The Toei Uzumasa Eigamura(Movie Studio)

April 17, 2007

by Chika Hisano; Shoko Fukuzakik

“ Toei Uzumasa Eigamura” (Kyoto Movie Studio)

This is the only theme park in Japan where visitors can observe the filming of a movie or a TV period drama, and there are some outdoor film sets which are used for real filming and are open to the general public. You can walk freely around the film sets owned by Toei Kyoto Studios, the largest film studio in Japan, which include full-scale replicas of rows of houses and streets from the Edo period (1603-1867) and the Meiji period (1868-1912). The overall size of this extensive site is about 36,000㎡. Numerous movies and over 200 episodes of TV period dramas are shot here throughout the year, and there are also a lot of other attractions, for example, a Ninja/Samurai show and unique street performances. In brief, the Kyoto Studio Park is run pretty much along the same lines as Universal Studios in Hollywood, USA.

There used to be a lot of film studios in the Uzumasa area of Kyoto at one time, and this earned it the name of the “Hollywood of Japan.” In other words, it is fair to say, it was the birthplace of the Japanese movie. However, the movie industry fell into decline due to the advancement of television and a diversification in leisure activities, over a period of time. This studio park was built in Uzumasa in response to this by Toei Co. as a way of defending the traditions of the Japanese movie industry.

Studio Information


Movie Culture Hall

This hall is a symbol of the Studio Park, and is a building in the European style from the Meiji era. Here you can witness the history of the Japanese movie business, such as changes in the manufacturing process, and even those who are not that interested in Japanese movies will still find something to enjoy.

SFX Pool and Port Town

At this exhibit, the “Monster”, a strange, dinosaur like beast, which is the second biggest attraction in Kyoto Studio Park, can be found in its own large, special effects pool. This pool has a mechanism for making artificial rain and waves, which means the studio technicians can turn the pool into either a raging sea or a flowing river by simply pushing a few buttons.


Old style House and Edo Period Law Courts


Here, you can enter and see the inside of a Samurai style residence. There is an old-fashioned lavatory and bathroom at the rear, and also jail cells for criminals. Cruel execution scenes which were drawn for the movies are introduced, along with photographs, and you can even enter a jail cell and get a taste of what it was like to be a criminal.


Edo town



These sets are called ‘open sets’, and only the exterior is used for shooting. Therefore, when you go inside a building you come out the other side almost immediately. Period dramas are usually filmed here, and there is a special “Attic Set” which is specifically used in ninja movies or dramas. Moreover, the acrobatic “Samurai Show” is performed in the center of the main street, along with the “Chambara Show”, a demonstration of Japanese style sword fighting. The program features two bad guys and one good guy and the three of them jokingly walk you through the basics of stick-fighting.


Nihon Bridge

Although this bridge was specially built for filming, half of it is actually genuine. Simply by changing the name on its signpost, this bridge is magically transformed for the camera into any famous bridge in Japan. This bridge is currently named “Nihon Bridge”, the starting point of the Tokaido highway in the Edo period.


Meiji Street


European-style buildings and structures from the Meiji Era can be seen here, and there is an old fashioned police box, post office, coffee shop and public telephone box, among others. In the telephone box, you can listen to the voices of historical movie or drama actors.


Location Studio “Moviemaking Secrets True/False”


This is a movie school set up to teach moviemaking tricks. There are three performers involved: a
director, a samurai and a villain. They demonstrate and explain, with a fair bit of humor, how a scene is developed, so it’s very funny as well as informative, and very easy to understand.

In Kyoto Studio Park, a row of houses from the Edo era has been reproduced. When you see actors walking down the Edo period street wearing samurai costumes, etc, you may feel as if you are slipping back in time to this exciting period in Japanese history. The “Historical Costume Disguise Corner”, will allow any person who wants to enjoy being transformed into a star of a samurai movie, for example, to do so. There are about 30 kinds of outfit to choose from such as geisha, lord, ninja or samurai, and you can walk around the Studio Park dressed like this if you wish.
A lot of elementary or high school students visit here as part of their school trip on weekdays, and a lot of families visit on weekends. Many foreigners visit, too, as this park is a good introduction to Japanese culture in a fun way. It is possible to enjoy this place even if you are not really interested in the historical aspects, so anyone from adult to child can spend a great time here at Kyoto Studio Park.

