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Photography has changed the way I see the world around me.

Through it I discover new things and rediscover old ones. Like my island, New Caledonia.

This blog is just me sharing my world through my photography.

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Posts tagged kyoto
KYOTO

Japan

day five

Ohayo my friends, an early morning rise meant no breakfast until we got to our destination, Arashiyama. We were hoping to come across an open cafe for breakfast once we got off at Saga-Arashiyama Station and made our way down towards Katsura River. It was still quite early so most places were closed but we found Hirose, a little mom and pop coffee shop, literally. A small place with big vibes and wonderful atmosphere. You could tell the, quite old, couple have been doing this for a long time. Each were very efficient in their own work and together. Very friendly and helpful with customers. We were served in beautiful sometsuke (blue and white pottery) cup and saucer. We had a quick little breakfast, coffee and cinnamon toast. So delicious though, we had seconds.

Once we arrived at the river, we saw the saddest thing of our whole trip in Japan. Old and young men, women, kids and even school kids in uniform with their teachers, all volunteers on a Sunday morning cleaning up the banks of the river of rubbish left by tourists. There were even groups in diving suits in the river. It shows that a lot of tourists have no respect for their surroundings, their environment and worst, the people that live there. It’s a shame because Arashiyama is a beautiful place. And Katsura River run pretty much through Kyoto. A very sad scene.

Our first big visit of the day was the Monkey Park Iwatayama. I was a little apprehensive of the conditions I would find the monkeys in but was reassured once we arrived on the plateau and saw them all wandering freely. Only one cage was visible and that was part of the shop where you buy food, water and feed the monkeys from. Or just get a bit of shade or escape the monkeys and relax, enjoy a drink. Magnificent view of Kyoto from up here as well. The monkeys seem to stay in and around the plateau but I’m guessing that’s because of the food. I’m sure if they head back into the forest once the park is closed. There are a number of supervisors making sure there’s no monkey business going on. I felt safe surrounded by the monkeys but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t careful. They can get aggressive with each other, as we witness just as we were making our way back down, which can be very dangerous if you’re caught in the middle. It was broken up fairly quickly by a supervisor. Watching them, you quickly realise how similar they are to us, humans. The way they act and react to things and each other, the emotions they show each other and have in their eyes, even moments between a parent and a child. And talking about kids, the baby monkeys are just adorable. So funny seeing them playing around the pond trying to catch fish without falling in. Typical kids.

Our second visit was the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. Located just on the other side of the river from the Monkey Park, we strolled through the town a little before ducking into the forest. Unbeknown to us, we took a turn that make our visit quite short and miss half to two thirds of the Bamboo Forest. And it wasn’t the best part either. We left Arashiyama Bamboo Forest unimpressed but not just because of that. We got there at the wrong time of day, midday, and there were hundreds of people, tourists and locals alike, strolling through the forest. I think we would’ve enjoyed it a lot more if we’d visited before the Monkey Park and the crowds. And of course, the whole forest would’ve been nice to visit. I think a great way to visit the Bamboo Forest would be on a jinrikisha or rickshaw, as the two young ladies in the video did. They have their own path and stop for photo opportunities. And they’re not that expensive. Next time?!

Third visit of the day was Kinkaku-ji or Temple of the Golden Pavilion. For that we had to leave Arashiyama and head a little farther north. Located on the Rukuon-ji complex or Deer Garden Temple complex, Kinkaku-ji is magnificent. Absolutely stunning. I was worried I wasn't going to be able to avoid the crowds in my photographs but I worried for nothing. Though there were hundreds of people around, the pond in front of the temple made it possible to captured beautiful photos void of humans, people. A very impressive temple and even more so in real life. Even the small islands in the pond look like miniature gardens on their own. Just wonderful. The walk through the complex is beautiful and quite peaceful, even with the crowds. Near the exit there are stalls of food and souvenirs, and a beautiful teahouse to experience.

