The 5th Kyoto Photo Walk with Javier Montano

5th photo walkNews from our friend Javier Montano:

It is finally here!

– Meet new friends and learn about photography in beautiful Nanzenji and beyond.
– All you need is a camera or a smartphone
– Please register now, It is FREE!

Sunday, November 29, 2015 from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM (JST)
Kyoto – Keage station (Tozai line). 蹴上駅 Keage-eki. Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture JP

Register here: Kyoto Photowalk

See also: Javier Montano’s Website
Javier Montano on Facebook: Daijoubu Photography

Upcoming Events at Kyoto Impact Hub; November – December 2015

Many thanks to Masami Utsunomiya from Kyoto Impact Hub for sending in this events list for the end of this year…

peacemaskDate: November 21st (Saturday)
Peace Mask Hibakusha Launch Party
Time: 17:00-19:00
Fee: 1000yen

On November 21st, we invite you to join the Peace Mask Project team at the Impact Hub Kyoto from 17:00-19:00 to join us in launching our newest initiative, the Peace Mask Hibakusha Project.

There will be music and some refreshments. We are asking for a 1,000yen donation towards the project, but most of all for your presence and support to the Hibakusha, whose Peace Masks we will be making in the coming month.
LINK: Facebook event page

kobujutsuDate: November 30th, December 7th, 14th, 21st (Mondays)
HUB Dojo ~ KOBUJUTSU ~ a classical Japanese martial art
Time: 18:30-20:00
Fee: 500yen for a trial lesson / 2000yen for each lesson / 8,000yen for a 5times ticket / Impact Hub Kyoto members and students will get 20% discount.

Kobujutsu originated in Japan over 500 years ago. Although life in Japan has changed considerably from the time when this martial art first took shape, the teachings remain unchanged and still hold great value and application to modern life.

  • Learning Kobujutsu will allow your body to reset to its proper usage and you will experience improved balance along with the benefits of exerting the least amount of energy necessary to perform any given task.
  • The focus of the class is to reconnect our mind, body, and spirit through the wisdom passed down from the ancestors of Kobujutsu.
  • The classes begin with still and moving meditation, followed by stretching and specialized warm up to facilitate proper movement and usage of the entire body.
  • The lessons are taught mainly in English to provide a unique multicultural learning experience


yogaDate: November 24st, December 1st, 8th (Tuesdays)
MORNING YOGA & MEDIATION ~ Heart Mind Body Health for late Autumn season ~
Time: 7:00-8:30
Fee: 3000yen for each class/ Impact Hub Kyoto members and students will get 20% discount

We have morning yoga & meditation classes at Impact Hub Kyoto. You will learn about health and balance for late Autumn Season. Home assignment will be given every week, so you will be aware of your condition of body and mind in everyday life.

sexy saladDate: November 24th, December 7th, 21st (the first and third Monday each month)
Sexy Salad
Time: 11:30-13:30
Fee for Members: Please bring your favorite vegetable or ingredient to share + donation
Fee for Non-members: ¥500 + Favorite food or ingredient to share + donation

Sexy Salad is a shared lunch prepared by our team at Impact Hub Kyoto. It is an event that is unique to Impact Hub and enjoyed all around the world.
All are welcome!
Kindly bring your favorite vegetables and we will mix them into a delicious, collaborative concoction to enjoy together on a coming summer day.
Let’s share stories and have a wonderful time together every other Monday!

For more information please visit the Kyoto Impact Hub website.

Photo Tips & Tricks with Javier Montano: Tip #1 Learning to wait…

Here is some expert photography advice from our good friend, Javier Montano

As a photographer, the most common questions I get asked are technical in nature. Which camera brand is better? Should I get a mirror-less or a DSLR camera? Is a 85mm lens better than a 50mm lens? And so on. It is not that these questions are bad. They are not. It’s natural for beginners to ask about the equipment necessary to dive into the amazing world of photography.

The thing is, questions about equipment are almost never the most important. A good camera can help you to get well exposed and sharp images, but it will not do anything to make your friend’s smile funnier, make the sun look awesome during the evening, or create a romantic atmosphere alongside that river you like so much. No, sir. Conveying emotion in a photograph is up to you, the photographer.

So the important question is, how do I do that? And the answer is: you study and you practice. You study and you practice a lot. But first, you need to get rid of all the experts’ advice about buying expensive stuff. Professional photographers love their cameras and accessories so much that they forget about how they were when they started taking photos. We forget that we did not start using a 3.000.000 yen camera. Stop listening to the so called “pros” and start acquiring good photography skills with whatever camera you may have. Yes, even a smartphone will do.

