All posts tagged: kyoto

A day in Kyoto

I’ve visited Kyoto numerous times before shooting cherry blossom, festivals, and the fall colors. On this trip I thought I’d spend a day shooting some portraits of Yuki in a kimono at various locations in the city. This will allow me to provide clients with some new model released Kyoto images. We started at Ryōan-ji the Zen temple known for its beautiful rock garden. There were hordes of visitors at Kinkaku-ji “The Golden Pavillion” but we found a quiet spot for tea. Ginkaku-ji “The Silver Pavillion” was similarly busy, but I only needed a break in the crowds for 1/125 of a second. We then strolled along the Philosopher’s Path. Quick pose under the umbrella at Chion-in temple, then through Maruyama Park to Kiyomzu-dera. I wasn’t the only person taking pics, and Yuki wasn’t the only person in a kimono or yukata in Kyoto.  A boom in international visitors plus cherry blossom in full bloom meant that the city was not particularly tranquil. I did however get the pics I wanted and I can always find …

The Best of Kyoto

For more than a thousand years, Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan. Tokyo may now be the center of business and government, but Kyoto remains as Japan’s spiritual and historic heart. Kyoto is a busy vibrant city with a population of over 1.4 million people. Like any other Japanese metropolis it has an eclectic mix of old and new, with ancient shrines dwarfed by skyscrapers and department stores. Kyoto, however, has managed to retain far more of its past than other, more modernized, Japanese cities. It was spared the ravages of aerial bombardment during World War II, and has survived-relatively unscathed-the tsunami of concrete and architectural monstrosities that followed the war. Hidden amongst the contemporary buildings are secret gardens, shrines and temples. Along the narrow alleyways of Gion, visitors can sip jasmine tea and wait for a fleeting look at Asia’s most iconic figure, the geisha. It would be impossible to see all that Kyoto has to offer in a single year, let alone a few days. There is not just one temple, but hundreds …

Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama , Arashiyama , Kyoto

If you can’t make it all the way to the snow monkeys at Jigokudani in Nagano prefecture, you can have a similar experience at the monkey park in Arashiyama, Kyoto. As with Jigokuani, the monkeys here are wild and come to the park for the food supplied by the wardens. Monkeys that don’t want to be sociable can live out in the forest, but those who don’t mind a bit of human interaction will get a regular supply of grains. The most remarkable thing was that when you see the monkeys pressed up again the wire of a cage it is the humans on the inside. If you go into the rest area hut, you can buy nuts or seeds to feed the macaques. The monkeys then put their hands through gaps in the wire, and you give them the treats. Adults and kids, both monkey and human, were having great fun. I got a few good shots although it’s tough to beat the images of monkeys in the hot springs. Some of the monkeys …

Visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha

I’ve been to Fushimi Inari Taisha in south east Kyoto several times. I took one of my most popular images there, a simple geometric photograph of the orange torii gates winding up the mountain. On my recent trip I wanted to get some new images, this time showing a Japanese person visiting the shrine. Of course I could just photograph tourists milling around, but I decided to be a little more proactive. I met up with model Mari and photographer Keith at Kyoto Station, and we took the local train to Fushimi Inari. It was fortunate I wasn’t even attempting a shot similar to the one I’d taken before because the shrine was packed with people. Luckily we could find gaps in the crowds to get some decent images. The image stabilization function on the new 90mm lens added an extra bit of stability which was useful, and the wide aperture gave a nice limited depth of field in the portraits. Fushimi Inari shrine is dedicated to a fox god so there are numerous fox statues, …

Eriha the Maiko

Eriha is a 17 year old maiko in the Gion district of Kyoto. Only her lower lip is painted red which shows this is in her first year in the profession. I was told that it normally takes three years as a maiko, before the girl become a geiko (geisha). As a young maiko her pinkish kimono and her hair ornaments were  youthful and cute, but these will  change to more formal designs as she gets older. I had always presumed that “real” maiko and geisha didn’t use wigs, and that these were for the “tourist” maiko and geisha. It turns out I was half right. Maiko always use their own hair to create the ornate hairstyles. This means they still have to use special wooden pillows when they sleep. Most geisha, once they have graduated from maiko status, use wigs, and presumably are able to get a much better night’s sleep.