Blanketed by Night in Gion

May 14, 2018

By Takumi Abe

 

Gion

When you walk in the Gion district of Kyoto, you have time-traveled back into the olden days of Japan. You will see traditional style house alsos and people wearing kimono. You can enjoy seeing not only such scenery, but you can enjoy Japanese foods such as matcha green tea, Japanese sake or sukiyaki. A river along one street in Gion is lined with stones and many willows, giving you a feeling of exoticism. After the sun goes down, you will be fascinated by the new mood of Gion. It has a relaxed atmosphere. laughter emerges from the old-style houses. I decided to record this special night mood through photographs.

 

The History of Gion

Gion was created in the late 1600s and prospered as a town that had developed near the gate of Yasaka Shrine. At this time, many beautiful women stood in front of the stores to attract customers. In the Meji period, from 1868-1912, the Gion area was expanded. Furthermore, Many famous Japanese writers loved Gion in this period. Eventually, Gion changed into the amusement and nightlife district it is now. Now, the northern area of Gion sparkles with bright neon lights. In the southern part of Gion, there is soft lighting and it is very quiet.

 

Gion Night Scenery

  • Yasaka Shrine

 

Yasaka Shrine

This shrine is the symbol of Gion, which extends out west from its base. This area prospered from people who came to worship at this shrine. Now, the gate is lit up every night.

 

  • Northern Gion

Northern Gion

In northern Gion, there are bars, snack bars and nightclubs. Many people go there to enjoy drinking and the nightlife. On Friday night, lots of taxis are coming and going.

 

  • Gion-shinbashi

 

Gion shinbashi

In northern Gion, glittering neon signs illuminate the streets. However, if you continue to walk north out the the more lively streets, there is an old Japanese-style district that has a quiet atmosphere. This area’s streets are covered with stones. You can enjoy the atmosphere and sophisticated Japanese restaurants.

 

  • Shijo Boulevard

 

Shijo

The Shijo Boulevard is the main busy street in Kyoto and in Gion. There are many people here for shopping, commuting, dining and drinking, going back home or just out walking. Shopping is the biggest reason that people come to Shijo, because there are so many different and attractive stores there.

 

  • Snowy Downtown

 

Snowy Downtown

When January arrives, it brings snow to Kyoto. The citiscape is changed by snow. People might think that temples or shrines covered with snow are beautiful, but the collaboration between snow and Gion is even more magical. You can see that old houses and streets are dressed in new snow.

 

  • Hanami-koji

 

Hanami koji

Hanami-koji is the main street of southern Gion. Red Japanese lanterns have images of dumplings printed on them. Gion was started with dumpling and green tea shops. In Japan, drinking Japanese tea while eating a dumpling is one of our favorite customs.

 

  • Rainy Gion

 

Raining in Gion

After a rain in Gion, the wet streets reflect the lights brilliantly. Those lights are white, red or brown. The pitter-patter of rain and the sound of footsteps fill the air.

 

  • Kennin-ji Temple

 

Kennin-ji temple

If you walk further south on Hanami-koji Street, you will see the traditional gate of Kennin-ji temple, Kyoto’s first Zen temple. You can experience the culture of Zen (禅) here and see beautiful fusuma and byobu paitnings and a Japanese garden.

 

  • The traditional pagoda

 

Yasakanoto

Yasaka-no-to is a three-story pagoda between Gion and Kiyomizu Temple. The presence of this pagoda is very photogenic. This is one of Kyoto’s most famous places, so many people come here and see it. At night, this area is so silent that you can hear your own footsteps and breathing.

 

  • Sakura

 

Sakura

Maruyama park stetches out in back of Yasaka Shrine. This park is famous for its cherry blossoms and there is one big cherry tree at its center. Regardless of age or sex, many people are attracted by this famous tree.

