Archive for the 'Pretty Photos' Category

Posts including photos that I think are particularly pretty, usually about nature.

Wigglegram of a Pleasant Couple Among the Fall Colors at Kyoto’s Enkoji Temple

On a visit to the Enkoji Temple in northeast Kyoto yesterday, this couple in traditional kimono kindly posed for a wigglegram:

Anyone wearing kimono in these settings is certainly noticed by the camera, and it turns out that my camera had noticed her earlier, lost in thought in the main garden-viewing room...

This was part of Day 2 of Paul Barr's visit to Kyoto, which I'll write more about later. Day 1 was a visit to the Tenjuan Temple.

To be continued...

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Paul Barr in Kyoto Day 1: the Tenjuan Temple (Fall Colors and a Wigglegram)

Paul Barr, in town this week, and I made a visit yesterday to the Tenjuan Temple (天授庵) within the Nanzen Temple complex. It was my second visit inside, my first visit here having been three years ago. Earlier this year, though, I did feature the main gate of this shrine covered in snow.

Anyway, the fall colors this year in Kyoto seem a bit subdued, but it wasn't crowded yesterday and overall was really pleasant. We ended up sitting and enjoying more than taking photos.


With the dark shadows under the overhang, and bright sunlight in the background, the [...]

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Last Month’s Particularly Epic Cycling Adventure, Part 1

The mountains around Kyoto are such fertile ground for cycling adventures, I consider many of the rides I go on to be "epic adventures", but the ride a month ago hinted at in "Preview of an Epic Cycling Adventure with Andy and Nigel" stands out.

It was supposed to be a short, vanilla outing on well-known roads, but ended up being a fantastic adventure. Finally, a month later, I'm getting around to posting the longer version of the story.

Andy Clark and I met up with Nigel Randell at a convenience store at the foot of the mountains in northern [...]

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Touring the Countryside of Otsu City with its Mayor

The other day I got to participate in a relaxing countryside tour in the city of Otsu, next to Kyoto. The tour company, Tour du Lac Biwa ("Lake Biwa Tours"), specializes in unique experiences of things not generally open to the public (even to Japanese) combined with countryside food and hospitality, all presented in English.


When I've gone on tours by them in the past (including this, this, this, and this) it's usually been as a "test foreigner" to give them feedback as they design their tours, and to share my photos with them. It's a symbiotic relationship, where [...]

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Fumie’s “Swanilda” Tutu

Fumie had her annual fall ballet recital yesterday, and it was amazing. Sadly, no video was allowed this time, but she's really progressed in technique and presentation. She is a real ballerina.

She did the technically-demanding "Swanilda" variation from Coppélia's act three, wearing this:

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Epic Preview of an Epic Cycling Adventure with Andy and Nigel

They said "Road Closed", but no road is closed on an epic day of epic cycling done epically.

I wasn't originally planning to cycle today, but a hastily arranged plan for a short ride to attempt the most-heinous Momoi Pass (east) while riding clipped in without falling or otherwise stopping.

But in the end no only did I conquer that personal goal, I went on to have the most epic cycling adventure with Andy Clark and Nigel Randell.

The ride was only 100km (62mi) long, with only 1,841m (6,040') of elevation gain, but it was epic and I'm too exhausted [...]

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Visiting Horseshoe Bend in Arizona

It's been half a year since our vacation brought us to Horseshoe Bend in Page Arizona, so I guess it's time to finally post some pictures.

Just like the stunning Antelope Canyon that we visited earlier in the day, from afar the place looks like nothing special...

Being a desert, there's sand (very fine powdery sand) everywhere. A path through it leads from the parking lot up a long rise. Here's a photo from about halfway up, looking back:

When you crest the hill, you see pretty much what you saw everywhere else, except for the addition of a big [...]

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Scoping Out Portraiture Locations with Eric and Gigi at the Kiyomizu Temple

San Francisco friends Eric and Gigi are in town again. We last saw them earlier in the year buying a Kimono and playing in the snow. Yesterday they made a visit to the Kiyomizu Temple, and I popped over to join them.

It was a Monday, but the place was crazy crowded like during a high-season weekend. The economy must really be doing better.

Eric and Gigi like to shoot portraiture, and the challenge in a setting 8like this is to find places and angles that omit the crowd, yet still lend a feeling of the location. As we instinctively [...]

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Riding Clipped In: Baptism By Fire, But Feeling Well Satisfied

Having done a short excursion riding while clipped to the pedals, yesterday I set off on a longer mountain ride to really give them a workout.


I didn't have any trouble at the beginning, except at the very beginning when it took me about 10 seconds of trying to clip in before I realized that I hadn't taken the cleat covers (to make walking down to the bike easier) off. Doh!

The ride ended up being 54km (33mi) with 1,190m (3,900') of elevation gain. This is pretty mild for me, but it was my first real ride in more [...]

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Heading Into Antelope Canyon

My three weeks in The States visiting my folks is about to end, so I thought I'd post some photos from the previous trip in March, where we drove around the American southwest in a camper. It was a bit overwhelming, and I've barely looked at the photos yet.

今日の記事は今回のアメリカへの旅行の事じゃなくて、三月の旅からの写真です。 その時にはキャップカーでアメリカ合衆国南西部にうるうろ行きました。写真写るが良い所が多いですが、一番良いのは アンテロープ・キャニオンでした。

One of the most photogenic places on earth is Antelope Canyon, near Page Arizona. I posted one photo from it at the time, here.

At first it doesn't seem promising, as the whole area is bleak and desolate...

Visits to the canyon are via tour only. We went [...]

