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Photo #61 – Japanese Chairs & Stools, Kyoto Flea Market

Japanese chairs and stools for sale at Kyoto flea market
As I struggle with completing episode 5 of the podcast, which is likely to be the most difficult episode to finish in the entire series, I decided to get ahead a little with the photos by uploading some images correlating to upcoming episode 6.


These handcrafted 3-legged chairs in a carpenter’s booth at the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine’s monthly flea market were quite comfortable, but a little pricey. The chairs were offered at around $330 to $550 US depending on wood choice.

These are the chairs discussed briefly in upcoming episode 6 of the podcast as we stroll through the giant flea market underway at the shrine this day.

I don’t know that the front of these 3-legged stools are intended to look like torii gates, but there is a resemblance.

The Kinkakuji golden pavilion and Ryoanji rock garden, a couple of the most touristy spots in Kyoto, are within very reasonable walking distances of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine as you can see on the map below. Kinkakuji and Ryoanji are identified just northwest of Kitano Tenmangu.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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Photo #60 – Kitano Tenmangu Shinto Shrine in Kyoto, Japan

Kitano Tenmangu Shinto Shrine in Kyoto, Japan

As I struggle with completing episode 5 of the podcast, which is likely to be the most difficult episode to finish in the entire series, I decided to get ahead a little with the photos by uploading some images correlating to upcoming episode 6.


Though much of the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine grounds were obscured by flea market vendors and the thousands of visitors that attend the giant flea market held here on the 25th of each month, there was still some tranquility to be found at the back of the shrine complex.

I was surprised to stumble upon this quiet area deep within the the shrine during our visit to the Kitano Tenmangu flea market. Only a handful of people ended up back here where no vendors could be found.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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Photo #59 – Kitano Tenmangu Shrine Monthly Flea Market

Entrance to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine during monthly flea market event

As I struggle with completing episode 5 of the podcast, which is likely to be the most difficult episode to finish in the entire series, I decided to get ahead a little with the photos by uploading some images correlating to upcoming episode 6.


My friend Hiro surprised me after one of our regular lunch meetings in Kyoto by leading me on a short bike ride to the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine for a monthly event held there. The sounds of this excursion with our conversation and the added insights of my friend Hiro can be heard in upcoming episode 6 of the podcast.

This large Kyoto shrine site, located a couple of intersections north and west of Nijo Castle (see map below), hosts a flea market on its grounds on the 25th of each month. As you enter Kitano-Tenmangu on the 25th, there is a carnival-like atmosphere with concessions and games. Within the shrine, unusual junk dealers are alongside artisans selling all sorts of unimaginable items.

I was tempted but restrained myself from buying anything. I’m determined to avoid behaving as a tourist on this trip, buying knickknacks I really should not. My objective now is to begin thinking of Japan as an alternative environment for living, not a place to visit for vacations. If I find something that could be of substantial benefit to me, then I will consider it as I might consider a new purchase in the US and perhaps look for it again later during this visit or during my next 3 month visit to Japan.

Photo Details: I snapped this quick crowd shot while walking up the approach to the main shrine area. I didn’t take many photos at Kitano Tenmangu this day, but I’ll certainly visit on the 25th again in the future for more flea market photos, and I’ll return to the shrine on a quiet day to photograph many of the interesting elements within.

Coincidentally, the most recent satellite imagery in use as I posted this geotagged photo was apparently generated on the 25th of some preceding month as the flea market was taking place. At least until the satellite imagery is updated, you can see colorful roofs below belonging to temporary vendor stands alongside the southern approach path in the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.

By scrolling north or zooming out on the map you can quickly bring the main shrine area into view.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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Photo #58 – Japan’s European Car Invasion

Smart Car in Kyoto, Japan parked in front of the Kyoto Art Zone

Episode 5 of the Savage Japan Podcast, the racism episode, was recorded at the nearby Kyoto International Community Center shortly before this photo was taken. Episode 5 with its difficult subject matter is proving to be a tough episode to crank out. The current target date for availability is Friday, September 10th. You can hear previous episodes of the Savage Japan Podcast at SavageJapan.com or SavageSnowPodcast.com.


Though Japanese automakers certainly make plenty of in demand, small cars in Japan, it is interesting for me as an American, to see the variety of tiny world cars being driven here.

In the US, I have never once seen one of these mini Smart Cars made by a division of the Mercedes-Benz company, even though they’ve been sold all over the world for many years. Admittedly, I live in a high alpine, very snowy environment when I’m in the US, not well suited for cars this small and with only 3 cylinders, but it is also true that the world’s long ago transition to smaller cars is not a bandwagon the US has been eager to jump on.

I see these little Smarts and many other new and old European tiny cars mixed in with Japanese domestically produced small vehicles every day in Kyoto.

