Archive for the 'General' Category

General posts

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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Bland Pre-Typhoon Views of the Sky from Kyoto to Hiroshima, at 300kph

As I mentioned yesterday, with a typhoon expected to reach the main island of Japan on Monday, we make a quick Saturday/Sunday trip south to Hiroshima and Miyajima. The approaching typhoon made for an interesting sky, with a very high cloud ceiling, in different patterns.

Photos of the sky from the train window are pretty bland, but perhaps of interest to someone who has never been to Japan.


In the split second after we came out of a tunnel, the GPS unit was confused about the speed. It quickly returned to 300kph.

After a lunch (that will eventually be [...]

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Pre-Typhoon Low-Tide View of the Itsukushima Shrine Gate at Sunset

We popped down to Hiroshima this weekend, and spent the night in Miyajima, near the Itsukushima Shrine. A typhoon is coming, so last night's sunset was not too shabby.


The shrine is notable for being in a tidal plane with a huge difference between high and low tides (the difference yesterday morning was 3.41m -- more than 11 feet), so the look and feel of the area changes dramatically throughout the day. It's prettier when the water is up, but it's more interesting when the tide is out because you can walk around out past the gate.

Posts from [...]

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A Really Gross Discovery On The Way Into an Otherwise Beautiful Temple

More from the archives as I wade through my photo library, this time a gross discovery in November 2012. On our way into the Rurikou-in Temple (瑠璃光院) in Kyoto, Damien and I discovered a weird wire-like "thing" twisting and withering energetically on the steps.

I had never seen anything like it. My first thought was that it was a piece of wire that was caught by the wind or something, but it quickly became apparent that it was alive. It was too thin and hard to be any kind of worm I'd ever heard of, so I was dumbfounded.

It [...]

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What I Learned on My Personal-Best Mt. Hiei Climb #6 (just how stupid I am)

I made my sixth hike to the top of Kyoto's Mt. Hiei yesterday, with the goal being simply: fast I could get to the top? I really enjoyed last week's hike with Damien, because he's fun to chat with and it's enjoyable to hike with friends, but it left me wondering how fast I could do on my own, if I concentrated only on getting to the top quickly. No stopping for photography, no stopping for rests, no stopping for energy snacks, no stopping to chat with other hikers. No stopping to enjoy nature. Just go. Fast.

To recap my [...]

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That Imperial Bridge, Funkified in Lightroom

When I visited my photo library to continue where I left off in last week's "An Autumn Visit to the Sento Imperial Palace in Kyoto", I came across a highly-overexposed bridge shot similar to the one that I did post.

Though shooting raw affords me generous latitude to recover from exposure mistakes, overexposure at some point washes out color to pure white, from which there is no recovery. It was severely overexposed (not by mistake, actually, but as part of a bracketed-exposure sequence) so I was about to delete it from my photo archive, but first thought to give it [...]

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Back in the Saddle With Another Mt. Hiei Climb (and Thoughts on Under Armour Clothes and Stock)


The past few months have conspired to keep me mostly inactive, with travel, injuries, and colds weighing me down for most of the summer, but I'm finally feeling pretty good, so when I came across some photos of a previous hike up Kyoto's Mt. Hiei while tidying up my photo archive, I thought it was about time to try it again, so the next morning I did it.

Luck would have it that Damien was available to give it a try, so we met at the trailhead yesterday morning at 8:00.

This was my fifth hike of the mountain. [...]

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Revisiting a Graveyard of Abandoned Temple Monuments in the Mountains of Kyoto

A followup of sorts to a four-year-old post about a dumping ground in Kyoto for no-longer-sponsored temple monuments. Wandering through my photo archive, I came across this set and thought to post a few more from that outing...

There's a certain sadness about the whole place, but this kind of monument, of a history written in stone discarded halfway through, seems particularly forlorn. It chronicles deaths starting in 1919 with a 2-year-old girl, and ends in 83 years later 2002 with (I think) her sister-in-law (of sorts).

