ART AQUARIUM

April 23, 2018

by Nami Shinkado, Sakina Nishitsuji & Shiho Tojo

The Art Aquarium is a special art exhibition held each year in Japan, and has already been experienced by a total 7.8 million people in the last 10 years. The most recent location was at the famous Nijo Castle in Kyoto, where the Restoration of Imperial Rule (Taisei Hokan) happened 150 years ago. The Art Aquarium an underwater exhibition that uses new technology such as light and images, the motif being Japanese. The main motif is koi, or Japanese goldfish, which became associated strongly with Japanese culture in the Edo period. Art Aquarium is world of Japanese art that centers around the goldfish and colored carp which express the beauty of Japan, and the traditional Japanese culture of Kyoto, including kimono, Japanese confectionery, green tea, and sake. These will be brought back to life as art and fused together with new art skills. In the exhibition, there are various kinds of goldfish, from a high-quality type that we cannot usually see to the type often seen in local festivals. The goldfish is an aquarium fish that has a history that was made by people. Art Aquarium is a very colorful and relaxing place created by Hidetomo Kimura. He makes a stage out of a World Heritage Site like Nijo Castle and attracts people by offering a unique worldview.

Hidetomo Kimura

Hidetomo Kimura was born in Tokyo in 1972.  He is an artist who combined the concepts of ‘aquarium’ with ‘art’ to create a unique exhibition by designing the interior, the music, the image, and space layout. Later, he accomplished an incredible feat by taking the Art Aquarium exhibition to Milan, where he got rave reviews for his art and design. He always tries new things all over the world. Moreover, he always does it with goldfish. He said the reason why does choses the goldfish is that it is a work of art created by hand.

Attraction of Art Aquarium

In 2017, Art Aquarium was held at Nijo-jo Castle in Kyoto. Nijo-Castle was built in 1603, during the Edo period, so it has over 400 years of history. It is recognized as a national treasure and registered as a World Heritage Site. The admission fee to the exhibit was 1,500 yen per person, with children being just 1,000 yen, while children under 4 are free of charge.

Art Aquarium is really beautiful and mystical, while being held at night in a special place normally off-limits to guests. In 2017, it was held from October 23 to December 14, from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM (Last entry: 9:30 PM). So, if you visit the exhibition, you can see Nijo-jo Castle with a different atmosphere than usual.

Art Aquarium uses a lot of real goldfish and colored carp. They were lit up by various colored lights, for example, red, blue, yellow, purple, green and so on. Those goldfish and colored carp express the beauty of Japan and the traditional Japanese culture of Kyoto. Art Aquarium is a very famous event for both Japanese and foreign people alike. That is because, Art Aquarium is not only lit up at night with goldfish and colored carp, but also offers visitors beautiful sounds and light projections. This performance has great appeal to guests. If you go to Nijo-jo Castle, you can enjoy seeing many goldfish and to spending a wonderful time. There are also some nearby shops and restaurants, so you can eat delicious food and drink alcohol, coffee or tea. In addition, there is a souvenir shop, where all sorts of things are sold. For example, they sell postcards of Art Aquarium, brochures, candy, accessories, and so on. Therefore, if you go to this event with friends, family or a partner, you can leave with some great memories.

About Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle is a Japanese castle built in the Edo period in Nijo Town, Kyoto City. It is a flat castle in the city of Kyoto and it was a castle built by Ieyasu Tokugawa, who won the battle of Sekigahara in 1603. The castle inside Nijo castle consists of Honmaru Palace and Ninomaru Palace, each with its own garden. Ninomaru Palace is the largest, consisting of 3,300 square meters and 33 rooms. Moreover, Nijo Castle was registered as a World Heritage Site in 1994. Also, it is famous for being the place where Taisei Hokan occurred, when the Edo Shogunate returned governance to the Imperial Court in 1867, signifying the end of the Edo Shogunate. It was done by Yoshinobu Tokugawa, who was thr 15th generation of Tokugawa. In 2017, it was just 150 years from the year of Taisei Hokan occurred. To celebrate it, Art Aquarium was held in a grand way.

In conclusion, Art Aquarium attracts people with in various ways, from its beautiful real goldfish, to various forms of aquariums, to lighting up the space with various colors, and so on. By combining these, a magnificent performance is created. Thanks to these performances, Art Aquarium has become a popular spot for many tourists, causing a queue of people there every day there. It is fantastic!