Photo Details: After being prevented from entering an International Food Festival at the Kyoto International Community House because I was not Japanese, I enjoyed myself by biking around the interesting streets of Gion and just west of the Kamogawa River. This clean yellow Smart Car parked in front of the Kyoto Art Zone was begging to be photographed. I need to stop in there during open hours one day and figure out what kinds of things go on in the Art Zone’s Art Project Room. It appeared as if the Art Zone was a gallery, but it was in transition on this particular night.
 This photo was taken just south of Sanjo Dori between Kawaramachi and Kiyamachi, quite close to Pontocho.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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Photo #57 – Yasaka Jinja Entrance at Shijo-dori in Gion, Kyoto

Yasaka Jinja Shinto Shrine at Night in Kyoto, Japan

Episode 5 of the Savage Japan Podcast, the racism episode, was recorded at the nearby Kyoto International Community Center shortly before this photo was taken. Episode 5 with its difficult subject matter is proving to be a tough episode to crank out. The current target date for availability is Friday, September 10th. You can hear previous episodes of the Savage Japan Podcast at SavageJapan.com or SavageSnowPodcast.com.


After a Japanese person affiliated with a Kyoto Muslim group told me I had the wrong color eyeballs, hair, and skin to be allowed to participate in their International Food Festival at the Kyoto city-owned International Community Center (irony of ironies), I then headed south on a whim to look for adventures elsewhere in Kyoto. That particular encounter with Japanese and Islamic racism along with another story of Japanese racism can be heard in episode 5 of the podcast coming soon.

Just roaming around on my bicycle with no particular destination in mind, I stumbled upon this famous spot that I’ve been to years before on previous short trips to Kyoto. Yasaka Jinja is a Shinto shrine with its main entrance on the eastern edge of Gion. Shijo-dori, one of Kyoto’s main shopping streets, ends in Gion at this Yasaka Jinja entrance. Maruyama Park, famous for cherry blossom viewing in the spring, is located behind Yasaka Jinja and can be found simply by walking straight through the shrine area in an easterly direction.

Photo Details: The taxis pile up here at night to carry patrons to and from the hundreds of bars, clubs, restaurants and other nightlife squeezed into the relatively small Gion entertainment district of Kyoto, which is also known for its concentration of geisha (technically geiko and maiko – there are no geisha in Kyoto). I snapped this image handheld while still straddling my bicycle before heading up Shijo street to work my way back home towards Nijo Castle. I’m sure I”ll end up back here again at night with a tripod at some point. I need to pick up a highly portable real tripod sometime soon and carry it with me whenever I expect to be out at night. As I knew would be the case, the mini tripod I squeezed into my luggage for this trip is less than ideal for most situations.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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Photo #56 – Heian Jingu Shrine Entrance, Kyoto, Japan

Heian Jingu Shrine Entrance, Kyoto, Japan

This photo was taken on the day I attended a kyudo examination at the Kyoto Budo Center just around the corner from the Heain Jingu Shrine. Episode 5 of the Savage Japan Podcast, the racism episode, was recorded at the nearby Kyoto International Community Center shortly after this photo was taken. Episode 5 with its difficult subject matter is proving to be a tough episode to crank out. The current target date for availability is Friday, September 10th. You can hear previous episodes of the Savage Japan Podcast at SavageJapan.com or SavageSnowPodcast.com.


After catching the rickshaw driver coming my way with the giant Heian Jingu torii gate in the background, I turned around and snapped this quick photo of the entrance to Heian Jingu shrine before heading back towards the torii gate and my eventual destination, the Kyoto International Community House.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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Photo #55 – Approach to Heian Shrine, Heian Jingu’s Torii Gate

Female rickshaw driver approaches Heian Jingu Shrine in Kyoto, Japan Heian Jingu torii gate in background.

This photo was taken on the day I attended a kyudo examination at the Kyoto Budo Center just around the corner from the Heain Jingu Shrine. Episode 5 of the Savage Japan Podcast, the racism episode, was recorded at the nearby Kyoto International Community Center shortly after this photo was taken. Episode 5 with its difficult subject matter is proving to be a tough episode to crank out. The current target date for availability is Friday, September 10th. You can hear previous episodes of the Savage Japan Podcast at SavageJapan.com or SavageSnowPodcast.com.


After rounding the corner from the Kyoto Budo Center on my way to my first visit to the Kyoto International Community House, with the entrance to Heian Jingu behind me, I spotted this female rickshaw driver heading my way.

I had a relatively clear road, the giant Heian Jingu torii gate in my sights for the first time ever, and this rickshaw driver unknowingly doing her best to set up an iconic Kyoto photo for me. You can probably imagine how frantically I was digging into my little backpack trying to get my camera out before the moment slipped away. :-)

I think it’s pretty cool that this photo represents my first few seconds ever in this vicinity of Kyoto, and I also really like the fact that the rickshaw driver is a girl. I think she is the only female rickshaw driver I’ve ever seen in Japan.

I’m getting more accustomed to seeing this giant Kyoto landmark since taking this photo. I’ve biked through this part of town a few times now, but the Heian Jingu torii gate is still new enough to me for it to command a moment of acknowledgment every time I pass by. Often, I comment out loud how freakin’ huge it is. This torii gate’s size is even more shocking when you are very close to it.

