Kyo-yuzen

January 21, 2017

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.

 

Geta

by Mayumi Otsuka, Mai Takezawa and Kanako Wakamatsu

Have you ever heard of ‘Geta’?

Maybe you know “Kimono”, which is a traditional style of Japanese clothing, but how about “Geta”?  Geta are a kind of shoe or sandal, and Japanese people wear them when they wear Kimono, like women wear high heels when they wear dresses.  Here, we are going to introduce Geta to you in three ways:

What are Geta?

History of Geta

Different types of Geta

In addition, we are also going to give you some surprising facts about this interesting Japanese clothes item.

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Geta

What are Geta?

As we mentioned before, Geta are a kind of old Japanese style shoe and people wear them with Kimono or Yukata, in general.

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Kimono

Geta are usually made of wood, with the price changing by the kind of wood used. If Geta are made of “Kiri”, for example, then they would be a high price indeed. There are some different styles of geta, but in general, they have three main components to them; “Dai”, “Ha”, and “Hanao”.  Dai is the base board that people put their feet on, and Ha are the pieces of wood that support the Dai from below. Ha means teeth in Japanese, and the name comes from the side view of a Geta.  Geta usually have 2 “Ha”. The Hanao is made of cloth and it is placed on the Dai. When people wear Geta, the Hanao passes between the big toe and the second toe, a little like a beach sandal. Geta consist of these 3 parts, and this type of Geta is the latest type. Then, how about the old style?

History of Geta

In olden times, Geta were made and used as work shoes in Japan. In the Yayoi period (about BC 300 ~ BC 300) people in Japan started using “Ta-Geta” (“Ta” means “rice field” in Japanese). At that time, rice farming was started, and people could not move easily in the rice fields because the ground was muddy and soft. Therefore, they made Ta-Geta to make it easier to work in rice fields. However, Ta-Geta did not have Ha and their Hanao were made of straw. Furthermore, another style, “Nezura-Geta” (“Nezura” is a kind of fish in Japan), were used on the beach or in the shallows. Nezura-Geta had needles attached to their soles, like spiked shoes, and people wore them to catch fish.

During the Heian period, (BC 794 ~ BC 1185), one type of Geta, “Takaba”, which had only one Ha, were worn by priests. They usually wore them when they climbed up and down a mountain. It sounds very difficult to climb up and down a mountain wearing Takaba, but apparently they were quite suitable for slippery mountain roads. However, towards the end of this era, nearly all the common people wore “Zouri” (that were made only of straw and very simple) instead of Geta, and Geta became a rare and expensive thing for the average person.   

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Zouri

It wasn’t until the Edo era (BC 1603 ~ BC 1868) that people started to wear Geta again, and this was because people started to become more interested in fashion.  They wore Geta not only as work shoes, but also as a fashion item. Also, up to then, Geta had usually only been worn on rainy days, however, from the middle of the Edo period, people began to wear them on sunny days, too. Thereafter, the skill of making Geta improved and the shops selling them began to appear, and in greater numbers. Because of this, more than 200 kinds of Geta were made at that time, and Geta became more and more famous among common people. So, what types are there around now?

Different types of Geta

Actually, there are many kinds of Geta still worn now, and a good example is “Ippon-Geta”. They have only one Ha, supporting piece, and are very good for your body balance. If you wear them, it can make your upper body stronger. It is also said that wearing Ippon-Geta can heal back pain or gonalgia, too. Another type is called “Tengu-Geta” because it has been said this type of Geta was worn by Tengu, a sort of Japanese monster, and also god, that has a long nose and red face. This simple variety is very similar to the Ta-Geta we introduced earlier.

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Ippon-Geta

Finally, we have “Okobo”. Okobo are often worn by Maiko. We talked about Maiko in a previous article:  

http://thekyotoproject.org/english/the-long-journey-of-becoming-a-maiko/)

The height of an Okobo is about 10cm, and are worn mostly by women. In the “Shichi-Go-San”, a festival in Japan to celebrate the healthy growth of children, girls often wear them. They also go by some other names, including Pokkuri, Koppori or Bokkuri, but this is different from place to place.

