Category Archives: Photography

What is “Deep Kyoto”? ~ Some thoughts from Lonny Chick

In recent months the Deep Kyoto Group on Facebook has really taken on a life of its own, with members sharing events, photos, info, opinions and even fun little quizzes! It really does feel like it has naturally grown into a vibrant community and a center of friendly discussion. One of our frequent contributors is Lonny Chick, who is perhaps better known on Twitter and Flickr as Rekishi no Tabi, and his photographs and posts on historical matters are always fascinating. A recent discussion about the kind of content we would like to see more of in our group, inspired Lonny to write a wonderful meditation on what “deep Kyoto” means to him personally. It was so beautifully written and so full of heartfelt love for this city that I thought it deserved a wider audience, and I am very glad to say he has given me permission to reproduce it here.

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What is “Deep Kyoto”? What does it mean to you?

I don’t mean this in terms of the Facebook Group, which is a stellar community and I do truly enjoy the posts, but what is “deep Kyoto”?

I ask myself this question a lot, as Kyoto is a very special place that resonates deep in me. It is a destination that allows me to forget the burdens of work and daily life and all the associated stress that really sometimes drags me down both mentally and physically. It is in Kyoto that I can find an inner peace, refresh myself and find the resolve to re-don my samurai salaryman armor to fight in the workplace trenches another day.

So what then is my “Deep Kyoto”? I think the best way to answer that is with a list. In no particular order, here is a portion of that list.

A Quiet Sunday in Kyoto by Lonny Chick

A Quiet Sunday in Kyoto © Lonny Chick – Click to view original.

1. It’s the feeling of joy to see the owners and senior staff of one of my favorite obanzai restaurants, who go out of their way to make me and my wife feel special. It is all about the omotenashi (hospitality) and the relationship that has developed over a decade with these people. It is the fact that the okami-san eagerly WANTS to talk about Japanese history and traditional culture with me. It’s the special sake that they bring out for me to sample. It is the box of chirimenjako or special Kyoto pickles that the okami-san presses into our hands to take back to Tokyo. It’s the master preparing extra special goodies for us, unsolicited. Again, Kyoto-style omotenashi really goes a long way with me.

2. It is the taste of botan nabe (wild boar hot pot) cooked in an iribancha tea-based broth on a cold winter’s night. It’s pure Kyoto and pure delight!

3. It is the smile of recognition and greeting one gets when seeing a geiko or maiko on the street who actually remembers you.

4. It is the sound of a shamisen accompanied by a singer emitting from the open second story machiya window on a hot and sultry summer’s night.

5. It’s running into Kyotoite friends on the street at night by pure chance who are on their way to a bar and drag you along, only to find out you will be drinking with a stunning geiko.

6. It is the sound of “kon-chiki-chin” music of the Gion Matsuri during Yoi-yoiyama up through the big parade every July 17. It just helps set the mood.

7. It is the feeling of being revitalized while walking through the Kibune Shrine complex, especially after a rainfall, or during a light drizzle. Water and the dragon god go hand in hand.

8. It is the feeling of deep relaxation and satisfaction one gets when sitting on the veranda at Entokuin or Eikandō, nearly all alone and undisturbed, staring out into the garden and thinking of absolutely nothing for about an hour.

9. It’s the subtle smile and sideways glance one gets from a favorite Buddhist statue.

10. It’s the conversation one has about “what constitutes the best cup of tea” with an accomplished tea master while sipping whisky in a small Gion bar run by a charming semi-retired geiko, who also has a treasure chest full of great stories.

11. It is being told by the owner of an ancient restaurant to wait until all the dinner customers are gone so you can have nearly a free reign to go and photograph just about every nook and cranny of the historic building.

12. It’s being told by the owner of a restaurant, which you are visiting for the first time, to wait until the last lunch customer is gone so he can show you how hamo is prepared.

13. It is just browsing in an antique store and talking to the owner about the history of a piece when he suddenly invites you to an impromptu tea ceremony in his shop using 15th century utensils.

Akai-san Prepares a Bowl of Matcha © Lonny Chick. Click for original image, and story!

Akai-san Prepares a Bowl of Matcha © Lonny Chick. Click for original image, and story!

14. It is the wonderful old architecture that co-exists with some interesting new structures.

15. It is a stroll down Kiyamachi at night, holding hands with your loved one, admiring the sakura and soaking up the history of the area.

16. It is stopping to dally around the Tatsumibashi bridge and shrine around midnight, while on the way back to your hotel, just to admire a sudden snowfall and watch the area slowly get blanketed in white.

17. It is the old couple who owns a kissaten, set in an old machiya, who invites you to come back tomorrow to just hang out and watch the carrying of the mikoshi (portable shrine) from their place during the Gion Matsuri and to get tested on Kyoto history knowledge via the Kyoto Kentei books.

