Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art

March 27, 2020

by Yuki Ifuku and Yumeka Goto

The Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art is the one of the most historical buildings and iconic places in Kyoto City. In March 2020; however, it is going to change its name to the Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art, and the museum is going to be repaired, and the old building is going to be demolished. This museum is one of the public museums representing Kyoto Prefecture (Kyoto Province), located in Okazaki Park in Kyoto. The Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art was the oldest public museum in Japan and this museum represented the imperial crown style. For these reasons, it is very important, and we can feel the history of Kyoto.

The History of The Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art

The Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art opened in 1933; however, it started making building plans to celebrate the enthronement ceremony of the Emperor Showa at the Kyoto Imperial Palace in 1928, so it was initially called the Showa Imperial Coronation Art Museum of Kyoto. Then the name was changed to The Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art in 1952. It is the second public museum in Japan after the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. This building style was called “imperial crown style”. This eastern and Japanese eclectic architectural style started in Japan in the 1930s. It is identified by established Japanese styles of roofs on top of a Western style of building. The main building remains even after being repaired. This museum also shares as a rental hall, and they built an annex to hold more exhibitions. The main exhibitions are permanent collections, various public exhibitions, and college graduation exhibitions. Also, this museum holds a large-scale exhibition that is organized by a newspaper company. As a museum, it has many collections. For example, there are about 3200 collections mainly from 1868, and thereafter, to the 1990s, of Japanese paintings, Western paintings, and arts and crafts.

The New Museum of Art: The Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art

 The Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art will be renewed and reopened on March 21st, 2020. It was designed by Jun Aoki, an architect and the new museum director. Focusing on modern art of Kyoto, it stores about 3600 different kinds of art such as traditional Japanese paintings, Western paintings, sculptures and traditional crafts. Specifically, there are four significant changes. First, Jun Aoki repaired some of the old parts and sections of the museum. Second, he exhibited a range and diversity of art. Third, he expanded the space for exhibitions. Lastly, there are many other notable points. He also created “Kyocera Square”. This area functions as an exhibition stage; for example, holding various kinds of events. Also, people will now enter the museum through this area. Traditionally, people entered through the main door, but the entrance method will change. Visitors will pass through the new entrance, which is made of glass. The main building was repaired and was left the same as much as possible and the functionality of the facility was updated. Also, Mr. Aoki built a new building to exhibit modern art called the Higashiyama Cube. The museum also has additional facilities; for example, a café called Enfuse and a shop called Art Lab Kyoto. In addition, the number of photographs allowed in the museum will increase and there will be more visitors who are likely to come. Moreover, you will be able to rent an exhibition space in the new museum for parties, workshops and meetings.

Exhibition Schedule in 2020

・「Art of Kyoto, Dream of 250 years」(March 21st –December 6th) ・「RURI NO JYOUDO」in Higashiyama Cube (March 21st-June 14th) ・「The Doraemon Exhibition Kyoto 2020」(July 4th-August 30th) ・「 ANDY WARHOL KYOTO/Andy・Warhol・Kyoto」(September 19th-January 3rd, 2021)

Conclusion

The Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art is known as a national gallery that is representative of the Kansai area in Japan, and it has a long history. In the future, it will continue to develop and to change with the times. Recently, even though most students don’t seem to go to this museum, it is worth taking a visit there. Also, the Tokyo Olympics will be held in 2020, and many foreigners will come to Japan, and to Kyoto, so the museum will welcome a growing number of visitors more than ever.

Address of the Kyoto City Kyocera Museum of Art

124, Okazaki Saishiyou Jichou Saikyou Ku, Kyoto

Access

Train→It takes 8 minutes from the Tozai Subway Line

Bus→ City Bus Routes 5, 100, 110 from Kyoto Station

City Bus Routes 5, 46 from Kyoto Kawaramachi Station

City Bus Route 5 from Sanjo Station

Opening Time:

10:00〜18:00

Closed Days:

Every Monday (Open Holidays)

Year-End and New Year (December 28th to January 2nd)

Admission Fee

Adults: 1500 yen

University/High school students: 1100 yen

Children below Junior high school: free

TEL: 075-761-0444  

Maiko

by Arisa Yamauchi, Haruki Ishimoto and Aki Kawashima

Introduction

Maiko

A Maiko is a girl who trains as a Geiko. To become a Maiko, people have to be 14 years old, and they must have Japanese nationality. To train as a Geiko, Maiko have to live in Okiya (see below) and do a lot of hard training on performance and behavior. Maiko is one of the most famous cultures of Kyoto and also one of the oldest Japanese traditions, so we have to have pride in this tradition.