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Okobo

Conclusion

Geta is a traditional Japanese shoe, and, in olden times people used them as work shoes. Now, however, they are worn still as a fashion item, too. Recently, in Kyoto, the number of rental Kimono shops is increasing because of the number of foreign visitors interested in this style. If you go to one of these shops, you can try wearing Kimono and Geta and go sightseeing with them on. Also, most of the shops have hairstylists, so if you are women, you can try a traditional hairstyle. It costs around 3,000 yen 〜 6,000 yen, so we recommend you to try it. It may be difficult to walk wearing Geta for the first time, but it really is a uniquely Japanese traditional experience. You will surely enjoy Kyoto even more if you try out the old Japanese clothes style, Kimono and Geta!

Kyoto Surprising Fact

by  Sakamoto Keisuke, Sumikawa Tukasa, and Kinjyou Tetuya

Do you know Five-Story Pagoda? We call that building Goju-no-to . It seems like Most people misunderstand about Goju-no-to. Most people think that there is only one Goju-no-to. In fact, Kyoto have a lot of Goju-no-to. we are going to introduce various Five-Story Pagoda.

Five-story pagoda is several types. Ho-ryu-ji, Daigoji and Rurikoji are famous tower in japan. They are a national treasure. Daigoji goju-no-to is in Kyoto. It was completed in 951 years. When the war which is called ONIN WAR break out, Daigoji was burn out, but  five-story pagpda  rebulded later. Daigoji is the oldest bulding in Kyoto .

daigoji3 DAIGOJI TEMPLE

admission fee

Admission fee for adults is 600 yen. Junior and senior high school students 300 yen. But  kids under elementary school age is free. Daigoji goju-no-to is open from 9 am to 5 pm.

Access

Walk 10 minutes walk from digo station on the Tozai subway line.

 

Toji Temple

The tower of toji is the most highest tower in japan. Thoji have about 55 meters high . This tower repeated rebuilding. So, current tower is the fifth build in 1644. The tower was build in 883 at the first time.

Admission fee

Adults: 500 yen
High School Students: 400 yen
Junior High/Elementary School Students: 300 yen

Access

Access: 10-minute walk from To-ji Station on the Kintetsu Railway, City Bus Stop To-ji-higashimon-mae, 15-minute walk from JR Kyoto Station Hachijo-guchi exit

ninnaji6 NINNAJI TEMPLE

The most popular tower in Kyoto is the tower of ninnaji. Because, this tower was used by many movies and historical drama frequently. and It is registered as a world heritage. This have 32,7meters high and was build in 1637.

Admission fee

Adults: 500 yen, Junior High and Elementary School Students: 300 yen

Access

Access: 15-minute walk from JR Hanazono Station on the JR Sagano Line
2-minute walk from Omuro-Ninnaji Station on the Randen Kitano Line
City Bus Stop Omuro-Ninnaji

yasakanotou9 YASAKA-NO-TO

There is a Goju-no-t0 called Yasaka-no-to near Kiyomizu temple. We hardly see people who enter the precincts. It seems that people work in the temple is frequently absent. This building was made by Shotoku prince in 589. Yasaka-no-to have been reconstructed again and again. This building has 46 meters.

Admission fee

Every one 400yen

Access

10 minutes Walk from Keihan gion shijyou.

There are many World heritage in Kyoto.  Tourists will be satisfied with Kyoto . you Should visit this fantastic place at least once.

Yokai Street

By Ayano Seguchi  and Emiri Masunaga

The city of Kyoto has been called Kyoto-Makai for about 1,300 years now. ‘Makai’ means the world of spirits in English. This is because Kyoto has been related to ghosts and evil spirits since ancient times. In Kyoto city, there is a street named Ichijo on the northern edge of Heian-kyo in Kamigyo Ward. It is located in the center of the city. Ichijo is one of the biggest streets in Kyoto and corresponds to the same Ichijo-oji street of Heian-kyo (from 794 to 1191). The east-west streets which run every four cho (approximately 436 m) were called Ichijo-oji, Nijo-oji and so on, while the north-south streets were called Ichibo-oji, Nibo-oji and so on.   It has been said that Ichijo Street is a boundary line between the external world and the real world. Because of this, Ichijo has been famous as a typical example of Kyoto-Makai. It was said that Ichijo was the place where people met with evil spirits and Ichijo-dori Street was the way of Hyakki Yagyo, which is a mysterious legend. Hyakki Yagyo literally means ‘Night Parade of One Hundred Demons’ is like a procession of hundreds of demons and ghosts that wander about streets at midnight. Later, people gave the name ‘Yokai Street’ to a portion of Ichijo Street at the Taishogun shopping area. This revitalized the area in 2005.

