.

Archive for the 'Japan' Category

Posts relating to Japan and things Japanese

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 [...]


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

昨日、友達と一緒に比叡山を登った。小さいゴミのカメラしか無かったので、今回の写真はかなり質が悪いです。ごめん。

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. [...]


View full post »
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 [...]


View full post »
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 [...]


View full post »
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 [...]


View full post »
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 [...]


View full post »
Celebrating the End of My Cold With Some Pretty Photos From 2008

I'm finally over the nagging cold I had for the last two weeks. It had relented a bit early on enough for me to write the posts on the gargoyle workshop, then returned and stuck with me until I finally went to the doctor the other day. He gave me antibiotics, and I started feeling much felt better the next day.

やっと風邪が治った、二週間ぶり元気です。手当たり次第に2008年の写真色々を見せます。

I couldn't concentrate on much while I had the cold, but to try to eke out some productivity, I picked a year (2008) and started going through my photo archive with and eye to delete cruft -- stuff [...]


View full post »
Gargoyle-Tile Workshop Visit Part 2: Crafting the Clay

Picking up from yesterday's "Gargoyle-Tile Workshop Visit Part 1: Factory Tour", we'll look a bit on how these complex decorative tiles are made.

These are essentially pottery, so crafting is "simple": create the shape you want out of clay, let it air dry for a few months, then fire it in a kiln for 30 hours at a bazillion degrees.

It's not that simple, of course. First off, with the lead time to the final firing measured in months, they can't afford to have pieces crack in the kiln, so they've developed crafting and firing techniques that completely avoids cracks. [...]


View full post »
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 [...]


View full post »
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...

[...]
View full post »
Sand Sculptures at Kyoto’s Silver Pavilion Temple

Last fall I visited the Ginkakuji Temple (銀閣寺, the "silver pavilion") in north-east Kyoto. It's named for a building that was intended to be coated in silver leaf (comparable to how the golden pavilion is coated in gold leaf). Apparently they never got around to actually applying the silver, but the name stuck.

As it is today, the temple is noted for its sculptured sand, including a huge Mt. Fuji shaped cone.

The minor entrance stone garden is not particularly special, with similar features easily found at other temples. But the main garden raises the level considerably...

There's also a [...]


View full post »
Sigh, Lost All Email For the Last Day

I've used Emacs as my primary email client since about 1982, and for the first time in those 30+ years it inexplicably deleted my entire queue of unread mail (about 1,400 messages) when I tried to load the last day's worth of new mail this morning. Doh!

The thought of losing 1,400 messages awaiting my attention was both frightening and liberating. Sadly, I keep good automatic backups (in this case with Crashplan), so I was able to recover my mail queue as it stood a few hours ago.

As I mentioned yesterday, I've not been too attentive to email lately [...]


View full post »
Rich Wood Views Inside Kyoto’s Zuishin Temple

One of the famous spots in Kyoto for plum blossoms is the Zuishin Temple (随心院) in Yamashina ward, and its blossoms appeared on my blog eight years(!) ago in "Plum Blossoms and Photographers". The style of both my blog presentation and photography has changed quite a bit in the intervening years.

Anyway, I made a visit this past March during plum-blossom season, but having already enjoyed the plum at the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine and at the Kyoto Imperial Palace Park, I decided this time to actually venture inside the temple building for the first time. I was joined by Damien [...]


View full post »
Photo Shoot with Alice Gordenker in Kyoto

I've been a fan of Alice Gordenker's monthly "So What The Heck Is That?" column in the Japan Times for years. I first mentioned her writing on my blog more than seven years go when referring to an article she wrote about Gold Poop. (Yes, Gold Poop. Go ahead and read about gold poop, I'll wait.)

She writes a variety of articles for the Japan Times, and also has a blog where she often goes into more detail on whatever the newspaper article was about.

Somewhere along the lines we became acquainted via email, and a couple of years ago [...]


View full post »
A Few More Off-Season Spring Blossoms

I'd prepared a few other "off-season spring-blossom" photos that didn't fit into yesterday's post, so I thought I'd just post them today. All but the last two are from April 2013.

This was from the same trip that produced a wonderful bonanza of pictures that I've barely scratched the surface of.

The last few are from the amazing Haradanien Garden (原谷苑), which I've posted about at length in the past starting here.

I haven't done all that much blossom photography over the last two years, but I did snap this shot of the late-April blossoms on our recent trip to [...]


View full post »
Lightroom Catalog Maintenance: Clearing Out Edit History For Potential Performance Gains

This post is about trimming down the file size of an Adobe Lightroom catalog. In keeping with the off-season them of my previous post (which was filled with fall-foliage photos), this post is sprinkled with a few photos from Kyoto springs past, chosen more for their mentally-calming effect than for photographic quality, which they generally lack. (Sorry)

In a nutshell, if you have a large Lightroom catalog, and if you don't need the detailed editing history for your photos, you might be able to significantly reduce the size of your Lightroom catalog by flushing that edit-history data, which might generally [...]


View full post »
Revisiting Kyoto’s Fall Colors: Shugakuin Imperial Villa Last November

Chatting with a visitor to Kyoto yesterday, she said that she really wanted to see Japan's fall foliage sometime. That prompts me to dip into my archives for a fall-foliage post today, with photos from a visit last November to the Shugakuin Imperial Villa in north-east Kyoto.

It was a brilliantly bright day and even with my polarizer filter (which normally has a wonderful effect with fall colors) the photos seem washed out to me, but some are still not too bad.

This is my second visit, the first having been covered starting in "My First Visit To Kyoto’s Shugakuin [...]


View full post »
Milestones: Twenty Five Years Since First Coming to Japan, and More

Today is the 25th anniversary of my first arrival in Japan. 来日25周年になりました!

It was June 19th, 1989 that I flew into Tokyo from California after having finished grad school and then lived with my brothers for several months while waiting for my work visa to be approved. I was met at the airport by Krish Kulkarni, whom I had never met, but had no trouble finding because he's the twin brother of my best friend at grad school, Ram Kulkarni (who later went on to be the best man at my wedding, and I at his).

A day or [...]


View full post »
Unearthly Steak in Japan at Awaji Island’s “Beefland Prince”

With Anthony away on a school trip, Fumie and I made a day-trip date to Awaji Island two hours by car south from Kyoto, where our first stop was a late lunch in heaven, A.K.A "Beefland Prince".

息子は修学旅行中なので、妻と一緒に淡路島の日帰りデートをしました。まずは「ビーフランド大公」でめっちゃ美味いステーキを戴きました。

You can't begin to imagine how good this steak was. When I say the steak literally melts in your mouth, I'm literally using the word "literally" for its literal meaning... the fats in the meat just melt away. It's almost unearthly when compared to any other steak I've ever had in this life (including the fantastic teppanyaki steak I wrote about the [...]


View full post »
Okay Views From Kyoto’s Shogunzua’s Overlook Today

We had a brief heavy rain this afternoon a couple of hours before sunset, and so with the clearing air I thought to make a visit to check out the views from the Shogunzuka Overlook, which I haven't been to in a while. (However, the "nearby photos" link under any photo brings you to the bazillion photos I've posted from up here over the years.)

今日の集中豪雨の後、将軍塚からの景色を見に行きました。

It reminded me of one of the first times I posted photos from up here seven years ago, also after a storm. Photos from that day also appeared on last year's "Views of Kyoto [...]


View full post »