Photographer's Note

A really cool thing about the Japanese is that they get off their arses and tour the sights of their own country. Kyoto has something like 16 million tourists visit it per year. (That's a bit less than the population of Australia.) And the majority of those tourists are Japanese! That's so cool! Even if many of them only do the major attractions on a coach tour, they're still getting out there supporting and taking interest in their history and culture. And while they're at it they're meeting new people from other parts of Japan, eating local delicacies and getting exercise. Even better is that a huge slice of that domestic tourism market is the senior citizen!

When I first came to Japan I went crazy photographing the temples and the gardens and the crowded trains and the cherry blossoms etc, etc..., but after living here for a long time now I have become a lot more interested in capturing the subtle uniqueness of this country. Don't get me wrong, I still do the occasional landmark (beauty is beauty, no matter how photographed it is), but I find the everyday Japan holds more interest for me now. This shot is taken at one of the most famous temples in Japan - Kiyomizudera. This place is not just a historical landmark, but also a hot date spot! These are the stairs leading up to the main gate. They are hundreds of years old and have seen every fashion that has ever graced this country. I took this photo because of the contrast between the platform boots and fake fur jacket and the historical and cultural significance of this place. "Mono-no-aware" meaning - all things are transient - is a Buddhist expression that pervades many of the Japanese arts and philosophies. Although it has been done to death by postwar Yakuza films and has become a cliche in Japanese social commentary it is still a useful expression to shed light on the Japanese passion for cherry blossom parties and tragic hero narratives that continue to intrigue the masses. Beauty is the bittersweet realization of the transient nature of all things. This photo is already 8 years old and the fashion has moved on and maybe the couple has too. But it is the stairs beneath who are witness to this never ending cycle of life and change!
For me this photo of the stairs is a more poignant potrayal of this temple than the actual structure itself.
Scanned from a BW print.

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Additional Photos by john harte (baboo_mcfoo) Silver Note Writer [C: 1 W: 0 N: 24] (100)
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