“Historical Costume Disguise Corner”




10 Higashi-Hachigaokacho, Uzumasa ,Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, 616-8586 (5 minutes walk from Uzumasa Station on the Keifuku Line,
or 10 minutes walk from Hanazono JR Station)

Telephone number:


Website address:

Opening days and times:

Everyday – Mar.-Nov: 9:00-17:00. Dec.-Feb: 9:30-16:00

Period closed:

Dec.25th – Dec.31st


Adult: ¥2,200 / Student:¥1,300 / Child:¥1,100


by Megumi Matsumura


Manga is Japanese Culture

Manga, or Japanese-style comic books, have become an important part of Japanese popular culture. Do you know about Kyoto’s new International Manga Museum? Do you read manga now, or have you ever read Japanese manga? Please visit this new museum if you interested in manga culture. You will come to understand and enjoy manga more and more. Manga has a long history in Japan.

Origin of Japanese Manga

Have you ever heard of the Chou-ju-giga (鳥獣戯画)? This ancient picture scroll in the first so called manga in Japan, and it was painted in Kyoto. The scroll belongs to Koudaiji Temple and was made between the Heian and Kamakura periods. Its is unknown, but it is said to be one of the greatest examples of Japanese monochrome, or sumi, ink painting. The Chou-ju-giga consists of four scrolls that depict humorous characters, such as rabbits, frogs, and monkeys, fooling around.

A scene from the Chou-ju-giga.

About the International Manga Museum

The two-story building that became the International Manga Museum was once an elementary school, but it was closed because the number of school-age children had decreased in recent years. This museum is therefore a building that was recycled by the Kyoto municipal government and Kyoto Seika University. Kyoto Seika University has the only Manga Department in Japan and they helped establish this museum.

This museum has many materials related to manga, including magazines from the Meiji era and postwar Japan, precious historical data, and complete collections of contemporary popular comics in Japan, and also many from foreign countries. There are about 200,000 manga and other related materials in this museum. The International Manga Museum is a new kind of cultural facility that combines the functions of both a museum and a library. Visitors can read manga that fill the bookshelves all over the museum.

There is also a coffee shop, an animation corner, demonstrations by real manga artists, a gallery that features rotating exhibits, and a bookshop. The museum also holds seminars and manga workshops. On weekends, they put on kamishibai plays.

The price of admission

  School Child Adult
Price 100yen 500yen
closed ☆    Every Wednesday(If Wednesday is a national holiday the following Thursday)New Year’s holidaySpecial closings

l         2007/Sep. 3rd~6th


        /Nov. 31st ~Jun. 3rd

l         2008/ Jun. 21st~24th

Museum Hours 10:00AM-8:00PM (admission until 7:30PM)


Manga Culture

Recently manga have come to be regarded as an important area of culture. It is one tool that people used to obtain knowledge and communicate stories from a long time ago. Through manga, people can learn what Japanese traditional culture is —food, morality, emotions, passion, enthusiasm, dreams, and imagination.

Manga are not only comics, but also satire and kamishibai. Kamishibai is a picture-story show. Kamishibai (literally “paper play”) originated in the early Showa era. At that time, a kamishibai man came to neighborhoods to tell a story using pictures on paper on the street. He turned the paper as he told the story. He always came by a bicycle. It looks very simple, but it is difficult to get children to concentrate on a performance. A kamishibai performer needs good reading skills, so the he can change his voice for each scene and character. At the end of a play, the kamishibai man will always say: “the story will continue next time….” These days, kamishibai is often done at preschools. The kamishibai performer at the International Manga Museum is known simply as Yassan and he is a master storyteller.

Some people think manga are not a very good for young people and have a bad influence since some of them are very vulgar. However, manga don’t have only bad points. Please come to the International Manga Museum. You may find your favorite manga here. This museum will expand your view of manga.


