Old Schools as the ‘New Kyoto’

August 6, 2018

Background

At present, Japan has an aging population and declining birthrate problem. Therefore, the government has been closing about 500 schools a year. Rather than let these buildings go to waste, the closed schools are being revamped into new places such as welfare facilities, hotels, community centers and so on. The closed school sites are attractive plots of land in Kyoto due to it being a crowded city that sits in a basin. The densely populated situation in the city center means that any large spaces are far and few between. Plus, the school buildings themselves have historical value.

There are 3 main advantages of using old school buildings. First, the ample space can be used effectively, for example, holding seminars in the classrooms and enjoying sports in the gymnasium or outdoor ground. Second, by using existing facilities, new ventures can significantly decrease their costs. Finally, the site of a former school is designated as cultural property as a historic building, so they should be maintained as such. The Kyoto Art Center and Comic Museum in Kyoto are both housed on old school sites. On the other hand, there are demerits too. These old schools need repair work which means they are not always easy to use as a welfare facility or for social gatherings. They also need a lot of money to look after them. As explained, using these sites has various problems which need to be considered carefully.

 

Renovations

Currently, even in the center of Kyoto, there are 10 sites where elementary schools used to be. These buildings have been turned into libraries, hospitals, homes for the elderly, NPO offices, museums, cafés and spaces for volunteer activities. Kyoto International Manga Museum is a famous museum for overseas visitors. Inside there is a café, shop, exhibition room and memorial hall about the old elementary school. Before this site was used as a museum, it used to be Tatsuike Elementary School. The wooden floors and stairs faced of stone and tiles still remain. The floor creaks under your feet when you step on it, giving sweet memories of times gone by but in a modern setting. Moreover, visitors can read various comics and books in the surroundings of an old school. In one of the buildings, there is still the principal’s office. You can see the main terrace by the playground from the window in this office.

Kyoto Art Center used to be Meirin Elementary School. You can see the design of floats that were used for traditional feasts in Kyoto in front of the building. There is a large tatami mat -156 square yards- which adds to the traditional Japanese atmosphere. This facility also has a library, cafe and workspace for art. The management of the facility wanted to revive Kyoto, so they established the center in the old school. In 2008, there was some resistance to use the site as a cultural property, but this school was used carefully for a long time by the people in the neighborhood. Even now, a lot of people go there to learn and see the art, drink something and catch up.

The Department of Administration in Kyoto City Hall has beautifully renovated these old elementary schools into new facilities with thoughtful consideration of the local community. Elementary school buildings create fond memories for many children and adults, so it is important that the new facilities do not destroy old memories.

 

Future of old schools

Finally, let’s take a look at some future plans for reusing old school sites. Until now, old schools in Kyoto have been transformed into new facilities through a careful renovation process that does not break up the existing buildings, creating spaces for bustling communities and thriving cultural exchange. Planners care about the thoughts of the local community more than anything else and intend to continue this way in the future. They have to observe the rules made by the city. For example, stores that are built inside of these old schools must be local business’ that have a link to Kyoto’s traditions. As a result, local people who have affection for the old school buildings agree to the new utilization plans. As an example, there is the case of Rissei Elementary School. It is located in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto and closed in 1993. This school will be renovated by 2020 and opened as a new complex that includes a hotel, café, library, resident committee meeting space among others with the cooperation of the city, local self-governing associations and real estate companies. Furthermore, a similar cultural complex will be opened in 2021 at the site of Shirakawa Elementary School in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto. In this complex, planners intend to build shops that exhibit and sell Kyoto’s traditional crafts, a garden where local people can feel free to gather, and a hotel where guests can experience Kyoto’s culture. You will be able to see a lot more renovated buildings with new cultural complexes that protect the old school buildings. The purpose of the old schools can live on through these reconstruction projects.

Vegetable brand “Kyoyasai” worth trying

Risa Uemura, Mika Nakajima and Mai Hayakawa

What are kyoyasai ?

Kyoto is far from the sea, so it was hard for people to get seafood a long time ago. That’s why people living in Kyoto used to eat mainly vegetables. 1,000 years ago, local people presented the Emperor, who used to live in Kyoto, with several vegetables grown in other prefectures in Japan. Then these vegetables were grown in Kyoto and became good quality thanks to the climate, clean water and cultivation methods there. This was the beginning of Kyoyasai and Kyoto’s speciality vegetables. Even now, some of these vegetables are still grown using the same traditional methods.

There are several requirements for vegetables to be registered as kyoyasai. To suit the image of Kyoto, they have to ship to other prefectures, and must consistently meet the quality standards. Farmers must avoid using pesticides under the Kyoto Kodawari cultivation rules. Also, only types of vegetables that have been grown before the Meiji era are allowed to be called kyoyasai. These special vegetables are used in restaurants and even at home for cooking.  Recently, scientists discovered that “Kyoyasai has an original smell, taste and colors. Furthermore, they have many health benefits such as preventing cancer and keeping a healthy weight as they are low in calories.”

 

Kyoto vegetables which you can try now

Currently, there are twenty types of Kyoto vegetables registered. Some of them are available to harvest all-year round, and some are only available at certain times of the year. Kyoto Mizuna (pother mustard), Kujo green onions, and Mibuna (similar to pother mustard) are grown all-year. Kyoto Mizuna has leaves with a deep slit, and has a crisp texture. It can be cooked in various ways in a range of dishes, for example, with deep-fried bean curd (tofu), dishes prepared in seasoned broth, salads, and can be made into delicious light pickles. Kyoto’s famous springtime vegetable is takenoko (bamboo shoots), also called shiroko. Compared to other bamboo shoots, these have a sweeter taste, and the texture is fleshy and soft. In summer, shishigatani kabocha (pumpkin) is popular. It has a rough shape, like Japanese gourd. Due to its shape, it is sometimes used like a plate, with other food placed on top. An example dish is shishigatani kabocha, which is pumpkin stuffed with minced beef. The shape is unique, so people also use it for its appearance. Fall in Kyoto brings eggplants and chillies to the kitchen. They have various shapes, sizes, and other individual features. There are many Kyoto vegetables harvested in the winter. Above all, the most famous vegetables are kintoki ningin (carrot), Horikawa gobo (burdock) and seigoin daikon (radish). Kintoki ningin carrots are bright red from the surface to the inside. Therefore, they are used to add color to winter dishes such as miso soup and osechi (Japanese New Year’s cuisine). The burdock is bigger compared to normal burdock and has a hollow trunk. So, they soak up surrounding flavors. Seigoin daikons do not taste bitter; instead they have a faintly sweet flavor, so they are often used in oden (Japanese hotpot with assorted ingredients like radish, tofu, or boiled egg). Of all the Kyoto vegetables, the most famous are Kujo green onions and Kyoto Mizuna because they are well known and available to harvest all year.

