Nagoya, Japan: Grainy Days in Monochrome City

I must admit that although photography has become one of my hobbies since 2011, the thought of trying black and white photography never crossed my mind until mid-2020. While I do enjoy looking at other people’s black and white photos, I have this weird thought that when it comes to my own memories, I want to preserve them in color. Unless it is Bangkok (my hometown) and Phang Nga (my dad’s hometown and former home of my paternal grandparents where we still go annually), I rarely get to revisit most places. This is why I want to hold onto as-vivid-as-possible memories of the places I probably will never see again. Even though I know that I will have to let go of those memories eventually when I no longer exist in this world.

But this isn’t to say monochrome memories are inferior. Color photography is my personal preference, but shooting in black and white opens up unique possibilities and perspectives. Some photos gain extra depth and dimension. Texture, patterns, light and shadow, and certain details can become more prominent. The vibes of many photos change and sometimes I find photos that look more interesting in greyscale too. All these cool factors and the fact that I had an opportunity to live in and explore Nagoya for about three years made me decide to try shooting my first black and white roll there.

With the grainy Ilford Delta 3200 film stock, I spent three days visiting some of the places (without admission fee) that I wanted to see in black and white. I had already been to most of these places, but I tried to capture the angles or the objects that I had never photographed in color for a change. In addition to not knowing right away how the photos would come out on film, I didn’t know how they would look in black and white either. That means the excitement before having the film developed got doubled. While B&W photography is as challenging as they say and I still have a lot more to work on, I did have a lot of fun because of that sense of mystery throughout the process.

Here are the results from my first black and white roll. Most of the shots feature man-made structures since Nagoya is one of Japan’s largest cities. That said, the city didn’t really leave me feel so disconnected from nature because of its many parks, a lot of trees and flowers at the bigger shrines and temples, and even the sea. One roll wasn’t enough to show the various sides of Nagoya, but I tried to be as diverse as I could.


I took my first black and white photo after grocery shopping at Aeon Yagoto Branch. It was one of my haunts when I lived in Nagoya. This is a flower shop at the supermarket that I couldn’t help looking at whenever I walked past. The vines always caught my eye.


Nagoya Port is located at the end of one of the subway lines in Nagoya. Somehow it was never crowded when I visited, except during festivals.




It was quite sunny, but with barely anyone around, black and white made the photos feel much lonelier.

Also in the area is a small amusement called Nagoya Port Sea Train Land. It is open day and night and I prefer going there at night for the illuminations. Black and white made my day visit more entertaining though.


These electric animal rides are usually cute and cheerful, but they look haunting like this.



Osu Kannon Temple. Kannon is the Japanese name of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. Had to try shooting indoor too because of Ilford Delta 3200’s very high ISO and I turned on the flash anyway for more sharpness (as sharp as Kodak M35 can shoot).


I wish I were better at judging and detecting what would create a good contrast or add interesting elements for grayscale. But this incense holder at Osu Kannon Temple is probably one of the more successful shots in my opinion. I like how the texture looks in monochrome.


Osu Shopping District is one of the places that I never expected to enjoy this much. I don’t really shop, but over the years, I have grown fond of photographing the pretty shop displays or even just window-shopping. From 2021 to a few days before I left Nagoya in 2022, I went there at least once every month.




Since Osu is the biggest shopping street in Nagoya, it is lined with many shops, restaurants, and cafes and you will be spoiled for choices whether you go there to eat, to shop, or simply to soak in the cheerful atmosphere.


Again, black and white film created not-so-cheerful results, but still beautiful with extra nostalgia. Gachapon vending machines are also available for lovers of random high-quality toys and collector’s items.




The iconic Maneki Neko Beckoning Cat Statue of Osu was already dressed up for Christmas in November.


Along the streets in Osu Shopping District stand a number of small but worthwhile shrines and temples. Banshoji Temple is my personal favorite. It is located right on the shopping street in between shops and doesn’t even have gates. I could always glance at their lanterns whenever I visited the area. In autumn, the lanterns are decorated with fake maple leaves too.


An Inari shrine is located in Banshoji Temple, hence the fox-shaped wishing plaques for the god of agriculture and business.


