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  

Recommended Food Information in Enmachi, Kyoto

by Masashi Morishita, and Noa Murakami

Do you know Enmachi? It is a sightseeing spot in Kyoto. There are many temples and shops there. You can go by train from Kyoto Station in about ten minutes. In particular, we recommend that you eat delicious foods if you go to Enmachi because there are a lot of good restaurants there. We visited a restaurant and a café this time. The first one is a famous ramen restaurant. Ramen is a noodle soup dish that was originally imported from China. The next one is a cafe. It is a curry and pancake cafe. We want to introduce this restaurant and café.

Tantanmen YEBISU

Tantanmen YEBISU

At first, we will explain about ramen. As we said, ramen is a noodle soup dish. It has become one of the most popular dishes in Japan. It’s common to eat it for dinner. You can find ramen restaurants in every corner of Japan and the tastes of countless regional variations. We went to a restaurant called “Tantanmen YEBISU” in Enmachi. In this restaurant, Tantanmen is delicious. Tantanmen is Chinese noodles in spicy soup. It looks red, and it’s hot and spicy food. We actually ate it, and it was very delicious, and you can select the level of hotness (spiciness). Therefore, you can enjoy eating tantanmen even if you are not good at eating hot tasting food. Also, the “cheese tantanmen” is the most popular ramen for woman because it is not hot and even children can eat it. This shop is bright and very comfortable. The staff are very gentle and will welcome you with pleasure. In addition, there are some kind services. For example, it offers its customers paper aprons, hair ties, and soup spoons with small holes. Any customer who wears a white shirt or whose hair is long can enjoy tantamen without getting stains on

tantanmen ramen

themselves by using the paper apron and hair tie. Also, you can eat small ingredients like meat and green onions in tantanmen by using the soup spoon with small holes. The original way of eating ramen in Japan is to make a loud sound

cheese tantanmen ramen

while eating, similar to a slurping sound. You shouldn’t worry about making sounds when eating Asian noodles in Japan because eating loudly (slurping) is a good thing in Japan when eating noodles. It is very surprising. Actually, people will just think you are enjoying your noodle meal! When you eat tantanmen in this restaurant, you can make a loud sound, so let’s eat tantanmen.

Café and Bar, Off Time

front entrance

This café is a hidden café. All of the menu items such as curry, plate lunch, french toast, focaccia and sweets is homemade. In addition, this café has a relaxed atmosphere, so you can avoid the crowds and enjoy a leisurely meal because it located in a calm place. Also, there are a lot of miscellaneous goods, and the interior design is good.

You can enjoy reading Japanese children’s books such as “The Cat That Lived a Million Times” and the “Gama-Kun and Kaeru-Kun” series. And then, the main attraction is the variety of deserts on the menu, and you can enjoy a lot of different cakes every day. The cakes have a soft, spongy texture with a homely and nostalgic taste. It also isn’t too sweet, so even those who don’t like eating sweet things can enjoy them. However, you should visit this cafe early in the morning because the popular cakes sell out quickly.

Also, you can enjoy not only meals and sweets but also tableware like cups, spoons and dishes. They have cute designs and make you excited. In addition, the owner is a kind woman who is loved by customers, and she cooks all the food on the menu by herself. You will have a good time in this café. You should stop by Off Time if you visit Enmachi.

Conclusion

Many famous restaurants are lined up in front of the station in Enmachi, while there are many cheap and delicious hidden restaurants a little far from Enmachi station. Therefore, you will enjoy finding your favorite restaurants while walking around the town in Enmachi. Also, it is easy to search for your favorite restaurants or foods because most restaurants post their restaurant’s information on Instagram or Twitter. Enmachi is not a very famous place in Kyoto and there are few foreign tourists; however, it is a very nice place with good restaurants. Therefore, we hope that a lot of foreign tourists visit Enmachi after reading this article, and we want you to enjoy many restaurants and cafes in Enmachi, especially Tantanmen YEBISU and Café and Bar, Off Time.

