One thing that I find fascinating with religion in Asia is how much a part of everyday life it is. People will stop by on their way home for a quick prayer. In Europe, it’s so much more ceremonial and occasional. Anyway, it was interesting to capture how small one feels when standing in front of the huge lantern at Sensoji.
Shooting the lanterns in long exposure at Senso-ji after dusk was comparatively easy (although I hadn’t realised that despite their size the lanterns would sway with the wind) but finding a way to shoot the pagoda was trickier. Thankfully I had my Platypod with me and was able to strap it to a tree. Shooting it through the branches, I thought would give it a different feel, and I’m really pleased with how it came out.
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.
Shinjuku’s red light district really has that « where the hell am I » vibe. It’s not so much that the kinky stuff is overt, it’s that everything is weird. There are robot shows advertised everywhere (not sure I want to know what that is) and some of the displays (like this one) are really strange… Talk about lost in translation…
*Senso-ji at Night*
Sneso-ji at night was all it was supposed to be and more. But I had to try this one over ten times to get a decent result : long exposures theoretically erase people in front of you from the picture… except when they stand still for minutes on end in front of you to take photos. I can’t blame them, I was doing the same !
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.