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 – 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.

 

Doi-Master Picklers Of Kyoto

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Have you ever tried Japanese style pickles? If you imagine they are like foreign pickles, you would be wrong, because they are very different. Nowadays, there are many pickles in the supermarket, but the pickles in this shop are much nicer compared to them. “Doi no Shibazuke” (Doi’s Pickles) might be the perfect Kyoto souvenir for your relatives or friends.

 

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Doi-master pickles shop

Doi no Shibazuke is one of the most well-known pickle making companies, and is famous for its shibazuke. It has a very long history and has been loved by many people for years.  The company was founded in Ohara, Kyoto, in 1901.  Ohara is a famous red perilla (Japanese basil) growing area, and is the birthplace of shibazuke, which are pickled summer vegetables.

 

Mr.Doi

Mr.Doi

The first CEO of the company wanted many people to know about shibazuke, so he founded this company there, first of all selling tsukemono (regular pickles) just in front of the family home. After years of struggle, they finally managed to build the main store in Ohara, and thereafter opened more branches, one after the other, throughout Kyoto.  Now, they currently have 15 stores including a sub-branch in a department store. There are also branches in 6 other prefectures: Osaka, Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Fukuoka, and Kagoshima.  This company has only had five presidents in its history, and the current Mr. Doi is the 5th CEO of the firm.  He has worked at Doi no Shibazuke as a staff member since he graduated college, and in 2001, when the company celebrated its 100th anniversary, he was inaugurated as the new CEO.

 

 

Doi no Shibazuke has their own farm for growing perilla leaf, and the reason for this is that they can have greater control over the taste of the product. They grow perilla leaf from seed, so they can have the same level of quality year on year.  They don’t use agricultural chemicals to grow their perilla and use a cultivation method that is more than 800 years old.  From June to July is generally the season for growing perilla leaf, but they extend their growing beyond this to make sure they can provide more pickles. DSC_0704

Importantly, Doi’s way of making shibazuke is to use eggplants only, and not cucumber. A cheaper way to make shibazuke is to use cucumber instead of eggplant because it reduces the cost and the process is easier, but Doi insist on eggplant for the sake of quality.

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First they get the best eggplants from their partner farms. Secondly, they use a machine to chop the eggplant into smaller pieces.  Thirdly, the employees hop into a big wooden barrel containing the eggplant, fine perilla leaves and salt, and then tread the mixture

with their feet, just like they do with grapes for wine making. The reason they tread the eggplant mixture is to help retain the taste and smell of the vegetable.  If they don’t tread it, the good smell will disseminate and the great taste of the perilla will not be mixed in.

Finally, the mixture, along with added ginger, is packed into a wooden barrel and left to ferment for around one month, with a large stone placed on the barrel lid to seal everything in.  Every year, this company makes 120 huge wooden barrels full of pickles and keeps them for shipment.  Overall, they produce an average of 200 tons of pickles in a year, so in the busy period they can make up to one ton of pickles a day.

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So where can you buy them? Doi no Shibazuke has 6 shops in Kyoto, and they are also sold in department stores in Japan, so you should be able to locate them easily.  If you do have a problem hunting them down though, you can also buy them on the Internet. (http://www.doishibazuke.co.jp/)

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The best 3 tsukemono are; shibazuke (475 yen), senmaizuke, which is made from radish and tastes slightly sweet (691 yen), and assorted tsukemono, which offers a variety of different pickles (2,025 yen).   When you buy pickles on the internet, there are some different assortments that are very special and cost around 4,000 or 5,000 yen.  We are sure if you buy these for your family or friends they will be really happy.  The shop manager also told us a good way to eat pickles is to put them on a cracker with some cheese.  Japanese pickles also go well with pasta as a topping, and some match well with certain wines.

 

Japanese pickles are not like foreign pickles, and this company is a much nicer shop compared to other shops. They have their own farm, grow their own perilla leaves, and make pickles on the premises.  If you plan to come to Kyoto, we really recommend you visit and buy some pickles at Doi no Shibazuke – an Ohara and Kyoto tradition.

(permission to use photos given by Mr. Doi)

 

 

 

Kimono – Past and Present

by  Haruna Masuzaki, Kazuki Nakamoto and Hikari Yanagihara

Kimono is a kind of traditional Japanese garment with a very long history. Originally, the word ‘kimono’ was kurumono, which means ‘wearing thing’. It was later shortened to ‘kimono’. Kimono are often worn on special occasions, like festivals or weddings. They are often beautiful, colorful and representative of traditional Japanese culture. Kimono are instantly recognized around the world as being Japanese.  

