Category Archives: Walks

Strolling down Kyoto’s Nishiki Food Market


Chestnuts on sale at Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market is an essential sight-seeing spot for food lovers visiting Kyoto. This 400 year-old market extends for 400 meters between Teramachi and Takakura and has the reputation of being a place where you can find anything! Almost everything here is locally produced and reasonably priced. Filled with all kinds of colorful sights, unusual smells and the cries of the market traders this is a lively location and a favorite haunt of photographers! Here below are some photographs, videos and spherical images from our own stroll down Nishiki. Continue reading

Hiking & Haiku on the Uminobe-no-Michi Trail

For the last 3 years or so I have been joining the Hailstone Haiku Circle on their annual autumn hike. Always good outings, in previous years we have gone further afield to Mount Daisen in Tottori, and Tateyama in Toyama, but this year’s hike was closer to home: along the Lakeside Way (湖ノ辺の道 Uminobe-no-michi), in Northern Shiga. These are haiku composition hikes, so we take notes as we walk and at the end of the day exchange our poems over dinner and drinks. Before that though, a 14 kilometer trek along Lake Yogo, up Mount Shizugatake and along the range before climbing up and down Mount Yamamoto. Many thanks to Richard Donovan who organized this year’s excursion, and who will be posting has posted an account with the group’s haiku on the Hailstone site soon. Here I shall post my own photos of the day including some Ricoh Theta spherical images. If you click on those spherical images you can view a fully immersive 360 degree photograph.

IMG_6668 (Medium)The tree pictured above is said to be 天女の衣掛柳 – the willow upon which a heavenly maiden hung her robe. According to the story a passing fisherman seeing the beautiful maiden swimming in Lake Yogo, hid the robe from her, thus preventing her return to heaven. He then took her home with him and kept her as his wife. Years later one of her children found the robe and returned it to her, whereupon she instantly flew back to heaven leaving her husband and children devastated without her… Continue reading

Climbing Mount Daimonji with Robert Yellin & the Ricoh Theta

When you write a blog, and a reasonable number of people follow it, sometimes you get stuff for free. Probably this is the best thing I ever got for free:


Pretty, isn’t it? This is the RICOH THETA – the first camera that can take 360 degree panoramic images in one shot. And as it isn’t on sale yet, I’m the very first person in Kyoto who gets to give it a go! Soon after it arrived my friend Robert Yellin suggested we take it up Mount Daimonji for a test run and below are the results. Just click on the dew drops to step into a bubble and view the image in 360 degrees!

Crossing the Bridge at the foot of Daimonji:
Dai 1
In the Forest:Dai 2
At the top! You can climb this in 30 minutes at a reasonable pace and it really does energize you when you get to the top. I’m still buzzing from it now.
Dai 3

Taking in the view!Dai 4

After our descent we went back to Robert Yellin’s pottery gallery:Gallery 1

Robert had ice-cold beers ready! Much appreciated after our climb!Gallery 2
While we talked I expressed an interest in some of the works of Shimura Noriyuki that were on display. Robert brought out some mugs for me to look at. Colorful and quirky, I find them delightful.

Gallery 3

I actually ended up buying one, I liked it so much. I feel like every one of those pieces has a story in it, but this was my favorite (standard picture).

IMG_6516 (Medium)
It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Many thanks to Robert, and also to Daniel Rosen for choosing me to try out this great new toy!

Yet Another Gorgeous Day in Kyoto

Cities of Green Leaves 青葉の都市 – Ginko no Kukai
Last Saturday I joined the Hailstone Haiku Circle‘s latest ginko no kukai; an international poetry and nature walk being held across the world in solidarity with the city of Sendai. The event was planned to coincide with Sendai’s Aoba Matsuri or Green Leaf Festival. This festival with its parade and famous sparrow dance is held annually to celebrate the coming of new spring greenery and also in memory of Sendai city’s founder, Date Masamune. Here in Kyoto, we really couldn’t have chosen a better day for a poetry walk. The weather was just perfect!

Meeting close to Kitayama station we strolled for about 15 minutes to our first stop at the kakitsubata iris pond at Ota Shrine.

The kakitsubata variety of Japanese iris is known as the rabbit-ear iris in English because of its lop-eared petals.

This flower has been well-established in Japanese poetry since Heian times when Ariwara no Narihira is said to have written the following poem from the Tales of Ise using the five initial syllables of the flower’s name: KA-KI-TSU-HA-TA.

から衣 きつゝなれにし つましあれば はるばるきぬる たびをしぞ思

Kitsutsu narenishi
Tsuma shi areba,
Harubaru kinuru
Tabi o shizo omou

Travelling afar
it fills my heart with pain
to recall my Chinese robes
and my beloved wife.

Here the poet was expressing not only regret at being parted from his wife, but also a keen sense of loss at being separated from the Imperial court of Kyoto (as represented by those fine Chinese robes).

The irises of Ota Shrine specifically were also celebrated in a Heian period poem by Fujiwara Toshinari:


Kamiyama ya
Ota no sawa no
fukaki tanomi wa
iro ni miyu ramu.

This holy mountain -
the irises of Ota marsh,
in their colour
can be seen
our deep hopes.

It’s pretty amazing to think that people have been admiring these flowers in this same spot for a millenium. We spent much time here enjoying the special atmosphere, looking at the flowers and scribbling in our notebooks. Here’s one of my admittedly very simple scribbles:

Peering through new maple;
sunlight falls on purple flags
their green blades shake

By a little stream people stooped to listen to the tagogaeru, a type of frog that can be heard bouncing love croaks from rock to rock – but rarely seen. We sat here for a while chatting and then reluctantly moved on.

After this we continued walking, talking and writing. We strolled on up to Kamigamo Shrine, and then back on down the Kamogawa, our numbers gradually depleting as the day sank behind us. It was a lovely day, but that iris field was definitely the highlight. Here is my full flickr set of the walk.

My day wasn’t over yet though. I departed from Stephen Gill at Demachiyanagi station and got a taxi to Kiyomizu Temple. There I saw Brian Williams’ splendid show – the first time in 1200 years that anyone has exhibited their art there. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but if you haven’t read it yet, you might also take a look at my interview with Brian previous to the event.