My Mt. Hiei Climb Challenge 2013, Part 3

This is the third and final post about my climb of Kyoto's Mt. Hiei (比叡山) the other day (Part 1 · Part 2). At the end of Part 2 I'd had a rest at a lovely lookout point near the top. Before heading up the last bit to complete the trip, I ventured into the hillside of azaleas (つつじヶ丘)...

Many Shades -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 125 — map & image datanearby photos
Many Shades
Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/4, ISO 280 — map & image datanearby photos
Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 160 — map & image datanearby photos

Disappointment with photography normally comes to me when I get home to look at my shots, but in this case I felt disappointed the moment I brought the camera up to my eye. The hillside was engulfing with exceedingly vibrant color spanning a wide range of the spectrum, but it became meh in the viewfinder. Less harsh lighting would have been nice, but otherwise, I'm at a loss to explain it. These results are blah.

Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Little Monument Area at the end of a short sub-trail -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Little Monument Area
at the end of a short sub-trail
Looking Back -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Looking Back
Disappointing having been there in person and seen the potential, this is just pathetic -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Disappointing
having been there in person and seen the potential, this is just pathetic

So, I bailed on the azaleas and decided to venture further up, quickly coming across this (seemingly old) marker...

Toward Kyoto 2½ ri -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/125 sec, f/2.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Toward Kyoto
ri

I'd never actually seen the old unit-of-distance “ri” (里, at Wikipedia) used in the wild, so I was tickled with myself that I could read it. 2½ ri is about 10km, and that distance winding along the paths will put you pretty much in the center of the Kyoto Imperial Palace (most recently on my blog as the site for the start of the Aoi Matsuri festival, and for its peach blossoms).

The unit-of-distance “ri” has actually gotten a mention on my blog as well, a year ago in a post about an English-language guidebook to Japan published in 1900, which mentions that foreigners were not allowed to approach Kyoto closer than 10 ri (about 25 miles).

10 minutes later I was closer to the top, at an area reachable by car via a scenic tollway, with a “Museum Garden” of some sort, and ample bus parking. Like with the abandoned ski run mentioned earlier in Part 1, the fringes of the area had seen better days...

Scenic Platform? -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/800 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Scenic Platform?
Big Antennas visibile from all over Kyoto -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Big Antennas
visibile from all over Kyoto
Bus Stop -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/800 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Bus Stop

Many would consider this big parking area to be the top of the mountain because it's the highest you can go by car, and there are no signs pointing to “the very top”, but as you can see in the shot above, there is an area of somewhat higher land beyond, so I wondered that way.

I took a closed access road that at first seemed to go up, then turned to a path at a couple of large rusting refrigerators someone had kindly dumped in the woods ( 🙁 ), and less than five minutes from the bus stop I came to what appeared to be the highest point of land for miles...

This is It in all its underwhelming glory -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
This is It
in all its underwhelming glory

It felt like I was in the brush in a small park in the city; it certainly didn't feel like I was at the top of one of the highest mountains overlooking Kyoto. There was no view beyond the thick woods, and there wasn't even the Japanese Geological Survey elevation marker that I would have expected, nor anything else to indicate that this was indeed the summit.

Not being signed or promoted, few folks bothered to venture here past the parking lot, but I did see one other person, just below the summit, eating lunch...

Enjoying the... er... enjoying lunch -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/4.5, ISO 280 — map & image datanearby photos
Enjoying the... er...
enjoying lunch

Right near the “summit” is a small area of TV antennas developed 15 years ago...

TV Antennas -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
TV Antennas

I thought that if Anthony was with me, he'd immediately seize on the flat area and want to play soccer. It'd be fun until the ball dropped over the edge, after which point it would be well and truly gone.

Vast Nothingness to the North -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 60mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Vast Nothingness to the North

Japan's population is about half (40%) that of the United States, but it has less than 4% of the land area, and most of that land is uninhabitable mountains. Where there is actually population in Japan, the density is pretty high.

desktop background image of a parking lot at the top of Mt. Hiei (比叡山), Kyoto Japan -- Go Left -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/160 sec, f/11, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Go Left
Desktop-Background Versions
1280×800  ·  1680×1050  ·  1920×1200  ·  2560×1600  ·  2880×1800
Kyoto -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/11, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Kyoto

If it were no so very hazy, you could see the bulk of Kyoto City at right, and the Osaka skyline in the distance above it.

Zooming in to Kyoto, you can see where I started my trip...

Urban Sprawl -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 125 — map & image datanearby photos
Urban Sprawl

Kyoto Tower (seen here and here) is in the exact center of the frame. You may have to click through to the larger version, but half way from Kyoto Tower toward the bottom of the frame is the big orange gate of the Heian Shrine, seen in the first photo of the first part of this series, where I started the day's hike 5½ hours earlier.

Looking another direction gives a nice view of the city of Otsu...