Gion Okiya
an Okiya in Gion, Kyoto, JAPAN

History of Maiko

Tea Room

  Maiko is a girl whose job is to add entertainment at a banquet hall and tea ceremony for the performing arts such as dance. She is also called a geisha’s apprentice who is in the training stage. About 300 years ago, the tea ceremony in a teahouse, which served tea to those who visited Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto during the Edo period (1603-1868), was originated. At first, tea and dumplings were served but eventually sake and other dishes were added. Maiko danced there. Maiko live in a place called Okiya (as mentioned above). It is mainly for living, and they train as a Maiko from a woman trainer. Maiko are usually just 15 or 16 years old, and after graduating from junior high school, the trainer, the “mother”, takes care of their life as their guardian. In 2014, Maiko were registered as an intangible cultural heritage. It is one kind of Japanese culture. There is also a Geiko. A Geiko does the same job as Maiko. However, they differ from Maiko as they are paid money and can live independently. A Maiko has a 20-year old age limit, but a Geiko can last a lifetime.

Daily Schedule

 Maiko usually wake up at 8am every day. They get ready and head for their dance performance to perform at a tea ceremony or banquet hall, to play the shamisen (like a guitar), and have song lessons. Rehearsals are held at the Kaburenjo, which is a type of Maiko school. Recently, the number of foreign tourists visiting Kyoto has increased, so English lessons have been introduced to Maiko so that foreign customers can communicate with them. After their morning lessons, they return to their Okiya and have lunch. In the afternoon, they continue to practice, and on days when there are no lessons, they practice in a bar or relax a little. Then they start preparing for their night job in a teahouse. In the beginning, when Maiko started, their makeup took more than an hour to complete, but nowadays it takes them about 40 minutes. Then they head to their night work where customers are waiting for them. In a tatami room, they perform dances and play games. A tatami is a mat made of straw and is a kind of traditional flooring in Japan. After finishing all their tea ceremonies, they return to their Okiya around 1 o’clock in the morning, and they usually go to bed around 2 o’clock.

Troublesome Behavior for Maiko by Tourists

Gion
Maiko Paparzzi

 Recently, the number of tourists visiting Kyoto is increasing, and they are unable to keep their manners. For example, in Gion, one of the most famous areas in Kyoto, it has a more serious problem. We will talk about the problem the Maiko have in Gion. First, we interviewed a woman who was a Maiko. She experienced nuisances by tourists as well. For instance, they wanted to take photos with her (with Maiko), and then they took her hair pin (a Maiko’s hair pin), and she was late for her job because she was surrounded by a lot of tourists from overseas. Also, the woman told us some more examples. She told us that to stop these kinds of rude behavior, the government made signs, hired security guards and explained manners in Kyoto by handing out pamphlets. However, despite these rules, more and more people are not following them. In addition, some tourists enter private areas. As a result, these kinds of behavior are annoying the Maiko, and the local residents, too. Therefore, it was banned to take photos on private roads in Kyoto. In addition, shooting videos of Gion and Maiko by tourists’ cameras has had a bad influence on the traffic. A plan was proposed to solve this problem. In the southern part of Gion-Cho in the Higashiyama area (the east side of Kyoto), unauthorized photography on private roads is prohibited. It is not legally binding, but you will get a “fine” and if you take a photo on private roads, you will be charged without exception. The bill is written in Japanese, English and Chinese. “No photography on private roads” is written, and for unauthorized photography, you will be charged 10,000 yen (about $100 US). Tourists should know that people (residents) live in Gion, too, so they have to know about this problem; thus, we then hope they enjoy Kyoto sightseeing and enjoy learning about Maiko!

Conclusion

 At first glance, being a Maiko looks like a beautiful job; however, it’s quite a hard occupation. Maiko go back and forth between many tea houses every day. They need to go to each workplace for two hours, so they return home late. Therefore, they get about 5 to 6 hours of sleep each night on average. In addition, it takes a long time in the morning for them to get ready because a newcomer Maiko; for example, can not get dressed up in a kimono (please look at the photo), can not set up their traditional Maiko-Japanese hair style, and can not put on their make up quickly. In addition, due to the increased number of foreign tourists in Kyoto, a lot of tourists chase Maiko and Geiko to take pictures. These situations are becoming a serious problem year by year. In fact, Maiko have a lot of stress because of tourists behavior. For example, tourists speak to them, take unauthorized photos, touch them, and so on. These bad manners have been called, “Maiko Paparazzi (see photo above).” Moreover, we also heard incredible stories about bad manners for Maiko such as some people put cigarettes in Maiko’s sleeves. For these reasons, some tourists behavior is dangerous for Maiko. We want to say that they are not a costume but a human, so we should definitely not bother them. Additionally, we should learn information about Maiko; for instance, that one of Maiko’s manners is they cannot talk while they are walking. So, if you see Maiko on the road, you should not talk to them. This is the reality of the Maiko. According to the Kinki Regional Development Bureau they will send information to tourists via smartphones about the manners to follow about Maiko and Geiko. Additionally, they have decided to install signboards to give a heads-up to tourists about them. We have to protect the Maiko and Geiko and pay attention to them.

