Takayama Timelapse

The scenery in Takayama is simply gorgeous. It's hard to really capture everything in photos or videos. I love living up here in the mountains.

One peculiar things about living while surrounded by mountains is that we tend to have 2 sunrises and 2 sunsets. One where the sun crosses the mountains, and the other when it crosses the actual horizon. It creates an extended dawn and dusk everyday.

I live at the base of Kitayama, one of the more prominent small mountains in Takayama. It sits between my apartment and the downtown area of Takayama. Usually when I go downtown to go to a drinking party, climbing up one side, and back down the other is faster than going around it.

It's the perfect location to see both sunrise and sunset.

Sunrise - April 19th, 2016

Looking east from Kitayama paints a perfect image of Mt. Norikura 乗鞍岳. It's not the tallest mountain nearby, but it's easily the most recognizable. Underneath the mountain is my neighborhood in Takayama, Sanfukuji 三福寺.

The weather report was perfect! 100% clear and beautiful. I woke up before 5am, and went on top of Kitayama. I set up my camera, and took the following time-lapse from 5:00 to 7:07.

My camera took 1085 photos. Apparently 5am wasn't early enough, as it was already pretty light out when the time-lapse started. Oh well, next time!

Sunset - November 4th, 2014

I took the sunset one just after I began messing with the time-lapse options available to me. Looking west from Kitayama, you're able to see all of the downtown area of the city. This time-lapse was from 3:49 to 5:53.

As soon as the sun dropped below the mountains, it turned from warm to cold. Unfortunately, my camera ran out of batteries before it could get completely dark.


In order to make these time-lapses, I needed 3 additionally things to go with my camera. I bought a pretty cheap tripod at one of the second-hand stores in Toyama. It's a bit flimsy, but it's nice, light, and easy to move around with. I also needed to buy an aperture. An aperture is a hand-dial you plug into your camera, and you tell it when to take photos. With these, I can tell my camera to take a photos every 5-7 seconds.

For my time-lapse, I set the camera in HDR mode to try and capture as much of the scene as possible. Then, I compiled all the photos together using ffmpeg. FFmpeg is a command line application that will create a movie file from a sequential set of image files. It can be a bit difficult to use, but I eventually figured out some decent options.

ffmpeg -r 24 -i frame%04d.jpg -b:v 15000k -s hd1080 anoutput.mp4

I don't exactly remember what each term means, but it creates a 1080p video file that looks quite nice. It does squish the image, though, rather than cropping it. Close enough, though. Before running this, I wrote a quick program to rename all my photo files to be sequential starting with 0000.

Here are the starting and finishing images of the compilations.


The beginning and end of a day in the life of Takayama.