Here’s one more shot of Heian Shrine’s torii gate. I took this on the way to our next stop and tried to capture the gate from below to emphasize its size. I’m not sure if this image really conveys its enormity, but I do like the contrast between the red gate and the blue sky. Using a wider lens would’ve probably given a better result, but I didn’t want to include too much of the trees to the image.
Omikuji are fortunes written on strips of paper that visitors can buy at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. People can make a small donation and select a random fortune from a box. The omikuji contains a general fortune which varies between great luck and great curse. The fortune paper also includes fortunes regarding different aspects of life, such as business, travel, studies, romance and marriage. If the fortune is bad, it is customary to tie the paper to a tree in a shrine. The reason for this is that the bad luck will stay at the shrine instead of following the person. It’s a similar custom to writing a prayer on an ema with the exception that with ema people can specify what they wish from the future.
First things first: I’m currently running a giveaway on Google+ and Instagram! A Japanese friend of mine sent me a few copies of his band’s new album “Adaptation”, so I decided to give them to someone who might like the music. Participating is simple and doesn’t require you to follow anyone if you don’t want to. The giveaway ends next Sunday, so if you’d like to get the album, go to Google+ or Instagram right now! The album is also available for listening on Spotify.
Here’s a music video for the song Ruri by Panic Soup:
The image above is one of the places at the Heian Shrine where people can hang small wooden blocks called “ema”. People can buy these wooden plaques from shinto shrines, and write their wishes on the plaque and leave it to the shrine in the hope that the gods will grant their wish. In the one in the image, a person wishes her mother good health.
There’s a short walk from the giant torii gate to the actual shrine. You enter the shrine through the main gate, called Ôtenmon, pictured above. The Heian shrine is a shinto shrine built in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of Kyoto, and it was modeled after the old Kyoto Imperial Palace. In reality, many of the buildings have been rebuilt in the late 1970s after a fire ravaged the shrine, but that doesn’t make the shrine any less majestic.
In addition to the great torii gate which, being 24,2 meters tall, is one of the tallest in Japan, the Heian shrine is also known for its gardens. Having a tight schedule we decided to see them another time, but at hindsight we definitely should’ve visited the gardens as well. The entrance to the gardens costs 600 yen, but the entrance to the shrine itself is free and there’s plenty to see there too if you just want to admire the buildings. Even though I have been to the Heian shrine a couple of times, the size of it still blows my mind. I hope the following photos give you some idea of the size of the area.
The building on the corner in the photo above is called Sôryûrô (Blue dragon tower) and on the other side of the yard there is another one called Byakkorô (White tiger tower). The photo below shows a close-up of the Sôryûrô.
We started our shrine tour from the Heian Shrine. The whole shrine area is quite impressive in its size, but one of the most notable features of the shrine is the huge torii gate on Jingu Michi road. The gate is built in 1929 and, according to statistics from 2006, at 24.2 meters it is the seventh tallest torii in Japan. It certainly dwarfs people walking underneath it. Although it was Saturday morning (or maybe because of it), the shrine and the area around it weren’t too crowded.
The holiday is over and its time to head back home. This is the last image from the midsummer series, but I’m going to stick with the summer images for the time being. With the temperature being above zero and the constant rain there isn’t much to photograph right now.
Unlike the previous image that I made to look like a silhouette shot in Photoshop, this silhouette was created in camera. I took these photos with a 70-300 lens I borrowed from a friend but since I’d never used it before I missed a lot of shots that night. I think it was worthwhile to try a new lens because I did get a couple of nice shots that I couldn’t have taken with my own equipment and I had no pressure to succeed anyway, but if you can’t afford to miss an important shot, it is better to stick to the equipment you’re familiar with and comfortable using.
Here’s some light for your Christmas eve. It’s not a very festive image, but I don’t have access to my images at the moment as I’m not home during the holidays. I’ll take a couple of days off from blogging during the holidays and return with more images after Christmas. Meanwhile, have a Merry Christmas, everyone!
Here’s some light for the darkest time of the year. It’s interesting how old non-Christian traditions like burning a bonfire still live on in a society that has been prevalently Christian for hundreds of years. I hope these traditions continue to be part of our lives in the future. Happy winter solstice, everyone!
It’s almost time for winter solstice, but my image editing odyssey has brought me to a set of images from another of our great pagan festivities, midsummer eve. I took these a few years back in Kuokkala where the city of Jyväskylä was burning a bonfire. It attracted a fair number of city-dwellers and provided a nice background for candid shots.
A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked me to photograph a Suiō-ryū Iai Kenpō seminar here in Jyväskylä. Suiō-ryū Iai Kenpō is a style of classical Japanese swordsmanship, and what made this seminar special was that the sōke, or grand master, of Suio-ryu participated in it with a number of other teachers from Japan. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous when I went there because I’ve never photographed events like this before and also because asked to take a portrait of the current sōke Katsuse Yoshimitsu Kagehiro during the day.
It was an interesting day in many ways and a great opportunity to spend a day with inspiring teachers and enthusiastic students. In case you’re wondering, the above photo is not related to Suio-ryu in any way. It’s a shot from the Jidai Matsuri festival in Kyoto, taken in 2010. If you want to see photos from the actual seminar, there’s a few at the website of the Finnish branch of Suio Suiō-ryū.
The portrait of Katsuse Yoshimitsu Kagehiro that I made is also on the website.
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