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Amparo Bertram

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08:01 pm: And I thought I was a maniac with my cell phone camera...
Deciding that I needed to test out my new digital camera, I took advantage of today being flea market day at Touji as an excuse to go to Kyoto. It is, after all, a remarkably photogenic city.

I intended to start out around 7am, but what with one thing and another, I got a late start. I arrived at Touji about 8:20, already drenched in sweat from the heat.

The picture on the right shows an example of one of the vendor stalls. The flea market sells everything from kimono to pottery to handicrafts to food...it can really be overwhelming. I intentionally took a relatively small amount of money because I knew I would spend whatever I brought. Even when I reached the point where I knew I couldn't buy any more, it was really hard to see all the things available on the way out. I had to pass up an absolutely gorgeous silver obi with butterflies lavishly embroidered all over it...

<ahem> Anyway, my prize purchase of the day was a kimono with a pattern of books(!) scattered all over it. Is this totally made for me, or what?

After the flea market, I got the feeling that I hadn't taken enough pictures yet, so I decided to try going somewhere I had never been before. I wound up visiting Kyoto Studio Park, a place that is made up to look like various cities at famous times in Japan's history, such as the Edo and Meiji periods. It is used for filming historical dramas and movies.


On the left is an example of some of the houses on display. These particular houses are so typical that you can still see them around. (Some of my neighboring houses rather resemble this.) The bamboo (I think) mats in front of the windows are to help block sunlight to keep the house cool during the summer. (My apartment came with some, but they were old and nasty and I threw them away.) They can be purchased at home goods stores.


On the right is a shot of some "maiko" (apprentice geisha) entering the headquarters of the Shinsen-gumi, a famous group of swordsmen characterized by their light blue jackets. I put maiko in quotation marks because I'm pretty sure they weren't the real thing. They were probably tourists who paid to have themselves made up as maiko while they went sightseeing. There are a number of places in Kyoto that do this. Costs vary from place to place, but it's generally about $120 for use of the costume and makeup plus a studio photography session plus the chance to walk around in the costume.

Next to Shinsen-gumi headquarters, there is a place where actors put on a short performance. It only lasts about five minutes. In the picture on the left, you can see Okita, one of the best swordsmen in the Shinsen-gumi, fending off a pair of men out for revenge for something or other.


There are a number of buildings for specific purposes set up all around the studio park. Many of them are decorated with the names of famous historical places. (I probably would have appreciated this a lot more if I actually watched Japanese historical dramas and knew what they were...though I took pictures of them regardless.) In the building pictured on the right, there was a set with a traditional fireplace. The fireplace is set in the floor with a kettle suspended from the ceiling over it.


The set pictured on the left is made to look as if it is directly underneath the roof of the house. You can see all the wooden beams that support the roof. This set is used when filming ninja dramas, because ninjas are always sneaking around among the rafters as they carry out their missions.


On the right is a shot of the section of the park made to look like the Yoshiwara district of Edo (Tokyo). Amusingly, the English signboard declares that it is the "licensed gay quarters," though what it means is the "licensed pleasure quarters."


The picture on the left shows a mannequin of one of the prostitutes. The women would sit behind the bars of the storefront, while men would walk down the street outside and gaze at the "merchandise" on display to decide which place to enter. (This page has more information about such prostitutes and their connection with geisha for anyone interested.)


In all, I took about 80 pictures, though some of them were simply flowers I passed as I was walking around. I even managed to get shots of two butterflies on the flowers...

By the time I got home, I was exhausted from the heat and the walking. I'm definitely going to take it easy tomorrow.

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Comments

[User Picture]
From:firesign10
Date:August 21st, 2005 04:48 am (UTC)
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Both jaunts sounded great! Good idea to use the new camera as a reason to go someplace new ;-) I enjoyed the market and the park pictures. And your kimono is too adorable LOL! There seems to be a kimono or fabric for everything *thinking of the bunny fabric too* - ever see kimono material with penguins?? ;-) hehehe
Hope your day (today? yesterday?? *confused*) was restful & cool!
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:August 21st, 2005 01:32 pm (UTC)
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ever see kimono material with penguins??

Not kimono material in particular...but regular fabric, sure. You'd just have to make your own.
[User Picture]
From:wrenwyn
Date:August 21st, 2005 05:38 am (UTC)
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Your camera takes great pictures, spacealien_vamp! I'm glad you found one you liked! With the 80 pictures you took, do you still have room for more? You mentioned buying a larger memory card; just curious how much it held.

