Day 8 – I’m leavin’, on a midnight bullet train to Kyoto

Seven days after arriving in Tokyo, our group moved on to Kyoto for a change of scenery and pace. Where we had a hectic schedule in Tokyo early on with business meetings and obligations, we are free to do as we please for our stay in Kyoto. I can’t begin to express how long I’ve waited to be able to go out on my own with no distractions and just shoot.

We went to Tokyo station to catch the bullet train to Kyoto. It’s not nearly as busy as the subway but we were all carrying our luggage so the escalators were challenging.

The train itself is quite impressive. It can travel speeds of up to 200km per hour and actually looks more like a jet than anything else.

It was interesting to see how fast everything was going by as we sped through the city. I got lucky and captured our reflection in the windows on a passing building.

When we arrived in Kyoto, the weather was not in our favor. Much like back home, it was raining quite a bit. We checked in to our hotel, The Three Sisters Annex, a traditional Japanese inn. The beds are actually mattresses on the floor, which feels a lot more comfortable than it looks.

Although it was raining, I was not going to let an opportunity get away to go photograph a shrine. As I was leaving, Kay, one of the nicest ladies I’ve met in Japan so far and our sort of house mom would not let me leave without a map, directions back and an umbrella. I refused the umbrella and told her I would be alright because it was only sprinkling. BIG MISTAKE. (more on that later)

After about ten minutes of walking, trying to figure out where the shrine is, the rain gets heavier. I turned a corner and saw these huge red pillars jutting out of the the skyline above the trees. By now I’m starting to regret not grabbing the umbrella when I had the chance. No matter, I start shooting to my hearts content..

… that is until it starts raining even harder and I realize that there is very little cover at the shrine. After much deliberation and swallowing of pride, I purchased an umbrella at the gift shop. The shrine is called the Heian Shrine and was built in 1895.

Now that I had an umbrella, I was able to go into the shrine gardens to see if there were any good locations to shoot. I’ll let you be the judge on whether I found one or not.

You can certainly see how much it’s raining in some of these pictures. I was drenched by the time I was done but very pleased with the outcome.

I think there may be some keepers. 🙂

Epilogue – As soon as I got back to the room, I plugged the compact flash card from my camera into my iPad to see how the images came out on a larger screen. “Card corrupted, cannot read files.” WHAT?!? I insert the card back into the camera and I get a card read error, please format the card. Oh no!! To make a long story short, Ian was gracious enough to lend me his laptop and after about seven hours of work, I was able to recover most if not all of the files. I guess it pays to be a “computer genius,” as my kids call me, sometimes.

– Tony Llerena Photography

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