Also, Nijo Castle is a very famous place historically, so on the day when Art Aquarium is not held, you can still visit Nijo castle. We recommend this aquarium spot and Nijo castle for everyone. We hope you will go there with the people you care most about.

Address of Nijo Castle

541, Nijojo-cho, Nijo-dori Horikawa Nishi iru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto

Train
JR Kyoto Station→
City Bus Routes 9, 50 and 101 ⇒ Get off at Nijojo-mae station

Car
It is about 30 minutes from both the Kyoto-Higashi Interchange and the Kyoto-Minami Interchange on the Meishin Highway

The Kyoto Animation Company

by Hiroaki Kawakami & Yurie Natsume

Today, the Japanese animation market is active all over the world. Lovers of Japanese animation in foreign countries call it Japanimation. And one of the sparks of this popularity is The Kyoto Animation Company, which was leading the animation industry when Japanese animation was not well-known. Now, we’ll explain the history of The Kyoto Animation Company and its attractive points.

History 

In 1981, The Kyoto Animation Company was founded by Yoko Hatta. At that time, she was working at Mushi Productions, which was founded by Osamu Tedzuka. She later left the company and moved to Kyoto, where she married Hideaki Hatta, who later became a president of The Kyoto Animation Company. It started out as a limited company in 1985, and then became fully incorporated in 1999. Incidentally, the company’s logo is based on the kyo kanji, which is the first character of the Japanese kanji for ‘Kyoto’. In the middle of 1990’s, they took part in several Ghibli animation productions by Hayao Miyazaki. Typical examples are Porco Rosso (Kurenai no Buta) and Kiki’s Delivery Service (Majo no Takkyubin). The Kyoto Animation Company became highly acclaimed around that time. After the 2000’s, the company produced the TV animation Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu. This was their first prime production in 2003.

Production Style

The Kyoto Animation Company makes many kinds of TV animation. The most representative genre is romantic productions, like AIR, CLANNAD and Kanon, with the origin of these productions being games. In addition, they have also produced some comedies, like My Ordinary Life (Nichijou), and mysteries, like Hyouka, which is popular among fans of Japanese animation. As we can see from these examples, The Kyoto Animation Company is creating TV animation for a broad base of viewers.

One remarkable feature of the company’s style is its drawing in animations. For example, when they began making TV animation, they were drawing human eyes a lot bigger: approximately one-half of the face. Subsequently, this style became mainstream in the drawing a faces in animation. Likewise, in recent years, they have been drawing human hair so delicately, and this way of drawing is close to being at the forefront of the animation industry.

Another point worthy of special mention is how beautiful and elaborate the landscape in their animation is. In fact, some of the landscapes in their productions are based on real places. For example, the TV animation Sound! Euphonium (Hibike! Yufoniamu) is set in Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture. By basing the landscapes on real-world places, they can draw the landscapes in animations with high accuracy and high pixels. In this way, we can enjoy seeing real beautiful landscapes in animation.

Hibike! Yufoniamu

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

One of the most famous TV animations created by The Kyoto Animation Company is The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu). It was based on a series of light novels written by Nagaru Tanigawa. Immediately after televising, this animation attracted people’s attention immediately, and the popularity of this production became a social phenomenon in 2006 and 2007.

In the story, Kyon, the leading character, is a student at North High School in Nishinomiya, Hyogo. In the entrance ceremony of the high school, Kyon meets an eccentric and occult girl named, Suzumiya Haruhi. One day in class, she suddenly told all classmates, “First off, I’m not interested in ordinary people. But if you are aliens, time-travelers, psychics or strangers from another world, come see me. That’s all.” After this incident, Kyon come to be at the mercy of Haruhi’s whim by accident. Furthermore, Yuki Nagato, who is an artificial human created by the data overmind; Mikuru Asahina who is an actually time-traveler; and Itsuki Koizumi, who is an psychic; all gather around Kyon and Haruhi. Haruhi is determined to establish a club called the SOS Brigade, short for “Spreading excitement all Over the world with Suzumiya brigade.” This work is a story that describes and illustrates their extraordinary daily life.

