Winter Sightseeing Spots and Events in Kyoto

November 27, 2019

Winter sightseeing spots and events in Kyoto

by Akane Mukai, Riho Miyagi, and Yuka Yamazaki

In winter, a lot of people might go to western or northern Japan to do winter sports or to see winter events, however there are also popular and famous spots in Kyoto. As people know, Kyoto has a lot of world heritage sites. Moreover, people enjoy the winter view at these beautiful places. The reason for the low temperature is that the area of Kyoto is a basin. The world heritage and cultural heritage sites are covered with snow, which attracts a lot of tourists. The beautiful scenes reflect Japanese culture.

Hanatourou

Hanatourou  is an event held in Higashiyama, and Arashiyama in Kyoto. It is the lantern festival, and is at the beginning of March, lasting for 10 days. A lot of lanterns are along the Yasaka street in front of Chionin (知恩院). These lanterns use LED light bulbs from Rohm, which is a company of electronic components.During the event, the lanterns are lit from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. every evening. It started in the 21st century with the goal of becoming a tradition of night viewing in Kyoto. In 2003, in March, Hanatourou started to hold this event in order to create business as a new tourist attractions. “Tomori” (灯り), which means light, is the theme in the Higashiyama area. There are also other events at the same time. Firstly, Flower arrangements, called “Ikebana”, which are organized by a flower arrangement association in Kyoto are displayed along the street. People enjoy seeing beautiful lighted up flower arrangements. “Kitunenoyomeiri” (Fox wedding) parade in the same street to Hanatourou. This parade will go to Maruyama park (円山公園) though the Yasaka street, two years slope(二年坂), three years slope (三年坂), and other streets.

“Kitunenoyomeiri”(Fox wedding) is Japanese folk tale. In the story, it rains but is sunny on the same day, then a female fox marries a male fox.

Reenacting this ancient story, the Fox wife, wearing a pure white Kimono for her wedding rides on a rickshaw (人力車) passing through the street slowly. If people watch this parade, it is said that the people will be blessed with good relationships. It starts 19:00 and 20:00. People rarely watch this parade. Lastly, In Yasaka shrine, people can take part in an event, which is to write people’s hopes on colored leaf stickers and then put them on large lanterns with paper shades. People can enjoy writing their hopes on stickers. There are some enjoyable events with Hanatourou.

 Projection Mapping Winter Kyoto

Recently, many projection mapping events are held in Japan. Projection mapping is the fairly new technology that allows computer-generated 3D images and video to be projected onto three dimensional objects, like buildings. You can see the projection mapping in some temples or shrines in Kyoto. There is an event using projection mapping techniques in Kodaiji temple (高台寺). Kodaiji temple is one of Japan’s greatest historical figures, by Hideyoshi’s wife Nene. This is an outstanding temple in Kyoto‘s Higashiyama District. It was established in 1606 and is the most famous temple at which to see beautiful autumn leaves in Kyoto. These days, not only Japanese visitors, but also many people from abroad, visit there to see the autumn leaves and some great zen gardens in Kodaiji temple. In addition, you can see a beautiful bamboo there.

In such a great temple, a projection mapping event is held from autumn to winter, and summer. The last winter’s theme of the projection mapping was “Hyakki-Yagyo” (百鬼夜行). One performance has three minutes and the beautiful display is projected onto the Karesansui (枯山水) garden and the gate behind it. In order to watch the performance, you will pay 600 yen, and there are usually long lines of people waiting to get in. The open time of the mapping is 5 p.m. and it closes at 9 p.m. The ticket counter will be very crowded, so you should buy the admission ticket in advance before night.

 Popular hot foods in Kyoto

Kyoto is cold in winter  time. So you absolutely want to eat hot food because of the freezing cold winter in Kyoto. If you are in Kyoto this is a very special trip for you and your memory. So I really want you to eat delicious special meals. First I recommend that you have a delicious hot meal. This udon noodle shop’s name is FUMIYA. This udon noodle shop has been carrying on for 50 years. This food is udon noodles served in a pot with a variety of ingredients. This hot food is popular in Kyoto. So you should go there. Next I recommend as a delicious hot meal noodles in sauce in yuba. Yuba is diced bean curds. This dish of noodls in sauce in yuba  shop name is Toyouke tea house. This shop is near the Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine so you can go there easily. The shop is mainly making tofu so you can eat it as well as simmered tofu and other tofu dishes. This shop is really popular, so be prepared to line up. Next, I recommend as a delicious hot meal of simmered tofu. This simmered tofu shop name is Tosuirou. This shop is not so expensive so you can eat lots of hot tofu meals. Next I recommend a hot sweet delicious called Zenzai. Zenzai refers to stewed red beans sweetened with sugar that are served in a bowl with mochi (sticky rice cake), shiratama dango (dumplings made of sticky rice flour called shiratamako), and chestnuts stewed in sugar. This shop’s name is Umezono. This shop is near Kawaramachi. So you can go there during shopping breaks. This shop sells not only zenzai, they have mitarashi dumplings and shaved ice with matcha sauce as well. I could recommend only these shops but Kyoto has lots of shops so you can eat lots of delicious food and sweets in Kyoto. You should try it.