Kimono is a kind of traditional Japanese garment with a very long history.

Kimono

Kimono Material

The material of kimono is generally silk. Some kimono are created from silk that is dyed before weaving, while some kimono are dyed after weaving. The most common are those weaved from dyed silk.

In addition to silk, other materials used are cotton, polyester, and wool. Kimono made from cotton and polyester is easy to wash. On the other hand, wool kimono are very cheap and great for the winter, but are susceptible to being eaten by worms during storage.

The material of kimono is generally silk.

Silk

When Do People Wear Kimono?

Most Japanese people wear their kimono on special occasions. However, it is also possible to wear a kimono in daily life, as fashion. This is more common amongst older people than younger people. They may wear kimono to go out to eat, to visit a museum, to seeing the cherry blossoms or autumn leaves, to go shopping downtown, and so on.  On type of kimono that is worn in during summer festivals is a yukata. At first glance, it appears just like a traditional kimono, but in fact it is very lightweight, with no inner lining. It is also very casual and festive. Both men and women wear them. June through September is the most common time to see people wearing yukata. In the old days, people put on their yukata after a summer bath, and enjoyed the coolness as they fell asleep in their yukata.

The Origin of Kimono

The kimono has a long history as a beautiful and tasteful traditional Japanese garment recognized around the word. There are several reasons why it is appreciated by so many people. One is that it grew out of harmony with Japanese life and culture. For example, it is ideally suited for the Japanese climate. There are different thicknesses for different seasons. Also, kimono come in many shapes and sizes, and can be used for many different purposes. They can also be layered, to adapt to any temperature or weather condition.

Heian period (794~1185)

Kimono came to prominence during the Heian period.

Heian kimono

Kimono came to prominence during the Heian period. During this time, a new technique was developed for making kimono that allowed makers to not worry about the wearer’s body shape. It also made the kimono easier to wear and easier to fold and store. In addition, people began to pay more attention to the color of kimono. Original colors and patterns began to emerge, and many of them were related to the various seasons and times of the year. People of the upper classes wore gorgeous kimono. Common people, on the other hand, tended to wear kimono with short sleeves. Like the traditional kimono, the yukata is said to have also originated in the Heian period. Noblemen from the Heian period used to take stream baths. Some people began to wear a garment called a yukatabira, which served to protect their skin from steam burns. Nowadays, the yukatabira is the thin cotton garment worn under the kimono. But back in those days, it was not cotton, but rather hemp that was used by most people. Cotton was more expensive than hemp. People used to walk back and forth to the bathhouse in their Yukatabira. The yukatabira eventually evolved into what we now know as the much more colorful and festive yukata.

Kamakura period (1192~1333)

During the Kamakura period, there were many wars. For this reason, the kimono was simplified to be more practical.

Muromachi period (1392~1573)

In Muromachi period, the form of what we now recognize as the contemporary kimono appeared. Dyeing skills of kimono makers made remarkable progress during this time period.

Edo period (1603~1857)

Japanese dress of the day is born in this period. This period also progress. At the time, people wear the same as present kimono.

Meiji Period (1867~1911)

During this period, Japan was heavily influenced by western cultures and industrialization. For this reason, more people started wearing western clothes. This set the tone for the current modern age, when kimono are mostly worn on special occasions.

Modern Japan

Japanese people now wear western clothes in their daily life, as it is easier, cheaper, and more practical to do so. However, this decreases their chances to wear kimono. For this reason, kimono is now reserved for special events and occasions.   Recently, kimono has started to be worn as fashion. For example, a kimono that it is easy to take off and put on has been developed.

How to Buy a Kimono

Buying a kimono is not so easy for the first time buyer. If you are one of these people, you should keep a few things in mind before you buy one.  First, if you have some Japanese friends, you should ask which shop is good. Also, you should visit a lot of shops so that you can compare a kimono you like in one shop with that of another shop. When you visit a shop, talk with the salesclerk about where you plan to wear the kimono, what kind of season you want to wear it in, and what your budget is. Then, the salesclerk will help you find a kimono that matches your look. Then you can pay for the one that looks the best on you.   Finally, you must remember that a kimono is expensive property. You should always take care of your kimono and wear it with a fresh feeling. In the case that kimono gets stained with something, you must have the stains removed in the shop. Please take good care of your precious kimono.