Our last visit of the day was the Gion District but not before heading back to the motel for a shower and relax little. There are no video of our night in Gion because I left all my gear back in the room, except for my camera. Done on purpose, I wanted to concentrate on photography and take a break, chill, relax a little this evening. Thus the reason for only pics of the area. Gion has a great vibe, atmosphere. It’s lively. Géraldine and I both loved the small streets and alleyways that lead to bars, cafes, restaurant, boutiques. Some plain, some colourfully decorated and most lit with different types of lanterns. We saw Geisha or Geiko as they prefer to be called in Kyoto and Maiko, apprentice Geiko. Beautiful women in magnificent kimonos. They were one of the reasons we wanted to visit Gion. So happy we got to see them. We ate dinner in one of the restaurants along the river called Ponto. More an informal Japanese pub (Izakaya) but looks more like a restaurant to me. Pulled out my phone for the food but I think that was a mistake. Did the best I could with the clips. Lovely restaurant, especially dining on the terrace at sunset, beautiful. Great food, drinks, service. Glad we could experience a restaurant along the river. After dinner, I thought we’d checkout a bar I saw, as we were strolling the alleyways, called Bar Hop Seed. They claimed to have a variety of Japanese whiskies so, a nightcap we had. They had Japanese whiskies I’ve never heard of but tried one I did and have wanted to taste for quite a while. The Suntory Hibiki Japanese Harmony. Very nice. They also offer their own rum arrangements. Géraldine tried their apple/cinnamon rum and loved it. The place was almost empty when we arrived but filled within a half hour or so. Mostly tourists and a handful of locals. Though small, Bar Hop Seed is cosy and has a nice, lively atmosphere. Anyways, on our way to the bus stop, I thought I’d take another photo of Yasaka Shrine. It looked beautiful illuminated in the night. Didn’t catch the bus though, saw a taxi and caught that instead. Home in ten minutes. Excellent.

Till next time my friends, Oyasuminasai.

BAR HOP SEED

Kyoto, Japan

After a beautiful and delicious dinner at Ponto restaurant, taking the time to relax and enjoy the atmosphere, we came here for a nightcap, Bar Hop Seed. I’d noticed this place earlier and saw they had a range of Japanese whiskies on their menu. Thought it would be a nice end to the night.

Small entrance, small place on the first floor, cosy, nice atmosphere and Japanese whiskies you’ve probably never heard of before. I didn’t know there were so many. I went for a whisky I’ve wanted to taste for a long time but never had, the Suntory Hibiki Japanese Harmony. If we weren’t getting up early the next day, I would’ve tasted at least a half dozen Japanese whiskies. Especially the small boutiques that don’t export. Another time. Géraldine tried one of their home-made rums, apple cinnamon. She loved it and I quite liked it as well actually. They serve tapas-like food here too, if you have the munchies. There were only a couple of people when we walked in but within half an hour all the tables and stools were taken. Mostly with tourists. We met a couple of Australians who were there for the Japanese whiskies too.

Anyway, we had a lovely night and if you’re ever in Kyoto, check this place out Bar Hop Seed.

28 mm, 1/80th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 3200

MAIKO

Kyoto, Japan

One of the reasons we wanted to visit the Gion District was in hopes of seeing a Geisha or Geiko as they prefer to be called in Kyoto and Maiko, apprentice Geiko. We were not disappointed as we saw a handful of them while strolling the alleyways. They are just stunning. Beautiful. And we both wished we had booked in advance a restaurant where they performed. Next time.

I’m not a portrait photographer but on very rare occasions I’ll tempt it. This evening didn’t start as one of those occasions but ended as one. We had seen a few Geiko and Maiko on our stroll and though Géraldine captured a couple of portraits, she wasn’t satisfied with the results. Not her fault though but largely due to seeing them too late and not being able to frame in time. Don’t get me wrong, we kept our eyes open but they seem to come out of nowhere. So I thought I’d try as well, hoping between the two of us, we’d come back with, at least, one satisfactory portrait. And we got lucky. Seeing these Maiko early enough to be able to snap half a dozen photos from full body to head shots. Unfortunately, only two are usable but two more than we had and are happy with.

So how did I get the shot? Preparation.

  1. I needed a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action and get a sharp photo. Because of their attire, Geiko do not walk very fast so I thought 1/250th of a second shutter speed would be fast enough.

  2. I wanted a shallow depth of field to blur the background. ƒ/2.8 is the widest my lens opens too so I used that.

  3. Have an ISO high enough to give me a proper exposure. In those little alleys nearing sunset it was 400.

All I had to do now was frame and shoot. But I forgot one thing, to put my camera in Continuous-Auto-Focus mode. I had left it in Single-Shot-Auto-Focus which isn’t ideal for subjects moving towards you. Hence, getting only 2, out of 6 or 7, shots in focus. A real shame because the close-up portraits were pretty good but unfortunately out of focus. A lesson learned for me but, I hope, a lesson for someone out there.