 

  • Under the trees

 

Enjoy Hanami

Many people enjoy viewing cherry blossoms with good food and alcohol. When people are under the trees, they feel delight. This is one way to have fun at night in Gion..

 

The Atmosphere of Gion

 

Gion is famous as a traditional Japanese entertainment district. However, the old structures coexist with modern bars and concrete buildings. So this area looks a little bit messy, but in fact, the long history of Gion remains intact. The area that has a long history is attracting many more people these days and they enjoy the nighttime with alcohol. It is good that people can enjoy and go a little crazy even in front of the holy shrine. When night comes, most people go to sleep at their hotel or guesthouse. If you have time or are not able to sleep, I recommend you go to Gion at night. Gion then has a bustling and buzzing face in addition to quiet and calm face along the river. You can feel this original atmosphere. Gion is both loud and quiet.

Another Kyoto: Modern Buildings in the Ancient Capital

By Takumi Abe

 

Kyoto

 

If  you have interest in Japan, you may know that Kyoto was the ancient capital for many centureis. Many tourists come to Kyoto to see the traditional temples and shrines, or Japanese houses built from wood. However, if you spend any time in Kyoto, you will also find some contemporary architecture. For example, when you walk along Sanjo street, you will encounter many modern buildings. Furthermore, there are more modern buildings in Kyoto than you probably expect. These structures are completely different from traditional Japanese-style houses. Do you know why such structures as these exist in the old city Kyoto? On this page, you can find another Kyoto.

 

Sanjo Moderns

Modern Buildings on Sanjo

When you walk down on Sanjo street, you will discover several modern buildings. Many date from the Meiji and Taisho eras (1868-1926). The most famous structure is the former branch of the Bank of Japan. Now it is used as the Museum of Kyoto. This building is covered with red tiles, so you feel like you are in Europe. It was built during the Meiji period when Japan brought in many things from the Western cultures in Europe and America.

 

the Museum of Kyoto

 

Another building that resembles the museum is the central post office. This post office was built in 1902 and it has been used ever since then. The roof and the exterior walls have been preserved.

the Nakagyo post office

 

The SACRA building was used to be the branch of a bank. The building reflects some Renaissance-style architecture. It was built in 1916.

 

 

 

In this building there are beautifully designed arches that appear on the façade. This building was built in 1890 and is the oldest building that was privately built in Western-style commercial construction.

 

 

The1928 Building was built in 1928, and it was used as a branch office for the English edition of the Mainichi Daily  newspaper. Nowadays this building is home to a gallery, restaurant and free space.

 

1928

 

 

At the Sanjo-Rougaemachi intersection stands another modern building that is registered as an important cultural property. This building is a wooden western-style building. It contains shops such as a kimono boutique, a restaurant and cosmetic store.

Modern building stands at the Sanjo-Ryougaemachi intersection

 

 

On temple grounds

Nanzenji temple

In the back of Nanzenji temple, you will discover an elevated aqueduct built of red bricks. You might feel strange when you see this because it looks out of place on the temple grounds. You can see the traditional temple and Roman style architecture. This aqueduct has been in use since it was built in 1888.

 

What you can see from modern buildings

Sanjo

 

Now the Japanese capital is Tokyo. However, before that, the capital of Japan was Kyoto. It was capital for about 1000 years. In the Meiji period (1868-1912), Japan tried to be like Western countries. That’s why there are many modern buildings in Kyoto. Moreover, when the capital was moved, Kyoto was on the edge of a cliff. The emperor moved, the nobility moved, the artisans that made things for the Imperial family moved. Kyoto had to find new life. Therefore, Kyoto people made Kyoto great without the emperor. Kyoto city residents made a plan to become great again by embracing the new scientific innovations that were invented in the late 1800s, including gas lighting and the introduction of water- powered electricity. The aqueduct at Nanzenji was but one part of this large plan to modernize the city. You can see from these modern buildings the efforts and strength of Kyoto residents and the city government of Kyoto. From Kiyomizudera temple and Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine, you can see the ancient Japanese faith. However, if you stand in front of a modern building, you may change your previous ideas about Kyoto.

