Archive for the 'Japan' Category

Posts relating to Japan and things Japanese

A Bicycle Ride to the Kuuya-taki Waterfall in Western Kyoto with Manseki Kanemitsu

Today I went out for a short, mostly-easy bicycle ride (track at Strava) with Manseki Kanemitsu, another member of the Cycling Kyoto! group on Facebook. Rain was forecast for the late afternoon so it was just us.

It was my first real ride since the grueling 90km mountain/snow adventure three weeks ago, and my third "real" ride in total, since my inaugural ride a month and a half ago.

(We're planning to do a more ambitious ride tomorrow with a larger group, so that'll be ride #4.)

We decided to head off to the Arashiyama area of western Kyoto, which [...]

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Filming a TV Segment about Mochi and Shiga

僕はテレベ出るかもしれない。来週の火曜日(24日)、関西テレベ放送のスーパーニュース アンカーの中 の短い部分、滋賀県の話題について。放送予定は17:20〜17:45です。よろしく!

I recently had a fun experience to be part of filming a short TV segment scheduled to be shown next week... it's scheduled to air on Kansai TV on Tuesday the 24th, during a bigger news program, sometime between 17:20 and 17:45.

The segment was part of a larger piece on Shiga Prefecture (the "state" next to Kyoto) and what it has to offer, and why it's not as popular among foreign tourists as Kyoto. The TV station was working with Tour du Lac Biwa, a tour company that provides day excursions into Shiga, in English, [...]

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Facebook Engineering Opens a Satellite Office in Kyoto (For a Few Hours)

Facebook engineer Ryan Mack and his wife Nadia and their blissfully-sleeping two-year-old took time from their 10-year-anniversary Japan trip to join me for dinner at Uroko (鱗) in downtown Kyoto the other night.

Ryan has sometimes provided help or insight on navigating the complexities of Facebook's third-party app API, which I must use for my Export-to-Facebook plugin for Adobe Lightroom, so I was happy to finally meet him in person. Meeting Nadia was a wonderful bonus, though I didn't really get to meet his son, who slept the whole time we were together. (Jetlag sometimes giveth, I guess.)

It's just [...]

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2015 Kyoto Marathon

Today was the 2015 Kyoto City Marathon. Just as when I blogged about the 2012 Kyoto City Marathon, I went out with the Nikkor 300mm f/2, but new this time is that I intended to try to photograph two acquaintances who had told me their intended pace and sent photos of what they were wearing.

To help increase my luck in picking out two faces from 16,000 runners, I set up a bit past the halfway point just before a turnaround, so runners were going both directions in front of me. If I suddenly noticed a friend going by one [...]

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Attempting a 100km Bikeride in the Mountains of Kyoto, Part 2: The Last 70km

In part 1 about last weekend's cycling into the mountains north of Kyoto, I ended the story 23km into the journey at the top of the Hanase Pass (花背峠). At 769m it would be the highest point of the trip (a trip that started and ended at an elevation of about 60m).

With a nice downhill to look forward to, I didn't linger long at the pass. After a minute-and-a-half's rest and a selfie, I carried on.

I couldn't let myself build up much speed because the road was quite snowy/icy, so I dragged on the rear brake most of [...]

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Attempting a 100km Bikeride in the Mountains of Kyoto, Part 1: Hanase Pass

Having had my first "real" bike ride two weeks ago, a 55km ride up into the mountains and back, and found it to be not challenging at all, I wanted to try something certain to challenge myself, so I put together a plan to do a 100km loop with intense mountain sequences that far exceeded what I'd done before.

Since then it's been quite cold with occasional snow, so it wasn't until this past Saturday that I could give it a try.

The important parts of my outfit are by Under Armour, a maker whose products I've liked more and [...]

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Shopping in Kyoto: Gigi and Eric Buy a Kimono

New (to me) friends Eric and Gigi, seen the other day in "Unexpectedly Snowy Photoshoot at the Joshokoji Temple", wanted to pick up a kimono before returning to San Francisco, and I got to tag along.

A friend brought them to a small shop in central Kyoto named W'Atelier ENYA (縁家)...

First was Gigi's turn, and she quickly zeroed in on one to try...

I don't know why kimono need to be so complex, but even most Japanese don't know how to put one on themselves.

Gigi tried various kimono....

Gigi's first instinct was apparently correct, because she had to [...]

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Unexpectedly Snowy Photoshoot at the Joshokoji Temple

Through the cycle group that I mentioned last week, I met photographer/triathlete Kumiko Mini, who as it happened was expecting photographer friends from San Francisco to join her for a week of photography fun in Kyoto. I got to tag along on a trip into the mountains where they planned to do a little photoshoot at a temple far away from the crowds of the city.

There was no forecast for snow, but as we got into the mountains the flakes started coming and got thicker by the minute. The mountains turned splendid with a puffy, frosty blanket.

By the [...]

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Exploring The Mountains of Northern Kyoto by Bicycle

Today I made my first "real" bicycling ride. Normally the bicycle is just for transportation from one place to the other, and not my first choice for either exercise nor pleasure, but I recently replaced my 10-year-old mamachari ("Mama Chariot", heavy, built like a tank, and can carry oodles of kids and stuff) with a lighter cross bike.


Through the Cycling Kyoto Facebook group I learned that some folks would have a "slow easy" ride today, so I thought it was a good opportunity to give it a try.

We ended up going 55km (34 miles) up into the [...]

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The 2015 Young-Adult Archery Event at the Sanjusangendo Temple

Today was the annual toshiya archery event for new adults at the Sanjusangendo Temple (三十三間堂) here in Kyoto. I blogged about it extensively three years ago starting with "Traditional Archery Like a Boss".