Conclusion

Kyoto has lots of winter sightseeing spots and people can feel charm of winter events. These winter events are really fantastic events and you can feel traditional of Japan and you can find lot of new things. Kyoto is trying lots of new things. Projection mapping is one of the new winter night events. You can go to a winter night event with family or with a girlfriend or boyfriend. You can feel really romantic. You can spend really good time and have really good memories. Kyoto is a really good place for eating traditional Japanese foods. So you can eat a delicious meal and then you feel warm in both your body and mind. Let’s enjoy winter Kyoto.

Various ways of enjoying the climate of Kyoto

by Fumiya Tamaoki and Masahiro Komatsu

Have you fully enjoyed each season in Kyoto?

In Japan, the temperature in Kyoto is not too high. However, many people living in Kyoto and tourists say “Summer in Kyoto is very hot.” Why is it that many people feel hot in Kyoto, although the temperature is not particularly high? The answer is in the topography of Kyoto.

Kyoto city is surrounded by mountains in all directions, and it is a basin. So, the wind can’t blow through Kyoto city, and this makes us feel humid. Also, since Kyoto city is far away from the ocean, the temperature does not drop much even at night. In general, it is said that this basin city is not only hot in the summer, but also it feels cold in the winter. As you can see, it seems like summer and winter in Kyoto is a very difficult to stay. However, Kyoto has become one of the most famous cities that has a lot of sightseeing spots. Tourists visit Kyoto regardless of the season. Of course, the truth that Kyoto is hot is not escapable. However, tourists and residents spend their seasons in a way that is unique to Kyoto. They know how to make use of the characteristics of the land in Kyoto. These are some ways to spend enjoyable summer and winter in Kyoto.

Freshen up by “Hozugawa Kudari”

First of all, what can we do to get comfortable in the hot summer? Do you go swimming in the sea? Or do you want to go to the pool? Playing in the water makes us refreshed. There are not only seas and pools, but also rivers in Kyoto.

You can travel about 90 minutes to Arashiyama.

In Kyoto, it is very popular among tourists to ride down a river in a canoe. Especially famous is “Hozugawa Kudari”, a trip down the Hozu River. Departing from Kameoka city next to Kyoto city, we can travel about 90 minutes to Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama. Receiving a cold splash and feeling refreshed, you can also see and feel the nature of Kyoto. It is one of the perfect ways for having a hot summer fun. Also, we can do “Hozugawa Kudari” not only in the summer but throughout the year. It’s fun as a summer play, but you can enjoy it well in other seasons. For example, you can enjoy autumn leaves in autumn and enjoy snow scenery in winter because the course is surrounded by nature.

Have a nice time on the riverside

You can have nice meals and time on the riverside.

Next, we will show you how to eat coolly while you are outside in a hot summer. It is Noryo doko, built in the Kamogawa that flows through the center of Kyoto. Shops on the east of the street face the Kamo-gawa River, and many restaurants among them lay out the Noryo doko (wooden platform over the dry riverbed for enjoying cool breezes). Noryo doko can be enjoyed from May to September, so you can have a good meal in the hot summer. Also, this covers about 1 kilometer, and various restaurants, bars, and pubs are participating. Because many restaurants are participating, you can enjoy various dishes. Of course you can also enjoy Japanese traditional meals. Having a meal above the river will have a special taste as it is an experience you cannot usually do.

Keep warm by hot spring

You can keep your body warm by hot spring.

Next, we will show you how to spend time pleasantly in the cold winter of Kyoto. One of the famous tourist spots in Kyoto is Arashiyama. The bridge named Togetsu Bridge and the road of bamboo grove in Arashiyama are very beautiful, so it is a popular spot. If you go to Kyoto by sightseeing, you should go to Arashiyama. Arashiyama also can be enjoyed in any season. However, in this article we will show you how to spend the cold winter happily. It is different from the purpose of this article to introduce only Arashiyama. However, there is a place where you can spend a pleasant cold winter near Arashiyama station. It is a hot spring called “Kyoto Arashiyama Onsen fu fu no-yu“. It will heal the tired body and cold body in sightseeing. The point is, the area of Arashiyama can be enjoyed with a set of sightseeing and hot springs. This facility has hot springs as well as mist sauna and it is popular. Like this way, is it possible to enjoy sightseeing and hot springs at same place? Or, is it ban be in only Arashiyama? Actually, Kyoto is the prefecture with many public baths in the top level among Japan. There are many public baths in Kyoto city. Therefore, if you also check public baths near the place you are planning to go sightseeing, you can enjoy sightseeing in the cold winter.

