Snow in Tokyo

Snow in Tokyo

Last night for the second time in a week there is snow in Tokyo.  Coming from New England it is funny to call this ‘snow’ as it is just a few flakes but this is a city with no infrastructure to combat snow.  Citizens protect themselves with umbrellas and garden hoses are often used to melt the snow.  There is no sanding or salting.   Snow doesn’t really accumulate much so it just basically becomes a bit wet mess.   It was reported on the news this morning that there were 450 traffic accidents related to snow in Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures.

eerie timing…

While I was reading THIS article in the Japan Times last night we had another small Earthquake of magnitude 5.3.  The epicenter was Fukushima.  The article said that a study released yesterday by researchers at the University of Tokyo’s Earthquake Research Institute stating that there is now a 70% chance that Tokyo will be directly hit by a major tremor, magnitude 7.0 or higher, within the next 4 years.  The likelihood in the next 30 years is 98%.    So the message is basically ‘sooner or later’.   THIS is what Tokyo was like on March 11th last year feeling the shocks of the Tohoku Earthquake that had an epicenter was hundreds of miles away.  I can’t image what a direct hit would feel like…but I guess we’ll see.

I think it is very beautiful when it snows in Tokyo…it brings a new look to the city.

A snowy Yoyogi Station

When photographing snow you use a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second or faster and you can capture the flakes as they fall.  In the above photo I was focused on the train with an aperture of f/2.8 so I have a very shallow depth of field with only a few feet actually in focus.   The snow is going to be out of focus but I want to make sure it is an out of focus circle vs. a line.   If you want to see the snow as streaks then slow your shutter speed down to 1/30 of a second.    You need to be careful with your White Balance when shooting snow as all of the bright white can tend to throw your White Balance off.   This is a perfect time you would want to set a Custom White Balance.

A snowy Yoyogi Station

A snowy Yoyogi Station

A snowy Shibuya Station

Shibuya looks so cool in the snow…

A snowy Shibuya Station

A snowy Shibuya Station

A snowy Shibuya

A very wet Shibuya Crossing…

A snowy Shibuya

Thanks for stopping by…



  1. The wet shine on the streets, makes street photography so challenging and fun. Were waiting for our first snow in Memphis, usually get 1 – 2 inches a year although it did snow the past November.

  2. Thanks for sharing the earthquake thing. My family should be moving to Matsudo in Chiba sometime this summer. How exciting! (Definitely sarcasm there) I guess I need to start preparing my kids….

    Incidentally, my wife is from New Hampshire, so our family definitely knows about the whole snow thing. When we lived in NC, a small system of flurries meant a very crowded Walmart devoid of bread and milk. But when it snowed last year in Okayama, it was just business as usual. The Japanese don’t let anything get in the way of work! :)

  3. I miss Japan… and your blog has given me some nice memories. I love these snow images around Shibuya. I bet the family-mart etc managed to sell thousands of 400 yen kasa this weekend!

    Last two years in UK, we had our heaviest snows since records began; everything ground to a complete halt. Great for kids, nightmare for commuters and businesses. Great for photography though.

  4. thank you for the wonderful photos of your life in tokyo- i miss the city and its people terribly and your blog helps jog the memory =)

  5. Thx for the photo tips. Good pics.

  6. Thanks Bill. I am glad it can help you rekindle some memories. Hope to see you around…

  7. Leslie – I am sure everyone will be fine… Japan handles disasters if they happen very well. Interesting we travel in a lot of the same circles it seems. I am from Boston area, I lived in Wilmington NC and now Japan…

  8. What great photos! I read your blog on a regular basis. I live in Vancouver, Canada and one thing I struggle with is taking photos when it’s raining/snowing (it rains a lot in Vancouver in the winter). How do you do it? Do you have weather proofing for your gear or do you hold an umbrella in one hand and your camera in the other? This post gives me hope I’ll find a way to continue shooting something other than my cats & dog for my 365 project during the rest of the winter. Thanks!

  9. Love the first shot Dave. Hope all is well. And btw .. come look at my backyard for “real” CDN snow. :)

  10. Thanks Michael. I really like that shot as well. I took that a few years ago on my commute home.

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