Thursday, 28 December 2017

Well, That Happened #Blogmas

It will not have escaped the notice of my regular readers (hi Mum) that Blogmas didn't really go to plan. Despite huge amounts of planning and brainstorming, I managed to write just four blog posts. I realised pretty quickly that committing to Blogmas was a bad idea. I did All-in August in the summer and generally enjoyed it, but Blogmas was just too much. I also somehow completely missed the fact that Blogmas, despite the obvious name, was supposed to primarily consist of Christmas content. 

Big pink raincoat, Heaton Park in the snow, December 2017

I was feeling apprehensive about Christmas already, and the sudden realisation that I had unwittingly signed myself up to write about the subject filled me with dread. Ordinarily, I really enjoy Christmas, but this year there were rather unusual circumstances; my brother is still in Japan, and there's really only myself, my Mother and my Grandmother left to celebrate Christmas together, as the rest of my family lives in Scotland or abroad. Faced with the prospect of Christmas without my younger brother and best friend, I wasn't feeling particularly festive. 

Heaton Park in the snow, December 2017

I've also been feeling a great deal of uncertainty about this blog and the direction I want to take it in. I recently rebranded, going from Spare Oom to Brambling, and while I'm delighted with the look and feel now, I'm not sure that I'm still blogging for the right reasons. I started this blog as a creative outlet, not expecting any real success. I've gathered a small readership over time, and I'm immensely proud of some of the content I've produced. The pressure of Blogmas and mounting insecurity about the quality of my writing led me to essentially run away for several weeks. I've spent the last three weeks avoiding thinking about my blog and instead have just spent my time relaxing and rapidly preparing for Christmas. I'm still not sure about where to take this blog, feeling always as if I need a direction, a place to aim for, rather than just writing what I feel. Despite that, I have missed it these last few weeks. 

Big pink raincoat, Heaton Park in the snow, December 2017

I think I'm ready to return to writing regularly here; it's not like writing for work or for others, which I find easy. Here, I write entirely for myself; I am my own worst critic, my own audience and my biggest fan. It makes things tricky sometimes, but I'm more optimistic about 2018 than I have been about much of 2017. I constantly remind myself that comparison is the thief of joy, but it's no secret that I struggle with it daily.  

The last few weeks have been lovely. I've spent days wandering Heaton Park in the snow, wandering the muddy woods of Haigh Hall on Christmas Eve, and revelling in the wide open spaces and crisp, cold winter air. I've spent time with family, friend and my boyfriend and I've loved it. I'm heading off to Scotland very soon, which will involve walks on the beach in the freezing cold and hoots of laughter as my family and boyfriend play ridiculous board games. 

Big pink raincoat, Heaton Park in the snow, December 2017

I'm still not sure what the plan is for 2018, but I'm looking forward to diving back into this blog. I'm taking a deep breath and doing a much-needed reset.

That's all for now, speak soon. 

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Monday, 4 December 2017

Monday Medley #19

It has come to my attention that Blogmas is supposed to be purely Christmas content. So far, that hasn't really been what I've been doing. Sure, I could switch up the rest of my planned posts and go full on Crimbo, but honestly, I'm already bored of Christmas gift guides, Christmas party dressing, Christmas makeup looks and Christmas wishlists. Blogging is frequently extremely materialistic, but my god is that amped up in December. While there will be a bit of Christmas-themed content nearer to the 25th, for now I'm going to treat Blogmas as a challenge similar to Blogtober or All-in August, in which I attempt to post every day in December. Hopefully, you're all on board with that. For now though, I'll get on with the things I've loved reading in the last week.



I'm about halfway through Dissolution by CJ Sansom and I'm loving it. It's a murder mystery set during the Tudor period. The book was recommended by a friends and even though crime thrillers aren't usually my thing I'm really enjoying it. It's a quick and easy read, and if I wasn't so blooming busy at the moment I'm confident I could race through it in a day or so. It's packed full of twists and turns and well worth a read if you're looking for something new.


