Month of Photography, Tokyo 2006

The annual Month of Photography, Tokyo will be held during May and June 2006. Besides the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, many photo galleries in Tokyo will hold a diverse array of photo exhibitions.

The main exhibitions will feature photos from provincial cities which hold photo festivals such as Higashikawa in Hokkaido, Shunan in Yamaguchi, Sakata in Yamagata Pref., and Sagamihara in Kanagawa. Also, Vietnamese photographers will also be featured for the Asian photographers exhibition.

Highlights are as follows:

Photo Culture in the Provincial Cities
Photos by overseas photographers in the collection of Higashikawa, Hokkaido.
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (3rd floor)
June 1-18, 10:00-18:00 (till 20:00 on Thu. & Fri.), closed Mon.
Sample photos:

Asian Photographers 2006, Vietnam
Photos by various photographers in Vietnam.

Hanoi Emotion
Konica-Minolta Plaza
May 19-29
Sample photos:

Image and Shadow
Canon Gallery Ginza
May 29-June 3
Sample photos:

Olympus Gallery
June 1-7
Sample photos:

Portrait Gallery
May 30-June 18
Sample photos:

Vietnamese Women Photographers
Aidem Photo Gallery – Sirius
June 1-7
Sample photos:

Day of Photography Exhibition
Shinjuku Park Tower Atrium (not at Ebisu Garden Place)
May 31-June 8, 10:30-18:00, (till 17:00 on last day)

1000-Person Photo Exhibition
Featuring photos submitted by 1,000 people.
Shinjuku Park Tower Atrium (not at Ebisu Garden Place)
May 26-29, 10:30-18:00, (till 17:00 on last day)

Photographic Society of Japan Award-Winning Works
Featuring winning works of PSJ’s annual photo awards.
Ginza Fuji Photo Salon
June 2-8, 10:00-20:00, (till 14:00 on last day)

For phone numbers, addresses, and directions to the galleries, see PhotoSpaces at

Detailed schedule (in Japanese) provided at the PSJ site:

Organized by the Photographic Society of Japan (Nihon Shashin Kyokai) with the cooperation of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. Tel: (03) 5276-3585

Leica Camera Japan opens new store in Ginza

On April 22, 2006, Leica Camera Japan opened a new store in Ginza. It is the first store in the world to be operated by leica. Besides selling Leica products, it will have a repair center and photo gallery. Elliot Erwitt is showing until July 2006.

Address: Tokaido Ginza Bldg., 1st and 2nd floors
Ginza 6-4-1
Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Hours: 11 am – 7 pm, closed Mon.

April Fool’s at

What I would call the Japanese version of dpreview (minus the forums) is run by camera mag writer Kumio Yamada. People who cannot read Japanese and only look at the images and headlines might be fooled into thinking that those incredible camera announcements are really true.

Well, the long, elaborate entry for April 1, 2006 is a joke. He did it last year as well, and more than a few people outside Japan fell for it. This year’s joke included his announcement of the Nikon D80 with a 10-meg CCD sensor to succeed the D70, and Canon EOS-1Ds Mark X to be marketed in the fall. FujiFilm’s new D-SLR called FinePix S4 Pro is to be based on Nikon’s F100 film SLR. At the end of the entry in red Japanese text, he apologizes and says it’s an April Fool’s joke.

April 9, 2006: Japan Day in Helsinki, Finland

On April 9, 2006, the Annantalo Arts Center in central Helsinki will be holding its annual Japan Day event featuring various Japan-related events and exhibitions. In one exhibition room, I will be showing 25 pictures of Japanese women in Japanese costumes (kimono, etc.) and a short video of Japanese festival movie clips. This is only a day-long event/exhibition.

I won’t be there, but if you’ll be in Finland, please drop by. I hear that the Japanese ambassador to Finland will attend the event as well.

Update: The Japan Day was a jam-packed success. Photos here:

Buying a hard disk in Japan

So I just bought another external hard drive to store my digital photos. It took about a year to fill up my last hard drive, a Buffalo 250GB drive.

I hated that Buffalo 250GB (HD-HB250U2 to be exact, with a USB 2.0 connection ). It was so slow. But it was cheap, less than 20,000 yen. Unfortunately, it took almost forever to copy or transfer images. Transferring a measly 2 GB from my internal hard disk to the Buffalo took over 45 min. Needless to say, it also took a long time to make backup DVDs from the Buffalo too. It was such a pain.

The main reason why I bought it is that in Japan, Buffalo seems to be the most popular HD brand. At Yodobashi, that’s all you see pretty much. The other HD brands are far less visible compared to the stacks and stacks of red Buffalo boxes in front of your face.

So for my new HD, I was determined to get a faster HD. I did some homework and here’s what I found out.

Most hard drives now spin at 7200 rpm which makes it faster than the 5400 rpm of older drives or portable HD models. The rpm is clearly stated on the packaging. But often times what you don’t see on the package (or specs) is the cache memory size. The larger the cache (or buffer) memory, the faster the HD will be when you transfer data to it. The big problem with Buffalo hard drives is that almost all of them don’t say how large the cache is. There’s only one model that says 8 MB cache (but only 250GB). That’s why Buffalo is cheap it seems. So if it doesn’t say how large the cache is, we have to assume that it’s small (and slow).

If you look around, you’ll find other brands which may say 8MB or 16MB cache. But those models are significantly more expensive (maybe 30,000 yen or so). Except for one: Maxtor

Maxtor has 300GB hard drives with 16MB cache costing less than 25,000 yen, hardly any difference in price with the el cheapo Buffalo. So I bought a Maxtor, and wow, it’s fast. I have it connected to FireWire (IEEE1394) and this probably makes a difference too. On paper, USB 2.0 supposed to be faster than FireWire, but during actual use, I’m told that FireWire is faster. So I bought the HD which includes both USB 2.0 and FireWire ports.

The one I bought was the Maxtor E30G300. They also have a USB-only model (cheaper) and a Macintosh-formatted model which is significantly more expensive. I use a Mac, but I bought the cheaper Windows version and just formatted it with my Mac. They should sell the Mac version at the same price as the Windows version. I think it was 5,000 yen more. Not worth it when you can easily reformat a Windows HD for your Mac.

The only problem with Maxtor in Japan is that it might be difficult to find. I went to Yodobashi, Tokyo’s largest camera/computer shop, and the Akihabara store did not have the one I wanted in stock. The Kinshicho branch also had none. Finally, they told me that the Ueno and Shinjuku branches had it in stock. So I went to Ueno (only two train stops away from Akihabara) and got it.

Yodobashi has a good online inventory system, so they can tell you which branch has what. If your nearest branch doesn’t have what you want, ask if another branch has it. Then go there and get it.

I think from now on, it will be Maxtor HDs for me. As long as their prices are low, the drives are fast, and it doesn’t crash.

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