Become warm from inside in the Nisiki market

Next, how about consuming some warm food and alcohol to warm your body and heart in the cold winter? To enjoy warm and fresh ingredients, there is a place called the Nishiki market in the center of Kyoto. Because this place is a market, you can enjoy various meals mainly fresh seafood. Especially, in March every year, events are held to enjoy local alcohol in Kyoto. Why don’t you visit events that you can enjoy with delicious ingredients and local sake in March of Kyoto where cold still remains.

Nishiki market is a famous street which has many shops.

Kyoto is a tourist destination that anyone can enjoy in all seasons. Visitors can feel a different atmosphere in each of the four seasons whether going to a temple or a shrine or enjoying nature. But they may have to do sightseeing not only in pleasant weather, but also in the more severe environment of summer and winter. At such a time, tourists can enjoy more than usual if they do sightseeing in the way introduced in this article. Kyoto is one of the leading tourist destinations in Japan, not only because it has great places and scenery, but also because there are many ways to enjoy the environment.

Tenryuji

by Haruko Ishii and Mai Kobayashi

Arashiyama is a very popular spot in Kyoto thanks to its history, nature, and clean air. Tenryuji is one of the famous temples here and was registered as a world heritage site in 1994. Kyoto has a lot of temple and shrine which was registered as a world heritage. In this article, we focus on Tenryuji.

Gate of Tenryuji

Inside the temple grounds

The temple’s garden was made by Musou Soseki. Musou Souseki is Japanese priest. He had been lived from 1275 to 1351. This garden is Japanese style and karesansui. This word means the ‘expression of water flow through rocks and sand.’  The view of this garden changes each season. In spring, you can see the view of cherry blossoms. Autumn is especially beautiful because you can see the red, green and yellow leaves. In the autumn season, are a lot of people visit Arashiyama and Tenryuji, not only oversea tourists but also Japanese people. A good time to visit is in the morning and in mid-November.

If you visit in the early morning, you can feel at one with the beautiful nature: the sound of water, the warmth of the sunrise, the natural sound of trees, the smell of the trees and so on. Try sitting on the tatami closing your eyes and feel the nature. Inside the main hall, there is a painting of a ‘cloud dragon’ on the ceiling. You can see it just on Saturday, Sunday, public holidays and the special public day in spring and autumn. The painting of the dragon is very big and beautiful. If you go the inside Tenryuji, you have to pay cash. Adults (high school student and older), pay 500 yen, elementary school and junior high school students pay 300 yen, and younger children go in for free.

 

Garden of Tenryuj

 

Tatami

Akusejo of Tenryuji

An akusejo is the certificate of the temple. The meaning of certification is the evidence of visiting. You can do this at any temple, but each place has its own book design to collect them.

akusejo of Tenryuji have been starting from the Edo period (1603 to 1867). Originally, akusejo was the stamp that people could receive from a temple when they hand-copied sutras for temples and shrines. The akusejo includes the name of the temple, the date of the visit, and kakuou-houden(覚王寶殿) which means ‘to go and worship’. Kakuou (覚王)means ‘to respect Buddha’ and houden(寶殿) means the temple building where Buddhist images are enshrined for worshipping Buddha. Nowadays, people present their books to the staff of the temple who write these phrases in their own hand writing to mark their visit to the shrine.

 

Event of Tenryuji

There are event in Tenryuji. Especially I recommend to participate Zazen(坐禅). The reason why Japanese people do Zazen is finding yourself. In order to live the way you want, Japanese people practice Zazen. If you practice Zazen, you can take stresss-free life.

There are three points when you practice Zazen. First, you have to prepare your bodies. Second, ajust your posture and third, ajust your breathing. You can practice Zazen at Tenryuji every second month Sunday and 9am to 10am. You don’t need appointment and entry fee. However, in February, July and August don’t hold.

 

Getting to Tenryuji

 

There are three ways to get there. The first is by bus and takes about 30 minutes from Kyoto Station to Arashiyama Station. There are many buses going to Arashiyama, but the most direct bus is number 28. The number and the Chinese characters“嵐山”are on the front of the bus. A one-way adult ticket costs 230 yen, children are half-price, and of course, babies can ride for free. If you intend to take buses all day, you could get the all-day ticket which costs 600 yen.

