Old Schools as the ‘New Kyoto’

August 6, 2018

Background

At present, Japan has an aging population and declining birthrate problem. Therefore, the government has been closing about 500 schools a year. Rather than let these buildings go to waste, the closed schools are being revamped into new places such as welfare facilities, hotels, community centers and so on. The closed school sites are attractive plots of land in Kyoto due to it being a crowded city that sits in a basin. The densely populated situation in the city center means that any large spaces are far and few between. Plus, the school buildings themselves have historical value.

There are 3 main advantages of using old school buildings. First, the ample space can be used effectively, for example, holding seminars in the classrooms and enjoying sports in the gymnasium or outdoor ground. Second, by using existing facilities, new ventures can significantly decrease their costs. Finally, the site of a former school is designated as cultural property as a historic building, so they should be maintained as such. The Kyoto Art Center and Comic Museum in Kyoto are both housed on old school sites. On the other hand, there are demerits too. These old schools need repair work which means they are not always easy to use as a welfare facility or for social gatherings. They also need a lot of money to look after them. As explained, using these sites has various problems which need to be considered carefully.

 

Renovations

Currently, even in the center of Kyoto, there are 10 sites where elementary schools used to be. These buildings have been turned into libraries, hospitals, homes for the elderly, NPO offices, museums, cafés and spaces for volunteer activities. Kyoto International Manga Museum is a famous museum for overseas visitors. Inside there is a café, shop, exhibition room and memorial hall about the old elementary school. Before this site was used as a museum, it used to be Tatsuike Elementary School. The wooden floors and stairs faced of stone and tiles still remain. The floor creaks under your feet when you step on it, giving sweet memories of times gone by but in a modern setting. Moreover, visitors can read various comics and books in the surroundings of an old school. In one of the buildings, there is still the principal’s office. You can see the main terrace by the playground from the window in this office.

Kyoto Art Center used to be Meirin Elementary School. You can see the design of floats that were used for traditional feasts in Kyoto in front of the building. There is a large tatami mat -156 square yards- which adds to the traditional Japanese atmosphere. This facility also has a library, cafe and workspace for art. The management of the facility wanted to revive Kyoto, so they established the center in the old school. In 2008, there was some resistance to use the site as a cultural property, but this school was used carefully for a long time by the people in the neighborhood. Even now, a lot of people go there to learn and see the art, drink something and catch up.

The Department of Administration in Kyoto City Hall has beautifully renovated these old elementary schools into new facilities with thoughtful consideration of the local community. Elementary school buildings create fond memories for many children and adults, so it is important that the new facilities do not destroy old memories.

 

Future of old schools

Finally, let’s take a look at some future plans for reusing old school sites. Until now, old schools in Kyoto have been transformed into new facilities through a careful renovation process that does not break up the existing buildings, creating spaces for bustling communities and thriving cultural exchange. Planners care about the thoughts of the local community more than anything else and intend to continue this way in the future. They have to observe the rules made by the city. For example, stores that are built inside of these old schools must be local business’ that have a link to Kyoto’s traditions. As a result, local people who have affection for the old school buildings agree to the new utilization plans. As an example, there is the case of Rissei Elementary School. It is located in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto and closed in 1993. This school will be renovated by 2020 and opened as a new complex that includes a hotel, café, library, resident committee meeting space among others with the cooperation of the city, local self-governing associations and real estate companies. Furthermore, a similar cultural complex will be opened in 2021 at the site of Shirakawa Elementary School in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto. In this complex, planners intend to build shops that exhibit and sell Kyoto’s traditional crafts, a garden where local people can feel free to gather, and a hotel where guests can experience Kyoto’s culture. You will be able to see a lot more renovated buildings with new cultural complexes that protect the old school buildings. The purpose of the old schools can live on through these reconstruction projects.

The Hottest Ramen Noodles in Kyoto

by Kensei Iizuka, Yuta Kobayashi, Takanori Tsuhako

As you know, there is a lot of delicious food in Kyoto. In this article, we are going to tell you about the noodles. Kyoto, especially Kyoto City, is one of the most famous places for noodles in Japan. That is why there are a lot of great noodle restaurants here. In this article, we will introduce you to Menya-Kirameki: a really famous noodle restaurant on Kyoto Sanjo and part of the Kirameki chain of noodle restaurants in Kyoto. We will introduce other Kirameki restaurants at the end of this article. If you want to get more information about the Kirameki Group, please check them out.

Menya-Kirameki Kyoto Sanjo 

Taiwanese Spicy Soupless Noodles

The most famous noodle dish in Kirameki is their Taiwanese Soupless Noodles. This dish was born in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture in 2008. It was created from meals that were prepared for the staff of a Taiwanese restaurant in Nagoya. The Taiwanese owner used to serve these soupless noodles only for his employees until one day a customer saw them and asked him to put it on the regular menu. The owner tried to add some spices to make it tastier because it was a simple dish compared to other items on the menu in this restaurant. The dish contains ground meat seasoned with some spices that are placed on the top of super thick noodles. It also has fish meal, leeks, Chinese chives and fresh egg yolk. The way to eat it is straightforward: you just mix all the ingredients to taste them together. You might be surprised by the flavors when you eat this for the first time. However, we are sure that you will like it more and more as you continue to eat. When you have finished eating, it is recommended that you put a small cup of rice into your noodle bowl that still has some flavor from the spices. This is called “shime” in Japanese, and it is meant to refresh your mouth. To put it simply, it plays the role of brushing your teeth. By eating a bowl of plain white rice, you can ‘clean up’ the remaining flavors in your mouth. In Kirameki, you can get a small cup of rice for free when you order Taiwanese Soupless Noodles. It is okay to put the rice into your noodle bowl at the end of eating, and it is great to eat the noodles and rice together. It definitely makes you full and satisfied. But, please take care of the smell of your breath after eating Taiwanese Soupless Noodles! Those are some spicy flavors!