Maiko San, Gion, Kyoto / 舞子さん
a Maiko in a kimono in Gion

The Shinsengumi

by Shiori Azuma & Mio Sahashi

What is the Shinsengumi?

Toshizo Hijikata
Bushi

The Shinsengumi was like a police group (1863-1869). They had kept Kyoto safe and protected the general who was Ieyasu Tokugawa. He was a leader of the Tokugawa government, now similar to a president or a prime minister. The group was made by the Tokugawa government in 1863. The Shinsengumi had worked for 6 years. About 200 people who were called Bushi (Bushi had a Japanese sword and were one of the social positions like curt nobles from the 10th century to the 19th century) belonged to the Shinsengumi. At that time, in Japan, there were clearly social positions like police, and the Bushi had higher positions than citizens. The Shinsengumi leader was Isami Kondo, and he was a handsome man. He was killed by the government when he was 35 years old. Even now, he is a famous person in Japan. Toshizo Hijikata was a sub- leader of the Shinsengumi, and he was a very strict person, so many members of the Shinsengumi were afraid of him. He made many rules. For example, if anyone broke his rules, he commanded the people to Seppuku. Seppuku means cutting your stomach open by yourself. This Seppuku system was a kind of death penalty in Japan from 998 to 1873. Now, in Japan, we don’t have a Seppuku system though. So, the main reasons people died was because of Seppuku. In this article we are going to talk about the supervision at Sumiya (a luxury restaurant) by the Shinsengumi and how the Shinsengumi was established at Mibu temple.

Supervision at Sumiya by the Shinsengumi

Sumiya
Inside of Sumiya

Sumiya was a luxury restaurant for curt nobles in Shimabara, Kyoto, and it was open from 1853 to 1985. At that time, Sumiya was a very popular restaurant in Kyoto. People invited Geiko-San (Geiko-San are traditional Japanese women who treat guests with dance or music at a party) to Sumiya and secret meetings were open for important politics. It was close to a military station, which was built to protect people who earned money to shut down the Tokugawa government. Normally, when people went to Sumiya, they needed to leave their sword at the entrance, but the Shinsengumi could take their sword as supervision even inside. When the Shinsengumi fought with someone who behaved rudely, one of the Shinsengumi made a scratch on the wall with their sword on the first floor. Actually, nobody knows who made the scratches on the wall, but some theories remain. One of the theories was made by Serizawa Kamo. He was a member of the Shinsengumi, and he was the first leader of the Shinsengumi before Isami Kondo. He liked to drink alcohol and had a bad habit when he was drunk. That’s why there is a theory that he may have made a scratch on the wall with his sword. The room on the first floor was called, “matsu no ma”. It was the biggest room in Sumiya, but in 1925, part of it burned down. Today, Sumiya is a museum of ‘Omotenashi’. It means to treat customers with hospitality, entertainment and service. Sumiya is open to the public, so we can see the inside and also the sword cuts. The appearance of the restaurant has not changed from before. Not only the appearance, but also the inside is good. In 1952, this building was chosen as an important cultural property in Japan.

A scrach on the wall with a sword

How to get to Sumiya

From Kyoto station, take Kyoto City Bus No.206 and get off at the Shimabara-Guchi stop. You can see it in front of you.

The Shinsengumi was Established at Mibu Temple

Mibu Temple
The grave of Toshizo Hijikata and Isami Kondo
The statue of Isami Kondo

The Shinsengumi was established at Mibu Temple in 1863. Three houses that were close to Mibu Temple became military stations (Yagi House, Maekawa House, and Nanbu House) for the Shinsengumi. In the end of the Edo period (1793-1868), the base of the Shinsengumi was the Yagi House. The Shinsengumi were training about using cannons and skills for protecting themselves and killing enemies inside of Mibu Temple. Because of the Shinsengumi’s training, visitors to Mibu Temple were decreasing at that time. On the other hand, there were good things that happened at Mibu Temple. For example, Soji Okita, who was the first corps leader, was the most famous member of the Shinsengumi even now in Japan, even though he died long ago. He played with children inside Mibu Temple. This was a good thing for the people. In 1863, Kamo Serizawa, who was another member of the Shinsengumi, was killed by Toshizo Hijikata and Soji Okita and more at Yagi House. Kamo Serizawa was a trouble maker, and he had bad behavior due to alcohol. So, he made a lot of problems for people. He was killed after he came back to Yagi House from Sumiya. Also, at Mibu Temple, there is a grave of the eleven members of the Shinsengumi called Mibuzuka. And there is a statue of Isami Kondo (the leader of the Shinsengumi). If you want to see the grave, you can see it, and you can also see two of the military stations (Yagi House and Maekawa House). People who live around Mibu temple now want to protect the military stations. So, they are working hard to keep the temple in good condition for later generations.