 

Recommended stores and restaurants for Kyoto vegetables

Finally, we would like to introduce several cafes and restaurants where you can eat Kyoto vegetables. We recommend three restaurants in Kyoto. Isoya on Sanjyo is a casual restaurant where you can eat grilled Kyoto vegetables with an original sauce, a selection of salt, or Miso (bean paste condiment). In the restaurant, fresh Kyoto vegetables which were picked that morning are lined up, and a chef cooks those in front of you. So, you can enjoy eating different Kyoto vegetables and cuisines depending on the day you visit. If you go Isoya, we recommend you reserve in advance.

Gion abbesses on Gion Shijyo is located in an old Kyoto townscape. It is a luxury French restaurant, and you can try authentic French cuisine with colorful Kyoto vegetables. There are more than 150 kinds of wines including natural wines in this restaurant, and you can consult with a wine sommelier.

Obase on Sanjyo. It is a Japanese style restaurant in a renovated kyo-machiya (a traditional tile-roofed wooden house structure with mud walls and an inner garden, built using a framework construction method). This restaurant is very particular about the interior because it chose pieces of furniture to match the traditional building. You can eat original Japanese and Western course meals with Japanese tableware and chopsticks.

We introduced three restaurants where you can eat Kyoto vegetables in a wide variety of dishes. Kyo-branded Products Association (Public Interest Group Corporation) has certified formal Kyoto vegetable dealers in the metropolitan area and the Kinki area as bases for consumption promotion and sales promotion. Now, twenty-five stores in the metropolitan area and twenty-four stores in the Kinki area are certified, and you can easily get Kyoto vegetables at those stores. On the Kyo-branded Products Association’s official site, a lot of cooking recipes using Kyoto vegetables have been released. If you are interested in those dishes, please try cooking them yourself at home!

 

The Hottest Ramen Noodles in Kyoto

by Kensei Iizuka, Yuta Kobayashi, Takanori Tsuhako

As you know, there is a lot of delicious food in Kyoto. In this article, we are going to tell you about the noodles. Kyoto, especially Kyoto City, is one of the most famous places for noodles in Japan. That is why there are a lot of great noodle restaurants here. In this article, we will introduce you to Menya-Kirameki: a really famous noodle restaurant on Kyoto Sanjo and part of the Kirameki chain of noodle restaurants in Kyoto. We will introduce other Kirameki restaurants at the end of this article. If you want to get more information about the Kirameki Group, please check them out.

Menya-Kirameki Kyoto Sanjo 

Taiwanese Spicy Soupless Noodles

The most famous noodle dish in Kirameki is their Taiwanese Soupless Noodles. This dish was born in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture in 2008. It was created from meals that were prepared for the staff of a Taiwanese restaurant in Nagoya. The Taiwanese owner used to serve these soupless noodles only for his employees until one day a customer saw them and asked him to put it on the regular menu. The owner tried to add some spices to make it tastier because it was a simple dish compared to other items on the menu in this restaurant. The dish contains ground meat seasoned with some spices that are placed on the top of super thick noodles. It also has fish meal, leeks, Chinese chives and fresh egg yolk. The way to eat it is straightforward: you just mix all the ingredients to taste them together. You might be surprised by the flavors when you eat this for the first time. However, we are sure that you will like it more and more as you continue to eat. When you have finished eating, it is recommended that you put a small cup of rice into your noodle bowl that still has some flavor from the spices. This is called “shime” in Japanese, and it is meant to refresh your mouth. To put it simply, it plays the role of brushing your teeth. By eating a bowl of plain white rice, you can ‘clean up’ the remaining flavors in your mouth. In Kirameki, you can get a small cup of rice for free when you order Taiwanese Soupless Noodles. It is okay to put the rice into your noodle bowl at the end of eating, and it is great to eat the noodles and rice together. It definitely makes you full and satisfied. But, please take care of the smell of your breath after eating Taiwanese Soupless Noodles! Those are some spicy flavors!

 

 

Chicken Bone White Broth Noodles with Soy Sauce

There is a wide range of noodles in Kyoto. Most noodle restaurants in Kyoto specialize in ‘rich noodles.’ Kyoto is called the “Student City” because there are many universities in Kyoto City. Students want to feel full and satisfied for as little money as possible. That is why many noodle restaurants are serving ‘rich noodles’ to make students-the main customers-feel satisfied. Kirameki serves ‘rich noodles.’ The soup in this dish is made from chicken bones. It takes a long time to produce the umami flavors from the chicken bones. Umami is made from the chicken bones and adjusted for taste.When you eat ‘rich noodles,’ at first, try a spoonful of just the soup and enjoy each original rich flavor. Secondly, pick up some of the noodles and eat them together with the rich soup. The noodles are all made from Japanese flour called yumemanten, which is made in Nagano Prefecture. They are really thick and chewy. Most people fall in love with these divine noodles due to their texture. Also, you can enjoy some awesome toppings such as slices of roasted pork, juicy menma (bamboo shoots), shredded green onions, and a slice of lemon. They make these noodles even tastier.

 

Chicken Bone Noodles

As well as their soy sauce dishes, Kirameki also serves noodles that have a delightful salty taste. This dish is very similar to the soy sauce options. However, the color of the soup is a little different. These dishes have a special handmade sauce that contains salt made from fresh sea water from Vietnam and France. You can taste the natural flavor of the salt, which gives you a very different taste to the soy sauce noodles. It would be great to share two noodles with others if you go to Kirameki with your friends. Comparing two flavors is just one way of enjoying noodle restaurants and becoming an expert in Japanese noodles!