Now you’re most likely to see a Geiko and/or Maiko from an hour before and after sunset as they make their way to an appointment. They’re not on the streets for very long as their place of preparation and their appointments are not far from one another. Just keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready.

This post was updated on the 24/07/19. I previously said the main subject in this photo was a Geiko but is in fact a Maiko, an apprentice Geiko. A huge thanks to my friend, Géraldine, for correcting me on that. The lady in the light pink kimono to the right is a Geiko. Sorry for the mistake.

75 mm, 1/250th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 400

GION DISTRICT

Kyoto, Japan

After a very long day visiting the Monkey Park and Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama then the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, it was time for us to relax a little. First we headed back to the motel for a shower, dressed up and came down to the Gion District.

We love this neighbourhood. Especially it’s little streets and alleys that run along the back of all these restaurants. Everywhere actually, on both sides of the Kamo River and the main road that lead up to the Yasaka Shrine. In fact, the restaurants’ front doors are in those alley. Lively little streets with lots of, well, restaurants but also bars, cafes, boutiques, people everywhere and the occasional Gaisha or Geiko, as they prefer to call themselves in Kyoto, and Maiko, apprentice Geisha. You’ll also see many Japanese wearing traditional attire.

After wandering the streets and alleys for a couple of hours, we had dinner at Ponto, the third place along on this photo. Not haut cuisine like some restaurants here but what they call an Izakaya restaurant. A type of informal Japanese pub but Ponto looked more like a restaurant than a pub as we know it. Anyway, great food and drink, service is good, the view is magnificent and the atmosphere just wonderful. Oh and some restaurants have Geisha performances but you have to book in advance for those.

Gion District, a must when visiting Kyoto.

28 mm, 1/500th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 100

KINKAKU-JI

Kyoto, Japan

Better known as the Golden Temple or Golden Pavilion, Kinkaku-ji literally means Temple Of The Golden Pavilion. It’s located on Rokuon-ji complex, Deer Garden Temple complex. That aside, I have to say, this temple is magnificent. Photos do not do it justice. Unfortunately, you can’t visit the temple but just walking round and being so close to it is impressive enough and worth the visit.

Though there were a lot of people here, I was able to capture two or three images void of them. You just need a little patience.

The surrounding pond is stunning with it’s tiny garden islands. I’d love to see this place in winter or autumn. Beautiful surroundings as you snake your way through the grounds towards the exit. Here you’ll find the teahouse and many stalls of food and souvenirs. A few interesting things to see and taste here.

It’s well worth the trip and visit, and it doesn’t take long to tour the complex. Just to see Kinkaku-ji in person is worth the visit.

46 mm, 1/250th second @ ƒ/11, ISO 200

ARASHIYAMA BAMBOO GORVE

Kyoto, Japan

The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is just on the other side of the Katsura River from the Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama. But don’t do as we did and visit the monkeys first. If you’d like a little peace and quiet and take beautiful photos void of people, visit the bamboo grove/forest first and early. Very early in my opinion. We made two mistakes. The first was to visit at midday. Way too many people and impossible to appreciate this potentially beautiful and peaceful area. The second, was bad planning on our part by entering the forest from the main street of the town. The forest didn’t feel as impressive as I had imagined and the stroll felt quite short. But that’s because, we realised later, we’d visited only half… a third of the bamboo forest. Very disappointing. You’re better off walking along the river and entering from the west. It’s a longer walk but there’s less people, it’s more beautiful and there’s more to visit. Don’t misunderstand me, you can get to see all that from entering via the town, just don’t take a wrong turn or your visit will be very short.

I was hoping to capture a couple of beautiful photos but came away with nothing special. And you’ll need a wide angle, maybe even an ultra-wide angle, lens to really capture the narrow path or canopy of the bamboo forest. I was hoping to include a lot more in this shot but 28 mm wasn’t wide enough.

Though we didn’t appreciate the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest as we had hoped, I, for one, am leaving it on my to-do list. With just a small reminder to get there very early and enter from the west. And always do your homework before visiting a place.

