Dave's Photo & Travelblogue

Photo shoots. World travel advice. Tips on Munich & environs.

Japan in Timelapse

These timelapse videos were made with a Nikon D7000 on Dotonbori Street in Osaka, in a Belgian bar in Kobe, and from the Granvia hotel overlooking Kyoto train station. You get a little flavor of the variety of city life in Japan!

Personally: I really love how fast you can eat peanuts and drink beer at one frame every 5 seconds. (Cheers, Alan!)

Try to spot a giant crab, a Belgian monk (?), a snow squall, a Shinkansen bullet train, and an elevator dancing to the beat of my background music.

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When you are shooting a timelapse indoors, do try not to set the camera on your food+drinks table. But sometimes you have no choice… hehe. Here’s Kyoto train station at dusk…

Kyoto Train Station at Night

Posted 5 years, 8 months ago at 8:41 pm.

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Monkey Alert

June 27th was a ten miler. At least, by the end of the day I felt like I’d walked ten miles. Nijo Castle, in the center of Kyoto, was definitely worth the trip – although I was a bit disappointed on a few counts. So don’t get quite as excited as I did beforehand.

You can’t take photos inside the castle. The “Nightingale Floors,” designed to squeak with each step to alert the Shogun to intruders, don’t squeak much anymore (and sound nothing like a bird). And in the very nice gardens, 80% of the paths were roped off – so views and camera angles were quite limited.

On the upside, it’s very old, has a rich history, and is quite a beautiful work of architectural art. Here’s my attempt an an artistic shot of Nijo Castle sans tourists.

Nijo Castle in Kyoto

And one of the gardens, filled with very traditionally-pruned trees:

Garden at Nijo Castle

I also visited the Manga Museum (no photos allowed), and the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden where the Imperial Palace is located (not open to tourists, but sometimes private tours).

While in the garden, I saw a cluster of Japanese with massive cameras pointed at the canopy of a huge camphor tree. I joined this crowd of 400mm f/4 lenses with my puny 200mm f/5.6, and managed to spot this guy. If I’d known Japanese, I would have asked to try the big Nikon (it was around 400-600mm, not sure). Here’s the sharpest I could do without a tripod, using my 18-200mm VR.

Some kind of Japanese owl, I suppose

Did I mention that I love Japanese Maples? Especially the red-leafed ones!

Red Japanese Maple

I’ll just include one shot from Arashiyama Monkey Park, where some very tame Japanese Monkeys (also known as Snow Monkeys) live. I still have to email the monkey family this portrait. You have no idea how long it took the parents to get their little one to stay still for the camera.

Japanese Monkey Family Portrait

Tomorrow I visit the first city in human history to be nuclear bombed. What is Hiroshima like now, and how do they portray their grisly legacy? I’ll do my best to show you.

Posted 7 years, 5 months ago at 3:03 pm.

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No, DON’T Eat My Shorts!

I toured around Kyoto on June 26th with a new friend from the hostel. It rained the whole day, but I did manage to get a few cool shots of these turtles in the park around Toji temple:

Why are these turtles crowding onto this rock?

This Five-Storied Pagoda is a national treasure. It had a few “bests,” I think including the tallest wooden structure in Japan.

Five-Storied Pagoda at Toji

I love Japanese Maples. The overall family is my favorite kind of tree. I managed to find a bit of contrast despite the rain, and got this nice photo of trees in Maruyama Park, by the Gion district.

Japanese Maple

At the edge of the park I found this beauty parked in a patch of grass. I’m once again impressed by the D90 and Nikon’s VR (Vibration Reduction) system. It was almost dark by the time I got this handheld, no-flash photo. Does anyone know what kind of car this is?

Old car in Japan

I wandered through the Gion district, but didn’t see any Geisha, as it was raining. Neither they nor I had much desire to be out and about. This scene greeted me under one awning:

Don't eat my shorts!

Today I definitely observed a bit of the flavor of Kyoto! Everything from the sublime to the obscene. Tomorrow: I go to a castle in the center of the city, known for its “nightingale floors!?”

Posted 7 years, 5 months ago at 3:23 pm.