Ichijo Hyakki Yagyo

At Yokai Street, Hyakki Yagyo is performed once a year in October. At the time of a day when the sun sets, it gets completely dark. Then it is said that ghosts and evil spirits start to wander about the street at the time. Therefore, people who disguise themselves as ghosts appear and proceed to the sound of whistles and drums in a line. It creates a very vibrant and colorful scene. The participants make a strange atmosphere by making the sounds of whistles and drums. The situation is appropriate to the name ‘Hyakki Yagyo’.   Many tourists form Asian countries such as China, Taiwan, South Korea, come to enjoy Hyakki Yagyo every year. This is because it is such a unique festival. However, children are scared of the people who disguise themselves as ghosts and they begin to cry. It is often too scary for children to see. There are large crowds of people during the procession. And as a result, it can be very difficult to walk around. You can probably guess that the day Hyakki Yagyo is held is much more vibrant than usual at Yokai street.

Mononoke Ichi

Also an important feature of the Ichijo Street region is the Mononoke Ichi, which is similar to a ghost-themed flea market. This shopping district voluntarily holds photo exhibitions of ghosts and various other events. For example, the sellers disguise themselves as ghosts and sell many kinds of food. Also, many of the stores in the area are decorated in a ghost or demon themes. In addition, many ghost researchers and writers from the all over Japan gather at this free market They sell many fine goods and unique articles, such as stuffed toys, accessories, convenience goods, masks of ghosts, ghost figures, ghost mango, and so on. In addition, there is also a place for cultural exchange, which attracts many Yokai fans from all over Japan. They look forward to it every year and buy many goods that they want. Whether they like ghosts or not, all people can come to enjoy Monoke Ichi.

Yokai Noodles

The most famous of local culinary specialties on Yokai Steet is Yokai Noodle. The color of the noodles is purple, while its soup is black. In addition, its ingredients are leeks, roast pork and red paprika. This gives Yokai noodles the appearance of a hell as a motif. The reason why Yokai noodles are black is to contrast the noodles with the color of ghosts. The noodle is stained with the ink of squid, while its soup is dyed with the seeds of a gardenia. Contrary to its dreadful appearance and color, its taste is very light. People who visit Yokai street eat it. You can eat it at a restaurant called ‘Inoue’. It is located in Tenjinbashisuji, Higashi-iru, Ichijo onmae-Dori, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. The cost of Yokai Noodle is 750 yen. You can also eat various kinds of dishes such as gyoza, tonkatsu, fried cartilage and a chicken cutlet.Tuesday is regular holiday. It is open from 11 to 14:30 and from 17:30 to 21:00. Kitano Hakubai-cho bus stop is the nearest bus stop. It takes a few minutes from the bus stop on foot.

Access

Yokai street is about 400 meters away from the Kitano Hakubai-cho station on the Keifuku train line. It is also 200 meters to the east of the Kitano Hakubai-cho bus stop, and 250 meters to the southwest of the Kitano-tenmangu bus stop.

Map

Taishogun shopping area

Kyoto BAL

By Yumika Fujii, Erika Wada & Konomi Shimbashi

frontThere are many shopping stores in the Kawaramachi shopping district in downtown Kyoto. The name of the district comes from Kawaramachi-dori, which is one of the main streets running north and south in Kyoto city. People who live in Kyoto and Kansai call the entire area ‘Kawaramachi’. There are many popular places in Kawaramachi, such as big amusement arcades, fast food shops, fashion buildings, department stores and so on. In addition, there are some famous places, such as Gion and Yasaka Shrine near Kawaramachi, so you can go there on foot. Both young people and elderly people can enjoy themselves in Kawaramachi because there are many traditional souvenir shops and modern restaurants. But among those, one historical place to shop is an impressive building called Kyoto BAL. The Kyoto BAL building has a long history of about 40 years, and a lot of people have loved it for a long time. However, recently it closed for 2-and-a-half years in order to rebuild and change the concept of the store.

