See a different side of Tokyo with a bespoke photowalk tour
Tokyo is absolutely massive. That’s no secret at all. Yet despite the city’s truly sprawling nature, it’s surprisingly suited to explorations on foot. Many interesting areas are within easy walking distance of each other, and like so many journeys in life, the bits in between can very often turn out to be the most rewarding.
Having lived, walked and photographed in the Japanese capital for nearly two decades, I can honestly say I know Tokyo fairly well. Meaning I know where to go, and more importantly perhaps, where not to. Plus, of course, I've sought out lots of the little side streets and alleyways that in a city the size of Tokyo can very easily go unnoticed.
So, in a bid to put this knowledge to some use, I’m offering photowalk tours of Tokyo. However, what works for one person doesn’t work nearly so well for another, so each tour will be a bespoke one. It could be a meander through the back streets of well known areas, or a more off-beat journey away from the city's busier haunts. The customisation options are almost limitless, and a taster of my walks can be seen on this short segment I did with CNN. You can also read about them in this Associated Press review, as well as part of a CNN Tokyo tours article. Plus for a more in-depth look, there’s a customer’s write-up of a photowalk here.
Also, while there will obviously be a stress on the photography side of things, the walks won’t be workshops. Of course tips and advice will be readily offered when wanted, but the emphasis will be far more on the explorative side of things. A way to see new places with your own eyes, and hopefully come away with some good and very memorable shots. A brief peek, if you will, under the thin veneer of modern Tokyo, to see the older, often grittier capital.
Both prices are fixed, regardless of the number of people. Hotel pick-up is provided if preferred.
¥32,000: A three to four hour bespoke photowalk for up to four people. Morning or afternoon starts.
¥48,000: A full day of walking and bespoke exploration for up to four people.
*Both options exclude any food, drinks or travel costs.
To ask questions, check availability and book a photowalk, please get in touch through the secure form below, or if it’s short notice, I can be contacted on either WhatsApp or iMessage at +81 090 1120 6199.
When I woke up this morning, I thought I’d spend the evening writing about some jaw-dropping installation or an eccentric street performance, not about the photographer who would show me around. By sharing his wealth of experience and eye for photography, Lee has helped me discover a Tokyo I didn’t expect. I feel privileged and I’ve made a friend. (read the full blog write-up here)
— Isaac, Geneva
We were familiar with Lee’s photography from his Tokyo Times photo blog and Instagram feed and thought this would be a great way to see the older, grittier side of Tokyo we would be unlikely to find easily ourselves. Lee is a friendly down to earth guy and he made us feel at ease the moment we met at Hikifune Station.
We hadn't gone far before we were walking streets and passing buildings from a different era. The contrast with the nearby Skytree was stark and made for some fascinating photographs.
Lee's knowledge of the area and Japan in general is deep and fascinating and peppered with insights we would never have picked up on our own. We saw many unique locations and buildings in various states of ageing and decay, including a long abandoned house with plants growing inside pressing themselves against the old glass windows, possibly the world’s smallest and shabbiest Airbnb, and a couple of lovely old ladies sat on the edge of a small plot who were amongst many people Lee knew and exchanged a few words with.
We looked at the wares of old style shops that can't have changed for decades, and the locals who rely upon them. We also took a break at a wonderfully atmospheric old coffee shop and learned yet more of the Tokyo that lies just behind the new, hi-tech and neon Tokyo everyone sees. The hours passed by in the blink of an eye and as we parted we felt we were saying goodbye to an old friend.
All in all it was a wonderful experience which enriched our knowledge of Tokyo. We will definitely be back for a tour next year.
— Mark and Deborah, UK
If, as I am, you are a regular follower of Lee’s blog, you will know that his love for Tokyo takes him well beyond those clichéd images of concrete, steel, neon and crowds. Like his photos, his photowalks offer up the human face of the planet’s most populated city. Having been on two of such walks (the only thing preventing me from embarking upon a third is that I no longer live in Tokyo), I can do nothing but recommend them.
Our last outing had Lee walking us from Ueno through to Minowa, the ‘shitamachi’ area of the city, where the past seeps into the present, the streets are narrow and indolent pussycats peer out from behind overgrown window boxes. Buildings that have stood for decades if not centuries, the spaces where they used to be: Lee knows it all and regales his walkers with his erudition and his easy good humour. Assuming, of course, that he’s not stopping to chat amiably to one of the locals along the way.
Footsore but fulfilled at the end of the tour, we ended up among peeling posters and wobbly tables, quaffing a well-deserved bottle of Sapporo or three. And yes - before you ask - Lee knows where all the good bars are as well.
— Colin & Naoko, Abu Dhabi
Experiencing Tokyo’s old neighborhoods through Lee’s eyes was so interesting. It's nothing like a standard guided tour, and the fact that a standard tour would never take you to these neighborhoods is just the start of it. Any tour guide can talk about a building you're actually looking at, but Lee is just as fascinating talking about a building that isn't there anymore. He'll tell you how there's real community in these old neighborhoods with people stopping to talk to each other on the street and in shops, and the next minute he'll actually be having a conversation with an elderly gentleman, commiserating about a big condo going up across from some old shops. If you're unfamiliar with these parts of Tokyo, I can't recommend these tours too highly - and even if you are, as I am, it's an experience you wouldn't have on your own.
— Jessica, Washington
We met Lee at the right place at the right time. He was waiting for us. Lee is a very friendly and professional guide. Before we actually met we were in email conversation and Lee worked out what we were looking for from the experience. So as soon as we had made our introductions Lee was “working”. He showed us places and photo opportunities we would have missed on our own, just what we wanted. He was also knowledgeable regarding the history and facts about the places we visited with him. Our time just flew by. In my opinion the tour was very good value and it gave us some great photos we my not have taken on our own.
— Andre & Ben, London