Location / address:
Karasuma-Oike, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0846 Japan
Tel: 81-75-254-7414
Fax: 81-75-254-7424
Nearest Station:
1-minute walk from Oike Station on the Karasuma Line
Tozai Line “Karasuma Oike” Station from exit 2.
Home Page →

Kyoto City Zoo

by Tomoya Hirao; Yoshimi Morino; Yuki Fukuhara

Entrance   Simple Map
The Kyoto City Zoo is the second oldest zoo in Japan. It has been more than 100 years since it was established. It’s very old. Actually, not only local people but also tourists visit there all the year around. In Kyoto, there are a lot of tourist attractions, ruins, temples and castles to visit, but if you come to Kyoto, you should visit the Kyoto City Zoo because it is very attractive. If you visit the zoo, you can push unpleasant things out of your mind and your feelings will be running high because of the various kinds of animals. So, we are absolutely sure that the Kyoto City Zoo will help you deal with your feelings about uncomfortable issues and make you happy.
First of all, let’s look at the Kyoto City Zoo’s history. On April 1, 1903, the opening ceremony was held. In those days, there were 61 species of animals and the number of animals in the Kyoto City Zoo was 238. The zoo had fewer animals than now. Today, the Kyoto City Zoo has 170 species of animals. But actually, the number of animals in the zoo has been further increasing. To us, it’s a piece of good news. We love animals and the Kyoto City Zoo, too. Animals in this zoo were and are really loved. In 1910, two lions were born in the zoo, which were the first born in Japan. The lion is a large powerful animal of the cat family. Lions could be very dangerous, that’s why you can’t touch one in the zoo. In 1913, the tenth birthday of the zoo was held. Many people came over. At that time, the Kyoto City Zoo had 156 kinds of animals. The number of animals in the Kyoto City Zoo was 274. So, there were indeed more animals than at the opening ceremony. In 1933, a hippopotamus was born in the zoo, which was the first one in Japan. Not only the staff of the zoo but also local people were glad of the birth. But sad to say, the hippopotamus baby died soon. Regrettably, no one could save its life. In 1944, because of World WarⅡ, the Japanese army forced the zoos throughout Japan to kill some kinds of animals. At that, the Kyoto City Zoo was forced to kill all bears, lions, tigers, leopards, etc. That’s because such ferocious animals as lions and tiger could be very dangerous and might attack people if they escaped from the zoo. Many animals in the zoo were killed. That’s too bad. Anyway, the number of animals in the Kyoto City Zoo decreased suddenly in 1944 to 1945 but after the World WarⅡ, the number of animals in the zoo has gradually been increasing. In 1970, a gorilla was born in the Kyoto City Zoo, which was the first one in Japan. The gorilla was called “Mac”. The 100th birthday of the zoo was held on a grand scale in 2003. On that day, the local newspaper had a long report on it. In fact, many people celebrated it. At that time, the Kyoto City Zoo had 175 kinds of animals and the number of animals in the zoo was 721.
Needless to say, there are a lot of animals in the zoo, but let’s focus on the most popular ones. An interesting vote was conducted recently. According to the vote, the lesser panda, or red panda, is the most popular animal in the Kyoto City Zoo. Certainly, a lesser panda looks really cute and lovely. Many people do love it. Lesser pandas like eating fruits and some kinds of insects. As they are nocturnal animals, they often sleep during the day. Then, it seems that the amur tiger is the second most popular animal in the Kyoto City Zoo. An amur tiger looks wild and awful, but we love it, too. What a cool animal it is. Amur tigers are meat-eating animals and can be dangerous. Indeed, some people say that they are the strongest animals in the world. They are powerful! Next, the giraffe is the third most popular animal in the Kyoto City Zoo. As everyone knows, a giraffe has a very very long neck. Such a long neck looks so attractive that many people, especially children, like it. In addition, giraffes have a tongue long enough to take leaves from a tall tree. Their favorite foods are fruit, carrots, and leaves. According to the vote, the Asian elephant is the fourth most popular animal in the Kyoto City Zoo. Asian elephants are the largest animal in the zoo. When you come to the zoo, it is worthwhile seeing them. Finally, it seems that the Brazilian tapir is the fifth most popular animal. The tapir is an animal like a pig with a long nose. Wild tapirs mainly live in Central and South America and South East Asia. Full-grown tapirs are more than two meters long. They are much bigger than human beings. In the Kyoto City Zoo, there are not only famous animals but also rare animals such as tapirs.


Asian elephant
Brazilian tapir

Amur tiger                                   Lesser panda


Finally, if you want to visit the Kyoto City Zoo, the zoo is open 9:00 a.m. and closes at 5:00 p.m. from March to November. From December to February, it is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This zoo is closed every Monday, but open Saturday and Sunday.
Here are some more pictures of the zoo.