As you can see, The Kyoto Animation Company has many attraction points and has made a big influence on the animation industry and society. Nowadays, domestic and overseas fans of Japanese animation are calling The Kyoto Animation Company: Kyo Ani. And because their works feature real-world places as the background landscapes for the stories, many fans choose to take a trip to visit these places from other prefectures or oversears. The popularity and impact of their productions has been having a positive effect on the economy. In this way, animations are not just wonderful works of two dimensions, but also the golden eggs from which are expected enormous economic development. Watching the animations made by Kyo Ani, you can feel the magnificence of the landscape in Kyoto or other prefectures. If you are interested in the creative works of this company, please watch one.

10 Minutes Mont Blanc

by Shiori Iwawaki, Maya Kondo & Eri Inaba

Do you know the Mont Blanc that you cannot eat without lining up in Kyoto? Mont Blanc is originally from Piemonte, Italy and it means White Mountain. A French chef was the original creator using a chestnut candied syrup called marron glace. In 1933, a Japanese chef, Mr. Keizo Nishida, went to Italy to learn how to make Mont Blanc, bringing the technique back to Japan. However, at that time not many people knew about Mont Blanc in Japan. Nowadays Mont Blanc is a very famous sweet in Japan. People think that Kyoto is famous for green tea, but it’s not 100% true. There is a now a shop called 10 Minutes Mont Blanc in Kyoto which is very famous right now. In this article, we would like to introduce about this shop’s history, its Mont Blanc, and interview its owner.

The owner of 10 Minutes Mont Blanc is named Mr. Keizo. He opened the shop in Kyoto because he was born here in Kyoto. One more reason is he worked at many bakery stores after he graduated from high school and he wanted to run a shop by himself. The reason he wanted to work at a bakery store was when he was a high school student was he first saw a wedding cake. From that time, he wanted to make a cake by himself. He finally managed to open his own shop at near Nijo castle, in the Sanjo-kai shopping district. The name of the shop was ‘Sweet Cafe Kyoto Keizo’. Before he managed to run this shop, he had worked at a first-class confectionery shop for 40 years. At that time, he wanted to open a shop offering to customers amazing sweets as soon as they are ready to serve. It has made happen by building his own pastry studio. He restricted a building which had been there for 100 years to create a beautiful shop. Because of it, people can feel missing and relaxing.

From inside his shop, we can see the garden that leads to the pastry studio. We can sit in a terrace seat and smell the scent of sweet cake. Then, we can observe the process of making the cake. Mr. Keizo wants to give customers a fresh taste, because he believes a cake that has already spent time waiting to be eaten is not a good for offering to a hungry customer. The concept of this shop is based on this principle, so they give the cakes to the customers as soon as they are prepared.

We asked Mr. Keizo about how to make the Mont Blanc, so he gave us permission to go inside of the pastry studio. Therefore, we were able to watch carefully how the 10 Minutes Mont Blanc was being made. First of all, they squeeze whip cream in the middle of a plate, and then put a sponge cake on the top the whip cream. Next, they put a crunchy meringue over the sponge cake. This crunchy meringue is the most important point of the 10 Minutes Mont Blanc. It takes about three hours to make the meringue, and the chefs have to pay close attention because the baking time may vary depending on how they mix the dough. Toward the end of the process, they squeeze chestnut paste all over the meringue. Finally, they decorate around the plate with chocolate sauce, sprinkle some white sugar powder and put a single chestnut on the top of the cake. They make the Mont Blanc after their customers place their order. They don`t stock the Mont Blanc in advance, but rather they start the process after the customers place their order. After the customers order the Mont Blanc, they can go to the pastry studio and watch how their pastry is being made. 10 Minutes Mont Blanc means if you eat it within 10 minutes, you can feel the meringue is crunchy. But if you wait longer than 10 minutes to eat it, the meringue become soft and the texture become totally different from the crunchy one. Therefore, you can enjoy two kinds of meringue textures with just one Mont Blanc.

We asked Mr. Keizo how he invented the 10 Minutes Mont Blanc. Then, he answered that he wanted to use meringue as a protagonist in this sweet story. As everyone knows, meringue always plays a supporting role; never the protagonist in the production of a sweet. He discovered the right type of meringue when he was making a chiffon cake, as it uses a lot of meringue. When he tried to bake the meringue, it became crunchy. This was the first step in the process of making Keizo’s Mont Blanc. Moreover, Mr. Keizo wanted to let the customer imagine the inside of the cake. The top four most popular cakes are shortcake, cheese cake, minnefeuille and chocolate cake, but these cakes can be seen through to the inside. On the other hand, the inside of a Mont Blanc can not be seen, so we must imagine what it looks like and what it is made of. However, to make use meringue as the main ingredient, you cannot take the pastry homme because it will not last long. The most challenging part of making a 10 Minutes Mont Blanc is to make a crunchy meringue. Therefore, they can only serve the pastry in the shop itself in order to keep the meringue crunchy.

