Posts Tagged 'Kyoto'

Walk along Lake Biwa canal

My little web space has officially turned into a flower photography blog !

It’s probably due to the fact that a lot of my downtime lately has been devoted to go and smell the roses flowers, quite literally ! The cherry blossoms season is now mostly over, but I can happily say that I really enjoyed it this year. These wanderings also gave me a chance to discover a few places in Kyoto I had never walked, which is always nice.

After a few busy weeks at work, I needed to breeze some fresh air and decided to walk along the Lake Biwa canal. This aqueduct was built at the end of the 19th century, between Lake Biwa – the largest lake in Japan- and the city of Kyoto, to transport water, merchandises and people as well as to generate electricity.

Late March through mid-April, the cherry trees that border this canal are all in different states of blossom, which really makes for a dreamy walk. The day I went, the  weather was cloudy and the sky turned grayer and grayer as I was progressing, still it was so beautiful ! (And it only started to rain once I decided to put my camera back in my bag, which was just perfect !)

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While shopping – 20.05.2009

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It’s been a week of meeting with people.A very rich week too. Experiencing new things, learning,taking part in interesting conversations. It does feel good to interact and communicate. I tend to forget that. I tend to get a little too comfortable in my own little shell. This week is definitely a good reminder that good things also come from the outside. Good stuff.

A photo a day – 15.05.2009

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I was concentrating on keeping my camera as perpendicular to the ground as possible… so much so that I didn’t notice the shouting little boy rushing toward my seat, trying to catch what I think was a plastic bag flying around. I was very close to having a heart attack when this little one (the boy, not the bag) got out from under my seat and resume his running in the opposite direction.

Conclusion : when you hear some shouting, come back to reality, or you may not know what’s under your seat until it’s too late.

It was pretty much that kind of day.

Everyday in May !

May is already here, can you believe it ? I, for one, am looking at the calendar in great disbelief.

May in Japan brings what is called the Golden Week, a succession of holidays that Japanese (and others !) often use to travel around. This year those holidays were just after a weekend, making for almost a full week of rest for the working people. The Golden week itself didn’t change much of my habits, but I was lucky to have family (from France) visiting during that period. So I guess it was another kind of Golden week for me, I was a bit excited I have to say !

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My cousin and her art-loving husband first spent two weeks discovering Big Tokyo and a few other places, and then came to spend their last week here, in Kyoto. I went to pick them up at the station and we did some intense walking around and photographying the few days they were there. I picked a few places that I knew wouldn’t be too crowded by the holidays visitors, so that they could also taste a bit of Quiet Kyoto.

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It feels so strange to actually have family here, in Japan, even for a while : meet with them, do things together, talk about things, telling family stories … all in my usual japanese environment. So nice !

They eventually had to go back to Tokyo to catch their returning flight, but I think they really made the most of their trip and truly enjoyed it, so I’m a happy girl !

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The pictures in this post I took during one of our long walks, in Arashiyama (west part of Kyoto). We were blessed with a beautiful weather, not too hot but not cold, what a beautiful day it was !!

I decided to take part in the Everyday in May project, which basically consists in doing something creative everyday in May. Have a look at the original post, here. Or at the Flickr group, here

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So I’ll take a picture a day in May, and post them here, everyday. I started a bit late, but I happen to have pictures for some of the days I missed, so I’ll post these together in a “catching up” post, probably today but maybe tomorrow. 

I wonder if the commitment to take a picture a day will change the way I take pictures. I’m quite excited about that !

Kyoto buddhist temples : the lesser known paths

Kyoto is very well known for its traditional side and its countless shrines and temples. Among the last are amazingly beautiful structures registered as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Far less known are the many small temples scattered around town, some of them so tiny one have to really look to find them in between the modern buildings and the effervescence of the shopping streets.

I have a thing for those small temples.

Their very existence breaks the rhythm of the otherwise modern side of Kyoto. Like a reminder of things past. Still so much alive.

And although they are often overlooked by visitors, it is easy to see they still hold an important place within the local community.

One of those small temples is the Chugenji (仲源寺), still standing in Gion district.

It is literally stuck in between souvenirs shops and restaurants, but once you enter the small compound, you find yourself in a whole other world.

Just a few steps are needed to see everything in there, and yet the atmosphere is amazing.

The short time I spent there, I saw half a dozen persons of various age come in and engage in quiet prayer.

Not the quick and formal prayer often seen in bigger shrines or temples. But a more dignified, deeply involved kind of contemplation.

This was a very moving experience for me. So much that I didn’t have the heart to take the pictures I came for and disturb the atmosphere of the place, until there was no one left praying.

This was such a nice place to be for a while, just to let this peaceful atmosphere sink in.

I’ll definitely go back !

Pottery Market in Kyoto

One benefit of living in Kyoto is that there’s always something to do. One could spend years just trying to see all the incredible cultural sites the city is packed with. Cultural events of all sorts are also plenty.

So a couple of weeks ago, I found myself heading to the Kiyomizu Pottery Market. Held every year in the Kiyomizu pottery district on the slope of Higashiyama, in the eastern part of Kyoto, this market features artists and galleries that specialize in the Kiyomizu-yaki style. The pottery district itself is home for more than 80 potters of various styles, their workshops and kilns.

The name for this peculiar style comes from the Kiyomizu temple, where potters workshops concentrated around the 15th and 16th centuries.

Though it undertook a lot of changes through its evolution, the origin of the Kiyomizu pottery can be traced back to the 5th century, when potters in the Higashiyama area started to make earthenware using kilns. Techniques involving colors were only introduced around the 14th century, probably as an import from mainland China. It is around the same time that overglazing techniques appeared,  giving luster to the finish piece after firing. All these technical evolutions led to a refined style of porcelain, characterized by bright colors and detailed patterns during the  Edo period (1600-1868).

After filling my eyes with all these traditional beauties, I was about to call it a day and jump in the bus back home, when I found a stall where a young woman was selling her more modern-looking pieces. Rice and tea bowls, little plates, all white with delicate and naive abstract details in indigo blue. Very light, sweet, playful. Unfortunately I hadn’t my camera with me so I can’t show them to you…

And there were these : candy-colored porcelain buttons and brooches in all their sweetness ! How could I resist ?!…well, I didn’t, and those little guys got back home with me !

I don’t know yet what I’m going to do with these pretty buttons, but maybe pendants or a necklace. For now, they are resting gently on my desk, in all their prettiness, and they make me very happy !

Have a nice day everybody !

In the process of moving and settling : Kyoto

After spending a good part of last year helping my parents move from a house in the countryside to an apartment in the suburbs, I swore to myself (and the people passing by) that I would not touch another box, tape roll or any packing related item for at least the next decade.

All that swearing (in both sense, I’m afraid !) must have been heard by someone with a weird sense of humor, because after just a few months back home, I had to move again !

But stop the complaining, it’s a nice destination indeed : after six years in the Tokyo area, I’m heading to Kyoto, ancient capital of Japan and major cultural center. This is all job-related, not mine though, but the Boyfriend’s one.

I guess a new chapter of my life in Japan is just beginning ! As always with the beginnings, it feels both exciting and a bit scary… I can’t wait to walk around the city and rediscovering it ! So many shrines and temples, so many beautiful sceneries ! I came three or four times, but there’s so much to see, so many places to roam, that I always left with the urge of coming back again. Well, a lot of walking around is awaiting !

To really start settling, I first have to get rid of the empty boxes that seem to have invaded every single inch of the floor ! I’m on my way !

Here’s my new neighborhood around 7:00am !


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