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 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

Next, using a stencil:

  1. Draw the design onto special Japanese paper and cut out the pattern to make the stencil
  2. Paste the cloth onto a wooden board that is called “Yuzen-Ita”
  3. Put onto and dye
  4. 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

January 19, 2017

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.

 

 

 

Shokoku-ji

October 3, 2016

Shokoku-ji

Yuri Kamakura, Akane Kaneta

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Gate

 Shokoku-ji

Temple is one of the great Zen temples in Kyoto. It was founded in the Muromachi period by Yoshimitsu Ashikaga, who was a shogun at that time. Although, Shokoku-ji was destroyed by fire and rebuilt again and again, it has the oldest Zen lecture hall (hatto), originally built  in 1605 and it is an important cultural asset. It has a large dragon painted on its ceiling.There is a wooden sculpture of its founder, Muso Soseki, in the Founder’s Hall (kaisando), which is only open at special times in the spring and fall. ​Also ​the hojo, the abbot’s​ living quarters in a Buddhist temple, a sutra library and Benzaiten shrine are all tangible cultural assets of Kyoto city​.

The ​Temple’s ​Origin


“Shokoku-ji” means “helping the country” or “governing the country.​” This terminology original ​comes from China. In Japan, the Minister of the Left (in medieval and pre-modern Japan) was called “Shokoku.​” Yoshimitsu Ashikaga was the Minister of the Left, so his temple was named “Shokoku-ji.” In China, there are “Taishokoku-ji” which was a temple and the beginning Gozen or “Five Mountains” ​system. The Gozen system​ designated the top five Zen temples in Kyoto.

 

Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji

“Kinkaku-ji” and “Ginkaku-ji” are branch temple​s​ of Shokoku-ji. Kinkaku-ji was founded by Yoshimitsu Ashikaga. Later, Ginkaku-ji was founded by Yoshimasa Ashikaga.

 

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Hatto

Activities

Shokoku-ji ​has a wide variety of activities. Zazenkai or ​Zen meditation meetings​ are held for lay people twice a month. Since 1999, the Enlightenment Activity Committee was set up to explore proper measures for religious outlook for several problems in a modern society. ​They have regular study and training and publisha transcripts​ of lectures ​they hold in cooperation with teachers of various fields.

Jotenkaku Museum

This museum is located in the temple grounds and contains many treasures. It has a deep relationship with the tea master Sen​-​no-​Rikyu, so its collection of items related to the tea ceremony is substantial.  On permanent exhibition are many important cultural properties, such a bokuseki or ink painting and the tea implements, etc. Now, this museum has five national treasure and many excellent cultural properties include 143 important cultural properties.

Admission fees

Adult 800円
65years of age older・College students:600円
Junior and senior high school students:300円
Primary school children:200円

Open: 10:00~17:00

 

 Zen meditation

Zen meditation is a practice of Zen Buddhism; it  is a means to wake up. People want to live like Buddha, sit and hope that get the enlightenment. Since it’s difficult to continue alone  the temple holds zen meditation meetings. It’s encouraging if there are others doing meditation with you.

 

Opening day

Every month second fourth Sunday

But there are flying off, be careful.

→Holding time

AM9:00~11:00

Zen meditation 9:00 ~ 10:30

Lay sermon 10:30 ~ 11:00

Okokorozashiosame  ¥100

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☆Access☆

〒602-0898

Kyotoshi-kamigyouku-imadegawadori-karasuma-higashiiru
TEL:075-231-0301

「Imadegawa」 near the subway station

「Doshisyamae」name of nearest city busstop

The Demon of Oeyama

August 29, 2016

by Yu Sakamoto, Kazu Shibao, and Taishi Nishikawa

When people visit foreign countries, they can hear many different kinds of stories, legends, and myths. Japan also has its own myths, and one of those typical myths would be that of the yokai, which is similar to a demon in western countries. It is not sure whether yokai exist or not, but there are several theories on how yokai were created, and some of them are widely accepted to this day.

One theory is the leftover theory. According to this theory, yokai are ancient gods that never got incorporated into the Shindo (Shinto) pantheon. So now they wander the earth causing all kinds of unusual happenings.

Another theory is the theory of magical thinking. According to this theory, yokai are simply used to explain unusual phenomenon that cannot by explained by science. Yokai are seen as folk beliefs that are handed down in Japan from generation to generation to explain weird and unusual phenomenon beyond human understanding.

