Time in Japan is all wrong. By that, I literally mean Japan Standard Time (JST). I feel this way due to living in Tokyo for a number of years, and JST seems most odd in Eastern Japan (e.g. Tokyo) more than the rest of the country. In Okinawa, for example, the sun rises around 6am, and sets around 6pm, everyday, all-year.
Sunrise this morning was 4:39am in Tokyo. It's already light enough to see clearly by 4am. Birds are tweeting, as they simply "work" by the sun, not by the human concept of "time". More on that another time.
Early sunrise is no real problem, and is something I truly love about Japan, coming from England. Even in the winter, the sun is shining strongly when you leave the house to go to work. Conversely, sunset tonight will be at 6:35pm, and by 8pm, the sky will pitch-black (save for light pollution). In London, sunset tonight is 8:39pm! It won't be pitch black until around 10-11pm. I do miss those long summer evenings...
JST would be perfect if it shifted over by around 2 hours. Sunrise would then be at 6:30am, and sunset at 8:30pm. Ideal! One of the biggest issues is that by early afternoon, the best light is fading and one really has to be up early to take advantage of any decent available light for photography.
Perhaps worse than the loss of light in the evenings, is that due to the early sun in August, the temperature by 8am is often above 30ºC. In some ways this is offset by lovely bright winter skies, and relatively long hours of sunlight compared to the UK in December.
Changing things up a little at the end, this last photo is the only one in this set not taken with the excellent FE Zeiss Sonnar 35mm F2.8, but rather the nifty Voigtländer Nokton Classic 35mm F1.4 (note the f/1.4 in the caption). This was taken in an excellent yakiniku (焼き肉ーkorean barbecue) chain, called Gyu Kaku (牛角). We met up with some friends and had a 飲み食べ放題 (all you can eat, all you can drink). Such things are not common back home, for good reason. If all the Japanese ate and drank as much as we did that night, these chains would be out of business in about 2 nights!
For those interested, that meat is はらみ (harami) and is very tender meat from around the diaphragm (of a pig). Lots of the meat on offer in these places falls under the category of "offal" in the UK, but most of it is rather delicious.
In these restaurants, dishes of cold meat (usually in a marinade), are handed to the customers, and the customers place their own meat onto the little grill in the middle of the table. The coals are replaced once they've burned out, and the merriment continues. After copious amounts of meat and beer/shochu/sake, we staggered up the stairs (this restaurant is underground) and back into the neon-lit metropolis of Tokyo.