The other way is that you can go by train. First, take the JR train from Kyoto Station to Saga Arashiyama Station. It takes about 20 minutes. Change here to the Randen Line and get off at Arashiyama Station. It takes about 2 minutes. If you get off Randen, you could arrive Tenryuji by going to the right.

Alternatively, you can ride the train from Kyoto Station to Shijo Station. Then, change to the Hankyu Line from Karasuma Station to Katsura Station. Finally, you have to change the train at Katsura Station to the Arashiyama Hankyu Line and get off at Arashiyama Station.

Once you arrive, there are many shops in Arashiyama and there is also the famous Togetsukyou Bridge. If you use the Hankyu Line to go to the Tenryuji, you have to cross the bridge and go straight.

 

There are many famous temples and places to enjoy in Kyoto, but if you want to feel the natural beauty of Japan, put Tenryuji on your list!

 

 

Beautiful Nature in Kyoto

by Suguru Takauji, Yuka Yamazaki & Hanami Yanagi

Japan has the world’s most beautiful cherry blossoms, or sakura, which bloom every year in the spring. Kyoto has a lot of shrines and temples, many of which have cherry trees on their grounds. We cannot introduce all of them at once, so in this article, we chose to focus on three that we think are some of the best places to see the amazing sakura.

Maruyama Park

Maruyama park is the oldest park in Kyoto. It is located on the east side of Kyoto, about 15 on foot from Kawaramachi station. There are many temples and shrines near the park, so you can see many different ones in a single day. Best of all, there are many kinds of cherry trees in the area. In fact, it is said that there are about 1,000 individual cherry trees blooming each spring.

During the sakura season, many Japanese go to Maruyama park, find a place to sit down, and start drinking and eating. There are lot of small shops open there selling fried potatoes and other snacks. Tons of people visit and enjoy the scene while wearing kimono. If you want to go cherry-blossom viewing and sit down while you do it, you can borrow a picnic blanket in the park.

The most famous cherry tree is called Gion Sidare or ‘Night Cherry Tree of Gion’. This impressive tree is about 12 meters tall, and the root circumference is about 4 meters. It blooms in April and it is even lit up at night by numerous lights. It is an expression of the time when people enjoyed it over 1,200 years ago. It is truly an amazing tree that people come from all over the world to see

Gion Sidare

Further inside Maruyama Park are two bronze statues, one of Ryoma Sakamoto and the other of Shintaro Nakaoka. Ryoma Sakammoto is a man of patriot. He tried to face-lift in Edo era. Shintaro Nakaoka is also man of noble patriot. They were assassinated. They buried at the Maruyama Park. Therefore, their bronze statues were built in here. Near to the road is named ‘Ryouma-zake’. If you like Japanese history, be sure not to miss these statues.

Ryoma Sakamoto & Shintaro Nakaoka

In the center of the park, there is a large pond surrounded by a traditional Japanese garden. The view changes in accordance with the seasons. Not only are the sakura beautiful, but so are the wild flowers that grow there.

Right next to Maruyama Park is the famous Yasaka Shrine. It is called Gion-san by the local Japanese people.

The most impressive thing is its ‘Seirou-mon’. This is the gate. It is symbol in here. It is found a Muromachi era. The viewing of ‘Seirou-mon’ gaze up from stone step is beautiful. This shrine is the head temple and spiritual place of disease-free.

North of Maruyama Park is a famous temple called Chion-in. It is the oldest temple made of wood in Japan. Its giant sanmon gate stands in the entrance. Next to it, there are several large, beautiful cherry trees. When their petals land on the steps, it is so beautiful.

In sum, the area in and around Maruyama Park is filled with opportunities to experience the wonderful sakura in bloom.

Kitano Shrine

Kitano Shrine is a well-known Shinto shrine located in the Kamigyoku area of Kyoto, and can be reached by a 30-min bus ride from Kyoto Station.

This shrine is associated with the god of study, so many Japanese students come to pray before they are having big exam. This is the most powerful study god in Japan. This shrine’s history goes all the way back to the Heian period, over 1,000 years ago. Since then people have been praying here for good results in their studies and exams.

Kitano Shrine

Kitano Shrine has a very nice garden with many kinds of trees. One of them is a species unique to the Kitano Shrine, called a Kitano Cherry Blossom. When it is in bloom, the color for the sakura petals is white. However, it slowly grows pink day-by-day. Finally, at the end of its bloom cycle, it has become dark pink. Isn’t that beautiful? The interesting thing is that people didn’t know it was a unique species until they researched it in the past few years.

