Showing posts with label arashiyama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label arashiyama. Show all posts

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Winter light-up at Arashiyama

In Kyoto, there are various light-up events throughout the seasons that you can look forward to. One of these is the winter light-up at Arashiyama known as the Kyoto Hanatouro (京都花灯路).  

The light-up in Kyoto is part of a series of light-up events in winter in the Kansai region which include the Kobe Luminarie and the Osaka Hikari-Renaissance.  These events often attract large crowds. I heard from friends who visited the Kobe Luminarie that it was so crowded that photography became an unpleasant experience. Some did not even recommend these events due to the crowds.

While I could not speak for the events in Kobe and Osaka since I had not visited the events, the winter light-up in Kyoto was a pleasant experience for me in spite of the crowds.  

On one cold winter evening, I set out to Arashiyama with three neighbours armed with our cameras and equipment ready to capture the beauty of nature seen at night and further accentuated by the use of artificial lights.

My friends were armed with professional camera equipment including tripods to capture a sharper night scene. I only had my basic Sony Cybershot digital camera but it worked well enough for my own expectations. Upon arrival, we headed for the Togetsukyo bridge to capture a photo of the scene often seen in publicity posters about the light-up.  Many photography enthusiasts already had their tripods and cameras poised for the scene.  We chose an empty spot and fired our cameras away.

It was a very cold night and I was shivering.  My photos turned out to be unclear as my hand shook so much as I was photographing the scenery.  Nevertheless, it was adequate just being able to take in the beautifully lit night scene in Arashiyama.

It was a scene I had never known. While I had gone to Arashiyama several times in the day and love the place for the beautiful natural scenery,  it is a place I would not have liked to go to when dusk falls.  I  had imagined it would be dark and the looming mountains would not look friendly. 

When I heard about the winter light-up, I was really curious.  And I was not disappointed by what I saw.  There was something very peaceful about the scenery bathed under various shades of blue lights. There were many people walking along the river with us, taking in the scenery. There was no jostling nor rowdiness.  People were just walking, strolling.  I was not the least affected by the crowds. I guess it was because I felt that everyone was entitled to see such a pretty sight. And we didn't get to see nature like this on normal days. As the Chinese saying goes, it is better to enjoy an experience with people than enjoying it alone.

The highlight of the evening for me was the Bamboo Grove.  My neighbours and I spent a while here as we wanted to photograph the Bamboo Grove without the crowds. It was a long wait as we stood at the side of the path, waiting for the crowds to clear. Amazing photographs were captured by my neighbours with the use of tripods adjusted at various angles. Here are a couple of photographs I took which did not do much justice to what I actually saw. I edited my photos by adjusting the lighting a little to bring them closer to reality.

The Japanese are punctual people and the organisers turned off the lights right on the time the event was to end - 8.30pm.  We managed to capture the photos that we wanted.

If you are going to be in Kyoto in December, remember to mark down the dates for the light-up events and check them out. There is also a light-up event in the Higashiyama area. Do click on the link here for details -

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Momiji through my Lens

From around mid November, visitors from abroad and other parts of Japan started to flock to Kyoto for maple leaves viewing or momiji-gari. Kyoto is well-known for its momiji. I have heard that it is because we have alot of rain throughout the year that we could have these manificent autumn foliage to boast about.
For about half a month in November, I was closely monitoring the  Autumn Colour Report for Kyoto on an English site and another report on a Japanese site. The rain, exams and school projects had prevented me from going on a momiji-gari spree like some of my school mates. But the beautiful colours at school were a source of severe distraction and I found myself being drawn away from school work to make some concrete plans for my own momiji-gari operation.
Beautiful colours on school campus.
Reading the reports was very helpful as they triggered off a sense of urgency and forced me to reset my priorities, something a serious student such as me would otherwise be reluctant to do. By that time, and what with seeing the amount of fallen leaves in the neighbourhood, I could hardly focus on my JLPT exam anyway. And so with the limited free time that I had, I went about researching on a good place where I could be sure to see splendid colours. And hopefully without the crowds getting in the way.
My teacher told us that some of the popular maples viewing temples such as Tofukuji, Eikando and Kiyomizudera would see huge crowds throughout the day during the momiji-gari season.  She said there were even people who worked part-time as "queuers" to queue on behalf of visitors because the wait to get tickets into popular maple viewing temple spots could be pretty long.
Arashiyama on 29 Nov.
As I didn't have so much time to spare, I crossed out the popular spots mentioned above (although I learnt later from friends who went to these places that the queues were not that bad). Eventually, I decided that I should just head for Arashiyama since I had been there three years ago as a tourist but missed the autumn foliage at that time as it was still early then.  To beat the crowds, I set off early one weekday morning with my neighbour and reached Arashiyama by about 8am.

Along the way, we saw many maple trees but the leaves were in decline. The colours were turning a dull red and many leaves were spotted and in no good condition for photographs. I was alittle disappointed that I might be too late this time but I was wrong. As we strolled along the Katsura River, we came across some great colours on leaves that were at various stages of colouring.


And then we turned into a nearby park and were greeted by many momiji trees in manificent gold and orange, although there were as many trees which had already shed many of their leaves. The sky was just getting less cloudy at that time and seeing the blue in the sky lifted my spirits as we had been getting too much of grey skies and rain during those past few weeks.

At about 9.30am, we headed for Jojakoji Temple without a map and after asking many people along the way, we found it about 40 minutes later. We had made the mistake of crossing the Togetsukyo Bridge but there was really no need to as the temple was on the side of the Bamboo Grove. By the time we arrived, tourists were already there in bus loads. Nevertheless, it was still possible to get some good pictures with some patience. The admission fee was 400 Yen.

I thought the colours at that time had not reached their peak yet but they were splendid enough for me and my aim that morning was met.  We spent about an hour and a half there and left the temple at about noon. After that visit, I continued to monitor the reports because I was toying with the idea of visiting the temple again after my exam on 2 Dec. However, by that day, the leaves were falling fast and the season had ended in that area.


After leaving Jojakoji, it was a mad rush to get back as I had class at 1pm that day.  Needless to say, there was no time for lunch but there was always time for ice-cream. The cheapest soft at Arashiyama could be found at a little shop close to the Bamboo Grove. Only 180 Yen.

As autumn comes to a close, winter will bring with it a whole new experience.  In some places in the Kansai region, it has already been snowing.  I sure am looking forward to receiving snow in Kyoto!