Yokai have different names. For example, some are called Ayakashi (something strange or suspicious), Mononoke (an evil spirit) and Mamono (a demon and a demon). Hyakki Yako (Night Parade of 100 Demons) is a well-known concept related to yakai. Hyakki Yako is like a parade of many kinds of yokai who wander in the middle of the night. There are several stories of Hyakki Yako in folk tales like the Uji Shui Monogatari and Konjaku Monogatari.

Kyoto has been called Kyoto Makai (Kyoto Hell) and has been connected with yokai and Chimimouryo (evil spirits of mountains and rivers) since ancient times. Ichijo street, which is the boundary line between the outside world and the north end of the Heian-kyo has been said to be the place where Chimimouryo (evil spirits of mountains and rivers) meet up with human beings, and it is the way of Hyakki Yako.

Shutendoji: The Oeyama Demon

ShutendojiThe Oeyama Devil is a legend of Kyoto. Oeyama is a mountain, located in Kyoto prefecture to the north of Kyoto city, and is said to be the home of one of the strongest demons in the history of Japan: Shutendoji.

Shutendoji, which means ‘sake drinking boy’, is about 6 meters tall and has five horns and fifteen eyes. The color of its head and torso is red, its left leg is black, its right hand is yellow, its right foot is white, and its left hand is blue. Shutendoji lived in Oeyama, and sometimes he appeared in Kyoto city to kidnap the noble princess, and sometimes he ate other people alive.

Shutendoji caused great suffering and fear amongst the people of Kyoto, so the king organized a demon-killing group led by Demon-killer Minamotono Yorimitsu and the Four Heavenly Kings (Watanabe Tsuna, Sakatano Kintoki, Usai Sadamitsu, and Uedano Suetake). In 995, they went on a mission to kill Shutendoji. On the way, they met three old men. Minamotono Yorimitsu got a kabuto (helmet) and some jinbekidokushu (a poison liquid that only affects demons) from three old men. At that time one of the old men said, “When you cut off the neck of Shutendoji, do not forget to wear this helmet.”

Then the three old men disappeared. After that Minamotono Yorimitsu and the Four Heavenly Kings were caught by demons and taken up to Shutendoji. However, Minamotono Yorimitsu was good at talking, so Shutendoji suggested to Minamotono Yorimitsu and the Four Heavenly Kings to drink alcohol, but instead it was human blood. Minamotono Yorimitsu and the Four Heavenly Kings drank it and were not fazed at all. Next, Shutendoji gave them human arms and legs. Minamotono Yorimitsu and the Four Heavenly Kings ate all of these things. Shutendoji had to trust them, and Minamotono Yorimitsu gave him the jinbekidokushu. Shutendoji drank it and he became drunk, so he began to sleep in his room. Minamotono Yorimitsu put on the kabuto and cut off Shutendoji’s neck while he was sleeping. As soon as Shutendoji’s detached head looked at Minamotono Yorimitsu with an angry face, it tried to bite him in the head. However, since he was wearing the kabuto, his life was saved.

Minamotono Yorimitsu and the Four Heavenly Kings killing ShutendojiThis is the story of the famous journey of the demon-killing group to defeat Shutendoji at Mt. Oeyama. The old men who appeared in this story is actually the god of three shrines. He divided himself into three old men in order to meet the demon-killing group.

Shutendoji Culture and Tradition

These days, there are many cultural traditions associated with Shutendoji.

Shutendoji’s head and kabukiShutendoji Shrine

There is a shrine on Oeyama mountain called Onidake Inari, which means ‘demon mountain’ shrine. According to one legend, because Shutendoji’s head was buried in this mountain, people want to keep this evil spirit away. Also the people who live around this mountain have a festival for calming Shutendoji’s spirits down once a year even to this day. That festival is called the Shutendoji Festival. In this festival parade around the town with a huge Shutendoji float.

Kabuki

There is also a kabuki performance related to the demon of Oeyama. Kabuki is a traditional Japanese dance drama. The title of the kabuki about Shutendoji is Oeyama Shutendoji. It was the long epic song that written for the 17th Kanzaburo Nakamura in 1963. The 17th Kanzaburo Nakamura was one of the most famous kabuki actors at that time, who won a lot of awards.