 

Golden Noodles with Sesame Sauce

In Japan, especially in Kyoto, the temperature reaches up to about 38 degrees in the summer. It is said that the summer climate in Kyoto is worse than a desert. Someone might say “I don’t want to get hot food on such a humid day.” But, for those people who need to cool down in the coming summer season eating noodles can be a great option. Golden noodles with sesame sauce is a dish of cold spicy noodles. It has plenty of shredded meat on top and also some peanuts. The peanuts play an important role in this dish. The sweet taste of the peanuts balances the spiciness. In Kirameki, this dish is served only in the summer. It would be the perfect noodle dish for anyone who really wants to eat noodles even on a hot day. Although we concentrated on Kirameki noodle restaurants this time, enjoy discovering and experimenting with a variety of noodle restaurants around Kyoto. You may be able to find a special noodle restaurant that your friends don’t know, and can be your noodle heaven.

【Access】

There are six Kirameki restaurants in Kyoto:

1. Kirameki-no-tori

This was the first Kirameki restaurant opened in Kyoto. If you visit Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kirameki-no-tori is nearby. The opening hours are 11:00-15:00, and 18:00-23:00. The telephone number is 075-231-2505.

2. Yuhi-no-kirameki

This was the second Kirameki restaurant. If you visit Ichijoji, or Takaragaike, it is nearby. The opening hours are 11:00-15:00, and 18:00-23:00. The telephone number is 075-746-5388.

3. Kirameki Chicken Heart

This is Kirameki’s third restaurant. It is near Kyoto University of Foreign Studies. If you visit Arashiyama, you can go there by bus. The nearest bus stop is Shijo-kadono-oji, which takes about 15 minutes from Arashiyama. The opening hours are 11:00-14:30, and 18:00-22:30. The telephone number is 075-754-6388.

4. Kirameki ☆ JAPAN

Kirameki ☆ JAPAN, the fourth Kirameki restaurant, is near Demachi-yanagi Station and Kyoto University. Take the Keihan Railway and get off at Demachi-yanagi Station. It is easy to get there. The opening hours are 11:00-14:30, and 18:00-22:30. The Telephone number is 075-741-7174.

5. Komugi-no-kirameki

This is the fifth Kirameki restaurant. The nearest station is Kamikatsura, and Katsura. Kamikatsura is on the Hankyu Arashiyama Line. You could visit here before or after visiting Arashiyama. The opening hours are 11:00-22:30. The telephone number is 075-874-4411.

6. Menya-Kirameki -Kyoto Sanjo Street

This is the sixth Kirameki restaurant and the head restaurant of Kirameki. If you visit Kawaramachi, you can visit here. Head to north from Hankyu Kawaramachi Station. It takes about ten minutes on foot. The opening hours are 11:00-23:30. The telephone number is 075-744-6199.

The History of Movies in Kyoto

Yu Sakamoto & Daiki Tabuchi

The Beginning of the Movie Industry in Kyoto

At the beginning of the 20th century, after the Meiji Restoration was over, people worked hard to make a new Japan. It was around this time that Kyoto became the first place in Japan to enjoy the surprising and exciting technology that created the modern entertainment medium of cinema.

On a snowy day in 1895, cinematography invented by the Lumière brothers was used for the first time by Kyoto Dento. It was shown on a screen in the courtyard on the company’s building. This was the first time these people had seen a movie. Today, in this spot, there is a signboard that marks this event and the beginning of the movie industry.

Uzumasa is a district in western Kyoto that was once called the “Hollywood of Japan.” During the height of Japanese filmmaking in the 50s, Kyoto was a bustling film center. This movie industry created a lot of economic vitality and developed into one of Kyoto’s major cultural sectors.

In the golden years of Japanese film from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, the Kiyamachi area was dotted with inns where screenwriters stayed and worked. The hotel where one of Japan’s top film directors, Masahiro Makino (1908-1993), regularly stayed was also here. The area was also known for the many bars where movie people hung out.

The Famous and Historical Movie Studios in Kyoto

Toei Studios, Kyoto

With an area of more than 66,000 square meters, Toei Studios is the biggest movie studio in Japan. In the 1950s to the early 1960s, Toei Studio film companies in Kyoto had to produce more than 60 films every year. The staff used Sundays and holidays, often working throughout the night on weekdays as well. The Kyoto studios were filled with energy. Everyone said that the workers of the Toei Studios were so busy that “no one was walking, they were always running.”

Shochiku Studio

Uzumasa, the capital of the movie industry, started producing new types of movie studios. Shochiku Studio is one of these famous movie studios in Kyoto and has a long history. It was created by Makino Takei in 1935. It has experienced a lot of ups and downs, even today. Most of the works shot here are very familiar, including TV dramas.

Famous Movie Shooting Methods of Akira Kurosawa in Kyoto

Today, many people all over the world watch movies for entertainment. People who watch movies are fascinated by many factors. In particular, the methods used for shooting movies is one of the most critical factors for making enjoyable experiences for moviegoers. It is no exaggeration to say that the evaluation of a film depends on the shooting methods.

Therefore, most film directors are particular about shooting methods and have their own specializations. Akira Kurosawa is the most famous director who shot movies in Kyoto using innovative and bold shooting methods, attracting a lot of attention from overseas. He has two renowned shooting methods.

First, his movies are famous for their bright backgrounds. It is said that his backgrounds sometimes stand out more than the actual people in the picture. This is because he used pan-focus shooting. Pan-focus shooting focuses on everything in the picture. When the camera focuses on the subject in front, the background becomes blurred. Today, this work is easy because all the work is done automatically by the camera. However, at that time, it was necessary to adjust all the lighting and focus. Therefore, pan-focus shooting required a lot of money, time and labor. But thanks to pan-focus shooting, he could shoot some great movies. Even now, many film directors and researchers praise his vivid backgrounds.