Today I’d like to talk about one of these skills. It’s called patience. Let me explain it to you. Look at the picture of this American gentleman I took during his tour in beautiful Kyoto.

javier patience

Click on the image to view it full size. Image © Javier Montano.

Do you think the photo would look as good without the colorful ladies at the left side of the frame? I do not think so. So what do you do when you don’t have a budget to hire pretty models to stand in front of the camera? It’s simple… you wait. At that time, I stood there looking like a fool trying to convince the client and my assistant to wait for a little on that street, telling them it was worth it to stand there for a couple of minutes more until something interesting would happen. Fortunately, it did! We got the nice shot and I was not feeling ridiculous anymore.

Now you go out and do the same. You will be surprised how being a little patient (sometimes being very patient) can be much better than having an expensive camera. Trust me; your photos will start looking better after you stop hurrying, and you start waiting for the right moment to click the button. More to come…

Text and photograph by Javier Montano. Javier Montano is well known locally for his group photo walks as well as his own stunning photography. Here on Deep Kyoto, he writes regularly with advice for would be photographers. Check out his own work at and on Facebook.

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

A Day Trip to Ohara on Inside Kyoto

My article, A Day Trip to Ohara, is now up on Inside Kyoto…

inside ohara

Ohara is many things: a rural retreat, a tourist hotspot, an ancient training ground of spiritual music, and the last refuge and resting place of those who were bested by history. Once, Ohara was considered by the people of Kyoto as a remote outpost in its north-eastern hills. Today, you can get there by bus from the city center in an hour – if the traffic is good. And the renowned beauty of its gardens draws much traffic. In spring, the city folk flock to Ohara to see cherry blossoms, hydrangeas and azaleas. In the autumn, the crowds pour in to admire the autumn leaves.

Read more here: A Day Trip to Ohara.

Shichi-go-san: A special ritual for child health and longevity

From Ian Ropke,

This month visitors will have a great chance to photograph children all dressed up in kimono, a special opportunity not to be missed. November is the month of the shichi-go-san (7-5-3) ritual for girls (seven and three years of age) and boys (five years of age).

Four generations celebrate shichi-go-san.

Four generations celebrate shichi-go-san.

Shichi-Go-San is believed to have started in the Heian Period (794-1185). It was a ritual developed by court nobles to celebrate the passage of their children into middle childhood. In Japanese numerology, odd numbers are considered to be lucky.

In the Kamakura period (1185-1333), the fifteenth of what is now known as November was set as the date for this ceremony.

The samurai class also found the ritual beneficial for their children. Samurai children, according to the custom of the warrior class, had their heads shaven until they were three years old. Samurai boys were allowed to wear their first hakama (samurai formal wear) at age five. And samurai girls from age seven onwards were allowed to wear obi sashes around their kimono instead of simple cords.

By the Meiji period (1868-1912), the shichi-go-san tradition was firmly part of the annual traditional practices observed by all classes. By this time, the practice also included visiting a shrine to have the local deities keep the children free of bad spirits and to bless them with a long, healthy life.

Today, the tradition has changed little. Three-year-old girls and five-year-old boys often wear their first formal Japanese clothing, kimono for girls and hakama for boys, at a shichi-go-san ceremony. Three-year-old girls differ from the seven-year-olds in that they usually wear hifu padded vest over their kimono.

Chitoseame or “thousand year candy” is something that children also look forward to in November, as part of the shichi-go-san ritual. These long, thin candies, presented bags decorated with a crane and a turtle, symbols of longevity, are colored red and white (the colors of celebration in Japan). Eating the candy is said to ensure a child’s healthy growth and a long life.

The best shrines in Kyoto to see this beautiful and colorful ceremony are Heian Shrine, Shimogamo Shrine, and Kamigamo Shrine. Though the 15th is still considered the actual correct day of the event, modern times have resulted in both weekends before and after the 15th as being the most popular. This month, the 14th and 15th and the 21st and 22nd will be the best time to experience shichi-go-san and take some of the cutest and most memorable pictures you will ever see.

Text and image by Ian Ropke. Ian Ropke is the author of the Historical Dictionary of Osaka and Kyoto, and director of Your Japan Private Tours. You can read his previous articles for Deep Kyoto here.

Ikuo Salley’s photo exhibition, “Whiskey Drinking Troubadour” at GalleryMain, Kyoto; Nov 13 – 22 2015

Thanks to Mike Vlasman for passing on news of this upcoming photography exhibition by Ikuo Salley.


