A torii (鳥居, literally bird abode, Japanese pronunciation: [to.ɾi.i]) is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the profane to sacred – Wikipedia
I took a walk through the torii gates leading up to the Fushimi Inari shrine.
It was a long walk, on a hot and humid day, with crowds and crowds of people.
When is a kimono not a kimono? In summer, when it’s called a Yukata. Actually, a yukata is a lighter, more casual version of the kimono, typically made with unlined cotton fabric. Kimonos are far more formal, have more layers of clothing and are traditionally made with heavy, lined silk.
Where in Japan is the best place to do street photography of people in kimonos? In Kyoto and Osaka … but it probably won’t be Japanese in those kimonos.
Dressing-up in a kimono for day is a popular tourist activity. For about 3,000 yen you can be fully outfitted in a kimono of choice complete with make-up, hair styling and wooden shoes. For an additional fee you can even ‘rent’ a photographer the day. In Kyoto I saw many young ladies in kimono/yukatas walking about. I admired their vigor, especially on the hot (36F degrees) days of August when I was melting in my shorts & t-shirt.
The ladies in kimonos offered good context for my holiday pictures. Harder to find were interesting street shots.
My ‘Red Kimono’ picture was taken in Kyoto’s Shirakawa-minami Dori district. I like it because of the initial focus on the brilliant red pattern on the furi sleeve, then the elaborate obi tie in the back and finally, the girl’s incongruous blue french nails.
Hidden away from the glittery lights of Shinjuku is a warren of bars and pubs called Golden Gai. Like Omoide Yokocho the bars are tiny, eclectic and cater to only a handful of customers. Walking through the narrow alleys, it feels like old noir Tokyo – dark, moody, a little seedy and very mysterious.
Here are a few peeks into doorways and staircases …
… and always intriguing are the glimpses of people hidden in bars.
I don’t usually shoot in black & white but in my last photo walk I decided to set my LCD to monochrome. What a difference. I saw scenes I wouldn’t normally have seen. The absence of color forced me to look at the shadows and light.
Some pictures, like the play on reflections below, I would have missed. In fact, when I loaded the RAW files in Lightroom, I was startled at the display of color.
These are the pictures that I took in monochrome:
These are the pictures that Lightroom showed:
Color or monochrome, they both have their appeal.
But without the monochrome LCD, I would never have seen the view.
What is something that people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of?
I’m a child of the ‘70s when portable telephones meant long extension cords. Maybe that’s why I don’t get the current day obsession with connectivity.
In my part of the world where phone plans are cheap (compared to North America) and cars are expensive (entry price is $120,000), I see lots of commuters engrossed with their phones. So engrossed that they’ll walk heads down into traffic.
Worse are the ones who play games without ear phones; as if we all want to hear their pings, dings and noise emissions.
Most distressing are toddlers held mesmerized by their parent’s phone. Mobiles become electronic pacifiers and little humans are being trained to see the world through a 7x15cm window.
What quirky things do people do where you are from?
There is no fear of color in Singapore’s buildings. Historic shop houses are painted in pretty pastels, stodgy government buildings have crayola colored shutters and ugly apartment blocks are doused in exuberant playground colors.
Central plaza wt stores
What are some things you wish you could unlearn?
It’s too easy to pick up terms & odd wordings when living in a foreign country. Lately, I’ve been forgetting to “off the lights” when leaving a room and more often than not, I say “can” when answering with an affirmative.
It’s not a problem, so long as I’m in Singapore. My friends in Canada though, they’re starting to look at me strange.
Who is someone that you miss having in your life?
In Singapore 72% of the population is of Chinese descent with many migrating from South China in the late nineteenth & early twentieth century. As such, Singaporeans have an ethnic heritage similar to my parents and grand-parents. I see it in the faces of people on the street. My grandfather’s eyes. My mother’s nose. It’s present too in the local food and traditions. Many Singaporean dishes recall flavors from long forgotten family meals.
My family history is not Singaporean but our Chinese heritage share a common root. It would have been nice to have my mother and grand-mother (long deceased) around to ask questions and compare memories.
Did you ever make that? What was it called? Do you remember this?