Kyoto BAL

The BAL has two stores in Japan: in Kyoto and Hyogo. The Kyoto BAL is located just south of the intersection of Kawaramachi Street and Sanjo Street, on the east side of Kawaramachi. There are 8 floors, 2 in the basement and 6 above the ground, including 33 shops. Kyoto BAL was first built in November, 1970, as a building devoted to fashion-related shops that has a lot of attractive merchandise. Therefore, many people come to shop at BAL and they have loved it for a long time.  The original concept of BAL is the place where a lot of people can get together, like a party in France.

Recently, BAL has been closed down for renovation. The purpose was not only to change its appearance, but also its interior and concept. The result was a business space that three generations of parent, child, and grandparent can enjoy together. For example, there is the Café and Meal MUJI on the fourth floor, which is a café where you can enjoy the natural flavor of vegetables or fruits. This would be attractive to parents and grandparents. Children, on the other hand, can enjoy the colorful goods at Flying Tiger Copenhagen of Kyoto BAL annex, which is also located on Kawaramachi-dori. There is also the Tiger SpilBar on the third floor, where you can enjoy playing table tennis, table soccer, the board games, and so on. In addition, people can drink a glass of beer or a cup of coffee, so adults can enjoy it, too.

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The Appearance and The Interior

The appearance and the interior was significantly changed in 2015. The inner and outer appearance of the BAL is like a traditional American luxury hotel. The floor is made of wood, and the aisles is quite wide. In addition, there are many windows on each floor, giving a bright and expansive feeling to customers when they shop. Furthermore, a lot of sofas are set around the elevator hall, near the escalator, and also inside the shops on each floor so that customers can take a rest while shopping. Especially, the restroom for women on the 4th floor is bigger than any other, and is based on a beautiful white space, giving it a European atmosphere.

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Maruzen Bookstore

For many years, the book store called Maruzen was a Kyoto BAL mainstay. However, it disappeared from the BAL building in the mid-2000s for about 10 years. Fortunately, however, the historic Maruzen bookstore is back in the Kyoto BAL again. Maruzen is famous for the novel, Lemon (檸檬), written by Motojirou Kajii (梶井基次郎).   Motojirou Kajii was born on February 17th, 1901 in Osaka, and his life ended when he was only 30-years-old. He was a Japanese novelist, and he continued to write a lot of novels while he struggled with disease. Therefore, he is the one of the most famous novelists because he wrote a novel which combined the sensory with the perceptual. It is said that the famous novel, Lemon, is one of his masterpieces. In the novel, Maruzen is one of the featured locations. For this reason, Maruzen and Lemon will forever be intertwined.

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Maruzen was first built in 1872 and then relocated to Sanjo Street in 1907. After that it was relocated in its current spot in 1940, but in 2005 it closed down. During its existence, many fans of the novel, Lemon, put real lemons in front of the Maruzen while they felt sad. And now that is back in new Kyoto BAL, it is bigger than ever, spanning both the 1st and 2nd floors of the basement including a cafeteria where people can taste Lemon cake. Also, it features about 1 million Japanese books, including manga (comic) and study-aid books, and about 70 thousand foreign books. In additional, it has not only books, but also writing materials. Now that Maruzen is back, Lemon fans can once again put out real lemons when they feel sad.   As you can see, although there are many shops in the Kawaramachi district of Kyoto, it is Kyoto BAL that is one of the most historic and attractive buildings in the area. If you visit Kyoto, why don’t you go to Kyoto BAL and enjoy your time with family and friends.

Access to the Kyoto BAL

251 Yamazaki-cho, Kawaramachi-Sanjo Sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-city, KYOTO, Japan   You can go there by taxi easily, if you tell this address to a taxi driver. It takes seven minutes on your foot from Kawaramachi station, Hankyu It takes eight minutes on your foot from Sanjo station, Keihan It takes five minutes on your foot from Shijo Kawaramachi, bus stop of Kyoto City Bus.