Multi-cam shooting method used by Kurosawa

Kurosawa was the first person to use this technique that has multiple telephoto lenses. Multi-cam shooting has the advantage of taking various angled cuts with one shot. However, it is a problematic shooting method when at the actual location of the filming. This is because the condition of lighting and background must be considered depending on the position of the camera. However, the scene shot in this method is very powerful. Today, many film directors use this method.

There are other famous shooting methods besides these. For example, Rashomon was filmed using mirrors instead of reflectors to take advantage of the natural light while directing the camera to the sun, which was considered taboo at that time. In the first scene, Kurosawa used hoses and water mixed with black ink to shoot a powerful image of rain in monochrome. This method was also used in the battle scene of The Seven Samurai.

As you can see, movies and Kyoto have had a deep connection from when the movie industry started in Kyoto. The beauty of Kyoto fascinated many film directors and people involved in movies. There are more than a few masterpieces that were born in Kyoto. If you visit Kyoto, visit not only major tourist attractions but also these fascinating movie spots too.

Great Bread around Karasuma Station

by Kensei Iizuka, Yuta Kobayashi and Takanori Tsuhako

As you know, Kyoto has a lot of traditional Japanese food that is popular with tourists. However, do you know that bread is really popular with people in Kyoto? In fact, bread consumption in Kyoto is No.1 in Japan. The reason why bread is so popular in Kyoto is due to its connection with craftsmen. There are a lot of busy craftsmen in Kyoto and bread is really easy for them to eat when they are working. In this article, we are going to introduce some great bakeries near Karasuma Station. This area is really flourishing so you can find not only bakeries but also many nice shops such as souvenir shops, clothing store and so on. Enjoy the metropolitan side of Kyoto and great local bread in this area.

Sizuya

 

 

Sizuya is a famous bakery, which since 1948, has captured the hearts of Kyoto residents. Anyone who was born or grew up in Kyoto can’t but love their bread. There are 22 locations in Kyoto prefecture and the site that we visited this time is located in Shijo-Karasuma in the very heart of the city. This shop is very accessible as it is inside Shijo-Karasuma Station, and you can find it quickly as soon as you exit from the ticket gates. The most famous bread in Sizuya is the Karne -a sandwich with ham, fresh onion and soft margarine. It is very simple but delicious.

Shinshindo

 

 

Shinshindo is known as a bakery pioneer in Kyoto. It was established in 1913, making it 35 years older than Sizuya and the oldest bakery in Kyoto. There are 12 locations in Kyoto; however, some stores don’t just sell bread. Some have a restaurant where you can enjoy lunch or dinner, and others have a coffee shop inside where you can enjoy super fresh bread and excellent coffee. You can walk there in about 5 minutes from Hankyu-Karasuma Station, so you can take a break and enjoy great bread and coffee before or after exploring Shijo. The most popular bread in Shinshindo is said to be their rich buttery croissant. Outside is very crunchy and the inside is super soft. The beautiful flavor of the butter spreads out in your mouth as soon as you bite it. It must be one of the best croissants in Kyoto.

 

Grandir Kyoto


 

This bakery has a cool and trendy appearance with a simple black exterior, and inside there is a wide range of bread on display. Grandir Kyoto opened about 30 years ago and specializes in bagels and panini. People who want to eat a nice bagel or fresh panini should visit there. There are 5 locations in Kyoto and also 3 locations in Nagoya. The shop that we visited is near Kyoto-Shiyakusho-Mae Station (Subway- Tozai Line) and is easy to get to from Kawaramachi or Karasuma. When you open the stylish door and go in, you are surrounded by the pleasant smell of fresh bread. You can choose from a lot of different kinds of bagels as you can see in the photo: cocoa, cream cheese and so on. Just picking which bagel you want is fun. You can also order fresh paninis which the shop staff make to order in front of you. So, you can enjoy a really tasty fresh panini there.

 

Kin-iro Kyoto

Kin-iro Kyoto, was launched just recently in April 2018. It is getting a lot of attention from young people. There are only two kinds of bread, both of which are cream buns. One is called kin-iro which has rich cream and plenty of Canadian honey. It looks really gorgeous because it is decorated with pieces of gold leaf on the top. The other cream bun is called kuro-iro. Kuro means “black” in Japanese, so it is a black cream bun with cacao and coffee in the bread dough. Inside of the bun, you can taste Guatemala coffee’s honey in the custard and cream made from high-class eggs from Oita prefecture. The harmonization of the bread dough made by cocoa and coffee with the rich cream will blow your tongue away!

Kyoto Bakery Market

This bakery is perfect for people who are downtown shopping and don’t want to walk around too much just to find some decent bread. It is on the 7th floor of Marui Department Store near Kawaramachi Station (Hankyu-Kyoto Line). The best thing about this store is that you can find a selection of great bread from various bakeries in Kyoto. You don’t need to spend time and energy going to each bakery to sample their speciality bread. Also, you can take a break and have a coffee in the rest area attached to the bakery. In other words, here is like a culmination of what Kyoto’s bakeries have to offer.

【Information for Sizuya】

Sizuya is in front of the subway ticket gates in Shijo Station. You can also easily access it from Karasuma Station on the Hankyu Railway. The ticket gates are on the lower basement floor. If you come from the ground level, please take the stairs or escalator down. The opening hours are from 7:30am to 9:00pm, and they are closed on January 1st.

【Information for Shinshindo】

You can walk to Shinshindo in about 5 minutes from either Karasuma Station or Shijo Station heading north-east. Diagonally opposite, there is a park that has a playground. Shinshindo has lovely trees and plants, so you can easily find it. Opening hours are 7:30am to 8:00pm. The days when the bakery is closed varies.

【Information for Grandir Kyoto】

Grandir Kyoto is a smaller bakery than others. The closest station is Kyoto Shiyakusyo Mae (Kyoto City Hall) Station; however, you can walk from Kawaramachi. If you go there from Kawaramachi, please head north. It’s about a 15-minute walk. This bakery is next to Kyoto City Hall. You will see bicycles parked in front of the bakery. The opening hours are 8:00am to 7:00pm. The days when the bakery is closed varies.