The oldest tree on the grounds is 120 years old. How cool is that? The cherry tree is 120 years old, so it knows the end of shogun history and saw what happened in Japan during WW2 in 1945. These days, like a number of other shrines and temples around Kyoto, Kitano Shrine lights up its sakura tree collection at night. They are so beautiful.

You can not only enjoy the lit up cherry trees, but also the traditional shrine buildings. The main shrine building is such a cute structure. When night falls and it is lit up with a nice color, it is amazing.

In Autumn, Kitano Shrine has different appearance. Cherry blossoms don’t bloom this time of year. However, there are more than 300 maple trees in the garden. Their leaves turn darker in the fall, to colors like orange or brown. It is also quite lovely. It is called koyo in Japanese. Colored leaves fall down from the trees and cover the walking path. There are tons of leaves all over the place. It is amazingly beautiful. It is seems like leaf rain.

In the winter season, if you are super lucky, you can see the building covered by snow. It is also very beautiful.

As you can see, you can enjoy the Kitano Shrine in each season of the year, as each offers us a different appearance. But our recommendation is Spring. Don’t you feel romantic surrounded by 120-year-old cherry trees that get pinker day-by-day? We hope you visit there one day.

Sanzen-in Temple

Sanzenin is in the silent mountains in the countryside north of Kyoto city, in a small village named Ohara. The way to Sanzenin is a gentle slope with rice cracker shops and Japanese pickles shops along the way. Therefore, I recommend you go to Sanzenin by checking out these shops. You can enjoy Sanzenin throughout the year because the viewing is so beautiful every day. Especially, cherry blossom and hydrangeas are most famous flowers in this place. For example, several thousand hydrangeas are planted at Sanzenin. The peak bloom period is June to July. As you pass under the main gate, there is Japanese traditional garden covered with the moss. At first glance, maybe you think it has a messy appearance. However, the all positions are calculated.

Japanese traditonal garden

Also, there are a large number of miniature Ozizou-sama on the moss. Ozizou-sama is the target of belief in Japan. They are called warabe-zizou by Japanese people. The meaning of Warabe is child in Japanese. All waraze-zizou face and the body plans are different. I recommend you find your favorite one.

Inside the temple ground, there is Ojo Gokuraku in. This is temple.You can’t take pictures there, so you have to observe the rules. However, the scenery from Ojo Gokuraku in is so beautiful, and there is an old-world flavor. Although the garden is covered with green, in the autumn, you can see autumn colors. In addition, the autumn leaves fall upon the ground, so the scenery changes.

At the Yu-seien temple, there is Ougonsui of water. It is a kind of water that Japanese people say gives us long life. If you touch this water, you can get happiness. Near Sanzenin is Housen-in, a small temple where you can eat Japanese cake and green tea. This temple has a irori. Irori is Japanese traditional fireplace, that gives you a Japanese feeling. Moreover, you can see a Japanese traditional garden from the temple in which bamboo and Japanese cedar are planted.. The scenery is different from that of Sanzenin. However, it is hidden in a notable spot, so you can enjoy the silence of Kyoto there.

So that brings us to the end of our article. Remember, Maruyama Park is the oldest park in Kyoto. Therefore, you can learn about ancient Japanese culture and enjoy the same beautiful cherry blossoms that people of long ago enjoyed. At the Kitano shrine, you can enjoy viewing cherry blossoms and plums. Finally, at Sanzenin temple, in addition to cherry blossoms in the spring, you can enjoy the colorful hydrangeas in June during the rainy season.

A Kyoto Sightseeing Plan for Spring

By Erica Wada & Yumika Fujii

The four seasons in Japan are defined clearly, so visitors can enjoy each of them in Kyoto. We would like to introduce good ways to spend time in Kyoto during its spring season.

Special sightseeing plan for spring 

spring

 

Spring comes to Kyoto in April. The average temperature for April in Kyoto is around fifteen degrees Celsius. The maximum temperature is over 30 degrees and the minimum is around zero, so we suggest that you bring a few layers of clothing such as cardigan or a light jacket as it may get chilly at night. Kyoto is famous for sokobie, which means freezing cold in Japanese, so you may feel more cold in Kyoto than compared to other prefectures in Japan. This is because of the high humidity in Kyoto. Moisture tends to collect in this basin.

Cherry blossoms are very popular in Kyoto, so you can enjoy cherry-blossom viewing in many places. Among the best ones are along the  Kamogawa River (鴨川), in Umekoji Park (梅小路公園) and at Toji Temple (東寺).

The Kamo River

The long rows of cherry trees along the banks of the Kamogawa river are a symbol that tells us that spring as arrived in full force. There are Prunus yedoensis, weeping cherry trees, (しだれ桜) and fresh green trees, and the combination of those trees is fantastic. You can take a walk along the river for several kilometers. Also, a good point is that you do not need to pay any admission—because  nature is free.