Access information

“Tantanmen YEBISU” takes about 2 minutes on foot from Enmachi Station (JR Sanin Line).

TEL: 075-366-6767

Time: 11:00AM-11:00PM (closed on Tuesdays).

“Café and Bar, Off Time” takes about 10 minutes on foot from Enmachi Station (JR Sanin Line).

TEL: 075-801-8108

Café time: 11:00AM-5:00PM (Tuesday-Sunday)

Bar time: 6:00PM-10:30PM (Thursday-Saturday) 6:00PM-9:00PM (Sunday)

Tuesday and Wednesday are only café time (Closed on Mondays)

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.

SAGANO (Rakushisya, Nisonin, Chikurin, and Tenryuzi)

by Noa Murakami & Masashi Morishita

This article will introduce about a hidden and recommended spot in the Sagano area, which is located in the depths of Arashiyama in Kyoto. You can visit Sagano on foot from the Randen Line from Arashiyama Station. Although many tourists visit Arashiyama, only a few people visit Sagano because there are a lot of other tourist spots in Arashiyama that are well known by many foreigners. Therefore, we want a lot of people to know about the fascination of Sagano and to visit Sagano after reading this article. In addition, we hope that you enjoy new attractiveness in Kyoto and feel Japanese culture.

RAKUSHISYA

Rakushisya was a historical spot for Kyorai Mukai who was a pupil of Basho Matsuo and succeeded him from 1688 to 1704 as a Haiku poet in the Sagano area. Haiku is a Japanese poem with seasonal words. One of Mukai’s poems said that there were 40 kaki trees in this garden (Rakushisya) but most of the persimmon (fruit) fell down in one night. “Raku” in “Rakushisya” means “fall down” ,“shi” means “kaki” and “sya” means “building” in Japanese.

Therefore, it is said that this story is the origin of “Rakushishya”. You can enjoy 13 monuments from poems that were written by 13 people including Kyorai Mukai and Basho Matsuo. Also, you can enjoy a Japanese garden and Shishiodoshi: it is a Japanese traditional tool that was used to drive away deer, boar and birds. However, it was put it in some Japanese gardens because Shishiodoshi has a beautiful sound. In addition, you can post your haiku and read other’s haiku at Rakushisya.

NISONIN

Nisonin is a temple that was built by instructions of the Saga emperor 700 years ago. It became a designated cultural property of Kyoto. In addition, there are a lot of fascinating spots, and you can enjoy it there in all 4 seasons.

Especially, “Sando”, which is the road to go to the main temple called “Kouyou no Baba”, is known as spot of tinted autumnal leaves in the fall. Also, as you go up the stairs from “Sando”, you can see the main temple. In this space, there are two statues. On the right side is a statue of Shaka Nyorai and on the left side is a statue of Amida Nyorai. These were painted gold and put in the center of the main temple. Moreover, you can enjoy a gong called “Siawase no Kane”. This is a gong to wish happiness that we are alive, to give thanks for all things such as food, clothes and residential areas around us, and to make people happy all over the world. For these reasons, you have to ring the gong three times. Nisonin has a comfortable space and makes you relax. Also, you can look around and make yourself at home because there are only a few people who go there every day.

CHIKURIN

Next, we’ll introduce “Chikurin” in Sagano. The meaning of Chikurin is a pass which is covered with a lot of bamboo. It is one of the most famous sightseeing spots in Kyoto. You can walk through the pass covered with tens of thousands of bamboo if you visit there. It is very beautiful.

