As always, there are always some photos from my travels that don’t really have their own theme for a post. Here are various images from around Kyoto (Arashiyama and Gion in particular), as well as a wee trip to the Takeda castle ruins in northern Hyogo prefecture. Nothing is left of the castle except part of the foundation. It would have been an amazing structure in its day. I can well see why it’s been nicknamed the “Macchu Picchu of Japan”. Great view. Finally, a few shots from around the refurbished area of Umeda in Osaka.
As I mentioned previously, I stayed in Kyoto this trip, rather than Osaka as I usually do. Part of the reasoning behind that was because I had a few Japanese gardens that I hadn’t been to that I really wanted to check out. I revisited a couple, but it was the undiscovered (by me, at least) that I was really after. If you’ve never been to a Japanese garden, I highly recommend visiting if you get the chance. You don’t need to hop to every temple garden you come to, but there’s something incredibly soothing about spending some time in them (granted, they’re not overly tranquil when busloads of tour buses disgorge their cargo to disrupt the zen). There are a variety of different styles of Japanese garden and they all have their inherent charms. One of the amazing things to consider, is that many of them have been around for centuries!
Aside from Nanzen-ji, which I could see from my hotel room, Honen-in, Eikan-do, and the others along the Philosopher’s Path up to Ginkaku-ji, most of the gardens I planned to visit were a bit out of the way, but well worth the effort.
From Ichijo-ji station on the Eizan Electric Rail Line, you can wander through the countryside of north-east Kyoto. There are quite a number of temples/gardens around but given the distances between them, and since I was walking, I knew I would only get to a handful of them. The ones on my list were Shisen-do, Enkou-ji and Manshu-in Monzeki.
Arashiyama also has a plethora of temple gardens. The moss garden of Giou-ji was the one in particular that I wanted to get to. Most people interested in moss gardens in Kyoto typically want to get to Saihou-ji; problem being that you need to book, by mail, a spot in advance. At Giou-ji, walk through the fantastic scenery of western Arashiyama and you can just waltz through the gate. After paying your fee, of course.
The Japanese have a saying similar to “time flies”, which basically translates to “in the time it takes to say, ah”. No matter which language you use, I can’t believe it’s the end of May already and I haven’t posted anything from my Easter trip to Japan. Film is scanned and I’m working on what will come next. In the meantime, here are some Pixlromatic iPhone shots. I’ll do my best to get the others up PDQ (Pretty Damn Quick, for those who don’t know the acronym).
The images that I’ve included here are kind of an eclectic mix, though I suppose they sort of come down to art, architecture and people (alive and dead). That was far too long for a title, however.
Like many of the European cities I’ve been to, Prague, Budapest and Rome in particular come instantly to mind, the architecture of Paris is gorgeous. Canada is a very young country, so being able to wander around among buildings still being used and lived in that are older by far than anything in Canada is remarkable. Maybe I’m only seeing things with a tourist’s eyes, but there’s also something inherently cultured about these old-world cities. Still, one of the most amazing things I observed in Paris was that people were not addicted to their mobile phones. This really hit home when I was riding the metro. Here in Hong Kong, people are constantly plugged in, but in Paris there was a very small portion of the ridership that were. It was a refreshing change.
Like London, and even the other cities I mentioned, it’s easy to forget that within the last 100 years there were times when Paris had the stuffing knocked out of it due to conflict. There’s not much to remind one of the damage that was inflicted on Paris during the second world war, but as the photos will show, every now and again, a reminder will pop into view of how devastating the war was.
When you think of Paris, or even hear the word, there are probably certain images that come to mind. Landmarks, more likely than not. There are undoubtedly certain landmarks that are up for debate, but I’m sure that most will agree that the Eiffel tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and the Louvre are instantly recognizable by much of the world.
Having lived in Hong Kong for many years now, where even apartment blocks rise to 50 stories or more, it’s remarkable how flat many European cities are. Paris is no exception to this. As a result, it’s amazing how many views of the Eiffel tower there are, from all around the city.
The challenge for me, I quickly discovered, was figuring out how to get something different out of one of the most photographed cities in the world. Could I get a different perspective of Paris that others before me hadn’t? Highly unlikely, though I tried not to let that stop me from giving it a go.
This is just a bit of an intro, or an entree, if you like. Over the Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) break recently, I spent the time in Paris. It was my first trip to the city and certainly won’t be my last. Despite the less than ideal weather, it was a great introduction to the City of Light.
Of course, there were the typical tourist things I needed to do as a first-timer, like go to the Louvre, head up the Eiffel tower, and see Notre Dame cathedral, but I also spent a lot of time just wandering around the various areas and seeing what could be seen.
Before going, I had heard the stories of how Parisians aren’t all that friendly or accommodating to people who don’t speak French, but I didn’t find that at all. I speak a small amount of French, enough to get by in a basic situation, but when I got into trouble and had to ask if they could speak English, it was never a problem. I met quite a few folks in my wanderings, and by and large I found the French to be a pretty genial lot. So, don’t believe everything you hear.
I’ve been a tad lax, I realize. I finally got a few rolls from the end of 2013 developed and scanned over the holidays so, with no particular theme, here are some of the last images from the old year.
All of the square-format images were taken with my Mamiya C330F, twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera. I got it fitted out with a grip and metred prism finder so it makes it much easier to shoot. I’ll certainly not be getting rid of my Hasselblad any time soon, but the TLR is a whole lot quieter. Besides, it also makes for an interesting conversation piece while I’m wandering the neighbourhoods of The Big Lychee.
I’ll be in Paris over the Chinese New Year break, so I’m looking forward to coming back with some interesting photos and stories.
Kung Hei Fat Choi!