Dreamton Village

by Kanon Knamaru, Yukiho Sawauchi

Do you know “Dreamton village”? It is located at Kamaoka in Kyoto.

Dreamton village is a little tea room which recreates British streets.

There are a restaurant, lodging facilities, a church, a saloon and general store, so only 5 buildings into there. It is very small place with an area of one hectare. Their garage can park 110 cars.

We enjoy British style “omotenashi ”. Omotenashi means heart-warming treatment in Japanese.

Village

If you arrive at Dreamton village, you will see a British store at first. It is the entrance. In there, you can order some dishs and have wonderful British meals.

However, customers must order all dishes which they want to have at once because the system in here is one-order. Please be careful.

After ordering, you go out the entrance. Then, a beautiful view spreads in front of your eyes. And you are welcomed by PONT-OAK staffs. Then, there is a general shop so you can buy some goods and souvenirs. Streets and views are very beautiful. That’s why those who visit there have fun taking pictures.

PONT-OAK

PONT-OAK is a restaurant and serves British cuisine which you can order.

In there, staff wear classic maid clothes and serve some dishes.

   These are enjoyable dishes, for example, fish and chips and tea set.

There are some types of food. One type is everyday dishes. These include fish and chips, roast beef, pasta, sandwich and so on. You can eat these whenever you go.

There are also many side dishes available, for example, salad, garlic baguette and soup. The soup changes every day, so please ask some staff for the soup of the day.

Second, there is a lunch special. These are menus available only on weekdays. These are served from opening time to 2 o’clock. If you make a reservation at least two days before you go, PONT-OAK will make sure that you are served an original luncheon.

Third, there is the “Tea set”. We enjoy British afternoon tea set. Tea is served with pound cake, ginger cookies and so on. For afternoon tea, delicious treats include original scones, ginger pound cake, finger sandwiches, cookies and meat pie.

No matter what  you order, there is a pot of tea and you can choose your favorite tea leaves.

“Dessert Cakes” are rich and delicious, of course. Ginger pound cake is moist and fragrant and full of ginger flavor. Furthermore, there is rare cheese cake, and apple pie. However, only ginger pound cake can taken out.

Needless to say, there is scone with original cream and jam. It is an original and popular dish in PONT-OAK.

Finally, there is “Ice cream”. In PONT-OAK you can have cold ice cream and ice cream served with hot sauces. For cold ice cream, you can choose berry sauce or sugar syrup while hot sauces include hot ginger sauce, earl grey and peanuts sauce, which are poured over your ice cream.

How to get there

Dreamton village is very far from the city and what is called a little-known spot.

If you go to Dreamton village, at first you take JR Saganosanin line and get off at “Kameoka” station. After arriving at Kameoka station, you can continue on by taxi or by bus. Because the route is very complicated to get there, we recommend taking a taxi. It costs about 3,000 yen.

The other way is by bus. However you must change buses once. First, you get to Kameoka station, you take a bus and get off at “Kyotogakuenmae”. Next, you take another one and get off at “Okuno ”. You should take a bus whose number is “F21”. This route costs about 500 yen but it takes an hour or more. Furthermore, Dreamton village is located far out in the countryside, so you may lose your way and it is difficult to access Internet too, so we recommend to take a taxi.

Of course, it is also possible to drive your own car to Dreamton village.

Other options

Dreamton village has lodging facilities. It is called “B&B”, which means Bed and Breakfast. You can stay at 1 room 2 persons in there. It costs 28,000 yen on weekdays and 30,000 yen on weekends. Whenever you lodge in the village, you can eat an English breakfast.

People can hold a wedding ceremony here if they make an appointment in advance. Staff prepare a pastor, make-up assistants and cameramen.

