Archive for the 'General' Category

General posts

Quick Update: Visit To Shirahama, a Minor Heart Arrhythmia, and the End of Lent

It's been an active week since my last post. We spent a nice weekend in Shirahama, a three-hour drive from Kyoto, about which I'll post more later.

Upon our return, Anthony promptly got a cold and I had my first heart-arrhythmia episode in 20 months. Like last time the Sunrythm I took at home didn't work, but unlike last time they decided not to shock me back into a regular rhythm. Rather, the doc gave me a different drug in the same class (Flecainide, sold in Japan as タンボコール) with instructions that I should return if it didn't help within [...]

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Controlling Exercise Sweat in a Hot Climate: Under Armour HeatGear Sonic Compression Long-Sleeve

During aerobics at the gym I work up quite the sweat. It's good to work out, but the sweat is uncomfortable and can be unsociable/dangerous if it makes for a slippery floor or splatters someone, so I've been trying a few different shirts to hopefully get things under control.

I'd been using the Uniqlo "Dry" T-shirts that I wrote about two years ago, but they're for daily wear, and workout amounts of sweat overwhelm them.

I finally found a fantastic shirt, the "Under Armour Men's HeatGear Sonic Compression Long Sleeve" (available at Amazon, though I bought mine at Amazon Japan). [...]
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Photoshoot with Ikuko Among the Plum Blossoms, Part 2

This article continues from part 1 about last week's photoshoot with Ikuko-san among the plum blossoms at the Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine.

先週、育子さんと一緒に撮影しました、北野天満宮の梅林で。 今日の記事は前半の続きです。

This is at the "banana-juice tree".

"Tilt your head down a bit", I instructed, and bam!, such a different look:

And another slight change creates another dramatic difference:

Here's a wigglegram to give a sense of the orchard's feel.

Admission to the plum grove also gets you some tea and sweets.

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Modern Progress: Japan’s First Utility Wires Coming Down After 120 Years

Yesterday, for the first time in 120+ years, Niomon Street in Kyoto is not draped in utility wires.


The first electric-power generator in Japan was built just up the street from where I live, around 1890. As such, the street in front of my place became the first in all Japan to have electric streetlights. At the time, I'm sure the associated power lines were a source of pride as a symbol of Japan's march toward modernity, but of course now they're just urban blight, and urban blight that Japan has traditionally taken to extremes.

The photo above appeared [...]

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Photoshoot with Ikuko Among the Plum Blossoms, Part 1

The other day I did some photos with Ikuko-san, the friend we saw quite differently last month in "An Apprentice-Geisha Photoshoot Quite Unlike Any Other". This time we could see her normal self.


You'll perhaps recognize this scene from last month's "The Many Lanterns and Overwhelming Sumptuousness of the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine". She, too, was drawn to the many lanterns...

Before we got into the photography in earnest, she wanted to pay her respects (as described in the many-lanterns post).

And since we were at one of the best spots in Kyoto for plum blossoms, I felt obliged to snap [...]

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Finally Inside the House at the Seifuso Villa in Kyoto

Continuing with last fall's visit to Kyoto's visually-rich Seifuso Villa (清風荘), where the last installment ("From the Garden to the House at the Seifuso Villa") left us finally inside the main house that has gone mostly unseen so far except for its photogenic entrance foyer.

The grounds are opened to the public for a few days every year or two, but the house is not normally open to the public at all, so it was a wonderful opportunity to have an unrestricted tour.

The photo above is a 9-image panorama that you can scroll from side to side. It's got [...]

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A Few from the Plum Blossom Orchard at the Kyoto Imperial Palace Park


It's that time of year for blossoms of various sorts at Kyoto Gosho (the Imperial Palace Park). I've posted many times from there, including articles with an emphasis on the blossoms themselves and folks enjoying the blossoms and photos at 300mm and everything mixed together.

Today I knew a photographer friend was going to be there, so I stopped by for a bit while I was in the area on an errand.

Akiko is who I stopped by to say hi to. I'd met her a year and a half ago (during this outing) while she was on a [...]

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“Photographer-World Problems”: Renewing a Passport

Renewing one's American passport by mail isn't too arduous for most folks.... you just need:

old passport filled-out application form photo fee self-addressed stamped envelope

For most folks the photo is probably the biggest hassle because you have to stop by one of those booths in a mall or something, but if you're a photographer, "photo" means you really need (or at least in my case I actually used):

Camera (Nikon D4 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 lens) Tripod (Gitzo and Really Right Stuff) White foamcore board as backdrop SB-900 speedlight as on-camera commander (why can't Nikon's pro body include a [...]
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Heading Up To See The Naked Roof of Kyoto’s Chion’in Temple

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 [...]

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A Few Desktop Backgrounds from the Delightfully Whimsical Otaginenbutsuji Temple in Northwestern Kyoto

The New York Times Travel section recently published the article "36 Hours in Kyoto, Japan" (thanks Ed Pouso for the link), and one of the locations the author visited is the delightful Otaginenbutsuji Temple (愛宕念仏寺) in the northern Arashiyama area of Kyoto.

