This ethereal scene may evoke thoughts of tradition, culture, history, but it can also be a bit more mundane. Members of the local resident association are expected to, in turn, light the candles in these stone lanterns in front of the neighborhood shrine every evening at sundown. It is one of the various responsibilities of association membership. I took this photo on one of my turns.
When I lived in the big city, my kumi, the smallest division within the neighborhood resident association, was limited to the apartment building where I lived. Here in this rural setting, the kumi is spread out over a wider area. It is a six-kilometer circuitous walk to visit every house in the kumi where I now live.
Our kumi is further divided into four han. The han that I live in has a dozen houses. In the past, most of these houses would be filled with multigenerational families: children, parents, grandparents, and maybe even great grandparents. Today, with the aging of the population and the migration of younger people to more urban areas, some houses here are vacant, while others are occupied only by elderly couples. In addition to its traditional functions, the neighborhood associations today seem to be even more vital to look after the community when neighbors might be a hundred meters away or more.
On the day I took the above photo, I was carrying an APS-C-size mirrorless camera with kit lens. I walked around, and used the zoom of the kit lens, to find an angle that would hide most of the modern structures intruding into the scene. I admit to a little Photoshopping to remove a utility pole and some electric power lines in the background.
Memorable on this evening was being startled by a yamori gecko that jumped out at my face from the first lantern I tried to light. It fell to the ground at my feet where it then scampered to hide between some stones at the base of the lantern.