Exquisite Japan

We arrived in Japan and spent our first afternoon visiting temples in, what else, pouring rain. I’ve been beat down by the weather and school field trips so thoroughly these last two weeks, I was actually thankful that it wasn’t snow, and it wasn’t a school day!

Yes, Been Down So Long, It Looks Like Up To Me is not just the title of a cool 60’s counterculture novel, play, and song. It’s the story of my life, vis-a-vis the weather and schoolkid hordes, during the Asian leg of this long trip.

But, there are actually situations where a light rain and overcast helps. I remember my friend Mike Yamashita’s story on Japanese Gardens in National Geographic. Mike wouldn’t shoot a garden unless it was misty and rainy, preferring the rich saturation of those low-contrast conditions.

Photo © Bob Krist

So I put my D90 with the 16-85mm in a Stormjacket Raincover, and shot away in the downpour.

The next two days were bright and sunny, and, dare I say it, I actually missed the rich low contrast light of the first rainy afternoon.

Truthfully, if it was just drizzling and not pouring, it would be the ideal light to shoot many of the Japanese temples we visited on this leg.

But travel isn’t always about photography (at least that’s what I tell myself when the weather goes south). It’s also about food.

Yes, armies and photographers tend to travel on their stomachs, and one of the things I love about Japan is the food.

I had an exquisite sushi dinner the first night, and the second night, a shabu shabu with rich, marbled Kobe beef.

Combine one of these dishes with some nice hot sake or cold Kirin, and you really don’t care all that much about the weather when you can eat like this!

One place I could have used the overcast was at Fushimi Inari, a Shinto shrine known for its thousands of tori gates. Low contrast would have helped here, but I managed to find a section of gates so closely packed , the speckled sunlight couldn’t filter through.

Photo © Bob Krist

I may have been in search of Nikonian Buddha nature on this trip through the Sacred Places of Asia, but I have to admit that I love the Shinto use of the color orange.  It’s not quite photo Nirvana, but it sure helps make a picture.

Photo © Bob Krist

We head into China today for the final portion of this three part charter jet odyssey. I get a day off to repack, clean my cameras, and do laundry and then we’re off to explore the Silk Road.

I’ll keep you posted…

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Hi Bob,

    I’m a new reader and have really enjoyed following your tour. I’ve admired your work for years and its great to get this inside view. I love that your using a DX camera with the 16-85. I recently got a D300 and this lens, and, while still lusting for full frame, it’s reassuring to see you shoot this way.


    1. Bill: I like everything about the idea of FX, except carrying a bag of them. My DX outfit is heavy enough, and does the job admirably. Bob

  2. Hi Bob,

    If you really wanna see something COMPLETELY different, there is a Bluegrass/Country music bar in the Ginza district of Tokyo. Get off on the Ginza stop of the subway, exit A2, walk down about two blocks, turn right, then left. Look for the sign about 3 stories up. It’s called ‘Rocky Top’.

    There’s a crude map here: http://www.liverocky.com/html/06.htm

    1. Sounds cool, Jeff. But Tokyo isn’t on the itinerary. But I’ve saved the info for next time! Bob

  3. At least, the weather in Japan was photographic though you tend to make lemonade from the weather lemons on this trip. Teaches me to do the same. Thanks, Bob!

    1. Scott: Thanks! I’m making a lot of lemonade this trip….Bob

  4. bob, i get tired just reading about your jet-set lifestyle of late. how do you do it, man? hopefully, china will be the land of good weather and fewer schoolchildren. hope to see you this summer in maine. take care.

    1. john: I know, I have to stop kvetching. It’s just that the potential is tremendous on this trip but the weather has been brutal. Might be a good workshop subject! Bob

  5. Wish I was there. I keep getting drawn back to the top image to imagine what the fragrant air must’ve been like to experience. You’re wet in Asia eating some amazing food and I’m in NJ. Who’s got the better deal here??

    1. Dave: You’ve got a point there! Hope all is well. cheers, Bob

  6. Bob,

    Tech question …

    Could you talk a little about how your D90 is setup? In situations where you have tons of color, do you use the vivid mode? Are you shooting .jpg or raw and if .jpg, are you do anything by way of sharpening in-camera?

    1. Matt: I’m really running on this trip, and can barely keep up with the posts. Can I refer you to an earlier post called “Don’t Ask, I’ll Tell” that discusses some of this? You can find it in the search box. Thanks, Bob

      1. Perfect!

        I’ll do a search for it now.

        Thanks Bob.

  7. Hi Bob,
    Great pics! It looks like we might have walked right past you, we were in Japan all last week…such a beautiful and exciting place! It was so exciting to be in a country as advanced as the U.S. but has none of the shared heritage that you can relate to like you can in Europe. They seem to excel at internalizing and incorporating foreign ideas while not letting them dilute their own identity. Seeing the Japanese cultures makes me want to see all the cultures you’ve shown on your trip. Thanks for sharing, safe travels!

  8. Great shot of the tori gates. Reminds me a lot of Christo’s “The Gates” in Central Park 5 years ago (took lots of fun photos). Same color orange. Maybe he got the idea in Japan?

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