Just for something a little different.
One of my very first attempts at studio portrait photography.
On the way to Koyasan, a smaller village outside of Kyoto. It is nestled in the hills and home to over 150 temples. As well as hiking through the mountains and paying your respects to the various Shinto and Buddhist shrines, there is the opportunity to stay over night in one of the temples.
It is hard to describe but it was amazing and in every possible way an rather humbling and surprisingly enlightening experience. When you are in such a calm, respectful and religious space it’s hard not to be swept up in all of the beliefs and ways of living. Meditation, fire ceremonies, a late night cemetery walk and a delicious vegan meal was the perfect remedy to our daily city sight seeing routine.
Although it seems like that feeling of relief and escape, that absolute calm that monks seem to emanate and that vow one makes to themselves to be more polite, considerate and understanding of others once you leave a place such as Koyasan has a strong impression, it is never completely lasting. The city has a stronghold over me, and it’s way of life is inescapable but perhaps (and hopefully) some of that Shinto-Buddhist thinking rubbed off on me.
Aside from all the temples, Kyoto has a fair few things going for it. The promenade that hugs the river is a wonderful place to escape the crowds of Gion. We grabbed a couple of cans of Asahi ($1. Ridiculous) and plonked ourselves down on the waters edge. To help wash down our delicious Japanese beers we were lucky enough to catch one of the most inventive and downright rad fire twirling shows I have ever seen. This guy was some kind of brilliant break-dancing-fire-swallowing maverick.
It was a one of the cooler nights we had experienced, and although the air was still slightly thick with humidity, there was little that could pull us back down to reality. Japan has us in her grasps and I don’t really want to try to escape, it’s just too good here.
This was in on the eve of the Gion Matsuri Festival. It was basically just a big long market (it ran for ages) on Shijo street with all kinds of mental, weird food. Foods on sticks, foods crammed into small packages, foods in flames, foods on ice, foods on foods, it was all bizarre.
I’m not too sure what the purpose of the market was, but it must have had something to do with food. Because everyone was just eating, or serving people, or watching people eat. So much food. Everywhere.
Train travels in Tokyo. Japan is incredible. I just want to stay here and soak up all the weird-awesome-asian vibes. And eat all the okonomiyaki.
Hiking in this heat is ridiculous. Kyoto, you’re killing me but you’re damn beautiful.
Big Shrine, Kyoto
This was quite possibly the quietest festival I have ever been to. The Gion Matsuri Festival is held in Kyoto in July in the Gion District. This festival originated as part of a purification ritual (goryo-e) to appease the gods thought to cause fire, floods and earthquakes.
A whole lot of crazy decorated floats and hundred and hundreds of people dressed in traditional costume walk the streets to ward off the bad spirits of disease. Atop some of the larger floats sit specially trained musicians who play slow, slightly creepy flute music as they are pulled along the ground by the hordes of men below.
I have to admit that I was overwhelmed by the amount of tourists and considering that I have just spent over 5 months in China you think I would have gotten use to it. So many asians!