28 mm, 1/80th second @ ƒ/16, ISO 200

SAFE TO FEED

Kyoto, Japan

It’s quite amusing seeing the monkeys in the Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama, especially the young ones. Quite funny watching them lean over the edge of the pond, trying to catch the carps without getting wet or worst, fall in. Then there are other moments like this, where there’s a lot of tenderness.

My wish came true when the little one turned his/her head and stared at me. I took the shot and left. I didn’t want to interrupt his/her lunch. During the visit, I quickly realised a 70-200 mm lens would have been perfect for this place. Not only to avoid getting too close to the monkeys and interrupting their activities but also to capture some close portrait photos. I would’ve like that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to walk amongst them but you tend to scare them off when approaching to capture a moment. A long lens would’ve avoided all that.

75 mm, 1/2500th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 800

ARASHIYAMA MONKEY PARK IWATAYAMA

Kyoto, Japan

Lovely entrance to the Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama. I had a bit of apprehension coming here, having thoughts of mistreated monkeys in cages. I couldn’t have been further from the truth though. A nice, easy going walk climbs through the forest to a small, open platform. Here, dozens of adult and baby monkeys roam around freely. There are also quite a number of supervisors to prevent the monkeys from fighting or being too aggressive with tourists. They also feed then some kind of nut, the moneys seem to love it. There’s a shop with a caged off area where you can buy bags of nuts to feed the monkeys and, tables and chairs if you need to rest. Just to be clear, the caged area is for us, the humans, and not the monkeys. The monkeys approach from outside. It’s to prevent the them from snatching food and possibly hurting someone by accident. And prevents us from throwing food at them and making a mess outside.

Check out one of my previous posts to see a baby human in a cage and a baby monkey outside. This is a lovely place and worth visiting. It’s not too far from shops, restaurants, boutiques and a bamboo forest. Lovely little area.

28 mm, 1/160th second @ f/11, ISO 2000

HIROSE

Kyoto, Japan

A very early start meant no breakfast before arriving at our destination, Saga-Arashiyama Station. We were visiting the Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama and Bamboo Forest this morning and now that we’d arrived in town, it was time for breakfast. Being hungry and the lack of coffee didn’t help with the frustration of seeing most places still closed.

Until we came across Hirose. Small, cosy, very affordable and wonderful atmosphere. Literally a mom & pop coffee shop. Most likely a couple, the old man takes care of the hot beverages and food while the old lady handles the cold beverages, the service and cash register. They’re very friendly and like to converse with customers. They serve very good coffee and the cinnamon toast is delicious. So much so, we had seconds.

As you can see, I loved the gorgeous sometsuke (blue and white pottery) cup and saucer so much I had to photograph it. Though, I wish I had opened my aperture by a stop or so, to get a slightly wider depth of field. I would’ve liked a little more of the image on the saucer in focus. Still love the photo and it will always remind me of this amazing little coffee shop, Hirose.

40 mm, 1/80th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 500

KOBE, YAMAZAKI AND KYOTO

Japan

day four

First of all, I’d like to apologise in advance for the lack of video of the Yamazaki Distillery and the Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine. I was pretty sure I had recorded something but I couldn’t find the clips. And now I’m uncertain if I deleted them by accident or if I never took any in the first place. In any case, I’m very disappointed with myself. I added photos instead to help tell the story. Hope you enjoy the video.

After an uneventful sunrise, I went for a stroll around the Meriken Park looking for something to photograph. Lucky I took a shot of our hotel, we have no souvenir of our room. I also photographed the Starbucks with the Port Of Kobe Tower just behind it, before heading back to the room. We packed up a little, once Géraldine was up, then headed out for breakfast. It was still too early for places to be open so we wandered around the Meriken Park and the Mosaic before heading back to Starbucks for breakfast. Once our stomachs were full, we finished packing our stuff at the hotel, checked out and caught the hotel bus to Shin-Kobe Station.

At the station, we put our luggages in storage before making our way to the Nunobiki Ropeway. The cable cars took us to the top of the Nunobiki Herb Gardens. Magnificent views, on the way up, of the gardens and Kobe city. A beautiful building at the top with stalls, boutiques, a cafe and lots of flowers. We took the walking path to get back down which gave us the opportunity to check out the Nunobiki Falls - Ontaki and more views of the city. It’s also a beautiful forest walk.