Takarazuka

Takarazuka, which is Japanese newest traditional theatre, also has a drama about Shutendoji. The title is Ooeyamakaden. This drama was performed by Michi Taira who is famous takarazuka star in 1986, but in 2009 it was played by Yuhi Ozora who is another famous takarazuka star again.

Film

Also there are a few movies about Shutendoji. One of them is a famous movie that called Ooeyama Shutendoji. This movie was filmed by Tokuzou Tanaka who is famous movie director in 1960 and there are a lot of famous stars in this movie.

Manga

Manga is a kind of Japanese comic book. There are a few manga about Shutendoji as well. The title of one manga series is Shutendoji. It was written by a man named Gou Nagai from 1976 to 1978. Furthermore there is a quite famous manga called ShutenDouji. It was witten by Hayato Umezawa in 1990. This manga was published by Shonen JUMP, which is one of the most famous comic magazines in Japan.

Sake

Also, amongst the many types of sake in Japan, one of the most famous ones is called Onigoroshi, which means that ‘killing the demon’. This sake is so spicy as to kill a demon. Actually this sake is also related to Shutendoji, as its origin is from the legend of the Oeyama demon.

As you can see, the yokai Shutendoji is related with so many traditional Japanese things. This is also true of other yokai not mentioned in this article. Especially, Kyoto is one of the places in Japan from which yokai originate, so if you are lucky (or unlucky), maybe you will encounter a yokai during your stay in Kyoto.

Amanohashidate

May 7, 2016

Amanohashidate is one of the most scenic spots in Japan. It is located in the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture on Miyazu Bay. It is one of Japan’s three most celebrated scenic sights, selected amongst many beautiful sights all over Japan. The other two are Matsuhima in Miyagi prefecture, and Miyajima in Hiroshima Prefecture.

Amanohashidate is special because it provides visitors with an amazing view of a tree-covered sandbar that spans a pretty ocean bay. The sand is pure white, and there are approximately 8,000 pines trees growing on it. Also, as the oldest place of strong energy in Japan, there are three shrines in the region: Manai Shrine, Amanohashidate Shrine, and Motoise-kono Shrine. For these reasons, many tourists make the trip to northern Kyoto Prefecture each year.

There are actually a number of different views around Amanohashidate that tourists can experience, not just one. The most famous – Naname Moji – is a view from a nearby mountain, in a place called Kasamatsu Park.

Naname Moji

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People can see Amanohashidate in the form of a diagonal character from Kasamatsu Park. It is called Naname moji, which means ‘diagonal character’. This view is an iconic view representing Kyoto Prefecture. All Japanese recognize it when they see it.

Matanozoki

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Tourists can also see Amanohashidate from Kasamatsu park by bending over and looking at it from between their legs. This view is called Matanozoki. If people do that, the sea is above and the sky is below, which makes the sandbar appear to be a bridge over heaven.

While Naname Moji and Matanozoki are the most well-known views, there are actually many other views for tourists to experience while they are at Amanohashidate.

Hiryukan

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Tourists can also see the scenery of Amanohasidate from a different perspective if they climb to the top of Bunsyu-Mountain from the north side. As the name Hiryukan suggests, the view looks like appearance of a dragon climbing to heaven.

Ichigikan

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Another interesting view of Amanohashidate is from Oouchimisakiichigikan park on the west side.

Settankan

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Tourists can also see the scenery of Amanohasidate from the east side. In addition to beautiful views, the Amanohasidate region has many other attractions for tourists to enjoy.

Isoshimizu

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Isoshimizu is a small shrine within walking distance from Amanohashidate Station. It has a strange feature: the spring water inside the shrine is surprisingly fresh. One would expect it to be salty because it is surrounded by the sea, but it is not salty at all.

Amanohashidate is said to have a very old and strong energy in Japan. It is known as a power spot. There are three shrines that are said to contain this power: Manai shrine, Amanohashidate shrine and Motoise-kono shrine.

Manai Shrine

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This Shine is also located in Amanohashidate. It has another name: Kushi-hamanomiyaKushi means ‘mysterious power’.  A legend says that this is where the gods of the grand shrine at Ise moved. It contains the main gods of the inner and outer shines of Ise, making it a very special place. This shrine is within walking distance of Isekono-Shrine Station.

