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Photography-related Links and Inspirations

As for every photographer out there, what would shooting be without the work of fellow photographers who keep inspiring you?

Over the years, several Kyoto photographers and their work provided me with continous inspiration. Through their work, I keep discovering new places, new aspects, new approaches, new flowers, and new ways to look at places I thought I already knew.

Below is a list of people whose photographic work has inspired me over the years, sorted in a chronological order of when I first encountered them.

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Damien Douxchamps

Homepage; Instagram; Flickr

Subjects: Japanese gardens, in particular during Satsuki (May-June) and Momiji (November-December) seasons.


Damien's website is and remains my favourite Kyoto-related website out there. It is easy to navigate, works fast, and gives a simple, but encyclopaedic overview of Kyoto's temples and shrines. More than any other guidebook or other printed matter I have read in the years before I first stumbled on Damien's work in late 2015, his homepage provides newbies to Kyoto like me to get a sense of what to find where, and when. In a way, Damien's work also made me realize that my previous approach of equating good weather with sunshine was entirely wrong, leading me instead to discover Japanese gardens on cloudy, misty, and slightly rainy days.

My favourite photograph: Koke-dera in autumn.

William Corey


Subjects: Japanese gardens, shot with an early twentieth-century Korona Panoramic View camera.


William Corey was a legendary photographer of Kyoto gardens. Having had his work shown to the Emperor on multiple occasions, his photographs are first and foremostly inspiring compositions of Kyoto gardens, far beyond well-known views. Looking at Corey's photographs always provides me with new motivation to re-visit a place and chase for an inspiring shot.

Eiji Murakami


Subjects: Seasons in and around Nara.

Murakami is one of those photographers whose Flickr feed is an inspiration whenever you look at it. He has a subtle way of editing in his colors that is so different from the vivid colours that are popular in recent years' mainstream Japanese photography, and brings out a mysteriousness within his photography that perfectly fits with the atmosphere found at Japanese temples and shrines. Plus, gazing at Murakami's work continuously makes me realize how wrong it is to focus merely on Kyoto, and that instead, a more general approach of photographing Japanese "religious spaces" / "traditional architecture" would help my photography.

My favourite photograph: Hase-dera on a rainy spring day.

Munenobu Furutani

Blog, Instagram

Subjects: Kyoto, from January to December. Particularly cherry blossoms.

Furutani-san was the first photographer I discovered back when I started to post on Instagram in the autumn of 2016. Although we have still never met in real life, Furutani-san and me seem to share a similar passion for photographing Kyoto. Unlike me, who is a researcher in my main job, Furutani-san seems out shooting every possible time. Alas, unlike others of us who fall into a sort of hibernation between Momiji and Sakura, Furutani-san captures nearly every single flower, seasonality and aspect of Kyoto that is out there. Plus, unlike myself, he seems to be comfortable getting up very early, and as such, often uploads another gorgeous shot of a place in the very early hours of the day. While it makes me wonder if he, like myself, often ends up waiting for "people to disappear", the results I see on his Instagram are a the often necessary kick for myself to get out and shoot.

Leah B.

Flickr, Instagram

Subjects: The seasons of Kyoto, "with love."

Leah turned into a friend of some sort over the last years. Meeting her on Instagram as well, her feed is a carefully selected assembly of Kyoto photography. Among the Kyoto photographer's I met, I am continuously amazed by Leah's eye for details and subtle colours. Where most of us end up shooting a wide-angle landscape or a more famous view of some sort, Leah really discovers a sense of beauty within everywhere she goes that is hard to describe verbally. Leah's work is a constant reminder that gear (and gear acquisition syndrome) has nothing to do with good photographs, but that a decent DSLR in combination with a good photographic eye is all you need for shooting. Also, Leah's approach is almost the binary opposite to some Japanese Kyoto photographers out there. Instead of encyclopaedically aiming to and forcing yourself to visit everywhere every year, Leah's style of shooting is a reminder that two or three good shootings a season are more worth than ten or twenty mediocre ones.

By Anastasiya / Arigato Kyoto

Homepage, Instagram

Subjects: Kyoto, Paris/French landscapes.

Anastasiya, who runs her own one-woman company in Kyoto, has a very distinctive way of editing her photographs. Her colours make her style almost immediately recognizable, and looking at her photos is another motivation-giver to go out and look at familiar places in a different way. Besides her photography of Kyoto, I do really admire her way of composition in European architectural photography. Paris is of course different to Vienna, where I used to live, and yet the two former Imperial capitals are similar in their grandeur style. Anastasiya's photos of Europe are to me among the best I have seen, each of them telling a story, making the viewer to go on a voyage.

Takumi Kurata


Subjects: The seasons of Kyoto.

Takumi Kurata is the third Instagrammer whose photography is memorable to my eyes. Whereas 90% of Kyoto-themed popular Instagram is a repetition of well-known compositions at the ever-same popular places, often hopelessly over-saturated, Kurata's work is that of somebody who turned local. The same can be said about Damien's, Leah's or Anastasiya's work, as most of us have one or two places we know and love well (and probably end up shooting better than others because of this familiarity), Kurata's photography is inspiring for just that. As his blog's name, "walking Kyoto," suggests, his photography feels relaxed, free of the stress of "catching everything" that is so omnipresent on Kyoto-themed social media. As such, it is a joy to watch, providing me with new ideas for the years to come.

My favourite photograph: A sunrise at Yoshimine-dera that was visible on hist now-offline blog.


Subjects: Kyoto, Cherry blossoms of Japan

Similar to Damien's, his homepage is a treasure chest for Kyoto-themed photos. Directly compared to Damien's (or my) work, it is fascinating to see how different people can shoot the same subjects so entirely different. Whereas Damien's strength lies clearly in the Satsuki season in late May and Japanese (Buddhist) gardens in general, this collection boasts spectacular photos of cherry blossom season in Kyoto (and elsewhere) and the architecture and atmosphere of Shinto shrines. More than once have I tried to copy this style, and more than once have I failed in doing so, in particular in regards to Hirano shrine during Sakura season.


Subjects: Mt. Koya, temples of Nara

His work, (I don't know his real name), the forth Instagrammer in this list, is heavily influenced by Buddhism. Shooting in and around Nara and Mt. Koya, his work reminds me, just like Murakami's, of the possibilities beyond Kyoto. Further, more than all the others in the list, his work showcases the possibility of shooting with long lenses.

Further mentions:

The JR "Sou da, Kyoto!" posters, Alain Davreux, Toru Miyake (Colors of Kyoto), Hugo Kempeneer (Kyoto and Nara Dream Trips), Nicolas Garcia (Soranami), Jeffrey Friedl, Masa Nomura, Gigi Chung, and finally, the two Mizuno's: Mizuno Katsuhiko and Mizuno Hidehiko, whose books with Kyoto photography probably are the first contact with the subject in Japan.

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