Many tourists visit this place every day. We recommend that you go there in the early morning or in the evening if you want to take beautiful photos because there are few people at that time.  In addition, you can go sightseeing on a Jinrikisha (see the photo below). It looks like a sofa for two people with large wheels on both sides. If you feel tired, we recommend that you choose a Jinrikisha. If you visit Chikurin in the summer, you will feel a very cool breeze. Conversely, you can see Chikurin, which is lit up with a lot of lights when you visit there in the winter. Please visit Chikurin if you want to relax in nature.

a Jinrikisha

TENRYUZI

Finally, we want to introduce “Tenryuzi”. It is a historical temple registered as a world heritage site. It is one of the most famous temples in Kyoto. It was built more than 700 years ago.

When you enter inside, you can see a very beautiful garden. You can see cherry trees in the spring, and you can see beautiful leaves which turn red in the autumn. You can also see beautiful green leaves in the summer. In addition, this place turns into a delightful snow scene in the winter. You can see different views from the four seasons. Because there are directional markers (directions) and staff there, you can visit there easily and smoothly.

CONCLUSION

We visited Arashiyama to go to Sagano but there were a lot of people at Arashiyama Station because Arashiyama is well known and is a famous place in Kyoto. Therefore, we were not able to be relaxed. However, Sagano has only a few people who visit there every day. It is a very quiet place, which is full of nature. There were directions in foreign languages such as English, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, so you will be able to go sightseeing in peace. There are also a lot of historical Japanese buildings in Sagano, and there is also a souvenir shop nearby. We think that Arashiyama is a good place. However, we recommend that you go to Sagano to go sightseeing. Please go and have a wonderful time.

Access Information

Rakushisya“: It takes about fifteen minutes on foot from Saga Arashiyama Station (JR Sagano Line).

It takes about fifteen minutes on foot from Arashiyama Station (Keifuku Dentetsu Arashiyama Line).

It takes about twenty five minutes on foot from Arashiyama Station (Hankyu Line).

TEL: 075-881-1953

Time: 9:00AM-5:00PM

Nisouin“: It takes about ten minutes on foot from Saga Arashiyama Station (JR Sagano Line).

It takes forty-five minutes by bus from JR Kyoto Station.

TEL: 075-861-0687

FAX: 075-861-7972

Time: 9:00AM-4:30PM

Chikurin“: It takes about five minutes on foot from Arashiyama Station (Keifuku Dentetsu Arashiyama Line).

Tenryuzi“: It takes one minute on foot from Arashiyama station (Keifuku Dentetsu Arashiyama Line).

TEL: 075-881-1235

Time: 8:30AM-5:30PM (March 21st-October 20th)

    8:30AM-5:00PM (October 21st-March 20th)

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.

Over-Tourism in Kyoto

By Aki Kawashima, Arisa Yamauchi and Haruki Ishimoto

  Kyoto is the one of the oldest cities in the world. Just ten years ago, the number of inbound visitors to Kyoto was only 930,000. In 2011, the number dropped by almost half. This is because of the Tohoku earthquake. In the period after the earthquake, the number shows a dramatic improvement. In 2013, “Washoku”, a traditional Japanese cuisine, was added to the World Heritage List for food. The following year, Kyoto was chosen as the World’s Best City for the first time by “Travel + Leisure” – one of the most influential travel magazines in the world. In 2015, Kyoto was chosen as No.1 again. Since then, the number of tourists has exploded. About 3.5 million people from overseas visited Kyoto in 2017 and the number of people from different countries continues to rise. Surprisingly, in fact, the number of tourists has increased by seven times, 5,000,000 people since 2011. In this article, we would like to introduce about the problem of transportation and the garbage problem in Kyoto city as a result of ‘Over-Tourism’.

Why Has Kyoto Become So Popular?

There are many reasons to answer this question. First, Kyoto is much safer than Europe at the moment (2019), so tourists who come here from Europe, for example, don’t have to worry about crime. Indeed, Kyoto is one of the safest international cities on the planet. Second, the cost is very reasonable. The weak yen makes Japan a cheaper holiday destination. This has also contributed to a sharp increase in tourists. Moreover, direct international flights from Europe to Japan have been increasing. Finally, the Japanese Government also has relaxed visa restrictions for visitors from Asia, particularly China. Thus, the increasing number of tourists in Kyoto is actually better for the economy. However, “too many tourists” can bring problems to a popular destination such as Kyoto. For example, manner and congestion, to name a couple.

