Nikon F6, Nikkor AF 35-105/3.5-4.5 D IF, Fuji Velvia 100

Our first destination in Japan was Kyoto, the former imperial capital which is full of historical, religious, and artistic places to visit.

We stayed at a charming traditional ryokan called Three Sisters Inn Annex.  It was a gorgeous inn with charming staff and excellent breakfast and warrants its own post.

However, I can't wait to share photos from the first site we visited, the Heian Jingu Shrine and garden.  Since it was literally right around the corner from our inn we figured it was a good location to drag our jet-lagged selves to.

This Shinto shrine was built in 1895 to commemorate the 1,100 year anniversary of Kyoto becoming the capital of Japan.  The shrine itself is incredibly striking with its bright red buildings and green tile roofs.

There is a dragon guarding the fountain near the front of the shrine which has cups with handles to pour the purifying waters over yourself.


We weren't prepared for the beauty of the gardens which are hidden from view until you pass through an entryway inside the shrine. The first section starts with a narrow stream inhabited by some very friendly koi.


Walking to the next section reveals the first ponds which feed the stream.  They are full of lily pads and irises which happened to be in full bloom in June.


Further ahead were more ponds, but now there were a few sets of stepping stones crossing them in places.  Our two boys had no end of delight chasing each other across these, it is a minor miracle neither fell in!

And the final section included the largest pond yet, a bridge crossing it, and a smaller building across the way.  An bonus is that tripods are allowed inside the shrine and gardens, so I was able to make the photo at the start of this article as an 8-second exposure to smooth out all the ripples in the water.

Written by Bubble Level

Jamie Zucek lives in California and enjoys film and digital photography, collecting and shooting vintage and modern cameras whenever he can.

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