PhotoFAQ Index

Index of FAQ (frequently-asked questions) pages:

PhotoGuide Japan FAQ
FAQ about this Web site.

Japan Photos FAQ
FAQ about our online photo collection/gallery/albums at PHOTOGUIDE.JP/pix/.

PhotoWho’sWho FAQ
FAQ for famous Japanese photographers and their biographies at PhotoWho’sWho.

PhotoVendors FAQ
FAQ about camera stores in Japan, stock photography agencies, buying vintage photos, renting camera equipment in Japan, and photo schools.

PhotoRepairs FAQ
FAQ about camera repair centers for major camera manufacturers in Japan as listed in PhotoRepairs.

PhotoSpaces FAQ
FAQ about Japan’s museums, galleries, photo salons, and other exhibition spaces listed in PhotoSpaces.

PhotoBookstores FAQ
FAQ about major Japanese bookstores stocking a good selection of photo books.

PhotoReviews FAQ
FAQ about PhotoGuide Japan’s book review page for Japanese photo books, magazines, and CD-ROMs.

PhotoPostcards FAQ
FAQ about vintage and modern Japanese postcards.

PhotoOrganizations FAQ
FAQ about major pro photographer associations and imaging industry-related organizations in Japan, as listed in PhotoOrganizations.

PhotoLibraries FAQ
FAQ about museum libraries in Japan that have a good collection of photo books and magazines, as listed in PhotoLibraries.

PhotoSpaces FAQ

What is PhotoSpaces (under construction)?

Listings of Japan’s museums, galleries, photo salons, and other exhibition spaces (such as department stores) which hold photography or camera exhibitions regularly or occasionally.

For the Tokyo area, Tokyo Art Beat provides an excellent list of photo exhibition museums, galleries, and other spaces.

What types of photo exhibition spaces are there in Japan?

Basically, we can categorize exhibition spaces as follows:

  • Photo galleries (Free or rental)
  • Art galleries
  • Museums (public and private)

Almost all photo and art galleries have free admission, while museums usually charge admission.

Where’s the exhibition schedule of the photo galleries and museums?

PhotoSpaces does not provide exhibition schedules. In English, you can find exhibition schedules as follows:

In Japanese, you can find exhibition schedules as follows:

  • The gallery or museum’s Web site (if available)
  • Major camera magazines such as Asahi Camera and Nippon Camera.

Exhibitions run for only one to two weeks at most galleries. It is much longer at photography museums.

What should I know before visiting a photo museum or gallery in Japan?

You should make sure that the place will be open. The gallery or museum can be closed on any day of the week. Most are open on weekends and holidays (see list below), but others are not.

For large museums, arrive at least 30 min. before the closing time. Otherwise, entry might not be permitted. Also note that on the final day of an exhibition period, the gallery may close earlier than usual.

What days are national holidays in Japan?

New Year’s Day (Jan. 1)
2nd Mon. in Jan. (Coming-of-Age Day)
Feb. 11 (National Founding Day)
Mar. 21 (Vernal Equinox)
Apr. 29 (Greenery Day)
May 3 (Constitution Day)
May 4 (Children’s Day)
(The week-long period spanning Apr. 29 to May 4 is called “Golden Week.”)
July 20 (Marine Day)
Mid-August (Obon summer vacation)
Sep. 15 (Respect-for-the-Aged Day)
Sep. 23 (Autumnal Equinox)
2nd Mon. in Oct. (Sports Day)
Nov. 3 (Culture Day)
Nov. 23 (Labor Thanksgiving Day)
Dec. 23 (Emperor’s Birthday)
Year end and New Year’s period refers to the last few days of the year (around Dec. 28-31) and the first few days of the year (around Jan. 1-4). Many museums are closed during this period.

Note that if a national holiday falls on a Sunday, Monday becomes the holiday.

How long do photo exhibitions run?

At most galleries, one to two weeks is the average exhibition period. It is much longer at photography museums.

What about maps to the photo museums/galleries?

For Tokyo-area venues, see Tokyo Art Beat. Also see etc. magazine for art museum/gallery maps in English (might be slightly outdated).

Lastly, check the museum or gallery’s Web site to see if they have a map in English (they would have a map in Japanese). PhotoSpaces may provide Web site URLs for museums and galleries.

How do I hold a photo exhibition in Japan?

Basically, there are several ways to exhibit in Japan:

  • Use a rental gallery where you pay money to rent the space for a certain period.
  • Apply for an exhibition at one of the free photo galleries operated by the major camera and film makers.
  • Enter and win a major photo contest whose winners are given an exhibition.
  • Become famous enough to be invited by a museum or gallery to hold an exhibition
  • Become friends with a gallery owner who is willing to give you an exhibition.
  • Participate in local art festivals or exhibitions.
  • Negotiate with department stores, coffee shops, and other local public establishments which may allow you to show your photographs.