18. It’s the sound of thundering hooves and the sight of a mounted archer whiz pass you while firing arrows at targets on the grounds of the Shimogamo Shrine during the Aoi Matsuri.

19. It’s just walking up and down the narrow walkway in the Pontochō at dusk, trying to count the number of languages you hear spoken, catching a glimpse of a geiko or maiko, and wondering how the area must have looked during the Bakumatsu period. Pontochō is magical at dusk.

20. It’s the sudden sense of being overcome with awe and wonderment when you are led upstairs to the Sumiya’s second floor to see the beautiful settings where courtesans and geiko mingled with Edo period literati and elites.

This list can go on and on, but this is just a part of my “deep Kyoto”.

Introducing Deep Kyoto’s Photo Tips & Tricks with Javier Montano

Today I am very pleased to welcome a new contributor to Deep Kyoto. Javier Montano is well known locally for his group photo walks as well as his own stunning photography. Here on Deep Kyoto, he will be writing once a month with advice for would be photographers. Take it away, Javier!


Javier Montano

Hi, welcome to Deep Kyoto’s Photo Tips and Tricks. My name is Javier and I will be talking to you about to how to improve your photography. Just because you are not a photographer nor have a “professional” camera doesn’t mean you can’t take pretty pics. Ah photography, such a nice artistic pastime, you know. Nothing serious, or is it? For some of us it’s just a way of keeping a record of how our lives pass, but for others it keeps them awake at night thinking about how to look at the world differently, to create original art, and to show something in a new way. If you are somewhere in the middle, or one of the crazy ones who still think it’s possible to take the perfect photo (like myself), then this post is for you. I’ll be posting a pic periodically and telling some stories about how I made it happen. I hope this will allow your creativity to flow and will help you when it’s you behind the camera.

So let the adventures begin! For starters, I’ll leave you with this photo of beautiful Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺) or Temple of the Silver Pavilion, (click to enlarge) a 10 minute bike ride from my home in Kyoto. Let me know your thoughts. Mata ne… (for more visit my site: or

javier montano pic

The 4th Kyoto Photo Walk – Sunday, July 5th with Javier Montano

photowalk 4

Good news for would-be photographers – Javier Montano of Daijoubu! Photography is organizing another Photo Walk. It’s a great opportunity to socialize, pick up some tips from expert photographers and improve your own shooting technique. No special equipment is required to join the walk – all you need is a camera or i-phone.

Day: Sunday, July 5th
Time: 4pm
Location: Hankyu Arashiyama Station Entrance

After the walk participants will get together for dinner and drinks.

See also:

KYOTOGRAPHIE SPECIAL: Night Viewing with Torches of Martin Gusinde’s Exhibition

This looks like fun and there is still time to catch it! From Marguerite Paget:

Experience a special and exciting night viewing of the Martin Gusinde’s exhibition: The spirit of the Tierra del Fuego people, Selk’nam,Yamana, Kawésqar.

Every day from 8-9pm at Kyoto City Hall open square in the Paper Tube Pavilion by Shigeru Ban.
The venue will be plunged into darkness during the event. Bring your torch or borrow one at the venue!

Date: everyday from May 1st until May 10th
Time: from 8 to 9pm
Admission Fee: Adults, Students (University, High school students) 500 yen or KYOTOGRAPHIE passport
Place: Kyoto City Hall open square
488 Teramachi-Oike, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto,604-8571Subway Tozai Line Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station” 1 min. on foot from exit 15 Keihan Line “Sanjo Station” 7 min. on foot from exit 12

Song: The Streets of Kyoto ~ An Exhibition by Photography Collective “Visions of Kyoto”


Image courtesy of Visions of Kyoto

Here’s a project inspired by a song learned by every child in Kyoto. “Kyoto toori na kazoe uta” 「京都通り名数え唄」 is a folksong used to memorize the names of the streets that run east to west from Marutamachi in the north of Kyoto, all the way down to Kujo in the south.

The Streets of Kyoto: Image courtesy of Visions of Kyoto

The Streets of Kyoto: Image courtesy of Visions of Kyoto

The song goes like this.

Inspired by this song, the “Visions of Kyoto” collective, seven foreign-born photographers long resident in Kyoto, have tried to capture the spirit of modern Kyoto, by photographing these 26 streets. You can see their efforts displayed at Cafe Foodelica until Monday 11th of May. And the opening party is at Cafe Foodelica on Saturday 25th April from 18.30. Check their website for details:

Cafe Foodelica is situated near Shugakuin station. Here is a MAP.

