Today’s Most-Excellent Adventures: Temple Hopping in the Mountains of South-Western Kyoto
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Temple on Fire autumn colors at the Konzou Temple, Kyoto Japan -- Konzou Temple (金蔵寺) -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1100 — map & image datanearby photos
Temple on Fire
autumn colors at the Konzou Temple, Kyoto Japan

This is turning into a spectacular week of exploration and discovery. On Monday I spent the day scootering in the mountains to the south-east of Kyoto, discovering an amazing temple and other photogenic delights I've yet to find time to post about. (I did post about some tiny bridges that were a bit geometric, but otherwise not too interesting.) Then yesterday I tag along with Stéphane Barbery to the amazing Kongourinji Temple (金剛輪寺) an hour away in Shiga, and I came back with 619 photos, mostly amazing and also now in the queue for posting. On the way home yesterday, he'd recommended that some day soon I should visit the Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺), an hour's drive the opposite direction in the mountains of the far south-western corner of Kyoto. So, this morning, I headed on over there.

As I approached the mountain, I could see some temple buildings poking out from the trees, right of center in this photo...

View from the Valley Floor -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/2000 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
View from the Valley Floor

It felt like they were very far away, even zooming up with my big zoom...

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 290 mm — 1/1000 sec, f/6.3, ISO 900 — map & image datanearby photos

...but looking on the map after the fact, I realize that I'm just about a mile from those buildings. I also realize that they're not part of the Yoshiminedera Temple (it's down the slope to the left, visible if you really look carefully in the larger version of the “View from the Valley Floor” photo), but of the neighboring temple.

Anyway, I scooter up the winding road and arrive at a bus-parking area and realize that I'd been here before, maybe 17 or 18 years ago, while just checking out isolated-looking roads on the map. I recall using the bus-parking area to make a U-turn; back then, I wouldn't have cared about the beauty of a temple or fall colors, which was a shame.

But no U-Turn today, and I was eventually greeted with...

Overlooking the Parking Lot -- Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm — 1/640 sec, f/7.1, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
Overlooking the Parking Lot
In the Small Temple “Foyer” Area photo by a kind Filipino tourist -- Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 @ 24 mm — 1/400 sec, f/6.3, ISO 560 — map & image datanearby photos
In the Small Temple “Foyer” Area
photo by a kind Filipino tourist

I used today the same three lenses I've been using all week, and took 678 shots overall, changing lenses 58 times. Most of that was at the Yoshiminedera Temple, which is as equally amazing as yesterday's Kongourinji Temple, but in a completely different way.

For the time being, today's take will mostly have to wait in line behind all the other stuff building up in my “want to post” list, so for today I'll just post a few shots about the views from up on the mountain.

The Yoshiminedera Temple is splayed over a large area of the mountain, so it has many levels and many different views of the valley below, such as...

Minor Side Path -- Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 @ 24 mm — 1/640 sec, f/4, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Minor Side Path
Vertical Desktop-Background Versions
1050×1680  ·  1200×1920  ·  1600×2560

It was sunny when I arrived, but soon became partly cloudy, then overcast, then eventually rained a bit. It was still partly sunny when I arrived at this minor-side-path spot, but Kyoto City off in the distance was fully engulfed in cloud, and despite waiting for quite a while, it never lit up, and so even with my Bigma, the resulting shot (though 10 kilometers of blustery atmosphere) is muddy at best...

Kyoto Tower 11.76km away -- Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 500 mm — 1/640 sec, f/14, ISO 2500 — map & image datanearby photos
Kyoto Tower
11.76km away

It's interesting to note that the sight line from this spot to Kyoto Tower continues past and cuts almost exactly through eastern Kyoto's Shogunzuka overlook, from where I'm apt to try to catch the sunset. So, in views from Shogunzuka, such as found here, here, and here, this temple is in the mountains on the opposite side of Kyoto Tower.

I also tried to find my place, and sort of succeeded:

Get Out Your Magnifying Glass -- Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 500 mm — 1/640 sec, f/14, ISO 2800 — map & image datanearby photos
Get Out Your Magnifying Glass

The very top of the huge orange main gate of the Heian Shrine is dead center of the shot above, but you've really got to look for it (in the larger version you get when clicking through). It's almost 10 miles away from here. That big orange gate has been featured on my blog a hundred times, I'm sure, including this, this, this, and this. I live a stone's throw from there, but the shot is so muddy that I can't tell whether I can see my place or not.

Some of the closer communities were still in sun, and sort of pretty (if not crowded looking)...

Nestled In Tight the cluster of houses is about 2½ miles away -- Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 500 mm — 1/640 sec, f/14, ISO 2500 — map & image datanearby photos
Nestled In Tight
the cluster of houses is about 2½ miles away

Due to the dynamic nature of the Yoshiminedera Temple complex, there were plenty of dramatic views close to home, such as this...

Little Hut From Afar made more dramatic with a polarizing filter -- Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 @ 24 mm — 1/6400 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Little Hut From Afar
made more dramatic with a polarizing filter
Path Back Down -- Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm — 1/320 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Path Back Down

There were almost no visitors to this place of visual splendor... sometimes I'd go for half an hour without seeing someone else. It was a real treat, but like I wrote above, the real story of the temple will have to wait for another day.