The Yamazaki Distillery was our next visit for the day. It doesn’t look like much from the outside and we didn’t do a tour of the distillery itself but visited the museum and whisky tasted. The museum is very interesting, informative and quite amazing. Even Géraldine, who isn’t a whisky drinker, loved the museum. In the main hall and at the end of the museum, you’ll find a bar arranged in a circle. Here you choose the whiskies you’d like to test from a menu. I was surprised when I saw the Hakushu and Hibiki on the list. My choice was the most expensive whiskies on the menu. My favourite, the 25 year old Hakushu Single Malt Whisky.

We end the day back in Kyoto. We’re here for two nights. On full day. Once we checked in our tiny hotel and relaxed for a few minutes, we went to visit the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shinto Shrine. Didn’t realise there was going to be so many people there. I thought most would visit in the day and not so much at sunset. This place is amazing. Beautiful. I was able to get a few photos with very little to no-one in them. We were too tired to walk the senbontorii (thousand torii) all round the mountain but did a small portion which showed small, medium and large torii. They’re stunning to see. And so are the shrines. Small and large alike.

So, all these places, the Nunobiki Herb Gardens, the Yamazaki Distillery and the Fushimi Inari Taisha should be on your to-do list when visiting Japan. If your a photographer, you’d probably want to visit the herb garden and Shinto shrine at sunset. All worth a visit but give yourself a few hours to, not only, see it all but to really appreciate your surroundings.

That’s it for day four of our little trip in Japan. Day five brings a very busy day of visits. Oyasuminasai my friends.

FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE NAIHAIDEN

Kyoto, Japan

As I mentioned in my last post, we visited the Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine just before sunset. This is one of, if not, the main shrine. Stunningly beautiful, like most of the large shrines here. Worshipers would make their way up the stairs to one of the bells and say a prayer before pulling on the rope to ringing it.

There were still a lot of people around, when we arrived, and to get a shot void of them, for this image, was very difficult. So we decided to wander around and visit the senbontorii (thousand torii) first. Check out a previous blog post for a peak inside the tunnel. It was blue hour when we came back and there were a lot less people. After setting up my gear, it was just a matter of patience and timing before I capture this photo. The 10 second exposure helped eliminate the occasional person walking through the frame. I love this photo. I did take another front on but I didn’t have a wide enough lens nor the distance to include the fox guardians in the frame. I guess I’ll have to invest in some more gear.

28 mm, 10 seconds @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

FUSHIMI INARI SHINTO SHRINE

Kyoto, Japan

After the Yamazaki Distillery visit, we headed back to Kyoto for two nights, one full day. We arrived late afternoon and once settled in our room, we made our way straight here, to the Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine.

We arrived just as the sun was setting and there were still hundreds of visitors around. This shot was taken as we were leaving. To the eye, blue hour had gone but not to the camera sensor. I bracketed four different exposures and merged them in Lightroom. Very happy with the result. This is not a unique photo but it’s my photo.

This shinto shrine is spectacular. This is the main entrance to many shrines, small to large, and to the senbontorii or thousand torii. Everything is beautiful here, from the architecture to the decorations and everything in-between. It’s one of the places you have to visit while in Kyoto. Give yourself some time though, there’s quite a large area to cover. Oh and talking about senbontorii, check out my blog post where I photographed my friend, Géraldine, inside the tunnel.

28 mm, 5 seconds @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

FROM ARRIVAL TO KYOTO

Japan

day one

Ohayo my friends and welcome to our first day in Japan. I’m travelling with one of my best friends, Géraldine. If you follow my blog or Instagram, you would’ve seen a couple of photos she’s in. This is just a small video of our arrival, train trip to Kyoto and afternoon visit of the city.

Because of the language barrier, I thought we were going to have problems getting around. I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the moment you land to the time you leave the airport, you are guided and helped. We exchanged our JR Passes with no difficulty and they even reserved seats for the Narita Express train to Tokyo and also for our bullet train (Shinkansen) onward to Kyoto. I highly recommend the JR Pass if your trip to Japan involves a lot of train travels between cities. We bought the 14 day pass for our 10 day trip and calculated we saved between 40-50% on tickets. It’s even valid on some local trains, ferries and buses. 

