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Heading Up To See The Naked Roof of Kyoto’s Chion’in Temple
Doesn't Look Too Promising but within is a rare site at the Chion'in Temple (知恩院), Kyoto Japan -- Chion'in Temple (知恩院) -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (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 @ 26mm — 1/160 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Doesn't Look Too Promising
but within is a rare site
at the Chion'in Temple (知恩院), Kyoto Japan

The 10 huge characters across the face of the massive building seen above say:

National-Treasure Mieido Heisei Overhaul

where Mieido is the name of the main building at Kyoto's Chion'in Temple (知恩院), and Heisei is the name of the current emperor-of-Japan's reign. The overhaul refers mostly to the roof, which apparently undergoes this kind of thing about once every hundred years.

This is the same temple that appeared in Huge Main Gate of Kyoto’s Chion’in Temple last month, which I wrote in preparation for writing about the roof.

The ugly building above is a shell built around the circa-1639 main-temple building being overhauled, and the line of people is for a special viewing were you could go up and see the guts of the old roof. After having seen a news article about the special three-day once-in-a-hundred-years event, I took a walk over, arriving just before the end of the final day. This was last November.

Long Line -- Chion'in Temple (知恩院) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (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 @ 26mm — 1/50 sec, f/10, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Long Line

I ended up waiting in line for 75 minutes, but I figured it was better to do it now than to wait for the next opportunity in 2110.

Temporary Tile Storage roof tiles, having been removed from the roof, stacked all over -- Chion'in Temple (知恩院) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (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 — 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 1800 — map & image datanearby photos
Temporary Tile Storage
roof tiles, having been removed from the roof, stacked all over
Built-in Throttling -- Chion'in Temple (知恩院) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (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 — 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 720 — map & image datanearby photos
Built-in Throttling

I thought it was smart how they used safety helmets to throttle the flow of visitors... once all the helmets were used, new folks could go in only when others came out and surrendered their helmets. It felt better than a security guard controlling the flow like a bouncer at a club.

As far as I could tell, the helmets served no other purpose.

Temporary Layers one of the many floors of the temporary shell building -- Chion'in Temple (知恩院) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (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 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Temporary Layers
one of the many floors of the temporary shell building
Getting Closer “ National Treasure Miei... ” -- Chion'in Temple (知恩院) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (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/5, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos
Getting Closer
National Treasure Miei...
How the Shell Was Constructed -- Chion'in Temple (知恩院) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (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 — 1/250 sec, f/8, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
How the Shell Was Constructed

As you got closer, various things were posted to give you something to do while waiting. The one above shows how the shell was constructed over the temple building. First rails were placed on the ground along the north and south edges of the building, then off to one side an 18'-wide slice of the building was constructed, then rolled on the rails to position over the building. With this approach they didn't have to worry about construction accidents damaging the building. It took about a year to get all twelve sections into place.

Finally I got to the front of the line and put on my silly little hat, and could go in and up the many flights of stairs to get to the top of the building...

On The Way Up much scaffolding everywhere -- Chion'in Temple (知恩院) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (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 85mm f/1.4 — 1/160 sec, f/1.4, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
On The Way Up
much scaffolding everywhere

And finally you could see what you came for...

Naked Roof the “ bones ” of the roof, after the tiles and planking had been removed -- Chion'in Temple (知恩院) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (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 900 — map & image datanearby photos
Naked Roof
the bones of the roof, after the tiles and planking had been removed

It was quite an amazing site to behold when first emerging from the stairwell, and the size and scale of the roof is difficult (for me) to convey in a photo. It was expansive, to say the least.

You couldn't climb on the thing, of course, but you could get right up to it and touch the 400+ year-old wood.

Continued here...


Comments so far....

The engineer in me enjoys these photos very much, and would like to see a hundred more! Thanks for taking the time to visit the restoration project and sharing the images.

— comment by Tom in SF on March 7th, 2014 at 10:20am JST (5 months, 27 days ago) comment permalink
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