Traditions of the Kamogawa

by Erica Wada, Yumika Fujii & Konomi Shinbashi

Kyoto is one of the most popular prefectures in Japan these days because it has a lot of famous places. The length of Kamogawa River is 31 kilometers, and it is home to such wildlife as great salamanders, black-headed gulls, sweetfish, and so on. In this article, we are going to introduce four traditions related to the Kamogawa: kawadoko, kyoyuzen, kabuki, and couples sitting on the riverbank.

Kawadoko

kawadokoOne of these traditions takes place in the summer season, and is called noryodoko (納涼床) or kawadoko (川床). Noryodoko or kawadoko is basically an outdoor wooden deck that is made on the river to offer food to customers for a limited time, between May to September. There are 96 restaurants in just 2 kilometers between Nijo bridge in the north and Gojo bridge in the south. People can enjoy eating and drinking on the noryodoko belonging to each restaurant. The entire region of restaurants is divided into four areas: Kamikiyamachi, Pontocho, Nishiishigaki, and Shimokiyamachi. The restaurants are not only Kyo-ryori (Kyoto cuisine) restaurants, but also other kinds of restaurants, such as Chinese, French, Italian, Korean and so on. There is even a kawadoko in front of Starbucks facing the river, so tourists can enjoy drinking coffee outdoors while seeing the beautiful views. Tourists from foreign countries can enjoy their food at these kinds of restaurants, too.

Kyoyuzen

kyouyuzenAnother tradition that is associated with the Kamogawa River is kyoyuzen. (京友禅) Kyoyuzen is the dyeing that was devised by Miyazaki Yuzensai in the Genroku period, and it is one of the traditional craftwork products of Kyoto. People once did yuzen nagashi (友禅流し) which they soaked kyoyuzen in the Kamogawa River, but that tradition had stopped because people thought it might cause water pollution.

Kabuki

kabukiIn addition, the part of the river near Shijo bridge is said to be the birthplace of kabuki. Kabuki is the theater peculiar to Japan, and it is one of the Japanese traditional performing arts. Kabuki odori (Kabuki performance) which is the origin of Kabuki, spread in popularity because the female entertainer, Izumono Okuni, performed on the riverbank of Kamogawa River. Today, tourists can see a bronze statue of Izumono Okuni near Shijo bridge, where her first dances were done.

Couples Sitting on the Riverbank

riversideThe last tradition that we want to introduce is the phenomenon of multiple couples sitting along the riverbank of the Kamogawa. On weekends particularly, there are a lot of people sitting there, especially from early in the afternoon to the night because the riverbed between the Sanjo bridge and Shigo bridge is so close to downtown. The spaces between the couples are always regular, so the phenomenon is called “The law of the regular intervals” in Japanese. What is interesting is that the spaces between couples or groups are always at the same intervals, even if the number of people sitting beside Kamogawa increases. The number of couples starts to increase at about 3:00 pm, and then the spaces get smaller and smaller because the couples or groups gather beside the river in order to rest, drink some coffee, and so on. Couples sit together in regular intervals because they do not need to care about nearby people. They simply enjoy talking with their boyfriend or girlfriend, or other friends. Each group of people has their own personal-space. This is why couples or groups sit together in regular intervals. In addition, Kyoto natives say they care about others more than people from other prefectures, so that is also a reason why they sit together beside the Kamogawa River in regular intervals, too.

This phenomenon of couples sitting in intervals has been happening in Kyoto from the early 1970s. There are various rumors as to why this happens. One of them is that there are ghosts or spirits that existed many years ago. They fought in a big terrible war, and a lot of people died. And now those people exist in-between couples sitting on the Kamogawa as ghosts or spirits, so it is said one of the reasons why people are sitting in the regular intervals.

We conducted a simple survey of university students about sitting on the Kamogawa. About 57% of the respondents said they have never sat beside Kamogawa River. We asked the respondents who answered to the question “Who did you sit together with?” 40% of the respondents answered “With boyfriend or girlfriend.” 60% of the respondents answered “With friends.” It means that sitting beside the Kamogawa is not only for couples, but also for groups of friends.