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A Hazy Visit to Onyu Pass with Arthur and Neil

Last month before heading off on my trip to The States to visit my folks, I did a nice little bicycle to Onyu Pass and back, an 85 mile (137km) round trip over two other major passes each way. I was joined by veteran riders Arthur Lauritsen and Neil Holt.

My first visit to Onyu Pass had been during a day of incessant rain a month prior, and as such the supposedly-spectacular views were shrouded in clouds. I hoped for something better this time, but was left disappointed due to the extreme haze of the hot (35℃/95℉) humid air.

At [...]

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Morning Calm at Kyoto’s Hirosawa Lake

On a morning bicycle ride other day to Kyoto's western mountains, I made a few snapshots of Hirosawa Lake. It feels like it's a million miles from anywhere, but it's actually just one mile northeast from the teeming tourist crowds in the Arashiyama area.

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The Solemn Uniqueness of Kyoto’s Kuginuki Jizo Temple

Without question, the most unique and solemn temple I've ever come across in Japan is the small but emotionally-packed Kuginuki Jizo Temple here in Kyoto.

今まで出会ったお寺の中で、一番面白いな、いかめしいお寺は京都にある釘抜地蔵です。 日本語で説明は難しいですが、ウィキペディアでは説明があるはず。

Its official name is The Shakushoji Temple (石像寺), but its name in the local vernacular, kuginuki jizou (more or less "nail-pulling guardian deity") reflects the images of nail and spike pullers that permeate the temple grounds...

Until you understand the meaning behind it, it certainly feels quite odd. But once you understand the meaning (which we'll get to below), you'll understand why the temple is so solemn.

As is common with jizo statues [...]

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Obama Hosts My First Bicycle Visit to the Sea

Tuesday was the "Sea Day" holiday in Japan, so I took the opportunity to make my first bicycle ride to the sea. Kyoto is about as far from the sea as a big city gets in Japan, so even though I've been to a lake that looks like an ocean, I'd not yet been by bicycle to the actual ocean.

この間のは海の日で初めての海までのサイクリングをしました、京都市内から。二時間の帰り電車を含めて17時間掛かりました。157キロを走って、一番山が多い道を選びました。 獲得高度は2,800mでした。 楽しかった。

It was a long trip.

I left the house at 4:24am, and returned 17 hours later at 9:33pm, though two hours of that was the return from the ocean by train. All in all it was 151km [...]

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Bicycle Ride Around Japan’s Largest Lake, Part 2


I'm finally getting around to continue the story from "Bicycle Ride Around Japan’s Largest Lake, Part 1", a 230km (143 mile) ride I did with a few friends a month ago. I've done a bunch of long rides since (115km, 143km, 147km, 145km, 50km, and 140km), but this remains my longest ride so far.

Here I'll repeat the map that leads the first post:

In the upper-rightish is the city of Nagahama, and that's about where the first post ended, so that's where this one picks up. We're moving around the lake in a counter-clockwise direction, so we're still [...]

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That Kyoto Temple With the Many Whimsical Statues

After so many cycling-related posts lately, it's time I get back to my basics with some pretty photos.


I've been meaning to write about the Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple (愛宕念仏寺) temple for years, and indeed all the photos on this post are from 2012 (from visits to the temple in April and December of that year). A few of the photos appeared a year ago in "A Few Desktop Backgrounds from the Delightfully Whimsical Otaginenbutsuji Temple", and one appears as the subject of my Photo-Development Challenge #2.

It's at the far north end of the Arashiyama area that is already [...]

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Bicycle Ride Around Japan’s Largest Lake, Part 1

I had a nice bicycle outing on Wednesday with friends, riding around Lake Biwa (the largest lake in Japan). I ended up covering about 230km (143 miles).

Despite being almost twice as long as my previously-longest ride, it was much easier for two reasons: it was mostly flat (just 1,600m / 5,250' of vertical climb over the 230km, compared to, for example, 2,500m / 8,300' over 99km), and I was much better at keeping myself filled with calories. I'm starting to discover that it's easier to ride the bicycle when you have energy.

To explain the last line of the [...]

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Miyama Cycling Tour with Joshua and Manseki, Part 2

Continuing from "Miyama Cycling Tour with Joshua and Manseki, Part 1", this post picks up after we (Joshua Levine, Manseki Kanemitsu, and I) had left the main road to take an old road over a mountain instead of a new, flat, boring tunnel through it.

When we turned a corner and were presented with this vista, I jokingly asked Josh to return so I could have some "human interest" in my photo, and even though I was obviously joking, being the mensch he is, he hesitated only long enough to flash a big grin, and bolted down. Just as quickly, [...]

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Discovering Kyoto’s Wonderful Toji-in Temple on a Tour with NORU

I had a fun outing this morning on a temple tour led by Joshua Levine, who wanted to lead a test tour in preparation for offering tours by bicycle as part of his "cycle cafe" NORU, scheduled to open near the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine at the end of the month.

Unlike the cafe whose target demographic is cyclists, the tours merely use bicycle as a means to move around freely, so they're cute highly-adjustable easy-to-ride little bikes. Riders ranged from 153cm to 192cm (5'0 ~ 6'2) and we all had a great fit. The bikes were surprisingly easy to ride.

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Architectural Details at the Kyoto Imperial Palace


I've been posting mostly cycling and Lightroom stuff lately, so time to return a bit to my roots with something Kyoto...

Last November I took a tour of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, and at the time posted "A Few Photos From The Start of a Visit to the Kyoto Imperial Palace", but got sidetracked, as I often do, before posting more. So today I'm picking up from there with a few architectural shots....

Let's start with a simple wigglegram of the courtyard that ended the previous post...

Looking through, the columns and doors on the wall on the right [...]

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