Kaikado Café – coffee and dessert

You can enjoy a stylish open-air cafe that was renovated from the Showa period. If you get tired walking, you can have a rest here and drink a cup of coffee (810 yen) or eat some Kaikado cheese cake (540 yen). It is South of Gojo Street on the west side to the river.n

Umekoji Park

 “Satozakura street” is surrounded by a grassy area in Umekoji Park. The street has a fine view that includes Mt. Atago in western Kyoto. So it is best to visit on a clear day. The entrance fee is 200 yen per person.

 Toji Temple

In this temple, there is weeping cherry blossom tree in front of the Five-story pagoda, which has been designated as a National Teasure, and is the tallest pagoda in Japan. We strongly recommend that you visit Toji after dark because the cherry blossoms will be lit up from the middle of March to the middle of April. You can visit the precincts of temple for free, but you have to pay if you want to view the cherry blossoms at night (500 yen). Other temples that feature light-ups in spring are Kodai-ji and Tenju-an. Toji Temple is just a ten-minute walk southwest of Kyoto Station.

Tatehara 

This is a meat shop that always has a line of customers at lunchtime. Here, you can eat a hot croquette, Japanese-style deep-fried kabob and so on. The croquette costs only 60 yen, and surprisingly, they do a discount on Saturdays and on the 21st of every month. You can walk and eat, so it is perfect for a light meal on the stroll. Tether is on Hachijo Street and on the way to Toji Temple from Kyoto Station.

In conclusion, there are many wonderful spots that you can visit and feel spring in Kyoto.

Glamping in Kyoto

by Sakina Nishitsuji, Nami Shinkado, & Shiho Tojo

Glamping is a term combined from the words ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’. It is a new camping style where people can experience some luxurious and comfortable services. It’s like being in a hotel in nature, where guests don’t need to take any camping equipment or pitch a tent. There are glamping areas all over the world these days, as glamping has become so popular recently. It is said that the origin of glamping is in Africa in 1900s. Then, rich Westerners luxury-camped to have adventures in Africa. In short, the high-quality outdoor adventure resort that targeted the well off in the West existed since before the term ‘glamping’ was born.

Why has glamping become so popular recently? There are two main reasons why glamping has become so popular. The first is that glamping targets a wide audience. If you are an indoor person or one who hates insects, you can still enjoy camping comfortably there. Of course, if you are an outdoor person, you will like it, too, because you don’t need to prepare anything in advance. Also, glamping lets you feel as if you were in a foreign country. In nature, you can spend relaxed time.

The second reason is SNS applications. Recently, many people have been using Instagram. People always try to take wonderful photographs to share on Instagram. In glamping, people can take very fashionable photographs because there are very stylish tents, nature, food, beds and so on. It is so popular for Instagram users.

How to spend time glamping

Morning

You need lots of equipment to do normal camping, for example, tents, cooking tools, and so on. But with glamping, you do not need anything at all. Everything is provided, such as barbeque sets, cooking tools, and tents. You do not need to buy these. You need only a bag.

Lunch-time

Most glamping experiences include a barbeque. You do not need to bring your barbeque tools, as they are provided. Therefore, you can eat a delicious barbeque. You can also use a Dutch oven to roast, boil, steam or fry something. This allows you to enjoy lunch time without preparation.

Free time

In your free time, you can enjoy various activities, for example, canoeing, horseback-riding, and marine sports. And glamping provides not only the outdoor experience. You can also enjoy yoga indoors. You can have some wonderful experiences glamping.

Night time

At night, you can enjoy sitting around a campfire outside. You can drink coffee and alcohol while surrounded by fire, talking with your friends in a relaxed mood. If the skies are clear, you can see the stars. It is a very beautiful view.

What makes glamping unique in Kyoto?

As you know, Kyoto is a famous, cultural city with many sightseeing spot. Therefore, if people go glamping in Kyoto, they can see the sights of Kyoto on their way home. This is why glamping is so special to do in Kyoto as opposed to other places in Japan. Besides, the nature in Kyoto is very beautiful.

