Gion Matsuri’s Shinkousai Event
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So, the other day I posted one quick photo from one of the last major events of the month-long Gion Matsuri, Kyoto's biggest annual festival. I've picked a few more photos to share in this post.

The event has the name Shinkousai (祇園祭神幸祭), and I'd never heard of it before, and knew nothing about it other than "three tabernacle-like things are carried through the streets from the Yasaka Shrine, via different routes, to the corner of Shijo and Teramachi streets", and I saw map that indicated that the street would be closed for 15 minutes at the corner where Shijo Street dead ends into Higashiyama Street at the foot of the Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社).

Looking now, Wikipedia tells me that this parade of three portable shrines from the Yasaka Shrine dates back to 869 (1,142 years), and is the origin of the whole Gion Matsuri festival.

Anyway, I know that corner well, and knew that it didn't have the capacity to hold many people, so I headed down more than an hour early and looked around to stake my place at the north-west corner of the intersection, since I knew that would be the only place that was in shade the whole time. I found a wonderful niche where I could put a stool to stand on such that it was completely out of the flow of traffic, yet afforded me as good a view as I could hope for.

An Hour Early, From My Perch looking away from the main intersection, west down Shijo Street -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/5000 sec, f/2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
An Hour Early, From My Perch
looking away from the main intersection, west down Shijo Street

Even an hour early, the “best” viewing spot, the steps of the Yasaka Shrine, was packed. But it's “best” only so long as you don't mind staring out directly into the setting sun for two hours....

Announcement 40 minutes before the start, about keeping safe and such -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/6400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Announcement
40 minutes before the start, about keeping safe and such

If it were an overcast day and I wasn't taking pictures, I'd go early to sit on those steps. But in one sense photography is better from across the street, so that the shrine can be in the background of the photos, at least if you're skillful (or lucky).

Eye Contact mini processional heads to the shine in preparation of the main event -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/2500 sec, f/2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Eye Contact
mini processional heads to the shine in preparation of the main event
20 Minutes Before The Start traffic still flowing, but sidewalks are definitely getting packed -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/1000 sec, f/6.3, ISO 720 — map & image datanearby photos
20 Minutes Before The Start
traffic still flowing, but sidewalks are definitely getting packed
Kids in Kimono always cute (such as these ) -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Kids in Kimono
always cute (such as these)

Eventually traffic was shut down and the streets cleared. Unlike in my earlier posts, the streets were not opened for the general public.

A small procession of various “shriney things” (I don't know anything about the religious significance of the event, sorry) came out and went down the street, including some mounted warriors...

Mounted Warrior -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1600 sec, f/2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Mounted Warrior

One guy among the long procession was really hamming it up, perhaps for his friends in the crowd. I decided to give this a black & white look, somewhat in a soft version of the look Stéphane Barbery gave his Jidai Matsuri pictures. As I mentioned recently, I'm not that big on B&W, but it's fun to dabble in every so often.

Behold -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/2500 sec, f/2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Behold

Then a boy dressed to the nines, with a crown, came out on horseback...

Child King or so it seemed -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/6400 sec, f/2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Child King
or so it seemed
There They Go heading west down Shijo Street -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 2800 — map & image datanearby photos
There They Go
heading west down Shijo Street

I sort of wondered whether that was it, but it turned out to be a minor opening act. The street soon flooded with hundreds of men lofting in a highly kinetic fashion three large portable shrines, each borne on two very long, solid wooden supports....

Portable Shrine one of three -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 1400 — map & image datanearby photos
Portable Shrine
one of three
Some Folks Brought Cameras -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/400 sec, f/11, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Some Folks Brought Cameras
Private Viewing -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1250 sec, f/2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Private Viewing
Intermission -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/4, ISO 900 — map & image datanearby photos
Intermission
Daddy's Little Helper -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO 220 — map & image datanearby photos
Daddy's Little Helper

Once all three were out and on display in the now crowded intersection, there were various speeches into the setting sun...

Head Honcho I suppose -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos
Head Honcho
I suppose

I was shocked when looking at these photos at home that I actually recognized the guy to the left of the speaker, the smiling man in black, as the mayor of Kyoto. I have no idea where I've ever seen him before, but I recognized him immediately.

Big Crowd -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/1000 sec, f/6.3, ISO 4000 — map & image datanearby photos
Big Crowd
Opposite Corner from me -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 3600 — map & image datanearby photos
Opposite Corner
from me

After the speeches, the head honcho guy came walking by, and I was actually able to get him in focus...

Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos

I have enough trouble with static subjects with this lens, so getting good focus on a moving subject is noteworthy for me.

Dignitaries -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Dignitaries

Then it was time to get moving again, and the three portable shrines prepared to head off on their respective routes in the most energetic fashion, being heave'd and ho'ed boisterously as they're rotated a few times before actually making way toward their destination. One moved away out of my sight, but two moved west down Shijo Street.

Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1250 sec, f/2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Shrine in the Background ( the characters in stone at the far right are the name of the shrine ) -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/8, ISO 5000 — map & image datanearby photos
Shrine in the Background
( the characters in stone at the far right are the name of the shrine )
A Few More Cameras -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/400 sec, f/16, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
A Few More Cameras
Playing With The Focus -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Playing With The Focus
Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO 280 — map & image datanearby photos
Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Finally Heading Off as people watch from a parking structure in the background -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Finally Heading Off
as people watch from a parking structure in the background
Both Now Well Away -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/500 sec, f/8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Both Now Well Away
Closing Processional followed by running Kyoto City paramedics, just in case, I suppose -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO 1400 — map & image datanearby photos
Closing Processional
followed by running Kyoto City paramedics, just in case, I suppose

I let the crowd thin considerably before moving from my safe perch. BY the time I did and crossed the street, traffic was moving again, but to little effect...

It's Going To Be a While -- Gion Matsuri Shinkousai (祇園祭、神幸祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/640 sec, f/2, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
It's Going To Be a While

Continued here...


All 7 comments so far, oldest first...

I’ve enjoyed reading your posts over the last couple of days, especially “people watching, watching people”, it’s a great way to capture those special moments when your subject(s) is oblivious to all that surrounds them, the boy and girl sharing ice cream – perfect! I can understand why you wanted to share the images with them. Also great to read about your exploits with a fast lens and shallow depth of field. I recently purchased the Canon EF 200mm f/2 L IS USM to capture similar candid shots of family, freinds. Like yours, a great lens, but requires skill to use well, but when used well the shots are stunning. By the way, carrying around a camera and lens like this for long periods of time can be tiring, however I recently found the solution in the California Sunbounce Super Sniper shoulder strap. This has a fixing which screws into the base of the camera, or lens, once suspended both can be swung from the suspended position to shooting position with speed and no fuss – highly recommended.

I’ve been thinking about the Black Rapid strap as well, trying to decide between them. —Jeffrey

— comment by Chris on July 20th, 2011 at 9:59am JST (5 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I purchased both the sniper pro and sniper. 1D MKIV and 200mm weighs 3.72kg which is managable on the pro, I’m using the sniper with lighter bodies and lens combos. One tip, remove the metal studs from your jean pockets to prevent scratching body/lens.

The 300/2 is almost 8kg alone (sans hood?), plus body and grip…. I wonder if the Sniper Pro will be able to handle it. Most people would not handhold this lens at all, so straps for it are not a big market segment, I’m sure. —Jeffrey

— comment by Chris on July 20th, 2011 at 11:53am JST (5 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I’ve the Black Rapid and I’m very satisfied. It’s great for the D3 & 70-200 f/2.8, but I guess it is not strong enough for the 300 f/2. Unfortunately, I’ve no heavier lens than the 70-200 for testing it… 😉

— comment by Gianluca on July 20th, 2011 at 9:15pm JST (5 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Striking captures. I may have missed the post on your story behind finding this glass but that is quite the rarity you’ve landed. Congratulations! Roland Vink’s Nikon database lists only 440 ever made and the conventional wisdom has it that many, if not most were bought up by cinematographers.

— comment by Ed on July 21st, 2011 at 8:47am JST (5 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I also found this interesting article about the elusive 300: http://cameraquest.com/nf3002.htm
Stephen Gandy mentions that perhaps half of the run went to the movie business.

— comment by Ed on July 21st, 2011 at 8:57am JST (5 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

A lens of this size surely should have been produced by cannon!

No, only Nikon, but I believe you should be able to use it on a Canon body with an adapter. Sadly, the reverse is not true, so Canon’s many great lenses remain out of bounds for those with a Nikon body. —Jeffrey

— comment by Chris on July 22nd, 2011 at 12:47pm JST (5 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffey, it was my Friday afternoon jest, hence miss spelling of Canon. Looking forward to your next exploits – Chris

I’ve got a cold, so I’m slower than normal, sorry. —Jeffrey

— comment by Chris on July 22nd, 2011 at 4:16pm JST (5 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink
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