Imamiya Shrine

by Satoko Kawaguchi; Natsuki Kamikura

Imamiya Jinja is a picturesque Shinto shrine located northeast from Daitoku-ji, one of Kyoto’s well-known Rinzai Zen temples. This shrine is said to originate from a holy place established on Funaoka Hill in 994 for protection against plague. The present Imamiya Jinja was established when that shrine was moved to its current location, where three deities are worshipped: Daikokuten, god and symbol of the earth; Ebisu, god of the sea and prosperous business; and Kushiinadahime-no-mikoto, a goddess of the paddy fields. “Imamiya” means a newly established shrine. The present buildings were built in 1902.
Imamiya Shrine is famous for a festival known as the Yasurai Matsuri, one of the three “eccentric” festivals in Kyoto. The others are Ushi Matsuri (Ox Festival) in Koryu-ji Temple and the famed Kurama Himatsuri (Fire Festival). Yasurai Matsuri is held on the second Sunday of April and is an intangible cultural heritage. The festival originated in attempts to appease, through festival music and dance, the petrels flying around Kyoto with cherry blossom petals in their beaks, which were thought to be spreading plague, since it had started at the time when such petals fall. During the festivities, people costumed as goblins or red and black devils jump and dance to the music of beating drums and flutes. It is said that festival participants won’t become ill if they pass beneath a special long-handled, decorated umbrella. Yasurai Matsuri is the first festival of the year in Kyoto (where everything begins in spring) and it is also said that the weather will be fine for all of the year’s festival days in Kyoto if the skies are clear when Yasurai Matsuri is held.

A mysterious stone: “Ahokashisan”


There is a magical stone in Imamiya Shrine. It is called “ahokashisan” and displayed a small building. Folk wisdom holds that if a person who is in delicate health strokes the stone and then rubs the faulty points in their body, he or she can recover early. You can also perform an augury here to see if your wish will be fulfilled or not. First, tap the stone with your palm three times and then lift it. You must now feel it to be heavy. Next, stroke the stone three times while making your wish and then lift it again. If you feel it is light, your wish will be realized.

Unique charms


In Imamiya Shrine, you can get unique charms or talismans. One of them is the tamanokoshi (marry into the purple) charm. It is a vivid navy blue and printed with the designs of Kyoto vegetables. This charm is derived from an old story: Tokugawa Iemitsu (1604-51), the 3rd Edo shogun, fell in love with a beautiful girl named Otama, who was born in Kyoto’s Nishijin weaving district as the daughter of a greengrocer. Iemitsu took Otama as a concubine and she bore him a son, who later became the 5th Edo shogun, Tokugawa Ietsuna. In 1651, when Iemitsu died, Otama became a Buddhist nun under the name Keishoin. She had kept Nishijin in mind even after achieving a high status, and she seems to have exerted herself to build a temple, revive the Yasurai Matsuri (which had been suspended), and support Nishijin after she heard of the ruin of Imamiya Shrine. The guardian gods of Nishijin also protect Imamiya Shrine, so people wished for the prosperity of the Nishijin area. Local residents say that the word “tamanokoshi” can be traced back to Otama’s story, and anyone who wants to become a “Cinderella”, or simply be happy, can visit this shrine to buy this charm.

The daruma doll is a red-colored charm and it’s said that you can gain happiness and success from it as your prayers are answered. The daruma has a limbless round shape, either small or large, and has pop eyes. These eyes have a certain significance. The Japanese word me means both “eyes” and “sprout”, and the expression “a sprout appears” means that you can get a chance for happiness or success. When you buy a daruma doll you paint in a black dot on the right eye and wish for something; then when your wish comes true you paint in the left eye to express your thanks.
Many people consult oracles when they visit shrines. Imamiya Shrine also has paper fortunes, like a bookmark which is called murasakino waka omikuji. It is a beautiful paper upon which is printed a princess dressed in kimono with a waka poem. In the Heian period (794-1185) there were some female novelists such as Murasaki Shikibu, the author of The Tale of Genji. Waka poems written on paper fortunes are love poems, mainly from The Tale of Genji.
You can enjoy the atmosphere of ancient Kyoto at Imamiya Shrine because it has a long history and observes ancient traditions. You will be fascinated with its beautiful buildings and big torii gate. If you would like to consult oracles, we recommend that you pull out a murasakino waka omikuji. Drive away your bad luck and get the blessings of a good fortune! You will spend an enjoyable time when you visit here.