Do You Know The Word “ Over-Tourism”?

Nishiki Market

 The word “over-tourism” is quite new, so it hasn’t formally been entered into popular dictionaries like Oxford or Collins. This means that when a place starts to become popular or fashionable to visit, problems occur: crowded buses and noise pollution to name just two. It goes without saying that having too many people in the same place also contributes to the problems of garbage. In other words, a rapid increase in the number of tourists to Kyoto is having a serious impact on local people’s daily lives.

Local People

The rapid increase in the number of tourists in Kyoto is having a serious impact on the local population and is becoming extremely frustrating about this problem. Let us outline a few of them in more detail. First, the most serious problem is public transportation. You will see many tourists waiting for the bus in long lines. This creates much longer waiting times at the bus terminal in Kyoto. And tourists often ride the bus with suitcases. It blocks local people, so they can’t find seats. It is really uncomfortable and inconvenient. Perhaps inconsiderate, too. But this is part of modern daily life in Kyoto these days. Actually, we have seen this situation many times. But we couldn’t work out why they always use buses and not the subway. We searched on the Internet, and I we found a clear answer to our question. In Kyoto, there is a travel pass for buses everyday. Tourists can take a bus as many times as they want and visit the key sightseeing spots cheaply. Indirectly, and attempt to make Kyoto more attractive place to visit, this travel way is creating problems by making the public transport system, especially buses, overcrowded. Secondly, we would like to highlight the problem of garbage. This has also become a serious problem. Actually, Kyoto has found a way to solve it. Ten years ago, in the Kamo River, there were a lot of trash cans along the banks. You could eat lunch and throw it into the trash can. You could also do fireworks and throw them into the trash can. With good manners, the riverside was always kept clean. But some tourists throw trash cans for their private-use. Also, 6 years ago, the Kyoto government decided to remove all trash cans from the Kamo River area. However, the more the number of tourists has grown, the more the amount of garbage has increased.

Nishiki Market and Gion

Gion (Hanamikoji Street)

Nishiki Market and Gion are now one of Kyoto’s most popular tourist spots in Kyoto. Tourists can easily experience eating traditional Kyoto food while walking through Nishiki Market. As a result, some tourists throw their garbage on the street on and around Nishiki Market. In addition, in Gion, for example, trash cans become full quickly, so staff have to replace garbage bags many times in a day. This behavior has a negative impact on the local people.

Solution

Finally, we will suggest what we would do for the ‘over-tourism’ problem. In terms of over-tourism, things could get a lot worse before they get better. Personally, and in addition to the solutions mentioned above, we feel the Kyoto City Government could do more to teach tourists how to behave. What we mean is: manners. Japan is going through a tourist boom. As a result, we have the opportunity, more than at any time before, for cultural exchange. If we embrace this opportunity, we believe that we can make Kyoto a better place for residents and visitors alike.

Samurai Kembu Theater

by Yusa Inoue & Misaki Horita

Most tourists have enjoyed shopping sprees in Japan, but recently they have become interested in the experience of traditional Japanese culture. One such experience is kembu, which is a traditional Japanese stage performance art with the katana, or Japanese sword.

To understand kembu, you should first understand something called shigin, which is to combine poetry – especially Chinese poetry and Japanese poetry – with music. Kembu and poetry are said to dance in accordance with Shinto. And when a person dances with a sword, that is basically kembu. Without a sword, we might call it poetry dance. In the movie, The Last Samurai, you can see an actor performing kembu on the day before the battle.