How to Get to Mibu Temple

From Kyoto station, take Kyoto City Bus No.26 or No.28 and get off at Mibudera-Michi. It takes 1 to 2 minutes on foot.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Shinsengumi just wanted to protect the Tokugawa government and their general. They also had strong power, but some of them were wrong to use this power. So, some of them were killed by the Shinsengumi. We wrote about 2 places which are connected to the Shinsengumi. The first place is Sumiya which was a luxury restaurant. The Shinsengumi went there often because military stations were close to Sumiya. The second place is Mibu Temple where the Shinsengumi was established. Mibu temple and the Shinsengumi were deeply connected. Japanese people were moved by the Shinsengumi; thus, in Japan, there are many animation (e.g., Hakuoki, Rurouni-Kenshin), movies, novels, and manga about the Shinsengumi.

Walden Woods Kyoto

 by Koki Suzuki, Hirofumi Kawashima, and Masaya Soju

 Currently there are various cafes in Kyoto such as fashionable cafes, old-fashioned cafes, and animal cafes. Among these various cafes, we would like to introduce a Kyoto cafe that is very popular on Instagram. Its name is Walden Woods Kyoto. In this article, we will write about the history of this cafe, why it became popular, and the impressions we got when we actually went there. Those interested in a cutting-edge cafe in Japan will enjoy reading this article.

History

coffee machine and 1st floor

 On December 14, 2017, “Walden Woods Kyoto” opened near Higashi Honganji Temple in Kyoto. “Walden Woods Kyoto” is a renovated Western-style house which was built in 1912 and made into a cafe. For example, there are four windows, which express the image of a Western-style building. The building facing the south is unique to Kyoto, which was built on a grid, and it has bright sunlight that illuminates the white outer walls of the café. This is the original Walden camouflage pattern making it feel like a forest. This café was made by Seiichiro Shimamura and Yuji Nishimura. They are professionals in the clothing and restaurant industry. The café also uses a vintage coffee roasting machine. This coffee machine was purchased in Europe from a restored 1966 coffee roasting machine. It was made by Probat. This company was in business 150 years ago, and this coffee roasting machine is a coffee roasting machine that can bake coffee beans with the best flavor. So, you can buy coffee that tastes like it’s from in 1870. Lamps, tableware, trays, etc., which are images of nature, and French vintage and old military items, are also used in the cafe.. This cafés images are of the Walden forest. You can feel freedom and fun when you visit the cafe. So, you can feel various emotions. If you are tired, this café can heal you. We want you to feel freedom yourself in this café.

Why Walden Woods in Kyoto Has Become Popular

2nd floor

 First, the inside view of the cafe is very simple. There are cash registers and coffee machines on the first floor. There are no chairs or desks on the eat-in floor (2F). There is only a lantern and a window lined up with white space and staircases. Sunlight comes in on a sunny day. The light of the lantern gives a stylish atmosphere at night, and the exterior walls, floors, walls, counters are all white. Because of this floor, the café’s popularity has spread to various people such as students and young people on Instagram. And with the aim of “insta bae” (= Instagrammable), more customers have come to Walden Woods Kyoto. This cafe also has a lot of original items and vintage miscellaneous goods. For example, T-shirts, postcards, candles, mugs, etc. Some customers are looking for these kinds of original items. It also sells coffee beans, so you can enjoy the taste of this cafe at home. Second, we went to this café, and the atmosphere in the cafe was very good. This cafe also sells seasonal drinks, and the menu changes every season. This is one of the reasons why customers can go there without feeling bored, and that is why this cafe has become popular. In addition, the owner is good at latte art. So, customers can also enjoy latte art. And coffee is also roasted in the cafe. Finally, it was very impressive when the staff members said, “Have a good day!” when we left the cafe. Therefore, you can leave this cafe comfortably and feeling satisfied. For these reasons, we realized that this cafe has become more popular, and we think that many customers will continue to come to this cafe, not only from Japan, but also from foreign countries. We want people to visit this cafe.

Impressions 

Appearance of the cafe

First, you can see that the exterior and interior is pure white and there is also a homemade brewing machine in the cafe, so you can enjoy wonderful coffee. When we ordered our drink on the first floor, we went up to the space on the second floor. All of the decorations reminded us of a grand mountain.In fact, it was a completely different space from general cafes. There is a tree in the middle, and there is a seat along the wall surrounding the tree. The customers are free to choose their seats and relax.