 

 

Chicken Bone White Broth Noodles with Soy Sauce

There is a wide range of noodles in Kyoto. Most noodle restaurants in Kyoto specialize in ‘rich noodles.’ Kyoto is called the “Student City” because there are many universities in Kyoto City. Students want to feel full and satisfied for as little money as possible. That is why many noodle restaurants are serving ‘rich noodles’ to make students-the main customers-feel satisfied. Kirameki serves ‘rich noodles.’ The soup in this dish is made from chicken bones. It takes a long time to produce the umami flavors from the chicken bones. Umami is made from the chicken bones and adjusted for taste.When you eat ‘rich noodles,’ at first, try a spoonful of just the soup and enjoy each original rich flavor. Secondly, pick up some of the noodles and eat them together with the rich soup. The noodles are all made from Japanese flour called yumemanten, which is made in Nagano Prefecture. They are really thick and chewy. Most people fall in love with these divine noodles due to their texture. Also, you can enjoy some awesome toppings such as slices of roasted pork, juicy menma (bamboo shoots), shredded green onions, and a slice of lemon. They make these noodles even tastier.

 

Chicken Bone Noodles

As well as their soy sauce dishes, Kirameki also serves noodles that have a delightful salty taste. This dish is very similar to the soy sauce options. However, the color of the soup is a little different. These dishes have a special handmade sauce that contains salt made from fresh sea water from Vietnam and France. You can taste the natural flavor of the salt, which gives you a very different taste to the soy sauce noodles. It would be great to share two noodles with others if you go to Kirameki with your friends. Comparing two flavors is just one way of enjoying noodle restaurants and becoming an expert in Japanese noodles!

 

Golden Noodles with Sesame Sauce

In Japan, especially in Kyoto, the temperature reaches up to about 38 degrees in the summer. It is said that the summer climate in Kyoto is worse than a desert. Someone might say “I don’t want to get hot food on such a humid day.” But, for those people who need to cool down in the coming summer season eating noodles can be a great option. Golden noodles with sesame sauce is a dish of cold spicy noodles. It has plenty of shredded meat on top and also some peanuts. The peanuts play an important role in this dish. The sweet taste of the peanuts balances the spiciness. In Kirameki, this dish is served only in the summer. It would be the perfect noodle dish for anyone who really wants to eat noodles even on a hot day. Although we concentrated on Kirameki noodle restaurants this time, enjoy discovering and experimenting with a variety of noodle restaurants around Kyoto. You may be able to find a special noodle restaurant that your friends don’t know, and can be your noodle heaven.

【Access】

There are six Kirameki restaurants in Kyoto:

1. Kirameki-no-tori

This was the first Kirameki restaurant opened in Kyoto. If you visit Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kirameki-no-tori is nearby. The opening hours are 11:00-15:00, and 18:00-23:00. The telephone number is 075-231-2505.

2. Yuhi-no-kirameki

This was the second Kirameki restaurant. If you visit Ichijoji, or Takaragaike, it is nearby. The opening hours are 11:00-15:00, and 18:00-23:00. The telephone number is 075-746-5388.

3. Kirameki Chicken Heart

This is Kirameki’s third restaurant. It is near Kyoto University of Foreign Studies. If you visit Arashiyama, you can go there by bus. The nearest bus stop is Shijo-kadono-oji, which takes about 15 minutes from Arashiyama. The opening hours are 11:00-14:30, and 18:00-22:30. The telephone number is 075-754-6388.

4. Kirameki ☆ JAPAN

Kirameki ☆ JAPAN, the fourth Kirameki restaurant, is near Demachi-yanagi Station and Kyoto University. Take the Keihan Railway and get off at Demachi-yanagi Station. It is easy to get there. The opening hours are 11:00-14:30, and 18:00-22:30. The Telephone number is 075-741-7174.

5. Komugi-no-kirameki

This is the fifth Kirameki restaurant. The nearest station is Kamikatsura, and Katsura. Kamikatsura is on the Hankyu Arashiyama Line. You could visit here before or after visiting Arashiyama. The opening hours are 11:00-22:30. The telephone number is 075-874-4411.

6. Menya-Kirameki -Kyoto Sanjo Street

This is the sixth Kirameki restaurant and the head restaurant of Kirameki. If you visit Kawaramachi, you can visit here. Head to north from Hankyu Kawaramachi Station. It takes about ten minutes on foot. The opening hours are 11:00-23:30. The telephone number is 075-744-6199.

The Sake of Matsuo Taisha Shrine

by Kana Kobashi, Kensuke Nagai & Motonari Iwamoto

Do you like Japanese sake? Japan makes many kinds of sake, but did you know that some of those sake types are connected to a certain place. This is especially true of certain shrines, especially in Kyoto. In this article, we will tell you about one of those shrines: Matshuo Taisha, otherwise known as God of Sake.

Sake in Kyoto

Before anything else, it is important to understand how sake in Kyoto is made. As you probably are aware, Japanese sake is Japan’s national liquor, and there are many types. Three of the most well-known types are Junmai-shu, Honjozou-shu, and Ginjou-shu. They have different brewing processes and different levels of rice polish.

Junmai-shu is made from rice, rice mold, and water. The rice polishing ratio is below 70%. Its requirements are good flavor and shine.

Honjo-shu is made from rice, rice mold, and distilled alcohol. The rice polishing ratio is below 70%. Its requirements are also good flavor and shine.

Ginjo-shu is made from rice, rice mold, and distilled alcohol. The rice polishing ration is below 60%. Its requirements are a peculiar flavor and good shine. Every percentage of rice mold is at least 15%.

Jizake. There are many kinds of Jizake in Japan. ‘Jizake’ means Japanese sake brewed using locally grown rice grains and water from local areas. Their uniqueness varies from region to region. Kyoto has many kinds of it. Kyoto’s sake is one of the most famous Japanese sake in the world. This is because Kyoto is blessed with abundant nature. Therefore, Kyoto’s water is pure and the level of rice polish is high.

