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Posts tagged himeji

Sakura season

Why are these two photographers pointing their camera at me and taking my picture? Have they never seen a gaijin before?

Actually they probably couldn’t even see me. They are taking pictures of Himeji Castle. I was in the top room taking pictures from quite a distance with maximum zoom. I didn’t even realize I had captured a couple of photographers looking my way until I offloaded the pictures onto my computer and cropped out much of the image.

Sakura at Himeji

As mentioned in yesterday’s blog entry, there were some blossoming trees on the Himejijo grounds during the first week of April.

Himeji Castle Moat

Today’s photograph isn’t that spectacular. But it would have been had I taken it a week later. We visited Himeji (姫路) during the first week of April 2007. While some cherry trees were in bloom, these had yet to get there.

Himeji from above

Today’s photograph is of the town of Himeji from the top of the town’s famous castle. If you ever plan to visit Himeji (and you should if you are visiting Kyoto, Osaka, or Kobe) I have two suggestions for you.

#1 If you are going to Himeji on a weekend be sure to arrive well before noon. The crowds in the afternoon on a weekend are out of control. Once inside the castle you will be unable to move for long periods of time.

#2 If you are more than 6′ tall be sure to watch your head as many of the ceilings, doorways, and ladder areas have a clearance below 6′. I hit my head so hard going up a set of stairs (ladder really, the same one you can see in the Shogun miniseries) that I thought I was going to pass out.

Himeji in Glimpses

“There is one place in Japan where it is thought unlucky to cultivate chrysanthemums, for reasons which shall presently appear; and that place is in the pretty little city of Himeji, in the province of Harima. Himeji contains the ruins of a great castle of thirty turrets; and a daimyō used to dwell therein whose revenue was one hundred and fifty-six thousand koku of rice. Now, in the house of one of that daimyō’s chief retainers there was a maid-servant, of good family, whose name was O-Kiku; and the name “Kiku” signifies a chrysanthemum flower. Many precious things were entrusted to her charge, and among others ten costly dishes of gold. One of these was suddenly missed, and could not be found; and the girl, being responsible therefor, and knowing not how otherwise to prove her innocence, drowned herself in a well. But ever thereafter her ghost, returning nightly, could be heard counting the dishes slowly, with sobs…

Her spirit passed into the body of a strange little insect, whose head faintly resembles that of a ghost with long disheveled hair; and it is called O-Kiku-mushi, or “the fly of O-Kiku;” and it is found, they say, nowhere save in Himeji…

…the people of Himeji say that part of their city now called Go-Ken-Yashiki is identical with the site of the ancient manor. What is certainly true is that to cultivate chrysanthemum flowers in the part of Himeji called Go-Ken-Yashiki is deemed unlucky, because the name of O-Kiku signifies “Chrysanthemum.” Therefore, nobody, I am told, ever cultivates chrysanthemums there.” (Lafcadio Hearn, 1894, Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, p. 363)

Kokoen in Himeji 姫路好古園

The above picture was taken in the Koukoen next to Himeji Castle. You can see part of the castle walls in the photograph.

The reason you are seeing this photo today is a rather random one. I’ve been disappointed in my ability to take pictures so that the pictures look like what my eyes see. Frequently if I focus on my subject the sky turns a cloudless white even if it is blue or filled with lovely clouds. Alternatively, if I focus on the sky my subject turns black.

Today I saw this post and decided to give Photomatix a try. The above picture was my random test subject. Photomatix didn’t work on it though. For Photomatix to work you really have to take three pictures of the exact same scene using three different exposure settings. Since my camera (Canon PowerShot S3 IS) does have an Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB Mode) option I will give it a try in the future. However, all of my past pictures will have to remain in their whited-out sky state.