Second, we ordered a cafe latte, and we did some latte art, which makes the cafe feel even more stylish. In this way, you can enjoy reading while having tea or coffee in the afternoon, which is very nice. Furthermore, the second floor looks very wide, so if you come with your sons or daughters, your children are able to run around. Because we are acquainted with the owner of Walden Woods Kyoto, we were able to talk to him. Then we heard about the house, and he told us it was originally a Western-style house in the Taisho era (1912~1926). Specifically, it was mostly used in 1912. Because there are no pillars in Japanese houses, the Japanese in the Taisho era were able to build a house with wide space.

Third, the customer service, including the store manager, Umeda Kouya, was wonderful, and everyone had good smiles. That is one factor that makes the café attractive to its customers. There were many customers who took pictures. Also, the people who visit the cafe are fashionable, and the number of people visiting the cafe is increasing, so the café gathers fashionable people.

Next, as a famous coffee shop on Instagram, we also heard how to take good pictures. Our recommendation is on the side with the four windows. Customers will sit there first if this space is available. There are also three tiers and a relatively large number of people sit in the middle. You can take good pictures by sitting at the top. 

Finally, the Walden Woods Kyoto is a really wonderful coffee shop.

Now that you’ve read this article, please come to Kyoto, and please drop by Walden Woods Kyoto.

Tenryuji

by Haruko Ishii and Mai Kobayashi

Arashiyama is a very popular spot in Kyoto thanks to its history, nature, and clean air. Tenryuji is one of the famous temples here and was registered as a world heritage site in 1994. Kyoto has a lot of temple and shrine which was registered as a world heritage. In this article, we focus on Tenryuji.

Gate of Tenryuji

Inside the temple grounds

The temple’s garden was made by Musou Soseki. Musou Souseki is Japanese priest. He had been lived from 1275 to 1351. This garden is Japanese style and karesansui. This word means the ‘expression of water flow through rocks and sand.’  The view of this garden changes each season. In spring, you can see the view of cherry blossoms. Autumn is especially beautiful because you can see the red, green and yellow leaves. In the autumn season, are a lot of people visit Arashiyama and Tenryuji, not only oversea tourists but also Japanese people. A good time to visit is in the morning and in mid-November.

If you visit in the early morning, you can feel at one with the beautiful nature: the sound of water, the warmth of the sunrise, the natural sound of trees, the smell of the trees and so on. Try sitting on the tatami closing your eyes and feel the nature. Inside the main hall, there is a painting of a ‘cloud dragon’ on the ceiling. You can see it just on Saturday, Sunday, public holidays and the special public day in spring and autumn. The painting of the dragon is very big and beautiful. If you go the inside Tenryuji, you have to pay cash. Adults (high school student and older), pay 500 yen, elementary school and junior high school students pay 300 yen, and younger children go in for free.

 

Garden of Tenryuj

 

Tatami

Akusejo of Tenryuji

An akusejo is the certificate of the temple. The meaning of certification is the evidence of visiting. You can do this at any temple, but each place has its own book design to collect them.

akusejo of Tenryuji have been starting from the Edo period (1603 to 1867). Originally, akusejo was the stamp that people could receive from a temple when they hand-copied sutras for temples and shrines. The akusejo includes the name of the temple, the date of the visit, and kakuou-houden(覚王寶殿) which means ‘to go and worship’. Kakuou (覚王)means ‘to respect Buddha’ and houden(寶殿) means the temple building where Buddhist images are enshrined for worshipping Buddha. Nowadays, people present their books to the staff of the temple who write these phrases in their own hand writing to mark their visit to the shrine.

 

Event of Tenryuji

There are event in Tenryuji. Especially I recommend to participate Zazen(坐禅). The reason why Japanese people do Zazen is finding yourself. In order to live the way you want, Japanese people practice Zazen. If you practice Zazen, you can take stresss-free life.

There are three points when you practice Zazen. First, you have to prepare your bodies. Second, ajust your posture and third, ajust your breathing. You can practice Zazen at Tenryuji every second month Sunday and 9am to 10am. You don’t need appointment and entry fee. However, in February, July and August don’t hold.

 

Getting to Tenryuji

 

There are three ways to get there. The first is by bus and takes about 30 minutes from Kyoto Station to Arashiyama Station. There are many buses going to Arashiyama, but the most direct bus is number 28. The number and the Chinese characters“嵐山”are on the front of the bus. A one-way adult ticket costs 230 yen, children are half-price, and of course, babies can ride for free. If you intend to take buses all day, you could get the all-day ticket which costs 600 yen.

The other way is that you can go by train. First, take the JR train from Kyoto Station to Saga Arashiyama Station. It takes about 20 minutes. Change here to the Randen Line and get off at Arashiyama Station. It takes about 2 minutes. If you get off Randen, you could arrive Tenryuji by going to the right.

