This site is meant to show photographs of Kyoto in full glory (full screen mode). This blog will be the place I’ll write the latest news and other small info.
Ohmato Taikai at the Sanjūsangen-dō Temple
The “Ohmato Taikai” is a 400 year old archery competition held at the Sanjūsangen-dō Temple in January.
This temple in Kyoto has always attracted Kyudo (Japanese archery) enthusiasts. The main hall building is the longest wooden building in Japan — it is 120 meters long.
Walking around the city near a place I used to live, I was pleasantly surprised to discover several cherry trees in full bloom in a parking lot up the street. This was the first time after the many years I passed nearby that I saw these trees. The plums are currently...
Ao Momiji – New Maple Leaves
After a beautiful cherry blossoms season, things slow down a bit and all is quiet for a while. Then, around the middle of the month of May, is the perfect time to look around the temples and the mountains for the maple trees having new leaves. This is a beautiful period with incredibly strong greens on the maple trees with their new leaves, all around Kyoto.
Hanami – Cherry Blossoms Viewing in Japan
The cherry blossoms hold a special place in the heart of the Japanese people. These elusive little flowers known as sakura have a deeper meaning in Japan where, as the country’s national flower, they have become a cultural icon known around the world. For photographers, the subject is varied and offers unlimited options.
Cherry Blossoms 2020
This year’s cherry blossoms season started even earlier than last year! The early blooming varieties of cherry trees have already past their full bloom. I had the chance to visit two places where one can see these flowers.
Misedashi in Gion Kobu
Today was a big day for a young girl. Yes, after completing her pre-apprenticeship or training for several months (sometimes up to a year), Maiko Haruchizu (Tama Okiya) has finally been introduced to the people of her Hanamachi (geisha district). This is what is called a “Misedashi” or formal introduction/debut.
February 2020 – Plum Blossom
The plum trees are the first ones to delight us with their beautiful white, pink and red flowers that smell so well. These blossoms as early as February. Here are a few photos captured around Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Jonangu Shrine and a special garden in Mie prefecture, near Kyoto.
Maiko Kimisaki – Photos Exhibition
January 15th, 2020. I am currently not in Japan and I have just heard about Maiko Kimisaki retirement! I had the pleasure and privilege of four different photoshoots with maiko Kimisaki. I’m presenting here what I think are the best images I was able to capture of her.
January 2020 – Maiko & Momiji
The following photos were made during three public photoshoots organized in Kyoto during the Fall (2018 and 2019). The theme is always “Maiko & Momiji”. The photos were taken at the Chishakuin Temple, the National Museum and the Shôsei-en Garden, with groups of five geimaiko.
This beautiful and peaceful temple is a true gem located in the north east part of the city at the bottom of Mount Hiei. Note that it is only open to the public twice a year, in the Fall and the Spring.
Weather Photographer of the Year 2019 Photo Contest – Shortlisted!
I have just received the following message from the Royal Meteorological Society in London! What a surprise and what an honor!
Dear WPotY 2019 Entrant,
I would like to inform and congratulate you on being selected for our Weather Photographer of the Year 2019 shortlist!
Spring has come at Jônangû Shrine
When we talk about the spring in Kyoto, images of cherry blossoms come to mind. But the flower season actually starts much earlier, in February, with the blossoming of the plum flowers. One of the best places in Kyoto to enjoy these is a lovely shrine located in southern Kyoto, Jōnangū.
Coming of Age Day
Coming of Age Day (成人の日 or Seijin no Hi) is a Japanese holiday held annually on the second Monday of January. It is held in order to congratulate and encourage all those who have turned 20 years old over the past year and to help them realize that they have become adults.
Magical evening at the Byodoin Temple
The Byodoin Temple in Uji is only illuminated and open to the public a few evenings a year. We were quite lucky to find out about it and see the amazing Phoenix Hall under such conditions.
Byodoin Temple is a striking example of Buddhist Pure Land (Jodo) architecture.
Heian Jingu Shrine Reisai Annual Festival
This is the most important annual event of the Heian Jingu Shrine. It is meant to celebrate the accession ceremony day held in 781 of Emperor Kanmu who is the deity of the shrine.
The Hanami Project
After the ebook about the “Kôyô” or fall foliage season in Kyoto, I am starting a new project about “Hanami” or how to enjoy the Cherry Blossom Season in and around Kyoto.
