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.
This location is on Jingu Michi Street, right next to the Heian Shrine’s great torii gate. You can see the gate and its surroundings on Google Street View on the map below. Although
Okazaki Canal might not be as beautiful in the autumn as it is in spring, when the cherry trees on the banks are in full blossom, I can’t help but stop and admire it when I cross this bridge. There are also boat tours available on the canal, if you want to view the trees from another angle. The building on the right is the Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art, which is also worth visiting.
On our second day in Kyoto (and the fifth morning in Japan) the rain finally stopped and we were greeted by a beautiful morning. Because we’d crashed out early the night before, we woke up at about 6 a.m. After breakfast we quickly packed our stuff and took our backpacks to the next hostel called Kinsuikan, which was only a few blocks away. From there we headed to the nearest subway station. Our plan for the day was to see a few of the UNESCO word heritage sites in Kyoto, so we figured that we were probably going to ride both the buses and the subway, so we picked the one day pass that costs 1200 yen and allows unlimited travel on both. There are also other kinds of bus and subway passes available, but this one seemed to best fit our needs. I’m not sure if we actually saved any money with the pass, but it did make traveling easier because we could just get on a bus and show the card to the driver on our way out.
We then decided that our first stop would be the Heian Shrine, because it was just a few stops to the east from the subway station we were at . We got off at Higashiyama station, from where there was only a few minutes walk to the shrine. The canal in the above photo is Shirakawa Canal, which begins from the Kamogawa River and joins the river again about four kilometers North. We walked past the canal on Sanjô Dôri Street and ended up following the canal all the way to the Heian Shrine. Although this part of the canal is not the most impressive, I couldn’t help but take a photo of it. Even with the antennas and satellite dishes on the roofs, the scene takes you back in time.
See the location of this image on the map below. The street view image is from the other side of Sanjo Dori Street, but you can see the canal and the buildings across it.
The morning after we returned from Sendai we left Tokyo again, this time for Kyoto. We managed to got up early enough to be on our way to Shinjuku and Tokyo Station at 8 a.m. We’d already developed a routine for the mornings, which made getting on the way faster. This time we bought the Shinkansen tickets from Shinjuku on our way to Tokyo, so all we had to do at Tokyo station was to find the right platform. Our train left at 10:30 we started our journey to Kyoto. The train was quite crowded, but we managed to find seats and less that three hours later we were standing at Kyoto station, wondering where we would spend the night.
After an unsuccessful attempt to get a woman in the tourism info to help us and calling a few hostels with no success we found our way to the service desk of the International Tourism Center of Japan (it used to be located in the ninth floor of the station, but has since been closed). A helpful woman working there organized us fairly cheap hotel rooms for the three nights we were planning. The only catch was that we had to switch to another hotel after the first night. Still, it was better than staying outside, especially since it was the typhoon season and it had rained like crazy the entire day.
We stayed the first night in a hotel called Alpha Kyoto on Sanjo Dôri. I was thinking of writing a short review of it, but found out some time ago that it has been shut down, so I guess there’s no point. It was a fairly nice place and we actually ended up staying there twice. Although we had thought that it would better not to reserve hotels in advance because we had a lot of people to meet in Japan and needed to keep our schedule flexible, at hindsight it was a stupid thing to do and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who wants to enjoy their holiday. The only positive thing was that the weather was so bad that we wouldn’t probably have done much sightseeing on the first day anyway.
Anyway, here’s a few photos from our room. The opening image of this post is a view from the room across Aneyakoji dôri.
You can see the hotel on Google Street View below (the building with 7 Eleven):
A couple looking at a bonfire
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.
A midsummer silhouette
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!
Fishing by the lake
In July, I visited my home town in Eastern Finland. These visits usually include swimming in the lake and going to sauna. After we’d done swimming, I took a few sunset shots on the shore and my father spent a while casting his fishing rod. For some reason, I haven’t got that many photographs of my parents, so I took the opportunity to snap a few shots of him in the beautiful evening light.