【Information for Kin-iro Kyoto】

Kin-iro Kyoto is on Sanjo Street. You can walk from Kyoto Shiyakusyo Mae (Kyoto City Hall) Station (10-minute walk) or Kawaramachi Station and Karasuma Station (15-minute walk). The bakery doesn’t have any space to eat inside. The opening hours are 11:00am to 7:00pm. The bakery is closed on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

【Information for Kyoto Bakery Market】

Go to the 7th floor in Marui Department Store, which is on Shijo Street opposite the Disney Store. There are lots of tables and chairs where you can eat. If you are tired of shopping, you can take a rest here. Opening hours are 11:00am to 8:00pm. The bakery is closed when Marui is closed.

 

 

Public baths in Kyoto

Yu Sakamoto and Daiki Tabuchi

Today Japanese culture is evaluated from abroad in every aspect. Especially in Kyoto, there are many cultural places to attract visitors from around the world. And Kyoto is also famous for hot springs. But this time I would like to introduce public baths. Because hot springs are already famous among many tourists, so this time we want to reveal the charm and history of public baths and how they are different to hot springs.

What are public baths and hot springs?

Firstly, let’s take a look at the features of public baths and hot springs. As the name suggests, the public bath is just a bath for the public. They began in Kyoto in (794-1185). It is said that they spread throughout Japan with Buddhism. On the other hand, hot springs have natural water. If the water temperature of the hot spring source is 25 degrees or more, and it includes any one of the 19 designated ingredients of the hot spring law in the country, it is regarded as a hot spring.

 

 

 

 

 

The differences between public baths and hot springs

There are two significant differences between hot springs and public baths. First, hot springs use natural water from springs, while public baths do not. Second, public baths have no special rules because the water is not directly from a spring, so it is checked for safety already. In other words, since hot springs use water that is drawn from nature, they are concerned about sanitation, so they must be well managed by the law under the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to ensure that they are safe for customers.

The history of public baths

 People do not know how the tradition of public baths in Japan began. However, according to “Keityoukenbunroku”, a book written about the history of Japan, published in 1614, Ise Yoichi built the first public bath in 1591 on Zenigamebashi, which is in Ibaragi prefecture. People were joyous, and his public bath was very popular. In the 17th century, public baths became popular and could be found in a lot of towns. The bath of this era was a kind of steam bath. Water was put in the bottom of the bathtub. A door was placed in the entrance of the bathroom to prevent the steam from escaping. However, it had one problem. When people opened and closed the door, steam did escape. So, some people solved this problem by making a type of bath called zakuroguchi. They put a bathtub in a small room covered by a wooden plate, then dropped the board low from the entrance ceiling to prevent steam from escaping.


 

 

 

 

 

 

The water bath was developed at the end of the Edo era. This bath was called sueburo. It became popular among ordinary families. In this era, people needed to put hot water in the bathtub, but after that, they developed a way to heat up the bath water by placing a tube of iron under the tub that was connected to a fire. In the Edo era, the public bath was mixed bathing, meaning men and women could bathe together. However, the inside of zakuroguchi was dark because there were no lights, so many problems occurred involving sex. This type of problem was not easily reformed, so between 1841 and 1843 there was a severe crackdown. After that, many public baths changed the rules. They put a wall in the center of the bathtub to separate the genders, and they made separate times for men and women to take a bath. Other public baths became single-sex.

Famous public baths and hot springs in Kyoto

Now, let’s look at some famous public baths and hot springs in Kyoto. First of all, the famous hot spring in Kyoto is Arashiyama Hot Spring. You can see the famous Togetsu Bridge and the beautiful views of Arashiyama from the outdoor hot spring. Also, there are various kinds of hot springs and many sightseeing spots around there. A famous public bath in Kyoto is Nishikiyu which is located very close to the Nishiki market located in the center of Kyoto City. This is very popular among tourists. The building is large, and it’s retro style takes you back in time. In Nishiki, there are also various events, such as live music, rakugo (a short Japanese comedy story), and places to buy kimonos and yukatas cheaply. As well as the public bath, you can enjoy the local charm and lively atmosphere around Nishiki.

Characteristics of Kyoto’s public baths

Currently, there are about 150 public baths in Kyoto. Many places use traditional building methods and are set in kyomachiya, which are traditionally built townhouses. Kyoto’s public baths have three features.

  1. Tile pictures

When you imagine the Japanese public bath, I think you will imagine a Mt.Fuji picture above the tub. Kyoto’s public baths are decorated with various tile pictures. In addition to the main bath, you can also see tile pictures attached to the upper parts of the dressing rooms. These tile artworks are the original style of Kyoto’s public baths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tile picture of Mt.Fuji

  1. Groundwater

Public baths in Kyoto have a well, so using groundwater is another major feature. Kyoto is blessed with good water.

  1. Noren shop curtains

These shop curtains can be seen hanging at the entrance of shops and public baths in Japan. There are three styles of shop curtains: Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo. The Kyoto style is divided into three, and it has an extended length with a break in the middle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noren

As you can see, public baths have a long history and original culture, and there are also the differences between public baths and hot springs. However, what they have in common is that they can both relieve tiredness, so both types of bathing places can be a great way to relax and experience a Japanese tradition.

 

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Kyoto bakery

 

Kyoto is said to have the highest bread consumption in Japan. Kyoto has many bakeries and the consumption is the best in Japan. It is also known that there are many delicious bakeries. These are some recommended bakeries.

 

Le Petit Mech

The most popular bakery in Kyoto is “Le Petit Mech.” It is a bakery with a nice look like a bakery on

France’s street corner “Le Petit Mech.” The appearance is red, and local people have nicknames it “red mech.” It is a popular, delicious and tasty bakery shop. The shop is crowded with customers all the time. The bread is made by the owner, who was trained in France. French pastries are acclaimed around the world.

Business days are Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays. The inside of the shop is fancy, and decorated with many French images. French movie posters are on the walls, along with messages from customers from all over the world. There is an eat-in space with red gingham check tablecloth, and it is crowded with lots of people from early in the morning. Either with coffee or French beer, you can have delicious bread. The most popular pastry at Le Petite Mech is “Bacon Shrimp” which includes bacon, shrimp and black pepper.  This is so simple, but so popular in this bakery.

