This is the house of Kawai Kanjiro, a legendary potter and a key figure in the mingei or Japanese folk art movement. His beautiful wooden townhouse has been preserved as a memorial run by his family. The building itself and the garden are wonderful, but you can also see here many of his works: ceramics, sculptures, and woodcarvings. His kilns are preserved at the back of the house. I was there back in September and took some 360 degree pictures which I shall share here as they give a good impression of how much there is to explore in the house. Just click on them to have a proper look around: [Read more…]
In 2011 McKinsey & Company commisioned 80 writers and thinkers to contribute to an anthology rather grandly titled Reimagining Japan: The Quest for a Future that Works. I bought my own copy after browsing through it at Kansai Aiport and reading Alex Kerr‘s piece “Japan after People”.Â His contribution was a wry form of dystopian projection that took various current trends, both national and local, and followed them into the far future to entirely logical yet completely absurd conclusions. His prediction for Kyoto in 2060 amused me greatly: [Read more…]
The ancient temple of Daigo-ji in the Fushimi ward of Kyoto, is currently opening at night to show off it’s illuminated autumn colours. Though the leaves hadn’t quite reached their peak when we visited at the weekend, they weren’t far off and we were glad to get there before it got too crowded.Â Here are some pictures from our visit. [Read more…]
Mewby’s birthday was a couple of weeks back and to celebrate I took her to Trattoria é“æœˆ by the Ocean. Though the name is a bit unwieldy, the restaurant itself is very welcoming and friendly, and the food was superb.
This is the outside of the building which as you can see is a lovely old (but fully renovated!) machiya townhouse. You can’t beat a bit of machiya dining when in Kyoto. This restaurant specializes in fresh seafood served with Italian pasta, which you can eat at the counter whilst watching the cook at work, or separately at your own table. We had a little room to ourselves and here are the dishes we ordered: [Read more…]
Out walking by the Kamo river one day, we encountered a happy bowl-headed mascot (pictured below) hopping about on Shijo Bridge. We took the obligatory 360 degree picture together and received in return two drinks coupons for the Udon Museum. What more of an incentive do you need to explore the magical world of thick Japanese wheat flour noodles? Our curiosity piqued, we duly paid a visit.
The first thing you need to understand about Kyoto’s Udon Museum is that its claim to be a museum is somewhat tenuous. They do have a display room along one wall of which you can see the differing sizes, shapes and colors of udon noodles from across the Japanese archipelago. In one corner there is a brief history of its origins too (but frankly you can learn more from Wikipedia). [Read more…]
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. [Read more…]
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 homeï¼š along the Lakeside Way (æ¹–ãƒŽè¾ºã®é“Â 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.
The tree pictured above is said to be å¤©å¥³ã®è¡£æŽ›æŸ³ – 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… [Read more…]
Last weekend I joined Rob Mangold and his IDRO crew on a relief trip to Kameoka, which was hit hard by the last typhoon to sweep through Kansai. After linking up with some regular volunteers at Kameoka’s Volunteer Center, we drove out into golden fields where a landslide caused by heavy rain had filled up the drainage ditches. Our job was to dig them out. Here are some pictures from the day: a mix of standard shots and 360 spherical images from the Ricoh Theta. If you click on the spheres you can view the images in a perfectly immersive 360 degrees. [Read more…]
Click on the images displayed below to view them in fully immersive 360 degrees.
Having played with my little Ricoh Theta camera for about a week now, I think it’s time for a wee review with some example shots to give you an idea of it’s potential. First though a few words on how it works. The camera has a double fish-eye lens that takes a simultaneous 360 degree shot of your surroundings, up, down, every which way and fully immersive. A simple set-up and you can connect the camera to your i-phone (or i-pad or i-pod touch) via a wi-fi signal emitted from the camera itself. An app will then let you explore the image from multiple angles and play around with it. There is no way to preview the image before you take it, so you just have to trust your judgement and see what happens. However, if you have a playful temperament and like to experiment then this can be a lot of fun. I’ve found also that some images work better when reduced down to spheres like this:
Or stretched out into panoramas like this:
You’ll also noticed from that first picture that taking pictures manually will necessarily turn your pictures into glorified selfies and give you massive arms. No problem – you can take pictures remotely from your i-phone. Standing the camera up on a flat surface can give good results.
But sometimes a tripod is better. I got myself a GorillaPod, a wonderful little creation with legs that can wrap around branches and railings – and that is how I took this image from a balcony railing. I love the fact that I could take a picture that includes both the restaurant and the river that it faces!
Now though I live in Japan’s most photogenic city, traditional landscape views are not necessarily best suited to this camera. Unless that is you enjoy taking candid shots of other people taking pictures. I confess I do.
No more how subtle you are though, this little camera does attract a lot of attention.
The best pictures tend to be those in which your entire surrounds are of interest and not just that which lies before you. This makes you think about your pictures, and indeed the world about you in a whole new way.
Another strong point for this camera is group shots. The person who takes the picture can also be included in the shot and need never be left out again!
I have more pictures to post from Pontocho, Kawaii Kanjiro’s house and other sites around town, but it grows late… For now I shall leave you with my favorite picture so far. I thought this might turn out well, when I took it, but it exceeded my expectations. Further 360 adventures will follow soon!
Yesterday, I had planned to spend the day running round Kyoto’s most iconic sites, taking immersive 360 degree images with my new Ricoh Theta camera… However, inspired by Tito’s flood relief poetry, and Rob Mangold’s posts on Facebook I decided to join them and Joel Stewart for a spot of volunteering in Arashiyama. I was encouraged by the community spirit there that inspired so many people to turn up on their own initiative and offer a helping hand.
Here are some pictures from the Kubo restaurant that we were working at yesterday. They are a mix of standard shots and 360 sphericalÂ images. If you click on the 360 spheres you can immerse yourself in the full volunteer experience!
The first job that we had to do, was shifting a pile of garbage and debris to one side, which would have been simple enough except Joel found this little fellow in there. “Hey Michael. Look at this,” he said.
Pretty, isn’t it? It was a “mamushi” pit viper that Joel calmly informed me is poisonous, before coolly removing it to some bushes, out of harm’s way.Â Once that was done and the garbage shifted we got on with some digging.
Officials bring a film crew to visit flood damaged houses. I believe Joel and I appeared on the evening news for all of 3 seconds, though I didn’t see it myself. Click on the image for a full view.
That was just one morning’s work: a good work-out and much more fun than what I usually do for a living! There is still more to be done though, in Arashiyama and also other affected areas such as Kameoka and Fukuchiyama (which was completely inudated). If you have the time and would like to help, check out the IDRO Japan page on Facebook or contact them directly at idrojapan[at]gmail.com.
See also: http://www.idrojapan.org/
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:
In the Forest:
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.
After our descent we went back to Robert Yellin’s pottery gallery:
Robert had ice-cold beers ready! Much appreciated after our climb!
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.
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).
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!