You can also browse from of the photos here:

I shall give the last word to the photographers:

In historical Kyoto, the past is very much alive, tangible and relevant to our lives in the present, and it informs us as we try to describe our visions of the future and move forward together. “Visions of Kyoto” is our way to express what Kyoto represents to us in photographs. However, our aim is to not only show the traditional face of Kyoto, but also the city as it exists today, new and modern and vibrant. We would be delighted if our photos help people better understand and feel more connected to Kyoto. Kyoto is, after all, not a city stuck in the past, but a city of innovation, technology and scholarship. With “Visions of Kyoto” we take pride in the city and its people, forging a link with future generations, and spreading appreciation for Kyoto beyond Japan to the world. Visions of Kyoto

Jean Luc Caradec Photography Exhibition: More False Memories; April 18th – May 10th

A screengrab from Jean-Luc Caradec's website. Click to view his photography.

A screengrab from Jean-Luc Caradec’s website. Click to view his photography.

From exhibition curator, Marguerite Paget,

<< New artist / New art space / KG+ Kyotographie satellite event >>
April 18th – May 10th Jean Luc Caradec presents More false memories ! A KG+ exhibition.

April 19th : Opening party (11am – 3pm Brunch)

French photographer Jean-Luc Caradec presents More false memories at 鳳凰画廊Hôô Gallery, a new art space part of Yōkai SOHO, a new building designed by two architects and scholars specializing in Japanese architecture : Benoît Jacquet and Joshua Levine. Yōkai SOHO is located on the outskirts of the great Kita-no-Tenman-gū shrine, in a vivid traditional commercial area of small shops (shōtengai) leading to the famous Yōkai street

This exhibition presents two new series of the artist brought together as a conversation in images. The first series, “Trouble”, is a play on words in French, bringing together the notions of ‘blurriness’, ‘emotions’, and ‘disturbance,’ and consists of landscapes and depictions of female figures. The second, “S8 Memories”, is an evocation of childhood and memory in a soft dreamlike setting, where discomfort and contentment are never far from one another.

See more:
The Hôô Gallery: 24 Nishimachi (Shimonomoridōri) Kamigyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 602-8371


With thanks to Christie Petrakopoulou, here are some details of this year’s Kyotographie festival of photography (with a little bit of jazz thrown in for good measure)…

KYOTOGRAPHIE is a high-end photographic event that runs annually in Kyoto (Japan), for over three weeks during the height of the spring tourist season. With a unique approach in Asia to traditional exhibition, KYOTOGRAPHIE presents world-class photography with original scenography in Kyoto City’s unique traditional and contemporary architecture.

KYOTOGRAPHIE 2015 – 3rd EDITION, April 18th – May 10th, 2015. Exhibiting widely recognized and celebrated Japanese and international photography from 9 countries in 14 iconic venues.


Focusing on ‘TRIBE,’ the 3rd Edition of KYOTOGRAPHIE International Photography Festival presents another fascinating array of exhibitions and events in Kyoto.
Dates: 2015. 4.18 Sat – 5.10 Sun
Exhibitions: 14 Exhibitions. Artists from 9 countries 15 venues

TRIBE – What’s Your Story?
The tribe is a source of fascination in a world where globalization and population displacement pose crucial questions concerning roots and belonging. Since inclusion is vital to our happiness, the tribe naturally attracts. Now, as in times past,the tribe provides ways of connecting and sharing important information and ideologies. Through shared heritage, collective conscience, or common values the tribe embraces us and becomes a significant identifying factor in our social fabric. Crossing the globe in search of places where people meet, engage and form special relationships, KYOTOGRAPHIE’s 2015 exhibitions look back at the past to explore indigenous cultures and history, and investigate contemporary popular culture and the fringes of society. TRIBE seeks to question what it means to belong, both by choice and as a matter of circumstance.


Marc Riboud, Alaska, 1958 / © Marc Riboud

Marc Riboud, Alaska, 1958 / © Marc Riboud

●Marc Riboud’s exhibition “Alaska” presented by CHANEL NEXUS HALL goes on tour. Touring from CHANEL NEXUS HALL, this exhibition features unpublished and unseen works shot in Alaska in 1958 by Marc Riboud, one of the 20th century’s leading photographers.

National Photographic Collections of MNAA– Guimet, Apollinaire Le Bas, Japanese Warrior, 1864, albumen print / © Guimet National Museum of Asian Arts

National Photographic Collections of MNAA– Guimet, Apollinaire Le Bas, Japanese Warrior, 1864, albumen print / © Guimet National Museum of Asian Arts

●“Last Samurai” images from the photographic collections of the Guimet National M useum of Asian Arts World premiere! KYOTOGRAPHIE begins a collaboration with the Guimet museum (France), presenting never before seen
albums and images. This first exhibition will provide an in-depth and valuable look into samurai culture. It will include rare portraits of Japan’s warrior class from the height of the samurai era and photographs that were produced for foreign consumption in the Meiji period.