I love Imogen's blog and her content is always outstanding, but I really enjoyed her recent post on what 'healthy' means for her. The ups and downs and a complicated relationship with weight is something I can definitely relate to. She puts it far better than I could, but I too am afraid of failure, but every tiny step I take in the right direction is a win.

If there's one thing you should read this week it's Alice's post about her recent operation and the journey she took getting there. It's a story of misdiagnosis and frustration with her body, and I can't do it justice in the few words I have here. Above all, her message is to be gentle and love yourself, which is something we could all stand to do a little more.

These days I love a skincare posts more than makeup, and with my skin frequently freaking out, I feel like I need a face mask to cover every eventuality. I've been looking to make a few more purchases, and Lily's comprehensive list of masks for every skin concern has definitely given me some inspiration. I need to make a Cult Beauty order ASAP...

It's no secret that I love Elena's blog after discovering it a few months ago, but I'm loving the series she just started on buying a house. Mortgages and the actual process of house buying seems like an impenetrable minefield, and as it's something I'd like to do in the next few years, I am so here for it. There's no bullshit about giving up avocado on toast for a year to earn a deposit, it's honest, no frills advice and explanations about how to buy a house. I'm very much looking forward to the rest of the series.

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Saturday, 2 December 2017

How To Spend A Day In Kobe, Japan

I mentioned in my Top 5 In Osaka post that one of the best things you can do while visiting the city is to get out of it. There are so many smaller cities and towns within an hour's train ride that are well worth a visit, and Kobe is top of the list. It's known for the best beef in the world and is pretty as a picture, and at just a few hundred yen by train from Umeda station it's cheap and easy to get there. While some people recommend staying the night I really don't think it's necessary unless you're combining it with a trip to Himeji, as the best bits of the town can be seen in a day.

Kobe Nunobiki Falls Stairs

When you first get off the train at Sannomiya Station make sure you head West to visit Ikuta Shrine. It's half-hidden behind a giant Tokyu Hands department store (also worth checking out for a random assortment of tools, beauty and homeware), but it's actually one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan. It dates back to the third century and is a little pocket of peace and quiet amongst the hustle and bustle of the town centre. If you decide to pray, remember to wash your hands in the small building to your right upon entry - there's a useful picture diagram for the correct order in which to do it.

Osaka to Kobe train
Train to Kobe

Kobe Streets

Ikuta Shrine, Kobe
Ikuta Shrine

Ikuta Shrine, Kobe

Ikuta Shrine, Kobe

If you're feeling peckish, get yourself to Wanto Burger. However, if like me you're a fan of the Lonely Planet guidebooks, you might as well ignore the map for Kobe, as quite a few sights and places to eat aren't in the right places. Wanto Burger is one of them, so rather than following the map, stick to 3-chome and head West, pass Don Quijote on your right and you'll soon see it. It's a really great burger bar in the style of an American diner, with a DJ booth, friendly staff and incredible food. Their English is patchy but enough to get by, so there's no worry that you'll end up with something other than what you order. It's expensive, but you're only in Kobe once so I went for the namesake Wanto Burger, which was incredible. It included proper Kobe beef at a fraction of the price you'd pay in the cities and it's cooked to perfection. Do yourself a favour and get it. They're not super vegetarian-friendly, but they do have a few options. If you're obviously a foreigner they'll probably ask you to pop a sticker on where you're from on a big world map; my brother and I were pretty pleased that we were the only people from Manchester, and indeed, the only Northerners by the look of it.

Wanto Burger, Kobe

Wanto Burger, Kobe

Wanto Burger, Kobe

Wanto Burger, Kobe

Wanto Burger, Kobe

Wanto Burger, Kobe

After that, head back to the central Sannomiya station and take the underground to Shin-Kobe station. You may be tempted to walk, but if it's even remotely summer-time save yourself for the walk you've got coming up and just drop a few hundred yen on the tube. 