Not only did we get to see Mount Fuji from the plan on our approach to Narita Airport but also from the Shinkansen to Kyoto. We were pleasantly surprise on our first day in. Another surprise was how delicious the food on the Shinkansen was. My best mate, Marcin, told me to try it out if we ever got the chance to. Not all Shinkansen have the food carts onboard but this one did and it was lunchtime. The bento boxes were fresh and oh so delicious. They even sell beer. What more can a man ask for? 

I was amazed at how huge Kyoto Station was. The number of tracks, the boutiques, cafes, restaurants… didn’t think it was so big nor that Kyoto was such a large city either. As soon as you walk out of the station, you see Kyoto Tower. I was looking forward to get up there.

We made our way through little alleyways to get to our hotel, the Karasuma Rokujo Hotel. We did have the help of an extremely nice lady, who went out of her way to walk us to the front door of the hotel. She was actually heading in the opposite direction. We were a little bothered but greatly appreciated her act of kindness. We found the hotel very well placed in Kyoto. Only a ten minute walk from Kyoto Station and Kyoto Tower. And not even five minutes from the grand Higashi Honganji Temple. Yet located in a very quiet area. We were very pleased with the Karasuma Rokujo Hotel.

We literally dropped our baggages and headed back out. We visited the wonderful Higashi Honganji Temple. I thought I was amazed at the entrance to the temple but when I saw the interiors of the founder’s and Amida Halls, I was literally in awe. These halls are stunning from the ground up. The structures, the tatamis, the decorations, the amount of gold… the beauty and wonder of it all really struck me. Unfortunately, we were not permitted to photograph nor film the interior of the halls but you can see some photos on their website.

Our next stop was Kyoto Tower to checkout the view for potential photos at blue hour. Unfortunately, as we approached the tower, police arrived and stopped everyone from entering. The policewoman that stopped us, later approached us with a translation on her phone saying there was a bomb scare and to move away of the area. So we went for a walk around Kyoto. Saw the torii (gateway) of the Fushimi Inari Taisha Otabisho and a couple of Geisha or Maiko, or just a couple of women dressed in Kimonos, I don’t know. We did head back to the tower in hopes it was all over but it got a little more serious. The police had moved across the road from the tower and men in black were now positioned at all entrances. We ended up taking photos from the Kyoto Station side and was pleasantly surprised by a small water, light and music display.

After blue hour we looked around little for a place to eat and stopped at Saikatei restaurant. We ordered sashimi, dumplings and a few other things, and a couple of Japanese beers. Service was quick, food was delicious and quite cheap for the quality of the food and service.

Well that’s it my friends. Thank you for joining me on our first day in Japan and I hope you will join me for day 2. In the meantime, head over to my website or Instagram to see photos of the trip. Oyasuminasai.

MUSIC : Zen Garden from Adrikm (YouTube)

KYOTO BLUE HOUR

KYOTO, JAPAN

This is one of my favourite photos from Japan. Blue hour with warm colours for contrast, my friend in action with an icon in the background to show where she is, the blurred background, the lighting… definitely one of my favourite photos of the trip.

If you have read my last post, you’d know we were unable to go up Kyoto Tower because of a bomb scare. The men in black were still in position. So we took photos of the tower from the Kyoto Station side. We were also surprised by a small water, light and music display which is what Géraldine is photographing here. It was quite delightful.

1/80th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 1600, 28 mm

KYOTO STATION TOWER

KYOTO, JAPAN

The tallest non steel-frame construction in the world, Kyoto Tower. Abosutely stunning at blue hour. My friend noticed the reflection on the glass facade of Kyoto Station. The contrasting colours, patterns and, of course, the reflection all came together for, what I think, a beautiful photo. Thank you Géraldine.

We, unfortunately, didn’t get the chance to go up the tower. Don’t get me wrong, we wanted to but were stopped by police from doing so. Let me explain. Late that afternoon I wanted to go up just to see the view and the kind of photos I could take later around blue hour. As we arrived at the tower, sirens were blasting and cops were coming from everywhere. We thought they were after someone and kept walking towards the entrance. We were stopped by a policewoman from entering and motioned to step back. So we did and waited in hopes it would end quickly. The policewoman came back to see us and showed a translation on her phone saying “There is a bomb alert. Please move away from this area.”. She didn’t have to tell us twice, we took off. We came back just at the beginning of blue hour, in hopes it was all over. But the police were moved to the other side of the road and replaced by men in black. No kidding. Black suits, black ties, black in-ear communications and black unmarked cars. They were positioned at all entrances. Very impressive, I must say. Still surprised they didn’t evacuate the whole area though hmmm…

Hence the photo from the station side. We took a few photos from here and even saw a small light and water show. I might post a photo of it otherwise you’ll see it in the video of our first day in Japan.