Mr. Keizo said that he was most confident about his staff. This is because they are all able to explain about the menu and go to the customer’s seat and explain about the food and dessert. Also, Mr. Keizo wants all the customers to enjoy and smile and go back home and feel that they were glad to come to this store. His happiest moment is when a customer says with a big smile, “It is so delicious, I will come to this shop again.” For him, the 10 Minutes Mont Blanc is like his child because he worked so hard through trial and error to create it. In the future, he wants to make a new kind of Mont Blanc that is relevant to the season in which it is eaten, and made with seasonal ingredients like pistachio, cherry blossom, pumpkin, and many others. Moreover, in the shop there are many other kinds of cake, so he wants the customer to taste other things as well. Now, many people say “Let’s go and eat 10 Minutes Mont Blanc,” but he wants customers to say “Let’s go to Mr. Keizo’s shop” and “which cake should I eat today.” This is his goal and he wants to spread this shop around the world as well.

As you can see, Mr. Keizo has a lot of feeling for 10 Minutes Mont Blanc, and his store’s staff can give customers that same feeling when they explain about the way to eat the Mont Blanc. The staff said to us “Let’s enjoy the sound of the crunchy meringue, using a fork and knife.” After that, we started to eat with a fork and knife, and listened the sound carefully. When we eat just Mont blanc, it taste still dark, but when we eat it with chocolate sauce, that is becoming sweeter. From the beginning to the end, we could enjoy feeling the change of texture. After we left the shop, there was a long line of people waiting to get in. Finally, Mr, Keizo described 10 Minute Mont Blanc is as his son, so you should go and try this amazing cake.

Nishijin Brocade

by Motonari Iwamoto, Kana Kobashi & Kensuke Nagai

Nishijin Brocade is one of the traditional crafts in Kyoto.  Traditional crafts are disappearing year by year in Japan.  We have to protect traditions and pass them on to the next generation.  However, some traditional crafts are changing with the times. It is important to keep traditions, but sometimes it is not enough.  If the traditions change and evolve, people will pay attention to them and will want to know their history.  Therefore, we researched Nishijin Brocade and thought about its future.

Nishijin Brocade is a general term for Sakizome – or dyed textile goods – created in a certain region of Kyoto. Sakizome refers to the prior dying of the threads before the cloth is actually woven.  There are many different types of these textiles produced in small quantities.  Nishijin Brocade has been designated as a national traditional craft since 1976.  There are many kinds of Nishijin Brocade and they are all beautiful and produced delicately.  So, it is used in many products like Noh costume, a long outer garment, obi (traditional sash), underwear, neckties, and so on.  The name ‘Nishijin’ comes from the area of the city where the brocade was produced and traded.  It is in the northwest section of Kyoto.

History of Nishijin Brocade

As the Onin War (1467-1477), which split Japan into two parts, ended in the Muromachi era, textile craftmen who were spread out across the country returned to Kyoto.  The production of textile was resumed around this area, where it used to be a territory occupied by a western military troop led by Sozen Yamana during the War.  The textile town prospered before the war, an area known today as the northern west part of Kyoto, which had started being called Nishijin around that time.  The name of Nishi (west) – Jin (territory) was derived from the territory of the western military troop.  The site of residence that was owned by Sozen still remains at Itsutsuji-iru, Horikawa-dori in Kamogyo-ward.

Nishijin Brocade Types

There are 12 kinds of brocade that have been designated in Japan, and there are three different weaving machines to produce them. Now we will introduce some types of Nishijn Brocade.

The first is Tsuzure.  In this type, the weft is three to five times thicker than the warp, where the weft wraps around the warp.  So, the warp does not appear on the surface of it.  This way of weaving involves many small techniques, so it takes long time to finish.  The oldest it in world was made in 1580 B.C., around the same time as the 17th Egyptian dynasty period. In Japan, Sehei Izutsuya was the first person to weave it in the Edo period in Nishijin.

The second is Nukinishiki.  It is a general term of brocade that is woven with several threads and it is used to make gorgeous brocades.  Many of Nishiki brocades use Enuki that weft needs surface of the pattern. Nukinishiki represent most of brocade.  It has longest history of Japanese brocade weaves.  Its origin isn’t known for certain, but it said to have been woven from more than 1,200 years ago.