If you are rich enough to rent a gallery, it’s quite easy. Just contact the gallery and reserve a time slot. Be prepared to pay around 20,000 yen per day to rent the gallery. The minimum rental period is usually 7-10 days. Some rental galleries require certain standards in the quality of the work to be exhibited. If your work does not meet their standards, you might be rejected. Exhibition-quality prints may also be required. The gallery may also take a large commission (as much as 50%) on any print sales. You will also have to pay for frames/matting and publicity postcards. The total bill will be considerable.

A cheaper (but more difficult) way is to apply for an exhibition at one of the galleries operated by a film or camera maker such as Fuji Film, Canon, Nikon, and Kodak. Find out the deadline (usually every month or once every few months) and entry rules, then submit the required number of sample photos. If you pass the judging, you will be notified of an exhibition slot which is usually about a week long and a year in advance. You are competing against many other people, so the chances of getting in are pretty slim. Places like the Nikon Salon have applications in English. Most other galleries require you to communicate in Japanese only.

If you’re a famous photographer, you may be invited to exhibit in Japan by a major gallery or museum. That’s when you got it made.

Having a gallery connection is also a secure way. If you know a gallery owner or know a friend who knows a gallery owner, you may be given an exhibition if the owner likes you and your work.

Some small cities like Kamogawa in Chiba are very art-oriented and welcome participation from the public or foreigners during city-sponsored art events. If you get involved in your local community, there may be local venues to show your work. Sometimes there are exhibitions where anybody can submit a photo. For example, the Month of Photography event in Tokyo has the 1,000-Person Photo Exhibition every year for this purpose.

Japan also holds many, many photo contests. There’s even a magazine called “Photo Contest” which lists all the photo contests that are held. Some of them are major competitions from which major photographers made their debut. Besides an exhibition, the winners get a lot of media attention.

*Also see an excellent article by Tokyo art critic Monty DiPietro on trying to hold an exhibition in Tokyo. He even writes, “Forget it” was the response I got from most of the Tokyo-based artists, and gallery and museum people I queried on how a North American might arrange a Tokyo exhibition.”

And oh, if you do not live in Japan and want to exhibit in Japan, you should find someone in Japan to help you or represent you. The person will have to do all the translating and paperwork submissions for you. It might be difficult to do everything from overseas.

How do I make a phone call in Japan?

All phone numbers shown in PhotoSapces are for calling within Japan. To call from outside Japan, dial Japan’s country code (81), then the local area code without dialing the first zero. For example, to call or fax (03) 3280-0033 (Tokyo), dial 81-3-3280-0033.

In DirectoryZONE, the phone number’s local area code is indicated in parentheses. It need not be dialed if you are in that area. For example, if you are within the 23 wards of Tokyo, you need not dial the 03. Also, toll-free numbers (usually starts with 0120) work only within Japan. Note that most people in Japan cannot speak English, so be prepared to communicate in Japanese.

Japan Photos FAQ

by Philbert Ono

What’s Japan Photos at PHOTOGUIDE.JP/pix ?
It’s an ever-growing collection of tens of thousands of online photos and videos of Japan, organized mainly according to prefecture and city/town/village. It is to help promote travel to Japan and pique your interest in the places, things, events, and people the photos show. Be great if the pictures help you better understand Japan and see that it is much more than just Mt. Fuji, geisha, and cherry blossoms.

How are the photos organized?
Basically, there are top-tier categories such as the prefecture (all 47 prefectures of Japan), then secondary categories such as the city, town, and village. The secondary categories contain photo collections called albums (called “photo sets” at Flickr). Each album can contain up to 250 pictures of a certain subject or theme. Toward the top of the page, there are breadcrumb links (ex.: Home > Tokyo > Shinjuku > Album name) showing you exactly where you are within Japan Photos.

I also have theme-based categories such as festivals, people, sumo, and vintage postcards.

What kind of Japan photos are there?
They are mainly travel photos from all 47 prefectures. They intend to show what a place looks like or what happens at an event such as a festival. The photos are selected from among many and presented in a logical sequence. If it’s a festival, the photos are in chronological sequence. It’s more like a photo essay, and I avoid showing random, unrelated images.

Most of the photos were taken within the Tokyo-to-Osaka corridor since I live in Tokyo and most of my travels are done within this area. I always seek to visit other parts of Japan every year, especially places I’ve never been to.

Did you take all these photos/videos?
I took almost all of them. Those labeled with “Philbert Ono.” Photos not taken by me are labeled with the respective photographer’s name.

How can I post my photos on your Japan Photos site?
I welcome photo submissions if you have photos of Japan I don’t have or don’t plan to shoot. You should have at least eight photos of a subject in an understandable sequence. File names should be in numeric order. Images should be at least 500 pixels wide or tall for vertical shots. You send me the images and I’ll post them on the site. Contact me for more info.

