Archive for the 'Temples and Shrines' Category

Posts about various temples and shrines

Weekend in Shirahama, Japan: Day 1


As I mentioned the other day, we took a short weekend trip to Shirahama (白浜), in Wakayama Prefecture a three-hour drive south from Kyoto. We left on Friday after Anthony got home from school, so arrived late in the evening, giving us all of Saturday and most of Sunday to enjoy the area.

We had a nice hybrid Western/Japanese room at Hotel Laforet....

The area is known for its small white-sand beach, and for having pandas (in what I assumed was a zoo, but as we'll see in a later post, the pandas are at an amusement/nature park). It [...]

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A Few Cold/Blustery/Rainy Cherry-Blossom Pics from Southern Kyoto

Fumie had a ballet performance this weekend down in Nagaokakyo City, and I had some hours to kill after dropping her off for the pre-performance rehearsal, so I met up with some friends to visit some local sites with the camera.


The weather was unpleasant (cold, rainy, and windy), but there was a brief respite just as I was arriving.

The little lake between the road and the shrine has a series of boardwalks on it, and it seems that they were all recently rebuilt with bare wood....

I'd think it'd look better with some nice stain, but perhaps [...]

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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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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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Scenes from the 2014 Kyoto Higashiyama Lightup


Yesterday after seeing the plum blossoms in the Kyoto Imperial Palace Park, I made a trip out to see the annual Kyoto Higashiyama Lightup. It was the first time since 2008, when I posed a report in two parts.

As I tried to take photos, I remembered why I skipped it all these years... the difference between the dark of the evening and the brightness of the lanterns and other displays is just way too much for a camera to do anything reasonable with, unless you move to HDR and its often unearthly results. (Unearthly results can be quite [...]

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Inside the Roof of Kyoto’s Chion’in Temple

In the article "Heading Up To See The Naked Roof of Kyoto’s Chion’in Temple" the other day, about the once-every-100-years roof repair currently being done at the Chion'in Temple (知恩院), I'd ended the story having arrived at the top of the temporary protective-shell structure where one could walk at the level of the roof, which had its tiles and battens removed to reveal the rafters and other components of the roof truss for the first time since 1907.

The roof truss was constructed in two distinct layers... the inner/upper parts were a regular gridwork of beams, while the lower parts [...]

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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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Plum Blossoms are Coming in in Kyoto

At Stéphane Barbery's suggestion that the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine's plum were ripe for the photographic picking, I popped over for a quick 45-minute visit today. This is the same place I wrote about a week or so ago, both in "Kyoto Plum-Blossom Preview: Scenes From a Year Ago Today" where I talked about how Feb 22 was too early for the plum blossoms, and in the less blossom-centric post "The Many Lanterns and Overwhelming Sumptuousness of the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine".

It was chilly (~10C / 50F), but a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere...

The shot above doesn't really "work" because the only [...]

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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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Kyoto Plum-Blossom Preview: Scenes From a Year Ago Today

I've been thinking that it's about time for a "spring blossom preview" post, to look forward to the many plum, peach, and cherry blossoms that the calendar will soon bring to Kyoto, and when I dip into my photo archive, lo and behold I find that it was exactly a year ago today that I visited the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (北野天満宮) and its famous (but only just starting to bloom) plum grove.


I've already posted the following from that visit:

Plum Orchard at the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine: Not Quite Prime Time More Budding Plum From the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine [...]
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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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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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On the Approach to the Todaiji Temple in Nara

Dipping into the largely-untapped reservoir of things I want to post about, here are some pictures from a December 2012 visit to the Todaiji Temple (東大寺) in Nara, about an hour's train ride south of Kyoto. I posted a bit from that trip in "That Massive Column in Nara’s Todaiji Temple Is Nothing To Sneeze At", but it's a visually rich place, so I've been wanting to post much more.

I'd made the trip to take some pictures for a friend who is the author of Lonely Planet's "Japan" guidebook. A few of the photos from this trip made it [...]

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Sipping Sake and Seeing Silly Signs: Visiting Kyoto’s Sake-Brewing Area

I recently made my first trip to the area of southern Kyoto historically known for its sake production, which likely dates back thousands years. Written on the cup above is "月桂冠" (Gekkeikan), the name of a sake-brewing company founded in 1639.

Gekkeikan sake is ubiquitous in Japan. Here you see its name on barrels outside a temple in the area...

It's my understanding that the (certainly-empty) barrels of sake represent a monetary donation from the brewery, to match what in olden times was an actual gift of sake. In either case, the brewery gets advertisement and good karma.

This particular [...]

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Recovering from an OSX Format of your Garmin Device

I hate to have any negative articles on my blog, much less two in a row, but wow, it's difficult to count how many ways Garmin's products are so much worse than they need to be, from devices designed for the pocket but without a way to lock the buttons from being bumped in pocket, to worse-than-nothing "features" you can't turn off, to memory-card slots buried behind batteries (really? How does one screw up something as simple as a memory card slot? Ask Garmin.), to any number of additional "what on earth are they thinking?" observations.

From hardware to software [...]

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Holy Cow, iOS 7 Has Some Really Horrible Design

The user-interface (UI) design of iOS 7 seems to be of the radical variety. Not quite as radical as the initial iPhone was to the cell-phone world at the time, but also not as universally lauded. A lot of people really hate iOS 7.

(Except the first, the photos on this page have nothing to do with the text; they're just random photos I've taken recently.)

Until recently I'd never actually used iOS 7, but from seeing it in news and advertisements over the last few months, I knew I didn't like the new look. The same aesthetic that [...]

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Thank You Skype for Not Sucking, and For Saving my Afternoon

I've been feeling remarkably lazy about writing lately, sorry.

My wife and I were in a travel agency the other day (here in Kyoto, Japan) to purchase some pricey tickets for some upcoming family travel, and since it was a lot to put on the credit card at once, I had called ahead to my US-based credit card to let them know the charge was coming so that it would go through smoothly.

Of course, while standing there at the travel agency office, the transaction was denied. Sigh.

I couldn't call The States with the travel agent's phone, so we [...]

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My Forgetfulness is Getting Worse: Forgot the Whole Camera This Time

My previous post told the sad tale of forgetting the camera memory card on a family outing. I did that mistake one better yesterday by forgetting the entire camera this time, dutifully arriving at my destination with a nice array of lenses but nothing to put them on.

After a massage and returning home to fetch the camera, I returned to the Nishi Hongwanji Temple (西本願寺) where several huge ginkgo trees are currently in full splendor.

First the memory card, then the camera. I worry about what I'll forget on today's outing (upon which I embark momentarily)!

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A Temple with Extra Restrictions on Photography is Now My Favorite Kyoto Temple

This is a followup to yesterday's post with photos from the Hokyo-in Temple in Kyoto, a temple with some of the most harsh, restrictive anti-photography policies I've ever encountered.

On one end of the spectrum are places that allow even tripods, such as the Yoshiminedera temple. Moving along toward more restrictions, the Heian Shrine allows tripods, but only if you pay a ¥2,000 (about US$20) fee. Most places don't allow the use of tripods at all, but the Hokyo-in Temple featured yesterday doesn't even allow you to have a tripod in your possession. Even if securely sequestered in your backpack, [...]

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