3 min read

Sakura and a Photo Exhibition

Sakura and a Photo Exhibition
Early morning cherry blossoms in bloom in front Arashiyama's Togetsu Bridge.

Greetings from Kyoto, Japan where the much delayed cherry blossom "sakura frenzy" is just now getting into high gear. I’m Daniel Sofer, photographer living in Kyoto and Los Angeles. Gee, it's been almost 3 months since my last post...

Since I returned to Japan 3 weeks ago the weather has vacillated from spring-like, to freezing, snow & hail, and back to warm spring temperatures reaching the 20°C mark (high 60s).

No wonder the cherry blossoms are confused! The early bloomers came out weeks ago; but most of the cherry trees were waiting, waiting, waiting – and now that the blossoms have finally decided to come out, the leaves are coming out with them! Highly irregular, and portends a short Sakura season. We’ll see.

The blossoms and leaves came out together. Those red leaves will soon turn green.

In Japan, we can spend all this time fixated on an annual rite of spring, because our brains are not being stuffed with outrage about the latest mass shooting, or wild white nationalists raining chaos on the streets, televisions and social networks. There is more time to breathe deep and enjoy nature here.

The thing to complain about in Kyoto is overtourism. Foreign tourists greatly outnumber Japanese people on the streets these days, causing overcrowding, and committing a litany of offenses to which the natives can only say, "tsk, tsk." But Kyoto just elected a new conservative mayor who ran on a platform of reducing overtourism, so there is definitely a backlash.

I was at Tenryuji Temple yesterday, where their large weeping cherry tree is in full bloom.

Tenryuji Temple, 20 minutes after opening. I'm sure it got more crowded later in the day.

It is quite difficult to get a nice photo in this environment, but I did manage to take something I was happy with:

Click for the original image.

But all the visitors seem to be really happy to be here, so who am I to complain...

Empty Kyoto Photo Exhibition at KG+

To complement my recent book, Empty Kyoto, I’ve organized a gallery exhibition of photos from the book. It opens April 13, as part of the Kyotographie international photo festival.

This year there are 114 individual photo exhibitions spread around town during this month-long festival: 13 sponsored exhibitions, and 101 KG+ affiliated exhibitions, of which I am one. It’s quite a wonderful experience if you’re a fan of photography. Plus, many of the exhibition venues are worth a visit on their own: Edo era Machiya, (Japanese rowhouses), a former newspaper printing plant, the former Bank of Japan building from 100 years ago, and many others.

If you’re anywhere close to Kyoto, I recommend making a point to visit. My exhibition runs April 13-21, and the full festival ends May 12.

So 10 days from a public exhibition means that my life is currently… chaos! 

All of my printing and framing is done, but there are dozens of boxes strewn about our little apartment.

Promo postcards have been made, additional art postcards are at the printer, the website is updated, social media posts have been made - but a lot of small details are still waiting to be taken care of, printed descriptions for each photo, artist statement… and many more things I can’t remember at this moment, but… cherry blossoms!

Hope to see you in Kyoto,