Ryokan Chitoseya

Since we hadn’t booked a hostel in advance, we had to settle for what was available when we got there. The nice people at the tourist counter managed to arrange us a room at a traditional hostel called Ryokan Chitoseya (also called Chitose Youth Hostel).

Chitoseya isn’t located too far from the station – it takes about 20 minutes by walking to get there. Currently a single room costs 5,460 yen and a twin room 4,935 yen. If you’re on a budget and don’t mind sharing a room with strangers, they also offer a dormitory option. A traditional Japanese breakfast costs an extra 1,000. When we stayed there, the three of us got one single room and one twin room and the shared cost was 3850/person, not including breakfast. If you haven’t had a Japanese style breakfast before and/or if you plan to do a lot of walking, it the breakfast is definitely worth the price because it will take you a long way. The breakfast included cooked rice, miso soup, pickled vegetables, egg, salad, a potato croquette, spinach, and green tea among other things.

Like most Ryokan, the rooms at Chitose are traditional Japanese rooms with tatami mats, so you’ll be sleeping on the floor. The only furniture in rooms is a table and a TV and the rooms don’t have en suite bathrooms, so you have to use the toilet in the hallway. When we stayed there, you could take a bath at certain times in the morning and evening, but according to the FAQ on their website you can now bathe anytime you want. The hotel does not have a wi-fi, but there is a (old) coin-operated computer for browsing in the lobby. The hostel also has coin-operated washing machines. One thing worth mentioning is that the owners were very friendly and helpful and seemed genuinely interested in us.

Ryokan Chitoseya

Our room at Chitoseya

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A view to the garden from the window

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Ryokan Chitoseya

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Although Chitoseya is very affordable, it’s probably not the cheapest option, especially if you’re traveling alone. Sendai has a lot of Western-style hotels that offer cheaper rooms with better facilities in rooms, but if you want to stay in a more traditional hostel and experience Japanese hospitality, it’s definitely worth a visit.

A couple looking at a bonfire

A couple looking at a midsummer 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.

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A midsummer silhouette

Watching the fire

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!

Midsummer bonfire

People looking at a midsummer bonfire

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!

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Midsummer eve

Midsummer's eve

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.

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Photographing traditional Japanese martial arts

Jidai Matsuri

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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