Iwatayama—Kyoto’s Monkey Mountain

October 16, 2017

By Kazauki Kume and Yoshiki Kawauchi

Arashiyama, in Kyoto, is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Japan. Not only Japanese but also many foreign tourists visit this part of Kyoto city every year. Arashiyama has many different kinds of sights and is famous for temples, shrines, a huge bamboo grove, autumn leaves and the Togetsukyo Bridge. Arashiyama is surrounded by nature and so visitors can enjoy different scenes as the seasons change. In the middle of such a sightseeing mecca, there is a monkey paradise called Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama.

 

Arashiyama Monkey Park

This monkey park was begun after Japanese monkeys (nihonzaru or the Japanese Macaque) living there were fed for research by Kyoto University in 1954. After that, the area became a park and was opened to the public in 1957. Currently, about 120 monkeys live in their wild state. However these monkeys have come to recognize that human beings do not pose a threat to them because there are strict rules for visitors. Therefore, even if humans come nearby, the monkeys are not afraid. But you must not gaze at their eyes or touch them because they recognize these actions as aggressive behavior and will retaliate. In their view, you are taking a threatening attitude toward them.

About Japanese monkeys

Japanese monkeys are well known for appearing in old folktales in Japan. In their natural habitat they live in groups of about a dozen individuals and their life expectancy is said to be around 30 years. Among monkeys, the Japanese Macaque is the northernmost most species. Since monkeys are usually distributed in tropical regions, Japanese monkeys, especially those living in the northern snowy areas of Japan, are called “snow monkeys.” They usually live in deep in the mountains. Therefore, researchers around the world are very surprised because they can see monkeys here.

Access, Fees and Information

The park entrance is about fifteen minutes from the Hankyu Arashiyama and Keifuku Arashiyama train stations. In addition you have to walk a mountain path for about ten minutes from there. You should wear good walking shoes or boots and not high heels. Sports shoes or sneakers are best. There are no free exclusive parking for visitors, but there are pay parking lots nearby the entrance.

The admission fee is 550 yen for each adult and 250 yes for children (children nder three years of age are free). There are a group rates for parties of thirty or more. If the group rates apply, the fee becomes 450 yen for adults and 200 yen for children. If you want to feed the monkeys, you have to pay 100 yen on the top of mountain. You can buy apples, pineapples and peanuts for 100 yen.

The Monkey Park is open throughout the year. However on days of heavy rain days or heavy snow it is closed. If you want to check if the park is open, you can call 075-872-0950. Business hours are 9:00~16:30 in summer (March 15~September 30) and 9:00~16:00 in winter (October 1~March 14). But sometime the monkeys return to the forest later in the day. So you should visit the park at an early time.

Starting a Day in Kyoto Station

by Takumi Abe

Japanese life in morning

At Kyoto Station many people head to school or work at the beginning of the day. If you are there, you can feel Japanese daily life in the morning. We cannot see such a scene in temples or shrines. Commuters are coming and going in the station. You can see many faces with delightful, depressed or serious looks.

Kyoto Station starts “Rush Hour” at 7am with arriving trains. At this time, the station is crowded. I took pictures of commuters, tourists and station officers at this busy time. You can feel a very different atmosphere at Kiyomizu temple. I hope you enjoy the photos enough that you will want to visit Kyoto Station in the early morning. I was there for an hour from 7 AM.

Starting a day from Kyoto Station

No.1 Starting Gift Shop

Gift shop (Omiyageya)

People who come to Kyoto are not only tourists but also students on school excursions and salaried workers on business trips. Some of them use Kyoto Station for going back home. They buy souvenirs in gift shops in the station. Clerks want them to buy gifts so they put goods on the shelves.

No.2 Keeping clean for users

Be clean

People are coming and going in the station. It is not easy to keep clean especially on rainy day. However, the station is always sanitary. In the background, there is a lot of hard work being done by the facility workers.

No.3 For Kyoto

The gate

At the same time as arriving trains, all the people go through automatic ticket gates. Their daily life in Kyoto begins. They head to school or work in the city.

No.4 Changing trains

On stairs and elevators

Kyoto station has JR (Japan Railway) and Kintetsu (Kintetsu Railway). Some people change trains for JR or Kintetsu. Lots of people run into each other in the elevators and stairs. They walk in a hurry while somehow avoiding collision.

No. 5 If you need help

Officers help you

Station officers help everybody.  They want users to feel comfortable. If you do not know where a destination is, officers answer and relieve your anxiety.

No.6 A student

a Student reading a book

Half of the station users are students. While waiting for trains, they chat with friends or read a book or study.

No.7 School trip

School trip

In Japan, Kyoto is a famous destination for school trips. Many students study the history of Kyoto and Japan. They also learn how to go to famous places.

No.8 Starting Sightseeing

It is difficult to be in unfamiliar place

Tourists also start here to get to tourist sites. In front of the map, some tourists check where their destination is. This map shows you locations. In a cafe, some tourists eat breakfast to build up energy for the day ahead.

No.9 A line

No.0 platform

On platform 0, users make lines without disorder. They use phones for checking e-mails, messages or news. They look down on small screens. If you stand beyond the yellow line, you will be warned by the station staff.

No.10 In the busy time

He watched Shinkansen and trains

In the rush hour, it is not easy to have inner peace. However, a place you always use looks different between busy times and free times.  You may find another face of the Kyoto Station if you look.

Morning Kyoto

Speaking of Kyoto, many people will come up with temples and shrines. However, if you are interested in daily Japanese life, you can see it in Kyoto Station. You can see common Japan. In famous places in Kyoto, you can feel old Japan. Kyoto Station however, is filled with another part of Japanese culture. These pictures taken in Kyoto station belong to this part. If you have time to stay in Kyoto, I want you to enjoy World Heritage sites, but I want you to see daily life in Japan. It may be fun to find differences between your own country’s life and that of Japan. You may be surprised . Kyoto station has both a traditional and contemporary atmosphere. I want you to take an interest in the morning time in Kyoto Station.