How to Rent a Kimono

kimono rental is a good option.

Kimono rental

For many people, buying a kimono is too expensive, especially if they only wear it once or twice. Therefore, kimono rental is a good option. There are many kimono shops in Kyoto. Most of them will rent a kimono to you all day long.   One good place to rent a kimono is the Kiyomizuzaka shop, which is only a one-minute walk from the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple. This shop is located on the street where many souvenir stores are visited by large number of sightseers. The set rental plan at this shop is only 3,000 yen. It includes a kimono, an obi (belt), a bag, and some tabi (Japanese sandals), all in one set. Moreover, you can select from 30 different sets to suit your mood. You can try more of them on for fun. Also, you can do some sightseeing while wearing your rental kimono.

How to Put on a Kimono

In order to put on your kimono correctly, you must follow several steps. First, turn position the kimono behind your back while making sure the collar is centered. The center seam should be in the middle of the back. Second, decide the width of outer skirt. Hold the end of the kimono collars and then raise them up under the side. After that, take down the hem to just above the floor. Then wrap the right side panels first, so that the end of the right collar should be put on the left waist. Next, decide the width of before under. Wrap the left side of panels first, and the end of a collar should be put on the right waist. Next, while holding the right panel, wrap the left panel over it. Next, put on the koshihimo (waist cord), just below your navel. Then, make a ohashori, which is the fold made at the waist so that women can adjust the length of their kimono. Put both hands through arm holes under the sleeves, and smooth out any excess material, both on the front and back. The line of the fold should be straight. Finally, check how the kimono looks in the mirror.

How to Wear Make-up with Kimono

The quality and appearance of your facial skin is very important when wearing kimono. Your face looks good in a matte color, not a glossy color. This is because kimono looks best in an impersonal type of beauty. First, draw your eyebrows in a long and merry way. This is because your kimono probably has a loud pattern. Also, your eyes are the most important. Apply eyeliner on the upper eyelid to create the impression of long narrow eyes. After that, apply eye shadow using the color of a similar tone. Try not to use eyelash curlers. This will impress a person favorably. Finally, apply red lipstick to your lips. In this way, you can make sure that your appearance in a kimono is a gorgeous one.

Hairstyles Popular with Kimono

Kimono looks best when the woman wearing it has an elegant hairstyle.

Hair style

Kimono looks best when the woman wearing it has an elegant hairstyle. Yakaimaki (evening party roll hairstyle) is the most popular for kimono because it allows others to view the beautiful neck of the woman wearing the kimono. It also creates a distinctive silhouette, which is a round shape. Finally, the hairstyle truly becomes gorgeous when a hair ornament is used.

As you can see, kimono have a long tradition and history, and have been loved by Japanese people for a long time. Now, Japanese people wear western clothes in their daily life, but foreigners who come to Japan also want to try wearing kimono. Why don’t you wear Kimono?

Access to Kiyomizuzaka Shop

Take the bus bound for Kiyomizudera, Gion and Ginkakuji from Kyoto station. You should get off Gojo-zaka. Plese go up Gojo-zaka, you will see Kiyomizuzaka on the right. It is about 5 minutes.

Chochin: Traditional Japanese Paper Lanterns

by Narumi Kitagawa and Akane Kitakido

If you walk down a Kyoto street at night, you will almost certainly see some paper lanterns hanging in front of an Izakaya which is Japanese-style bar or ramen restaurant. And at festivals in Japan, you will also see a lot of lanterns hanging in a row. These are all traditional Japanese lanterns, also called chouchin. ‘Chou’ means to hang, and ‘chin’ stands for a light. Originally chouchin were used to shine light at people’s feet when they walked on dark street at night. Now, chouchin are used in not only this way, but also other ways. In this article, we will explore the history and cultural significance of chouchin.

History of Couchin

Looking at the history of Japanese paper lanterns allows us to rediscover how the Japanese way of life has changed. The first appearance of paper lanterns was during the Muromachi era (from 1336 to 1573). At that time, paper lanterns came from China and looked like baskets made with bamboos. They were quite different from today’s Japanese lanterns, so clearly people were trying to develop the lanterns in Japanese ways over the years. After a few decades, original folding lanterns based on the Chinese design were created. These folding lanterns were used in funerals. The new lanterns also became necessary for soldiers to use during war, so they became more and more popular in Edo period (from 1603 to 1868). Due to such development, not only people of high rank in society, but also normal everyday people were able to use Japanese paper lanterns easily in their daily lives. Also, more and more people were able to travel around Japan and go out at night because of the expanding merchant economy. The lanterns helped guide their way and suit their new lifestyle.