From Shin-Kobe, follow the signs for the cable car and head all the way up to the Herb Gardens, then follow the trail back down the mountain for around an hour, wending your way down a path carved into the mountain and following the Nunobiki Waterfalls. If gardens aren't your thing you can just go half way up and see the waterfalls before coming back down again, but you'd be missing out. Watch out for the creepy crawlies as you wander through the forest; my brother encountered a huntsman spider and I don't think I've ever seen him move so fast.

Nunobiki Falls Path, Kobe
Nunobiki Falls Path

Nunobiki Falls, Kobe

Nunobiki Falls, Kobe

Nunobiki Falls, Kobe

At this point you'll likely have a few hours to kill before heading back to Osaka, but those are the main things you really don't want to miss. I'd recommend grabbing a drink in iznt, a bar right by Ikuta Shrine and the stations.

For a flying visit to Kobe that should mean you get to see a good portion of the town and the main sights, but there's always plenty more to see and lots of things I didn't have time for. That's all for today, and you might think I'd be running out of Japan content by now (and you'd be right) but I still have a few more things I'd love to share before I finish sharing my newfound love for this incredible country.

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Friday, 1 December 2017

My 2017 Resolutions in Retrospect

Safe to say that since I posted my 2017 resolutions back in January, I haven't looked at them since. I had very good intentions, thinking I'd print them out (maybe even laminate them, oo-er) and stick them on the front of my fridge or something. Without even looking at them I can tell you that I definitely didn't achieve them all, or even most of them. 

I'm hoping that by looking back at them now, before I even start thinking about 2018, I can figure out where I went wrong, although I think forgetting they existed might have been the crux of the problem. Perhaps by reflecting on my failures (and maybe successes?), I can set more achievable goals for next year? More likely I'll just think of something generic and aim that general direction for a year and be happy with that. For now, though, let's see what I forgot I was supposed to be doing in 2017.

Read at least one book per month 
Okay, this definitely didn't happen. I'm still working my way through my Spring Reading List, let alone my Summer one. I'm determined to finish my TBR pile before the end of the year but it's proving to be slow progress. There will no doubt be something reading-related on my 2018 list, but maybe the knowledge of how much I've missed reading regularly in 2017 will make me stick to it a bit more.

Keep track of spending
Thanks to a pretty cracking spreadsheet made for my boyfriend, I have kind of managed this. I at least know roughly how much money I can spend each week and can sort of stick to it, but it's Cleo that has really made a difference in the last few months. It's an AI that communicates with your through Facebook messenger and its website, and it tracks and categorises all spending and income across multiple accounts. Apart from shaming me for my Maccies breakfast habit, I've found it pretty useful for identifying where I waste spend the most money.

Go outside on weekends
I really struggled to find reasons to leave my flat on weekends. I don't have many friends in Manchester, so if I wasn't seeing my boyfriend I often ended up retreating into my own little world for two days. I found that wasn't great for my mental health, and I really wanted to make an effort to at least go for a walk in the park every weekend. I did achieve this most weekends, and it's become a hell of a lot easier since moving in with my boyfriend as we're frequently out and about. I reckon I can call this one a success.

Post twice a week
Overall, it probably did average out at about twice a week. The relatively quiet months of May and June were balanced out by All-in August and hopefully will be by Blogmas. These days I aim to post three times a week, with one of those being my Monday Medley post.

Read more blog posts
Oh, this was definitely a success! I'm surprised at how well I've done so far but we are coming up to fitness so I think it's all downhill from here. I read blog posts a lot these days, primarily through Bloglovin' and have enjoyed it so much that I even started my Monday Medleys to share the love a little.