Kamishichiken and its shops

by Riho Miyagi, Akane Mukai and Yuuka Yamazaki

 

Kyoto has a lot of popular sightseeing spots, for example, Kinkakuji-temple (金閣寺), Kiyomizu-temple (清水寺), and Fushimiinari-shrine (伏見稲荷大社). Speaking of famous places, do you know any essential and passionate places in Kyoto?

 

What is Kamishichiken?

Kamishichiken” is a district of northwest Kyoto. It is the oldest of the five hanamachi  in Kyoto and located east of the Kitano Tenmangu-shrine. Local people pronounce it as “Kamihichiken”. In Kanji, it means “Seven Upper Houses”. In the Muromachi Period, seven teahouses were built from tools and material leftover from the rebuilding of the Kitano Tenmangu-Shrine. Kamishichiken has many traditional wooden buildings, some of which are teahouses or geisha houses. There are approximately 25 maiko and geiko in Kamishichiken now and they entertain in 10 teahouses in Kamishichiken. It is located in Kyoto’s Nishijin area, which is famous for traditional textiles.

 

The Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theater

The Kamishichiken kaburenjo theater, considered by many to be the main symbol of this small Geiko district, is one of the few remaining wooden theaters. The Kamishichiken kaburenjo is the largest building in Kamishichiken. It is known for the performances of Maiko. Maiko learn and practice their songs and dances here every day. Their performance takes 1.5 hours. There are 20 performers dressed in kimono. This dance performance was first held as Kitano Odori in March 1952, to commemorate the 1050th year anniversary of Sugawara-no-Michizane’s death. He was a highly ranked court noble to whom Kitano Tenmangu shrine is dedicated. It also featured the tea ceremony, where Geisha prepare bowls of Japanese tea and sweets. The performance is considered as both elite and tasteful. The Kitano Odori performance opens on March 25th and ends April 17th. In addition, from July 1st until August 31st, a beer garden is open to the public at Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theatre and offers unique chance to be served by maiko and geiko.

 

Shops near kamishichiken

The area around Kitano Tenman-gu shrine has lots of wonderful shops and cafés. I recommend you try shaved ice with real fruit syrup in summer time at KONOHANA.  At another shop, YUSURAGO, yuzu-flavored ice is very popular. Yuzu is a fruit. produced by a tree belonging to the Citrus family and is similar to oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruit.. Another area shop is MAEDA, which is famous for baby sponge cake. Baby sponge cake can be eaten in all seasons and can be brought back home. If you want to eat Japanese sweets I recommend TENZINDO. This shop serves rice cakes, one for only 100 yen, so it’s very reasonably priced. And I really want to recommend NERIYA HACHIBE. This shop is famous for bracken-starch cake. This cake comes in two flavors: kinako (soybean flour) and matcha (powdered green tea). Matcha is now popular throughout the world, so you should try it. Kyoto is famous for tofu (soy bean curd) and yuba (bean curd skin). If you want to try one of these I really recommend TOYOUKE CHAYA. This shop is famous for tofu and yuba. you can enjoy traditional Japanese flavors at these shops.

 

Kamishichiken is not as famous as other hanamachi, but there are many interesting and fantastic shops here. Once you go, you can absolutely feel the core of Kyoto culture.

 

Kyoto’s Historical Boulevard

by Takumi Abe

Welcome to Karasuma

Many people who visit Kyoto want to seeonly  Kiyomizu temple, Kinkakuji temple or the Ryoanji rock garden. However, when most people first arrive in Kyoto, they will see the Kyoto Tower and a wide avenue going to the north. This street has many cars, taxis and buses. Its name is Karasuma-dori, and its length is six kilometers. Karasuma street is an important and central street in Kyoto, so there are many business buildings and some temples along it.  In addition, two universities are located on Karasuma, and the Kyoto Imperial Palace flanks the avenue as well. It is an important street especially from the views of the economy, education and Japanese history.

Karasuma from 794

Kyoto city has prospered for about 1200 years so many streets in Kyoto have a long history. If you walk down Karasuma street, you can see buildings from various eras. Karasuma was constructed in the Heian period (794-1185). At that time, this road was called Karasumaru-koji street. “Koji” means small road. This street was named after a family of Heian-period aristocrats. Karasuma has been significant because among the many Fujiwara families it was the largest area where Heian aristocrats lived. The street flourished,  but it fell into ruinduring the civil war in Medieval times. After this period of battles, the street was revived by Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Due to his project, the street had many upper-class mansions, houses and stores. In  the Meiji period (1868-1912),  one of the modern Japanese periods, Kyoto Station was built at the south end of Karasuma street. As a result, this street was expanded and extended to all the way to northern Kyoto. At the same time, a streetcar started to run along the street. Today, Karasuma is in the central business district, where there are many banks and companies. Additionally, it is a gateway to Kyoto for people from various countries first arriving at Kyoto Station.

 

The gateway of Kyoto

What you can see on Karasuma

Shijo Karasuma

Shijo-Karasuma is one of the big commercial areas in the city. Many banks and insurance companies are located here. You can see the modern Japanese architecture and a long history. On the left side of the above photo of Shijo -Karasuma is the Mitsui building. This entrance was created in 1941.

Cocon Karasuma

Doshisha University

Cocon Karasuma is a commercial complex and office building. You may be fascinated by the arabesque pattern on the wall. This building was constructed in 1938, and it was recently renovated. It was not exposed the fires of war, so you can see the old-style stairs and floors inside. “Cocon,” in Japanese means both ancient and modern, so this amazing building shows the past  and the present in Kyoto.