The third type is called Kasuri-ori.  It is created with some patterns by the warp and weft are resist printing in some designs.  There is the brocade of the satin weaving.  It represents a simple weaving.  At first, it began in India and then it arrived in Thailand, Burma, Java, Sumatra, Okinawa and finally to Japan.

There are five stages to the production of Nishijin Brocade.  The first is the planning. Producers think of the design and then decide on the pattern that how to make it with which colors.  The second stage is the preparation of the materials yarn sellers in white silk and dyers prepare them.  Nishijin brocades are weaved silk yarn of high quality. The third state is weaving.  Representative Nishiki-ori and Kara-ori are weaved by jacquard loom. Jacquard loom was invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1804.  In the old days, producers used Sorabikibata. They weaved Nishijin Brocades two people, so they can’t produce many products.  However, they began using jacquard loom, they can produce many products.  The final stage is that products are given a certificate stamp issued by the Nishijin Brocade Industrial Association.  It indicates the number of producers, kind of obi material, and structure of the fiber used.

Presence and Future of Nishiijin Brocade

In the past, the designs were drawn by hand, but today they are done on the computer.  As it became digitalized, making corrections became easier, but a lot of the work is still manual labor.  Recently, with the assistance of big designer names such as Dior, Chanel and Louis Vuitton, the industry is starting to focus on expanding abroad as well.  The new Nishijin strategy is to create interior designs, shawls, and bags.  As the number of foreigner visitors has increased recently, many wear kimono, and in order to adapt to this, producers started making foreign sizes as well.

There is a technique of knitting, which is a very complex structure, and this technique is weaving from a thick thread into a fine thread.  The complexity of building this technique will probably be close to the top in the world.  In addition, this technique is used on space projects.

We knew about Nishijin Brocade from before, but we made sense to be throughout this research.  It is used in many products, so recently many foreign people are interested in it.   Also, Japanese young people pay attention to it because the industry is now collaborating with some famous brands.  Time moves on, so traditional crafts have to evolve with time.  And we have to study about it and tell next generation from now.  If we and traditional industry do that, traditional crafts won’t disappear and they will keep their history.  Won’t you help to protect our traditions with us?

Kyoto’s Historical Boulevard

by Takumi Abe

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 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!

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

 

 

Kyo-yuzen

by Mayumi Otsuka, Mai Takezawa, and Kanako Wakamatsu

You can see Kimono (old style Japanese clothes) all over Japan, but especially in Kyoto. Kimonos have many different patterns and colors, but do you know how many of them are actually designed? Well, the designs on kimonos are often achieved by dyeing, using a method known as Kyo-yuzen. Here, we would like to introduce some aspects of this unique dyeing method.

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Kimono

1. History of Japanese dyeing methods

2. What is Kyo-yuzen?

3. How to dye by using Kyo-yuzen

4. Kyo-yuzen in foreign countries

5. Actual experience of Kyo-yuzen

History of Japanese dyeing methods

There have been a lot of dyeing methods used in Japan over the years, and most of these were developed from Chinese dyeing types. These were introduced to Japan several thousand years ago, and taught by people from China or Korea, they formed the basis of Japanese dyeing tradition. Before this people dyed clothes very simply by applying different types of grass, flowers or even mud. In the Asuka era, in the middle of the 6th century, there was a system developed that divided people by the color of the clothes they wore. This was to distinguish between class and status, and required greater use of color in fabrics and design. In addition, in the Nara era, in the 8th century, international trade was increased, which meant further diversification in dyeing methods were introduced and spread all over Japan, with each area developing its own style. One of the most famous of these was Kyo-yuzen, a dyeing method created in Kyoto that became hugely popular. Next, we would like to introduce this unique and beautiful, traditional Japanese item.

What is Kyo-yuzen?

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Kyo-yuzen

Kyo-yuzen is one of the dyeing methods developed in Kyoto during the Edo era of the mid to late 17th century. At that time, there was an artist in Kyoto by the name of Miyazaki Yuzensai, who had built a reputation for the exquisitely drawn folding fans he produced.  Due to this, his patrons soon began to encourage him to apply his artistic skills to designs for kimono, too, which he did.  Following this, his name quickly came to be associated with top class kimono design in Kyoto, hence the name that was given to this particular dyeing style, Kyo-yuzen.