Amanohashidate Shrine

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This shrine is quietly located in Amanohashidate. When people pray at this shrine, they will fulfill their love. Many couples come to this miraculous place to put stones top of the shrine gate. This shrine can be reached from either Amanohashidate Station or Isoshimizu, where it is within walking distance.

Amanohashidate Post

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There is like retro-style post box in Amanohashidate. A legend says that when people send a letter from this retro post box, they will get power. If people have a special person or family member, their may wish come true.

Tile throwing 

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Tourists can play this game in Amanohashidate. People throw tiles at rings. A legend says that if you get the tiles into the rings, your dreams come true and your bad luck will go away. One play costs 300 yen.

Wish Key

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If couples hang a key with a message on a string from the view of Kasamatsu park over Amanohashidate, their wish for love is said to reach the sky. This is a romantic place. One key costs 700 yen.

Wish Bell

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Also from Kasmatsu Park, there is a large bell. If people ring the bell while making a wish, their wish will come true. It is popular for lovers to ring this bell and make a wish together.

In sum, if you visit the Kansai region during your stay in Japan, you should definitely make the trip to Amanohashidate. It is such a beautiful and powerful place that people are said to shed tears at the experience.

Access from Kyoto

There is express train to to Amanohashidate from Kyoto statio. It takes 2.5 hours one way. The fare is 4,500 yen, which is a bit cheaper than the cost of normal trains.

There is also a bus from Kyoto Station to Amanohashidate Station. It takes 1.5 hours, and only costs 2,800 yen.

The Social Kitchen

January 21, 2016

By Yuri Kamakura and Akane Kaneta

 

The Social Kitchen is a cafe opens that changes shopkeepers every day. They think that they want to tell about lifestyle through food and use their skills in preparing it. At the heart of the Social Kitchen is the wishto be a place where people gather and engage in conversations with convivial atmosphere. The Social Kitchen cafe provides healthy and tasty food with reasonable prices while following practices that will improve the conditions related to food and farming, such as organic farming, development and preservation of the local economy, at both local and global levels. The cafe can be used for many different events.

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Social Kitchen cafe

The basic philosophy of this cafe is to…

… use ingredients that are not harmful to the environment or our bodies

… use ingredients produced in Kyoto and its surrounding areas as much as possible

… value our relationship with local, small farmers and retailers and…

… try to reduce the amount of waste as much as possible.

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We visited Social Kitchen Cafe on Tuesday morning. Rather than a common cafe,  it seemed to be more like a kitchen in a home. It was very friendly.

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We ordered the  “croquette plate.” It  included soup, salad and rice. Surprisingly, each dish used beans. It is very healthy and filling. We were very satisfied with the dish.

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“croquette plate”

The 2nd floor

Because of its nature as a social and cultural center, “Kominkan” in Japanese, the Social Kitchen is not intended to be the place where just a few people conceive and organize everything. It is an open organization or place where those who have ideas or projects  organize things by and for themselves with the help of others. The Social Kitchen has this to say about their place: “The Social Kitchen can only work if people with diverse backgrounds gather, create ideas, experiment, and contribute to  each others’ projects. This makes everyone’s actions more complex, convivial, social and beautiful. Please email us if you have any ideas for this space that can be used for lectures, workshops, debates, study groups, bazaars, exhibitions, meetings and parties.”

The 3rd floor

The Social Kitchen office is on the 3rd floor and houses offices for one designer, two programmers, and one group called OUR,. OUR is a group in a vague sense and rejects any specific definition. It does not have fixed members. Nor does it have one leader or center. OUR organizes exhibitions, parties, critiques, picnics, and lectures based on the interests of its members.

Address: 602-0898 Sokokuji Kitamonzen-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 699 Phone:075-201-1430 Email: info@hanareproject.net

Ichijoji Ramen

August 20, 2015

by Mao Osako and Yuina Terasaki

Most people think of Kyoto as a place to see temples, shrines, and geisha. However, Kyoto is more than that. In this article, we will introduce a place that many tourists don’t know about: Ichijoji, a fierce battleground of delicious ramen restaurants. After describing what ramen is, we will tell you more about this most famous ramen area of Kyoto and recommend some of the shops there. We hope that after reading about it, you will want to visit Ichijoji yourself.

What is Ramen?

Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup dish made with Chinese-style wheat noodles and served in a meat or fish based broth. One of the characteristic features of Japanese ramen is the different types of broth offered, such as soy sauce, miso (soybean paste), and salt. Mainly, the taste of soy sauce is typical of Kyoto. In addition to broth and noodles, there are various ingredients on top, such as slices of roast pork, green onion, and garlic. A typical bowl of ramen costs around 600 to 1,000 yen. Men like to eat ramen late at night, while most women tend to eat ramen during lunchtime. The calories are a little high, but you can get great boost of energy at the same time.

Ichijoji

Ichijoji is located in the north part of Kyoto near the Takano river. There are no famous temples or shrines there, but instead Ichijoji is mostly known for its large collection of ramen restaurants. There are about 22 ramen shops there, all competing with each other for business. That’s why this place is known as a fierce battleground of ramen. When you get off the train at Ichijoji station and walk a little to the west, just follow your nose to the many ramen shops on and around Higashioji Street.

The variety of ramen shops is fascinating. One of the ramen shops has been in business for over 40 years. On the other hand, another shop just opened its doors recently. Each shop has its own unique characteristics. While some shops change their ways to meet their customers’ needs better, other shops stay true to their ways regardless of the desires of customers. For shops open to change, they tend to alter their interior decoration for families, or make a special menu by referring to surveys given to customers. Other shops are against this approach. The purposely don’t keep up with the trends. Instead, they maintain their own way from one generation to the next, building a tradition. That’s why although there are many Ramen shops, there are also popular and unpopular shops.

Perhaps one of the reasons why Ichijoji became such a hotspot for ramen is that there are many schools around this area. And since ramen is cheaper than many other restaurants, it saves students money.

Tentenyuu Ramen Shop

One of the ramen shops we recommend is called Tentenyuu, also known as the ‘Faith of Ichijoji’. According to the Japanese gourmet website, Tabelog, Tentenyuu won the award for Best Ramen 2011. When you visit Ichjoji for the first time, you should definitely go to this ramen shop. It has a signature broth made with 100% chicken stock and vegetables. The chicken stock is boiled for more then 11 hours, so if we drink the broth, we can get a lot of collagen, which is good for us. Also, this shop offers different tastes between day and night. So will you try going twice in one day?

When we went to Tentenyuu, it was nighttime. We ordered a bowl of chashumen for 830 yen. ‘Chashu’ means baked pork, while ‘men’ means noodles. When our order arrive, we were surprised at how many pieces of chashu there were. We couldn’t even see the noodles due to the seven tasty looking pieces of chashu on top. And because the pork had a light taste, we were able to eat it easily and still have room for the noodles, which were slim and a bit firm. The salty-simmered bamboo shoots had a pleasantly strong taste. It was our first time to experience that taste. We came to know the real taste of salty-simmered bamboo shoots. Delicious!

When you order ramen at Tentenyuu, you have to call shop staff over and tell them what you want to eat. After we placed our order, we only waited about 5 minutes for the food to come. The shop’s space is fairly large, with three Japanese style small private rooms and 10 stools at the counter. When we went there, most of the seats were full. The staff are very kind, so we recommend that you sit at the counter so you can interact with them.

A bowl of chashumen for 830 yen

A bowl of chashumen for 830 yen


 
The salty-simmered bamboo shoots

The salty-simmered bamboo shoots


 

Yumewokatare Ramen Shop

Yumewokatare is the name of the second Ichijoji ramen shop we recommend. This shop is popular with students. This is because some customers say the ramen here is quite filling, while other say that eating it releases stress. One family we spoke with said they came from all the way from Osaka, and had come to this shop three times in the past. They said the last time they came, they weren’t able to eat there because the ramen was completely sold out. They claim to feel charmed by stamina when eating the ramen at Yumewokatare.

When we went to Yumewokatare, we ate pork double ramen for 980 yen. Customers are able to choose from different sizes, so the cost is related to the portion size. Some customers advised us that the 980 yen size is too much for a woman. But we tried it anyway! When we first saw the bowl of ramen, we were amazed by its size. It contained a lot of bean sprouts and thick chashu. The noodle were thick, too. So if you eat the normal size ramen, maybe you will feel it is still too much to eat. There is no doubt that we can consume a large amount of vegetables, meat, and noodles from the ramen at this shop.

pork double ramen for 980 yen

pork double ramen for 980 yen


 
Noodles

Noodles

When we walked into Yumewokatare, we noticed a strong garlic smell. In fact, the ramen comes with a lot of garlic in it. However, we can order our ramen without garlic at all, so don’t worry if you are not a big fan of garlic.