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Japanese Packaging – Dry Ice, Please

I walked out my hostel door June 25th on a mission to see gardens, visit temples, and take in the atmosphere of Kyoto. My first stop was the Shosei-en gardens, which have a small (500 yen) entry fee. Quite reasonable; so far nothing in Japan was more than 600 yen entry, about $7. The lake at Shosei-en was particularly scenic and peaceful, even on a cloudy & rainy day.

Lake at Shosei-en garden

I tried one of these small plums (one that had fallen on the ground). It was really sour. But they certainly look nice:

Plums at Shosei-en garden

Next I saw the big temples in the middle of Kyoto, each of which is part of a spiritual complex occupying a whole city block. The temple on the east side is the biggest wooden building in the world – my lens wasn’t wide enough to get it all in one shot! Here’s the slightly smaller west temple, Hongwanji, in a 12-photo panorama.

Hongwanji Temple complex panorama

What surprised me most about the day was this cream puff. They cost 126 yen, or about $1.40, so I ordered one. Before I knew it, the puff was packed in a fancy bag and sealed with a metallic foil sticker. The saleswoman then filled another small bag with dry ice chips, placed that in a cardboard box, taped it shut, and put it in the bottom of a third bag, with the cream puff bag on top. They said something about three hours, which I suppose is the time this thing would keep before getting home to the fridge.

I ate it five minutes later.

Green Tea cream puff kept chilled with dry ice

The green tea cream puff was divine, just like everything made with green tea here. In case you want less packaging, try some waving and hand-motions. That worked the next time I bought a slice of cake, and I got away with two less bags. Long live the environment!

There’s almost no end to what I saw today. Here are the vermillion gates of the Inari shrine. I thought it was going to be just one row of these gates. Actually it’s about 4 kilometers of them, with shrines every few hundred meters. Local businesses donate money for the gates; I suppose it brings good fortune.

Orange gates at the Inari shrine in Kyoto

Here’s one of the hand-washing pools at Inari. Drooling Dragon!

Hand-washing pool at the Inari shrine complex near Kyoto

I’ll have to do more articles about this day after my return to Germany. The raw chicken on rice (with an uncooked egg yolk on top) is something that many Japanese I spoke to hadn’t even seen! Anyone ever eaten raw chicken?

Posted 7 years, 5 months ago at 3:43 pm.

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Biggest Fish Market in the World

Before I left for Kyoto on June 24th, I headed to Tsukiji, the largest fish market in the world. Every day, more varieties of seafood are sold here than most people have ever heard of. Nowadays, they only let two groups of 70 tourists view the famous tuna auction; I decided not to get up at 3:30 to try and catch it. BUT I did see a lot of those tuna being carted around and sliced up, after my 7:00am arrival at the market. I think these are tuna?

Fish being sliced up at Tsukiji in Tokyo

Here are the unlucky ones responsible for my favorite sushi – eels:

Eels! Eels for sale!

Are these scallops? I’m not sure.

Shellfish at Tsukiji

A varied assortment:

Huge assortment of seafood at Tsukiji

These crazy carts drive around everywhere loaded with the day’s purchases, trying (not so hard) to avoid running over tourists.

Crazy carts!

As this cart drove by (while I wanted 2h in line for Sushi Dai), a block of this frozen fish (I think tuna) fell off, skittering across the pavement. You can be sure, it was recovered FAST.

Don't lose the fish!

Since I spent the rest of the day getting to Kyoto, I have some nice shots from there as well. I’ll just throw in one: a beef okonomiyaki, Kyoto style, at the homey Kawa restaurant. It’s north of Syomen street, just east of the Takase river (a tiny canal). Very nice cook, and the first time I sat Japanese-style for a meal on tatami (straw) mats, with no pit under the table to sit “western style.” And the okonomiyaki was good.

Okonomiyaki at Kawa restaurant in Kyoto

In real life, you can see the fish flakes bending back and forth as the heat rises from the okonomiyaki. It’s almost like the dish is alive! If you want to read about this Japanese delight, check out my prior okonomiyaki post. Have you ever found one in a restaurant in your town?

Posted 7 years, 5 months ago at 3:29 pm.

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