Next is baguette. This bread is made with a low temperature, so the smell is very good with a crisp exterior.

This bread costs 262 yen and it is 60 cm in length.

Address

Kyoto City Kyoto-shi Kamigyo-ku Imadegawa-ku Oomiya Nishi Ima 159 Roh Minami Kitaokicho

To go to this bakery, you take a bus [203] and get [go to Nishikibayashisyakomae] bus and get off at Imadegawaoomiya bus stop. Then, continue 140m on foot.

 

Grandieres Oike

A long-established Kyoto store is “Grandieres Oike shop”.

“Grandieres Oike shop” has a chic, calm and nice appearance. It is a long-established bakery which has been beloved in Kyoto since long ago. While taking over the old taste, it continues to make more delicious bread every day.

Various types of sandwiches are popular. This shop in the business area has many breads and good for lunch. For example, a burger with plenty of ingredients. You can also eat the bread you bought on the outside terrace. There are many kinds of delicious breads. The variety of breads is said to be the best in Kyoto. The most popular bread is “panini shrimp & avocado” for ¥460. Shrimp, avocado, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and basil sauce are included.

Bagels are also popular. They have a very nice scent and the  texture is wonderful. It is recommended to use the bagels for sandwiches.

 

Address

Kyoto Prefecture Kyoto City Nakagyo-ku Teramachi Oike Shimuru Ueonbonnji-mae cho 480-2 1F

To get to this bakery, you take the subway Karasuma line, and get off at the Kyoutoshiyakushomae station. From this station, 2 minutes on foot.

 

Tamakitei

Another popular bakery is Tamakitei. This bakery is in Uji.

 

Inside the shop is filled with the fragrance of freshly baked bread. It looks like delicious bread. There are lots of bread with individuality and impact. Every one seems to be really tasty. Although I don’t usually have such strong urges about food, in this shop I want to eat everything. One of the popular breads of the shop is “Panshue”. This is bread baked with a lot of bacon and potatoes. The taste of pepper, garlic butter, and parsley is makes it a flavorful meal. A fragrant, tasty baguette is another attractive specialty. Even though it has a deep taste, there is lightness, and when you start eating you won’t feel like stopping until the bread is consumed.

Also, the “cream croissant” is so delicious. It costs 230 yen. It has handcrafted custard and cream. This bread is campagne, so it is very delicious. This bakery is the only one that uses these ingredients.  In addition, this bakery has a refrigerated corner. There is bread available only at this refrigeration corner.  There are many breads with unique names such as Kanyane (クニャーネ), Ujibashi Dori, and Tan Tan France.  Kanyane has a very good texture. Ujigashi dori smells of tea. Tan tan France uses black beans. so, you can feel the taste of Japan. Please do try it once.

 

 

〒611-0011Kyoto Prefecture Uji-shi Gokenjo Hirano 57-14

to get this bakery, you take JR Nara line and get off at the Oubaku station. From this station, the bakery is 5 minutes on foot.

 

These three bakeries are so popular, but in Kyoto there are other delicious bakeries. When you visit Kyoto, please try to go to bakeries.

 

 

Ichijoji Ramen

ICHIJOJI RAMEN

WHAT IS ICHIJOJI RAMEN?

On the north side of the intersection of Higashi Odori and Kitaoji Dori, there is an area where ramen shops are gathered so that this area is called ramen highway in the fierce ramen battlefield “ichijoji” in Kyoto.

This time we will introduce 3 popular noodle shops recommended especially among ramen shops in such “Ichijoji”street.

 

GOKKEI RAMEN

The first restaurant is “Gokkei”. Rich soup is a popular dish in this restaurant.

This ramen shop’s menu includes “tori daku”, “aka daku” and “kuro daku”. Some people add toppings such as chashu [grilled pork] Plus 100 yen to make noodles flourish.

Tori Daku

This ramen is chicken-based ramen, it features a rich thick soup. The impression is heavy, but there is no persistence, so you can eat it with a plate dish. This ramen becomes addictive once you eat it.

Aka Daku

This is ramen sprinkled with chilli on the whole bowl. Under the red peppers is a thick soup, so if you taste it with chili pepper it is not as hot as it looks. Rich in noodles, rich soup and chilli are mingled together.

Kuro Daku

“Kuro daku” is ramen served with oil in it. It is ramen with scorched garlic for flavor, the aroma stimulating the appetite before eating. After finishing the ramen noodles, we eat rice in the remaining soup. If you would like to eat soup without leaving even a drop, please eat this way.

Store information

■ Store name: Gokkei Ramen

■ Nearest station: 5 minutes on foot from “Ichijoji Temple” station[Eizan-honsen line]

■ Address: 29-7 Nishikigawarahara-cho, Sokyoku-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto Prefecture

■ Phone number: 075-711-3133

■ Business hours: 11: 30 ~ 22: 00

* Business closes as soon as the soup runs out

■ Closed holiday: Monday

■ Smoking: Completely non-smoking

 

AKIHIDE

The next restaurant is “Akihide.” Informations about when this restaurant is opened is uploaded on Twitter about 30 minutes before opening. This means that the basic day is closed. You cannot go to a restaurant without watching Twitter information. There are always lined up in front of this restaurant on weekdays. In order not to bother the neighbors, please take care when lined up. In this restaurant, there are only 9 seats in the counter. The way to order ramen is only using vending machine.

This restaurant has regular size ramen(750 yen) and large size rmen(900 yen). You can also choose toppings such as seasoned eggs and garlic. Since rice is also prepared from 60 yen, rice is added to the ramen soup after eating up.

Store information

■ Store name: Ramen or Akihide (Akihide)

■ Nearest station: About 4 minutes on foot from the “Ichijoji Temple station”[Eizan-honsen line]

■ Address: 5-2 Kitakamaru-machi, Ikkyo-ji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

■ Telephone number: None

■ Business Hours: Only during the time period posted on Twitter

■ Closed holiday: irregular holiday

■ Smoking: Completely non-smoking

 

TAKAYASU

“Takayasu” is 4 minutes on foot from the “Ichi-ji” station. The shopkeeper who opened in Takano-Tamaoka Town moved to Ichijoji in March of 2006. There are many female customers who have a fashionable appearance. It is always crowded. There are risks if you want to enjoy ramen without being lined up in row long time. The stock, which simmered for over 20 hours is made of pig bones and is creamy and rich in taste without any bad smell. You can also committed not to use vegetables to sweeten only with bones. Therefore, you can feel the taste of pork straight.