One of the things we loved about Yumewotakare is that when you go to order the ramen, you have to buy a ticket from a vending machine, containing all the menu items. Then you must hand in the ticket to shop staff. This is one of the unique points of this shop. After handing over our tickets, we only had to wait about 5 minutes. It was just right for us. All the seats in this shop are at the counter, so we were able to watch the shop staff prepare the ramen and interact with them. This is another charming point of Yumewotakare.

you have to buy a ticket from a vending machine.

Ticket Vending Machine


 
In addition, these two shops are literally right next to each other!

So please try two shops a day?

Access

Tentenyuu (天天有)

By train: Get off at Ichijoji station of Eizandentetu.
By bus: Get off at Ichijoji Kitadaimaruchyo.
By subway: Get off at Matugasaki station of Karasuma line.

Operating hours:
Mon-Sat: 18:00~02:30
Sun & public holidays: 18:00~01:30
Shop holidays: Wednesday
Signboard color: Yellow

Building

Tentenyuu


 

Ramensou Yumewokatare(夢を語れ)

By train: Get off at Ichijoji station of Eizandentetu.
By bus: Get off at Ichijoji Kitadaimaruchyo.
By subway: Get off at Matugasaki station of Karasuma line.

Operating hours:
Tue-Sat: 11:30~14:30, 18:00~24:00
Sun: 11:30~14:30, 18:00~22:00
Shop holidays: Monday
Signboard color: Light blue

Building

Ramensou Yumewokatare


 
Two shops are literally right next to each other.

Two shops are literally right next to each other.

The Toretore center

June 22, 2015

By Arisa Hirano and Erina Okamoto

  Where do you buy fish when you want to buy it? I think you go to the supermarket. However you can get very fresh fish in Kyoto. My favorite place to buy fresh fish is in Maizuru.

toretoreAbout the Toretore center

  In Maizuru, there is fishing harbor. It is called the Tore-tore center. Tore-tore means catch lots of fish. It’s on the north side of Kyoto and the Sea of Japan. It is said that it is the biggest fishery center in the Sea of Japan. It was set up in 2002.

  It conducts business from 9 am ~ 5 pm. It takes 2 and a half hour by car from Kyoto city. If you take a train, you should get on a JR train and get off at Nishimaizuru station. 5 fisher branch shops and 13 shops are in the center. Fish are very fresh and cheap. Not only do they sell fish, but also shellfish, shrimp, octopus, seaweed and souvenir.

If you are hungry, you can eat the seafood that you bought then and there. Frist, the store staff cut and broils it for you. Second, there is food court. You can eat raw seafood on top rice and miso-soup (bean paste soup) with shellfish. Third, you can eat seafood tempura (seafood dipped in batter and deep-fried). You cannot eat fresh seafood like that in any other place. In the Tore-tore center, you can hear fisherman’s lively voices. If you ask questions about the seafood, they’ll answer you, like how to cook and eat the delicious seafood.

toretore1Why is the fish so delicious?

 Why is the fish sold in toretore center so delicious? I’ll tell you the secret.

    First of all, I’ll explain the distribution channel of fish that are sold in the grocery store or the supermarket. Each fishing market and fishermen’s association harvest fish. Then, they send the fish to the central markets in Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe. It usually takes one to two days to arrive because it is transported from a long distance. Then, the fish are set up. After that, they are sent to supermarkets, department stores and fresh fish stores. They can’t keep up fresh fish because it takes time. At Toretore, the speed is different. Fisherman harvest fish in Wakasa bay or Tango peninsula.

 toretore5   After that, it’s sent to Maizuru market in fishermen’s association in Kyoto. Then, they are sent to the Toretore center. The time required is only ten minutes! Fresh fish are sold in the Toretore center immediately. Freshness is completely different. It is said that the price of auction is decided depending on six points. They are, the kind of fish, the freshness, the quantity of fish, whether the fish have plenty of fat or not, whether the fish have flabby muscles or not and, the fishing ground. The fish that are sold in the Toretore center meet these requirements.