How many photos are there in Japan Photos?
As of late 2018, there are over 61,000 photos and videos. This number constantly increases. Almost every month, I see a place or festival (matsuri) I’ve never seen before and shoot. It may take a while longer for me to upload the images though.

Do you sell your photos?
Yes, most photos are available for licensing if you want to use it for editorial purposes in a book, magazine, etc. Give me the URL of the photo(s) you want and make an offer. Contact me for more info.

Can I use your photo in my blog?
Yes, you can use the image as is for free, as long as the copyright notice is clearly visible. Keep a copy of the image on your own site and do not hotlink images from my site.

What does “Album viewed xx times” mean?
Indicates the number of times the album (thumbnail page) has been viewed since June 6, 2010 when the system started to count the album views. The number of album views is not accurate for albums uploaded before this date.

Any advice on how to take nice pictures?
I really don’t have any advice because the definition of a “nice picture” can be different to different people. Everyone has different preferences, objectives, and tastes. Other than the technical aspects, there are really no rules or formula for taking a nice picture. A blurry or grainy photo considered to be bad to one person might look artistic to another.

If the photo looks good to you, then that’s really all that matters. It doesn’t really matter what other people think unless you’re entering a photo contest. As long as you like the picture, then it’s a nice picture.

If you’re a beginner, take many photos of your favorite subject or theme. Then go home and pick out your favorite shots. Sooner or later, you will understand or recognize what makes a picture look nice or what types of shots you like. Studying common rules and theories about composition might help, but it really depends on your objectives and preferences.

The thing about photography is that, not every photo you take will be a masterpiece. Out of 200 shots, you may find only a few that you really like. So the trick is to shoot a lot, then you can yield a higher number of great shots. That’s the great thing about digital. You can afford to take a lot of photos and just delete the bad shots.

Also think of ways to increase your chances of taking nice pictures. In my case, I like to shoot on sunny days because it brings out vivid colors, so I try to shoot on sunny days when possible. If it’s a festival, I check the exact route, location, time, and what the highlights will be. Such detailed information is usually only in Japanese. My shooting location is also important. I may need to go early to secure a prime spot for shooting. In Shiga though, this is rarely necessary. Festivals are not terribly crowded except for major fireworks events. When I’m shooting, my greatest enemy (besides foul weather) is another photographer. Photography is such a popular hobby that there will always be photographers who get in my way or spoil my clear shot. Once upon a time, amateur photographers in Japan were mostly old, retired men. Now we also often see little old women carrying one or two big D-SLR cameras at festivals. They can get quite aggressive and ill-mannered at times. And of course, most everyone has a smartphone or iPad to take pictures with while holding it above their heads.

Most of the photos I put online are presented in a series, usually in an online album (photo set). They are arranged in a logical sequence to tell a story or to document a place or event. This sequence is often chronological, especially for festivals.

Photography has been a pivotal part of my websites ever since I went online. I love photography because it’s so universal like music, sports, and art. Everybody loves photos. The Internet was made for photographers and writers. And it’s so easy and accessible. For public consumption, I’m inclined to take pictures that serve a practical purpose. My travel photos help people understand a place or event and make travel decisions. I also believe in captioning my photos to promote better understanding of the subject or scene depicted. Many photographers think that the picture speaks for itself and don’t need captions. I disagree. A caption enhances the picture’s impact and the viewer’s understanding.

How do you organize and store your digital photos?
When you take as many photos as I do, having an easy and efficient way to organize, store, and find photos and videos becomes absolutely essential. My images are basically organized by date. First of all, the image file names contain the date with the year, month, and day (YYYYMMDD) it was taken. Then there’s a hyphen or underbar followed by a sequential number. For example, “20181011-1234.jpg”. I may also include keywords in the file name. For each event (festival, etc.), I create a separate folder for the images I shoot. The folder is also named with the date and a descriptive title. For example, “20181011-SportsDay”. These folders are then stored in a folder organized by month, named like “201810-PHOTOS” for photos taken in Oct. 2018. These month folders are then stored in a folder for the year named like “2018PHOTOS”. When I need to find a particular image, I search for the date or key words with my computer’s search function. The Japanese date format (YYYYMMDD) is much more efficient than any other date format.

I don’t use photo organizer applications like Apple’s Photos app (for amateurs and the worst there is), Adobe Lightroom, etc. They lock you into their system and make it difficult or impossible to switch to another system. Such applications can also be discontinued at the maker’s whim (like iPhotos and Aperture). After organizing my photos as above, I use Adobe Bridge for browsing through the photos and rating them or renaming them.

My images are stored locally on external hard drives. All my files are stored redundantly in different locations in Japan. So even if a disaster destroys my home, I still have the files stored elsewhere. I don’t use cloud services to store images because I have too many images to store and it takes too long to upload/download. I also don’t trust cloud services.

Are you on social media?
Yes. If you like to see travel photos of Japan, you can also follow my public posts at https://www.facebook.com/philbertono and Twitter (@philbertono).

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