Iseya restaurant in Tokyo

Inspired by a great blog post by Lee Chapman on his TokyoTimes.org blog, we dropped by the Iseya restaurant in Kichijoji, Tokyo. It is located on the Kichijoji exit of the Inogashira park that also includes the Ghibli Museum, so you might find yourself visiting a location closer to this restaurant than you would think.

Shot of the inside of the Iseya restaurant, Tokyo

It is a yakitori and sukiyaki restaurant and the grilled chicken is great with a couple of cold draught beers. The place is dirty and full of character and the patrons are a nice mix of Japanese society. Quite different from most of the restaurants a tourist usually ends up in and therefore heartily recommended.

IMGP9911 Panorama

Personally I love these kind of gritty places, I prefer to visit a salarymen lair above another one of those chain restaurants you find everywhere. The problem is that these kind of old restaurants are quickly disappearing, even Iseya which was damaged in the March 2011 earthquake will soon close for renovations. It will close 8 July 2012 and reopen next year.

IMGP9922 Panorama-Edit

As lots of people want to capture the restaurant as it was before it closes for renovation, the place appears to be packed most of the days, be prepared to queue outside for a bit. The good thing is that it is open non-stop from noon till 10PM.

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Lee’s blog post contained a great photographic reportage and I was inspired by it. I have mainly shot film on my Pentax 645NII camera this trip, but yesterday I brought my Pentax K20D DSLR with my Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX DG Aspherical lens and cranked the ISO settings up to 3200, while I usually keep it at 100 ISO.

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The results are some very noisy photos that converted brilliantly into grainy black and white images in Adobe LightRoom.

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For the first three images in this blog post, I managed to stitch several photos together to get the wide angle and space that I do prefer for this kind of work. Click through on the images to get a larger version.

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9 thoughts on “Iseya restaurant in Tokyo”

  1. Excellent stuff. Especially like the 3rd and 6th shots, they represent everything that Iseya is. Just a pity we’ll soon have to say was…

    Thanks a lot for the mention too. Very kind of you.

  2. I really like the stitched images Hans!
    Since I’m on the lookout for a FF compatible wide angle, can you recommend that 20mm sigma lens you used here?

    1. Paul, I would recommend the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC, at 10mm it still is full frame and doesn’t have the distortion of a fisheye. It can create a bit of a problem with some of the stitching software as they often treat anything shorter than 15mm as a fisheye but that usually can be changed in the preferences. I use this lens for 360 panos.

  3. Really nice pictures, the high ISO converted to monochrome looks good. I love just down the road from there so I must try and get there before the renovation. Are you still in Tokyo?

    1. Thanks Ben! These were last year’s photos, I’m preparing for this year’s stay in Kawagoe and making a list of the things that I liked best in hindsight. My visit to Iseya was definitely a success food- and photo-wize!
      Iseya is supposed to have opened again, you must check it out, it is a really cool place to eat and enjoy watching the people.

  4. Oh I didn’t realise these pictures were from last year, so I’ve missed the pre-renovated atmosphere!? Haha! Nevermind. Kawagoe is a great place for shooting and people watching, when are you there? If you want to meet up for a drink and shoot some together let me know!

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