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Obon in Kyoto

August 18, 2010

On Monday night I went to Arashiyama in Kyoto to take in some of the Obon activities.  It was a disaster. Again it brought out my extreme dislike of festivals in Japan. There were thousands of people there pushing and shoving being quite uncivil to each other. Photographically it was a nightmare. It was an extreme low light situation, so I brought my tripod, but because of the crowds, I couldn’t use it. Instead I cranked the ISO up to 3200 and ended up with really noisy images.

2010 Kyoto Daimonji

This is the Daimonji partially blocked by a tree. It was quite far away and if I could have used the tripod, I could have used my longest lens and maybe gotten a decent image. If I could have gotten over to the bridge I might have even been able to get a clear, unblocked image.

2010 Arashiyama Manto Nagashi #1

Frankly, I’m surprised that I managed to make any images at all. This one is of the floating lantern ceremony (manto nagashi). Thousands of paper lanterns with candles inside were floated down the river to lead ancestral spirits back home. Here the lanterns are being lit and put on the river. It would have been nice without the crowd.

2010 Arashiyama Manto Nagashi #2

The lanterns were floated on the south side of the river for about 100 meters and then pulled out. I guess they don’t want 10,000 open flames going all the way to the sea and possibly starting fires along the way. This is an image of the lanterns being extinguished and taken out of the river. It was so noisy and the noise reduction made the image so soft that it looks more like a painting than a photograph.

And that’s it for the summer festivals in Kansai for me. (Eight posts in four weeks!) There are a couple of firework things this weekend, but I think I’m going to stay home. Next week I’m off back home (the US) for the rest of my summer vacation. I’ll be taking my camera, but I don’t know how much I’ll be blogging because I don’t really have the software to process images on my laptop. I might post a few rough JPEGs and of course I will continue with the iPhone project on Flickr. Otherwise see you in a month.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2010 8:55 am


    I landed here from your post in DP forum. Fantastic pictures! I really like the lantern pictures and all the firework pictures. Great stuff.


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