We think if you come to Japan, you are looking forward to going some popular temples, shrines and so on. However Dreamton village is a good spot not many people know. So, many Japanese people may not know about there. Is such a place on your mind? If you are interested in it and have time, please go to Dreamton village!

Accommodation in Kyoto

by Miyabi Saeki, Natsumi Awa and Saki Hirobayashi

When you go abroad, how do you decide which hotel to stay in? In Kyoto, there are three main types of hotels, such as western hotels, ryokan (traditional Japanese style inns), and the cheaper, but more casual guest houses. Do you know the differences between the three of them? Of course the styles are different, but the price, service, food and location are all also different. You should know the differences so that you can find the kind of hotel that will work best for you.

In this article, we will explain in detail the three types of accommodation in Kyoto, and give you an example of each one that we recommend.

Western Hotels

Foreigners who aren’t used to sleeping on futon or don’t want to stay at a Japanese style hotel should stay at a Western style hotel. They are familiar to almost all foreigners and they are the most common style of hotel in the world. You can relax as if you were in your home country.

Many of the Western hotels in Kyoto have a certain style. For example, the interior design, food, and overall atmosphere may be inspired by Kyoto’s culture. In addition, there are many attractive places scattered across Kyoto City, so you can often find a hotel that is near some of the tourist sites that you want to visit during your stay. There are a range of expensive to cheap Western hotels, so you need to find one that fits your price range.

Hotel Monterey Kyoto

Hotel Monterey Kyoto is located on Karasuma Street, which runs north to south in central Kyoto. It is a highly recommended hotel, with a 4.5 out of 5 star evaluation on Rakuten Travel’s website. It takes about 2 minutes to arrive from Karasuma Oike Station on foot, and it takes about 8 minutes from Kyoto Station by car.  Around the hotel there are many shrines, temples, and famous sightseeing spots. For example, if you plan to go to Higashi Honganji Temple, it takes less than 20 minutes by bus. In addition, there are some bus and train stations very near, so the location is very convenient for tourists.

       

The hotel is not only reasonably priced, but also has luxurious interior decorations. The rooms offer a chic and gorgeous design. It is popular with people from different age groups. You can enjoy either a Japanese or Western style breakfast, or Obanzai, which is a traditional style of Japanese cuisine native to Kyoto. It is made of simply prepared local vegetables and seafood. Rooms cost from 7,990 to 19,200 yen per night. The hotel is not so expensive, and it is in a good location. It is also equipped with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, a restaurant, a bathtub in each room, a paid parking area, laundry room, spa, and a bar.

Ryokan

When you want to experience traditional Japanese culture, you should stay at a ryokan. While there are many ryokan in other prefectures, Kyoto is well known for its own ryokan. Many ryokan have tatami, which is a traditional Japanese straw mat flooring; futon, which are Japanese style bedding; and public hot spring baths. The price is different at each ryokan, so you can go cheap or expensive depending on what you want.

Nishiyama Ryokan

Nishiyama ryokan is located in Nakagyo Ward, which is in central Kyoto. It takes 15 minutes from Kawaramachi Station on foot, and it takes 15 minutes from Kyoto Station by taxi. The hotel’s average evaluation is 4.5 out of 5 stars on Rakuten Travel’s website, and it is easy for people to book rooms from the hotel’s website in English. Around the hotel there are a lot of places of interest. For example, Heian Zingu and Nijo Castle are both only about 1.7 km away, and the Kyoto International Museum is about 0.6 km away. In addition, Sanjo Station and Karasuma Oike Station are nearby.

     

The ryokan’s rooms are all non-smoking. The price is about 22,000 to 42,000 yen. It is more expensive than many hotels or guest houses, but you can experience true Japanese atmosphere at a ryokan because there are tatami rooms and Japanese-style banquets. You can choose from 2 styles of room, Japanese style or Western style. Nishiyama Ryokan is equipped with free Wi-Fi, free laundry, air conditioning, deposit baggage, and ironing services are also free. Moreover, you can rent bicycles. Staff provide kind and welcoming service, so you can relax every day during your stay.