Shigure-den and the Hyakunin Isshu

by Chiaki Imanaka
Shigure-den and the Hyakunin Isshu

Do you know the Hyakunin Isshu? The Hyakunin Isshu is an anthology of 100 classical waka (poems that consist of 31 syllables) written by 100 different Japanese poets. Karuta is a card game that tests players’ knowledge of these poems.

Karuta is played with two sets of cards. One set is to be read: each card has an entire poem written on it, the poet’s name, and his or her portrait, so it is very colorful. The other set of cards is for contestants to pick up, and it only has the last line of the poem written on it. There are one hundred cards for reading and one hundred cards for picking up, so the Hyakunin Isshu karuta game consists of 200 cards altogether. Fujiwara Teika is the poet who originally edited this collection around the mid-thirteenth century. Among these hundred poems are poems about love, the four seasons, and other subjects. Men, women, and priests wrote these poems.

reading card & pick-up card

The Hyakunin Isshu began to be played as a card game in 1467. In this popular contest, someone reads the first line of one of the poems out loud from the set of reading cards and then the contestants look for the card with the same poem on it as fast as they can. These cards are laid out on the floor. When the person finds the card with the poem that was just read, he or she flicks it away and “wins” the card. Finally, the person who gets the most cards wins.

The two-story Shigure-den (Autumn Shower Palace) in Arashiyama is a museum where people can experience and learn about the Hyakunin Isshu. This building is two storeys high. At the entrance, you are given a hand-held navigator called the “Shigure-den Navi” and you can learn many things by using it. In the main room, there are many 45-inch, liquid-crystal monitors that display 70 large karuta cards and images of the city of Kyoto on the floor. You can take part in several activities here.

Shigure-den Navi

Kyoto Sky-Walk

In this interactive activity, aerial images of Kyoto City are projected over the entire floor. You can walk on top of them, so you feel as if you are walking around the city of Kyoto. When you decide a place you want to go, you can use your hand-held navigator to guide you there. Look closely and you can see cars running on roads, and also rivers, trains, and other interesting details. The “Kyoto Sky-Walk” interchanges with “Giant Karuta Cards” at regular intervals.

Giant Karuta Cards

The monitors on the floor also show 70 illustrated karuta cards. They are all reading cards from the Hyakunin Isshu. To play the game called “Giant Karuta Cards” you must look at a reading card on your hand-held navigator carefully and then look for the same card on the floor. The number of cards that you can find within a limited amount of time is your point total. After you have finished the game, you can check your ranking with the other participants who have played the game.

One Hundred Poem Bonanza

You can receive an explanation about and listen to a recitation of each poem in the Hyakunin Isshu at the “One Hundred Poem Bonanza”. The poems are all written on the wall and when you more close to one poem, you can learn more about it from the screen on your hand-held navigator. After finishing all of these activities, you must return your hand-held navigator.

The Sensory Karuta Game

You can challenge five famous poets in “The Sensory Karuta Game”. To start the game, you listen to a poem from the Hyakunin Isshu and choose the correct card from six cards displayed on a panel beneath your hand. The first line is then read out, and then after a short interval, the last line is read out; also both lines are shown on the screen in front of you. The first three poet opponents aren’t so quick, so you can easily win the card from them. By contrast, the fourth and fifth opponents are very fast, because they are able to identify a card after only the first line is read. Since you must remember both the first and last lines of each poem, it is very difficult to defeat all the opponents.

The Sunken Well of Charades

The “Sunken Well of Charades” is a simple quiz. You look at the screen and remember how the cards are arranged or solve some questions about the Hyakunin Isshu. You can touch the pictures directly in these games.

On the second floor of the museum is a big room where figures of the poets of the Hyakunin Isshu are displayed. Also, many sets of Hyakunin Isshu cards — from 1603 to today — are on exhibit.