It also seems that the way people sit is changing these days. Then we asked the respondents the question about “What did you do while sitting beside the Kamogawa?” They reported that they sit to rest, drink some Starbucks coffee, and especially to talk with girlfriend/boyfriend, friends, or others. We also asked them “Why did you sit beside the Kamogawa?” Someone said, “There are no particular reasons, but it is just a nice space where I can sit down and get some fresh air.” Another person said, “The Kamogawa River is a sightseeing spot in Kyoto, so I can take good and memorable pictures.”

As you can see, there are four traditions which are related to the Kamogawa in Kyoto. Not only are these Kyoto traditions popular amongst Japanese people, but they are also becoming more and more popular amongst foreigners. If you visit Kyoto, why don’t you experience these Kyoto traditions through the Kamogawa river?

The great sento of Kyoto ~Nishiki-yu~

Ayaka Murai, Hikari Yanai & Daichi Hatakeyama

The great sento of Kyoto ~Nishiki-yu~

 

 

Most people spend their bath time only to take a bath and shower themselves. How do you want to enjoy your bath time? There is one traditional public bath here in the city of Kyoto called Nishiki-yu. A number of people really like to go to the public bath.  So, I would like to introduce about this great public bath.

 

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Sento is one of the cultures of Japan. Japanese people call the public bath sento. Nishiki-yu has a long history. It opened in 1927. It is in the center of Kyoto citiy’s, Nishiki market. Nishiki market is called the kitchen of Kyoto. The place is famous for tradition and culture in Kyoto. It is near Karasuma station on the Hankyu line. It takes only 5 minutes to walk to the public bath from the station. So, I recommend you take a train and walk to go to this public bath. Nishiki-yu is usually open from 16:00 to 24:00, but every Monday, it is closed.

 

noren When I visited there, there were Japanese shop curtains,noren, which are hung outside the entrance and has the shop’s name written on them. It seems that they change their color to deep blue during Gion-matsuri and New Year holidays. I would like to see the special noren. In addition, the outside is very tasteful. It is a three-storied, wooden building like the traditional Kyoto-style house called Machiya. Nishiki-yu has been featured in various magazines .

 

image2 In side this public bath is quite tasteful too. The bathtub is very hot for the first customer. The temperature is about 43 degrees. The bath is filled right up to the brim and spills over with new bathwater every time. So the bathwater is clear every time.

 

 

 

 

 

Regular customers of this public bath leave their basket at the changing room. It has their name written on the it. This basket is a traditional craft, and the price is about 40,000 yen. You can use the basket in this public bath, but you have to use this basket carefully, because of its high price. In addition, not anyone can make it anymore. However, sento visitors have decreased in Japan recently. So the owner set up some events to draw more guests to this public bath. For example, comic story telling party, music party, second hand book fair, Japanese summer cotton kimono on the spot sale party, and so on. You can also listen to jazz music only in this public bath in Japan. The manager, Mr. Hasegawa, likes music very much. He especially likes jazz music. He has a lot of CDs in his watch stand. As a result of these events, more tourists came to Nishiki-yu. I became popular for young people. Everyone can become friends in this public bath. Sometimes apprentice geisha, Maiko-san, come to this public bath. Maybe if you are lucky, you can meet one.

 

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After taking a bath please go to Nishiki market. You can feel more Kyoto style. If you want to feel Kyoto in your bones and meet people who will be your friends, please go to Nishiki-yu.

 

Koromode Shrine

by Chinami Aizawa

Kyoto has many temples and shrines. Kinkaku Temple, Ginkaku Temple, Yasaka Shrine and Shimogamo Shrine are all very big and famous. Many people, not only from Japan, but also from foreign countries, visit those places. However, when visiting Kyoto, it is also a good idea to try to get off the beaten path and see a smaller, local temple or shrine that most visitors never get to see. One such place is the Koromode Shrine, which is located in the Nishikyogoku region of Kyoto’s Ukyo Ward. It’s a small shrine surrounded by nature.

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Differences Between Temples and Shrines

Before anything else, do you know the difference between temples and shrines? There are several key differences. First, temples are religious buildings associated with Buddhism, which was brought to Japan from India and China and other S.E. Asian countries. Shrines, on the other hand, are buildings devoted to the gods of Shinto. Shinto is Japanese religion. Many Japanese people go to temples for worship, weddings, and New Years visits. They go to the shrine, however, to attend funerals and to take part in seasonal festivals. Also, temples have tombs, while shrines have iconic gateways at their entrances, also known as torii.

