Vermillion Gates - Aaron Northcott

The Vermillion Gates of Fushimi Inari

Through the Gates of Fushimi Inari

Instantly recognisable, the striking vermillion gates of the Fushimi Inari shrine should be high on the list of must-see locations for anyone planning to travel in Japan.

I knew that Mount Inari was a popular destination for tourists and photographers alike, so I made sure that I arrived at dawn and before the crowds - which wasn’t actually too gruelling given that the base of the mountain is only a 20 minute train ride from the centre of Kyoto. The locals were already setting up their stalls to sell takoyaki (delicious balls of deep-fried octopus and wheat flour), fried chicken and sweet waffles.

Aware that I probably didn’t have long before the tour buses arrived, I made my way through the first few winding passageways and under an endless stream of the beautiful red gates. Once I had found the spot that worked best for light and composition, I took a few test shots and then set up the tripod and framed the image through the viewfinder.

This was my favourite image from the series I shot in Fushimi Inari because it gives a great feel of depth; following the winding path and including two of the lanterns - one in the foreground and one in the background. Direct sunlight would have created too much contrast between the gates and so I deliberately picked a passageway beneath the trees - meaning a softer, dappled light illuminated the gates and accentuated the different shades of vermillion.

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