artisan folk such as wood-carvers, signmakers and metalsmiths, these neignbourhoods are well worth a look. Here the pace of life slows a little, away from the bustle of Asakusa Dori and the main street. On the day we visited, the local neighbourhood was having its annual matsuri or summer festival. Children decked out in traditional dress, carrying the ‘mikoshi’ or portable shrine, mixed with parents and other local residents. The weather was blistering hot but there was shelter to find and many nice photo opportunities to be had. Our road ended in Ueno, Tokyo’s busy northen rail-hub and we rounded-off our morning’s photography with a trip down Ameyokocho which literally translates as ‘Candy Alley’. A favourite haunt of American G.I.s after WW2, what was once Tokyo’s bustling black-market street is still bustling but with a more regular kind of trade in everything from fish, dried foods and tea to golf-clubs, discount clothing and perfumes. All in all, a wonderful few hours spent in good company. Shelly got some great shots and the whole experience of shooting in monochrome in-camera for the first time really helped her out.

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ilogue W

hen I first found Alfie’s website it was clear he could take great photos and had a fresh eye on a very over-photographed city. After our time together I can now say he is a that rare combination; a talented photographer and a great teacher. Within five minutes of meeting he had

already pushed me outside my comfort zone; in the most very kind way possible, of course! I came away from the lesson much more confident with shutter speed and enjoyed the challenge of seeing things in black and white. He also helped me think more concisely about framing shots and talked to me about how he “sees” his photos. I came

away with some photographs I really love and a lot more confidence in my street photography. “

Shelly Han

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stekki is a japanorama production | japanorama.co.uk/stekki 28_stekki


Stekki no.3 - Tokyo Photowalk: Asakusa to Ueno