Run twice a week
YEAH, this did not happen. Not even close. Pretty much as soon as I moved back to Manchester in November 2016 I stopped running, due to the cold and the more hostile environment of the city. I was used to running down country roads on summer evenings, and a frosty November on the outskirts of the city centre wasn't a place I felt comfortable running in. As much as I may have intended to start running again, it didn't happen. January is cold, too.

Do Parkrun at least once a month

Only eat office biscuits on Fridays
I don't even know why I attempted to do this. What a ridiculous idea. I need my biscuits.

Plan meals ahead of time
This didn't happen much while living alone, but over the last two months of living with my boyfriend, we've really embraced this. It saves us a tonne of money, ensures we eat healthier and order fewer takeaways, and generally means we're more organised and eat better.

So, a bit of a mixed bag. The fitness ones were a complete flop, but I'm pretty happy with how most of it turned out, particularly considering I couldn't remember what I was supposed to be doing. As for 2018, I think maybe I'll try and be a bit more realistic as to what I can achieve.

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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Looking Back On A Year Ago

For someone as outgoing and exuberant in real life as I am, I'm very introspective. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about my life and how it and I have changed over the years. The last twelve months stand in stark contrast to the ones that came before, and I'm genuinely astonished at how different the last year has been. 2017 has been shit for a lot of people in a lot of ways, including me. There have been ups and downs, but my average personal happiness has been miles above 2016's. 

Manchester Christmas Markets At Night 2017

The first six months of 2016 were a slow acceptance of the fact that my then-boyfriend didn't love and ultimately didn't want me in his life long-term. He was perfectly happy for me to be around there and then, so long as I was at his beck and call and went away when he wanted me too. I was miserable for the first eight months of 2016, although it picked up in September when I reconnected with an old friend who is now my boyfriend. He pretty much turned my entire life around, and I don't just mean that in the sappy sense - he helped me get a job after six months of unemployment and misery, which meant I could move out of my Mum's house and get back to living my own life. I kind of disappeared for all of November last year as my life went through some major changes; I wrote about it and you can tell just how bonkers that month was for me.

While 2016 began miserably and ended happy, 2017 started happy and is ending even happier. Sure, there are a few things I'd like to change, but if I had everything sorted I wouldn't have anything to do in 2018, would I? I know I sound like a broken record but I really can't get over just how different my year has been. On the bare face of it, the two years don't sound that different: living in Manchester with a boyfriend and working in a job that's okay but doesn't pay enough. However, the boyfriend and job are both different, and only the city stayed the same. Rather than controlling, cold and uncaring, my boyfriend is laid back, warm and affectionate. Instead of working in retail with aching feet and looking at boobs for a living, I sit down and read words. It may not be my dream job, but it's a damn sight closer than bra-fitting. 

For anyone out there who isn't happy with their lives, I'd tell them that change is good. Embrace it and work hard and even just a year later you'll be able to look back and see the changes you've made for the better. It's not going to be easy, I can tell you that both 2016 and 2017 came with major tears, tantrums and trepidation, but it always ends eventually. My Mum has always said "this too shall pass", and no truer words were ever spoken. Eventually, everything changes, whether it's for better or worse is, at least in part, up to you.

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Monday, 27 November 2017

Monday Medley #18

I don't quite know what I've been doing for the last week. I feel like I've been really busy also don't seem to have done very much. I only posted once this week and it turned out to be somewhat prescient. I wrote about figuring out the kind of things I enjoy writing, but when it came to writing the post I had planned for Saturday I just wasn't feeling it. I intended to write about how much my spending habits have changed over the last year but no matter how I span it, it sounded like bragging. Rather publishing it and feeling uncomfortable or throwing something else together quickly and not feeling like it was good enough, I decided not to publish anything. That's a change I've been trying to make for a while; I put too much pressure on myself to stick to a schedule and stress myself out trying to keep to it even when I don't have anything to say. I feel like this is a shift in the right direction.

Weird lightbulb filled with water



I absolutely loved this post by Casey about how much Iceland means to her. It's a really emotional and moving read and is something I can really relate to when I think about New Zealand. However, if there's one thing this post will do is convince you that you need to go to Iceland.

