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Archive for the ‘Mountains’ Category

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 #41 – Soprano Saxophonist by Togetsukyo Bridge, Kyoto

A musician practices with his soprano saxophone by the Katsura River in Arashiyama; Kyoto, Japan.This photo corresponds with Episode 4 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 4 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


A Soprano Saxophonist practices by the Katsura River, just downstream of the Togetsukyo Bridge in Kyoto’s Arashiyama district. This musician can be heard at the end of episode 4 of the podcast.

This is not quite the wide postcard view of Togetsukyo that includes the peak of Mount Arashiyama. I plan to return to shoot the standard postcard angle with the bridge when I come back for an Arashiyama light-up festival I’ve heard takes place here later in the year.

Here are 2 more views of Togetsukyo if you are a bridge enthusiast like me and want to jump right to those.
Togetsukyo Bridge from its north end (Photo #26)
Togetsukyo Bridge viewed from the west (Photo #30)

These 3 photos were taken while standing on the bridge.
Photo #38 / Photo #39 / Photo #40

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 #40 – Kyoto’s Mountain Skyline from the Togetsukyo Bridge

Mountains to the north and west of Arashiyama in Kyoto, Japan.This photo corresponds with Episode 4 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 4 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


Kyoto is surrounded by mountains to the north, east, and west.
Here you can see the western perimeter mountains to the left that Kyoto’s Arashiyama and Sagano neighborhoods are nestled up against, as well as the mountains that angle off to the north to mark the upper boundaries of the city.

If you look closely, in the distance you can see the girls in kimono from the previous photo.

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.

Photo #34 – Arashiyama Area Summit Observation Deck, Kyoto

Arashiyama/Saga Summit Observation DeckThis photo corresponds with Episode 4 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 4 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


The view from the Summit Observation Deck, found by chance during our exploration in the Arashiyama area of Kyoto during episode 4 of the podcast, made the short hike up well worthwhile.

Though the Hozugawa River looks almost dried up in this photo, this is the waterway the whitewater boats use to enter Arashiyama from Kameoka.

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.

Photo #30 – Upstream of the Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama

Iconic Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama, Kyoto, japan

This photo corresponds with Episode 4 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 4 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


Looking east from Arashiyama in Kyoto, Japan, the Togetsukyo Bridge, the icon of Arashiyama, is framed here by the mountains on the opposite side of the city and the Hozugawa River in the foreground.

Both this and my previous Togetsukyo Bridge photo do not show the most famous postcard view angle from the east side with the closest western peak directly behind the bridge.

I’ll be sure to get that view during a nighttime shoot later this year when the hill behind Togetsukyo will be lit up with colored lights for a special event.

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.

Photo #26 – Arashiyama’s Togetsukyo Bridge, Kyoto

Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama, Kyoto, japan/
This photo corresponds with Episode 4 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 4 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


This Kyoto landmark, Arashiyama’s Togetsukyo Bridge, crosses the Hozugawa/Katsuragawa River on the west side of Kyoto in the popular tourist area of Arashiyama and Saga. I realized I was not too far away from Arashiyama while running errands earlier in the day and on a whim, I decided to pedal on over.

There is a lot more to do here than I had time for during this late afternoon and early evening of exploration. Arashiyama is quite scenic and peaceful; I will be returning for sure.

There are some rapids upstream on the Hozugawa River which is later renamed the Katsura River at this point, but from the photos I’ve seen it looks like the occasional rapids are only class 2, maybe one class 3.

Incidentally, this river is also confusingly called Oigawa upstream of the bridge, but I have read too many conflicting accounts of the proper use of that name to feel confidant in explaining when to use Oigawa at this point. When I sort through all the misinformation, I will share more about it.

Hozugawa is used in connection with the boat trips and is the only river name you need to remember if you are considering taking that trip.

Rides in hard shelled boats are available to take passengers down the river from Kameoka to the takeout at the Togetsukyo Bridge. Typically the boat passengers are visitors who just took the Sagano Scenic Train up to Kameoka.

The river trip is marketed as an exciting adventure, but I think it is a trip to be taken more for the scenery and not for the rapids, unless you have a low adrenaline threshold. In that case, you may find the boat ride to be thrilling as well as beautiful.