Otsu, Shiga Prefecture Anthony's friend Gen lives there -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/11, ISO 720 — map & image datanearby photos
Otsu, Shiga Prefecture
Anthony's friend Gen lives there

Back at the parking lot...

We Both Had the same idea -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/11, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
We Both Had
the same idea
“Garden Museum” next to the bus stop -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 140 — map & image datanearby photos
“Garden Museum”
next to the bus stop

Considering the developing blister on one foot (due to having completely inappropriate shoes), I decided to avail myself of the bus, of which there are several per day....

Heading Home -- Mt. Hiei (比叡山) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/1250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Heading Home

This was even easier than last time I did this hike, where I returned home via mountain train, normal train, and taxi.

50 minutes later I was dropped off a short stroll from home...

Thank You Mr. Bus -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Thank You Mr. Bus
Home 7 hours 7 minutes after starting -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 28mm — 1/1600 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Home
7 hours 7 minutes after starting

So, overall, it went much better than last year's hike, which resulted in the aptly tittled “The Agony Where Bravado Yields, In Spectacular Fashion, To Painful Reality”.

Generally getting in better shape, and bringing enough water helped a lot. If Stéphane Barbery (who invited me for the initial hike last year) had been along this time, he would have earned the well-deserved right to say “I told you so.”)

As for my knees, I don't know what exactly helped, but here's what I think might have contributed:

  • Lots of stretching and strengthening of the muscles that connect to the knees (mentioned in Part 1).

  • The kneecap compression straps mentioned in Part 2.

  • Having taken a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement daily since January, on the advice of my dad who thought it generally seemed to help his joints. (The “Kirkland Signature” brand, sold at Costco and via Amazon.com is a good value and unlike others that I've tried, has a taste that's not totally revolting.)

Finding some appropriate footwear for my super-thin size 13½ feet is a challenge, but if I can solve that, I wouldn't mind trying to make this hike more often.

Anyone want to join me?

Continued with next year's hike here...


All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

I’d join you.

Regarding the flowers in the harsh sunlight, I remember you posted some shots a few months (years?) ago showing the effects of a circular polarizer on tree foliage. It had an amazing effect of reducing and removing the washout and glare from the sunlight. Have you ever tried using the polarizer with flowers in the sunlight? Alternately, taking multiple exposures and then combining them into a high dynamic range image might also help to overcome the harsh lighting and bring out the color. I’ve never tried it with flowers in harsh sunlight, but I’ve found that HDRs of flowers in otherwise imperfect light can occasionally bring out some interesting effects.

I did use a polarizer with these shots… it didn’t have much effect on the flowers, but did on the leaves and sky. —Jeffrey

— comment by David K on May 29th, 2013 at 9:47pm JST (4 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

WE BOTH HAD the same idea: I’m guessing that you took these shots sometime around 11am – 1pm or so. (Humbly guessing. Could be wrong.)

I offer this advice also humbly:

I think you are suffering from that eye/mind’s eye images versus camera limitations thing. Its so frustrating especially in nature as the eye captures all these wonderful shots but the camera just can’t get them.

I’d say try deeper DOF on the wider shots. (the shallow DOF looks fantastic on the macro stuff but less effective say in ‘Red Azaleas against blue sky) These shots you took are not pleasing maybe because the cottony focus doesn’t do justice to the vivid images you probably saw in your head.

Something else… I found that for similar shots I recently took, I had to turn down the color saturation to get more pleasing shots (-and they’re still over saturated in my opinion). That hot red and blue azaleas shot, even though accurate from the camera and maybe even actual (in that bright sun) may need to be toned down in post to make the shots more palatable.

Hope that helps. Don’t give up on midday, supposedly there is a way to get halfway decent shots at these supposed ‘no-no’ hours.


A link to shots I took in a similar secnario:
http://www.nativebergen.com/2013/native-plant-garden-nybg/

I hesitate to add the link because I don’t want you to think I’m just shilling. During this shoot however, I did feel very Jeffrey Friedl-esque. 🙂 If you feel like its shilling, just remove all the text between the –.

All the best JF!

— comment by Ron Evans on May 30th, 2013 at 1:28pm JST (4 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Hi, My name is wynn, I am from Malaysia.
Your article is very useful.
I am planning to mountain hiei two more weeks later, but I can’t find much information on the internet.
I am wondering weather tourist center in kyoto provides trail map for hikers?
I am planning to hike mountain rokko as well.
Hope you can give me some information.

Thanks,
wynn

I don’t know, but this might be helpful. —Jeffrey

— comment by wynn on September 26th, 2016 at 9:27pm JST (1 year, 3 months ago) comment permalink
Leave a comment...


All comments are invisible to others until Jeffrey approves them.

Please mention what part of the world you're writing from, if you don't mind. It's always interesting to see where people are visiting from.


You can use basic HTML; be sure to close tags properly.

Subscribe without commenting