I thought it was a missed opportunity that the article didn't include a photo from the temple, which reminded me that although I've visited the temple twice, in both the spring and fall of 2012, I'd not yet gotten around to posting anything. My own missed opportunity, of which my photo catalog holds so many. Sigh. So until [...]

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The Many Lanterns and Overwhelming Sumptuousness of the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

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 [...]

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Congrats to Jan and Brian: From Zero to $19 Billion in Five Years

A couple of ultimate-Frisbee friends from my days at Yahoo!, Jan Koum and Brian Acton, went on to make a little messaging app with the silly name "WhatsApp" that I've been running on my phone for a few years. It's quite convenient for communicating with friends while on the go.

It's much nicer than the traditional SMS phone messaging. "Frictionless messaging". That's why 320 million people actually use it every day. I last used it an hour ago to chat with my brother.

Anyway, I just found out that these friends sold their little messaging app to Facebook for $19,000,000,000.

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Huge Main Gate of Kyoto’s Chion’in Temple

I'd started to write up a blog post about the once-in-every-hundred-years roof repair currently going on at the Chion'in Temple down the street from me, and intended to note in that article that the temple is perhaps best known for its big main gate, when I realized that the big main gate has never appeared on my blog. I'm not sure how that's happened, but I'll rectify that now with photos that I happen to have lying around in my Lightroom catalog.

The gate doesn't look all that big in the photos above, but believe me, it is all that [...]

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From the Garden to the House at the Seifuso Villa

Slowly making progress from the outing already seen in:

Entrance Foyer to the Seifuso Villa in Kyoto Approaching the Tea House Between the Tea House and the Garden

(with photos also appearing here and here).

In the previous post we had finally reached the garden, so now we'll take a short walk through it...

The light was pretty difficult that day, quickly changing from brilliantly harsh to utterly dull. The shot above is from a latter moment, stylized a bit in Lightroom.

(By the way, I've come to the conclusion that when I say "the light was difficult", I [...]

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It’s All About the Big Lens: Garnering Attention at the Kyoto City Marathon

There's something about the physical size of the Nikkor 300mm f/2 lens (also seen here) that draws smiles and attention wherever it goes. I had it out a couple of years ago for the 2012 Kyoto City Marathon, and with the 2014 race coming up this weekend, I was reminded of a post from 2012 that I've been meaning to write.

Because I've seen many fun reactions to the big lens (such as seen here and here), it didn't surprise me when folks hammed it up a bit for it when I positioned myself at the last turn of the [...]

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Making the Best of Lackluster Snow in Kyoto by Heading North

The forecast for last night and today was nonstop snow for Kyoto, so it was with disappointment but not surprise that I awoke to find just a thin scatter of snow. Sigh, why do I get my hopes up? Even just a few inches makes things wonderful, like this snow six years ago, but it doesn't happen often in the city.

In the end, Kyoto saw mostly rain, and Anthony's soccer practice was canceled, so we decided to take a drive up north for an hour or two (to near where I took Anthony skiing four years ago) to see [...]

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Ugh! Recovering From the Accidental Deletion of an Important iPhone App

Well, that wasn't fun. While at Anthony's soccer game the other day, I pulled my iPhone out of my pocket to find that a couple of apps had been "pocket deleted", with the screen showing the dialog to confirm the deletion of a third. Apparently I put the phone in my pocket without deactivating the screen, and it bumped around in there in the just the appropriate way to jump through the hoops to delete an app. Twice. I should have had my pocket play the lottery that day.

I've been "pocket dialed" by friends before... the call comes in [...]

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A Couple of Mini Bluetooth Reviews: Braven 710 Speaker and Mpow Sport Headphones

This post is a mini review of a couple of bluetooth (wireless connection) speakers I've been using recently, one small "brick" speaker for the home, and a pair of earbuds for the gym.

Above we have the Braven 710. I lifted the (almost-certainly CGI) image from their web site; if I would have not been lazy and instead taken a photo myself, I would have put something there for context so that you can see that it's small... it's about the size of a sort-of-squished hotdog bun.

We like it. It's got great sound from such a small package. I've [...]

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Continuing with the Seifuso Villa: Between the Tea House and the Garden

Dipping my pen again into the very deep well that was November's visit to the Seifuso Villa (清風荘) in Kyoto, today's post has a bit more from early on in the visit first seen in "Entrance Foyer to the Seifuso Villa in Kyoto".

I vacillate on whether the photo above is of interest. I've deleted it (and then undeleted it) several times.

I showed the garden's formal tea house in "Approaching the Tea House at Kyoto’s Seifuso Villa". Near it are a few small buildings loosely connected with shared outside passageways.... one building being a prep room for the staff, [...]

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A Few Close-Ups of a Wasp’s Nest

As about half guessed correctly, last week's A Textured, Layered “What am I?” Quiz is a "paper" wall from a wasp's nest.

This was prior to the "arctic vortex" descending on Ohio, so it was prior to the pretty frost patterns, but it was still plenty chilly.

The "paper" is from the wall surrounding the whole thing. Inside were the combs...

Not too exciting, photography wise, but for me at least a little interesting.

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