feature

Japan · Cityscapes and Cars

September 12, 2019

This post is the second in a series of four about our latest trip to Japan.



Of the many qualities that draw me to Japan, the design of the built environment pulls me the strongest. I love the cityscapes, residential architecture, skyscrapers, typography, iconography, signage, manhole covers, train color schemes, cars, and on and on.

When it comes to buildings, Japan has a distinctive set of constraints. Density, unique zoning laws, construction regulations, and a tendency to rebuild houses every few decades makes Japanese cities unlike anywhere else. Modern and traditional architecture live next door to each other. Residential areas full of single-family homes may be less dense, yet they remain walkable with easy access to public transit, retail, and restaurants.

Similarly, another unique set of constraints make Japan a car watchers dream. While most vehicles in the US and other developed countries are usually white, black, or some shade of gray, Japanese cars can be found in a rainbow of colors.

Also, I would wager that the Japanese have the largest number of unique models of cars available to them. Each Japanese domestic manufacturer sells two to three times as many different models in Japan as it does in the United States. Add in the fact that nearly every other automobile manufacturer imports cars into Japan and you have a very diverse set of cars.

What follows are a set of my favorite photos of cityscapes and cars from my trip.


Tokyo · Leica Q · f/16 · 1/200 · ISO 100

L1010445 Tokyo · Leica Q · f/8 · 1/320 · ISO 100


L1010569 Edit Tokyo · Leica Q · f/7.1 · 1/60 · ISO 100


L1020212 Nagoya · Leica Q · f/16 · 1/8 · ISO 100


L1020218 Nagoya · Leica Q · f/16 · 1/160 · ISO 100


L1020300 Nagoya · Leica Q · f/11 · 1/320 · ISO 100


L1010871 Komaki · Leica Q · f/16 · 1/200 · ISO 100


L1010870 Komaki · Leica Q · f/16 · 1/100 · ISO 100


L1010388 Tokyo · Leica Q · f/1.8 · 1/60 · ISO 160


L1010531 Tokyo · Leica Q · f/5.6 · 1/60 · ISO 400


Komaki · Leica Q · f/16 · 1/125 · ISO 100

L1010853 Komaki · Leica Q · f/13 · 1/250 · ISO 100


L1010931 Komaki · Leica Q · f/16 · 1/60 · ISO 125


Komaki · Leica Q · f/16 · 1/100 · ISO 100

L1020534 Tokyo · Leica Q · f/1.7 · 1/125 · ISO 2500


Tokyo · Leica Q · f/4 · 1/15 · ISO 800
Tokyo · Leica Q · f/4.5 · 1/4 · ISO 640



Thanks to Q for reading drafts of this.

Emoji in the feature image are from the original DoCoMo emoji set — credit to Monica Dinculescu for turning them into a font.