As I mentioned in the podcast, I’ll probably wait until I have a nice girl to go with me before I take the boat ride back down, but you might find me taking the inexpensive train ride up to Kameoka for a day of exploration and then back down again at some point in the not too distant future.

I doubt anyone would object if you brought your own kayak or raft and attempted to paddle down into Arashiyama, but I wouldn’t make a special effort to bring my kayak here.
If you happen to be visiting Gifu Prefecture on the other hand, or Shikoku…

There will be much more to come on this website and in the podcast in the future regarding whitewater kayaking and rafting opportunities in Japan.

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.

Photo #25 – Train out of Saga Arashiyama Station in Kyoto

Train heads into the moutains just west of Saga Arashiyama Station in Kyoto, Japan.

This photo corresponds with Episode 4 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 4 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


This train is heading into the mountains and will eventually reach Kameoka, the same destination the Sagano Torokko Romantic Train ends up if you choose to take the scenic route along the Hozugawa River.

This stretch of track is located in the Sagano area and the photo was taken as I bicycled down into the north end of the Arashiyama district of Kyoto. Saga Arashiyama Station is only about 300 meters behind this train as it heads west into the mountains and away from the camera. I must admit I had no idea I was so close to the station at the moment I took the photo. The wonders of GPS and my new geotagging hobby. :-)

The Saga Arashiyama Station is one of the boarding points for the Sagano Torokko Romantic Train. You will see the scenic train referenced with different names in English, but always some combination of the words I used here.

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.

Photo #9 – Japanese Typhoon on the Way

A storm approaches Osaka during Japan's typhoon season.

This photo corresponds with Episode 2 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 2 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


It’s Typhoon Season in Japan and sure enough a typhoon was passing through Okinawa and Kyushu working its way up to the main island of Honshu in time for my arrival.

I already knew Kyoto, my current destination, was surrounded by small mountains, but even after many hours of studying the terrain of the Kansai region on Google Earth, I was still a little surprised to see how hilly it is around Osaka. The terrain to the east, as the Haruka Express makes it off the Kansai International Airport’s artificial island, is not too unlike the foothills at the base of the Rocky Mountains in my home state of Colorado.

Photo Details: Despite the ominous storm clouds brewing in this photo shot from the JR Haruka Express Train on the outskirts of Osaka, nearby Kyoto was not severely affected by the passing storm.

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

Normally, you’ll find maps just below all the photo entries here showing the precise spot where each photo was taken. I still had some data in my geotagging device after my first experimentation with it in the Gunnison Gorge in Colorado just before leaving for Japan, and I didn’t have time to figure out how to get it in my computer before this trip so I could reset the device.
[It turned out to be a very complicated Rube Goldberg-esque procedure.]
For photos #8, #9, and #10, I’m just tagging Osaka with different levels of zoom and different types of maps, since that is the area I was passing through on the train when these 3 photos were taken.

To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

Photo #2 – Japanese Mobile Phone (Keitai Denwa) in Colorado

Japanese Mobile Phone, Panasonic 706P

This photo corresponds with Episode 2 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 2 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


I decided to add one more photo taken in Colorado.
However, the subject of this photo has a strong connection to my plans to live in Japan, 3 months at a time.

Casual visitors to Japan cannot gain access to mobile phone networks via regular cell phone contracts, and Japan no longer allows prepaid phones to be purchased anonymously in Japan (something to do with trying to limit criminal activity). The common choice for travelers who desire access to a cell phone network in Japan is to rent a phone for several dollars a day and then pay a rather high per minute charge. This is not so practical for lengthy visits.

I found one British company with an office in the US that gets around Japan’s mobile phone limitations in a creative manner. They sell you a Japanese phone outright, which includes a year’s rental of a Japanese phone number. The phone is yours to keep, and you can use the initially assigned number indefinitely. However, you will have to pay an additional $100 to keep the number each subsequent year that you use the phone. The convenience of maintaining the same number for business cards and contacts, as well as never having to rent a phone in Japan seems well worth it to me.