Now we will introduce two famous sake brands from Kyoto.

Eikun sake is made in the Fushimi area of south Kyoto. It is made with fresh local water from and high-quality rice. For this reason, it is delicious and therefore has become famous in world.

Kokorono-miyako is the most famous sake in Kyoto. It is produced by the sake brewing company Tamano-hikari, which has been in business since 1673. Their sake has a smooth taste. They only use Iwai sake rice which is grown in Kyoto. On the bottle’s label is an image from Tale of Genji, so you can sense the feeling of traditional Japan while drinking the delicious sake.

Matsuo Taisha Shrine

Matsuo Taisha–Shrine is called Matsuo-san by neighbor it located Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto.  It about one third of Kyoto’s population serves residents Nishikyo-ku, Ukyoku, Shimogyo-ku and Minami-ku.  Unlike the others shrine, it features powerful gate with two guardian gods.

Tortoises have meant in China, Korea and Japan as emblems of good fortune, about long life and good health.  The water is said to be health, and the shrine is visited both by ordinary people to get good water.  Manufactures of miso paste and sake brewers who pray for the success of their enterprises.

We can see figures of tortoises in the precincts.  The most famous of which is called the Kame-no-i, Tortoise Well, near the entrance to the first garden.  Matsuo Taisha is specify for important cultural property, and have many god statues inside here.  Moreover, this shrine is known for better fortune, so many people come here from the other places.

History of Matsuo Taisha Shrine

A god is enshrined in the Matsuo Taisha who have a power for helping agricultural and farming.  The name is Ooyamakui-no-kami.  It is one of the big god in Japan from a very long time ago.  Hiyoshi Taisha in Shiga, which is headquarters to enshrine Ooyamakui-no-kami.  The near residents decided why locate at Nishikyo-ku.  Because a person has the honor toward guardian of living at the top of Matsuo mountain.  Agriculture developed concurrently with the other industry.  And then, how to make sake imported from Shin (the old China) in this place.  So, Matsuo is known for the first sake in Japan.  After the end of the World War 2, it was decided not to use the title of the government secretary Taisha, due to the abolition of state management.  So, in order to avoid confusion with the same name Shinto shrine was renamed Matsuo Taisha in Showa 25 and it has reached the present.

Connection between Matsuo Taisha Shrine and Sake

Matsuo Taisha shrine has a deep relationship with sake. There are two accounts of how it became the God of Sake.

The first was that in the 5th and 6th centuries, a man named Hatauji of the well-known Hata clan, a Chinese immigrant clan that came to Japan through Korea. Hatauji eventually went to Matsuo Taisha shrine and worshiped the God of Matsuo Taisha shrine. Also, Hatauji, like many of his clan member, was good at making sake using techniques from mainland Asia, so he taught Japanese people how to do it. Therefore, the God of Matsuo Taisha Shrine came to be known as the God of Sake. This account is written in the historical Nihon Shoki.

The other account is actually a myth. One day, the Gods nationwide gathered at Matsuo Taisha shrine and talked. The God of Matsuo wanted to hypnotize the other gods. Therefore, he made sake to make the other gods happy, using rice from the nearby Arashiyama district and water from the mountains of Kyoto. Because of that, he came to be called the God of Sake. The God of Matsuo Taisha Shrine is strongly followed by alcohol-related companies, who worship the God by making offerings of barrels of sake.

In addition, there is water in Matsuo Taisha, and it is said that the company will not go bankrupt if you make alcohol using that water. Besides, Matsuo Taisha shrine has rare things not found in other shrines. For example, there is barrel fortune telling. When you pay 300 yen, you receive two arrows and release an arrow in a barrel. After you have finished it you can get a talisman to take home with you.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are many shrines in Kyoto, but Matsuo Taisha is the one famous for sake. Since the Muromachi period, the God of Matsuo Taisha Shrine was called the God of Sake, and from that time many tourists and worshipers have visited Matsuo Taisha. However, at present young people go to Matsuo Taisha for their annual New Year’s visit, but they do not fully understand that the God of Sake is enshrined at Matsuo Taisha. Since we researched Matsuo Taisha, we hope tourists will know more about its history and meaning.

Access

You can get to Matsuo Taisha by bus or train.

If you use the train, take the Arashiyama line of the Hankyu train. Get off the train at Matsuo Taisha Station, and walk for two or three minutes to get there.

If you take a bus, you have to take a Kyoto City bus using the Arashiyama Daikakuji or Kokedera lines. Gett off the bus at Mastuo Taishamae and walk for one or two minutes to get there. Arashiyama, Suzumushi temple, and Saihoji are nearby. These spots are famous in Kyoto, so if you have time, we recommend that you go visit them as well.

Kameoka Trip by Train

by Kensei Iizuka, Yuta kobayashi, Takanori Tsuhako

Kameoka is a city located to the west of Kyoto and is the third most populated city next to Kyoto and Uji. Even though it is famous for Japanese tourists, it is not so popular with foreign tourists. Kameoka is quite a unique and relaxing place because of its nature, such as beautiful mountains and rivers. In addition, there are some good hot springs in Kameoka. In this article, we will introduce these famous spots in Kameoka and suggest a model route for seeing them.

Kameoka Station is the point of entry for a trip to Kameoka. This station looks very small compared with Kyoto station, but there is an information center for visitors. If you don’t have a plan for your visit to Kameoka or if you have some questions, you should stop by the information center to get plenty of beneficial information. It takes about 20 minutes from Kyoto station by rapid train to get to Kameoka Station. Trains that reach Kameoka on the JR Sanin line have a very convenient timetable, which is consists of five trains per an hour. The train fare is 410 yen.