Francis Wolff, BLUE TRAIN

Francis Wolff, BLUE TRAIN (Album of John Coltrane) , 1577 / © Francis Wolff/Mosaic Images

●Francis Wolff, a vision of jazz Japan premiere! This special Blue Note Records exhibition features Francis Wolff and other important archived works from Reid Miles. It traces the legacy of jazz and explores the intimate moments Wolff captured in his lengthy career.

Roger Ballen, Mimicry, 2005 / © Roger Ballen

Roger Ballen, Mimicry, 2005 / © Roger Ballen

●Roger Ballen first solo exhibition in Japan
Roger Ballen is a South Africa-based artist who brings a unique perspective to themes of racial discrimination and poverty. His fascinating work has gained enormous global attention. This much-awaited exhibition will take place
at Horikawa Oike Gallery, where a retrospective supported by COMME des GARÇONS will provide insight into his photographic career. Roger Ballen’s new movie Outland will also be shown at COMME des GARÇONS Kyoto store.
In addition, KYOTOGRAPHIE will launch a new edition of his controversial photobook Outland complete with 45 new images. Outland is the culmination of Ballen’s twenty years of work and is one of the most extraordinary photographic
documents of the late 20th century.

●Evening Events
To coincide with the Blue Note Records exhibition, KYOTOGRAPHIE will present a series of special musical events. They will take place throughout the festival calendar and offer entertainment for all ages, tastes and interests (Jazz dinner, Jazz lounge, live performances, etc…) The festival will feature Shuya Okino, who formed “KYOTO JAZZ MASSIVE” as a DJ unit (they recently celebrated their 20th anniversary). Okino is arguably Japan’s leading export in the crossover Jazz scene with a successful career as a composer, international performer and chart-topping artist. As a DJ, Shuya Okino regularly tours Japan and worldwide.

Text and images courtesy of Kyotographie. To learn more about KYOTOGRAPHIE 2015 visit the official website here:

Or check out some of the other photographers they have lined up on their crowdfunding page:

RELATED: Kyotographie 2015 Crowdfunding Campaign Now Open!

Parasophia: A Major Festival of Art & Culture in Kyoto Starts this Week!


Well, this looks interesting, doesn’t it?

Parasophia: Kyoto International Festival of Contemporary Culture 2015
March 7–May 10, 2015

Parasophia: Kyoto International Festival of Contemporary Culture 2015 is the first large-scale international exhibition of contemporary art to be held in Kyoto.  Approximately 40 artists from around the world will participate in the two-month exhibition at the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, the Museum of Kyoto, and other locations. Many of these artists will also have taken part in the 700 days before the exhibition, making extended visits to Kyoto for site visits, collaborations, and other research for new works that will be presented at the first exhibition in 2015.

To find out more about the schedule and location of events and exhibitions please visit the official Parasophia site.

Parasophia is also on, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

Kyotographie 2015 Crowdfunding Campaign Now Open!

kyotographie 2015

The crowdfunding campaign for Kyotographie 2015 has now begun. This has become a major art event in Kyoto over the last two years. Please lend your support if you can! Here’s the link:

About Kyotographie:
KYOTOGRAPHIE is a high-end photographic event that runs annually in Kyoto (Japan), for over three weeks during the height of the spring tourist season. With a unique approach in Asia to traditional exhibition, KYOTOGRAPHIE presents world-class photography with original scenography in Kyoto City’s unique traditional and contemporary architecture. Recognized as a distinguished photographic event, the festival successfully proved its significance in 2014 with around 40,000 visitors coming from across the country and overseas.

KYOTOGRAPHIE 2015 – 3rd EDITION, April 18th – May 10th, 2015. Exhibiting widely recognized and celebrated Japanese and international photography from 9 countries in 14 iconic venues.

KYOTOGRAPHIE aims to foster an appreciation of photography as a medium and art form. The festival brings together the international arts community and creates opportunities and events that generate quality exchanges for people of all ages and cultures. In addition to the major festival program the festival also fosters opportunities for emerging photographers through its satellite event KG+.


Stu Gibson Photo Exhibition @ Cafe Foodelica; January 15th – 25th

Our friends at Cafe Foodelica will be hosting an exhibition of Scottish photographer Stu Gibson’s Kyoto images from January 15th to the 25th.


Here’s the schedule of special events:
17th January from 7pm: Stu Gibson Solo Photo Exhibit Opening Party
24th January from 5pm: Stu Gibson Solo Photo Exhibit Meet the Artist event.

Cafe Foodelica is situated near Shugakuin station. Here is a MAP.

For more images of closely observed Kyoto, check out Stu Gibson’s portfolio here: Life Through A Lens.