The cost per minute for outgoing calls is not cheap, but it is in line with or lower than other per minute rental phone options in Japan. And of course, I won’t have to pay a daily, weekly, or monthly rental fee for the phone. Additionally, all incoming calls, whether from Japan or outside of Japan, are free of charge with this service.

I will speak more about my experiences with this mobile phone solution for non-residents in Japan in upcoming episodes of the Savage Snow Podcast, available at both SavageJapan.com and SavageSnowPodcast.com.

Photo Details: This is the Japanese market Panasonic 706P for Softbank that I had delivered to my home in Colorado. The photo was taken on my west facing deck in Summit County. $179 got me this phone along with an included 1 year “ownership” of a Japanese telephone number.

At present, UK’s Mobal only offers the phone in Mirror Blue (ミラーブルー). Hopefully, the bright color will make it harder to lose or misplace.

If you want to read more about this Japanese mobile phone option, Here is a link to the company that sells these phones for use by foreigners in Japan through an agreement with SoftBank.

UPDATE: I have become aware that Mobal in the UK has stopped offering their unique “Buy a Phone/Rent the Number” plan for Japan through their website. The previous link now connects to a typical (and significantly more costly) daily rental plan.
However, Mobal’s original plan I wrote about can be found here on SkyMall’s website. My first thought was that SkyMall has an old product listing on their site that is no longer valid. But when I called SkyMall and asked about the product and expressed my concern that it may be an out of date listing, the person on the phone seemed confidant it was a valid item and could still be purchased through them. It is possible that Mobal is keeping that offer available through SkyMall, but I am not fully confidant that success will be experienced if you try to buy one of the phones there. The purchase may be canceled along the way, but maybe not.

Please let me know if you are successful in an attempt to buy one of these phones through SkyMall. I will update this posting if I learn more from anyone.

I will also write more about general mobile phone issues in future entries and discuss my experiences with Mobal UK’s SoftBank service on the Savage Snow and Savage Japan podcast.

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

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around Buffalo Mountain, seen in the background of this photo.
Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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Photo #1 – A Brief Introduction

Dan Savage at Lake Dillon in Summit County, Colorado

This photo corresponds with Episode 1 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 1 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


My name is Dan Savage. I’m a multimedia artist, athlete, and filmmaker heading to Japan for what I hope will be the first of many 3 month adventures there in the coming years. I’ll be exploring, studying, podcasting, kayaking, snowboarding, mountain biking, photographing, writing, investing, and mostly… just trying to have fun.

Why 3 months at a time?
There are 2 reasons. First, that is the longest period of time a US citizen can conveniently remain in Japan per visit without a special visa. Secondly, that is about the longest period of time presently that I would want to be away from other obligations and creative pursuits in Colorado.

Photos
I expect to be behind the camera, not in front of it, for most of the photos featured in this “Living in Japan” photo journal. A visiting friend took this picture of me in my Colorado neighborhood recently, and I thought it would be a nice image for a first entry introducing myself and referencing the environment I’m leaving for Japan.

The photo was taken at Lake Dillon as a storm approached Summit County. I moved to the Rocky Mountains a few years ago to begin the development of my own little independent film project that will be shot here. More than any other place in the world now, Colorado feels like home to me.

I’ll be collecting GPS data as I take photos throughout Japan, so you’ll be able to see precise locations here on interactive maps beneath all the photos.

Japan
I have never been more connected or suited to a place than I am to the mountains of Colorado, but even since childhood I’ve been drawn to and intrigued by Japan. I hope this site is of interest to others who are fascinated by the culture, design, architecture, language, and people of Japan.

I’m extremely excited to have the chance to begin Living in Japan – 3 Months at a Time. You’re welcome to come along with me here at JapanPhotoJournal.com as well as listen to this site’s companion Japan soundseeing podcast recordings at SavageJapan.com. You can also hear the same Japan podcast recordings at the main Savage Snow podcast site that includes all the Japan content plus a few other adventures from Colorado and around the world. The complete podcast is available at SavageSnowPodcast.com. If you’re interested, my main site that links to most everything I’m doing online these days, including the Japan content, is SavageSnow.com.

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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