Sagano Romantic train (Torokko train)

For tourists who want to enjoy a a more leisurely way to get to Kameoka instead of taking a boring express train, we recommend the Sagano Romantic Train. This train is not the normal train you often see in most stations. By taking it, you can enjoy the natural beauty of the Hozu River canyon on an open-air train through the mountains. You can experience the Japanese sense of shiki (the four seasons) because cherry trees are in bloom in the spring, bright green leaves are out in the summer, and beautiful autumn-colored leaves appear in the moderate temperature of the fall. Furthermore, you can have a memorable experience with the extreme white landscape of winter, even though it is super cold. Tickets are 620 yen for adults and 310 yen for children. All seats are reserved. Tickets are available at Torokko stations and also JR West ticket counters. Please check the official website of this train to get latest information, such as its operating schedule.

Hozugawa-Kudari (River Boat Ride)

You are tired of sightseeing various kinds of famous temples and shrines located in the center of Kyoto, aren’t you? There is no place to be active in nature so much in the big city. Therefore, you should go to Kameoka to do Hozugawa-Kudari, which is a river boat ride going down a beautiful emerald green river surrounded by a steep tree covered canyon. This is completely exciting and makes you feel like you are riding on a roller coaster. You can enjoy shiki on this activity, as well as the Sagano Romantic train. Visitors can ride on the boats at the dock located just a 10 minute walk from the north exit of JR Kameoka Station. Boarding time is 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:30. You should check the official website before going there because this activity is easily influenced by the weather.

Izumo-Dai-Jingu

Izumo-Dai Jingu is getting popular among young people as the one of spiritual places in Kyoto. It is believed that there are gods regarding marriage, longevity and money residing here. People who are interested in them come to the shrine and pray to the gods. Especially, it is said that god of marriage is very strong. If you really want a boyfriend or girlfriend or to get married, this is a highly recommended place. It is located approximately 6 km from Kameoka station, so you should take a bus bound for Izumo-Shrine mae at the Kameoka station bus terminal.

The Vestige of Kameyama Castle

Mitsuhide Akechi, one of the most powerful rulers in Japan in the 16th century, built Kameyama castle to rule Tanba region. Unfortunately, however, visitors cannot experience it in its full splendor because it was burned down in Taisho-era. Now, all that remains are just part of the moat and castle base. They remind visitors of the form of the defunct castle structure. This site is a 10-minute walk from Kameoka station. Entrance is free of charge.

The Recommendation of Restaurant

Daikoku Burger

There is a fashionable and sophisticated restaurant with bright orange and white colors in Kameoka. It is called Daikoku Burger, which is basically a hamburger restaurant using local food. The most popular hamburger in this restaurant is the ‘Daikoku Burger’. It is made with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and very juicy meat with creamy mayonnaise between soft buns using a plenty of rice flour. Most of its ingredients are made right here in Kyoto. It must be delicious! It is also a 10-minute walk from Kameoka station.

Model Route

  1. JR Kameoka Station

↓ (10 min. Walk) Heading to South of the station. Walk along the river beside the castle.

  1. The Vestige of Kameyama Castle

You can see a fixed stone wall. You can also walk around the garden if you get permission from the staff.

↓ (10 min. Walk) Heading south. The road doesn’t have sections for pedestrians, so you need to be careful of cars.

  1. Tanzan Sake Brewing

It is a sake manufacturer. You can buy freshly brewed sake. You can also tour the factory, so you can understand how it is made.

↓ (15 min. Walk) Walk along the machiya, which is Japanese traditional wooden townhouses. You can see old Japanese houses built over one hundred years ago.

  1. Namba Soy Sauce Brewing

It is a soy sauce manufacturer. This manufacturer makes soy sauce in a traditional brewing method. You can buy those nice soy sauces at good prices.

↓ (10 min. Walk) On the way to the next spot, you can see storages for yamahoko, which is a festival float mounted with a decorative halberd used in Kameoka festival every year.

  1. Honmachi Machiya Café

The house of Honmachi Machiya Café is over a hundred years old. Once you are in the house, you can feel how old the Japanese house really is. The taste of the drink and food are nice as well, so why don’t you take some rest here?

↓ (10 min. Walk)

  1. Seki Sake Brewing

This is also a traditional sake manufacturer. When you visit here, you will see a chimney made of bricks. You can feel mixture of both Japanese and Western styles here.

↓ (15 min. Walk) You walk along a large road.

  1. Gentaro Tanaka’s Old Mansion (Rakurakuso)

It is a traditional Japanese-style hotel. The garden is beautiful, so make sure you see it if you visit. Gentaro Tanaka is known as the person who brought the railway to Kyoto.

Many tourists don’t visit Kameoka so often, but there are a lot of nice places there. Why don’t you put Kameoka into your trip plan?

Things to Do on the JR Sagano Line

by Miyabi Saeki, Natsumi Awa and Saki Hirobayashi

When you travel to Kyoto, which transportation do you use? There are many rail lines in Kyoto, such as the JR (Japan Railways) West line, and the Hankyu line, which are mainly in Kansai area. Taking the train is the best way to go to various sightseeing spots in Kyoto, because it is hardly ever delayed and the traffic in Kyoto sometimes bad, especially around the sightseeing spots. The JR Sagano line is the one of the most convenient rail lines, not only for local citizens, but also for tourists. There are 15 stations from Kyoto Station to Sonobe Station. On the way to Sonobe Station, you can see beautiful scenery through the window of the train, and of course you can get off the train and go and see these areas more closely. These are some recommended stations, which are near famous sightseeing spots.

Nijo Station

Nijo Station is located in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto City, between Tambaguchi Station and Enmachi Station. It is two stations and 6 minutes away from Kyoto Station by train. Many people use it because all trains stop at this station.