If you continue much further north on Karasuma you will come to Doshisha University. This university was founded in 1875, and now about 27,000 students go to this school. It was established by Jyo Nijima. He was the first Japanese person to graduate from a university in the USA. He opened the door to modern education in Japan.

Toraya

If you want to eat Japanese sweets, I recommend that you go to Toraya. It has a long history, and this store has been around for nearly five centuries. From the days of old, this store made sweets for the Emperor. Its famous itme is Azuki-bean jelly. It has been loved for more than 500 years. Is is on Karasuma just southwest of Doshisha University.

Traditional culture inJapan is not only concerned with food, but there is also kadou or literally “the way of flowers”. Kadou is arranging flowers beautifully. It represents and expresses the beauty of Japan. Kadou was formed in the Muromachi era (1336-1573). It is said that it originated at the pond of Rokkakuji temple. This temple is crowded with tourists. Next to it on Karasuma is the headquarters of the Ikenobo School of Flower arrangement.

Manga museum

Moreover, people who love Japanese culture had better go to the Manga museum, which is nearby the Oike-Karasuma intersection. As the name indicates, this museum keeps more 30 thousand manga. You can read manga in the museum or in its garden. The Giga-Ukiyoe, which is a collection of funny pictures and was printed in the Edo era (1603-1867), is in the collection of the museum. Moreover, some manga housed here are from overseas. The amazing thing is that this building has been used since 1929. it used to be an elementary school, therefore you can see also the old style of Japanese school.

The street as a face of Kyoto

Kyoto Imperial Palace

Karasuma street has a long history. It is rare that you can see a story that is 1200 years long. This place has faces of traditional Japan, modern Japan and present-day Japan. You can feel a Japanese passion to create the city, protect its heritage, and reinvigorate its culture.  The street is bustling with university students and some of its cafés are filled with young power. What is more, many workers use the street to find lunch or dinner, or go shopping. In  old times, there were many people riding in a carriage or walking in kimono. Suppose you come to Karasuma—you may feel the history of Japan.

 

The best shops we selectted in Uji City

By Yu Sakamoto, Tashi Nisikawa and Kazu Shibao

There are many sightseeing spots in Kyoto, such as Amanohashidate, Uji, Fushimi Inari Shrine, etc. There are so many wonderful sightseeing places that the list of examples is endless. This is a wonderful thing about Kyoto, but some people are confused by too many sightseeing spots. If you could stay longer, you would go to various places, but not everyone can stay for a long time. I would like many people to visit so many places and have lots of good experiences. Therefore, I’d like to tell you how to enjoy sightseeing efficiently even if you stay a short while. This guidance is for Uji, which is also popular with local people. Uji has plenty of places to see the sights. I will introduce a sightseeing itinerary that does not waste time.

First of all, we will introduce the history of Uji city. Uji city is located around the beautiful, clean Uji River, and is graced with many temples and shrines, which is indicative of Uji city’s long history and rich culture. In Uji city there are two UNESCO World Heritage sites. Ujigami Shrine and Byodoin Temple were registered in December 1994. In this area. From the15th century to the 16th century, Uji city was a place of a lot of fighting where various generals fought to control Japan. Since that time, Uji city has spent many peaceful years and Uji city has become a cultural center of Japan. Uji city has many historical sights and famous cultural specialties. Also, Uji Green Tea is the best and most famous Japanese Tea. We will show you some great tea shops in this article, and please enjoy it in traditional tea houses.

At first, I recommend you to take a train as the easiest way to go to Uji. Because most of the spots of Uji that can be enjoyed are in front of the station, if you get to the station you just have fun! However, there are two Uji stations, so some people are confused. One is JR line. The other is the Keihan line. Either way you get off. Therefore, the train to ride depends on where you are. When coming from Kyoto if you are near Kyoto Station, please use JR line. If you are near Kawaramachi please use the Keihan line. Likewise, if you are coming from Osaka, you can take JR or the Keihan line.

  • When you are near Kyoto station
  1. First of all, please buy a ticket to Uji station. (240 yen for one way)
  2. Please look for the time table board for the train in the direction to Nara
  3. Once you get on the train you do not need to change trains and you will arrive at Uji station in about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • When you are near Kawaramachi
  1. First of all, please buy a ticket to Uji Station at Gion Shijo Station. (310 yen for one way)
  2. Please get down to the platform, number 2 and get on the limited express train bound for Yodoyabashi.
  3. From there, we get off after 3 stops (about 10 minutes) in Chushojima and transfer.
  4. Please go to the platform number 3 in Chushojima and get on the Keihan Uji Line and get off after 7 stops (15 minutes) in Uji.

In Uji city, there are a lot of stores. So, when you go there, you can easily become confused. Therefore, we have put together a guide to the best shops in Uji city. When you come out of the Kyohan station, you can see the bridge front of the station. You need to cross the bridge, then you can see Torii gate. Here is the start point on this guide in our article. In this point, there have two ways. Please go left side. Do not go to the Torii gate way.

 

This way.

Torii gate. Not this way.

 

 

Kyo-Food: Uji Kawa Ryokan.

 

At the very beginning, when you first enter the left side way, you can see the shop on your left. In this shop, you can enjoy the river view from the room and you can eat Kyo-food. This shop is a Ryokan (Japanese traditional style hotel), so you can stay there if you like. If you want to eat some native Kyo- food, we suggest you visit this shop.

 

 

 

Obanzai buffet: Rokujyoan.

 

Just nearby Uji Kawa Ryokan, you can find you can find an obanzai store named Rokujyoan. In this shop, you can eat obanzai. Obanzai is the word for home cooking in Kyoto dialect. You can eat different kinds of obazai food, and this shop is buffet style so you can eat many foods. This is a great place to have a lunch time. If you want to eat obanzai, we suggest you visit this shop.