The Kyoto Studio Park tour sounds like it was wonderful. Do you think it was enjoyable enough that Sara and I should earmark time to do it when we're over next year?

I've bookmarked the site about Geisha; thanks for sharing the link. I have a facination with them, and I'm hoping we get to see some. It will be great to read about their history, etc.

Whenever Sara and I go to NY to shop at Kinokuniya I always look at the Geisha section. I haven't purchased any yet (spending to much on the language section) but I want to before our trip. I also want to read my books on Shinto (I have a few now). I think the trip will be more interesting and exciting, the more I know about the culture.

Your book kimono is beautiful! What a find! You can find such great treasures at flea markets. Mom and I always made sure that we hit the flea market when we were in London. I think I'm ready to shop one of those. I can say "これはいくらですか。So, I'm all set. ^.^

(=^.^=)
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:August 21st, 2005 01:20 pm (UTC)
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With the 80 pictures you took, do you still have room for more?

According to the manual, at the size I had it set (2048 X 1536 pixels, which is HUGE, but still only medium size), my memory card can hold about 300 pictures. At the highest setting (2592 X 1944 pixels), it can hold 188 pictures. At the smallest setting (640 X 480 pixels), it can hold 2900 pictures...and that's at low compression. Increasing the compression nearly doubles the number of pictures it can hold.

Do you think it was enjoyable enough that Sara and I should earmark time to do it when we're over next year?

Only if you're rabid about Japanese historical architecture or historical dramas. The ticket price to get in is $20. For someone who's really into that kind of thing, it's probably worth it (for example, they have actors there from historical dramas, so if you watch such things, you might get to see someone you know)...but if that's not your main interest, you'll be like, "nice, but...what's the big deal?"

I have a facination with them, and I'm hoping we get to see some.

There are certain places in Kyoto and certain days of the year when you can see them walking around...but they're very rare, especially the maiko in full makeup. (Fully trained geisha don't have to wear the makeup because their skills have risen above that.) You're much more likely to see tourists dressed up in maiko costumes, if anything.

I think I'm ready to shop one of those. I can say "これはいくらですか。So, I'm all set.

<g> The flea markets are held in Kyoto every month on the 21st and 25th, so if you're in town on one of those days, it's definitely a good idea to check it out.

Just be careful...the vendors often try to tell you the price in English, but their English isn't always the greatest. I've had someone tell me the price is "one hundred" when she meant 1,000...and just yesterday a vendor said "twenty thousand" when she meant 12,000. It's much more accurate to make sure they say the price in Japanese.
[User Picture]
From:kataren
Date:August 21st, 2005 05:56 am (UTC)
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Those are really clear. I can see it now...your next project, an online travel guide to select places in Japan. ^^

The house with the bamboo mats in front looks really cool in the heat of summer. But it also seems like it'd be a candidate for a creepy horror house at night.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:August 21st, 2005 01:29 pm (UTC)
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your next project, an online travel guide to select places in Japan.

Just what I need, another project... <laugh>

The house with the bamboo mats in front looks really cool in the heat of summer.

Don't let that fool you. It's not. It just cuts down on direct sunlight. The walls are nothing more than wooden planks for the most part, so the temperature is the same as the outdoors regardless. The mats just cut down on the greenhouse effect so it doesn't get much hotter than outdoors.

But it also seems like it'd be a candidate for a creepy horror house at night.

<g>

Another place you sometimes see such mats are in front of windows at onsen, especially in winter. That allows the person sitting in the hot spring to open the window and get a cool breeze if desired, but prevents people walking by from looking inside. It serves a double purpose of keeping snow off the window in places where that's a problem; onsen windows are generally at ground level so you can see out while sitting in the bath.
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:August 21st, 2005 06:32 am (UTC)
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Anyway, my prize purchase of the day was a kimono with a pattern of books(!) scattered all over it.

That is quite possibly the coolest thing ever.

Glad you like your camera. Sounds like it's a good thing you got the bigger memory card. ^_^
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:August 21st, 2005 01:45 pm (UTC)
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Sounds like it's a good thing you got the bigger memory card.

I'm not one to take a lot of pictures with regular film, because I'm not very daring. It takes me forever just to fill up a single roll. With the digital one, though, it's like, "Oh, well, I can always delete it if I don't like it, no harm done," so it's (mentally) easier to keep snapping away.
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