There are some interesting features unique to Kyo-yuzen that need to be noted.  First, it is possible to apply any kind of design you want, just like drawing a picture.  Second, there are many colors and hues used in the production of Kyo-yuzen pieces.  Third, a technique using elements of glutinous rice is used to guard against colors mixing or merging together.  Finally, Kyo-yuzen is done by combining more than one dyeing method, and requires several steps to achieve a final result.  Through this, Kyo-yuzen is quite superior to other dyeing methods and has become very popular all over the world.

Kyo-yuzen in foreign countries

As we said before, Kyo-yuzen is very famous globally.  For example, some events involving Japanese culture have been held recently in Paris, and there are sales booths for Kyo-yuzen products set up there.  At the booths, stainless steel mugs that are made in cooperation between Japanese Kyo-yuzen craftpersons and craftpersons in Paris are sold, and these are also available in Eigamura, a very famous sightseeing spot in Kyoto. Selling a large number of these mugs means expanding the exposure to traditional crafts of Kyoto to people in foreign countries

How to dye by using Kyo-yuzen

There are two main types of dyeing method used for Kyo-yuzen. One of these is hand painting, and the other is using stencils. First, we will explain the hand painting method:

  1. Think of the design you want for the cloth and make a design pattern  
  2. Trace the design onto the cloth
  3. Apply the special glue ② to prevent the colors from mixing with each other (this is called Itomenorioki)
  4. Apply the colors to the cloth
  5. Steam the cloth
  6. Wash the cloth
  7. Steam the cloth again and stretch out the wrinkles
  8. Using a stencil, draw the design onto special Japanese paper and cut out the pattern to make the stencil
  9. Paste the cloth onto a wooden board that is called “Yuzen-Ita”
  10. Put ① onto ② and dye
  11. Same as ⑤~⑦ of hand painting method

Actual experience of Kyo-yuzen

In Kyoto, visitors can actually experience Kyo-yuzen at some special studios.  Participants can experience dyeing cloth items like handkerchiefs, wrapping cloths, and so on.  One session is usually about one and a half hours long, and costs between 1,500 yen and 2,500 yen. Therefore, you can experience a traditional craft of Kyoto easily, and after the lesson, you can take the Kyo-yuzen item that you made with your own hands home with you.

Japanese dyeing methods have continued to develop over the centuries, and Kyo-yuzen especially. This method was created by combining a lot of different dyeing methods, which have been improved upon over time, and have become famous all over the world.  You can buy Kyo-yuzen items in many places in Kyoto, and you can also make them by yourself.  Why not give it a try!  

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Kyo-yuzen studio

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Kyo-yuzen items

One of the studios where you can experience Kyo-yuzen is “Marumasu-Nishimuraya” in Kyoto city.

Here’s their website:   http://www.marumasu-nishimuraya.co.jp/

You can reserve an experience time and get the access details there.

Kyoto City Subway – Karasuma Line

by Yumika Fujii and Erica Wada

 

Kyoto StationJapan has a lot of public transportation, for example, Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, has an amazing fifteen subway lines. You can transfer everywhere by those subway lines, but it is very complicated even for Japanese tourists. However, there are only two lines in the Kyoto City Subway system: The Karasuma line and the Tozai line. If you read this article and master the Kyoto City Subway system, you can enjoy Kyoto with more ease and comfort of movement. Here we would like to introduce to you some of the main points and interesting features of this very important part of the Kyoto travel network.

 

Karasuma LineThe Karasuma Line

The Karasuma line was the first subway line in Kyoto City when, in 1981, the line connecting Kitaoji station to Kyoto station started. The extent of the line grew longer and longer until it reached its present length in 1997. The railway runs under Karasuma Street, north to south, between Kokusaikaikan station and Takeda station. In the beginning, the Karasuma line trains consisted of only four cars, but now they consist of six cars, following the connection to Takeda Station. There are actually fifteen stations now, numbered K1 to K15, and all the stations are located in Kyoto City, with the express and regular trains all stopping at every station.

Imadegawa Station

Imadegawa StationImadegawa Station is located in Kamigyo ward, Kyoto city, and the station number is K6. Imadegawa Station was opened in 1981 which was at the same time the line first began operations. This station is very close to the Kyoto Imperial Palace (Gosho), which is one of the most famous traditional places in Kyoto. Imadegawa station is really only close to the Gosho or Tohoganji Temple, therefore if tourists want to go to the other popular places, they would really need to use the Tozai subway line, Kyoto city buses, or Kyoto bus. However, compared to the Tozai line, the Karasuma Line is more convenient for schools and businesses.

