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Archive for the 'Pretty Photos' Category

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

Approaching the Shodensanso Villa

As I mentioned in "Oppressive Crowds at the Shodensanso Villa" the other day, I paid my first visit to the "mountain cottage" Shodensanso (松殿山荘) this weekend. It's a half-hour drive south-east from my place in Kyoto, just over the border into Uji City.

From the makeshift parking area created for the special event, the path up to the villa looked like an empty river bed or canal.

Anyway, after coming up through the gate, one can approach the main house...

I didn't notice it at the time, but the lowermost tiles along the edge of the roof have the name [...]


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Oppressive Crowds at the Shodensanso Villa in South-Eastern Kyoto

(You can't tell in the wigglegram, but she was looking at a wonderful garden out in the bright sunlight.)

The peak of Kyoto's fall-foliage season is upon us, and today was likely the most crowded day the city has seen all year, if not all decade. It's the middle of a three-day weekend, and every hotel room is taken. (I know two people who wanted to visit Kyoto but couldn't get a hotel; one stayed 30km away in Osaka, and the other at our house.) The streets across the city were parking lots and the crowds were oppressive.

But not [...]


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An Among-the-Fall-Colors “What am I?” Quiz

The other temple we visited on Tuesday's outing after the spectacular Yoshiminedera (seen here and here) is one known as the "Flower Temple" (hanadera -- 花寺), though its official name is the Shojiji Temple (勝持寺).

In any case, the thing seen above was sitting on the veranda of the main temple building. On the front in faded big characters is 「大原野」(Oharano), the name of the area.

On the side is a date: July 1889.

What is this 125-year-old thing?

As usual with my "What am I?" quizzes, I'll keep all comments from appearing until after I reveal the answer in [...]


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Autumn 2014 Trip to Kyoto’s Yoshiminedera Shrine, Part 2

A few more from yesterday's visit to the Yoshiminedera Temple, about which I posted last night in "The Whole Gamut of My Blog In One Spectacular Visit to the Yoshiminedera Temple".

The photo above is similar to one seen yesterday, but with a different, exaggerated presentation.

The parking lot was surprisingly unfilled, so we made a bee-line to the photogenic path seen in yesterday's lead photo...

Heading up that way, you get a nice view of the main temple building that we'd zipped on past, and the trees on the face of the opposing mountain in the background....

Sometimes the [...]


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The Whole Gamut of My Blog In One Spectacular Visit to the Yoshiminedera Temple

I paid a visit to the Yoshiminedera Temple in the mountains of south-west Kyoto today, and the resulting photos pretty much covered all the main things I normally have on my blog. Let's run through some of them....

Above we have a vertical desktop background, which I started doing four years ago. I've now posted 385 of them.

And here's a wigglegram featuring Ai (who appeared with her husband in this photoshoot a year and a half ago)...

I first started making these things that I call "wigglegrams" two years ago, and I still have a lot of work yet [...]


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Boat at Kyoto’s Shugakuin Imperial Palace

The fall-foliage season is in full swing in Kyoto, and with the number of photos I take in an outing I'm quickly filling up my laptop's disk. So before I can even look at this year's photos, I need to make room for them by cleaning up prior years' stuff. I've spent the last couple of months going through my photos from 2012, and have worked my way through to late November 2012, and my first visit to Kyoto’s Shugakuin Imperial Villa, and realize that I hadn't even looked at all those photos yet.

So, here are two more from [...]


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My First Fall-Foliage Outing for 2014: Temples in the Takao Area of Kyoto

Almost-microscopic mushrooms growing in a bed of moss is hard to resist when you have a nice macro lens, as seen in prior posts here and here.

Paul Barr is back in Kyoto for the first time in a year, as is the fall-foliage season. Paul, Damien Douxchamps, and I made our way out to the Takao (高雄) area in the mountains of north-western Kyoto to see the fall colors. It was my first outing for fall colors this year (though in the past month or so I've posted a lot of fall-foliage shots from prior years, including here, here, [...]


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A Few Photos From The Start of a Visit to the Kyoto Imperial Palace

The grounds of the Kyoto Imperial Palace are open for tours most days, and like other imperial palaces in the area (Shugakuin, Sento, and, Katsura), holders of a foreign passport can visit pretty easily. It's much more difficult for a Japanese citizen to visit, except during a special open house for a few days each year.

During the open house, huge throngs of tourists (Japanese and foreign alike) visit, which makes it unappealing to someone who can visit on a less-crowded regular-tour day, but after finally making my first visit to the palace last week, I realized a great benefit [...]


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A Wigglegram of Three Lovely Ladies in Kimono at the Kyoto Imperial Palace

I visited the Kyoto Imperial Palace for the first time yesterday, and these three young college students also enjoying the sites were kind enough to pose for a wigglegram for me. The frame above is the last in the series, after they broke out in a smile at the rapid-fire sound of my camera capturing frames at the zippy pace of 10 per second.

昨日京都御所でこの大学生の美人達はポーズしてくれて、僕はウイグルグラムを作りました。以下の写真の上にマウスをあっちこっちしてね!

Here's the wigglegram:

Kimono are almost always photogenic, which is why they tend to appear in my wigglegrams, such as this one and this one.

Because the individual frames are taken manually (as I sweep [...]


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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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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.

厳島神社の鳥居、昨日の夕方。台風19号の影響で奇麗な夕焼けでした。今日、雨が始まる前に京都に戻りました。

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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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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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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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 [...]


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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. [...]


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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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