The rock garden at Ryoan-ji is one of the finest examples of a hire-niwa. 15 rocks are positioned in a large flat area of small stones without hills or ponds. I wanted an image that tried to show it as a place of quiet reflection, which is a little tricky at most times of day. However, if you’re the first person to arrive you may get a few moments of tranquility. Pentax 645Z with 25mm (top image) and 55mm (bottom image).
Cherry blossom is blooming in Okinawa. At Nago Castle Ruins the dark pink blossoms add color to the stairway leading up to the shrine. The white pieces of paper tied to the branches of trees at the shrine are omikuji or fortune papers similar to what you might find in a fortune cookie. They are usually sold from machines at Shinto shrines. After you’ve checked your fortune most visitors tie the paper to something at the shrine before leaving. Hanami or cherry blossom is also a popular time for Japanese to dress up in yukata (top two images) or the more formal kimono (bottom two images) .