GRAX

One well-known glamping spot in Kyoto is called GRAX. It is located in Rurike, Nantan-city, Kyoto Prefecture. It was established recently and is at present the only glamping spot in Kyoto. There are also different types of structures to sleep in, for example, glamping tents, lumiere cabin, trailer houses, camping junior suite, camper’s glamping tipi, and delux cabin. Each option costs a different amount per night. Which to stay in might depend on the time of year. You can stay there comfortably in the winter, because that rooms are provided some beds and home heater. Glamping tents are the cotton tent which natural lights come through the window. It prepares a kotatsu only in winter. Lumiere cabin is a very comfortable room. They have air conditional and some beds. Trailer house is like your house, so you can relax and spend a day in the nature. Camping junior suite is only winter, it has kotatsu. You should talk with your partner in the kotatsu at camping junior suite. Camper’s glamping tipi is really simple tent. Delux cabin is a two stories building. You can stay here with many people. In this way, GRAX has many types of rooms, so I think you will found your favorite room.

GRAX has many attractive features. First, there is very good hot spring nearby, called Rurike Hot Spring. It is a natural hot spring, so is has always been a popular place to take a bath in nature. You can relax at Rurike Hot Spring for a small fee of 700 yen to 850 yen. Of course GRAX has a bath and restroom, but they are not per person. A bath and restroom are in a common space. Next, you can enjoy eating a BBQ at GRAX, because they provide fresh vegetables and meat. Although it is a little expensive at about 5,000 yen per person, it is delicious and will give you good memories. However if you do not want to eat BBQ, you should take food from your home. This is because GRAX is very much in the countryside, so there are not restaurant nearby GRAX. Next, GRAX provides breakfast. It is depends on a day, for example burger or toast bread. No matter which you make, you will be satisfied with it. Finally, GRAX is lit up in the night. This is very beautiful, as you are able to see a star-filled sky there. And if you stay in the summer, you can sleep outside your tent under the stars. In this way, if you stay at GRAX, you can enjoy not only glamping itself, but also the surrounding area. You can enjoy time in nature with your friends, partner, and family at this most excellent glamping spot.

GRAX operates seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. If you stay at GRAX, you can check in between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., and check out between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. GLAX also offers parking. It takes about 1 hour to get there from the Keihanshin. The address is Sonobe, Kawachi, Nantan-shi, Kyoto Hiroya 1-14.

In conclusion, recently glamping has become popular in Japan. There are a lot of glamping spot in Japan. Among them, Kyoto has a very good glamping spot, called GRAX. We recommend this glamping spot for everyone. We hope you will go there with the people you care most about. It truly is glamourous camping!

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.

Foreign Impressions of the Kamo River

By Hiroto Shima and Aina Sasaki

Is there a river where you live? Do you often go for a walk there? We are familiar with Kamo River, because our school is in Kyoto. There are paths along both banks where people walk, jog and bicycle. When we come to Kamo River, we always see foreigners there. So, we tried a questionnaire.

First, the Kamo River is the main river that runs through Kyoto, from the north to the south.. In the old days, the Kamo flooded its banks many times during typhoons but now such natural disasters are rare since high banks have been built. Now the river is a place of rest and Kyoto people can spend time there slowly. The Kamo river has some charms. One famous charm is its abundance of nature. Many creatures, such as the giant Japanese salamander and ayu sweetfish are living in the river . There are also many birds—ducks, white egrets, blue herons, cormorants and seagulls in winter.

The Kamo River has many beautiful views and can be recommended in every season. In spring many cherry trees are blossoming on its banks, so it is a popular place for cherry-viewing parties. So the Kamo is loved by many people including locals and foregin tourists.

Cherry tree

Cherry tree

 

The Kamo River is located near the Kyoto Station. The Kamo is a good geographic landmark, so it can help visitors navigate the city. It is good place to have lunch on a bench, take a little break or have coffee at a riverside café. We can often see local people walking or jogging on the mornings and evenings. The Kamo river is one of the symbols of Kyoto. More tourists will visit Kyoto in the future and they are sure to visit the Kamo River.

Jogging at Kamo river

Jogging at Kamo river

We met three foreign people at the river and asked them the following questions:

1. Where are you from?

2. What have you seen at the Kamo river that you will remember?

3. Do you have a river in your hometown? How similar or different to the Kamo river is it?

Their answers were so wonderful that we would like to relate them here:

First of all, we will introduce the answers of a French woman. She said that she recalls the memory of playing in the river when she was young. She lives in Lyon in France and they have a river too. The river is divided into two branches that are named la Saone and la Rhone. There people can run, chat together on riverside benches, play on the grass, skateboard—many people use the river as a place to relax. Her image about Kamo river is that it is more natural and at the Kamo river we can see cherry blossom and autumn leaves and feel the four seasons. Both rivers are similar in that they are places to relax and people can enjoy themselves without spending much money.

The second person we met lives in Finland. She said when she saw the Kamo river she thought that Japan is very beautiful place. Finland has a lake named Uthah lake, it is not river but many people relax there. She said she has never seen the people playing beside the Kamo, but Uthah lake has a lot of people playing. And also she said both are loved by many people.