Guest Houses

If you want to save as much money as possible, you should stay at a guest house. These are the cheapest kind of accommodation in Kyoto. They usually cost less than 5,000 yen per night. They are more casual, but the rooms are just as clean as the others. The guest houses in Kyoto are affordable for tourists and allow them to interact with the local people and other tourists.

Len Guest House

Len Guest House is a very good guest house at a great location. It is located in Kawaramachi, which is in central Kyoto. This hostel looks like a mountain hut, and has the appearance of old Kyoto. It overlooks the mountains of Kyoto. You can get there from Kawaramachi Station in 8 minutes on foot, so you can go to the downtown shopping and eating area easily. There are also many famous temples and shrines near this guest house. Therefore, you can enjoy sightseeing, shopping, and the atmosphere of Kyoto. This guesthouse has a hostel, bar, cafe, and dining.

A lot of different people stay at the Len Guest House. On the one hand, it is for tourists, but locals also visit for the café and bar. The concept of this guest house is “a place where people can gather, crossing every boundary.” There are two kinds of rooms in the hostel: dormitories and private rooms. As for the dormitories, there are two types; mixed rooms and women-only rooms. The room rates are about 2,600 yen to 3,000 yen. It is very reasonable. The rooms are very clean, and they have many kinds of amenities. The common space has a kitchen, a library, and a bathroom. You can cook in the kitchen, as there are a lot of cooking tools. Also, many events are held every month such as jazz concerts. If you are interested in this hostel, please check the website.

Conclusion

Now you should know a little more about accommodation in Kyoto. Which type of accommodation do you like the best? Having good accommodations while in Japan will make your trip much better. Have a nice trip!

Access

Hotel Monterey Kyoto

From the Hankyu Train, get off at Karasuma Station and go North up Karasuma Street. 5 minutes on foot from Exit 22 of Karasuma Station on the Hankyu Kyoto line or from Shijo Station on the Karasuma Subway line.

Website: https://www.hotelmonterey.co.jp/kyoto/

Nishiyama Ryokan

From the Hankyu Train, get off at Kawaramachi Station and go North up Kawaramachi Street. It is near the Kyoto city hall.

Website: http://www.kyoto-nishiyama.com/

Len Guest House

From the Hankyu Train, get off at Kawaramachi Station and go south down Kawaramachi Street. It is near the Kawaramachi Matsubara bus stop.

Website: https://backpackersjapan.co.jp/kyotohostel/

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?

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!

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

The Charm of Kyo-Machiya and a Machiya Hotel

We wonder how many people know about it Kyo-Machiya, Machiya is a type of house that can be seen throughout Japan, but Kyoto is especially famous for it. It is a traditional wooden townhouse that has been used in one form or another from the 8th century to the 1th century. The typical area of a Kyo-machiya is determined by a frontage width of about 6 meters and a length’ of about 20 meters or more. Because of this long and narrow shape, people call them “unagi no nedoko” which mean “eel beds” in English. Even now, there are over 45,000 of the traditional and historical machiya in Kyoto city. They make cityscape more beautiful and have been attracting people as a symbol of Kyoto for centuries. However, the number of machiya has been decreasing because they are torn down by owners who face high maintenance costs, inheritance taxes and the simply the inconvenience of living in such a traditional space. The decrease of machiya means the loss of the beautiful cityscape in Kyoto. Machiya should be known by more people and should be preserved. Therefore, we would like to introduce machiya hotel in Kyoto to make more people aware how nice they are! Fortunately, we had an opportunity to contact with Akiko, the owner, who has a machiya and uses as an accommodation in Kyoto city.