Recommended Sightseeing: Nijo Castle

You can get to Nijo Castle from Nijo Station in 15 minutes on foot. It was built in 1603 by the Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa, so this is a very famous castle in Japanese history. It was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. 400 cherry blossom trees and many other trees are planted on the Nijo Castle premises. When the cherry blossoms begin to bloom in the spring, every year they light up the trees after dark. Also, you can see snowfall in winter. Therefore, you can enjoy the seasonal nature at Nijo Castle. Special events are also held in Nijo Castle, such as the aquarium exhibition held in 2017. Admission is very reasonable for adults at 600 yen. Junior high school students and high school students pay 350 yen. You can check event information on the website.

 

Uzumasa Station

Uzumasa Station is located in Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City, between Hanazono Station and Arashiyama Station. It is a very small station, but there are many universities around there, so many people use it.

Recommended Sightseeing: Toei Kyoto Studio Park

Toei Kyoto Studio Park is a theme park where you can experience the world of TV samurai dramas. You can get there from Uzumasa Station in five minutes on foot. The admission fee is 2,200 yen for adults. You can also buy a book of attraction tickets and an annual passport. Inside the park, you can experience a film set of a town set in the Edo period, which is used in actual television shooting. There are also other attractions such as a haunted house and live shows. The park and its attractions can be enjoyed by adults and children all day. Also, there are Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean versions on the web site, so it is recommended that foreigners who are interested visit the web site.

  

Saga-Arashiyama Station

Saga-Arashiyama Station is located in Ukyo-ku, Kyoto city, between Uzumasa Station and Hozukyou Station. Many people use this station for transferring to the Trokko (Trolley) train. This station is near Arashiyama and you can walk to there, so many tourists pass through this station. Trokko train is train for tourists to enjoy the beautiful views of each season. This station was built in 1897 for cargo and passengers, and in 1994, the station’s name changed from Sagano station to Saga-Arashiyama Station.

  

Around the station, there are many attractive shops and restaurants. For example, there are some meat store where you can buy a croquette and eat it while you walk. It is enjoyable to sample the croquettes of each shop. Also, there is a café called Sagano-Yu. This building used to be a public bath, but is has been converted into a café. You can eat lunch there and buy some souverniers.

  

Hozukyo Station

Hozukyo Station is located in between Saga-Arashiyama station and Umahori Station. This station is actually on a bridge between two tunnels running through the mountain. The view from the station is very beautiful and we can feel the strong presence of nature. This station was built in 1936 near the current Trokko Hozukyo station, and in 1989, the station was placed on the bridge. There are no buildings around the station, but under the station runs the Katsura River. In the summer, many people enjoy white-water rafting downstream, so you can catch a glimpse of rafters enjoying the river if the timing is right. Many people also enjoy cycling and hiking in the area.

Seishun 18 Ticket

There is no discount ticket only for the JR Sagano line, but if you travel to Kyoto, and some other places in Japan, you should buy a Seishun 18 ticket. This is a 5-day train pass that costs 11,850 yen. You can use it at almost all JR stations in Japan. Also, if you travel to Japan with your friends or family, you can share it. However, it can be used only on local trains, so you can’t use it for the Shinkansen (bullet train), limited express trains, or sleeper cars. If you are interested in this ticket you can research it on the internet, as there are other kinds of passes as well.
http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/seishun18.html

As you can see, there are many things to see and do along the JR Sagano line. If you would like to go to some famous and traditional Japanese sightseeing spots in Kyoto, you should definitely use the JR Sagano line.

The Saiin Area of Kyoto City

by Sae Kawabata, Mayu Matsumoto and Mayumi Otsuka                                                        

Hi! We are students of Kyoto University of Foreign Studies. In this article, we are going to explain about the Saiin area in which we live and where our university is located. Saiin is in the west-central part of Kyoto city and is part of the Ukyo Ward. Nearby are three train lines, so Saiin is a high-traffic location and therefore has many commercial facilities. The number of incoming and outgoing passengers of Saiin was 37,896 people in 2016.

Café Branche

In Saiin are, there are a lot of cafes. So, we will introduce one cafe that we would like to recommend you for lunch: Branche. Branche is both a cafe and gallery where you can eat lunch and buy products such as clothes, furniture, bags and eating utensils. It is near Saiin station on the Hankyu line, so it takes about 10 minutes to arrive on foot from the North Gate of Saiin station. At the lunch time, the cafe is bustling with young people like university students and housewives. It is especially popular with young ladies.

There are three set menus for lunch. The first is a rice set. It costs 1,050 yen and includes a main dish, five side dishes, a salad, miso soup and white rice. The main dish is changed every ten days. The second is a white bread set. It costs 950 yen and includes a club sandwich with pork and burdock salad, two side dishes, and some clear soup. The third is a curry set. It costs 950 yen and includs well-stewed curry with vegetables and chicken soup, three side dishes and a salad. In addition, these set menus include one drink. You can choose either hot or iced coffee or hot or iced tea. Therefore, you can have dessert for an additional 250 yen. Reservations can be made by phone call.

Pagong

Pagong is a clothing store in Saiin that sells Aloha shirts, bags, cardigans and so on. The main selling point of this shop is that designers make all the clothes using Kyo Yuzen, a Japanese traditional dyeing technique. The distinctive feature of this craft is that we can use more color in Kyo Yuzen than in the ordinary way of dyeing.

The history of Pagong is as follows. A man named Mr. Kameda started a dyed clothing shop in 1919. Around that time, Japan was waging war and its people lived a harsh and brutal life. He hoped that peace will come to Japan again. After the war, he made luxurious Kimono using dyes of red, yellow and so on. This is the origin of Pagong. In 2001, present owner wanted to use designs of Kyo Yuzen, which was made past by craftspeople. He wanted foreign people know this Japanese traditional craft. Therefore, he made aloha shirts using the skill of Kyo Yuzen.

Kiku and Matsu are Japanese plants, and their meanings are to wish for long life. Botan is also a Japanese flower, and it represents the gain of wealth and status. You can make your choice using this information when you buy clothes in this store. In addition, you can buy clothing as a souvenir for your friends, family, and so on.

