I was recently interviewed by a French travel site called France Japon and I’m happy to say that the interview has now been published. It concentrates mostly on my photography and my relationship with Japan so it might be of interest to the readers of my blog. Unfortunately it’s all in French, but I’ve sent them some photos from Japan that I haven’t published anywhere else yet, so go take a look even if you don’t speak French!
Here’s one more image of the Kinkakuji temple in Kyoto. I wanted to post this separately as I felt that the Kyōko-chi pond (the Mirror Pond) deserved attention. The reason the pond, designed in the Muromachi period, is called the name Mirror pond is that it reflects the Golden Pavilion. It contains 10 small islands, which according to Wikipedia represent famous places in Chinese and Japanese literature, and it seems that the surroundings of the pavilion were built according to descriptions of the Western Paradise of the Buddha Amida, the largest islet representing the Japanese islands.
Even though you weren’t interested in the history of the pond, there’s no denying that the golden pavilion wouldn’t be half as spectacular without the carefully designed pond that really makes the building shine.
There’s a time for words and a time for images, and now’s the latter. I already wrote about the Rokuonji temple in a previous post so I won’t go into detail about its history anymore. Instead I decided to show the temple’s main attraction, Kinkaku, the golden pavilion from different angles that you see when you walk around the pond and the temple area. I was extremely lucky that the evening when I visited the temple turned out so beautiful. I hope you enjoy these images!
After a quick tour at the Nijo Castle, we headed to the final destination of the day, the famous Kinkakuji temple or the Temple of the Golden Pavilion. The official name of the temple is Rokuonji, but Kinkakuji has become the more common name for it. it is probably one of the most famous buildings in Kyoto, and also one of the city’s World Heritage Sites. And like many other temple’s in Kyoto, Kinkakuji too was burned down by a monk, although the arson at Kinkakuji took place as late as the 1950s.
The top floor of the Pavilion is covered with leaf gold, and the architecture of each floor is different. There’s a detailed description of the temple in Kinkakuji in Wikipedia, so I’m not going to copy and paste the article here in its entirety. What I like about the temple site even more than the temple though, is the garden around the temple. If you happen to go there when the number of tourists is low, it is a quiet and relaxing environment. We visited the temple in early October and entered about 15 minutes before the closing time, which meant that most of the visitors had already left and because the trees had not yet changed to autumn colors, it wasn’t the peak tourist season. We walked around the area taking photos until a guard ushered us out, but it wasn’t until 25 minutes after the closing time that we actually left the area.
I’ve also visited Kinkakuji in winter (early February), and because Kyoto gets a bit chilly in winter (not really, if you’re a Finn), there weren’t a lot of visitors then either. It also happened to snow that time so I got to see Kinkakuji covered in snow. So, although Kyoto’s temple’s are beautiful in autumn and the climate is really pleasant then, I wouldn’t shy away from visiting Kyoto during other seasons either.
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Although the title of this post says Nijō Castle, the image above is actually of the castle’s outer wall and moat. Unfortunately we were in a kind of hurry between too places when we visited the castle, so I didn’t take a lot of photos there. The Nijō Castle was It was built as the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shoguns and it was completed in 1626 during the reign of Tokugawa Iemitsu. Many of the palace’s buildings have been destroyed in fires during the past centuries, but there are still a few magnificent ones left, such as the Ninomaru palace. It houses beautiful artwork and is known for its “Nightingale floors”. They are designed to make a chirping sound when walked upon to ensure that no one could sneak through the corridors undetected. There are also three beautiful gardens in the palace area – the oldest of them originating from the Edo period (1603-1868). Like many of the temple’s and castles in Kyoto, Nijō Castle is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you’re wondering what a nightingale floor sounds like, listen to the clip below – it’s a really peculiar sound (sorry for the background noise).
This view of Okazaki Canal was shot at the same spot than the one I posted previously, but to the opposite direction. The A view east along Okazaki Canal on Explodingfish.net shows the view East towards the city while this one shows autumn at Okazaki Canal and a view west towards the Higashiyama mountain range. Because it was early autumn, the trees on the mountains are still green and only a few of the cherry trees along the canal have started changing color.
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.
A simple click of Lake Tuomiojärvi I made during an evening walk. It’s a shame I didn’t take more than one photo of this beautiful scene, but then again, this one photo is all I need to remember the moment.
Autumn is almost over and the leaves are already gone, but I haven’t had time to post any autumn images yet. I’m going to fix that by posting a series of images I took on a beautiful morning in early October. This boat is one of many boats on the shore of Lake Palokkajärvi. I walk by it almost everyday during my commute, but this time the golden leaves and the morning light created such a beautiful scene that I had to stop and try to capture it. I took a number of shots from different angles, but this one stood out.