The Heian Jingu shrine is one of the newer shrines in 1200 year old Kyoto, with the main structure having been built in 1894 or 1895 (the official Heian Jingu website cryptically references both years). The pictured torii gate was constructed much more recently in 1929. I will venture inside the shrine area (behind me in this photo) and photograph the main Heian site in the future.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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Photo #54 – Iaido Katana Sword Training at Butokuden, Kyoto

Iaido katana sword practice in Butokuden at the Kyoto Budo Center in Kyoto, Japan.

Episode 5 of the Savage Japan Podcast, the racism episode, was recorded at the nearby Kyoto International Community Center shortly after this photo was taken. Episode 5 with its difficult subject matter is proving to be a tough episode to crank out. The current target date for availability is Friday, September 10th. You can hear previous episodes of the Savage Japan Podcast at SavageJapan.com or SavageSnowPodcast.com.


You can see a more expansive interior view of Butokuden in the previous photo. I’m glad I got one image of an Iaido Japanese katana sword wielding practitioner this day. With such low light and zoomed all the way across the hall, I was fortunate to end up with even one usable photo.

It’s interesting to me that the one photo I did get is of an older iaido participant. It reminded me of a kendo bamboo sword sport student in his late teens that I had a conversation with about kendo in Japan. During the conversation I asked him what he thought of iaido and if he was interested in it. He replied that iaido was too dangerous and a more appropriate activity for adults.

What was most interesting to me about that response was how open he was and not ego driven in his reply. I suspect most American teenagers would not have responded in that manner, willfully declaring something to be too dangerous for themselves at that point in their lives, or more suited to adults. There may be a general age limitation in Japan with iaido that could have contributed to his mindset and humble answer. I do not know the generally accepted youngest starting age for iaido, if there is one.

I’ve noticed that the Japanese don’t seem to have any confusion about modern kendo (bamboo swords) and it’s reincarnation and invention as a sport in recent history. Whereas western practitioners of the kendo bamboo sword sport are sometimes quite determined to view themselves as the last remnants of the samurai, or some other such romantic frivolity. :-)

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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Photo #53 – Butokuden, Japan’s Oldest Martial Arts Training Hall

Butokuden at Kyoto Budo Center in Kyoto, japan

Episode 5 of the Savage Japan Podcast, the racism episode, was recorded at the nearby Kyoto International Community Center shortly after this photo was taken. Episode 5 with its difficult subject matter is proving to be a tough episode to crank out. The current target date for availability is Friday, September 10th. You can hear previous episodes of the Savage Japan Podcast at SavageJapan.com or SavageSnowPodcast.com.


On the same day of the kyudo archery examination, an iaido examination or tournament was underway. I walked across the Kyoto Budo Center grounds to get a couple of Butokuden Martial Arts Training Hall photos as promised back in episode 3 of the podcast. This is the same building that the sounds of kendo (bamboo sword sport) were emanating from during episode 3 of Savage Japan.

I didn’t stay long enough to figure out if this was a test or a competition, but there were flags in use that reminded me of how kendo sporting events are judged.

Iaido uses real swords, but it is exclusively a kata driven practice. The ritualized kata of iaido (specific choreographed movements) are largely built around how one might draw a sword quickly for use in defense or when attacking an opponent. There is no actual combat training.

However, using a real sword (sharpened or not) there are real dangers and iaido, despite its lack of aggression, can be said to be a considerably more dangerous activity than the Japanese bamboo sword sport of kendo.

Iaido sword training, much like kyudo archery, is a variation of an old martial art training method that has evolved in modern times into a meditative practice instead of a combat art. There aren’t too many reasons to go out and cut someone down with a sword these days or to shoot them with a bow and arrow for that matter, or at least there doesn’t seem to be that need in Japan.

Iaido and kyudo meditative practices, as well as the Japanese kendo bamboo sport, represent more practical and useful martial art derivative activities for the general population of Japan.

Despite the low light and shooting all the way across the building, I did get one interesting close-up image of an iaido practitioner. You can see it here in the next photo entry.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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Photo #52 – Kyudo Archery Targets on Standby

Backup Japanese Kyudo Archery Targets at Kyudo Examination in Kyoto

Episode 5 of the Savage Japan Podcast, the racism episode, was recorded at the nearby Kyoto International Community Center shortly after this photo was taken. Episode 5 with its difficult subject matter is proving to be a tough episode to crank out. The current target date for availability is Friday, September 10th. You can hear previous episodes of the Savage Japan Podcast at SavageJapan.com or SavageSnowPodcast.com.


These freshly prepared kyudo archery targets are waiting in the wings to be used in a kyudo archery examination being held in Kyoto, Japan. These kyudo targets are presumably to replace the targets already in use as their paper deteriorates from the successfully shot arrows of the day.

Photo Details: I just now noticed looking at this picture that the backside of the wooden frame of the 1st target in the photo is pretty heavily damaged. It makes sense that the frames would be made to be reversible, thereby doubling their lifespan. After enough arrows hit directly on the edge of a frame and repeatedly in the same spots making it problematic to reskin a frame smoothly, it seems the target frame’s other side is used. Whether or not they purposely wear out one side first or not, I’m sure at some point a target frame must reach a point where it is no longer ideal to be used further. I wonder if anyone has come up with a clever use for a worn out kyudo archery target frame.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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