Daimonji Ame Honpo

Daimonji Ame Honpo is a traditional kyoame store in Saiin founded in 1919. Kyoame is a one of the most popular traditional products of Kyoto, it is a kind of candy. Their refined candy which is made in Kyoto contain Kyoto vegetables and fruits flavor. By the way, do you know the Daimonji event in Kyoto? On the night of August 16th each year, the Kanji “大” appears on the mountains. Furthermore, there are other words and shapes on four other mountains surrounding the city of Kyoto. All of them together are called Kyoto Gozan Okuribi. By the way, why did the store named Daimonji come to sell one of the most famous products in Kyoto? The store founder has idea of connection of Daimonji, Daimonji Kyoame will become seasonal tradition. They have main products which name is “Daimonji”. There are 9 flavors in it, strawberry, green tea, sesame, soy, black sugar, chocolate, orange, arare which means hailstone and Kyoto’s soup which means gravy or juice of Kyoto products. In addition there are many kinds of Kyoame for example using kyoto specific products like Kyoto vegetable and seasonal things, throat candy, tea flavor candy and so on. Furthermore, you can order special kyoame at this store on the internet, for wedding gifts or birthday presents. Also, children can experience making kyoame with craftsman in this store for only 2,000 yen. Children can feel the achievement and pleasure of giving their own handmade kyoame to other people.

Good Information on Saiin

There are many good spots in Saiin. Saiin is a comfortable area for students to live in for several reasons. First, there are many transportation options. There are two main train lines: the Hankyu Kyoto line and the Keifuku Denntesu Arashiyama line. For example, you can get to Kawaramachi on the Hankyu line in 7 minutes, go to Arashiyama on the Randen line in 25 minutes, and also can go to Osaka for 40 minutes on the Hankyu line.

Also, if you have gone sightseeing in Osaka the day before, and you want to come to Kyoto today, you can take the Hankyu line from Umeda station straight to Saiin.

Also, Saiin is a miniature city of students. Kyoto University of Foreign Studies and Kyoto Koka Woman’s University are the main universities in Saiin, but some students of Ritsumeikan University, Hanazono University, Bukkyou University and Kyoto Saga University of Arts live in Saiin, too. Therefore, apartment rental prices are little lower than in other places in Kyoto.

In the spring, people enjoy cherry blossom parties under the cherry blossoms along the Tenjin River in Saiin. There are many cherry trees along the Tenjin River, from Gojo Street to Sanjo Street. This spot is not so famous for tourists, but rather is only known by the locals. We recommend a stroll along the river to take it easy and enjoy the beautiful colors.

As you can see there are many attractive places and things in Saiin area. Why don’t you visit Saiin area and makes special memories in Kyoto? We recommend you to come Saiin area after you enjoyed popular Kyoto sightseeing spots, beacause Saiin has a local attraction.

Access Information

Branche

Tel: 075-925-8133

Adress: 4-Jo-machi, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto city, Kyoto 615-0066, Japan

Time: 11AM-6PM (day off: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holiday)

Access: Hankyu Kyoto line Saiin station North Gate 10minutes walking

HP: http://www.branche-web.com

Pagong

Tel: 075-322-2391

Address: 17, Saiin Nishimizosakicho, Ukyo-ku Kyoto city, Kyoto, 615-0046, Japan

Time: 11AM-6PM

Access: It takes 15 minutes from Saiin station to this shop on foot.

HP: http://pagong.jp/shopinfo/pagong_honten/

 

Daimonji Ame Honpo (大文字飴本舗)

Tel: 075-312-1568

Address: 28, Saiin, Higashizyunnnainncho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto city, Kyoto 615-0011, Japan

Time: 9AM-5PM (day off: Sunday and holiday)

Access: Hankyu Kyoto line Saiin station 2 minutes walking

Bus from Kyoto station: bus station B3, Number 205 bus, at bus station “Nishi Oji”

HP: www.daimonji.co.jp

Kurumazaki Shrine

by Mayu Nihari, Ayu Kitora & Yuki Fujimoto

Kurumazaki Shrine (車折神社) is a shrine located in Saga-Ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto prefecture. It is located a little away from Sagano and just between Arashiyama and Uzumasa. This shrine enshrines Yorinari Kiyohara (清原頼業, 1122-1189), who was a Confucian scholar in the late Heian period.

Praying at Kurumazaki shrine has various benefits such as academic success, economic fortune and good relationships. It is especially popular with entertainers, who frequently visit. It is popular as a power spot in Kyoto.

 

History of Kurumazaki shrine

Originally, in 1189, it is said that the building was constructed to mourn Yorinari Kyohara, who was the predecessor of this shrine. After he died, from his name, Hojyuinden, a temple called Hojyuin was built. This temple existed until the Muromachi period, and when the Tenryu Temple was founded in Arashiyama by Ashikaga Takashi (足利尊氏), it became a branch temple. In addition, many cherry blossom trees were planted in the surroundings because he loved the cherry blossoms. Therefore, as the cherry blossoms bloom in the spring, it was called Sakuranomiya.

The origin of Kurumazaki is that when the Gosaga emperor visited Kurumazaki shrine, his car stopped suddenly. He wondered what it was, so he asked people who lived in the shrine. They said that this shrine was dedicated to Yorinari Kiyohara. He was impressed and he conferred upon it the title Kurumazaki.

Mifune festival at Kurumazaki shrine

The Mifune Festival  was held for the first time in commemoration of Emperor Showa in 1928.  It is held on the third Sunday of May every year, but is cancelled on rainy days. The festival uses boats as a way to pray to the gods. It was held in the Arashiyama River in the Heian period, where it is still held today. It is a traditional event.

