Kiyomizudera, Watcher of Kyoto City || Kyoto, Japan
Kiyomizudera is Kyoto's jewel. It is categorized as a must-see destination for tourists who wish to visit Kyoto. It is like the Eiffel Tower of Paris or the Taj Mahal of India, in that respect. It does not matter if you go there in the morning or at night, one must simply go there for there is something really special in this temple.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Kiyomizudera literally means “Pure Water Temple”. Its name is derived from the clean waters of Otowa waterfall where the temple was founded. One of the highlights of this place is the wooden stage jutting above the treetops. From there, you can view an eruption of colors from the foliage especially during Autumn and Spring. The photograph was taken during this year’s fall illumination making the temple seem to float on a sea of fire.
Since Kyoto is like the Mecca to see rich autumnal colors here in Japan while enjoying a traditional Japanese experience, we had to make our way to the temple among thousands of people. Due to the fact that thousands of people gather to temples and other popular Kyoto areas, bus lines were really long (we stayed in line for almost an hour in the cold) and when the bus arrived we were all packed like canned sardines. Part of the fun is the steep approach to the temple, wherein a variety of shops and restaurants cater food to all travelers with a gentle bow and sincere smile.
Due to the sheer volume of people competing for space to take photos from the wooden stage, I had to get the exposure right. In one shot. I knew from the start that I won't get a second shot because of the density of people! I initially metered the scene and mentally computed that I will need more than 30 seconds to get the right exposure with my desired settings. When I got to the stage, I did not know that tripods aren’t allowed; I was tapped at the shoulder by a burly Japanese guy and told me to fold up my tripod using a very authoritative tone. With very limited Japanese speaking skills, I talked to him in English and said that I will just be finishing my (one and only) exposure. Surprisingly, he agreed! Either he didn’t understand what I said or he was really kind to let a foreigner enjoy the scene and finish my shot. I would like to believe the latter :D