In this museum some employees can speak English, and pamphlets in Korean and Chinese are provided. You can learn about Japanese culture as you enjoy playing many kinds of games.Website: 11 Susukinobaba, Saga Tenryuji, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
Tel: 075-882-1111 (+81-75-882-1111)Directions (from website):
Take Sanin-Line from JR Kyoto Station. Get off at Sagano Arashiyama Station, then walk for 15 minutes.Take Keifuku-Arashiyama-Line from Shijyo-Omiya Station. Get off at Arashiyama Station, then walk for 10 minutes.Take Hankyu-Arashiyama-Line from Katsura Station. Get off at Arashiyama Station, then walk for 15 minutes.<Open>
10:00~17:00 (last entrance is 16:30)<Closed>
Monday (if Monday is holiday, Tuesday)
The end of December and the beginning of January (New Year holidays)<Admission>
800 yen (high school students and older)
500 yen (elementary and junior high school students)*Disabled people who have a handicap card can show their card and get free admission. Also, free assistance is provided for disabled persons who use a wheel chair.
*For people with pacemakers: please refrain from entering the museum because there is digital equipment that can affect pacemakers on the first floor.


by Yuko Okada

(Hashimoto Kansetsu Museum)

Hakusasonsô, located just a short distance west of the famous Ginkakuji Temple, was made in 1916 by the artist Hashimoto Kansetsu (1883-1945). Hakusasonsô is his house, and the surrounding garden, which is based on the Japanese artist’s sense of beauty, is an officially-designated scenic zone. Mt. Daimonji to the east and Mt. Hiei to the northeast are used as background space in this exquisite garden. Not only the garden but also the buildings are designed by Kansetsu. You will find many stones arranged in the site; these are from his lifelong collection.

Do you know who Hashimoto Kansetsu was?

Hashimoto Kansetsu was born with the name Hashimoto Kanichi to a learned family in Kobe. His family was active in the study of Chinese classics and Confucianism, and there were many people who liked Chinese poems, tanka poetry, art and so on. This environment affected him a lot. Kansetsu showed an aptitude for a variety of fields, and when he was 15 years old, he decided to become an artist. He studied under Takeuchi Seihô (1864-1942), the leading figure in the Kyoto art community, and his name began to spread. Kansetsu aimed for a revival of the classics, criticizing the state of modern painting circles, and finally distancing himself from them. He was groping for a new form of Japanese art, which a new age was looking for. He worked hard in his search for this art, both in the East and the West, traveling to China and Europe many times, and finally established himself by creating a new genre of painting called shin-nanga. Kansetsu’s paintings of animals are considered masterpieces because the creatures depicted in them seem so vibrantly alive.


This is a studio for painting big works. From inside, we can see the garden well.


This house was used when Kansetsu considered his compositions. The house projects into the pond.


This is a characteristic gate: it has a mossy thatched roof.


This teahouse, which Kansetsu built for his wife Yone, has an open atmosphere.

Kansetsu once wrote:

Stones and trees, all are alive. As soon as I see them, I should decide where I’ll place them. That’s my belief. When I feel that I’ll draw or paint this as soon as it is caught in my sight, the work has already been done.
He designed all of Hakusasonsô himself. There, we can enjoy the revolving of the four seasons: the cherry blossoms in spring, green leaves in summer, red leaves in autumn, the snow or silence in winter. How about enjoying Kansetsu’s world and spending your time slowly here in this quiet haven?


Via Kyoto city bus
Take city bus 17 from the A2 bus stop at Kyoto Station. Get off at the “Ginkakuji-michi” bus stop, and walk east along Imadegawa Street (about 5 min.).Hakusasonso can be found on the south side, to your right.


Open 10:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Fees Adults: 800 yen
Students: 500 yen

Kyoto National Museum

by UEDA Noriko; ONISHI Atsue; SHIMIZU Madoka

Kyoto National Museum


The Kyoto National Museum was established for restoration and conservation of works of art in 1897. This museum contains Japanese and Oriental works of art and archaeological artifacts. This museum attempts to teach Japanese people and people from other countries about Japanese and Oriental art and culture by exhibiting, researching, and educating. To protect the works of art, they change exhibits regularly in this museum, so you can enjoy different works of art whenever you visit. Moreover, this museum’s exhibits are not replicas but the authentic objects unlike other museums which use some replicas. In the Kyoto National Museum, you can enjoy viewing the valuably authentic objects more than other museums.