How to Make a Japanese Paper Lantern

Paper lanterns are actually quite easy to make. A thin strip of bamboo is used as a framework of body. A circle is then made with the bamboo strip, and on which is attached washi, or Japanese handmade paper. The bamboo circles are set to a model and connected with thread. This work affects whether the paper lantern will be a good one or not, so it needs a skilled hand to do well. After this, glue is put on the bamboo frame and it is all washi. After drying, the bamboo frame is removed from the model. Originally, a candle was placed inside to provide light. Thanks to the protection of the washi cover, the candles seldom went out. But these days, electric lights are used in most paper lanterns.

How Chouchin Are Used Today

Nowadays, Japanese paper lanterns are used in many ways and in many places. The most traditional use is when families hang them outside of their homes during Obon, a special time of the year during the first few weeks of August. These lanterns are called bon chochin, and it is believed that they welcome home the spirits of each family’s ancestors.

The most popular chochin these days are the ones that decorate restaurants and festivals. The lanterns outside restaurants can attract much more attention for passengers than other signs because of the attractive effect of one bright lantern at night. In festivals, we often see chochin hanging in a line over our heads, and that creates a traditional and festive atmosphere. Moreover, some people use Japanese lanterns as a fashionable lamp in their homes. As you can see, Japanese paper lanterns are loved by all generations and are used in various ways.

Chouchin

Kojima Paper Lantern Shop

One of the best places that you can get your very own chochin is Kojima-shoten, a well known paper lantern shop in Kyoto. This shop started to make cochin from the middle of the Edo period. The 9th successive owner is currently running this shop. Recently, Kojima-shoten was featured on television, and they are promoting their products and skills widely.

The most attractive point is that craftsmen in Kojima-shoten create paper lanterns in in the traditional way: by hand. It takes much more time to make them one by one than mass-produced versions made in factories. Craftsmen cut the bamboo thin and wind it around with a stick of bamboo to design the distinctive shape of the lanterns. This way of creating the lanterns is called the ‘Jibari style’, and only in Kyoto can we see it. In addition, all the materials of lanterns in Kojima-shoten are of excellent quality, as they are made of bamboo and washi, all natural, plant-based materials. In contrast, most other shops create lanterns with plastic in order to sell them cheaply.

Even better, at Kojima-shoten you can experience making chochin by yourself. The process is simply and enjoyable. You start by watching a video about how to make chochin. After that, the owner will teach you the process in person. You can choose two types of lanterns to make. One is a small chochin lantern, which is popular among students. Another one is a chochin that you can also paint on. Not only adults, but also children can participate. You can also observe artists making chochin on site.

As you can see, it is worth a visit to Kojima-shoten in order to discover the real attraction of Japanese paper lanterns.

Access

To Kojima Paper Lantern Shop, you can use train or bus. You will get there by 5 minutes walk from Tofukuji station of Keihan line or Imagumano bus stop.

Adress:605-0971 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Imagumano Naginomoricho,11

Fukakusa

by Manami Otahara & Miki Sawai

Our travel dairy: Fukakusa’s loves story

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We visited Fukakusa to see Fushimi-inari shrine. It is very famous shrine, so people visited to there from around the world. People visit to see many Torii. Torii separates gods and humans. Torii looks like shrine gate made of wood, the color is bright red. Fushimi-inari shrine is the main shrine of all the inari shrines in Japan. Other Famous place is Fuji-no-mori shrine, it has to with Japanese emperor Tenno.   This shrine is famous Ajisai festival and the god is known for having luck in games, so people visit this shrine. When we visited this shrine, we saw may beautiful Ajisai. Ajisai is one of the flower in summer. Next place was main the temple for this trip. This temple is Gonjo-ji temple. Gonjo-ji temple is has to with our report.

Fukakusa’s love story

 

The place we visited is called Fukakusa. It is called Fukakusa because a long time ago, a person named Shosho-Fukakusa lived there. He loved Onono Komachi. She was most beautiful woman in Japan in Heian period. He loved her, but she didn’t love him, so she got an idea. The idea was very simple, he met her every night for 100 days. Her house and his house were far away. The distance was about 7 km, but he would like her to be his wife, so he met her every night. First day, second day, 97th day 98th day 99th day, he met her with peanuts. On the 100th night, she waited for him. However, didn’t come. That day he died because of heavy snow. The next day she found out that he died. She was very sad, so she was planted his nuts in her village. Later the nut grew and the tree is believed to be 1,000 years old.

