Archive for the 'General' Category

General posts

The Art and Science (and Complex Frustrations) of Creating my Wigglegrams

This post is about the art and technology of my 3D wigglegrams, but first a bit of context about the location seen above.

This wigglegram was taken during my first visit to Kyoto's Shugakuin Imperial Villa (修学院離宮) two years ago, a photographically-fruitful outing first posted about here, and most recently revisited a month ago here.

During the tour of the grounds, at one point you descend stone steps set in the side of a mountain....

There's a waterfall and a small stream... it's all quite picturesque.

As I described on that first post about the outing, the tour moves along [...]

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Slightly Queasy Wigglegram

This wigglegram, of this temple building at the Kongorinji Temple in Shiga Japan just doesn't feel quite right.


Each of the 15 photos seems perfectly fine, but the movement among them is really funky.... might make some people nauseous.

Not every wigglegram deserves to see the light of day, I guess.

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Inside The Shodensanso Villa, Part 1

In "Approaching the Shodensanso Villa" last week, we ended looking at the main entrance to the 86-year-old grand villa just outside of Kyoto. Here's a view from the entrance looking out.

We received a half-hour talk in this room about the history of the place and the guy who built it (Tsunetaro Takaya). The whole time I just couldn't stop marveling at the ceiling, whose 4-foot-by-4-foot panels were each a solid board...

After the lecture we were ushered to another room for, what turned out to be Tea Ceremony. For a bit I had the room mostly to myself...

At [...]

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Smooshed Glasses as a Psychological Indicator

After returning from errands last night, I realized that I couldn't find my glasses. I knew I'd put them in my coat pocket when leaving the gym, but in between had been all over the city on scooter, foot, and bicycle.

I figured that I'd probably lost them on the 2km walk to a bicycle shop (to pick up a new bicycle), or on the bumpy 2km ride home. It was warm enough that I'd slung my jacket over my shoulder for most of the way there.

I spent an hour in the dark drizzle last night with a flashlight [...]

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Photographer Introspection Amidst the Serenity at Kyoto’s Rurikoin Temple

Some friends and I paid a morning visit to the Rurikoin Temple (瑠璃光院) in north-east Kyoto on Thursday. It was my second visit, after the first two years ago when Damien introduced me to the place.

Two years ago it was probably about 500 yen (US $5) to get in, but I heard that they stopped being open to the public for a while. This year they're back, but it's 2,000 yen (US $20) to get in. It's a Buddhist Temple and so ostensibly a religious place (whose income is tax free), but during the fall-foliage season their business is [...]

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Approaching the Shodensanso Villa

As I mentioned in "Oppressive Crowds at the Shodensanso Villa" the other day, I paid my first visit to the "mountain cottage" Shodensanso (松殿山荘) this weekend. It's a half-hour drive south-east from my place in Kyoto, just over the border into Uji City.

From the makeshift parking area created for the special event, the path up to the villa looked like an empty river bed or canal.

Anyway, after coming up through the gate, one can approach the main house...

I didn't notice it at the time, but the lowermost tiles along the edge of the roof have the name [...]

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Oppressive Crowds at the Shodensanso Villa in South-Eastern Kyoto

(You can't tell in the wigglegram, but she was looking at a wonderful garden out in the bright sunlight.)

The peak of Kyoto's fall-foliage season is upon us, and today was likely the most crowded day the city has seen all year, if not all decade. It's the middle of a three-day weekend, and every hotel room is taken. (I know two people who wanted to visit Kyoto but couldn't get a hotel; one stayed 30km away in Osaka, and the other at our house.) The streets across the city were parking lots and the crowds were oppressive.

But not [...]

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Autumn 2014 Trip to Kyoto’s Yoshiminedera Shrine, Part 2

A few more from yesterday's visit to the Yoshiminedera Temple, about which I posted last night in "The Whole Gamut of My Blog In One Spectacular Visit to the Yoshiminedera Temple".

The photo above is similar to one seen yesterday, but with a different, exaggerated presentation.

The parking lot was surprisingly unfilled, so we made a bee-line to the photogenic path seen in yesterday's lead photo...

Heading up that way, you get a nice view of the main temple building that we'd zipped on past, and the trees on the face of the opposing mountain in the background....

Sometimes the [...]

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Learning Japanese Slang For Ridiculously Large Portions, at Restaurant Kasuga in South-Western Kyoto

After yesterday's visit to the spectacular Yoshiminedera Temple in south-western Kyoto, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant we happened across on the way to the next temple. It seemed like an average lunch cafe, but it had a shocking surprise in store for us.

昨日の昼ご飯は京都市西京区の「茶房か寿が」で食べました。 ポールさんの注文は「マグロとアボカド丼定食」を大盛りにしましたが、びっくりほど大きいマンガ盛りマグロが多かった。本当に8〜10倍位見込みより多かった。1200円だけでめっちゃメッチャ良かったです。マグロはハイークオリティーでした。

Paul ordered the "tuna sashimi (raw tuna slices) and avocado over rice" lunch. At just 1,200 yen (about US$10.50) one doesn't expect much fish, so he ordered the large. What he got was a shockingly large amount of fish... 8 to 10 times the amount expected.

At first this brought to mind the [...]

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The Whole Gamut of My Blog In One Spectacular Visit to the Yoshiminedera Temple

I paid a visit to the Yoshiminedera Temple in the mountains of south-west Kyoto today, and the resulting photos pretty much covered all the main things I normally have on my blog. Let's run through some of them....