Alternatively, you can ride the train from Kyoto Station to Shijo Station. Then, change to the Hankyu Line from Karasuma Station to Katsura Station. Finally, you have to change the train at Katsura Station to the Arashiyama Hankyu Line and get off at Arashiyama Station.

Once you arrive, there are many shops in Arashiyama and there is also the famous Togetsukyou Bridge. If you use the Hankyu Line to go to the Tenryuji, you have to cross the bridge and go straight.

 

There are many famous temples and places to enjoy in Kyoto, but if you want to feel the natural beauty of Japan, put Tenryuji on your list!

 

 

Gozyu-no-to(五重塔)in Kyoto

Gozyu-no-to(五重塔)

〜Five Storied Pagoda〜

Saki Hirobayashi
Ikumi Maeda
Ryoya Miura

 

Kyoto has four five-storied pagodas, which are located in temples around the city: Hokan-ji, Daigo-ji, To-ji and Ninna-ji. All of them are significant buildings in Japan and have been added to the World Heritage List. They have five roofs, and each roof has a special meaning. Going from the bottom roof upwards: ‘round’, ‘water’, ‘fire’, ‘wind’ and ‘sky’. The meanings depict each worldview and express the universe in Buddhism. We highly recommend you go to these pagodas to feel each worldview. Well, let’s take a look at each one.

 

 

Five Storied Pagoda in Hokanji

Hokan-ji Temple is located in the traditional area of Higashiyama in Kyoto. Its pagoda is called Yasaka-no-to. It was built in 1440, and the height is 46 meters. Yasaka-no-to is the oldest pagoda in Kyoto and the third highest in Japan. The Higashiyama area doesn’t have a lot of tall buildings, so the pagoda is a landmark in the Higashiyama area. Yasaka-no-to is surrounded by traditional Japanese-style houses so if you go there, you can feel the history of this area.

To Yasaka-no-to takes about 25 minutes by foot from Kawaramachi. The area around Kawaramachi is quite lively and wonderful so you can go to Yasaka-no-to from there by walking while doing some nice sightseeing. Of course, you can go there by bus too. Visitors should make an appointment to go to Yasaka-no-to. Please contact there directly: Tel & Fax: 075-5512-417 (10:00am-4:00pm).

 

・Address

〒605-0862 388 Kiyomizu-yasaka-jomati, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto city, Kyoto-prefecture ℡:075‐5512‐417

 

・Access

From Kyoto Station: Kyoto City Bus No.100, No.206

Get off at Kiyomizu-michi or Higashiyama-Yasui and walk for 5 minutes.

 

From Kawaramatchi (Shijyo-Kawaramachi): Walk for 25 minutes, or take Kyoto City Bus No. 207 and get off at Kiyomizu-michi or Higashiyama-Yasui and walk for 5 minutes.

 

 

Five Storied Pagoda in Toji

 

To-ji Temple is located in Minami-ku, near Kyoto Station. It was built in 1644; however, it has been rebuilt many times. The current structure is the fifth version. Its height is 55 meters, making it is the highest Japanese wooden building in Japan. You can see a super nice view of autumn leaves and feel the power of this five-storied pagoda in the autumn season. There are lots of tourists at that time as it is the best season for visiting this pagoda in Toji. We absolutely recommend you go there in the autumn. Of course, you can have a good experience in other seasons too!

 

Address

〒601-8473 1 Kujo-Mati, Minami-ku, Kyoto city

TEL. 075-691-3325 / FAX. 075-662-0250

 

Access

From Kyoto Station

By train: Take the Kintetsu Kyoto Line for 2 minutes. Get off at Toji Station and walk for 7 minutes.

 

From Kawaramachi (Shijyo-Kawaramachi)

By train: Get on the Keihan Line for 9 minutes. Get off at Tanbabashi Station and transfer to the Kintetsu Kyoto Line for 7 minutes. Get off at Toji Station and walk for 7 minutes.

By bus: Kyoto City Bus No. 207

Get off at Kujo-Kintetsu-mae and walk for 7 minutes.

 

Ninna-ji

Ninna-ji is a temple that was established in 888 and is now the head temple of the Shingon faction. Shingon faction is a religion that was established in the 9th century by Kukai, who was a Japanese poet. In the precincts, there is the five-storied pagoda and a two-way gate. The best view of the cherry tree is in April. The contrast between the five-storied pagoda and the cherry tree is stunning. In 1994, Ninna-ji was registered as a World Heritage Site. Historically, this temple had a good relationship with royal and aristocratic people. Many royal and aristocratic people visited here to enjoy the view and to soothe their mind. It has also been written about in Japanese poetry. It has been popular for many centuries.