 

 

 

Green Tea Takoyaki and Soft Cream Shop: Tako Q.

 

After Rokujyoan, walk straight to about 1 minute. You can see the shop. In this shop, you can have green tea, takoyaki and soft cream. Green tea takoyaki is a rare food in Japan. If you visit Uji city, you should try to eat green tea takoyaki. It will become a great memory.

 

 

 

Old Green Tea Shop: Akamon-chaya.

 

Have you ever drunk green tea beer before? At the Akamon-chaya, you can have a green tea beer. After Tako Q, walk straight to about 4 minutes. After that, you can see three ways. You need to go left side. Then you can see the shop. In this shop, you can also experience how to make green tea. This shop has an old history. This shop using a great high level green tea, so the price is little expensive. However, you can feel Japanese traditional in this shop. We will recommend drinking green tea beer. It is so sweet and you can feel green tea smells in your mouth after drinking this beer.

 

 

Byodoin Temple.

 

 

Walk straight to Uji bridge shopping street, you will see the entrance of Byodoin temple. This temple is opened at 8:30 a.m. and closed at 5:30 p.m., so do not go too late, otherwise you can’t go in.

Byodoin temple is a Buddhist temple which was built in the late Heian period, 794 to 1185. This temple is registered as a World Heritage site. Also, this temple is very famous for being on the reverse of the 10-yen coin, and the phoenix which you can find behind is on the 10000 yen-note.

In the area of Byodoin temple, there is a huge pond around the temple. There are many carp so you can feel Japan very much. Furthermore, there is a museum named Hosyokan in which you can see the history of Byodoin temple. The entrance fee is 600 yen for adults, 400 yen for junior high school students, 300 yen for elementary school students. In addition, if you would like to go inside of Byodoin temple, you need to pay 300 yen more. You might think it’s little bit expensive, but I’m for sure it’s worth it.

 

Green tea restaurant: Itokyuemon.

Walk along Uji river, you can see the restaurant named Itokyuemon just nearby Keihan Uji station. This restaurant is very famous for maccha, and at this restaurant we ate maccha soba, maccha cheese tart with hoji tea jelly and maccha parfait. You can smell maccha very much from each meal but especially Maccha soba. You think these two don’t match well but once you eat this soba you will change your opinion. Also, the maccha plus cheese tart is quite unique combination as well. Taste of maccha is very rich and creamy. Apparently, a famous TV show reported this maccha cheese tart. Furthermore, this maccha parfait is one of the best maccha parfaits I’ve ever had. The price is 680 yen, so it’s very reasonable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you find any interesting store?? This is our best way to experience Uji. In addition, there are a lot of other interesting stores or spots in Uji. It’s maybe good idea that have a look around while referring our article. Anyway, enjoy your Kyoto trip!

Randen Tour

by Kensei Iizuka, Takanori Tsuhako, Yuta Kobayashi

What is the best way to do sightseeing on the west side of Kyoto city? On this page, we recommend useful and comfortable transportation: a tram named Randen.

The Randen Keifuku Line is a tram which runs from Shijo-Omiya to Arashiyama with a total of 13 stations. In the day time, it runs 6 times per hour. Usually it is one car long, but at rush hour and at the height of the tourist season, it is two cars long.

Merits of Using Randen

There are several advantages to using the Randen. First, the Randen is punctual. If you use a bus for sightseeing, it will be late because buses are often late. On the other, the Randen is never late. In addition, because it runs 6 times per an hour, you can plan your trip by the minute. Second, it is not crowded, so you can ride it very comfortably and don’t need to worry about your big baggage. Finally, it is fast. It only takes about 1~2 minutes to move to the next stop, so you can save your time to do sightseeing.

Fare for Randen

You can buy a Randen one day pass at Shijo-Omiya (A1), Katabiranotsuji (A8), Arashiyama (A13) or Kitano-Hakubaicho (B9). It costs 500 yen and with it, you can ride the Randen all day without limit. If you board the Randen without a one day pass, you have to pay 220 yen (adults) or 110 yen (children, between 6~12 age) per ride. Once you board, all you need to do is pay or show your one day pass when you get off the train. At Shijo-Omiya, Katabiranotsuji, Arashiyama and Kitano-Hakubaicho, you have to pay or show your one day pass at the ticket gate.

Famous Spots Along the Randen

KORYUZJI


Located in Uzumasa, the Koryuji temple is one of the oldest pieces of architecture in Kyoto. This temple was established approximately 1,300 years ago and is dedicated to Shotoku Taishi, one of the founders of Buddhism in Japan. As soon as you enter the temple, you can walk on the stone-paved road. On both sides of the road, a wide range of trees, such as pine, is planted. Moreover, you can go to the Toei Uzumasa Movie Park, which is just a 5-minute walkfrom Koryuji temple. This is kind of historical theme park in which you feel like you are back in Edo era, with samurai, ninja, and geisha. The nearest station of these spots is Uzumasa Koryuji Station (A7).

KURUMAZAKI SHRINE


Located in Saga, the Kurumazaki Shrine is dedicated to the Confucian scholar, Kiyoharano Yorinari. This shrine is well known for its religious stones, so many tourists go there to get fortune stones to make their wishes come true or to remove bad luck. There is strange way of wishing, which is to write down your name on a human-shaped piece of paper and then put it into a box while making your wish. Inside the shrine, there is a sub-shrine, called the Geino shrine. A lot of famous entertainers in Japan visit here and they write their name or group name on a red stick for their success in the future. The moment you get off the train at Kurumazaki Shirine Station (A10), you can see the shrine in front of the station.