Samurai Kembu Theatre

Many foreigners imagine that there are samurai in Japan, even now. About 70% of foreigners come to Japan with this image in their heads. However, of course, even though we have lived in Kyoto for a long time, we have never seen any samurai while walking around. However, we understand the desire to see a real samurai, so we suggest a place where visitors can not meet any samurai, but can feel like they have. It is a place where visitors can experience being a samurai and seeing a sword dance, It’s called Samurai Kembu Theater, and it is located in Sanjo street. In this theater, visitors can take a lesson to be like a samurai, and they can wear samurai’s clothes, and then take photographs to commemorate the experience.

In this way, visitors can enjoy the traditional culture of Japan while making a precious memory.

Types of Courses

The Full Course

The Full Course allows visitors to experience the Samurai Spirit by performing kembu. In this course, they will learn the basic techniques of kembu, such as handling a Japanese sword, performing slashing techniques, and employing some simple samurai actions. They will also learn the correct way of bowing and walking in traditional Japanese arts. The course is completed with a performance by each participant. The will perform with their sword on stage, accompanied by the song of a poem written by a samurai. There is some time allocated for picture-taking after changing into the costumes. The instructor will also help participants by showing them some cool Samurai poses.

The Light Course

In this course, participants can learn and practice some aspects of samurai etiquette, as well as practice basic kembu, including how to use the Japanese sword. Also, there is some time allocated for picture-taking after changing into the costumes. As in the Full Course, the instructor will help participants get into some cool Samurai poses.

Feedback from participants is often enthusiastic. Not only can participants learn about the history and tradition of samurai, but they can also have a lot of fun doing it. Even better, they have great photographs of themselves that can prolong their memories for many years to come. Also, the instructors speak good English, so visitors will have no problem communicating with them. Moreover, Samurai Kembu Theater was chosen as one of the top five sightseeings spots in Kyoto in 2016.

Conclusion

As you can see, we highly recommend the Samurai Kembu Theater to visitors to Kyoto. Visiting Kyoto should be more than just shopping and temple viewing. We think it is also necessary to spend time and money for memorable experiences, like the ones offered at Samurai Kembu Theater. In fact, even most Japanese people do not know how to dance Kembu. Furthermore, there are even plenty of people who do not even know the meaning of Kembu. Therefore, you should consider adding a visit to Samurai Kembu Theater to your travel itinerary for Kyoto.

Souvenirs in Kyoto

When you go to Japan, you can find a lot of souvenir shops, especially in Gion, Kawaramachi, Shinkyougoku, and places close to famous temples. Kyoto’s souvenirs are mostly traditional Japanese things. Therefore, people come to collect them from all around the world, include Japanese people. We focused on one of the souvenir shops in the Shikyogoku area of downtown Kyoto. It is called Kyo-no-Furusato, which means “Hometown of Kyoto.” They can speak seven languages, and are open from 10:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Kyo-no-Furusato is located on Shinkyougoku street, which is about 10 minutes on foot from the Hankyu Kawaramachi station. As you walk towards Kyo-no-Furusato, you can see many local shops. We chose to focus on this shop because there it is a very popular and busy shop. There are three main very popular souvenirs in Kyo-no-Furusato, so if you are interested in getting some great souvenirs from Kyoto, you should go there.

Fuurin

The first souvenir is called Fuurin, which is a bell made of metal, glass, and/or pottery, with a strip of paper dangling below it. You can enjoy hanging it under the eaves. In the picture seen here, the front is made of metal and the back is made of glass. We usually use it from the summer to the beginning of fall. When we hear the Fuurin sounds, our mind becomes calm and at ease. It is known as amulet. It was first used by nobles and then later used by the general population. 

The metal ones are traditional, while the glass ones is are more modern. Both of them are the poplar. You can find them in the center of shop.