First, they do a Japanese ceremony for the appearance for gods. The ceremony is important for gods to move from the shrine to an oxcart. The oxcart goes to the river.  Next, they go boating with gods. There are four boats for dedication and gods move to the boats. These boats are called Gozabune, Ryuutoubune, Gekisyusen and Mitomobune. Every year a woman is selected to play the role of Seishonagon (清少納言), and she waves a special fan on the Gozabune. Seishonagon was a historical person and a great poet in Heian Period. Also, Gagaku plays traditional Japanese instruments on the Ryuutoubune. Gagaku is traditional Japanese music and had spread around Japan in Heian period. Besides, some people sing Imayouuta on the gekisyusen. Finally, Mitomobune goes with Gozabune. Mitomobune is just go with Gozabune together, it’s a duty of the boat. Finally, the gods go back to the oxcarts and go to Arashiyamatonguu. Then gods then return to the shrine.

 

Tessai Tomioka

Tessai Tomioka (1836-1924) was a Japanese artist in the Edo period. In Kyoto, he studied history and Buddhism. At first, he served as a priest at Ishigami Zingu (石上人宮) and Otori shrines. After that, he served as a priest at Kurumazaki Shrine. Because of this, there are many his works at Kurumazaki Shrine. There are about 100 works there, and many artists are attracted to them. In addition, he said “I do not paint meaningless pictures.”

Talisman for Entertainers


Inside Kurumazaki Shrine is Geino Shrine, literally the “performing arts shrine,” which is known to help entertainers.  As it is said that the god of performing and fine arts is enshrined here, this shrine is extremely popular with a variety of entertainers. You can see a fence around the shrine made from more than 2,000 talismans bearing the names of famous entertainers, such as the singer Atsushi from the popular band EXILE.

Divine Power of Kurumazaki Shrine

The divine power of Kurumazaki shrine is also effective for studies and exams.

It seems that it has an effect on conventions and management, too.

It is effective for promises at the individual level, for lovers, money making, company contracts of shops, etc. For example, you can pray to borrow money, pay back lent money, and becoming better at the management of your household economics.

Power Stone Amulets

Kurumazaki Shrine is often associated with its power stone amulet called Kinen Shinseki. Before you receive a Kinen Shinseki, your must rinse your hands and mouth at the temizuya, a place for ritual cleansing of hands and mouth with water when visiting shrines. Then you worship at Kiyome no Yashiro to purify yourself.

After that, you can receive a Kinen Shinseki. When we went there, there were two types of Kinen Shinseki: a portable amulet (700 yen) and a household amulet (500 yen). Both types have sacred stones in them.

Finally, in front of the main shrine building, put your power stone amulet between your hands and make your wish with all your heart. Those who are in show business have to visit Geino Shrine after that, and do the same thing there, too. They carry the portable Kinen Shinseki every day, or put the household Kinen Shinseki somewhere in your home higher than eye-level and pray to it every day. If your wish comes true, fetch one stone from a mountain, a river or your home yard, and write a thank-you message on it. Then bring it to the shrine and place it in front of the main shrine building. Also, return your Kinen Shinseki to the box by the main shrine building.

Conclusion

Kurumazaki Shrine is one of the traditional places in Kyoto. It is located between Arashiyama and Uzumasa. It enshrines Yorinari Kiyohara, who served the Emperor during the Heian period. Many stones are dedicated to the main shrine. We highly recommend going to Kurumazaki shrine. Especially, you will be able to see a very beautiful view of cherry blossoms in the spring.

Access

Kurumazaki Shrine is open to the public from 9:00 am to 17:00 pm and admission is free. It takes 35 minutes by bus from JR Kyoto Station. Alternatively, get off at the Keifuku Dentetsu station ‘Kurumazaki Shrine’.

Keifuku Railway ”Kurumazaki-jinja Station”Near
Hankyu Train ”Arashiyama Station”(A 20-minute walk)
JR Sanin Line “Saga Arashiyama Station”(A 15-minute walk)

Address: 23 Sagaasahicho, Ukyō-ku, Kyoto city, Kyoto

Website: http://www.kurumazakijinja.or.jp/

Phone: 075-861-0039

Open:8:00 a.m〜5:30 p.m

Four Things to Do in Arashiyama

by. Hinako Uematsu, Aina Sasaki, Mina Ito

When you come to Kyoto, where do you want to go? We recommend Arashiyama. It is the one of the most popular places in Kyoto for tourists. There are many shops here and you can feel you are in “Japan.” There are four things you must do in Arashiyama.

Togetsu Kyo Bridge

The first thing to do is walk across the Togetsukyo Bridge, which is Arashiyama’s iconic landmark. The name of the bridge, Togetsu, means “moon crossing.” It was originally built during Heian period (794-1185) but was recently reconstructed in the 1930s. Togetsukyo is 155 meters in length are spans the Katsura River, which flows leisurely down from the mountains in the north. The bridge looks very attractive against the background of forested mountainsides. In a riverside park, you can see cherry blossoms in the spring, or red leaves in autumn or covered with snow in the winter. Beautiful views abound adjacent to the bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

River Trip

The second thing to do is take a river trip from Kameoka to Arashiyama.This trip uses traditional style, flat-bottomed boats that are manned by boatmen who guide the craft with oars and bamboo poles. The boats take about two hours to leisurely make their way down the river. This journey is a relaxing way to see the natural views of the natural Kameoka ravine. Cruises are offered year round, but are particularly popular from the middle of November to early December when the leaves change their color. The boats are heated in winter and still go down the river during light rain. Seated passengers will be covered in a plastic tent, but service is canceled in case of heavy rain or large changes in the water level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bamboo Groves

Arashiyama has very famous bamboo groves. The third thing to do is to take one of many walking paths by foot or by bicycle that cut through one of these bamboo groves. The groves are particularly attractive when there is a light wind and the tall bamboo stalks sway gently back and forth. The bamboo is used in various products, such as baskets, cups, boxes and mats. These have been made at local workshops for centuries. Nowadays people from many countries visit here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food

The fourth and last thing that is essential to your visit in Arashiyama is eat at one of the many fine restaurants there. Many restaurants retain their old traditional exteriors. So if you go to here you can feel the Japan of the past. In hot weather we recommend eating shaved ice, or kakigoori. There have many kinds of shaved ice shop and there hare many places to eat shaved ice in Arashiyama.