I then followed up with what turned into one of my most popular series of posts, starting with "Total Discipline: Anatomy of a Japanese Archer’s Shot", followed by a note about the crowds and the hubub outside and the instructors taking their turn ("More Badass Japanese Archery") and then a look at the colorful wardrobes of the ladies and then perhaps my favorite post on the subject: [...]

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Inside the “New” Temple Building at Shogunzuka Overlooking Kyoto

This post continues from "New Views of Kyoto from Shogunzuka’s New Observation Deck", about some big construction at Shougunzuka (将軍家) on a mountain overlooking eastern Kyoto that finally completed last fall. This post looks at the "new" temple building.

In that previous post I showed this photo of the new temple building from the outside:

This looks a bit odd for a temple building, and from the back you can see that it has what appears to be distinctly-new and distinctly-old sections:

Above the entrance is a richly engraved/painted sign showing the name of the place. It's rare for me [...]

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Kyoto At Night During a Heavy Snow, Part 3

A continuation from part one and part two of my nighttime stroll during a rare snowstorom in Kyoto on the early morning of January 3rd.

The photo above is much less impressive than the actual view was, with the trees receding at various stages up the mountain in the background in crisp relief to the temporarily-clear sky, it had a particularly three-dimensional feel, with added weight and depth due to the heavily-laden trees.

I wish I would have made it a Wigglegram. When this thought first popped in my mind as I wrote the caption above, it was as a [...]

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Kyoto At Night During a Heavy Snow, Part 2

She could have been commenting on my inability to set up the tripod, aim the camera, and actually focus the shot properly in time, but I think she was talking about the weather.

これは真夜中の大雪中の撮影散歩の続きの記事です。 今朝の零時から5時間の散歩をしました、平安神宮と南禅寺の周辺で。 京都新聞により, 61年ぶりに20センチを超えました。

At 7am this morning I posted "Kyoto At Night During a Heavy Snow" after having spent the night wandering around my area of Kyoto with a camera and tripod. I suspected that the evening's snowfall had beat the record-breaking snow of the previous day, and indeed now after four hours of sleep I see in the paper that it was the 4th most [...]

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Kyoto At Night During a Heavy Snow


At 100,000,000 US dollars for the single-family residence, I suppose it's not a Motel 6, but apparently he'll leave the light on for you nevertheless.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is reported to have bought this villa near my house several years ago, for a reported 100 million US dollars, though it's not known whether he's ever actually visited it in person. It's been reported, though, that he's pouring an additional 100 million dollars into renovations.

(Larry's house has appeared on my blog once before, here.)

Anyway, I wasn't outside his front door at 3:40 am just to loiter. [...]

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More From That Big New-Year’s-Day Snow in Kyoto

As I mentioned Yesterday, New Year's Day brought Kyoto's biggest snow in 60ish years. I went out for a bit in the evening to snap some pics and play with Anthony.

It was really coming down...

Compare that shot to the lead shot on this post.

The snow just stuck to whatever it first touched, and accumulated in improbable amounts on the most insubstantial of surfaces....

The moment I walked outside I knew that the expressway (whose nearest entrance is more than 6km away) was closed, because when it closes, traffic ends up bogged down on my street...

Earlier in [...]

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Kyoto’s Biggest Snow in 58 Years

While setting up in my living room for the silly photoshoot today, I noticed a few flakes of snow starting to fall a bit after 1pm. According to the news later in the evening, by 6pm it was already the biggest snowfall in Kyoto City in the last 58 years.

By 6pm the accumulation was only 16cm (6¼ inches), which is nothing for Ohio where I grew up, or New Hampshire where I went to grad school, but for Kyoto City it's a big deal.

Just to show how quickly it came down, here are two photos taken at the [...]

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Andrei Zmievski Wigglegrams Kyoto

An old friend from my days at Yahoo! swung by Kyoto the other day, and we made a quick walking tour of a few sightseeing spots.

I first met Andrei Zmievski at an Open Source Conference circa 2002, and we worked together a bit on things related to PHP's regular-expression support (of which a chapter of my book on regular expressions is dedicated). As an expert in PHP, he later joined Yahoo! a couple of years later when Yahoo! made heavier use of PHP.

These "selfie stick" (my word) things seem to have suddenly exploded in popularity. I've seen them [...]

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New Views of Kyoto from Shogunzuka’s New Observation Deck

When I mention "Shogunzuka", it can refer to an overlook with nice views of Kyoto that I often visit for sunsets, or its nearby temple. The latter has long had a dilapidated observation deck, but for the last year they were working on a remodel, and this past October they finally unveiled a new temple building and spiffy observation deck.

This past October 8th they finally had the grand opening, so I popped up for a visit.

The new building is actually an old building moved here and repurposed for use as a temple, but that'll be the subject of [...]

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Quality Time Among the Fall Colors

Almost identical to the lead photo of the previous post ("The Building at the Main Garden of the Kongorinji Temple"), but with a human touch.

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The Building at the Main Garden of the Kongorinji Temple

Last week's "Slightly Queasy Wigglegram" showed a small corner of a building at the Kongorinji Temple (金剛輪寺) in Shiga Japan, from a visit last month toward the start of this year's fall-foliage season.

This post looks a bit more at the building, which is not the temple's main building, but does front the main garden. (The main garden was seen four years ago in "The Kongourinji Temple: Main Garden, and Beyond".)

It can be partitioned into various rooms, but many of the partitions were slid away revealing an open view all the way through to the garden on the [...]

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