Pagoda at Nachi-san

The three-story pagoda Seiganto-ji is part of the  Kumano Sanzan temple complex in Nachi-san at the end of the Kumano kodo pilgrimage trail. This is a very special place, located near Nachi Falls, a site for nature worship going back millennia. The temple itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and nominally Tendai Buddhist—although like many Japanese religious sites, it is actually a syncretic combination of Shintoism and Buddhism. In the case of Kumano Sanzan and Seiganto-ji, the temple is one of the rare ones whose dual heritage survived the Meiji restoration’s forcible separation of the two religions and the government establishment of Shintoism as the official state religion in the late 1800s.

Seiganto-ji pagoda at Nachi-san © Harold Davis

Seiganto-ji pagoda at Nachi-san © Harold Davis

To make this photo, I wanted the Nachi waterfall to be as important a part of the image as the pagoda. To achieve this aim, I used a 10EV neutral density filter and a polarizer in the late afternoon to increase the length of my exposure. This is a six minute exposure at f/29 and ISO 100—with the length of the exposure flattening out the waterfall, and making the movement of other elements (such as people on the pagoda) irrelevant.

This entry was posted in Japan, Photography.

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  1. By Nachi-san on September 22, 2014 at 10:09 am

    […] In my initial story on this image, I noted that “while some pilgrims do it the hard way and walk the ancient stones of the Kumano kodo up to mountain passes and down through valleys to arrive in Nachi-san, most visitors arrive by scheduled bus, or by tour bus. Like Lourdes in France, or Mt Koya in Japan, Nachi-san is a destination for religious tourists, almost all of whom are Japanese.” There’s more about the location in the story about my long exposure photo of the Pagoda at Nachi San. […]

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