Ochoko

An ochoko is a small bowl like a glass when you drink tequila shot. It is made from glass and pottery. The name ochoko comes from choku which mean ‘little by little’. We usually use it when we drink Nihonshu, or Japanese sake. The alcohol percentage is high, so we drink it with an ochoko. At first, it is used exclusively by nobles. But its use spread to the common people in an interesting way. The pottery in the form of Higuchi seems to have been old, but it was explosively spread in the middle of the Edo period when Soba (buckwheat) noodles were popular. They used it a way to drink Soba soup. After that normal people were able to drink sake then use the cup as glass of drink like now.

The ochoko in this shop has a lot of beautiful designs, which are all Japanese patterns. We recommend that if you would like to buy lots of ochoko, you can use them as ornaments. They are all so small, so you can bring them back to your country easily. You can find ochoko in the back of shop and along the right side.

Japanese Snacks

There are many Japanese snacks available in Souvenir Shops like Kyo-no-Furusato. Especially, Kyoto is very famous for green tea, so many snacks are made with green tea.

 Everyone knows Kit Kat. In Japan, however, the snack is made in a very Japanese way. For example, there are Kit Kat chocolates with sake of plum, chocolate with sake, chocolate with roasted green tea, green tea, and Uji green tea (Uji is a part of city of Kyoto that is very famous for green tea). In addition to Kit Kat, there are many other famous snacks from Kyoto, including:

1. Yatsuhashi 2. Malebranche from Cha no ka 3. Senju Senbei from Kogetsu 4. Ajarimochi from Mangetsu 5. Green Tea Corneta from Jouvancelle 6. Torori Warabi-mochi from Warabin 7. Kyo Baumkuchen from Otabe 8. Hogyoku-do’s Fox senbei from Hogyokudo 9. Macha Tea Roasted Chocolate from Nakamura Tokichi 10. Kyoame Koicha Temari

There are many kinds of snacks unique to Kyoto. However, it is not just Kyoto that has special snacks. Other prefectures also make unique snacks, so when you have time in Japan or when you go to other prefectures, it is better to find that snacks from that prefecture. It can be a very interesting experience during your trip.

In conclusion, Kyoto is wonderful city, especially for traditional things. When you come to Japan, you must be open minded, so it is important to try things outside of what is normal for you. For example, you can buy a Huurin and use it in your own country. In this way , you can feel the Japanese summer in your own country, or choose Kyoto’s special snacks and eat them in your country with your family, friends, and neighbors. You can share what Japanese people like the most. Let’s enjoy your trip to Kyoto by experiencing true Kyoto things.

Nishijin-ori

by Genki Ueno & Sakoda Shumpei

Japan is home to arguably the most unique cultures in the world, with its unique blend of old
tradition and a technologically advanced society. For many newcomers, it may feel like
walking through a couple of centuries of rich history in only a day. Hence it comes as no
surprise that since a few years ago, Kyoto, the heart of old Japanese tradition, has become
one of the most famous and popular tourist destinations in the world.

Foreigner Appeals: Kimono

Some traditions are still practised in Kyoto today, the most well-known example perhaps
being the fascinating world of the geisha. Geisha often, if not always sport a painted face with
jet black wigs adorned with beautiful accessories, but it is the beautiful traditional item of
clothing known as a “kimono” that they wear that piques the interest of many tourists, as they
flock from around the world to try this special garment. As the number of visitors from foreign
countries has been increasing, producers have been making kimono in “foreigner sizes” to
further appeal to tourists, encouraging them to try this experience. It is only after try wearing it
that they will truly realise its beauty and intricacy. Kimono has a set of complicated rules, and
it is a major task to coordinate all the pieces properly. People usually need help from the shop
assistants, and the process is quite time-consuming, and it is not exactly the most
comfortable thing to wear. As tedious as it may sound, wearing kimono is truly an art, and is
extremely special for anyone who is fortunate to have the experience of wearing one.