I’ve spent the last five spring seasons in Kyoto looking at these wonderful little flowers, and. . .
Misedashi in Miyagawa-Cho
December 14th was the day of Maiko Kimimoe Misedashi in the Miyagawa-Cho Hanamachi or Geisha District. The “Misedashi” ceremony is the official debut of a girl as a Maiko (apprentice geisha).
One day during the fall
Friday, November 24th. The weather is just wonderful. It’s somehow fresh, but the sky is blue and the luminosity more than promising. We decide to make a tour and try to capture a few photos. The Kôyô season (fall foliage) has been at its peak for a few days now…
Tenryu-ji Temple – Fall 2017
As usual, the Tenryu-ji temple’s garden in Arashiyama is wonderful. This is true at all seasons, but particularly so during the Kôyô season, the fall foliage. The colors are starting to change and the intensity of the red and orange show a nice contrast to the background mountain.
Takao – Fall 2017
The fall season is now more or less at its peak. It started, as usual, on the mountains to the north of the city. The progression will then reach the hills surrounding Kyoto on the west and the east before spreading around the city, starting with the northern part.
Taking photos of an event, Gion Matsuri
Taking photos of any event in Kyoto obviously requires some planning. During almost the whole month of July, the Gion Matsuri keeps us busy with numerous events, ceremonies, and other happenings. Some of these are more interesting than others from a photographic point of view.
Here is how I took a few photos of the “Naginata-hoko Chigo Shasan” ritual that took place in the Yasaka Jinja Shrine.
Hanami Party, Maruyama Koen
In Japan, Spring is a very special time for everybody. Sure, it’s first and foremost the season of Cherry Blossom. But it’s much more than that. It’s in April that most businesses start their fiscal year. It’s in April that all schools or universities start. And of course, it’s in April that the nature cycle restarts, with flowers popping out of trees everywhere.
Maiko and Geiko Photo Shoot
Like numerous people living in or visiting Kyoto, one of my favorite photography subjects are the beautiful maiko, or apprentice geisha. Sure, there are a number of ways to catch a photo of one of them walking down a street, but this is more than uncertain — good luck as well as a good dose of patience are always necessary.
Finding a different subject
When visiting temples and garden, the subject is not always the famous tourist spot. Sure, like everyone else, I am always trying my best to capture the beauty of Kyoto’s best and most famous places, but more and more, as a travel photographer, the people is what attract me most.
Shirabyoshi Dancer, Gion Matsuri
The Gion Matsuri is Kyoto’s (and even Japan’s) largest festival. It goes for the entire month of July and, in addition to the main event, the grand procession of floats on July 17, it is a unique opportunity to see a number of Japanese traditions, religious processions, dances, music, historical costumes, etc.
Yabusame Shinji at Shimogamo Shrine
Once a year on the 3rd of May, the Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto hosts a display of Yabusame – or Japanese mounted archery. In order to be able to take photos, we preferred to attend the rehearsal that took place the day before….
Maiko & Momiji 2016
Twice a year, the association PPK (Photo Partner Kyoto) organizes a public photo shoot in a temple or a garden with Geiko and Maiko. These are rare opportunities and are very popular. Indeed, they manage to pack and organize a couple of hundreds excited photographers around five models and a bunch of assistants and other staff.
If you walked around one of Kyoto’s Hanamachi (flower town or Geisha District), early January, you may have seen Maiko and Geiko beautifully dressed in their formal black “Kuromontsuki” kimono, and wearing a real rice stalk “kanzashi” or ornamental hairpin. Around, you also probably saw hordes of photographers, ready to capture a photo of this event.
Full Bloom Capture
Spring is here, the weather is getting warmer and more pleasant every day. But this year, the cherry blossom season was quite late — at least one week! It’s finally starting, and the trees are blossoming around the city. We went for a tour this morning and instead of just taking a photo of some of these flowers, I tried to capture these in a different way.
The Photographer’s Guide to KYOTO
This 94-page e-book gives you the best and broadest coverage of Kyoto’s most photogenic locations. The book includes a chapter on the Bucket List locations followed by chapters on different regions. The book includes over 100 photographs, maps, suggested itineraries and planning essentials, as well as photographer-specific details and insider tips on photographic challenges and opportunities at the more than 40 locations introduced.