In this post I want to talk briefly about two of my favourite images from my Japan trips and the need for patience in order to capture each shot.
Monks’ reward (pic 1 above) was taken from inside a room at Kyoto’s Tenryu-ji Temple, but lived in my mind for several weeks before I got the shot. When I first visited Tenryu-ji on a busy holiday weekend it was teeming with people drawn by the autumn foliage, thus making this capture impossible at that time. Knowing that I was returning to Kyoto in a few weeks, I decided to wait and although the red leaves of the autumn maples had long gone, having the space to myself allowed me to relax and imagine how life may have been in the early days of this wonderful temple.
The buildings and gardens of Tenryu-ji, like those of the other renowned Kyoto temples, are the result of hard labour, which makes one reflect on the physically arduous lives of monks at that time. It was that train of thought that led me to imagine that being able to spend time in such a serene space and place was a reward for their labour, hence the title of “Monks’ reward”. Of course, this might be nothing more than a figment of my imagination, but it is how I think of this place whenever I look at this shot.
Those familiar with Kyoto will recognise Pathway to tranquility (pic 2 above) as having been taken at the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Once again patience was required to capture the shot, though not as much as for the previous photograph. Before visiting Fushimi Inari I had seen many photographs of the shrine and was really quite resigned to capturing my own version of what others had already captured. Then I got lucky when I reached this point on the path with the angled side lighting creating wonderful highlights and shadows. However, I was not so lucky in that other people were moving through the shot in each direction, thus I was presented with another exercise in patience.
Whilst my preference was to capture the shot without people I would not have objected to a geisha or other kimono clad people. Unfortunately, people in coloured puffer jackets didn’t fit the mental image I had created. My luck held in the sense that the light held and eventually I was rewarded with a clear people-free shot and managed to get off a couple of frames before the next puffer jacket appeared. That was enough. I captured my moment in time and got a shot of Fushimi Inari I had not seen before. Now, whenever I look at the shot I don’t think of puffer jackets and having to be patient, I really do see a pathway to tranquility.
Thanks for reading this post, which is different to how I’ve structured my series of Japan posts and is somewhat of an indulgence on my part. However, I would like to finish off 2019 by talking about a few shots that are important to me.
December 12, 2018 at 8:44 pm
Hi John ,
I’ve seen that “Pathway To tranquility” a number of times, on your website & always admired it.
Think it’s the impact of light & yes, some of my best shots of places are where I’d waited till quizzical tourists had passed by; though with popular places not always possible, & have to use different shot orientations.
December 12, 2018 at 8:57 pm
I relate to what you say about different orientations. With a bit of practice one gets quite good at shooting over, between or around people, but on this occasion I just had to wait.
March 21, 2019 at 1:54 am
Wonderful images, John. Love your shot of the Torii Gates. I had my first trip to Japan last fall and loved every minute.
March 21, 2019 at 3:11 pm
Glad to hear you loved Japan. I’m hoping to get back for their Fall this year.