Above we have a vertical desktop background, which I started doing four years ago. I've now posted 385 of them.

And here's a wigglegram featuring Ai (who appeared with her husband in this photoshoot a year and a half ago)...

I first started making these things that I call "wigglegrams" two years ago, and I still have a lot of work yet [...]

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Boat at Kyoto’s Shugakuin Imperial Palace

The fall-foliage season is in full swing in Kyoto, and with the number of photos I take in an outing I'm quickly filling up my laptop's disk. So before I can even look at this year's photos, I need to make room for them by cleaning up prior years' stuff. I've spent the last couple of months going through my photos from 2012, and have worked my way through to late November 2012, and my first visit to Kyoto’s Shugakuin Imperial Villa, and realize that I hadn't even looked at all those photos yet.

So, here are two more from [...]

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My First Fall-Foliage Outing for 2014: Temples in the Takao Area of Kyoto

Almost-microscopic mushrooms growing in a bed of moss is hard to resist when you have a nice macro lens, as seen in prior posts here and here.

Paul Barr is back in Kyoto for the first time in a year, as is the fall-foliage season. Paul, Damien Douxchamps, and I made our way out to the Takao (高雄) area in the mountains of north-western Kyoto to see the fall colors. It was my first outing for fall colors this year (though in the past month or so I've posted a lot of fall-foliage shots from prior years, including here, here, [...]

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A Few Photos From The Start of a Visit to the Kyoto Imperial Palace

The grounds of the Kyoto Imperial Palace are open for tours most days, and like other imperial palaces in the area (Shugakuin, Sento, and, Katsura), holders of a foreign passport can visit pretty easily. It's much more difficult for a Japanese citizen to visit, except during a special open house for a few days each year.

During the open house, huge throngs of tourists (Japanese and foreign alike) visit, which makes it unappealing to someone who can visit on a less-crowded regular-tour day, but after finally making my first visit to the palace last week, I realized a great benefit [...]

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How To Keep a Japanese Washing Machine Clean

For some reason, Japanese washing machines build up a sludge of some kind, out of sight, on the underside of the drum, and at some point it builds up enough that it starts randomly leaving small deposits on your clothes like speckles of mud. This sort of defeats the purpose of washing them.


It's particularly maddening because the washer we have has special cleaning features meant to avoid this, but they apparently do not work.

I thought that I could take the thing apart myself to clean it, but it turns out that to get the drum out you [...]

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Rediscovering the Chion’in Temple, Part 2

Picking up from yesterday's "Rediscovering Kyoto’s Chion’in Temple via a Short Mountain Hike", where I had descended on a mountain trail into a back area of the Chion'in Temple that I hadn't known existed. Yesterday's post ended with me getting to the main area I'd always known about...

I'd seen this area briefly last year, at the end of the roof-repair visit, when it was lit up for an evening lightup event. Here's a photo from Nov 2, 2013:

(A similar shot appeared late last year as decoration on a post about Garmin's horrible products.)

At that time the area [...]

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Rediscovering Kyoto’s Chion’in Temple via a Short Mountain Hike

It's been a month since I sprained my ankle while on a mountain hike. It's been feeling mostly better for a while, so I finally decided to do a short hike up to the Shogunzuka overlook just to test things out.

The hike is very simple (I've done it with a five-year-old in tow), and from home it took only 10 minutes to the trailhead, and from there 20 minutes up.

It was a splendid day, but the view from the top was hazy and dull...

The plane in the distance is Jetstar 615, half way on its run from [...]

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Entrance to Kyoto’s Jojuji Temple at its Fall Best

A couple of weeks ago during a scooter ride around western Kyoto, I came across a temple that I recalled having visited a couple of years ago. Its entrance path is quite nice.

Here's how it looked two weeks ago:

I'll have to visit again in a month when the colors are hitting their peak, but until then, here are some more views from Dec 1, 2012:

The smudge of red reveals who joined me on that visit. It was the same trip two years ago with the intense rainbow over Arashiyama a pretty path, a bunch of whimsical carvings, [...]

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Teppanyaki Lunch at The Garden Okazaki in Eastern Kyoto

Fumie's folks took us out for lunch the other day, after a morning event to mark the 100th day of Fumie's dad's mom passing during the summer (she was 99½). The meal was teppanyaki at The Garden Okazaki, similar to the exquisite meal at another local hotel that I wrote about in the spring.

So, the big question is whether this one was better than the one before, and we were split, so it's probably that they're quite comparable.

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Odd Things in Western Kyoto

The other day while scootering around western Kyoto, I paid a visit to something that looked odd in Google Maps, to see what it actually was.

It seemed to be a building of cube rooms...

It turns out to be an assisted-living nursing home named "Life in Kyoto" (ライフ・イン京都) with 226 units ranging from 350 ft² to 920 ft². It seems a bit pricey to move in... of the four units currently available, the largest is a scant 445 ft², but costs $350,000 for a single person to move in, or $470,000 for a couple. As far as I can [...]

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Colorful Precipitation Radar Five Hours Before the Typhoon

I've never seen the precipitation radar look quite this colorful. This is from a few minutes ago. I live at the black dot to the lower-right of center. Typhoon #19 ("Vongfong", though these kind of names are never used in Japan) is forecast to pass through Kyoto in five or six hours. A bit exciting.

Update: 70 minutes later, it's all the more impressive:

Now at 7:25 it's a field of red, and it's raining here, but it really doesn't seem that bad. Also, the wind, which was quite strong a few hours ago, seems to have died down considerably.

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