ROKUOUIN


Here is a Japanese beautiful garden Before reaching this garden, you go through a road covered with various kinds of vivid green trees. You can feel nature strongly here, even though you are in the middle of Kyoto city. The nearest Randen station is Rokuoin Station (A11). It is about a 7-minute walk to reach the garden.

HOGONIN


As soon as you enter this temple, you will start to feel very calm because there is extreme quiet or only a tweet of some birds. The period you can enter there is limited to only the spring and autumn. In both seasons, you can see a great garden, which contains some beautiful red trees in the autumn. The nearest Randen station is Arashiyama Station (A13). You can also enjoy some famous sightseeing spots, such as the Togetsukyo bridge and the Bamboo Road in Arashiyama.

OMURO NINNAJI TEMPLE


Omuro Ninnaji temple was registered as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1994. Construction began in 886 and was finished two years later. In the spring, this temple is famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms. The nearest Randen station is Omuroninnnazji Station (B5). In front of the station, there is restaurant where you can eat traditional Indian curry.

RYOANJI TEMPLE


Ryoanji is also World Heritage site. It has the most famous rock gardens in Japan. You can feel wabisabi (the art of imperfection) in this sophisticated garden with no chaos at all. One interesting way of observing this garden is when you focus on stones in the garden. From any angle you can’t see all the stones at one time. The last stone is definitely hidden behind another stone. The nearest Randen station is Ryoanji Station (B7).

TOJIIN


Here is placed in near Ninnaji temple and Ryoanji temple and was established in 1341, Muromachi era, by Takauzi Ashikaga who is the founder and first shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate. There is also beautiful garden inside here. Furthermore, you can see the tea-ceremony room, which is completely sophisticated and extremely Japanese shape of culture. Nearest Station is Tojiin Station (B8).

Model Randen Sightseeing Plan

Let us suggest a sightseeing plan for using one-day Randen ticket. First, your Randen trip starts from Shijo Omiya station. Take the tram for 13 minutes to Uzumasa-Tenjingawa station. There you can visit Koryuji temple.

Next, take the tram from Uzumasa-Tenjingawa station. to Kurumazaki-jinja station. You can visit Kurumazaki-shrine there. Then, take the tram to Rokuoin station. It’s the next station from Kurumazaki-jinja station. Walking a short distance from the station, you will find Rokuoin.

After that, take the tram for Arashiyama station. The station is really nice and wonderful. They sell a lot of food and souvenirs. You can also enjoy a foot-bath there. Arashiyama has a lot of places to visit, but we recommend you visit Hougenin if it is the right season of the year. If you show your coupon, you can get some presents.

After you enjoy your stay in Arashiyama, take the tram again and get off at Katabirano-tsuji station. When you get off the tram at this station, you don’t have to show your one-day ticket. Change trains at the station, and get off at Omuro-ninnaji station. It’s the fifth station. There is a wonderful curry and rice restaurant right front of the station. We recommend you have some nice lunch there. After having lunch, you can visit Ninnaji temple.

Once you have seen Ninnaji, go back to Omuro-ninnaji station. and take the tram to Ryoanji station. It’s the second station. From the station, walk about 10 min. to arrive at Ryoanji temple. After visiting Ryoanji, finally, take the tram again and get off at Tojin station. It’s only a 5-minute walk.

That’s the best plan for using your one-day Randen ticket. You end up taking the trams nine times, and if you haven’t bought the one-day ticket, you would have spent over 2,000 yen!

Shijo-omiya sta. Start
↓ 13 min. 6 stops
Uzumasa-koryuji sta. Koryuji Temple
↓ 7 min. 3 stops
Kurumazaki-jinja sta. Kurumazaki Shrine
↓ 1 min. 1 stop
Rokuo-in sta. Rokuo-in
↓ 3 min. 2 stops
Arashiyama sta. Hogenin
↓ 8 min. 5 stops
Katabira-no-tsuji sta. Change Trains
↓ 7 min. 5 stops
Omuro-ninnaji sta. Lunch, Omuroninnaji Temple
↓ 3 min. 2 stops
Ryoanji sta. Ryoanji Temple
↓ 1 min. 1 stop
Tojiin Tojiin

The Best of Nishiki Market

by Yu Sakamoto, Tashi Nisikawa and Kazu Shibao

Entrance

Inside Nishiki ichiba

In recent years, the number of tourists who come from overseas has been increasing. In 2003, for example, the number of visitors was 5,211,725. However, that exceeded ten million people in 2013 and recently hit almost 20 million. Even Japanese who are not good at speaking English have struggled to help foreigners be more comfortable during their visit. Simply put: Kyoto is flooded with tourists.

There are many chances to get written information about the recommendable spots in Kyoto. However, theses spots are popular and are therefore always crowded. This can make you irritable. One of these famous spots is a 400-year-old market called Nishiki Ichiba, which shouldn’t be missed. Below is our advice on how you can enjoy Nishiki Ichiba in spite of the crowds.

Nishiki Ichiba is nicknamed Kyo no Daidokoro by the Japanese. Kyo means ‘Kyoto’ and daidokoro means ‘kitchen’. So as you can imagine, Nishiki Ichiba is the place where you can find food from all over Kyoto in one place. The market is a straight path running east and west, and is 390 meters long and only 3.25 to 5 meters wide. Nishiki Ichiba is typical of the structures of Kyoto. As mentioned previously, it has existed for more than 400 years, so it has a long history.

How to Get There

Unfortunately, Nishiki Ichiba is not located near Kyoto station, which is where most tourists usually arrive first. Although people can get to the market by both bus and subway, taking the subway is faster and easier than taking the bus.