    Therefore these fish have a high price. However, the Toretore center sells fish at moderate price. For example, they sold Atka mackerel which has plenty of fat in 800yen and 5 pieces of flounders for 1200yen. Also, there are a lot of processed seaweeds. For example, salted fish guts, octopus with green horseradish paste, fish minced and steamed, and a kind of brown algae. They are good accompanying dish with rice

 

Charming pointstoretore3

One of the Toretore center’s charming points is that we can eat fresh fish and seafood there. Many of stores at the Toretore center provide the services that broil them in front of us. When we went there, some old men asked to broil Atka mackerel and they ate it with rice and miso soup. It smelled so good. We chose seafood plate. We had calamari, scallops, octopus, and shrimp. Surprisingly, the price of the plate was only 1000 yen. Is it good bargain? They are really crunchy and tasty. The sauce which on them was also good. It was wonderful because we can enjoy eating some different things.

toretore4

  Furthermore, we tried to eat a giant pacific oyster. We usually eat it steamed or broil, but we ate it raw. They were very fresh, so it’s no problem. We were impressed with the giant pacific oyster’s size. It’s no exaggeration to say that the size was three times as large as the usual one. Therefore, it was substantial and satisfying. We ate it with squeezed a lemon, and it was really delicious. We recommend eating it when you have chance to go to toretore center.

  We made a lot of discoveries in the Toretore center. If you are interested in the Toretore center after reading our article, why don’t you go there?

 

 

 

 

Web site: http://www.toretore.org/

Address : 〒624-0946 905, Shimofukui, Maizurushi, Kyto

Phone: 0773-75-6125

Takaragaike Park

September 8, 2014

 

Marino Takeuchi & Nao Mochizuki

 The History of Takaragaike and the Park

Takaragaike is a small artificial lake made in the middle of the Edo period, and its original purpose was for drawing water into the surrounding fields. At first, it was only a small pond, created by damming spring water, but it is said to have become as large as its present size by the end of the Edo period. During World War II, a plan for the development of Takaragaike Park was made. The park area was originally planned to be a Bouku Ryokuchi, or an evacuation area, for people to avoid air raids and to prevent fire from spreading into urban areas. In 1958, bicycle racing, which had been held at the Kyoto Bicycle Racing Track here, was discontinued and instead the playground “Paradise for Children” (Kodomo no Rakuen) was built on the site. In 1961, the construction of the Kyoto International Conference Center was decided upon, and after that many facilities such as the Forest of Rest and Relaxation (Ikoi no Mori), the Forest of Wild Birds (Yachou no Mori) and the Forest of Cherry Blossoms (Sakura no Mori) were introduced. Today, the grounds including these facilities and the lake is called Takaragaike Park, and covers an area of 62.7 hectares.

The Lake

The Lake

Facilities in the park

The “Paradise for Children” playground (Kodomo no Rakuen) is a place which is surrounded by a thickly wooded area and is a special place for children. There are three areas for youngsters here:  the playground which is set up with playground equipment and a sandbox, a large open space with grass and a rest area, and an experience area, where people can touch a lot of living things and plants. This park can only be used by young children and their parents, and people who are more than junior high school student age (except children’s parents) may not enter.  The Forest of Rest and Relaxation (Ikoi no Mori) is a place where one can observe wild birds and was formerly the home for a racing stable exclusively for the use of the Heian cavalry.  The stables of the Kyoto Prefectural Police Department are here now, and you can see horses which are used for patroling and traffic safety campaigns. There is also an experience of riding the horses on offer to children up to nine years old.

Takaragaike    

This lake is surrounded by a lot of nature even though it is inside the environs of Kyoto city. In the lake, there are creatures such as turtles, carp, frogs and birds. Various plants border the water’s edge, and you can enjoy seasonable scenes whenever you go. Especially in spring, many people come here to view the cherry blossoms and the park becomes quite crowded. There is a promenade around the lake, and many people like walking, jogging and running marathons. You can rent a rowing boat or pedal boat, and buy food to feed the fish at the shop near the lakeside.

Koi carp

Koi carp

The Promenade

The promenade

 Surrounding area

Located on the edge of the park are some famous buildings such as the Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto and the Kyoto International Conference Center where the Kyoto Protocol was signed. There are also a lot of eating places, such as cafés, restaurants and so on.