The third person we met is from America. When she came to the Kamo river it reminded her of her boyfriend. Her boyfriend is not Japanese but he lives in Japan so when they meet in Kyoto, they definitely come to the Kamo River. She told us about a river in Minnesota: it is used only as a place for walking or jogging, whereas the Kamo is a good spot to chill out. Because there are cafes and convenience stores nearby,  the Kamo is very convenient. She also said the Kamo has great nature and is a good place to relax.

Kamo river at night

Kamo river at night

 

 

Japanese Traditional Fishing Method

by Hosono Natsumi and Haruka Onishi

Cormorant Fishing at Night

Ukai, or ‘cormorant fishing’ is a traditional fishing method using a cormorant bird to catch ayu (sweetfish). The season for cormorant fishing is from the middle of May to the middle of October of each year. Interestingly, ukai is often practiced at night. Fishermen make a fire on the fishing boat because ayu have a habit of gathering in lighted places in the dark. This allows the cormorants to catch the fish more easily. However ukai is never practiced on the night of a full moon, because the ayu do not gather around the light of the fire so well. The people who train and control the cormorants are called ‘cormorant fishermen’. The number of cormorants used at one time differ by region and fisherman, but the average number is five to ten. Cormorant fishermen have to know exactly when cormorants swallow the fish so that they can call the cormorants back to the boat and have them regurgitate the fish into a basket.

History of Cormorant Fishing

Cormorant fishing in Japan has a long history. It is unknown who began cormorant fishing. However, a history book published in 712 A.D. mentions cormorant fishing. This suggests that it has been practiced for at least 1300 years or more. Not only do Japan and China have a history of ukai in their cultures, but surprisingly ukai was practiced as a sport in Europe from the 16th to 17th centuries. The fish caught by cormorants lose consciousness in esophagus of the cormorant without injury. This keeps the fish fresh and uninjured, making them highly valued in the marketplace. However, due to its inefficiency in comparison with standard methods of fishing with nets and hooks, the popularity of cormorant fishing gradually decreased over time. Now, it is mostly done in Japan for the tourism industry.

Cormorants

Cormorant in Kyoto

Cormorants are highly intelligent birds and can understand hierarchical relationships. They are about 80 cm in length and have a sharp crooked bill. Therefore they are suited for fishing. Cormorant craftsmen catch wild cormorants.

Wild cormorants are well-trained. Cormorant fishermen take care of them every day for 2 or 3 years. In general, the longevity of a cormorant is from 4 to 5 years, but the cormorants used in Ukai are treated carefully. For this reason, their lifespan is from 15 to 20 years. Cormorant fishermen do their work with the birds around the noon. This practice is what is often shown to the public.

What is the life cormorant fishing like? In the morning, after checking the condition of their birds, the fishermen decide which cormorant take to fishing. In the afternoon, fishermen give the birds free time to relax in the water. The fishermen don’t feed them so much because hungry cormorants can catch their own fish quite well. In the evening, fishermen take chosen cormorants fishing. It is important not to tie their throat too strongly because it will decrease the birds’ motivation. On the other hand, if the rope is too loose, most of fish get swallowed completely. After fishing, fishermen feed and stroke their cormorants to thank them for their efforts.

Cormorant Fishermen

Most cormorant fishermen are born into their craft via long lines of cormorant fishermen. Still, they need a long training period to become fully qualified. First, they need a strong grip and skillful hand movements because the power of cormorants pulling the ropes is quite strong. In addition, it is difficult to make cormorants eject the fish from their throats. This is done by holding the birds’ throats in just the right way. Although cormorant fishing is done only in during the warmer months of the year, fishermen must still take daily care of their birds year round. They have to feed them, take care of their bills, and clean their cages with love.

Where to Observe Cormorant Fishing

The best ukai season is in the summer evenings. If you are interested in observing ukai, you should reserve an ukai tour in advance because it is very popular and crowded. Moreover the road to the spot is also crowded, so you ought to arrive as early as you can.

In Japan, there are about a dozen famous ukai locations, one of them being Kyoto. Kyoto actually has ukai areas, one of them is near the Uji River and the other is near Ooi Arashiyama. But it is the one near Arashiyama that is the most popular.

Getting to Arashiyama

From Kyoto station, take the JR Sagano Sanin Line (#3) to Saga Arasiyama station. It takes about 15 minutes and it costs \240. From the Randen station (Keifuku train), take the train to Arasiyama station, the last stop on that line. On the other hand, if you have One-Day Bus ticket, take the No. 28 bus, which takes about an hour from Kyoto station.

Reference

Ukai

Arashiyama