Kyoto station has many train lines. You should take the train that is the Subway Karasuma line. Simply buy a ticket to Shijo station, which costs 210 yen. When come out of the station at ground level you should walk down Shijo street to the east and turn left at the second corner. The entrance to the market is on the right as you walk north about 100m (see photo at the top).

In Nishiki Ichiba, there are a total of about 126 stores. So when you go there, you can easily become confused. Therefore, we have put together a guide to the best shops in Nishiki Ichiba.

Raw Oyster Shop: Daiyasu

At the very beginning, when you first enter the market, you can see the shop on your right. This shop provides the fresh Oysters to customers. In the summer season, you can eat a kind of oyster called iwa kaki, and in the winter you can eat ma kaki. Iwa kaki is much bigger than ma kaki. (see the photos below). Its taste is juicy. Ma kaki is smaller than iwa kaki, but its taste is much creamier than iwa kaki. You can eat them either raw or grilled. We suggest you try eating raw oyster. The taste is amazing. If you visit Nishiki Ichiba, you should definitely go to Daiyasu.

Inside “Daiyasu”

Up “Iwa kaki”, Down “Ma kaki”

Soybean Shop: Kyo no Omamehan

A lot of flavor in the store.

Just nearby Daiyasu, you can find a soybean store named Kyo no Omamehan. If you can’t find it, don’t worry. Your nose can lead the way, as the smell of beans will attract you. Inside, there are so many different kinds of bean snacks, as you can see in the photo. Also, you can sample every flavor of bean snacks on offer. Therefore, you can discover your favorite before making a purchase.

Also in this store, you can get some bean-flavored ice cream, which has an unusual, but pleasant taste. There are 3 flavors: black vanilla, tofu milk and black soy bean. These are limited to only 50 a day, so if you want to have some, you can’t be late. Otherwise they will be sold out. These bean-flavored ice cream prices are all 380 yen, so it’s quite reasonable.

We ate Ice cream.

Matcha Sweet Shop: Sawawa

Front of SAWAWA

After Kyo no Omameha, walk to straight to the east about 50 meters. There you will see a shop on your left that provides freshly ground matcha, or powdered green tea. The shop uses tea grown in Uji, which is a region in the south part of Kyoto. It is famous for its high quality green tea. Of all the sweets make with matcha in the shop, we suggest that you eat matcha warabimochi, which is similar to a jelly-like sweet made from bracken starch and covered in powdered green tea. The taste is mild and you can enjoyed the aroma of matcha. Of course, it goes well with freshly brewed tea.

 

 

 

Spice Shop: Ochanoko Saisai

Front of “Ochanoko Saisai”

After walking 1 minute more to the east, you will come upon a Kyoto-style spice shop named Ochanoko Saisai. There, you can buy the spiciest ichimi togarashi and shichimi togarashi in the world. Ichimi togarashi means ‘one flavor chili pepper, while shichimi means ‘seven flavor chili pepper’. Ichimi is made from dried red chili pepper flakes, while shichimi contains seven spices, some of which are uniquely Japanese.

Also, at the storefront you can try ichimi and shichimi togarashi rice crackers. I can tell you one thing that if you want to try this one, get a bottle of water beforehand. You’ll need it!

Click here to learn more about Shichimi.

 

Deep Fried Chocolate Shop: Inoue Tsukudani

Have you ever eaten deep fried chocolate before? At the bento store named Inoue Tsukudani, you can have a chocolate croquette. You might think this is gross, but once you eat it, your thinking will be changed. According to one of the shop’s workers, the chocolate is hard to melt, so you can also take it back to your hotel if you are full. In this store, there are a couple of seats, so if you want to eat comfortably, you can go inside and sit down. And if you ask politely, you can get cold or hot tea for free. Also, like in the picture below, you can leave your message on the wall. This is a great place to have a little fun time while you eat something delicious and unique.

We wrote messages.

Mochi Shop: Mochi Tsukiya

Front of “Mochi Tsukiya”

After your chocolatey visit to Inoue Tsukudani, walk straight to the east for about 2 minutes. You will then see a shop on your right, just east of Yanagibamba street. It is called Mochi Tsukiya and it is famous for mochi, or Japanese pounded rice cake. If you are hungry, you can eat high quality mocha filled with red bean paste. You can also sample mochi made with different ingredients, such as seaweed, cheese, fish eggs, pickled plum, grated white radish, and shiso (perilla) leaf. And if you feel hot, you can cool down with some kakigori, which is made with mocha and shaved ice. They have some chairs and tables, so you can take a break here. We suggest you eat kakigori. You can also order a half-size mochi with kakigoori. This shop was is so good that it was featured on a famous TV program. Don’t miss it!

Liquor Store: Tsunoki Shuho

You can buy this sake only here.

Near the east end of the street, you can find a liquor store named Tsunoki Shuho. It is over 220 years old. In this store, there are so many unique types of Japanese sake. Even you can taste the sake which Barack Obama drank during his visit. You can also sample sake inside the shop; just make sure do not drink too much. This is good place to buy a gift for your father.

 

 

Well, that brings us to the end of our recommendations for visiting Nishiki Ichiba. Did you find anything of interest? We think it is the best way to complete your visit of Nishiki Ichiba. In addition, there are a lot of other stores in the market, so it’s a good idea to explore some of the other shops in addition to following our guide. You might discover something even better. Anyway, enjoy your Kyoto trip!

Kiyomizuyaki

by Miyabi Saeki and Natsumi Awa

Kiyomizuyaki is one of many traditional crafts in Kyoto. The word kiyomizuyaki refers to all pottery made in Kyoto. In the past, people used many different words for different kinds of pottery. Kiyomizuyaki used to only mean pottery made near Kiyomizudera-temple. However, because Kiyomizuyaki was the most famous pottery in Kyoto, gradually it became the word most used to refer to all of Kyoto’s pottery.