 

Address

〒616-8092 Omurooouchi33, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City, TEL/075-461-1155, FAX/075-464-4070

 

Access

From Kyoto Station

By train: Get on the JR Sagano Line for 11 minutes. Get off at Hanazono Station and walk for 20 minutes.

 

From Kawaramachi (Shijyo-Kawaramachi)

Take Kyoto City Bus No. 59, get off at Omuro Ninnaji and walk for 6 minutes.

 

 

Daigo-ji

Daigo-ji Temple was established in 874 and in 1994 it was registered as a World Heritage Site. Buddhist images, old rare books and pictorial art of this temple are well-known all over the world. There are about 15,000 national treasures from the middle ages in this temple. The five-storied pagoda in this temple was built in 951. This is the third oldest five-storied pagoda in Japan. The height of this pagoda is 37.44 meters and is also one of the highest pagodas in Japan. Due to its long history and height, this temple is designated as a national treasure. Also, Daigo-ji Temple is famous for its extensive grounds, so there is not only the five-storied pagoda to enjoy but also you the other buildings that are national treasures.

 

Address

〒601-1325 Higashioojityou22, Daigo, Fushimiku, TEL:075-571-0002, FAX:075-571-0101

 

Access

From Kyoto Station

Get on the Kyotosiei Karasuma Line for 5 minutes and change trains at Karasuma Oike Station. Get on the Kyotosiei Touzai Line for 21 minutes. Get off at Daigo Station and walk for 15 minutes.

 

From Kawaramachi (Shijyo-Kawaramachi)

By train: Get on the Keihan Line for 9 minutes. Get off at Tanbabashi Station and transfer to the Kintetsu Kyoto Line for 7 minutes. Get off at Toji station and walk for 7 minutes.

By bus: Take Keihan Bus No.84 and get off at Nakayamadanchi and walk for 14 minutes.

 

These four pagodas are located around the center of Kyoto City so you can visit all of them in one day. To do this, here is a recommended route. Leave Kyoto Station to go to Ninna-ji in the morning. It takes about 60 minutes by city bus. Next, leave Ninna-ji to go to Hokan-ji. It takes about 60 minutes by city bus and change to the subway. Next, leave Hokan-ji to go to Daigo-ji. It takes about 60 minutes by city bus. Finally, leave Daigo-ji to go to To-ji. It takes 60 minutes by subway and train. There are many ways to go these pagodas, but a big recommendation to buy the One-day ticket for the city buses and subway. You can buy this ticket for 900 yen. If you use this ticket, the total cost of this tour will only be 1300 yen.

 

Model plan

9:00 Kyoto City

↓City bus No. 26

10:00 Ninna-ji (60min)

↓City bus No. 26 and change to bus No.207 at Shijyo-Karasuma

12:00 Hokan-ji (60min)

13:00 Lunchtime: Around Hokan-ji (60min)

↓Subway Tozai Line

15:00 Daigo-ji (60min)

↓Subway Tozai Line and change to the Karasumi Line, then change to the Kintetsu Kyoto Line.

17:00 To-ji (60min)

↓Kintetsu Kyoto Line

19:00 Kyoto Station

 

If you visit these pagodas, you can not only enjoy viewing them but also their beautiful and historic surroundings. We hope you enjoy your trip around these national treasures!

History of Kyoto’s roads

by Shinji Yasuda, Shogo Koizumi and Kosuke Ono

street of Kyoto

A lot of tourists from foreign countries visit Kyoto. Most of them go to famous temples and shrines like Kiyomizu temple and Kinkaku-ji temple. However, Kyoto has other attractive points. Did you know Kyoto is a city in which streets are laid out in a checkerboard pattern? If you have ever been to Kyoto, you may noticed that. These straight roads are based on the ancient Chinese capital city. This article tells you why Kyoto imitated ancient China, and the background and history of Kyoto’s layout.  Most Japanese cities don’t have long, wide, straight roads, so you may enjoy Kyoto city more after reading this article.

History

The checkerboard was made about 1200 years ago by the 50th Emperor of Japan, Kanmu. Largeness of area was 23.4 mk2, and this was smaller than it is now. In addition, Kyoto had a spiritual role as well as a practical aspect. It is said that ancient China made streets like this to fulfill military functions. Such streets are capable of moving a large-scale army quickly and impressively. Such wide streets are useful in preventing the spread of fire. Next, it is important to manage the population. The management is essential to stay calm and be safe. Thanks to this road, people who were in charge could figure out what might happen there and move soldiers or workers quickly to the needed area. And then current Kyoto is became increasing narrow alley. Now each intersection is named for the two crossing roads. This custom was started from Heian Era (794 – 1185). The most flourishing section of the town was Kawara-Machi. The reason is that Kawara-Machi was given a boost after much of Kyoto burned during the Ounin Rebellion (1467 – 1477).

