Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1100 — map & image data — nearby photos
time for the annual trek to the Nishimura Stonecarver's back garden
Paul Barr is in Kyoto again, and we made a trip to the back gardens of Nishimura Stone Lanterns, behind their stone-carving workshop, as we did last year. Even after all the posts last year (enough to merit a “Nishimura Stonecarvers” category on my blog), including a 51-photo “overview” post, there was much left to explore at the gardens.
Unfortunately, despite our visit being 10 days earlier than last year's, the fall colors were mostly gone and the trees bare, and to make it worse, someone had just cleaned up all the photogenically-endearing leaves from the paths. But on the bright side, that someone was the wife of Daizo Nishimura, the affable fifth-generation carver I'd met before. He was out of town, but she and I had a nice chat.
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 2000 — map & image data — nearby photos
It was decidedly less photogenic a place than last year, but still magical.
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm — 1/100 sec, f/4, ISO 2000 — map & image data — nearby photos
It's on the south slope of a mountain, so it gets very little sun.
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm — 1/100 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm — 1/100 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm — 1/250 sec, f/1.4, ISO 320 — map & image data — nearby photos
There are all kinds of mosses growing naturally all over the carvings and the paths and such, all beautiful. Some, like in the two shots above, have a forest of bits sticking out, and I thought the Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 might have some fun with it, so here's a close up of the moss on the left side of the lantern in the photo above...
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1000 — map & image data — nearby photos
This is viewed straight on, of course, with the shallow depth of field focused on the tops of the “forest” putting the bulk of the moss into a blur. It's quite a different look than the from-the-side extreme seen in this shot (of an apparently different kind of moss, but you get the idea).
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1800 — map & image data — nearby photos
the orange background splash comes from a tree on the neighboring property
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1400 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/160 sec, f/8, ISO 6400 — map & image data — nearby photos
This is the roof of the gazebo, at an angle. It might be too disconcerting to be a desktop background, but I thought I'd give it a try. (I tend to like geometric-inspired compositions, such as this collection from the summer, or this one from a couple of years ago.)
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 720 — map & image data — nearby photos
the one bit of color still around
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 360 — map & image data — nearby photos
Next door is the well-hidden Nitenji Temple, from which I posted a few shots last year, but I've still not done a proper writeup. Too. Much. Richness. In. Kyoto. I could never take another picture and still write a post a day for years with all I've got waiting in my archives.
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 280 — map & image data — nearby photos
( I'll touch base on this basin again later in this post )
I call these the “gardens”, but that's not really the appropriate word. The current head of the family (the 72-year-old fourth-generation stone carver Kenzo Nishimura) created this area 20 or so years ago as a way to house and display their inventory, and to make it so that it could be enjoyed. But odds and ends have to end up somewhere, and all stone can be reused, so some areas pile up like this. This apparently fascinates me, because I took a similar picture of this area last year.
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 @ 24 mm — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — map & image data — nearby photos
an artist suffers for his craft
Paul and I noticed this big rock as being new the moment we arrived, and wondered what it was. I had neglected to ask the fifth-generation's wife earlier, but was lucky to still be there when the aforementioned fourth-generation current head of the family, Kenzo Nishimura, happen to return from an outing and proceeded to give us an impromptu grand tour. I found his Japanese particularly difficult to understand, but the stories of his history and of specific pieces were quite interesting.
Upon hearing that I am American, he mentioned that he'll be in The States in a few months to deliver a five-ton piece that's been commissioned, and that he'd helped with “that Oracle guy's” garden in California.
I asked about the big spoon (my name for it), and it seems to date back to the Edo period, perhaps a few hundred years. As best I could understand, the “handle” part sticks up out of the ground, with the rest used to anchor the piece firmly. The top has a hole upon which a wooden beam pivots, filling with water from a waterfall and falling to the ground, spilling its water, and rising up again to start the process over. I see small versions of this kind of thing at temples, where the cross beam is made of bamboo, and makes a resonate “bonk” when it hits the ground. This one is 20× larger, so I would have liked to have seen it in action.
Nishimura-san suggested how parts of it might be used if it's not used for its original purpose again. The handle part, for example, could be the main span of a small stone bridge.
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 @ 24 mm — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1400 — full exif & map — nearby photos
from the head of the house, Kenzo Nishimura
All of the rocks here are very old, of course (likely hundreds of millions of years old), but the carvings mostly date back to the Edo Period (1603-1868), with a fair number going back to the Kamakura Period (1185-1333). However, the simple stone basin pictured above and in “Very, Very Old” dates from, I think he said, the Asuka Period (538-710). He has some other pieces even older, but he explained so much about so many pieces, I can't remember clearly what was what.
(When I'd talked to his son last year, his son had said that the oldest pieces dated to the Kamakura Period, but I realize now that he must have been speaking of only stone lanterns, and not all carvings.)
After we were done with the back gardens, we moved to the front gardens, which I haven't really posted about before, so yet another thing added to the backlog of stuff I want to share...