 

Connecting to Universities in Kyoto

In the north of the city especially, the Karasuma line is a key transport link to a number of large universities. For example, Kyoto Seika University and Kyoto Sangyo University both run shuttle buses from Kokusaikaikan station; Kyoto Kougei Seni University is near Matsugasaki station; Kyoto Notre Dame University is near Kitayama station; Otani University is close to Kitaoji station; the Imadegawa campus of Doshisha University and Doshisha Womens’ University is close to Imadegawa station; the Kyoto campus of HeianWomens’ University is close by Marutamachi station; the Murasakino campus of Bukkyo University is accessible from Kitaoji station and the Shijo center is near Shijo station. As you can see, many universities have a station on the Karasuma subway line nearby, so this is one of the most important transportation methods for students in Kyoto to commute every day.

 

Kitaoji Bus Terminal

This is a big bus station hub located on the basement level of Kitaoji subway station and a large department store called Vivre. The buses that leave here head to Kyoto Sangyo University, Kamigamo Shrine, Kinkakuji temple, Shugakuin, and many other tourist spots all across the city. This makes the subway and the bus station a major transport hub for Kyoto City.

Karasuma Oike Station

Karasumaoike StationKarasuma Oike station used to be just another station until the Tozai Subway line was established, and the area near Karasuma Oike station was not well developed either. However, after the Tozai line started operations, Karasuma Oike station became one of the major stations to link the Tozai and Karasuma lines. This meant that the surrounding area also gradually began to develop, and is now a thriving business and commercial district in the city.

 

Kotochika Karasuma Oikestarbucks coffee

Kotochika is a commercial facility inside the subway stations at Yamashina, Kyoto, Shijo and Karasuma Oike, with Kotochika Karasuma Oike established in 2011. The shops and services you can find here are Daily Yamazaki (which is a convenience store with good bread), Kokokarafain (Drugstore), Ohgaki Shoten (Bookstore), Shizuya (Bakery), Raffine (massage and relaxation space), and Starbucks coffee. There are many people who drink coffee, or buy some when they get on the train or before going to their company.  People also want to buy their lunch before going somewhere, or read a book while they are riding on the train. In general, everyone needs something to do to kill time while riding the trains.  This facility is particularly useful for them, as they can buy all they need before boarding or heading out to work or school locally.

 

Tickets

There are many kinds of tickets available for the subway. A book of 11 tickets, from 1 city ward (210yen) to 5 city wards (350yen), can be bought for the price of 10 tickets because of bulk discount pricing. Daytime discount coupon ticket books have 12 tickets but you can only use them on the subway from 10am to 4pm. However, you can buy 12 tickets for the same price as 10 tickets if you purchase this way. There are also other types of transfer tickets that let you change to the other subway line as well as buses: Trafika Kyo card, Surutto KANSAI Miyako card, a booking card for exclusive buses, and so on, are also available.

In conclusion, Kyoto subway has two lines, the Tozai line and the Karasuma line. Both are used by a lot of tourists and a lot of citizens in Kyoto. Most stations on the Karasuma subway line are located near a university in Kyoto, so this line is in comparatively high demand by students living in Kyoto, or from other prefectures. In addition, there are many convenient ticket options that allow tourists to access the subway line during the day. Please use them to go to tourist spots, and enjoy a wonderful relaxing time in Kyoto.

 

 

 

Kyoto City Subway – Tozai line

By Yumika Fujii and Erika Wada

In the Kyoto area, there are many kinds of public rail transportation, such as JR (Japan Railways), the Shinkansen, and the Keihan and Hankyu Railways (which connect Kyoto and Osaka). There are also two lines of the Kyoto City Subway system; the Tozai line and the Karasuma line. They travel through 10 city wards, with the exception of Sakyo in Kyoto city, and Uji city, and each of them is used by many people every day for commuting and for pleasure.