I love Alice's style and her blog is brilliant and this post is no exception. She talks about some of the problems in the blogging industry and I can relate to so much of it. Blogging isn't respected outside of the industry but is equally intimidating for those trying to enter. Her post is a breath of fresh air and well worth a read.

Rachel's post about reigniting her passion for photography is well worth a read whether you're into photography or not, and is a really lovely post about rediscovering the things you loved to do as a child. All of her posts are well written and the photography is always gorgeous and unique to her style, so if you haven't already, she's definitely one to check out.

I am obsessed with Sandra's blog at the moment, both for food and travel. Her post about 13 things to expect when you go to Cuba has cemented my desire to visit Cuba sometime soon. It sounds fascinating and like a truly unique island culture, and the food looks incredible.

Laila's writing is always great, but in this post, she really excels. She writes about Autumn with great whimsy and really captures the feeling of this time of year. This little summary can't do it justice, so just go and read it.

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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Figuring Out What I Like To Write

If you're a regular reader you may have noticed a bit of a change in my content over the last few months. When I first started this blog, it was very much focused on books and beauty. I gradually began to incorporate more travel and lifestyle posts throughout 2016, and this stayed constant until around this summer. As minimal makeup became more of a trend, I also began to be less interested in writing and wearing makeup. I've had, and am still having, lots of issues with my skin since the beginning of 2017, and skincare has become a much larger part of my life, usurping makeup in many ways. 

Night walk photo November 17

I also found that I only enjoyed writing makeup posts when they were actually well-informed and researched, rather than a simple 'these are the things I like right now' with no in-depth explanation as to why. Sure, it helps to beef up the amount of content you can publish, but I find writing and reading them pretty boring. 

This is a trend I've noticed throughout my blog. When I'm just churning out content for the sake of it, whether it's a review of a book I'm not particularly enthusiastic about or just a post about a favourite lipstick with a pretty flatlay, I find myself being reluctant to even post it. The things I like to write and feel proud of publishing tend to be posts that are either highly emotional and personal, or well researched and factual. Hopefully, I can continue writing the kind of content that I like and don't fall into the same trap I have in the past, whereby I end up writing things I don't like for the sake of writing something.

I'm treating this blog post as a kind of reminder to myself, so I thought I'd list and link some of the blog posts that I really enjoyed reading and am proud of so that I can refer back to it if I ever feel lost with my blog content. 

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Monday, 20 November 2017

Monday Medley #17

In case you haven't noticed, there's been a bit of a rejig here on the blog. Yep, Spare Oom is out and B,Rambling is in and I'm loving it. I expect I'll be fixing broken links until the end of time, but it's worth it for the fab new header designed by Jemma and a blog that feels more true to who I am and what I want to write. There will be a new blog post on god knows what coming your way on Wednesday as usual, but for now I'll stop my rambling (you getting the name now?) and get on with the usual weekly round-up of everything I've loved reading and watching in the last week.  



I've really been trying to make an effort to read more this week, but it's been a bit of a busy one so I've had mixed results. I'm almost at the end of The Essex Serpent, a book that I talked about first in April. That's how bad I've been for reading this year. I've really enjoyed it so far but haven't been blown away; I love the settings of Victorian London and small-town Essex, and the female-driven Scientific advances of the time are fab and it's great to see them brought into the the public sphere and acknowledged. This book is primarily about relationships and I think it deals with them really well, avoiding rushing and allowing them to develop very naturally. It's worth a read if you're into that sort of thing, but I wouldn't shout from the hills about it.


First up is a post from Cate, talking all about her new weekly challenge which sounds FAB. She will be using a random country generator to choose a country every Monday and cook a traditional recipe from that country. She's planning to explore the history of the dish and its place in the culture and I just think it's a brilliant idea. She kicked off the challenge with a Mauritian chicken daube dish, and I really enjoyed reading about the blend of cultures behind it. 