Access to Takaragaike park

The closest station is Kokusaikaikan Subway Station, on the Kyoto City Karasuma subway line, which is located right outside the north entrance to the park. It is also about 10 – 15 minutes north on foot from Matsugasaki station on the same subway line.

Ohara

 

Akiho Kamijo and Shiho Iwasaki

Ohara Area

The Ohara area of Kyoto is about one hour by bus from Kyoto Station. It lies in the western foothills of Mount Hiei, one of the holiest mountains in Japan.There are a number of famous temples here, and the scenery changes by the season. In the spring, the cherry blossoms are incredible, and in the autumn the leaves offer a riot of vivid color. We will now introduce a few of the most interesting aspects for tourists to see and discover.

Sanzen-in

Sanzen-in

Sanzen-in

Sanzen-in, a temple of the Tendai Buddhist sect, is located here, and is famous for its elegant beauty and peaceful atmosphere. It was founded by a very famous monk called Saicho, and is a Monzeki temple, which means it was connected to the Japanese royal family. In the temple grounds, there are three distinct and important buildings; Ojo Gokurakuin, Shinden and Kyakuden.

The Ojo Gokurakuin Hall

The Ojo Gokurakuin Hall was first built at the end of the 10th century and is the oldest building in Sanzen-in. It was rebuilt in the 12th century, however, and this is the structure you can see today. The most important treasure of Sanzen-in is housed here, and this is the statue of Amida Buddha. There are also two other very important statues of gods that accompany Amida in the hall, and they are Seishi and Kannon.

The Shinden Hall

This is the main hall at Sanzen-in, and there is also another statue of Amida Buddha here. There are also two more statues to the left and right of him, and these are of Kannon and Fudo Myo. Outside of this hall is a spectacular moss garden, with Ojo Gokurakuin in the center.

The Kyakuden Hall

Built by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, this is really a guest hall for receiving visitors, and is the first main building you go through when entering the temple. There are some beautiful examples of Japanese artwork and calligraphy on hand, especially the Fusumae, which are paintings or calligraphy on sliding doors. It is also possible to view the impressive Shuheiken Garden from here, which features a rather lovely pond.

 

Other Temples

momiji

Two of the many other interesting temples in the Ohara area, are Jikko-in and Shorin-in. Jikko-in is actually a sub-temple of Shorin-in, and is most notable for its gardens. These gardens feature elegantly shaped ponds, and have some very rare trees and plants in them, including Fudan-zakura, an exquisite variety of cherry blossom. Shorin-in is also known as Motoji Temple, and has a strong connection to traditional Japanese music. There are many historical documents and artifacts related to this temple, but the most valuable treasure here is probably the Bonsho, or Buddhist temple bell, which hails from the Fujihara era and is recognized as an Important Japanese Cultural Property.

Ajisai Matsuri (Hydrangea Festival)

ajisai

The Ajisai Matsuri, or Hydrangea Festival, is held annually at Sanzen-in from mid-June to mid-July. More than 3,000 blooms are on display each year, and there are many varieties in a host of different colors. Although this event takes place at the height of the rainy season, it is worth the trip from Kyoto City, as the flowers can look even more impressive in a light rain or drizzle. There is an entrance fee to the gardens, but no reservation is required.

Oharame

Oharame was the name given to the women of Ohara who used to sell their farm products in the surrounding areas, and Kyoto City, using a rather unique method of delivery. Basically, they would carry everything on their heads, from firewood to flowers to vegetables. This custom lasted for about 800 years, from the Kamakura Period to the early Showa Period. It was not unusual for these women to walk over 20 kilometers in a day often with loads of between 30 and 50 kilos. They were most distinctive, however, for the dark blue kimono they wore, with the sleeves tied up with ‘tasuki’, a special kind of string.

Ohara is a small, but very interesting hamlet just outside a major city, and with all the hidden delights on offer, is a really cool place to visit for a day, or even overnight. There are several places where you can stay here, and they have hot spring baths! Please take the time to come and enjoy Ohara.

Access

From Kokusaikaikan Station on the Karasuma Subway Line – Take the Kyoto Bus No 19 to Ohara (approx. 20 minutes)

From Kyoto Station – Take Kyoto Bus No 17 to Ohara (approx. 60 minutes)