Banshoji Temple may be small, but it is equipped with entertainment technology. These white dragon statues come to life multiple times per day, breathing smoke and water with fantasy-esque music for everyone in that area of the shopping street.


Back to an area close to my former neighborhood, I wanted to capture Yagotosan Koshoji Temple (Koshiji Temple for short) in black and white too because it is my most favorite temple in Nagoya. Just opposite Aeon Yagoto Branch that I mentioned earlier.


I still remember how I randomly walked into the temple grounds for the first time three years ago, not expecting much, only to find out that Koshoji Temple is full of eye-catching architecture and seasonal natural beauty. Like a row of camellia trees that flower in winter.


And a willow tree gently blowing in the wind.


Koshoji Temple’s wooden pagoda and Buddha statue are big enough to see from the street.




Outside the world of black and white, this Buddha statue’s real color is copper red, a good match with the blazing red maple trees nearby.


A snap of a traditional wooden building at Atsuta Shrine. This is one of my two most favorite shrines in Nagoya and one of the three most sacred shrines in Japan. It is so green and peaceful. Feel free to check out the color photos here.

In late-November 2020, I did a photo walk with my friend from graduate school seminar. I also decided to finish my Ilford Delta 3200 roll that day and my friend suggested two interesting locations near our apartments that neither of us had visited before.


Here is a photo of pretty decorations in front of a flower shop on our way there.


First, we visited Saikoin Temple. We walked past its red gate whenever we walked to Aeon Yagoto (unless we took the subway).


Saikoin Temple is very small, but it has a lot of gravestones densely placed together.


The second location we visited is Yagoto Cemetery. It is one of the biggest burial grounds in Nagoya.


Located along the main street in Yagoto and immediately visible to all passersby thanks to its vast space and terraced structure, Yagoto Cemetery isn’t really a typical attraction. I myself had seen the large cemetery within the first week after arriving in Nagoya in 2019, but I wasn’t sure if visiting was okay. However, we later learned that everyone is welcome to visit as long as we enter with respect. In general, photography in cemeteries is allowed in Japan as well unless explicitly stated otherwise.


So we decided to finally go see Yagoto Cemetery more closely after only looking at it from afar up until that day. For me, it ended up being one of the most fascinating places that I have been to in Japan and I would later return for color shots.

The last stop on our photo walk was Sakae or Nagoya’s downtown area full of shopping malls and other entertainment. Getting Nagoya TV Tower, also the oldest TV tower in Japan, on my film was a must. A pond has been added just a few months before we revisited the landmark and while not shown so clearly in the photo because of the dry ice (?), Nagoya TV Tower is beautifully reflected on the pond.


As of now, I haven’t shot any B&W film roll after this trip. I am back in Thailand now too, so these will probably be my only Japan grayscale images for the foreseeable future. I still have a few B&W film stocks left though, so I plan to shoot black and white in Bangkok and Phang Nga later this year. Next time, I hope I can improve my monochrome sense and judgment.


Aeon Yagoto Branch
When to visit: 9am-11pm, daily
How to get there: Take the subway to Yagoto Station. Either Meijo Line or Tsurumai Line is fine.

Nagoya Port
When to visit: Always accessible
How to get there: Take the Meiko Line subway to Nagoyako Station.

Nagoya Port Sea Train Land
When to visit: Opening hours change depending on days and seasons, so please check the amusement park’s official calendar here.
How to get there: Walk for about three minutes from Yanaka Lane.
Entrance fee: Nagoya Port Sea Train Land doesn’t charge entrance fee, but the rides are pay-per-ride. Here is the list of the rides and the prices.

Osu Kannon Temple
When to visit: 9am-5pm, daily
How to get there: Take Subway Tsurumai Line to Osu Kannon Station.

Osu Shopping District
When to visit: The shop, restaurant, and cafe business hours are on the shopping street’s official website.
How to get there: Take Subway Tsurumai Line to Osu Kannon Station or Subway Meijo Line to Kamimaezu Station.

Banshoji Temple
When to visit: 10am-6pm, daily
How to get there: Take Subway Tsurumai Line to Osu Kannon Station or Subway Meijo Line to Kamimaezu Station.