About the Koromode Shrine

The name of this shrine comes from the forest of Koromode. There are old and famous classical Japanese poems that refer to “the forest of Koromode,” such as the Pillow Book by Sei Shounagon. It says that the trees of Koromode forest are really beautiful in autumn, and you can enjoy the view of each season in the forest. Some say this forest was actually nearby the current site of the Koromode Shrine. However, others who study Kyoto history said the forest was near a different shrine, called the Matsunoo-taisha Shrine. So there are several views on the origin of the name.    

The deities enshrined within the Koromode Shrine are Tamayorihimenomikoto, who is the god of the wilds, and Hayamatonokami, who is the god of agriculture. Koromode Shrine is actually an outer precinct shrine of Matsunoo-taisha Shrine, a larger shrine located in Arashiyama. It is a really famous tourist spot for both Japanese and foreign visitors to Kyoto, so many people visit there every day. However, no tourists visit Koromode Shrine. This is because Koromode Shrine is actually a local shrine, serving the Kori area of Kyoto. So only people who live in Kori visit this shrine on a regular basis.

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How to Make an Offering to the God of the Shrine

When you visit a shrine, you might see many Japanese people making an offering to the god of the shrine by tossing money into an offertory box. Do you know why people do that? Actually, even some Japanese people don’t know exactly why. They think that you have to put money into the box to make your wishes come true. However, this is a misunderstanding. You have to put money in the box so that the god of the shrine will grant your wish.   There is a specific method of making an offering to the god of the shrine:

  1. Step in front of the Main Hall and make a slight bow once.
  2. Between you and the Main Hall is an offertory box. Put a coin in the offertory box and pull the rope. Then you will hear the sound of a bell.
  3. Make a low bow twice.
  4. Clap your hands twice.
  5. Make a low bow once.
  6. Make a slight bow once.The money you offered is used for maintenance and repairs of the shrine.

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Festivals at Koromode Shrine

There are several festivals at Koromode Shrine throughout the year. The first is on the Sunday just after April 20th. It is called Oide, which means ‘Welcome’. 21 days later, there is another festival called Okaeri, which means ‘Going Back’. During the interval between the Oide and Okaeri festivals, a portable shrine from the main Matsunoo-taisha Shrine is moved to the Koromode Shrine. At that time, the Koromode Shrine becomes an Otabijo (temporary shrine) of the Matsunoo-taisha Shrine. This is a very big festival for the Koromode Shrine. For this reason, many local people of all ages have a great time at the shrine.

Entrance Fees?

Good news: you don’t have to pay money to visit Koromode Shrine. It’s free. However, you should bring some coins if you want to pray properly. I recommend you put 5 yen in the offertory box at the beginning of your prayer. In Japanese, 5 yen is pronounced ‘goen’, which is also the same sound as the Japanese word for ‘fate’. That’s why many people put 5 yen in the offertory box. It is auspicious.

Visiting Hours

There don’t seem to be any set visiting hours. So, you can go to Koromode Shrine just about anytime. I recommend you go there in the evening. Because the shrine is located in a residential area, there are many houses, a park, a nursery school, and a supermarket near Koromode Shrine. The evening is the time when people return home from the day’s activities. If you go there in the evening, you can see the real Japanese lifestyle from the shrine, such as Japanese men arriving home from work in their suits, Japanese boys playing baseball in the park, and Japanese mothers riding a bike to go buy groceries for supper, and so on. I think you can’t see real Japanese people’s life style at the famous tourist spots. This is why a visit to a local shrine like Koromode is so special.

How to Get There

Kyoto City Bus from Kyoto Station Take bus #73 for Rakusai Bus Terminal from Kyoto station. Get off at Nishikyogoku bus stop. If you follow the red line on the map, you can reach Koromode Shrine in about 10 minutes.  

Hankyu Train from Kawaramachi You have to take the train for Umida iki from the Hankyu Kawaramachi station. Get off at Nishikyogoku station and walk for 15 minutes.