The noodles are tangled firmly in the soup. The whole balance of soup, noodles is well balanced. It is easy to try even those who do not like pig bones, and it is also attractive to enjoy a casual taste.

Store information

■ Store name: Chinese noodle Takayasu

■ Nearest station: 4 minutes on foot from “Ichijoji Temple”[Eizan-honsen line]

■ Address: 10 Kazuki-ku, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto Prefecture 10

■ Phone number: 075-721-4878

■ Business hours: [Monday – Friday] 12: 00-16: 00, 18: 00-23: 00

[Saturday, Sunday and public holidays] 12: 00 ~ 23: 00

■ Closed holiday: irregular holiday

■ Smoking: Completely non-smoking

 

How did ramen come to be established at Ichijoji? It was a popular area and any shop could take a chance on starting a business there.  When visiting Kyoto, please try ramen, as well as traditional Japanese food

Kyo-Ningyo

by Mai Takezawa, Sayaka Terasaki, and Kanako Wakamatsu

Introduction

In Japan, there are some traditional Japanese dolls called Nihon-Ningyo. It is a generic name of dolls which are wearing Japanese-style clothing and dressing Japanese hair made in Japan. One of Nihon-Ningyo is Kyo-Ningyo, which is made in Kyoto. This doll is so interesting. Most Japanese, especially Kyoto people, take good care of it and feel proud to have it.  Today we will introduce one of the traditional Japanese dolls, Kyo-Ningyo. After introducing the doll, we would like to tell some of its history, how it is made that the different kinds of Kyo-Ningyo that are produced.

Kyo-Ningyo

What is Kyo-Ningyo?

What is Kyo-Ningyo? It’s different from Hina-Ningyo. However, they are bothe the same kind of Japanese doll. Compared with Hina-Ningyo, which is shown only in March, most Japanese people, especially Kyoto people, who have a child display Kyo-Ningyo in their house all through the year. It is a kind of Japanese doll called Nihon-Ningyo and it’s called treasure of doll in Kyoto. It has a white face, long and narrow eyes and bobbed hair, and is wearing a kimono which is made from Nishijin-ori, fabric that was developed in Kyoto. It demands detailed work without compromise to make. Each part, like head, hair, trunk, arms and legs, is made separately and then finally synthesized from many parts into a whole doll. That’s why it takes much skill to make.  The dolls are hand made by skilled craftspeople and they cost a fair bit. Japanese people use these dolls to pray for protection against ill-fortune, especially around their child. The doll can represent boys and girls to undertake their position as a scapegoat and is believed to safeguard their child’s health.

By way of a general description, Kyo-Ningyo is about 50~100 centimeters high. In fact, the height of these dolls won’t be expressed in centimeters, but express in  “ban” or “gou” (Japanese words meaning number), which is a unit that indicates each doll’s size. It is expressed like “Kyo-12” or “Kyo-11 ban”. The size of doll is distributed from number from Kyo-12 ban to Kyo-7 ban. We can find which size is bigger clearly by idea which we explain from now. For example, Kyo-11 ban is same size as elevent part of Japanese height and Kyo-10 ban is same size as tenth part of Japanese height. So, you can find easily Kyo-10ban is bigger.

History of Kyo-Ningyo

The origin of Kyo-Ningyo goes back to the Nara Era (710 – 784) or perhaps an even older time. In ancient times, most traditional dolls, such as Haniwa and Dogu were made as human’s talisman. It is considered those dolls would shoulder human’s injury and ill-fortunre. Sometimes these dolls are found intermitted under the ground instead of humans. It is gradually changed from talisman to doll, and at this point the history of Kyo-Ningyo has begun. In the Heian Era (794 – 1185), playing with dolls was a trend among the aristocratic children. That doll was the origin of Hina-Ningyo. In the Edo era (1603 – 1868), the center of government was moved to Edo, but the center of doll making was still in Kyoto. At that time, many famous puppeteers were turned out from Kyoto. It is said that the form of Kyo-Ningyo was born in the Edo era. Kyo-Ningyo was famous for a tribute gift.

How to make Kyo-Ningyo

The operation process of Kyo-Ningyo was divided into small section, such as head, hair, arms and legs and so on. There is a specialist for making each section.

1. The process starts from the head section. The craftsman paints exclusive glue on doll’s head, then incises eyes, puts rouge on and draws eyebrows.

2. Another craftsman immerses the doll’s hair along a guide line. After that, he puts up doll’s hair and puts on the hair slide.

3. Finishing the head section, the craftsman moves on to body section. By using a knife, he whittles a piece of wood into a doll.

4. The other craftsman makes essential clothing and accessories for the dolls. For example, fan, bow, wardrobe and so on.

5. The costume for Kyo-Ningyo is also made by craftsman. Nishijin-Ori is often used for costume cloth.

The most famous dollmakers impart their skills only to their apprentices.  In this way, the doll-making skills are kept secret from outsiders. This is why Kyo-Ningyo was designated as a traditional handwork by the Ministry of Economy and Industry.

Kinds of Kyo-Ningyo

There are a lot of kinds of Kyo-Ningyo. We will introduce 3 kinds of them, Fushimi Ningyo, Gosho Ningyo, and Sekku Ningyo.

・Fushimi Ningyo

First, Fushimi Ningyo is a clay doll and the oldest folk toy. It was sold in front of the gate of Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine that is one of the very famous tourist attractions in Kyoto from Aduchi-Momoyma Era (1503~1603). In Hatsu-uma (that refers to the first day of the horse in February in Japan), people visit and pray at the shrine, after that, buy the doll. They enshrine it on the Kamidana that is a household Shinto altar with a charm against fires. In the end of Edo period, it was the most popular doll among Japanese people. There are about 90 kinds of clay doll now, and all of them are modeled after Fushimi Ningyo.