Gonjo-ji temple

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Gonjo-ji temple is a very important place. This is where Fukakusa lived.   There is a pond and this pond is where he looked at himself. There is a big Buddha in this temple, and Fukakusa and Komachi are buried here. Her house was in Yamashina. Yamashina is a town on the border of Kyoto and Shiga, so her house and his house were far away. However when she heard that he died, she was very sad. Therefore when she died, she was buried in this temple.

Access

Fushimi-inari shrine

68 Fukakusa Yabunouchi-cho, Fushimi-ku Kyoto

Fuji-no-mori shrine

609 Fukakusatoriizakicho, Fushimi-ku Kyoto

Gonjo-ji

1038 nishimasuyacho, Fushimi-ku Kyoto

Kyo-tanabata

by Kasumi Sakamoto, Yuki Nakajima and Momoko Fukui

Tanabata, The Star Festival, is celebrated on July 7th each year. It is one of the traditional annual events in Japan. It is said to have originated from Chinese legend of the two stars. One star is Altair, which is said to be a cowherd boy, named Hikoboshi. The other star is Vega, which is said to be a weaver girl, named Orihime. They loved each other and got married. Since then they stopped working hard to meet each other. The king got angry and sent them separately to the big river called the Milky Way. They cried a lot every day since then, and the king was moved by their sadness and allowed them to meet each other once a year only on July 7th, as long as they worked hard. On that special night of July 7th, people in Japan decorate branches of cut bamboo with strips of colored paper and decorations made of origami to celebrate their meeting again.  Bamboo is believed to have talismanic power from ancient times. Japanese people also believe that if they write their wishes on the strips of paper and hang them on the bamboo, their wishes will come true. Many tanabata events are held in July 7th all over the Japan.

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Tanabata


 

Tanabata vs. Kyo-tanabata

It is generally said that tanabata is on July 7th in many parts of Japan. However, some regions, like Kyoto, hold tanabata festivals on August 7th or at the beginning of August. What is the difference? Actually, present day tanabata on July 7th is based on the modern solar calendar, while tanabata on August 7th is based on the ancient Japanese calendar.  In the old days, Japanese tanabata used to be held on August 7th. Interestingly, another Japanese traditional event, Obon, is held from the beginning of August to the middle of the month. Obon is the period of time when the souls of dead people come back to earth from the heaven and gather together.

Did you know there is a close relationship between obon and tanabata? In fact, tanabata used to be a part of obon in the past, and people considered tanabata as the day to welcome their ancestors. However, obon and tanabata have come to be separated in most parts of Japan. This is because of the Meiji Restoration during the Meiji Era.  This restoration revised the Japanese calendar and changed it from the old calendar to the Western calendar. Therefore, most tanabata events are held on July 7th, but in traditional places like Kyoto, they are also held on August 7th.

Kyo-Tanabata Events

Kyoto has many tanabata events from the beginning of July to the middle of August.  Among of all, Kyo-no-Tanabata is one of the most famous. It is a collection of events held every August, usually sometime in the first two weeks of the month. Every year, it brings Kyoto residents and visitors the real feeling of summer.

Visitors can enjoy Kyoto-style tanabata as they walk along Kyoto’s two main rivers, Horikawa and Kamogawa. The Horikawa section of the festival spans from Oshioike to Shimochoujamachibashi. It is separated into four sections, First Meeting, Romance, Wish, and Meeting Again. In this way, visitors can enjoy the romantic story of tanabata as they stroll through the area.  Next to the entrance, the main gate is made up of lanterns that invite festival viewers into a dreamy world. Various decorations and artistic lights beautifully express the romance of Hikoboshi and Orihime.

One of the most beautiful sections is the Milky Way of Light. It is in the area of Meeting Again because the Milky Way is the place where Hikoboshi and Orihime were allowed to meet again. This section spans from Shimotachiuridori to Shimochojamachidori, in the middle part of Horikawa site. The arch is made of bamboo, while LED lights represent the Milky Way. Upon seeing it for the first time, it is said to take visitors’ breath away.