Beverley's post about what to do in the evening when travelling alone is such a useful one. When I went Copenhagen alone several years ago I spent every evening cooped up in my Airbnb, too nervous and uncertain to venture outside alone. I really did waste my time there which I really regret, and I'm determined to make the most of it next time I travel alone. I did a lot better when I was in Kyoto alone, but even so, Beverley's post really encouraged me and gave me ideas of great things to do in a strange city at night.

Elle's post about running off to New York for a month was another great read; I'm all for taking a break and heading off for some headspace and I think New York is a great place to do it in. Reading this seriously upped my desire to finally go to NYC, and it's a trip I'll hopefully make soon (next year? Fingers crossed!)

I freaking love Scandinavia at the best of times and Sam's post on spending a weekend in Oslo has only increased my desire to go back. I've been to Helsinki and Stockholm, but Oslo is definitely in need of a visit. Can you tell I've got seriously itchy feet at the moment? I'm in dire need of another holiday and nothing booked until April, so I'm living vicariously through Sam's stunning photography.

Since discovering Lauren's blog last month it has featured in these Monday Medleys several times because it's just right up my street. In this post she talks about a phenomenon I also experience: impatience. I want to go to New York and Helsinki now damn it! If I don't get it done straight away I feel like a failure, meaning I put way too much pressure on myself. Lauren talks about this much better than I could have, and her post is well worth a read if you tend to beat yourself up for not having a five year/one year/six month plan.


Has anyone else been watching Trump: An American Dream on Channel 4? It's super fascinating to look back and see where the lunatic came from, but seeing him as a young man is seriously creepy. It's shown on Thursdays and is my current weekly viewing (apart from The Apprentice obv) and it never fails to creep me out a little while also educating me about the most powerful man in the world...someone save us please.

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Saturday, 18 November 2017

15 Favourite Photos From Japan

I took over two thousand photos while I was in Japan, of varying quality, but there are a few that I absolutely love. Dare I say it, there's even one in here I'm quite proud of. I had a fantastic time in Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, and I will definitely return to Japan one day.

Matsubaya Ryokan Room

This is a very quickly put together flatlay taken at Matsubaya Ryokan in Kyoto; I like it simply because it's the only flatlay I took while I was there and marks a change in my photography. A lot of my photos before this were flatlays, but after Japan, I've found that I prefer photos with a bit more dimension. If you're wondering why the pages of my guidebook are crinkled, it's because I spilt green tea all over earlier that day.

Dotombori Backstreets

This photo is from my first night in Japan, taken in Osaka after a complete nightmare trying to check into our hotel. My brother and I were wandering round Dotombori, sleep deprived and hungry, completely overwhelmed by the sights, sounds and smells of Japan. This was a quiet spot amidst the chaos, running parallel to the main shopping and eating street which was heaving with tourists and locals alike.

Dotombori Canal at night

This quick shot of the Dotombori Canal was taken on our second night in the city, and we actually ended up eating yakitori at a restaurant on the left bank of the river, watching the tourist boats travel up and down. I have a video somewhere of one of these boats, blasting out music, moving steadily down the river and the Japanese tourists on it absolutely losing their shit when my brother and I waved to them. I think they'd had rather too much to drink.

Soemon-cho, Osaka

I like this photo in part because of how badly framed it is. It's slightly cock-eyed and I was trying to avoid including the crowd and failed brilliantly. I quite like how it ended up as it gives a sense of just how busy and those Osaka back-streets were; it wasn't all neon lights and skyscrapers, it was the smell of fried food and the feeling of shoulders pressed up against each other, it was an overwhelming crush of people almost everywhere you went, which is perhaps why my favourite moments from Japan are all moment of quiet amongst the madness.