The twisty mountain road to the temple actually continues deeper into the mountain. It was traversable by scooter, but the narrowness and unbelievably sharp and steep turns would have made for a white-knuckle attempt by car.

Curve -- Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/160 sec, f/2.5, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos
Curve

After a mind-dizzying twisty climb up the mountain, I followed an even more minor path (I hesitate to use the word “street”) down to find that it ended at the Sankoji Temple (三鈷寺), which is adjacent to the Yoshiminedera Temple that I'd just come from. This is the temple visible from “View from the Valley Floor” above. Here's the reverse-angle view from the middle of the three buildings shown in the close-up below:

View to the Valley Floor -- Sankoji Temple (三鈷寺) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 @ 24 mm — 1/1600 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
View to the Valley Floor

The little incursion of houses above frame center is where I was when I took the “View from the Valley Floor” shot.

I retraced my path back to the tiny road and continued in to the mountains, eventually coming across the first house I'd seen since leaving the valley floor:

Abandoned -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 2500 — map & image datanearby photos
Abandoned

But next two it were a few lived-in houses, and one had a door open to the street, with a table offering sweet mini green peppers...

$1/Bag ( I bought one, leaving the 100-yen coin in the cup ) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 5000 — map & image datanearby photos
$1/Bag
( I bought one, leaving the 100-yen coin in the cup )

Further down the road was an area large enough and flat enough to farm...

Late-Afternoon Chores -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos
Late-Afternoon Chores

The road was really pleasant (though less “fun”, with the ultra-steep cutbacks left behind), and about this time I thought to stop and take a photo every so often...

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 900 — map & image datanearby photos

After this the road joined a larger road, but everything's still relative: the “larger road” was indeed big enough to have road paint, but it was still a tiny twisty little-used mountain road...

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1250 — map & image datanearby photos
Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm — 1/160 sec, f/1.4, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Memories -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm — 1/1600 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Memories

I took this photo from a cutback (spot where the road makes a very sharp turn as it dives further down the mountain) that had a sort of wide area to pull off. I immediately recognized it from stopping 20 or so years ago to enjoy the view (back when this was a far journey from where I lived in Takatsuki). It's the cutback mentioned in last year's ᾮWestern-Kyoto Mountain Drive: Bamboo, Nostalgia, and More”. Glad to have finally re-found it.

Then further down the mountain...

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm — 1/160 sec, f/4, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Big Cutback Only in the context of the earlier 45° ultra-tight hairpins would this be considered “big” -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 @ 24 mm — 1/250 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Big Cutback
Only in the context of the earlier 45° ultra-tight hairpins would this be considered “big”
Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 @ 24 mm — 1/125 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1400 — map & image datanearby photos
Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1400 — map & image datanearby photos

I eventually found myself passing the Konzou Temple, which I once wrote about during cherry-blossom season. It was getting late and light was fading, but I stopped in for a quick look around...

De-Horned demon in the tile has lost its horns -- Konzou Temple (金蔵寺) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 1800 — map & image datanearby photos
De-Horned
demon in the tile has lost its horns
Creamy -- Konzou Temple (金蔵寺) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
Creamy
Lowest-Level Courtyard from about the same location as this shot -- Konzou Temple (金蔵寺) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 @ 24 mm — 1/400 sec, f/3.2, ISO 2200 — map & image datanearby photos
Lowest-Level Courtyard
from about the same location as this shot
White Grass 'n Stuff -- Konzou Temple (金蔵寺) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
White Grass 'n Stuff

This, too, will have to wait for another day for a proper post.

Back on the road...

Bamboo Grove -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm — 1/400 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1100 — map & image datanearby photos
Bamboo Grove
Edge of Civilization -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm — 1/1000 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Edge of Civilization
“Civilization” -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm — 1/1000 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
“Civilization”

I was dumped back into civilization on Route 9 in western Kyoto, leaving a 30-minute ride home. As I was waiting at the light, a truck went by returning boats to Kameoka, that are then used for pleasure rides to Arashiyama.

Anyway, it was a great day, the third so far of the week. I've got plans for tomorrow that should make it great as well, so I guess I've got to think of something for Friday to make the week complete...


All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

“Minor Side Path” is by far my favorite. I can’t even say why, but there is just something particularly pleasing about the composition. It looks almost as if it were an oil painting.

Just curious, in “Late-Afternoon Chores”, what the heck was growing on those stalks? Cabbages of some kind?

I suppose… there are a lot of cabbage-type veggies over here. —Jeffy

— comment by Marcina (USA) on November 11th, 2010 at 11:44am JST (7 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

I lived for many years in Kyoto/

Nice memories. Thanks for sharing.

V.

— comment by V. on November 21st, 2010 at 12:15pm JST (7 years ago) comment permalink

Dear Sir;

I love your photography.

Thank you.

– Keith

— comment by Keith Brawner on June 1st, 2012 at 9:13pm JST (5 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink
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