At the Kamogawa site, visitors can feel the atmosphere of kyo-tanabata beside the Kamogawa. This area of the festival ranges from Oikedori to Shijodori. The wind chime lanterns, called furinto, is the main attraction of this area of the festival, and has become symbolic of the Kamogawa site. Many lanterns are lined along the right side of Kamogawa. Each lantern consists of a bamboo basket and a wind-bell, which is made with a traditional technique. Seeing and hearing the lanterns, visitors can feel coolness in the heat of the Kyoto summer. The best time to enjoy this section of the festival is during the evening because it is easy to see the lanterns are lighting up the dark sky.

Furthermore, visitors can get some perks if they wear a kimono or a yukata during Kyo-no-tanabata.  Some restaurants or cafes near the festival sites will treat visitors with a warm reception.  For instance, the Chourakukan Cafe in Higashiyama offer customers a 5% discount on their bill. Another advantage is that visitors are offered a special dressing service. For example, a yukata shop called Yumeyakata in Shomogyoku has a special dressing campaign for women. They dress female visitors in beautiful summer kimono, all for only 3,500 yen plus tax. And the visitors get to keep the kimono! Therefore, it is truly a good opportunity to wear a yukata or kimono during Kyo-no-Tanabata.

Access to Kamogawa

From Kyoto station, take bus No.4, 17, or 205 and get off at Shijo-kawaramachi. From there it is a 5-minute walk.

Access to Horikawa

From Kyoto station, take bus No.9 or 50 and get off at Nijojo mae. From there, just walk for about 2 minutes.

map http://www.kyoto-tanabata.jp/en/access/

Locations of Kyo-Tanabata


 

Kyo-Tanabata at Jishu Temple

Jishu temple is one of the sub-temples in Kyoto’s famous Kiyomizu Temple. It is well-known throughout Japan for its power to make people’s prayers and wishes come true. Every day Jishu temple is bustling with not only Japanese people, but also foreign visitors. Most of them pray for love.

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Make a Wish Come True at Jishu Temple


 

In the season of Tanabata, Jishu temple holds a Tanabata a special event using something made of paper, called tanabata kokeshi. ‘Kokeshi’ means Japanese limbless wooden dolls. Visitors write their name and their partner’s name on the back of the paper. And if they don’t have a partner at the time, they can write down the name of their desired partner. If visitors do this, it is said that they and their partner will be able to live with together happily, or they will able to encounter their partner in the near future.

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Tanabata Kokeshi


 

On July 7th, we went to Jishu temple and wrote our wish on tanabata kokehi. In the shrine, there were many tourists, especially from places like China. The Chinese also have a culture of Tanabata. However, the Chinese people consider the solar calendar to be more important than the old calendar. Therefore, tanabata for Chinese people is always on July 7th, which is why Chinese people visit Jishu temple at that time.

Access to Jishu Temple
From Kyoto station, you take the buses No. 206 or 100 and get off at Gojo-zaka. It takes about 12 minutes. Opening hours is from 9:00 to 17:00.

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Access to Jishu Temple


 

In conclusion, kyo-tanabata has a concept that respects both modern tanabata and traditional tanabata. So, it is accepted by various people, from children to elderly people, and also foreign people.  Especially, tanabata events held at Horikawa and Kamogawa are flexible for tourists because the events last for 10 days. So you can visit on the day you prefer. If you are in Kyoto during the month of August, don’t miss it!

Kyoto Prefectural Library

by Yuya Fukuda

When people think of Kyoto, they imagine the traditional temples and shrines. However, there are also many modern western style architectures that exist in Kyoto.

Modern Western style Architectures in Japan

Most of those buildings were built from Meiji period to early Showa period (end of 19th century to early 20th century). In the Meiji period, the Japanese government hired many foreign government advisors (Oyatoi gaikokujin) to gain the knowledge of western countries to assist in modernization. Those western style buildings were one of the symbols of progress for the Japanese people. In 1877, the Japanese government funded the Imperial College of Engineering in Tokyo. It was the very first university of architecture in Japan. In 1879, the first students graduated from the university. They became the architectures who represent Japan.

Why does Kyoto have so many western style buildings today?

Today, Kyoto has more than 25 modern style buildings. Kyoto is traditionally known as a cultural city in Japan. Why? There are some reasons.