・Gosho Ningyo

Second is Gosho Ningyo. In the old times, the Imperial court gave the doll to the Daimyo (a feudal lord) in return for their dedicating. It was made for displaying in the middle of the Edo period, and displayed for celebrations such as marriage or childbirth. Gosho Ningyo is a plump children doll and has pure white skin. These are the greatest features of Gosho Ningyo.

Gosho-Ningyo

・Sekku Ningyo

Finally, Sekku Ningyo, which is the most familiar to Japanese people. “Sekku” means a seasonal festival in Japanese, for example, in Japan there are the doll festival in March, and children’s day in May. At this season, Japanese people display Sekku Ningyo. This contains a wish for healthy growth to their children.

Sekku-Ningyo

 

Conclusion

Kyo-Ningyo has been made since earlier than the Nara Era (A.D. 710) and has a lot of history.  After the capital city of Japan was moved from Kyoto to Edo that is called Tokyo now, Kyoto remained famous for making dolls and is still the center of doll-making now. and also Kyo-Ningyo was designated to as a traditional handwork by the Ministry of Economy and Industry. Japanese people display Kyo-Ningyo in their houses or give it to someone to pray their children’s healthy growth. We recommend you to look at or buy Kyo-Ningyo for a souvenir. The total cost of the doll is different depending on the size, the cheapest one is about 50,000 yen and an expensive one is about 250,000 yen or more expensive. You will definitely find Kyo-Ningyo that you can like.

Blanketed by Night in Gion

By Takumi Abe

 

Gion

When you walk in the Gion district of Kyoto, you have time-traveled back into the olden days of Japan. You will see traditional style house alsos and people wearing kimono. You can enjoy seeing not only such scenery, but you can enjoy Japanese foods such as matcha green tea, Japanese sake or sukiyaki. A river along one street in Gion is lined with stones and many willows, giving you a feeling of exoticism. After the sun goes down, you will be fascinated by the new mood of Gion. It has a relaxed atmosphere. laughter emerges from the old-style houses. I decided to record this special night mood through photographs.

 

The History of Gion

Gion was created in the late 1600s and prospered as a town that had developed near the gate of Yasaka Shrine. At this time, many beautiful women stood in front of the stores to attract customers. In the Meji period, from 1868-1912, the Gion area was expanded. Furthermore, Many famous Japanese writers loved Gion in this period. Eventually, Gion changed into the amusement and nightlife district it is now. Now, the northern area of Gion sparkles with bright neon lights. In the southern part of Gion, there is soft lighting and it is very quiet.

 

Gion Night Scenery

  • Yasaka Shrine

 

Yasaka Shrine

This shrine is the symbol of Gion, which extends out west from its base. This area prospered from people who came to worship at this shrine. Now, the gate is lit up every night.

 

  • Northern Gion

Northern Gion

In northern Gion, there are bars, snack bars and nightclubs. Many people go there to enjoy drinking and the nightlife. On Friday night, lots of taxis are coming and going.

 

  • Gion-shinbashi

 

Gion shinbashi

In northern Gion, glittering neon signs illuminate the streets. However, if you continue to walk north out the the more lively streets, there is an old Japanese-style district that has a quiet atmosphere. This area’s streets are covered with stones. You can enjoy the atmosphere and sophisticated Japanese restaurants.

 

  • Shijo Boulevard

 

Shijo

The Shijo Boulevard is the main busy street in Kyoto and in Gion. There are many people here for shopping, commuting, dining and drinking, going back home or just out walking. Shopping is the biggest reason that people come to Shijo, because there are so many different and attractive stores there.

 

  • Snowy Downtown

 

Snowy Downtown

When January arrives, it brings snow to Kyoto. The citiscape is changed by snow. People might think that temples or shrines covered with snow are beautiful, but the collaboration between snow and Gion is even more magical. You can see that old houses and streets are dressed in new snow.

 

  • Hanami-koji

 

Hanami koji

Hanami-koji is the main street of southern Gion. Red Japanese lanterns have images of dumplings printed on them. Gion was started with dumpling and green tea shops. In Japan, drinking Japanese tea while eating a dumpling is one of our favorite customs.

 

  • Rainy Gion

 

Raining in Gion

After a rain in Gion, the wet streets reflect the lights brilliantly. Those lights are white, red or brown. The pitter-patter of rain and the sound of footsteps fill the air.

 

  • Kennin-ji Temple

 

Kennin-ji temple

If you walk further south on Hanami-koji Street, you will see the traditional gate of Kennin-ji temple, Kyoto’s first Zen temple. You can experience the culture of Zen (禅) here and see beautiful fusuma and byobu paitnings and a Japanese garden.

 

  • The traditional pagoda

 

Yasakanoto

Yasaka-no-to is a three-story pagoda between Gion and Kiyomizu Temple. The presence of this pagoda is very photogenic. This is one of Kyoto’s most famous places, so many people come here and see it. At night, this area is so silent that you can hear your own footsteps and breathing.

 

  • Sakura

 

Sakura

Maruyama park stetches out in back of Yasaka Shrine. This park is famous for its cherry blossoms and there is one big cherry tree at its center. Regardless of age or sex, many people are attracted by this famous tree.

 

  • Under the trees

 

Enjoy Hanami

Many people enjoy viewing cherry blossoms with good food and alcohol. When people are under the trees, they feel delight. This is one way to have fun at night in Gion..

 

The Atmosphere of Gion

 

Gion is famous as a traditional Japanese entertainment district. However, the old structures coexist with modern bars and concrete buildings. So this area looks a little bit messy, but in fact, the long history of Gion remains intact. The area that has a long history is attracting many more people these days and they enjoy the nighttime with alcohol. It is good that people can enjoy and go a little crazy even in front of the holy shrine. When night comes, most people go to sleep at their hotel or guesthouse. If you have time or are not able to sleep, I recommend you go to Gion at night. Gion then has a bustling and buzzing face in addition to quiet and calm face along the river. You can feel this original atmosphere. Gion is both loud and quiet.