Hanami, cherry blossom, sakura in Ueno Park, Tokyo
© 2013 Alfie Goodrich. All rights reserved.

Cherry Blossom in Japan, 2013: the birthday cake

After the first sakura season I lived in Japan through, back in 2008, I rarely felt the need to return to Ueno Park.

There are places in Tokyo to experience hanami [flower-watching] once and from then on to avoid: Naka-meguro, Ueno Park, Shinjuku Gyoen, Yoyogi Park...

Although this is a generalisation and there are exceptions......

1. If I am drunk
2. If I am in the area
3. If I am in the area AND drunk

So, seeing as I was in the area and drunk one night last week - and that I was out with my good buddy +Paul Church, we decided to float through Ueno Park, have yet another beer and see what we could see.

As is the way with Japan and especially hanami, random shit happens. Pretty much the first thing we saw upon entering the park was this girl lighting a birthday cake.

...had to take a photo. Didn't take many more.

Gear, alcohol intoxication levels, processing?

Nikon D700
Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 Ai [manual focus lens]
Shot with a 'Portra' simulated film curve in the camera.

Shot after having drunk five, 500ml, cans of beer.
Shot very quickly.
Shot with the lens set to 3metres, from the hip, at f/1.2

White balance sorted, shadows lifted a little, noise reduced in post.


Post imported by Google+Blog. Created By Daniel Treadwell.


  1. Holy cow I love this shot +Alfie Goodrich! Especially the part about you being totally intoxicated! ;-P

  2. Great shot! I love the really shallow focus.
     It's amazing that you shot this from the hip.

  3. Had this lens since I was a kid, +Mark Esguerra. I miss some with it but using it at 3m is pretty much like Luke Skywalker and his lightsabre, in that scene in Star Wars where Obi-Wan has him fighting the remote with the blast-shield down on his helmet…. 🙂

  4. That’s worked out really great!

  5. Plus 1 for that reference +Alfie Goodrich, because the Force is strong in you. ;-P

  6. Really nice shot +Alfie Goodrich .
    You re using the lens since you were kid, I am drinking for as long as well 😀

  7. Really like this shot !

  8. I like Nakameguro because it is close, absurdly crowded during the season, and has cars trying to drive through the crowds of 100s of photographers. I am a glutton for punishment.

  9. Like I said, generalisations +David Hufford. 🙂 And I am at times a glutton for punishment. 

    If I want to photograph manic, urban hanami: Nakameguro. Perfect. 

    If I want to photograph drunken park hanami: Ueno. Perfect.

    Each place has its 'charm'. It's just that certain moods, needs or requirements are suited to certain places at certain specific moments.

    I don't really want to go out on a family hanami with my three kids to Ueno or Nakameguro. Asukayama Koen is a much nicer place to do that. 

    Main thing is that sometimes – a lot of the time – I don't want to be where everyone else is. Because I am becoming an old fart and with that have an aversion to being somewhere because its 'THE' place to go. I'd rather get off the beaten track. And I have a few nice places in town for doing that at cherry time.

  10. Nice shot. Maybe the best I've seen you post!

  11. Me too. I was trying to joke—not sure if it came out that way. I generally try to avoid hanami at all costs, but go occasionally go to Nakameuro to watch the watchers.

  12. Got the joke… I think. Busy afternoon and pressure on to get some things done… so, yes, got the joke but the reply probably didn't come across well 🙂

  13. Front cover of Metropolis for the hanami edition in 2008 was a photo of exactly that: watchers….far more interesting than the trees.

  14. Nice shot, +Alfie Goodrich  Alcohol and camera is not a deadly combination, after all. 🙂

  15. Love the image and the whole story around it, not to mention the banter in the comment thread! Good stuff Alfie!

  16. I've had my best photographic moments, with alcohol and people…

  17. If you squint you eyes (i have poor eyesight so i just take off my glasses) from the blue hour glass skyline down to the woman's bright face and the three candles; there is a face in the composition where the three candles are the teeth of the face. 

    The face as i perceive it is very scary and horrifying, like its trying to scare me, but im not afraid im just curious what the face is trying to project.

  18. Thanks for the heads-up on the evil face. Probably need EVEN MORE alcohol to see that, +Christopher Stapleton 🙂

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