Kyoto has songs that can tell where you are if you have no idea where you are. For example, Kyoto has plenty of streets, including main streets, and one way roads. Many roads have similar names so visitors may be confounded. Even most of the people who live in Kyoto do not understand some of its geography. First of all, the checkerboard is divided by 3 rivers which are used as boundaries. The song named Teragoko starts with Teramachi and ends with Senbon. Thirty names of streets are included the song that is about streets at southeast. Next, the song named Marutakeebisu starts with Maruta and end with Kujo. This song has twenty-six name of streets. Each song is structured in the right order. Most of words that appear these songs are an initial letter of the street. These songs are a mnemonic to help people remember where streets are laid out, before they had access to GPS. This song was uploaded on Youtube. You can search and listen to it.

The northernmost  is named Ichijyo, which means first in Japanese, and the southernmost is named Kujyo, which means ninth in Japanese, and one more easternmost is named Teramachido-ri . As for easternernmost, that place doesn’t have particular name because it hasn’t being considered as the official road.  The history of streets of Kyoto has some interesting stories. For example, there is a street called Higashikyogoku. About 427 years ago, the general Hideyoshi Toyotomi conducted a big improvement which might be called urban renewal. He forced several temples to move to the eastside of the city. Higashi is east in English, so the name Higashikyougoku came from this event. Even Honnoji-temple are moved from it used to be. Teramachi-street has Shinkyogoku-street at a more eastern location. Shin means “new” so it’s New Higashikyogoku Street. These two streets help Kyoto with its prosperity and history of road.

Role of streets

Roads like checkerboard are called jouri-sei. Jouri-sei is system of land subdivision in ancient Japan. This system could also be seen often in capital city of ancient China. Thanks to jouri-sei it is easy to maintain roads and manage people. First, Heian-Kyou (kyou means capital in Japanese) was made in a wide and open field, so they were able to organize this city from the beginning. The model of Heian-Kyou was Cho-an which was capital city of ancient China. There is an  entrance gate, Gate of Suzaku-oji in Heian-kyou which was named Rasho-mon. In addition, this Japanese city has spiritual meaning. It was called Sijin-so-o that is an ideal topography for the four Taoist gods, with a river in the east, a broad avenue in the west, a basin in the south, and a hill in the north. In Kyoto, Mt. Daimonji in the east, Arashiyama in the west, Lake Ogura in the south, Tamba upland in the north. However, in current Kyoto, there is no Lake Ogura. Lake Ogura became agricultural land now. Benefit of Sijin-so-o is that people will prosper for all eternity.

Tradition

Shijo street is one of biggest street in Kyoto. Gion festival is held there.  Gion festival is said that one of the three major festivals of Japan. This festival lasts for a month. Traditional folding screens which feature pictures spreade over several frames or panels and other treasures are shown on the street. Moreover, huge wooden vehicles, called Yamaboko go around city and these are called moving museums. The purpose of this festival is to enshrine god in Gion and protect the city from disaster. This Yamaboko procession is registered in UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Contemporary Kyoto

Shijo street

Kyoto looks like a useful city, but actually there is a problem.  Nature is hardly seen in Kyoto. To fix this problem, the municipal government is promoting one project. This project involves both the government and private Kyoto citizens. The goals of the project are as follows.

・Protect and plant cherry blossom trees
・Double trimming trees before and after autumn leaves
・Create lines of trees on wide streets
・Nurture nature reflecting citizens’ opinions
・Make green spaces in the city (green roofs, green walls)
・Establish and management volunteer centers of green space

Shopping arcade

Shopping arcade of Kyoto

There are many old, covered streets in Kyoto that are called shotengai, or shopping arcades in English. On wide streets like Shjio street and Kawaramchi street there are many modern, multistory buildings with department stores and famous brand stores. But there are also narrow alleys with many small souvenir shops. These are crowded with many students from all over Japan on school trips. A famous Kyoto street is Nishi kouji, which has many stops selling traditional Japanese foods and food s unique to Kyoto. This street is crowded with tourists every day. The number of local shopping arcades is decreasing in Japan because of huge supermarkets. However, Kyoto’s shopping arcades are not declining because they are deeply connected with peoples who live in Kyoto and currently Kyoto has many tourists so they spend money.

Conclusion

Kyoto has a very long and interesting history about its roads. The origin of the roads was China but the form has been changed by people. Now, Kyoto’s roads have their own unique style, which can be called part of the identity of Kyoto. These streets are not only part of functional life, but also have traditional aspects.  Moreover, Kyoto is still changing, hopefully in a good direction as evidenced by the municipal project above. We hope you got more interested about Kyoto after reading this article.

Old Schools as the ‘New Kyoto’

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 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.