The Permanent Exhibition

Archaeology (Rooms 1-2)
A Long, Long Time Ago

In these rooms, you will see artifacts that were excavated from different parts of Japan; most of them were made between 16,000 B.C. and the 7th century A.D. We are impressed because there are objects that we have seen only in our school textbooks. You will enjoy looking at interestingly shaped earthenware, ancient clay figures, and ancient bronze mirrors. They tell us a little about ancient Japanese life, so it may be interesting to visualize the ancient time

Copyright 2001, Kyoto National Museum. Kyoto, Japan

Ceramics –Pottery and Porcelain (Rooms 3-4)
Imagine what you would like to do

You can see Japanese, Chinese, and Korean ceramics here. If you have some knowledge about them, they are very interesting because there are many Important Cultural Properties and National Treasures. Even if you don’t, you can enjoy these exhibits. For example, when you look at the Burial Figure of a Woman Holding a Pekinese, what do you think? You may not think she is beautiful, but she was thought very beautiful in her day. Also, there are dishes and teacups. You don’t need to know a lot about them but just need to use your imagination. What kind of food suits this dish? How would you feel if you drank café au lait from this cup? After that, how about visiting some markets like Tenjin-san (held at Kitano Tenman-gu on the 25th of every month) and Kobo-san (held at Toji on the 21st of every month)? You will be able to find similar dishes and cups.

Copyright 2001, Kyoto National Museum. Kyoto, Japan

Sculpture (Rooms 5-7)
Which hands are Kannon’s real hands?

You can find many Buddhist images in this section. The most interesting one is the Senju kannon (Thousand-armed Kannon). You may be surprised by those Buddhist images when you face them.
This particular Buddhist image has 2 types; one type has 1,000 hands, and the other has 40 hands. The Buddhist image with 40 hands grants your wish immediately, but the one with 1,000 hands grants your wish in the past, in the present, and in the future.

Each of the 40 hands holds something, for example a palace, a pair of beads, an arrow, a bow, a cloud, a seashell, and a grape.

The reason why these Buddhist images have many hands is to show this deity’s abilities and functions. Then which hands are Kannon’s real hands? Kannon’s real hands are another pair of hands, which are joined together before Kannon.

Copyright 2001, Kyoto National Museum. Kyoto, Japan

Paintings (Rooms 8-12)
Why are so many of them scrolls?

You will see hanging scrolls, picture scrolls, and folding screens which were painted from the late 16th to the 19th century. The subjects are various, such as landscapes, figures, Buddhist images, and scenes from stories. The paintings themselves are, of course, interesting, as are the mountings. They are also important parts of the paintings, so please look carefully at the beautiful mountings as well.

Many Japanese paintings are scrolls. What are their advantages? One advantage is that a scroll isn’t bulky when you store it. Another reason is that rolled paper isn’t exposed as much to air and light. Eastern materials are much weaker than Western materials such as oil paintings, so that’s an important point. Another interesting point is that if you look at a picture scroll, it works like a comic strip because it moves from scene to scene. Although they are not put into frames, you will enjoy Japanese style paintings.

Copyright 2001, Kyoto National Museum. Kyoto, Japan

Calligraphy (Room 13)
Beauty of Characters

In this room, you will see Japanese and Chinese calligraphy which include sutras, archives, and other documents. Many of them were written beautifully and carefully, so you can enjoy them visually. There are many styles of calligraphy, so even if you cannot read them, they will probably be interesting to you. I recommend that you look at the paper and seals as well. The writers chose the paper carefully to match the content. The seals are very interesting because they are often original and particular.

Copyright 2001, Kyoto National Museum. Kyoto, Japan

Textiles (Room 14)
Small cloth has big meaning

This room displays kimono and cloth. Being easily damaged, they are a little bit dirty, but their nice colors and unique patterns which modern clothes don’t have make them brilliant. By the way, have you ever seen kimono hung? If yes, you will notice that kimonos here are smaller than you know. Maybe that’s because people living in early times were smaller than we are now. And, if no, how about going to see modern kimono? To compare is a good way to know them well.

Also, in this room, there are samples of cloth. When craftsmen thought of a new pattern or color combination, they wove small samples first. These trial products are interesting too because many of them are curious and exotic.