  1. Kyoto was the capital of Japan for more than 1000 years. But in the Meiji period, the capital transferred to Tokyo. At that time, Kyoto faced some difficulties. Since the Emperor and imperial families moved to Tokyo, many people and industries also left the city. Kyoto needed to rebuild its economy and social systems. For this reason, Kyoto invited some exhibitions and businesses. In the Meiji period, Kyoto held 2 big exhibitions. “4th National industrial exhibition” and “1100th anniversary of the transfer of national capital to Kyoto.” Kyoto had relocated those pavilions to another place, and used them.
  2. Kyoto didn’t have air raids by the United States during World War II. Therefore, many old buildings still exist in Kyoto.

Kyoto Prefectural Library

Kyoto pretectural Library

Kyoto pretectural Library

The Kyoto prefectural Library is located in the Okazaki area (east part of Kyoto), near Heian shrine. It was established in 1873 as the Shushoin library, the first public library in Japan. In 1898, it became the Kyoto Prefectural Library in the Kyoto Imperial Park. In 1909, it was relocated to the Okazaki area. At this time, the building was designed by Takeda Goichi.  The main building was a 3 story building which made by bricks. This library was one of the Takeda’s most famous work. However in 1958, the building suffered serious damage during the Great Hanshin Earthquake. In 2001, it was renovated, but the original building is still preserved to this day. The original building is combined to new, modern style building.

Goichi Takeda

Goichi Takeda was a one of the most important Japanese architects, and is often called “the father of Kansai architectural circles”. His study in Europe influenced him. Takeda is said to have introduced several new architectural styles, such as Art Nouveau or Wiener Secession, to Japan.

Address : 9 Seishoji-cho, Okazaki Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8343

Tel : +81-75-762-4655

Website : http://www.library.pref.kyoto.jp/tagengo/english.html

 

Under Maples & Cherry Trees—Bishamon-do

By Chinami Aizawa, Marino Takeuchi and Nao Mochizuki

 

Bishamon-do, 毘沙門堂, is one of the great temples of Kyoto. It belongs to the Tendai sect and is a Monzeki temple. It is located in Yamashina. Visitors can wander the grounds freely from 8:30 to 17:00, but the temple closes early at 4:30 pm from December to February. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit. This temple is famous for the maple trees in its garden and a large, 150-year-old “weeping willow” cherry tree. Many people visit Bishamon-do during these seasons, so it can be crowded at those times. The entrance fee is 500 for adults.

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The History of Bishamon-do

Bishamon-do was originally built near the Imperial Palace in Kyoto as Izumo-dera Temple by the order of Emperor Monmu in 703. It is believed that the founder of this temple was Gyoki, a very famous Buddhist priest of the Nara period. The temple was later moved to Yamashina and renamed Bishamon-do.

Over the centuries this temple fell into ruin many times. Taita-no-Chikanori, a member of the government, rebuilt the temple once in the early Kamakura period. In the Middle ages, Izumo-dera became a famous place for its cherry blossoms, and was referred to in some famous books, such as the Meigetsuki, a diary written by Fujiwara-no-Teika. The temple went into ruin again in the late medieval period because of the Onin wars. In the Edo period, Izumo-dera was moved to Yamashina, where it stands today. People began referring to the temple as “Bishamon-do,” because of the image of the deity Bishomonten that was kept there. After that, the temple gradually prospered as an important stop on the route between Kyoto and Shiga. It is said that many people started to come to this temple to see beautiful red leaves in the Edo period. In its long turbulent history, Bishamon-do had many head priests. One of them was the Imperial Prince Koben, who was the son of the Emperor Gosai. So this temple is also known as a Monzeki temple, a temple in which the head priest is related to the Imperial Family.

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Bishamonten

The temple is named after Bishomenten, one of four heavenly warrior Kings that defend Buddhist Law. Bishamonten is easily identifiable —he holds a spear in one hand and a small pagoda in the other. He is also a member of shichi-fuku-nin, the Seven Gods of Good Fortune, who are celebrated in many local Japanese folk festivals. People believe these gods can bring them prosperity and good luck. It is said that Bishamonten brings people good luck for “winning” any kind of competition.

 

The Temple Precincts

There are eight buildings and a monument on the temple grounds. Nioumon is the main gate—it leads to the main temple building up a steep stone stairway. A second gate, the Imperial messenger gate, is opened only at special times. The Bansui Garden is a landscape-style garden with a stroll path. It dates back to the beginning of the Edo period when stroll gardens were in vogue. The garden features a waterfall, a mountain stream, a “bridge to paradise” and many maple trees. The shinden is a new reconstruction the older building that was built by Emeror Gosai. The mausoleum contains many portraits and an image of the Buddhist deity Amitabha Tathagata that rests in the center of the building. Takadai-bensanten is a building dedicated to the happiness of ordinary people.

