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.
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 - http://www.hanatouro.jp/e/index.html.