Yagotosan Koshoji Temple
When to visit: The temple offices and places of worship are open from 9am to 5pm every day, but if you just want to see the big Buddha statue and pagoda at night, Koshoji Temple has no gate and you can go see them anytime.
How to get there: Take Subway Tsurumai or Meijo Line to Yagoto Station.
Entrance fee: The majority of the temple grounds can be accessed freely, but Fumon-en Garden area has additional admission fee of 500 yen.

Atsuta Shrine
When to visit: Always accessible, but to buy amulets, the shrine office is open from 9am to 6pm.
How to get there: Take the Subway Meijo Line and get off at Jingunishi Station.

Or catch the Meitetsu Nagoya Line train to Jingumae Station.

Saikoin Temple
When to visit: Saikoin Temple is so small and local that the opening hours aren’t listed on Google, so I don’t have official information. I definitely have seen the gate closed in the morning and evening, so it is better to visit from 9am to 4pm just to be sure.
How to get there: Take Subway Meijo Line to Yagotonisseki Station or Yagoto Station. You can take the Tsurumai Line to Yagoto Station too.

Yagoto Cemetery
When to visit: Always accessible
How to get there: Take Subway Meijo Line to Yagotonisseki Station or Yagoto Station. You can take the Tsurumai Line to Yagoto Station too.

Nagoya TV Tower
When to visit: The base area of the tower is always accessible, but to visit the observatory on the tower, check the opening hours here.
How to get there: Take Subway Meijo Line or Sakuradori Line to Hisayaodori Station. Alternatively, you can go by Subway Meijo Line or Higashiyama Line and get off at Sakae Station.
Entrance fee: The fees for the observatory tickets are listed here.

This post is part of the #giftograph_film series (roll #6: Ilford Delta 3200 with Kodak M35 film camera)

This post is also part of the Cee’s Black and White Challenge (Made by Humans), Flower of the Day (recent challenge), Photographing Public Art Challenge (recent challenge), Water Water Everywhere (recent challenge), and Which Way (recent challenge) Photo Challenges.


13 thoughts on “Nagoya, Japan: Grainy Days in Monochrome City

  1. What a wonderful post, Gift ๐Ÿ‘ The black & white give the images a real “old-world” quality ๐Ÿ˜€ If you do more B&W photography, you might be interested in Bren at Brashley’s Mid-Week Monochrome challenge ๐Ÿ˜


    • Thank you so much, Jez. Definitely enjoyed the old-world quality and the grain from Ilford Delta 3200 added more to this quality. Thank you for suggesting the challenge too. I currently don’t have good B&W collection to share, but I hope to join when I have shot more. I found other challenges on Bren’s blog though and I can probably join those soon!


  2. Hi Gift, These are lovely pictures. I love to take pictures in color, too, but I enjoy processing them into black and white. Cee Neuner runs a Black and White Challenge each week, too. This is the first I realized that Bren does that, too. You have some intriguing public art in this post. The mural on the side of the building, the white dragon statue, and the graveyards were my favorite – not that graves are works of art, but they ARE interesting.


    • Thank you, Marsha. After taking these B&W photos on film, I was curious and tried turning a few of my digital photos black and white too. It’s pretty fun, haha. I ended up liking some of those photos more in monochrome. I’m still a color photographer too, but I’m excited to try more B&W film stocks and experimenting with B&W processing for my digital photos sometimes. And I also find graves interesting! The majority of Thai people don’t visit graveyards unless we go there to pay respect to our deceased loved ones and we almost always don’t take pictures there. They aren’t really beautified like in Japan and Europe either, so I was very intrigued about and glad to have visited cemeteries in those countries!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t seem to comment on your original post and can’t reply to your comment with the link either, so let me say it here. Wow. That was a wholesome post and thanks a lot for sharing the link with me, Marsha. I had never heard of the cemetery or Ferndale, but the cemetery and the houses there are the kinds of things I would want to see. The statues, plus the view from the hill in the cemetery, I wouldn’t be able to stop snapping photos either. I didn’t expect such a huge group of elks either. That one on the street was at a risky spot, but thank goodness everyone stopped because they wanted photos, haha.

      The narration is very entertaining and I also enjoyed the photos from other places in California. The atmosphere at Mystery Trees kind of lives up to its name too.


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