 

 Special Events

Many events take place at Bishamon-do. An annual light-up at night is held when the maple trees turn red in autumn. During this period the temple stays open until 8:30 pm. On New Year’s Eve, the general public is invited to ring the temple bell from 11:45 pm.

 

Access

If you come from Kyoto station, it’s better to use a train. You can use JR, subway, or Keihan. The temple is about a 15 -20 walk from Yamashina Station. The way is marked clearly with many flags upon which are written “毘沙門堂.” There is a free parking lot if you come by car.

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The Beautiful Sub-temples of Nanzen-ji

By Eri Aoki and Shoko Osawa

Tenju-an and Konchi-in are sub-temples (tachu) of Nanzen-ji, one of the great Zen temples in Kyoto. This temple complex is nestled in the eastern hills of Kyoto in Sakyo ward. This city has so many famous places, such as Kiyomizu-dera, Kinkaku-ji, and Nijo Castle, that visitors seldom come to these small yet beautiful sub-temples. Many tourists visit these temples in November because of their autumnal tints.

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Tenju-an

This small sub-temple was built in 1336 as a dedication to the third Chief priest of Tofuku-ji, Daiminkokushi. Emperor Kameyama, who had converted his palace into a temple that would later be renamed Nanzen-ji received help from this priest. Tenju-an was destroyed in a a huge fire that engulfed Nanzen-ji in 1447. One-hundred and thirty years passed before it was reconstructed with the help of Daimyo Hosokawa Yusai.

After entering Tenju-an, visitors follow a geometric stone path to the east side of the main hall, which is a dry landscape garden that features two “islands” of moss and a pine tree in a sea of raked white gravel. Pines and maples trees form the backdrop of this garden and the maples are especially beautiful in the spring and autumn. Another stone path leads to the back garden, which consists of a small pond and a larger pond surrounded by maple trees. There are many carp (koi) in these ponds. The landscape style of these gardens is said to be typical of the gardens of the 14th century. Visitors cannot enter the main building, but can visit the garden.

In the back of the temple there is a small cemetery —the gravestones of many famous people including the founder of the Kyoto Shimbun (newspaper), are here.

Visitors can also see famous paintings by Touhaku Hasegawa on the fusuma sliding doors of the main hall. These paintings of pine trees were painted in 1602 in Zen ink-painting style; they have been designated as Important Cultural Properties.

Tenju-an has special night illumination from November 15th to 30th. During that time the temple will be lit up from 17:30 to 21:00. Fee: Adult 500 yen, high school student 400 yen, junior high school student 300 yen.

Tenju-an is located just south of the huge sanmon gate of Nanzen-ji.

Konchi-in

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Konchi-in, another small sub-temple of Nanzen-ji, was constructed by Yoshimochi Ashikaga in 1605.  This temple is famous for a garden that was designed by Enshu Kobori. It is called Tsurukame no niwa—“Crane and Turtle Garden.” The main garden has two facing arrangements of rocks and trees that represent a crane and turtle, which are symbols of happiness and longevity. One of the rock arrangements represents a “takarabune”, a treasure ship carrying the Seven Gods of Good Fortune in a sea of snowy white sand. The garden is gorgeous and powerful. This garden was built with the purpose of bringing happiness to visitors. On the left side of the garden is a pond that is built in the shape of the Chinese character for heart or “kokoro” (心) It has a small shrine and beautiful moss.

This temple has four buildings. The main hall was constructed in 1611 and is an Important Cultural Property. Next there is a tea-ceremony room. It is also an Important Cultural Property, and was made by Masaichi Kohori. Another important building that is located on a hill behind the garden is Tosho-gu, which was built to follow the instructions of Ieyasu Tokugawa’s last words.

Konchi-in is located on the south side of the street leading up to the main gate of the entrance to Nanzen-ji.

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Our thoughts

After we went Tenju-an and Konchi-in, we felt really proud of Japanese culture and tradition. Before going, we thought this was just another sightseeing place. As children we felt temples were boring places. However, we found that there is a lot of history and traditional Japanese thinking in these temples. Also we discovered how the atmosphere changes with the seasons.

Nanzenji is accessible by the number 5 bus (get off at the stop called  “Dobutsu-en Mae”) or by the east-west subway line. Get off at Keage Station and walk north 5 minutes.