Kyoto is a garden lover’s paradise. It's in Kyoto that I discovered the beauty and the pleasure of viewing these incredible gardens. A few photos of the "Karesansui" or Zen gardens, Tea gardens (Chaniwa), Strolling gardens of the Emperors, or minimalist "Tsuboniwa" or small courtyard gardens.
Some of my favorite photographs of Kyoto, taken over the years.
Kyoto doesn't stop to amaze me. When I'm not visiting a temple or a garden, when I'm not walking around the streets of one of the "Hanamachi" (geisha districts) trying to capture the beauty of the maiko or geiko, when I'm not attending a festival or other ceremony, I am often busy photographing flowers, or people, or leaves, or some of all these things and details that make Kyoto such an amazing and fascinating city.
Everybody knows about the cherry blossom season in Japan. It's a symbol. Millions of people visit the famous garden, riverbanks, and temple to view and enjoy these flowers. But did you know that these are not the only flowers to blossom and not the first ones?
Indeed, the plum trees are the first ones to delight us with their beautiful white, pinks 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.
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.
A collection of photos captured during the second half of March 2020.
The second half of March and the month of April 2020 were very special. Due to the current pandemic, many places, temples, and gardens were almost empty. There was nobody around and there were no hanami parties. But the cherry trees blossomed like always and were particularly beautiful.
After the flowers of the cherry blossoms season come the new leaves of the maple trees. This period is called "Ao Momiji" or "green maple". It often rains but the intensity of the green colors around the temples and mountains offers some beautiful sceneries around Kyoto.
The Jidai Matsuri (Festival of Ages) is one of the three largest festivals in Kyoto, taking place each year on October 22nd. The festival is primarily composed of a two-kilometer, 2.5 hour-long procession of countless volunteers dressed in historical garb representing Japanese cultural history from the Meiji era all the way back to the Enryaku era in the 780’s. Painstakingly recreated and researched, going so far as to even make and dye the fabric using the same techniques as they used a thousand years ago, the procession is akin to watching a living history museum march by.
Because this year's Gion Matsuri Festival has been canceled, I thought it'd be a good opportunity to post a small exhibition of photos I've captured of this festival, one of the three largest of Japan.
Yes, during some seasons, it does rain a lot in Kyoto. But the city is used to it and has adapted. Just wear a good raincoat and bring an umbrella to enjoy the beauty of the city and its people under the rain. I like rainy days in Kyoto!