The invisible society we built in cyberspace is prospering well like the tower of babel. It is the magic of anonymity helping us to express the many things we have wished to do secretly, and yet, people want to believe that this is real communication. On the contrary, our visible society is loosing the actual sense of expression and the personal touchof communication. When I was living in Hollywood, I noticed that all the tourists looked the same, but desperate people living on the street all had one of a kind faces. Prostitutes, gay guys, exiles, drug addicts, criminals……those people who have already known how hard life is……tell you a lot with their eyes. Looking into a face reaches me in a deep and honest sense, and also convinces me what “real communication” is. LINK

11/13 [Friday]ー11/23[Monday]

*closed on monday


**last day 13:00-17:00



Tour Kyoto by Bicycle with Noru Kyoto


Here’s a message from Ross Mclean of Noru Kyoto,

Kyoto is a city best explored by bicycle. Here at NORU, we took great time to curate a selection of tours that focus on showing visitors the beautiful contours of this ancient capital. We wanted to do more than just visit the busy tourist sites, and luckily our shop’s proximity to the northern foothills of Kyoto provides wonderful exploration of Kyoto’s best-kept secrets.

Noru 1

Our journeys are crafted on leisure, scenery, and culture, and our new fleet of 8-speed folding bikes makes our excursions suitable for people of all heights and fitness levels.

We begin with stops at World Heritage temples and shrines, and gradually make our way along cozy backstreets to quieter, more intimate Zen garden settings.


Complete custom tours are also available to those who wish to see specific sites and attractions. These can be booked as either a full or half day and can be planned with only a few days notice.


We are avid road cyclists so for those who seek something more performance and distance oriented we also provide tours of incredible routes through Kyoto Prefecture and beyond!


Please contact Noru Kyoto directly about these tours at:
Reviews of Noru Kyoto on TripAdvisor.
All images from Ross Mclean.

Sword Dancing at Samurai Kembu Theater on Inside Kyoto

In case you missed it, my article about the Samurai Kembu Theater is now up on Inside Kyoto


Kembu is a Japanese martial art that combines sword play with dance. At the Samurai Kembu Theater in Kyoto you can watch a performance of this traditional dance and enter the world of the samurai warrior. Our flashing blade, Michael Lambe, reports…

Read more here: Sword Dancing in Kyoto at Samurai Kembu Theater

A Night of Japanese Sake and Cuisine in a Kyoto Machiya Townhouse

October 8thAn update on this event from Takara Shuzo: “We regret to inform you that this event is now full. We have received an overwhelming response and wish to sincerely thank everyone who has taken the time to apply. We do currently plan to run this event again in the near future and look forward to welcoming more participants at that time.”

sake night

From Chris Malcolm,

Takara Shuzo, based in Kyoto and one of Japan’s leading sake and shochu producers, is looking for non-Japanese participants for a fun and informative night of Japanese food and sake at the beautifully restored beKyoto machiya and gallery in Kyoto. This cultural event will be hosted in English by international staff from Takara Shuzo, and attendees will have a chance to taste and learn about 9 premium sake, including several daiginjo varieties, while enjoying a full Japanese meal. During dinner, the staff will give a short seminar on sake, Japanese food, and sake pairings. In addition to the meal, participants will receive a bottle of Mio Sparkling Sake at the end in exchange for their cooperation in filling out a couple of short surveys.

Fee: 500 yen. This includes a full meal, and sampling of 9 premium sake.

Time: Friday, Oct 16 from 5:45. The event will end around 8:00pm.

Participants: The event is limited to 15 non-Japanese guests.

Application Method:

・Simply send a message with your name in an Email titled ‘Sake Tasting’ to If you wish to invite friends, please include their names in the Email as well.
・Application deadline: Oct 14, 2015, 5:00pm.
・All applicants will be notified by email with the result of their application.
・Participants will be determined via their applications on a first come, first serve basis.
・If we have reached capacity at the time of your application, we will add you to a waitlist and contact you if there are any cancellations.


beKyoto Art Gallery and Rental Space:
〒602-0064 京都市上京区新町通上立売上る 安楽小路町429-1
beKyoto is a 5min walk from Imadegawa subway station exit 2.

Additional event and contact information will be provided to participants through email at the time of confirmation.

machiya venue


・Any information collected via Email from attendees will be used solely for the organization of this event or future editions of the same event for applicants unable to attend due to overcapacity.
・Takara Shuzo does not sell, trade, or rent your personal information to others.
・All guests must be at least 20 years old.
・Given that alcoholic beverages will be served, please do not travel to the event by car, motorcycle or bicycle.

We look forward to seeing you there!”

Maruzen Bookstore on Inside Kyoto

My review of the new Maruzen Bookstore & Cafe is now up on Inside Kyoto

Maruzen Bookstore Returns to Kyoto

After a 10-year interval Kyoto’s best bookstore, Maruzen Books has returned! Our resident bookworm, Michael Lambe, went to take a look at the new premises and see if the new store matches up to its legendary past.

Check out the full story here: Maruzen Bookstore Returns to Kyoto!