These are four things we recommend for you to do. Please enjoy your time in Arashiyama.

Hozukyo Gorge ~a wonderful place~

by Ayaka Murai, Hikari Yanai, Daichi Hatakuyama

I have one recommendation in Kyoto.  It is an amazing place. If you spend your holiday in Kyoto with your family, friends, or love ones, I recommend going there.  The place called Hozukyo Gorge. In Kyoto, people called it Hozukyo.  I expect that everyone think, “Really?”  But Hozukyo has many appealing points, one which will not make you bored.  I would like to tell all about.

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Hozukyo is a famous gorge leading Kameoka city to Togetsukyo placed in Arashiyama Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City.  It is filled with nature. Hozu-gawa River running through Hozukyo is also famous.

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There is a hiking trail of Hozukyo, and you can see beautiful nature throughout the year.  So it is a tourist spot where a lot of people visit.  In the spring, it is blooming with cherry blossoms, so a lot of tourists and local people go there for picnics.  In the summer, a lot of people enjoy Hozugawakudari. It means going down Hozu-river by a small boat.  You will be surrounded by great nature and you can feel the nature directly on the boat.  In addition, rafting has become popular recently.  During Hozugawakudari a boatman rows the boat, but rafting lets you control the boat yourself.  It is very thrilling and getting popular.  In the autumn, all kinds of trees take on color.  So you can enjoy seeing colorful scenery.  In the winter, the nature is blanketed in snow.  It is remarkably attractive viewing.  So, you will press your camera’s shutter release button in spite of yourself.  Thus Hozukyo is a great spot with many attractive points.

 

JR Hozukyo station and train Hozukyo station are the nearest station from Hozukyo.  You can arrive at JR Hozukyo station, which is very famous for cherry blossom in spring.  You can set to train Hozukyo station about 10 minutes from tram Saga station.  This train is also one of the sightseeing features.  The interior has motif of Japanese style.  The train’s seat is made of wood seat for a natural feeling.  Autumn is the best season on the outskirts of the tram Hozukyo station.  Many tourists visit to see the autumn colors.  The train is overcrowded in the autumn, because it is very popular.  However, if you are lucky, you can ride it.  If you can’t ride it, you can walk westward along the railroad.  It’s also nice and you can see beautiful autumn colors.  

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Hozukyo is often used in movies, and filming is shoot on location.  Hozu-gawa is flowing under the Hozukyo.  A lot of people often barbecue, hike on the banks of the Hozu-gawa and so on.  People come to here for these reasons. Therefore, you can feel nature in Hozukyo.  In addition you can arrive at Arashiyama, which is a tourist spot near the Hozukyo only minutes from JR Kyoto.  Please go to Arashiyama after you go to the Hozukyo.  If you want to feel Kyoto in four seasons and spend your holiday in Kyoto with your family, friends and loved ones, please go to Hozukyo. 

Iwatayama—Kyoto’s Monkey Mountain

By Kazauki Kume and Yoshiki Kawauchi

Arashiyama, in Kyoto, is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Japan. Not only Japanese but also many foreign tourists visit this part of Kyoto city every year. Arashiyama has many different kinds of sights and is famous for temples, shrines, a huge bamboo grove, autumn leaves and the Togetsukyo Bridge. Arashiyama is surrounded by nature and so visitors can enjoy different scenes as the seasons change. In the middle of such a sightseeing mecca, there is a monkey paradise called Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama.

 

Arashiyama Monkey Park

This monkey park was begun after Japanese monkeys (nihonzaru or the Japanese Macaque) living there were fed for research by Kyoto University in 1954. After that, the area became a park and was opened to the public in 1957. Currently, about 120 monkeys live in their wild state. However these monkeys have come to recognize that human beings do not pose a threat to them because there are strict rules for visitors. Therefore, even if humans come nearby, the monkeys are not afraid. But you must not gaze at their eyes or touch them because they recognize these actions as aggressive behavior and will retaliate. In their view, you are taking a threatening attitude toward them.

About Japanese monkeys

Japanese monkeys are well known for appearing in old folktales in Japan. In their natural habitat they live in groups of about a dozen individuals and their life expectancy is said to be around 30 years. Among monkeys, the Japanese Macaque is the northernmost most species. Since monkeys are usually distributed in tropical regions, Japanese monkeys, especially those living in the northern snowy areas of Japan, are called “snow monkeys.” They usually live in deep in the mountains. Therefore, researchers around the world are very surprised because they can see monkeys here.

Access, Fees and Information

The park entrance is about fifteen minutes from the Hankyu Arashiyama and Keifuku Arashiyama train stations. In addition you have to walk a mountain path for about ten minutes from there. You should wear good walking shoes or boots and not high heels. Sports shoes or sneakers are best. There are no free exclusive parking for visitors, but there are pay parking lots nearby the entrance.

The admission fee is 550 yen for each adult and 250 yes for children (children nder three years of age are free). There are a group rates for parties of thirty or more. If the group rates apply, the fee becomes 450 yen for adults and 200 yen for children. If you want to feed the monkeys, you have to pay 100 yen on the top of mountain. You can buy apples, pineapples and peanuts for 100 yen.

The Monkey Park is open throughout the year. However on days of heavy rain days or heavy snow it is closed. If you want to check if the park is open, you can call 075-872-0950. Business hours are 9:00~16:30 in summer (March 15~September 30) and 9:00~16:00 in winter (October 1~March 14). But sometime the monkeys return to the forest later in the day. So you should visit the park at an early time.