image

The name of the hotel is Kyo-machiya Kokon Higashiyama Holiday Home Kyoto. It is located in Higashiyama-ku, Chaya-cho, Kyoto and is only 0.5 km from Hokoku Shrine, 1.5 km from Kiyomizu Temple, and 2.5 km from To-i Temple and the Kyoto International Manga Museum. We could get there in 15 minutes by foot from Gojo Station. Although the location is very good, the place is very quiet. The appearance was very traditional, but at the same time was also very new and clean inside. There is a kitchen, bathroom, toilet, living room space on the 1st floor and 4 beds, chair and desk on the 2nd floor. Whatever guests might need are already stocked inside; there is even a washing machine, dryer and etc. If you stay there in winter, you can use a kotastu, which is a low covered table with a heater inside. Furthermore, there is information in English for foreign guests.

image

On the 2nd floor, we could see black beams on the ceiling. The contrast between white walls and black beams looks modern and very beautiful. Most interesting point was the toilet, because it was outside. The type of the toilet is familiar with old style Japanese house. You can find it in “Sazae-san” and “Chibi Maruko-chan,” which are Japanese famous cartoons. Also, you can enjoy a tsubo niwa, which is a very small Japanese garden that can be seen from living room. It was cute and tastefully laid out. Most of the customers are foreigner the owner said. Tourists want to have new experiences in Japan by spending time in the Japanese traditional house. I want more people to know about the existence of machiya hotels and want them to use them more. If the demand increases, we can save more machiya and keep the beautiful cityscape, too!

image If you visit in Kyoto, you should stay in a machiya hotel.

Do You Know about the Japan Rail Pass?

by Mina Ito, Aina Sasaki and Hinako Uematsu

Have you ever used Japanese transportation. It can be very complicated even for Japanese people, and it can also be a common problem for foreign tourists as well. Nowadays, we can go almost places by train, bus, or ferry in Japan, but it can be quite challenging to make a transfer or buy a ticket from a vending machine. ,However, nowdays, large stations are making guides that tell you what to do available in front of ticket vending machines. In addition, Japan Railways (JR), the main railroad company in Japan, has started selling very special and useful tickets to foreign tourists.

This wonderful ticket is called the ‘Japan Rail Pass’ or more commonly called JR Pass, and it is a very cost effective rail pass for long distance train travel in Japan. It can be used by foreign tourists only, and offers unlimited use of JR trains.

This map shows where you can go with your JR Pass. Actually, JAPAN RAIL PASS cannot be used for travel on NOZOMI and MIZUHO trains on the Tokaido, Sanyo, and Kyushu Shinkansen lines. However, this ticket covers all over Japan as you can see. We will explain how to buy it below.

Different Types of Train Passes

Buy your tickets (called Exchange Order) online in a safe and easy manner. You can choose between 7-, 14- and 21-day passes, beginning once the Pass is used. This service was especially created for tourists visiting Japan, so it can only be used if tourists have a temporary tourist stamp in their passport. You can take shinkansen (bullet train) and, can go anyplace in Japan.

Once you order online, you can get your JR pass in just two days via UPS delivery. In your package, you will receive an “Exchange Order”, which you will need to validate once you arrive in Japan.

When arriving in Japan, search for the nearest JR Pass Exchange Office, where you will be able to get your actual Japan Pass. You will be required to present your passport, together with your order. As I described earlier, you will never be able to get it if you don’t have the tourist stamp, so please make sure you have ask for a tourist stamp in your passport when you go through immigration.

Type Ordinary Green Car
7 days 29.110 yen 38,880 yen
14 days 46,390 yen 62,950 yen
21 days 59,350 yen 81,870 yen

Here is the list of fees for each kind of ticket. It looks a bit expensive, but it is of great value to be able to travel all around Japan. Many foreign tourists tend to visit Tokyo or Kyoto because these are the most famous places, but there are still many other beautiful places in Japan. We recommend that you go anywhere in Japan by using this ticket. You will discover many attractions that Japan has.