In Kyoto, it is almost impossible to make a clay pot out of raw material, so the potters ordered the soil from other areas, blended them independently, and created works full of individuality. Even now, they continue to make works combining a comfortable feeling with an excellent design, such as a light finish familiar to the hands, or a pattern that contains the wishes of the four season’s flowers and a lucky omen. The individuality of each artist in the pottery is strong, and it can also be said that it is a feature.

History of Kiyomizuyaki

The origin of the pottery in Kyoto is not certain. However, there is no doubt that it started a long time ago. In the first half of the 5th century, under Emperor Yuuryaku, it is written that the pottery was made in Uji City and Fushimi Ward. After that, it is said that near the current neighborhood of Gojozaka, Kyoto, which is around Kiyomizudera-temple, is where the monk Gyouki built a kiln by the emperor’s order.

In the Muromachi era (1336-1573), color painted pottery was born by a technique transmitted from the Ming dynasty. Also, when moving to the Edo period (1603~1868), tea pots were made mainly in the Higashiyama area against the backdrop of the tea ceremony’s expanding popularity. This is what is widely called Kiyomizuyaki.

Since the Meiji Period (1868-1912), production volume has increased along with the introduction of modern production methods, and it has become an important export item for Japan. In addition, as new technologies from overseas were introduced, interest in new Kiyomizuyaki was born. After the war, there was the promotion of the conversion to environmentally friendly manufacturing facilities, but Kiyomizuyaki never lost its quality and artistic nature. The tradition continues to be protected as a high-quality ceramic featuring many varieties.

Currently there are hundreds of Kiyomizuyaki gathered in Kyoto. By master artists aiming for a new design while preserving the traditions of their predecessors, even today Kiyomizuyaki has an established position as a traditional craftwork representing Japan.

How to Make Kiyomizuyaki

There are two ways to make Kiyomizuyaki. One is by hand, and the other is by using a potter’s wheel.

These are the necessary materials for when you make it:

  • Clay: nowadays in Kyoto, people use clay from Shigaraki, Shiga prefecture, because the amount of clay from Kyoto has decreased since a long time ago and it’s hard to get now. Also, the quality of clay in Shigaraki is good, and Shigaraki is near Kyoto. Therefore, people use Shigaraki clay.
  • Potter’s Wheel: only for when you make Kiyomizuyaki by using a potter’s wheel.
  • Pallet (pottery knife): to fix the shape.
  • Kiln: a stone kiln to bake the pottery
  • Glaze: to make the pottery shine.
  • Oxide: to color the pottery, for example, with gold, silver, and/or copper.

To make Kiyomizuyaki, follow the steps below:

  1. Knead: press the air out of the clay to make the quality uniform.
  2. Potter’s wheel: put the clay on the potter’s wheel and shape it into what you want by using centrifugal force. If you don’t use the potter’s wheel, shape it by hand.
  3. Polish: fix the shape by pallet when it dries a little.
  4. Bake: heat it at 600-800 degrees until it hardens for the later processes.
  5. Sketch: sketch it by using metal or pigment.
  6. Glaze: coat the pottery with glaze by using brush
  7. Bake again: heat the glazed pottery at 1200-1300 degrees.
  8. Paint: paint it by using oxide and heat it a low temperature.

How to Use Kiyomizuyaki

Before using Kiyomizu pottery, you should put it in warm water or lukewarm water. Especially when you use soil vessels that are not strongly sealed, you can reduce the invasion of tea and seasonings by passing the pottery through warm water before using it. For instruments decorated with color drawings, gold, or silver, you should avoid using equipment that becomes high in temperature such as microwave ovens. When you find dirt or mold, it should wash out if you immerse it in bleach or boil water in it. If using bleach, please wash well with dishwashing detergent afterwards.

You can use Kiyomizuyaki as a cup, a vase, or as a plate. They are good for gifts. In Japan, sometimes people give them as wedding gifts. You can buy them at souvenir shops in Kyoto city, especially near Kiyomizudera-temple. A piece of Kiyomizu pottery can cost anywhere from 1,500 to 40,000 yen. It depends on where and what you buy, as well as who made it. The more complicated the design, the more expensive it is.

If you are interested in Kiyomizuyaki, you can experience making it by yourself by taking a pottery lesson at Kiyomizugojo, near Kiyomizudera-temple. For example, you can make a cup at Zuikougama, which is a pottery studio. First, you should put on a samue – which is an apron that looks like a kimono – to keep your clothes clean. Then you can begin making Kiyomizuyaki. Usually, it is hard for beginners to start from the first step, so the staff has already done the difficult parts. You do the other parts. For example, you do the shaping. It is a little difficult to shape it how you want, but the staff helps you when you are in trouble. After that you can choose the color from dark brown, light brown, and white. Also, you can carve your name at the bottom of the cup. This course is only about shaping, but if you want, you can also sketch.

There are six courses at Zuikougama, three of them are wheel pottery lessons, and the others are painting pottery lessons. The price, time, size, shapes and color are different depending on what you choose. Choosing a course is one of the fun parts, so please enjoy it. There are many places where you can take Kiyomizuyaki lessons in Kyoto. Some of them can offer English lessons. If you have a chance to come to Kyoto, why don’t you experience it?

Zuikougama (Kiyomizudera Trial Studio)

Address: 385-5 YasakaKamimachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0827, Kyoto prefecture

Open hours: 10:00 – 17:00

*Last Entry 16:30 (Cup Plan, Painting Light) 16:00 (others)

Reservation: 075-744-6644

kyozuiko@gmail.com

*By Email: please give them your:

1) Lesson of your choice
2) Date
3) Time
4) Number of Participants

Access: From Kyoto Station, Bus number 100 or 206.