Tozai Linemap

The Tozai line was the second subway line to be built in Kyoto city. When the Tozai line was inaugurated on October 12th, 1997, there were just 13 stations, from Daigo station in the east to Nijo station. After that, further stations were added, from Rokujizo station to Daigo station, built in 2004, and from Nijo station to Uzumasa Tenjingawa station, built in 2008. This means there are 17 stations in all now. Each station has a number, from T1 to T17 and all are located near famous and popular places for tourists to visit, or for people to get to their workplaces or school, even from other prefectures. In 2003, the Daigo community bus that is run by local citizens was started, and this also connects with the subway. Moreover, it is possible to use Yamashina station and transfer to the JR Tokaido and Kosei lines, so we can get to Shiga prefecture easily, and Nijo station to transfer to the JR Sanin line. We can also use Rokujizo station to transfer to the JR and Keihan trains and go on to Uji and Nara prefecture, and at Uzumasa Tenjingawa station, built in 2008, we can transfer to the Arashiyama dentetsu train and go to Arashiyama. Travelling east to west or west to east across the city has never been so easy.

macchaRokujizo Station

Rokujizo Station is located in Fushimi, which is in Kyoto City. This station is a hub for 3 different transport options: JR, City Bus, and the Keihan Railway. People can transfer here for Kyoto Station and Uji, which is famous for Japanese green tea.

Ono Station

This station is located in Yamashina, Kyoto, and the number is T04. This is near Kajuji. Kajuji is sometimes called “Kannsyuji” or “Kanjuji”, but Kajuji is the official title. Kanjuji is the temple at which the head priest has always been drawn from the Imperial family or the ranks of the nobility.

Keage StationNanzenji temple

Keage Station is located in Higashiyama, Kyoto City, and the number is T09. This station is very close to Nanzenji Temple. Nanzenji temple was the first temple built at the Emperor’s behest in Japan, making it the highest rank of temple in Japan. Moreover, it is famous and popular for its colored leaves in autumn, which offers one of the best views out of all the four seasons in Japan.

Higashiyama StationHigashiyama

This station is located in Higashiyama, Kyoto city, and the number is T10. To the west side of the station is the crossing at Higashiyama and Sanjo streets, so it is very accessible for tourist spots like Heian Jingu Shrine or Okazaki Park. In Okazaki, there are many cultural delights and facilities, such as the Modern Art Museum, The Municipal Art Museum, The Prefectural Library, Kyoto Zoo, and the Okazaki Athletic Field. Everyone can enjoy sightseeing here, and engage in different activities.

Sanjo Keihan stationSanjo Keihan Station

Sanjo Keihan Station is located in Higashiyama, Kyoto City, and the number is T11. This station is connected to that of the Keihan Electric Railway, which is a private railway line that goes to Osaka and Shiga Prefectures. This station is very convenient for people who want to go to the Gion area, and also Kawaramachi Street, which is the popular downtown shopping street in Kyoto. In addition, there are cafes, convenience stores, ATMs and other shops on the concourse of the station, so people can spend their time comfortably here.

Kyoto Shiyakusho Mae Station

This station is located in Nakagyo, Kyoto City, and the name of the station means “the station in front of Kyoto City Hall”. The station number is T12, and is the next station to Sanjo Keihan. There is only one automatic ticket gate here, so it is very easy to find, even for tourists from other countries. Kawaramachi Street is a short walk from here, but there is also a very extensive underground shopping mall that is convenient when it is raining up top.

Karasuma Oike Station

This station is also located in Nakagyo, Kyoto City, and the number is T13 and K07. The station complex is one of the biggest in the Kyoto Subway system, because people can transfer here from the Karasuma Line Subway. There are a lot of buildings, cafes and shops near the station in the business district, and you can enjoy STARBUCKS coffee on the concourse. The automatic ticket gates are provided on the basement level, the platforms for the Karasuma Line are on the 2nd basement level, and the platforms for the Tozai Line are on the 3rd basement level.

NijojoNijo-jo Mae Station

Nijo-jo Mae Station is located in Nakagyo, Kyoto City and the station number is T14. The station name means “the station in front of Nijo Castle”, so it is very convenient for tourists going to the castle. In fact, you can walk there in just a few minutes, and you should take Exit 1 for the easiest access. In addition, this station is on Horikawa Street, which is one of the main streets in Kyoto, and transfers to many city bus routes can be made here.

 

 

In conclusion, Kyoto City Subway system Tozai Line is a very convenient and reliable mode of travel within Kyoto City. If you visit Kyoto, you should be sure to make the best use of this form of public transportation to reduce your travel times, and make your stay more enjoyable.