Hozen-Ji, Dotombori, Osaka

Speaking of which, the tiny streets of Hozen-Ji just off Sennichimae in Oska provided one of those pockets of calm. It was a glimpse of pre-war Osaka and was relatively quiet, although it quickly became busy when a group passed through, so narrow were the streets.

Osaka Lanterns

I fell in love with Japan's paper lanterns pretty quickly. Alone, they provide a soft illuminating glow, without the harshness of neon. Several quickly become a bright light in Japan's relative darkness. I noticed that while I was there, the darkness. Street lights aren't as bright or omnipresent as in the UK, meaning you often walked in the darkness between pools of light, a phenomenon more prominent in Kyoto.

Kyoto French Restaurant

Sticking with lanterns, I think this might be my favourite photo of the trip except for ones of my brother and I being silly. I love the way the light just catches the bicycles and it's such a Japanese image for me. It's a tiny French restaurant tucked away in Kyoto, and when I went for a look it was packed with locals rather than tourists. I didn't have time to stop and eat, but I loved the juxtaposition of the French flag with the lanterns, cracked concrete and greenery. This was the Japan that I saw and loved.

Kyoto River Shrine

Again in Kyoto, this was very quickly snapped while out on a night walk along a stream, just as it started to rain. It was backlit by a lone street light and (I think) it's a shrine to a local god for travellers to make offerings to for safe journeys.

Arashiyama Staircase

I've always loved photos of ascending staircases, perhaps because I like the mystery of not knowing what's at the top. This was taken in Arashiyama on the outskirts of Kyoto, home to the bamboo grove and a place in which I suffered some mild sunstroke (not recommended).

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Canopy

Annoyingly, this is my only decent photograph of the bamboo grove itself. I took several videos slowly panning up through the branches but this was the only good photo I managed. I still love it, particularly the way that some of the branches don't quite meet and seem to avoid each other, akin to crown shyness.

Kobe Nunobiki Falls Staircase

Yet another stairs photograph, this time from Kobe. It leads up towards Nunobiki Falls and was absolutely heaving with giant spiders and other creepy crawlies. The only reason I managed to get this photo was because my brother had sprinted up the stairs in the 30-degree heat to get away from an oversized huntsman spider. Please note, my brother is 6"2 and built like a rugby player, and I found him crouched on top of a boulder on a bridge clear of the trees like the ground was lava. In fairness, the spider was horrendous.

Fushimi Inari Stone Torii

Now for three photos of my favourite place in Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Shrine. It's one of the most famous shrines in Japan and it's easy to see why. I wrote about it in my post on the top five things to do in Kyoto, but the short version is that there are over 10,000 crimson torii, or gates, that lead up the mountain. The red and green make for a spectacular contrast and I absolutely loved it. I chose this particular photo because it included one of the rarer stone torii, and I like the difference in tones and textures it brings to the photo.
Fushimi Inari Electricity Red Torii

Can you really blame me for another one? I love this photo of Fushimi Inari because of the electricity lines running up the side, providing a nice contrast to the green of the woods and the red of the shrine on either side. It's a nice example of sacred and profane living alongside each other, as they do more in Japan than anywhere else I've been in the world.

Fushimi Inari Red Torii Empty

And here's the money shot. I was very lucky to get an empty photo of the shrine as while it wasn't packed when I went it was definitely still busy. I took this in the split second after a Japanese tourist moved out of the frame and an instant before another one moved into it. There was no time to focus or adjust the ISO levels, something I usually at least attempt when using my phone, but this was a complete chance and I had to just go with what I got. I'm pretty pleased with the result.

Kyoto Lantern and Neon

I'll finish with one last lantern photo because I do just bloody love them. I talked (probably too much) earlier about enjoying the contrast of neon and paper lanterns, and this one has both! The blue of the neon with the diffused red of the lantern is very reminiscent of Japan for me, with both modern and traditional coexisting peacefully with neither attempting to outdo or usurp the other. It's a funny place Japan, but I think I liked it.

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