Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/1250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
at the sumptuous Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (北野天満宮)
The Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (北野天満宮) in northern Kyoto is perhaps best known for its huge plum-blossom orchard, but in looking over the photos I've yet to publish from a visit a year ago, I realize that there's so much more to show. So today we'll shift concentration away from the blossoms, and continue with the non-blossom theme that yesterday's post ended with.
All the photos on this post are from a visit a year ago yesterday.
The shrine has many buildings, but the main building is difficult to miss in its sumptuousness. As is common at shrines, there's a big thick rope with a large crotal bell (“jingle bell”) at the top.... shaking the rope prior to your prayer rattles the bell, perhaps awakening the gods to your petition....
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/4000 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
without context, it's difficult to get a sense of its scale
Here's a shot with enough context to feel the rope's size...
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1600 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
to rattle the bell at its top
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/640 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
perhaps the size of a laundry basket
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/125 sec, f/8, ISO 360 — map & image data — nearby photos
above the bell
Continuing the view as we move up...
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 220 — map & image data — nearby photos
It was quite crowded the day I was there, so I had to wait a while to get the shot that leads this post. While waiting, it was enjoyable to watch the folks queue to make their prayers.
I'd brought along a little-used Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 that I'd bought broken for a low price and had repaired by Nikon, but it's never felt right. Sometimes the “not right” lends a nice sense of dreamy ambiance, and for me that's the case with some of the following...
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 — 1/6400 sec, f/1.2, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
This shot looks as if it's had a ton of “negative clarity” added in Lightroom (like this or this or this), but here the effect is all from the lens. You can tell from the lanterns that I hit focus reasonably well, so this weird ghosting is probably because the lens is defective.
The effect gets quite pronounced if you miss focus, as I did to an almost comical effect in this next shot, but for some reason I really like it:
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/11, ISO 640 — map & image data — nearby photos
with a non-broken lens
Yet, sometime, the 50mm f/1.2 can take a pretty good picture. I haven't figured out why this one doesn't have that “creamy imperfection” sense to it...
Anyway, turning to the left and looking past the queue, there's a sort of covered (but currently unutilized) area used for market stalls and such...
However, from inside...
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1400 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/160 sec, f/10, ISO 8000 — map & image data — nearby photos
And you can see above that down the center is yet another set of lanterns. Here's the bottom of one:
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/160 sec, f/5, ISO 8000 — map & image data — nearby photos
dated 1879, sponsored by “Shimada Bank” and others
It's perhaps interesting to note that the lantern predates electricity in Japan, and as such was likely actually used to provide light. It's also interesting to note that it predates the ability of non-Japanese to visit anywhere near Kyoto. I mention this because the lantern was sponsored in part by the “Shimada Money-Exchange Shop” (presumably part of Shimada Bank, which got top billing).
This was a time where foreigners weren't allowed anywhere near Kyoto under pain of death, and only 11 years after Japan “opened up to the outside” and Japanese themselves were allowed to leave Japan, so I think it's a telling indication of the rapid change Japan underwent during this time that a money-exchange shop could do well enough to sponsor a shrine, especially in an area where foreigners were not even potential customers.
As far as I can tell, Shimada Bank has been lost to the dust of time, but its gift remains all these generations later.
For some serious lanterns, visit the small east entrance. Here's a wigglegram showing the view from outside looking in:
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (北野天満宮)
Revisiting the main building where people were waiting in line to pray, not many people seem to know it, but you can actually go inside. Here's the view from its veranda looking out to the line of folks waiting to pray...
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/3200 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
with multiple sets of lanterns
The bulk of the building is closed to visitors. In a small landing leading from the back, a monk's sandals await his return...
Back outside the main building, I just love the detail of roofs made with many layers of thin ceder shingles...
Here's a wigglegram look at the main building from the side, as one approaches from the east entrance we saw earlier.
And finally, because this is the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, an obligatory plum-blossom shot:
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/800 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Honeybee in honeybee heaven
I first posted about this shrine six years ago. I hope both my photography and storytelling has improved a bit since.