The Fushimi Inari shrine is an impressive place literally covered with massive orange shrines (and covered with tourists as well). When we went there, we half deliberately took a wrong turn and ended up walking a narrow dirt path into the woods for a couple of hours. In several places along the path were fantastic shrines to the fox protectors or Fushimi Inari. A multitude of small Torii with these male and female fox statues wearing red aprons. This is my best approximation of what these felt like.
In the Shintoist shrines in Kyoto (and, I’m assuming, elsewhere in Japan) there often are these beautiful little basins with wooden ladles in front of them that worshippers use to clean their hands. When I walked into this temple near Gion after nightfall I was struck by the contrast between the clear wood of the ladles and the dark surroundings. I shot from above, not really seeing what I was framing. It turned out to be more interesting than I thought, in a quasi abstract way.
Wandering around Gion at night, I stumbled upon this large temple complex (I think it’s the Yasaka Shrine.) In particular, the numerous paper lantern on this dance stage illuminated the area in a really cool way. I waited for some passers by and got this shot out of it, which I find really moody.
*Kimonos & Vending Machine*
There are so many vending machines in the streets of Japan, that I was bound to encounter something very traditional in front of a vending machine. It’s likely that these ladies are Chinese tourists disguised in kimonos rather than authentic Japanese ladies, but still, the clash between ancient and modern is quite on display here…
Sometimes what’s interesting in a potential shot is not the subject (or not only the subject) but the way the light hits the subject. In Kyomizu-dera in Kyoto there were many interesting subjects, but this one combined traditional Japanese architecture and interesting light…
*The Temple and the Pinetree*
The weather wasn’t exactly the best when I visited the Kinkaku-jin, also known as the Golden Temple in Kyoto. But maybe that overcast subdued light contributes to a certain atmosphere that a blazing temple in the bright light might not have conveyed. It was overcrowded when we got there, but I immediately spotted the pinetree on its little island as a possible call and response to the temple itself, hence the title and the composition.
The pervasive smell of burnt incense is part of the amazing sensory experience of Buddhist temples. This was shot on instinct as I was near blinded by the light coming through the scaffolding at Kyomizu-dera.
In Kyoto I discovered that temples had an entirely different character at night. Some areas are unlit (and even my XT3 isn’t good enough to shoot those without a tripod) but some areas are lit selectively, which makes for really moody shots. This guy was hurrying to visist every shrine and offer a quick prayer.
I would have loved to do a long exposure shot of this zen garden at the back of Nijo Castle, but tripods were (understandably) not allowed, so I had to make do with stabilization. Still, I quite like the end result, benefiting from a rare ray of sunlight.
Ever since I was a teenager I was fascinated with Sengoku era Japan. Visiting Nijo castle brought back all of these fantasy images of samurais and ninjas, and even though intellectually I know how different from reality these images are, the visit brought me back to my childhood dreams. I kept trying to capture evocative images rather than descriptive ones, and this one falls in that camp.