One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Japanese culture is the ability to appreciate the seasons. Sometimes this enthusiasm goes to the point where my students have declared “Japan has FOUR seasons” as though it were the only place in the world to have them. There’s occasionally a deal of incredulity or surprise when I tell them that England too has four seasons, and is not permanently ensconced in fog. It’s just that we don’t tend to get excited about it. In fact, we’re more likely to find it an excuse to grumble.
Now, I’m not making fun of what could be perceived as a deficiency in my student’s world view with regard to the passing of the sun around the Earth. I love the fact that the Japanese do make a point of observing the transient nature of things, as so few other people seem to. “Cherry Blossom Viewing” (お花見 – ohanami) is a spring-time celebration of the spectacular blossoming of the cherry trees, which sweeps across the country every April, accompanied by the over-consumption of alcohol under said cherry trees, pressed up against a throng of thousands on blue tarpaulins doing exactly the same thing. But the marking of the turning of the autumnal leaves, is a much quieter affair. With the chill of autumn on the air, there are certainly few picnics, and the whipping of late summer typhoons renders many areas devoid of enough foliage to put on a good display. A lot of my older students use autumn as an excuse for a coach tour down to Kyoto to hang out amongst the temples, taking in the view, and hauling back mountains of edible souvenirs upon which I am happy to gorge.
I’ve seen few trees in my vicinity with anything amazing going on so far, so I thought I’d bring out some photos from a couple of years ago, when I spent a gloriously chilly couple of days in Nikko with some friends. A World Heritage Site, Nikko is located a few hours outside of Tokyo by train and is home to a complex of temples and the Toshogu Shrine.
At this time I was still shooting with film, but had branched out to using colour slide film after my Holga camera experiments taught me a fair few things about not sticking to the same cheap ISO 400 film. It was definitely a good choice for the trip. I have no meta-data for you to enjoy, only that I was using Kodak Ektachrome slide film, which is good stuff for getting vivid colour.