Stop at Kiyomizu-Michi Bus Stop.

From Shijo-Kawaramachi, Bus Number 207.

Stop at Kiyomizu-Michi Bus Stop.

It is located near Kiyomizu Temple, just next to the five-story pagoda “Yasaka-No-Tou” (Yasaka Pagoda).

Making Japanese Sweets at Kanshundo

By Yuri Nonaka, Karen Takeda, Mayu Kuwahara

“Wagashi” are Japanese traditional sweets. The continental culture of Tang China was introduced to Japan by special envoys during the Nara period. At that time so Tang cakes were introduced to Japan. The Tang cake was used as an offering and they became popular among the Heian aristocrats because the cakes were so beautiful. The Tang cake was deeply related to the Imperial Court and it developed forms that were peculiar to Japan. Confectioners who made “wagashi” polished their skills and created graceful wagashi. They named each wagashi after the beauties of nature. Besides, when tea was introduced to Japan by Eisai, a Zen priest who founded Kenninji Temple, “kyogashi” (Sweets made in Kyoto) were already developed here. Kyogashi sweets were made with high-quality water and natural ingredients of Kyoto, so they were praised by Japanese people.

 

kansyundo

 

We went to Kanshundo (甘春堂) confectionary on November 14th to make kyogashi and interview wagashi makers. It took one hour and fifteen minutes to make four different wagashi cakes. One of them was higashi, which is made of sugar and has little moisture.  I made one that was in the shape of a maple (momiji) leaf. The others were jyonamagashi, which contains candies, creams, jam, or jellies, and is very moist. Each wagashi reflects the changing seasons, therefore, we made autumn ones. These days, wagashi makers are taking in Western holidays such as Halloween and Christmas.

 

namagashi

 

  Interview

Q : What kinds of customers do you deal with? Do foreigners also come here?

A : Many high school and junior high school students and families. And recently, foreign customers have been increasing. They are also great at making wagashi, because some of them learn waka and haiku.

Q : How many customers come per day?

A : The number of customers depends on the day, but the maximum is 180 people per a day.

Q : How much does each wagashi cake cost?

A : From 100 yen to 1000 yen. An assortment is usually between 2000 yen and 5000 yen.

Q : What is your recommendation?

A : “Chajyu no utsuwa,” which is a cake shaped like a Japanese tea cup. You can pour drinks in the cup and eat it too.

 

Information

Stores:

in Higasiyama・Kiyomizu

in Arashiyama ・Sagano

 

Open: 9:00

Close: 18:00

 

Timetable for making wagashi

1. 9:15-10:30

2. 11:00-12:15

3. 13:00-14:15

4. 15:00-16:15

Please book a few days in advance.

Charge for wagashi-making class: 2160 yen

 

 

namagashi2

Foreign Impressions of the Kamo River

By Hiroto Shima and Aina Sasaki

Is there a river where you live? Do you often go for a walk there? We are familiar with Kamo River, because our school is in Kyoto. There are paths along both banks where people walk, jog and bicycle. When we come to Kamo River, we always see foreigners there. So, we tried a questionnaire.

First, the Kamo River is the main river that runs through Kyoto, from the north to the south.. In the old days, the Kamo flooded its banks many times during typhoons but now such natural disasters are rare since high banks have been built. Now the river is a place of rest and Kyoto people can spend time there slowly. The Kamo river has some charms. One famous charm is its abundance of nature. Many creatures, such as the giant Japanese salamander and ayu sweetfish are living in the river . There are also many birds—ducks, white egrets, blue herons, cormorants and seagulls in winter.

The Kamo River has many beautiful views and can be recommended in every season. In spring many cherry trees are blossoming on its banks, so it is a popular place for cherry-viewing parties. So the Kamo is loved by many people including locals and foregin tourists.

Cherry tree

Cherry tree

 

The Kamo River is located near the Kyoto Station. The Kamo is a good geographic landmark, so it can help visitors navigate the city. It is good place to have lunch on a bench, take a little break or have coffee at a riverside café. We can often see local people walking or jogging on the mornings and evenings. The Kamo river is one of the symbols of Kyoto. More tourists will visit Kyoto in the future and they are sure to visit the Kamo River.

Jogging at Kamo river

Jogging at Kamo river

We met three foreign people at the river and asked them the following questions:

1. Where are you from?

2. What have you seen at the Kamo river that you will remember?

3. Do you have a river in your hometown? How similar or different to the Kamo river is it?

Their answers were so wonderful that we would like to relate them here:

First of all, we will introduce the answers of a French woman. She said that she recalls the memory of playing in the river when she was young. She lives in Lyon in France and they have a river too. The river is divided into two branches that are named la Saone and la Rhone. There people can run, chat together on riverside benches, play on the grass, skateboard—many people use the river as a place to relax. Her image about Kamo river is that it is more natural and at the Kamo river we can see cherry blossom and autumn leaves and feel the four seasons. Both rivers are similar in that they are places to relax and people can enjoy themselves without spending much money.

The second person we met lives in Finland. She said when she saw the Kamo river she thought that Japan is very beautiful place. Finland has a lake named Uthah lake, it is not river but many people relax there. She said she has never seen the people playing beside the Kamo, but Uthah lake has a lot of people playing. And also she said both are loved by many people.

The third person we met is from America. When she came to the Kamo river it reminded her of her boyfriend. Her boyfriend is not Japanese but he lives in Japan so when they meet in Kyoto, they definitely come to the Kamo River. She told us about a river in Minnesota: it is used only as a place for walking or jogging, whereas the Kamo is a good spot to chill out. Because there are cafes and convenience stores nearby,  the Kamo is very convenient. She also said the Kamo has great nature and is a good place to relax.

Kamo river at night

Kamo river at night