“Capturing Kyoto Zen”

Kyoto, Japan. October-November 2018 (16 photos)

This is part 9 of my Japan 2018-19 photo series.

From the iconic architecture of Matsumoto Castle to the incredible experience of Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park in my most recent posts, we leave Nagano Prefecture and return to Kyoto, Japan’s former capital.

“Early morning on the Sannenzaka”

Early morning Kyoto, before the tourist hordes become active.

“Serenity now”

One particular area worth going to in the early morning is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Kyoto’s best known Bamboo Grove, to avoid the tourist masses you will inevitably encounter if you happen to go later in the day.

“Arashiyama Bamboo Grove”

Standing amidst the serenity and gentle rustling of the soaring stalks of bamboo is like being in another world, another time.

“In the shadow of giants”

“Bamboo tranquility”

Arashiyama is in the far west of Kyoto, at the base of the Arashiyama Mountains (โ€œStorm Mountainsโ€) about 30 minutes out of Kyoto. There are many other interesting places in the area as well.

“Bamboo curtain”

Playing around with a bit of intentional camera movement.

“Rock garden at Chion-in”

“… this morning”

“Kyoto feels like…”

The Shirakawa River is one of the main rivers of Kyoto, starting from Heian Shrine and flowing to the north part of Gion. The area around the Shirakawa River is a designated historic preservation area.

“A bridge too far”

At regular intervals there are narrow barrier-less stone bridges over the river. This particular bridge is the Ippon Bridge which is only 66cm or 2ft wide. Monks who complete the most demanding pilgrimage in Japan at nearby Chion-In Temple, which takes seven years to finish, cross this bridge after finishing the pilgrimage.

I came. I looked. I didn’t walk across on it.

“Cordoned off wall on Hanamikoji Dori”

The beauty of Japanese aesthetics manifests in even the most mundane of objects.


A temple devoted to pigs.

“Night amongst the bamboo”

Earlier in this series I posted a photo taken here in the morning in this bamboo grove on the grounds of Kodai-ji Temple. The clue that I should return here at night was the sight of all the lamps along the pathway. Also the flyer they gave me advertising the night-time illuminations at Kodai-ji was a big help.


A series of alternating lights created an atmosphere of magic amongst the bamboo. The photos above and below were taken at the same spot.


This is part 9 of my Japan 2018-19 photo series.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Kyoto Zen (4)


76 thoughts on “Kyoto Zen (4)

  1. Lovely photos of the bamboo! Iโ€™d never experienced the sound of bamboo before my trip to Maui and walking in a bamboo grove there. Eerie and magical at the same time. Thank you for sharing ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Wow, that bamboo is TALL! Spectacular photos, both day and night. As for the bridge, once upon a time I could have walked over that without a problem. Now I wouldn’t attempt it. My sense of balance, especially with heights, has all gone to pot! Seems Japan has struck a cord with the wood dragon.

    • Thanks, Jude. In particular the night lights amongst the bamboo created a very ethereal experience. I could probably have made it across the bridge but I was carrying camera gear and I may have had some sake and handmade whisky infused chocolates a bit earlier ๐Ÿ™‚ so I didn’t think it wise to tempt fate. Yes, I’m caught up in the beauty of Japan and it’s culture. And there’s no jet lag involved in only crossing 2 timezones to get there.

  3. I greatly enjoyed seeing all this, especially the bamboo and the narrow bridge. (Can’t believe you didn’t go over!!) ๐Ÿ™‚ The night shots are lovely as well. I though maybe the blurred shot was the bamboo growing, as you can supposedly see it grow. But alas, no.



  4. Enchanting. I always subscribe to the motto: “serenity now, insanity later,” so I’m taking a very long break in my day by imagining myself breathing deeply inside your bamboo forest photos.

  5. I really liked those two unexpected photos: the just-married couple and the three women on a frozen Shirakawa. On my visits to Kyoto I’ve also come back with photos of wooden walls, so I quite appreciate yours.

  6. I spent 6 months in Japan, and miss every moment there. Photos just taking me back to the many adventures I had exploring temples, cities, and gardens. Great photos!

  7. One of my sweetest memories of Japan is from the streets lining the Shirakawa river. The light was exactly like in your photo. Thanks for taking me back there.

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