Copyright 2001, Kyoto National Museum. Kyoto, Japan

Lacquer ware (Room 15)
How beautiful they are even now!

Do you know Japanese lacquer? It is a way of coating containers like cups and boxes. It is used for valuable things. Lacquerware is very hard, strong, and glossy; especially the ware called makie is beautiful. You can see examples in this room. Makie is used to put gold and silver powder on goods. It was a very difficult process, so there was a special family of artisans who handed down the technique in the Edo era. When you visit this room, you will recognize shells embedded in boxes. The shell decorations seemed to be gorgeous; the Spanish and Portuguese liked them very much.
Copyright 2001, Kyoto National Museum. Kyoto, Japan

Metalwork (Room 16)
Getting to the Samurai spirit

There are tea kettles, Buddhist altar fittings, and mirrors in this section. In addition, you can also find Japanese swords. Japanese swords were, of course, weapons to kill people, but now they are also works of art to enjoy because of their beauty and the technique used in making them.
When you look at Japanese swords, you will notice that they still glitter even though they are old and are made with metal. One difference between Japanese and Western swords is the way they are used in battle. Japanese swords are designed to slash, while Western swords are designed to stab.
In this section you can enjoy imagining Samurai using Japanese swords.

Copyright 2001, Kyoto National Museum. Kyoto, Japan

Outdoor Exhibit
Taking a walk and enjoying exhibits.

There are also many exhibits in the museum’s garden. The most noticeable one is “The Thinker” by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). This exhibit and the museum which is built of red bricks go well together. And you can also find the stone wall of Hoko temple, which was built by Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1536-1598). Near this stone wall, there are some cultural assets left unexcavated underground.

This garden is very large and beautiful because there are many seasonal trees and a beautiful fountain. In addition, the museum is lit up brightly in the evening.

Copyright 2001, Kyoto National Museum. Kyoto, Japan

Special Exhibitions

Special Exhibitions are held two or three times a year. Here are some which were held in recent years.

・ Kennin-ji: The Oldest Zen Temple in Kyoto
(April 23 – May 19, 2002)
・ The History and Aesthetics of Tea in Japan
(September 7 – October 14, 2002)
・ Treasures of a Sacred Mountain: Kukai and Mount Koya
The 1,200-Year Anniversary of Kukai’s Visit to Tang-Dynasty China
(April 15 – May 25, 2003)
・ Kazari in Gold
– Japanese Aesthetics Through Metal Work –
(October 11 – November 24, 2004)
・ Nanzenji
Treasures of a Great Zen Temple
Commemorating the 700th Memorial of Emperor Kameyama
(April 6 – May 16, 2004)
・ The Sacred World of Shinto Art in Kyoto
(August 10 – September 20, 2004)

Around the museum

・ Sanjusangen-do: There are many Senju-kannon.
・ Chishaku-in and Myoho-in: These are along Higashi-oji street and they are not so famous, but are good examples of Japanese temples.
・ Karafune-ya: This coffee shop is near the museum entrance. You can see the great garden that the museum has from here.
・ MacDonald’s: This is on Kawabata-Shichijo. Won’t you try Japanese MacDonald’s?


Via JR, Kintetsu Railway
Take City Bus 206 or 208 from the D2 bus stop to the “Hakubutsukan Sanjusangen-do mae” bus stop
Via Keihan Railway
Get off at Shichijo Station. Walk east along Shichijo Street to the Museum (about 7 min.)
Via Hankyu Railway
Get off at Kawaramachi Station. Walk east over the bridge to the Keihan Shijo Station. Take the Osaka-bound Keihan train to Shichijo Station. Walk east along Shichijo Street to the Museum (about 7 min.)



Regular (Tuesday to Sunday)——————–9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Special Exhibition (Tuesday to Sunday)——9:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
(Friday)———————-9:30 a.m.-8:00 p.m.


(When Monday is a holiday, the museum is open, and the following Tuesday is a holiday.)
The end of the year and the New Year.


Adult: 420 yen
University/ High school student: 130 yen
Handicapped/ Over 70/ Junior high/ Elementary school student: free

Free admission days

Second and fourth Saturdays
September 15th (Respect for the Aged Day)

Official Home Page of Kyoto National Museum