1/80th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 800, 75 mm

FUSHIMI INARI TAISHA OTABISHO GATEWAY

KYOTO,JAPAN

We wanted to go to the Gion District but ended up heading in the opposite direction. We did try to use Google Maps and Apple Maps but they both failed us. They both showed the maps, where we were on the maps and the directions to where we wanted to go but as we thought we were following the path, we later realised the buildings around us weren’t matching the ones on the maps. When we restarted the maps and it relocated us, we had walked in the opposite direction. Even though on the maps it showed us following the right directions. Go figure.

It didn’t bother us too much though. We were coming back to Kyoto later in the week and we saw a different part of the city that we probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Interesting little alleys, beautiful Japanese women dressed in kimonos and this wonderful torii of the Fushimi Inari Taisha Otabisho shrine.

Sometimes getting lost is a good thing.

1/80th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, 28 mm

A TEMPLE'S VIEW

KYOTO, JAPAN

Kyoto Tower is very visible from inside Higashi Honganji Temple. You may of seen my first post from Japan that shows a different perspective. I didn’t know this but Kyoto Tower is the world’s tallest non steel-frame construction. Interesting huh ?!

So one of the reasons I took this shot was because the side exit of the temple made me think of an underground tunnel leading to the tower. Wish it was true.

I went with black and white here, simply because of the high contrast and the coloured version was boring. Love the trees too. Oh and I also added a slight split-tone to the shadows to cool the image just a touch.

1/200th seconds @ ƒ/11, ISO 100, 60 mm

FOUNDER'S HALL

KYOTO, JAPAN

As I mentioned on my last post everything is larger than life here. This is the terrace and huge side entrance of the Founder’s Hall of the Higashi Honganji Temple. As you can see the doors are huge, I’d say around three metres high. Just awesome. Again I asked Géraldine to pose to show how high these doors were. I think she’s around 160 cm tall.

You probably noticed she’s barefoot. That’s because you have to take your shoes off before stepping onto the terrace and inside the halls. They provide plastic bags to carry them because you may start from the Founder’s Hall and finish at the Amida Hall, which are joined by an extension of the terraces.

Photos of the interior weren’t permitted, as I mentioned in previous posts, so I can’t show you the magnificent hall. I guess I could have snapped a shot from the terrace but I didn’t want to offend anyone by doing so. There were people praying and they were preparing for a ceremony or something. It’s sacred and private and I respect that.

1/80th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 200, 32 mm

AMIDA HALL

KYOTO, JAPAN

The Higashi Honganji Temple has two halls, the Founder’s and the Amida. The roof of the latter is what you see here. You would have seen part of this roof on a previous post too. I asked my friend, Géraldine, to pose to show perspective and add a human element to the image. As you can see just by the railing that everything is grandiose. The structures are made of huge wooden pillars. Very impressive. It’s hard to believe these structures have stood for centuries. I can’t imagine the work that goes into maintaining it all. It’s a shame we weren’t allowed to photograph the interior because it is amazingly beautiful. Check this link to see interior photos from their website. You’ll be blown away.

1/500th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, 28 mm

HIGASHI HONGANJI CHANDELIER

KYOTO, JAPAN

Just look at this magnificent chandelier. Intricate details covered in gold leaf hanging at the entrance of the Higashi Honganji Temple main gate. You can see it on the photo from my last post. This chandelier is huge, I’d say almost two (2) metres in circumference. I’m not sure if they’re the same size but you can find many more in the Founder’s and Amida Halls. A lot of protection from birds added to the temple and rightly so. Not so great for photos though. As you would have seen from my first post from Japan, the chandelier isn’t the only thing covered in gold. Some details on the roofs and carved murals in the halls have had the treatment as well. Make sure you visit this beautiful temple if ever in Kyoto. Entrance is free and it’s only a five (5) minute walk from Kyoto Station. Well, maybe ten (10) by the time you make your way out of the station.

1/400th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, 57 mm