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京町家

Posted by
GJC (Kyoto, Japan) on 5 October 2009 in Lifestyle & Culture.

I haven't had much time lately to write much about my photos, and because some of you have written that you enjoy a little background information, for the next three days I'll tell a little about these old Kyoto houses.

This is the inside of a very traditional Kyoto-style townhouse called a "kyomachiya" (京町家) This house is about 100 years old and used to belong to a merchant family that sold kimono fabric. As you see, it has a very open plan, and the little glimpse of a garden in the back. We are looking through from the area that used to be the shop and into two rooms, which can be separated by sliding doors. About half-way back through the rooms you can see a wooden railing on the floor upon which the sliding doors move back and forth. Since the railing is exactly flush with the tatami mats, the sliding doors can also be completely removed to make one large room -- as is the case today. The most formal room of the house is the one farthest back from the street and closest to the garden. It also has a window covered with Japanese paper, softening and diffusing the late afternoon light.

The sliding doors indicate that it is still summer. Rather than made of thick paper, these are made of bamboo and reeds. They give a cooling feel both to the eye and the touch, and they also allow breezes to pass through -- essential in Kyoto's sticky summer heat.

NIKON D300 1/5 second F/6.3 ISO 360 142 mm (35mm equiv.)

Helly from Sydney, Australia

I for one really enjoy the background info!

And yea, the japanese are so great at ergonomics and really people centred design! A little bit more work, but makes the whole experience so much smoother, better and easier!

And i really like the photo too, its a nice contrast to your normal greens and yellows :)

5 Oct 2009 5:39am

Ana Lúcia from Leiria, Portugal

The lighting is exceptional.

5 Oct 2009 10:51am

Hiro from Kyoto, Japan

I really enjoyed a background information. Thank you.

5 Oct 2009 12:36pm

Eric Cousineau from Sherwood Park, Canada

A beautifully lit shot GJC! The accompanying background information puts it into perspective and gives me a richer appreciation of the picture and of Japanese culture in general. Thank you for sharing! ;-)

5 Oct 2009 2:10pm

Steve Rice from Olympia, United States

Elegant. I enjoy the wonderful warm light. Thanks for the information.

5 Oct 2009 3:55pm

grant from kansas city, United States

a classic. i love this light.

5 Oct 2009 4:29pm

akarui from Kagoshima, Japan

I like the concept and I enjoy to discover a little part of the garden. I might have crop a little the left to give more importance to the right side.

6 Oct 2009 12:46am

@akarui: Thanks for the comment and visit. Composition is a wonderfully subjective thing. To me, it's essential that we have the pattern on the left that is regular and uniform and that it takes exactly one-half the photo. In so doing, the right side is emphasized to an even greater degree than if it were shown more fully. The sudden disruption of the pattern from the left side makes the right seem even more open. That was the plan, at least, when I took the photo.

Ajay from Pune, India

Excellent framing!!!

6 Oct 2009 2:04am

cat from Tel Aviv, Israel

This is fascinating and I love how it's composed. I agree with your response above about composition being subjective. I think it's more than that. It's part of one's artistic expression - and partly conscious and decided and partly intuitive. Of course, someone else would compose it differently, and the picture would look completely different - that's what makes photography a human art and not a mechanical way to record facts. I often get the impression that in your photographs you try to be in harmony with the culture you are recording, like here. So composition is very much integral to your photos and not haphazard.

6 Oct 2009 7:11am

Lucca from Cologne, Germany

I enjoy looking at this (at least from my point of view) very well balanced photo and I like the concept you explained. Love the idea of free space in the house since I think you get more energy for the daily life.

6 Oct 2009 9:10pm

Howard F. from South Pasadena, Calif., United States

Really nice- I like these wooden sliding doors because the window I had in my childhood home is made out of wood, no metal railing, nothing. For a 100-year old wooden structure, it is preserved well and I think you've captured the essence of that preservation, bravo.

6 Oct 2009 11:47pm

jpdm from Pignans, France

great work on depth of field with those wooden walls, and light between

7 Oct 2009 7:20am

Veronique from Sarrouilles, France

thank you so much for all those details, they makes the picture so interesting

7 Oct 2009 7:28am

Esther K ~ from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Thank you for the explanation. I like this image a LOT. In the kampungs (villages), bamboo is used a lot - I remember the floor of my grandmother's house being made from bamboo strips and I never complained about the heat back then. Of course, now there's global warming etc....

7 Oct 2009 1:49pm

Anita from West Nottingham, United States

Wonderful explanation and composition and photo!!

7 Oct 2009 10:37pm

Frances Berry from United States

Hi, it's Frances. Berry. I just joined Aminus3. This is amazing. Amazing. You do light like no other.

7 Oct 2009 11:59pm

Xerophytes from London, United Kingdom

Beautiful shot. Very nice composition.

8 Oct 2009 1:14pm

NIKON D300
1/5 second
F/6.3
ISO 360
142 mm (35mm equiv.)

kyoto
townhouse
京都
京町家