If you travel anywhere in Japan, visit here. Right up there with Mt. Fuji and Miyajima, the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto is one of Japan’s crown jewel tourist destinations. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, you can be sure it is worth the venture.
As you may recall, after viewing the tallest pagoda in Japan at Toji Temple, we set out on our rented bicycles aimed for Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion in Japanese). With only an hour remaining before the pavilion closed at 5:00PM, little did we know that Toji to Kinkakuji is a 5 mile uphill expedition through the heart of the city. As a former collegiate track runner, I found the trek difficult. I’m not sure how she did it, but Lori not only kept up but even set the pace in order to make it in time.
Sweating and substantially apathetic, we wheeled into the free bike parking lot outside the main gate of the Golden Pavilion grounds with 15 minutes to spare. Paying the 400 yen admission fee, our attitudes perked once we rounded the first bend in the path. There stood the majestic temple, shining in the waning rays of the afternoon sun, reflecting serenely over the still pond. Mind explosion (figurative ^_^). The grounds were equally enchanting and the whole experience is one that I recommend to anyone traveling to Japan.
After the golden pavilion, we mustered our second (or was it our third?) wind to return our rental bicycles and crash back at the hotel. On the docket for the next day was the little known rural town of Ohara. I imagined a lot of rice fields, worn out souvenir shops and general discomfort in the sun. What we got was much better.
Don’t miss tomorrow’s post which is full of photos I think are among the best I’ve shot in Japan!
In the late afternoon the lighting dramatically sweeps across the foliage on the pond and in the background beautifully. The issue, however, is that the Golden Pavilion itself is quite reflective. My strongest recommendation is to bring a tripod, expose two shots (one metered to the palace and one for the pond/sky) and merge them on the computer after the fact with Photoshop, Lightroom, or Photomatix. This type of image is called an High Dynamic Range (HDR) image.
In the shots pictured, I chose the a quicker approach of taking only one shot. The trick was finding tolerable exposure settings that captured both the details of the bright temple and the dark setting so I could adjust both in Photoshop later without too much loss of image quality. A majority of my shots were either blown out on the gold or black in the leaves, but the lead image of this post was salvageable enough to be displayed I think. Next time I hope to arrive around 2:30PM to get more light on the water and less bouncing off the temple.