The Art of Nishijin

There are many kinds of Kimono; the one chosen for discussion is a woven Obi called
“Nishijin-ori”. Nishijin weaving, the type of weaving used to make these obi, originated in
Kyoto over 1200 years ago. It uses many different types of coloured yarns, which are weaved
into decorative designs. Nishijin-ori is the most sophisticated and treasured Obi in
Japan. Each obi is unique and are known to have spectacular designs, largely due to the fact
that Nishijin weaving employs very tedious and specialised procedures, thus ensuring the
quality of this art form.

As mentioned, the Obi is undoubtedly what represents the craftsmanship of the Nishijin-ori
art. Its threads come in many colors, including gold, and it is glamorously thick and rich, so it
goes without mentioning that they are very heavy as well. Though Nishijin Obi are indeed very
expensive, one is enough to last a lifetime. In recent times, more items of clothing have been
made employing the Nishijin technique, such as neckties. From a large obi to a small key
holder, it is assumed that no matter the size of the item, products from Nishijin-ori are always
impeccably made with remarkable quality. Due to its popularity and unique beauty, Nishijin-ori
also receives many orders from famous designer brands around the world such as Chanel,
Louis Vuitton and Dior to make other products, such as wallets, bookmarks and other
accessories. Known celebrities have also commissioned such items. Products that are made
of Nishijin-ori are great to own and can be enjoyed for a long time — it is rare to find such
timeless beauty.

History and Origin

While Nishijin-ori‘s origin lie in Kyoto, it’s beginnings are specifically linked to the Yasushi
family, who immigrated to Kyoto from China around the 5th to 6th century, and introduced
how to make silk textiles to the local people. By the 8th century, the royal court had created
an official branch to supervise the textile artists, and their production. In other words, this was
a government owned and operated industry. These artists used to live together around
Chouza machi, Kamigyo ku, Kyoto, which later on became a textile city. Between 1467 and
1477, during the Onin war, Kyoto suffered a long period of civil war between the East and the
West, and many artists fled Kyoto. As a result, the whole industry was almost extinguished.
Though the demand for these products dwindled in the 15th century, it regained popularity
soon after the war ended, and the art of weaving began to thrive once again. The textile
industry was revived in the area of Imagawa, Omiya.The growing weaving community
supplied materials for products commissioned by the Imperial Palace and samurai lords. As
these products were almost exclusively commissioned by aristocratic figures, the community
was rewarded generously. This increased productivity, leading to the development and
refining of new procedures to create newer, more intricate designs, such as the use of the
gold brocade and Damask silk that originated in China, during the Ming Dynasty. The literal
translation of “Nishiji” is “the West position”, referring to to the area in which many Kyoto
residents returned home after the war ended, in 1480.

However, the art of Nishijin faced another crisis in 1837, as there was an abrupt stop in trade
due to the unavailability of materials due to crop failures. Kyoto as a whole faced hard times,
and when the new capital of Japan was announced to be Tokyo, this was thought to be the
end of the Nishijin era. Thankfully, the art was brought back to life nearly half a century later,
after the Japanese travelled to Europe and learned new weaving techniques (such as the
Jacquard loom and the flying shuttle), later incorporating them into their own traditional
techniques. By the end of the 19th century, the Nishijin textile trade was well-developed and
possessed technology shared by the Europeans. This also marked the beginning of the use
of machinery in Japanese trade.

Nishijin in the Present and Future

Today, Nishijin weaving is seen more frequently in Japanese ceremonies, most prominently in
traditional Japanese weddings. It can be seen specifically on the bride’s kimono, which have
usually been handed down from many generations. These designs typically range from
scenes of nature, different breeds of birds, and several different types of flowers.
Taking into account its rich history, it is unsurprising that the intricate art of Nishijin weaving
still thrives even to this day. Commissioning or purchasing an item of Nishijin origin is
expensive, and only those of great affluence are able to afford them.

However, the Japanese textile community has dedicated the “Nishijin textile center”, rightfully located in Kyoto, to anyone and everyone who is interested in experiencing the meticulous process of Nishijin
weaving, as well as seeing the spectacular art up close.