I'm probably totally misunderstand what I think I'm seeing, but it looks like [...]

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An Autumn Visit to the Sento Imperial Palace in Kyoto

Continuing the story about a day with friends in Kyoto last November that started with a morning visit to the Shugakuin Imperial Villa, after lunch we made our way to the Sento Imperial Palace, a small palace tucked away in a corner of the huge park that also houses the main Imperial Palace in Kyoto.

It was my first trip to this particular palace.

I include this photo mostly as an example of why one needs to be careful about using a polarizing filter with a wide-angle lens. I'd brought the filter along because it has such a dramatic [...]

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Filling the Time Between Imperial Villas

Continuing the story of my last post, "Revisiting Kyoto’s Fall Colors: Shugakuin Imperial Villa Last November", on a day with friends last November in Kyoto, Japan filled with photographic delights, the story had ended with our finishing a visit to the Shugakuin Imperial Villa. We had some time before lunch, so we paid a quick visit to the Saginomori Shrine (鷺森神社).

A small wall has "wish plaques", where people write their wishes. Presumably, the shrine will burn them later in a ceremony (like this small ceremony, or this very large one).

People often wish for happiness or for health, but [...]

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Revisiting Kyoto’s Fall Colors: Shugakuin Imperial Villa Last November (Part 2)

I guess this is a continuation of a post three months ago looking back to last November's trip to the Shugakuin Imperial Villa in Kyoto. We're still two months away from fall foliage season in Kyoto, but it's just around the corner for much of the Northern Hemisphere, so I guess this is a getting-in-the-mood-for-Autumn kind of post.

We'd left of on that previous post having headed up a hill to a nice view. The same view with an 85mm at f/1.6 sort of has a slightly-unreal look, as if it's a close up of a model...

As described in [...]

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My Best (and Last) Score in the 2048 Game: 76,936

This won't mean a thing if you don't know this game, but if you do, I hope your jaw is suitably on the floor at that score.

When I still had the cold that I recently got over, I would sometimes pass the time playing the simple game "2048". I played on my phone, but anyone can play for free at the creator's website. It's fun and addictive.

During this sick time a game would last a few minutes, and I could get a score of about 2,000. Anthony and I had a running competition, and at first he could [...]

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Gargoyle-Tile Workshop Visit Part 1: Factory Tour

Japanese temples generally have tiled roofs, with ornamental tiles of various sizes and meanings sprinkled liberally throughout. For example, the demon-face tile seen the other day on this post:

In Japanese these ornamental tiles are called onigawara (鬼 瓦) -- literally "demon tile" -- though the word is used for any complex decorative tile, with or without a demon. The English word "gargoyle" is often used for these; it's not really the right word, but it's evocative of the same concept, and I can't think of anything better.

Earlier in the summer I had a fantastic opportunity (more on that [...]

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Tasty Yakiniku Near Kyoto: Hieidaira’s Nanzan

For the first time in ages, this evening we had a grill-at-your-table dinner at Yakiniku Nanzan (Hieidaira location).

I didn't have my camera with me, so I'm putting some photos from 2007 (seven years ago!) that I found in my image library.

We go in fits and spurts, but I think this might be the first time this year. It didn't disappoint.

I always order karubi (marinated short-rib beef), and today had six portions, which are described as for a single person but they're pretty small. It wasn't quite the gluttons affair of the now-closed all-you-can-eat beer/BBQ buffet that I [...]

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A Day with Sergey Kolychev in Kyoto

I'm finally getting around to photos from last November, when old Yahoo co-worker Sergey Kolychev paid me a visit. (He's not old, our co-worker status is).

In the intervening three years since his prior visit he'd become fluent in Japanese to the point that he can read novels, which just blows my mind. Japanese is at least his fourth language (after Ukrainian, Russian, and English), so maybe they get easier as they stack up.

We packed quite a bit into one day. We started out with a visit to the Heian Shrine...

We then popped over to the Nanzen Temple...

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