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Inside the Roof of Kyoto’s Chion’in Temple

In the article Heading Up To See The Naked Roof of Kyoto’s Chion’in Temple the other day, about the once-every-100-years roof repair currently being done at the Chion'in Temple (知恩院), I'd ended the story having arrived at the top of the temporary protective-shell structure where one could walk at the level of the roof, which had its tiles and battens removed to reveal the rafters and other components of the roof truss for the first time since 1907.

Naked Roof 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 @ 35mm — 1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 3600 — map & image datanearby photos
Naked Roof
at the Chion'in Temple (知恩院), Kyoto Japan

The roof truss was constructed in two distinct layers... the inner/upper parts were a regular gridwork of beams, while the lower parts that sweep out to the edge are a jumble of raw tree trunks seemingly scattered at random.

Upper Framework with a walkway for the workers -- 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 @ 70mm — 1/160 sec, f/4.5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Upper Framework
with a walkway for the workers
Central Area -- 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 @ 34mm — 1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 3600 — map & image datanearby photos
Central Area
Eastern Slope -- 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 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
Eastern Slope
Pointy Edge -- 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 2500 — map & image datanearby photos
Pointy Edge
Detail under the pointy edge -- 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 — 1/40 sec, f/2.5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Detail
under the pointy edge
Old Ironwork -- 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 4500 — map & image datanearby photos
Old Ironwork

I'd thought these things were made without nails or other metal, but there were plenty of old bolts and nails. I know that the nails, at least, predate the 1907 repair, and some perhaps date from the 1600s when the building was built.

Notches and Cut Marks -- 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 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Notches and Cut Marks
“ #14 From the East ” every piece was marked, though I was surprised they used nails(!) -- 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 — 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
#14 From the East
every piece was marked, though I was surprised they used nails(!)
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 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Wedge the log was a bit too thick for the wedge size, so they had to trim it a bit -- 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 — 1/200 sec, f/2.5, ISO 5000 — map & image datanearby photos
Wedge
the log was a bit too thick for the wedge size, so they had to trim it a bit
“ Half Of Massive ” is still Pretty Robust -- 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 — 1/80 sec, f/5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Half Of Massive is still Pretty Robust

I made a few wigglegram attempts, but all came out pretty bad. Here's the least bad:

Animatable — slowly sweep mouse from side to side to view effect
写真の上をマウスで左右にゆっくり動かすといろいろな影響を見えます。
Looking Under the Eaves -- 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 @ 32mm — 1/60 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1800 — map & image datanearby photos
Looking Under the Eaves
“ Replace ” written in chalk on the left piece -- 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 @ 31mm — 1/60 sec, f/7.1, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Replace
written in chalk on the left piece
Old Nails square Japanese nails date from the 1800s and prior -- 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 @ 48mm — 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1800 — map & image datanearby photos
Old Nails
square Japanese nails date from the 1800s and prior
Modern (1907) Nail -- 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/2.8, ISO 1100 — map & image datanearby photos
Modern (1907) Nail
Where the Roof Jigs -- 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 @ 29mm — 1/60 sec, f/3.5, ISO 3600 — map & image datanearby photos
Where the Roof Jigs
Insect Damage -- 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 — 1/200 sec, f/2.5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Insect Damage

One could walk the full breadth of the front face of the roof, and along one side for part of the way.

Along the Western Edge -- 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 @ 40mm — 1/80 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Along the Western Edge
Modern(ish) Bolts and Old Square Nails -- 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 @ 40mm — 1/60 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Modern(ish) Bolts and Old Square Nails
Center of the western face -- 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 @ 27mm — 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Center
of the western face

Off to one side they had the various onigawara (gargoyle like things) taken from the roof....

Big One -- 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 @ 40mm — 1/80 sec, f/2.8, ISO 5000 — map & image datanearby photos
Big One
Lesser Examples -- 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 2000 — map & image datanearby photos
Lesser Examples
Comparison between an original (1600s) on the left, and a 1907 replacement on the right -- 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 @ 36mm — 1/80 sec, f/2.8, ISO 2200 — map & image datanearby photos
Comparison
between an original (1600s) on the left, and a 1907 replacement on the right
Shockingly Heavy A few tiles were available to hold. They were as heavy as concrete. -- 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 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Shockingly Heavy
A few tiles were available to hold. They were as heavy as concrete.
Original Edge Tile from the 1600s -- 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 — 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 2800 — map & image datanearby photos
Original Edge Tile
from the 1600s
1907 Replacement -- 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 — 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 2200 — map & image datanearby photos
1907 Replacement

All in all I'm disappointed with the quality of the photos, but as my excuse it was dark and I wash rushed for time (it was already past closing time before they even let me in, the line was so long). I'll try to do better next time, in 2110, if I can remember.


Comments so far....

Amazing stuff!

— comment by Damien on March 10th, 2014 at 11:03pm JST (5 months, 18 days ago) comment permalink

Interestingly enough, I found these photos to be both boring and extremely fascinating at the same time. Instant-gratification/Easy punchline #tag me was bored… but PBS/NatGeo/How-do-they-build-it/I♥Japan-geek me loved them.

My initial thought was deeper depth of field but in shots like ‘Old Nails’ and ‘Modern(ish) Bolts and Old Square Nails’ the shallow DOF really brings your focus into the subject matter.

What was your disappointment specifically w/ these photos? (If you don’t mind elaborating.) You’re documenting the restoration of a wooden roof temple… I think you’re doing a pretty good job.

My personal reaction to the photos is exactly the same as yours, Ron. The subject is fascinating, but the photos are boring. Given the situation, I should have been able to make non-boring photos. The result would have been equally fascinating on the subject level, but also stand on their own on a photography level. As it is, anyone with an iPhone could have gotten the same results I did, and hence my disappointment. —Jeffrey

— comment by Ron Evans on March 11th, 2014 at 2:16am JST (5 months, 18 days ago) comment permalink

Thanks for posting these additional images. The roof support structure is really interesting. You managed to get nice, well-lit shots that show both the overview as well as details.

— comment by Tom in SF on March 11th, 2014 at 6:59am JST (5 months, 17 days ago) comment permalink

I’ll bet any architecture student would be absolutely fascinated by all this. What were the roof tiles made from? You said “Heavy as concrete”. They looked like concrete. Surely each couldn’t be carved stone.

Ceramics, I suppose… clay fired at high temperature, just like any old tile. They’re very thick. —Jeffy

— comment by Grandma Friedl, Ohio, USA on March 11th, 2014 at 8:11am JST (5 months, 17 days ago) comment permalink

Going to kyoto soon. Can the public visit? I like the pictures. A gift.

Sorry, no, it was open for only three days (I was there at the last hour of the last day). You’ll have to wait for the next opening, in about 2110. )-: —Jeffrey

— comment by Joel on March 13th, 2014 at 7:31pm JST (5 months, 15 days ago) comment permalink
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