This picture was shot at Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, Japan. One of the photos from Fushimi Inari (not this one) will be exhibited at Espace Japon. This place is such a photogenic place and many photographers from all over the world are fascinated by it. One of the famous photographer, Steve McCurry had a picture of Fushimi Inari at his Visa pour l’image exhibition.
Anyway, here is a behind-the-scene story of Florence’s Fushimi Inari photos as I promised to tell you in this previous entry.
Fushimi Inari Taisha (shrine) is located in the Mount Inari in Kyoto. Actually this whole mountain (though it’s more like a hill) is considered a holy place. The orange gates are called torii, and there are currently over 10,000 of them along with the small paths to go and worship small shrines spread over this whole mountain. The entire path to go up to the top of the mountain and come down is 4 km and takes about 2 hours. Each torii was built by a donation from a business or an individual. Japanese letters on each gate represent the name of the business and the year that the donation was made. Donations are still coming in and new toriis are built every year. The newer the torii was build, the brighter the orange color is.
Visitors and worshiper often get struck by the first torii tunnel at the bottom of the hill. This photo was taken in the tunnel at the beginning of 2009 during one of the new year holidays. Yes, I said new year holidays, and that means A LOT OF PEOPLE everywhere in Japan, especially at shrines and temples!!!
This was not the first time that Florence visited Fushimi Inari Taisha. She had been there several years ago when she was still using her film camera. She was fascinated by this place and always wanted to go back there to take more pictures with her digital camera. When she visited there the first time, it was not during the holiday time and there were not many people. But this time, things were totally different. When she saw the large crowd there, she said, “I cannot take pictures like this!” Then I (Florence’s assistant) said, “What do you mean you cannot take pictures? We came all the way, and we are NOT going back without any pictures!!!” So I began going up the hill thinking the higher we climb, the less crowded it would become. Disappointed and upset Florence followed me unwillingly. From then on, it was all about waiting game for the both of us.
I was right to some degree. The higher we went, the less crowded it became. But still, there were people in the small paths constantly going up and down. Florence waited and waited for this one moment when the stream of people stopped. I waited and waited for Florence to wait. We moved forward and stopped, moved forward and stopped, moved forward and stopped… We did not finish the entire trail because I got so tired, but Florence was able to take some pictures. In fact, last time she did not go beyond the first torii tunnel. So this time, she made new discoveries and shot amazing photos including the one used for the cover of the Ombres blanches magazine.
By the way, when Florence took this picture with two women in Kimono, she had to chase them after again! They were walking fast as you can see in this picture. Boy, Japanese people walk fast!