Photographing Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri Event in Japan

One of the most vibrant festivals in Japan

This is the first time I’ve been in Kishiwada city in Osaka Prefecture. It’s also the first time I’ve attended the Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri festival event. I came there after reading some recommendations on the Internet about the most popular events in Osaka in September.

In this post, I’ll share more of my experience of photographing Danjiri Matsuri event including photos that I’ve captured using my digital SLR camera.

I’ve already written two posts about that festival, so you probably also want to check them out as well: must-see festival in Japan, and Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri photos post.

I was thinking about just relaxing after a long flight to Japan. After spending two minutes reading about the Danjiri Matsuri event, and how popular it is, especially the Danjiri in Kishiwada, I had to go.

I slept quite good that evening, after all, I was very tired from the flight. I woke up at 5:00 am in the morning and took the train from Shin imamyia train station to Kishiwada station.

Danjiri Matsuri is a Photogenic Event

When I came to Kishiwada, I came with my Nikon DSLR camera.  This was a great opportunity to capture great shots. Most of the time you’ll be standing a bit far from the Danjiri, and you want that extra optical zoom to get you closer to the action.

Of course, some of the shots look great using wide-angle. I could capture them using my OnePlus 6 Android phone, but the D7000 interchangeable lens camera had an 18-105mm lens, and it was all the I needed (until night; I’ll share more in later posts).

Now, the 18-105mm Nikkor lens is equivalent to 27-157mm in 35mm terms. 157mm is quite a good reach, but I did feel that I needed a bit more. It wasn’t crucial of course and the 16.2MP (Effective pixels) sensor gave me enough room to do some cropping if I wanted to. So overall, nothing to complain about too much.

The Danjiri Matsuri event is very photogenic. You can capture things like the Danjiri wagon, people’s Japanese costumes, people face expressions when pulling the Danjiri, beautiful street photos of the Danjiri crossing through narrow roads, etc.

The festival is very colorful and you can capture some amazing photos of people wearing culture clothing. This compared to other days where it’s not easy to find or photograph. It’s also a public event, so everyone is capturing photos of it, so it’s not that you feel like you are being rude of taking photos of it. There are many times that it’s just rude putting cameras into people’s faces.

2019 Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri Pictures

OK, let’s take a look at more photos that I’ve captured at Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri event in Kishiwada on September 14, 2019. All of the pictures that you see were taken using my Nikon Digital SLR cameras, the D7000. They were further edited using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to give me the correct look that I was after, but only small adjustments and angle corrections in most part.

Why a Wide-angle Lens Isn’t Enough?

As you can see from the photos, it was a beautiful day in Kishiwada. It was hot but bearable.  The blue sky and the clouds contribute to some images looking really nice. It all came together great. The gorgeous vibrant colors of the traditional Japanese clothing and signs and the beautiful bright day and lovely blue sky.

The 18-105mm lens allowed me to get close to the subjects, in this case, mostly the people who were on the Danjiri or the Japanese men and women who were pulling it.  I wouldn’t be able to capture those photos with my phone alone.

Having just a wide-angle lens is very restricting. I probably would have needed to spend a lot of time cropping the image to get the right framing that I want. With a long focal length optical zoom lens it’s easy.

I also liked being able to get a nice Bokeh, especially when shooting at the tele-end, at 105mm.

Photography Recommendations

I love the pictures that I’ve got because they turned out to be very vibrant and full of joy to watch. Just seeing them revive the event in my head and I smile when I think about the great time that I had there.

Now, it’s the 15th of September, so the 2nd day of the festival is taking place. My body is just shouting for a rest and this is why I stayed home today.  I walked almost all day long yesterday.

Of course, it was worth it. If you love photography, this Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri is a must-see festival in Japan.

Make sure you have a long focal length lens. Having a 18-55mm lens is too short in my opinion and it won’t cut it for some shots. Even I felt that the 105mm is a bit lacking. Keep in mind that I was using a digital SLR camera with an APS-C sensor, so in terms of actual focal length, it’s 27-157mm. So the 157mm tele-end was a bit short but if you position yourself well, it won’t be a problem.

As I mentioned, don’t stay behind the crowd if you don’t have the reach. And maybe you should bring a small chair because it’s hard to shoot above the crowd. My Nikon D7000 doesn’t have a flipping LCD, so I just couldn’t shoot above-head and frame my shot. This is where a tilting screen can be very beneficial when shooting in a crowded area.

What I did was just walk around and found better spots to shoot. Once I did, I was able to capture many amazing shots. Many people will prefer staying in shades and not walking a lot. I did both and therefore I was able to position myself in good places to capture interesting pictures.

Why I Didn’t Use my Phone to Take Pictures?

I didn’t use my phone a lot to take pictures of the Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri festival during the day. The reason for it is because I didn’t need to. The 18-105mm lens was perfect for my needs.

There were times where the OnePlus 6 produces better images, mostly in complex lighting conditions, at sunset and of course at night. There is a build-in automatic HDR feature that just takes photos at the golden hour and sunset look so natural. With a DSLR it can be a bit more complicated to achieve. The OnePlus 6 was perfect in that aspect. I will share photos of that later on.

The other thing is that I didn’t want to use the digital zoom nor spend a lot of time cropping my images. Most of the godo photos that I’ve taken in low-light was using my phone. I’ll share those in the next post.

The 18-105mm Nikkor lens has an f/3.5-5.6 aperture range. Because things were moving, I needed a fast shutter speed. For static objects you can shoot at slower shutter speeds and the 3-stop stabilization of the lens (VR) will help you out. But for moving subjects, it’s not that helpful.

My OnePlus 6 f/1.7 aperture was perfect for this. I don’t have a fast-aperture lens for my Nikon DSLR, so I just shoot with a single lens.

It’s good that you a fast prime lens as a second lens on your phone. This way, but I don’t have the zoom. This is why phones like the new iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are great.

The iPhone 11 Pro features a Triple 12MP Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto cameras. The Ultra-Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view. The Wide: ƒ/1.8 aperture and the Telephoto camera: ƒ/2.0 aperture 2x optical zoom. The reach isn’t as long as what I have, but it’s nice having that extra telephoto reach with a fast aperture lens combined.

This is it, I hope you enjoy this post. More pictures from Kishiwada are coming so stay tuned.

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