Resuming My Monthly Japanese Garden Photo Outings
Saturday 10 December 2016 — Category: Outings
Earlier this year I had announced a 12-month gap in my Japanese Garden outings after they had announced that they would be closing for six months for major renovations starting in September 2015. Because I had started visiting the Garden in March 2015, and because I wanted to photograph it in each of the twelve months, I was not able to resume my project until September 2016.
When autumn rolled around, I was pleased to learn that in September they were putting on a traditional Japanese moon-viewing event, known as O-Tsukimi. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to get back into the swing of monthly visits to the Garden after my one-year hiatus.
Even though I had a ticket I didn’t get inside until 15 minutes after the gate opened at 7:00 PM due to the long line. After snapping some photos of two stone lanterns (tōrō) lit for the occasion, I made a beeline for the eastern side of the Garden which overlooks Portland, about 500 feet above downtown.
Each time I have gone to the Garden, I have stood in this location and admired the view of the skyscrapers only a mile and a half away. Because I am usually there in the early morning it is often foggy, so I don’t see much of Portland beyond downtown. I had never seen any mountains from this spot. So I was completely unprepared for the stunning view which unfolded before me.
As you can see for yourself, there was a full moon rising over the 11,249-foot Mount Hood, the highest peak in the state, about 50 miles away. It was quite clear, and the pastel colors were delicate and lovely. If you look carefully, you can see that the snow on top of Mount Hood was rose-tinted by the setting sun. The building directly under the moon is the 41-floor, 546-foot Wells Fargo Center, the tallest building in the state.
Japanese food and drink were being served as part of the admission price. I had eaten before I came, so I was not very hungry. But I did treat myself to the offered samples of Japanese beer and sake. They were not exactly my cup of tea, but it was a good cultural experience!
Once it got a bit darker and people had finished eating, the evening’s moon-viewing entertainment began. First up was Mitsuki Dazai playing a koto, which is Japan’s national instrument. I had never seen or heard of such an instrument before, which goes to show how culturally ignorant I am. The outside setting, with the gorgeous view of the full moon, Mount Hood, and Portland, was a perfect accompaniment for her dreamy, relaxing music.
After about 15 minutes of koto music, Larry Tyrell took the “stage” to play traditional Japanese music on a shakuhachi (bamboo flute). He was standing under a woven bamboo arch, a piece of artwork entitled Moonlight Arch by Shigeo Kawashima.
By 8:00 he was done, and I was done as well, even though the event did not officially end until 9:00. I had experienced everything the event had to offer, and I still had a long drive back home. I took 36 pictures during my 45 minutes at the Japanese Garden. Only seven of them were found worthy to be included in the new Portland Japanese Garden, Sep. 2016 album, but I am quite happy with each one of them.
I am also quite happy with how my camera performed under difficult, low-light conditions. Most of the photos were taken at either ISO 3200 or 6400. Even though these settings did produce some amount of image noise, Adobe Lightroom was able to deal with it satisfactorily. Once again I find that I am very content with my photographic equipment.
Well, seven monthly visits to the Japanese Garden down, five to go! I’ve now taken enough photos there that I am inaugurating a conglomerate super-album called Portland Japanese Garden (All Years) which gathers into one place all of my Japanese Garden pictures from seven different albums. More photos will appear in this album in the future as they are added.
As far as I know, I will not be attending any more special events, so I hope that I can manage to find photographic inspiration during those remaining visits. In future articles you will find out if I succeeded or not.