The Charm of Kyo-Machiya and a Machiya Hotel

December 4, 2017

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.

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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.

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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.

Four Things to Do in Arashiyama

by. Hinako Uematsu, Aina Sasaki, Mina Ito

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

Togetsu Kyo Bridge

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

River Trip

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bamboo Groves

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food

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

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

Starting a Day in Kyoto Station

by Takumi Abe

Japanese life in morning

At Kyoto Station many people head to school or work at the beginning of the day. If you are there, you can feel Japanese daily life in the morning. We cannot see such a scene in temples or shrines. Commuters are coming and going in the station. You can see many faces with delightful, depressed or serious looks.

Kyoto Station starts “Rush Hour” at 7am with arriving trains. At this time, the station is crowded. I took pictures of commuters, tourists and station officers at this busy time. You can feel a very different atmosphere at Kiyomizu temple. I hope you enjoy the photos enough that you will want to visit Kyoto Station in the early morning. I was there for an hour from 7 AM.

Starting a day from Kyoto Station

No.1 Starting Gift Shop

Gift shop (Omiyageya)

People who come to Kyoto are not only tourists but also students on school excursions and salaried workers on business trips. Some of them use Kyoto Station for going back home. They buy souvenirs in gift shops in the station. Clerks want them to buy gifts so they put goods on the shelves.

No.2 Keeping clean for users

Be clean

People are coming and going in the station. It is not easy to keep clean especially on rainy day. However, the station is always sanitary. In the background, there is a lot of hard work being done by the facility workers.

No.3 For Kyoto

The gate

At the same time as arriving trains, all the people go through automatic ticket gates. Their daily life in Kyoto begins. They head to school or work in the city.

No.4 Changing trains

On stairs and elevators

Kyoto station has JR (Japan Railway) and Kintetsu (Kintetsu Railway). Some people change trains for JR or Kintetsu. Lots of people run into each other in the elevators and stairs. They walk in a hurry while somehow avoiding collision.

No. 5 If you need help

Officers help you

Station officers help everybody.  They want users to feel comfortable. If you do not know where a destination is, officers answer and relieve your anxiety.

No.6 A student

a Student reading a book

Half of the station users are students. While waiting for trains, they chat with friends or read a book or study.

No.7 School trip

School trip

In Japan, Kyoto is a famous destination for school trips. Many students study the history of Kyoto and Japan. They also learn how to go to famous places.

No.8 Starting Sightseeing

It is difficult to be in unfamiliar place

Tourists also start here to get to tourist sites. In front of the map, some tourists check where their destination is. This map shows you locations. In a cafe, some tourists eat breakfast to build up energy for the day ahead.

No.9 A line

No.0 platform

On platform 0, users make lines without disorder. They use phones for checking e-mails, messages or news. They look down on small screens. If you stand beyond the yellow line, you will be warned by the station staff.

No.10 In the busy time

He watched Shinkansen and trains

In the rush hour, it is not easy to have inner peace. However, a place you always use looks different between busy times and free times.  You may find another face of the Kyoto Station if you look.

Morning Kyoto

Speaking of Kyoto, many people will come up with temples and shrines. However, if you are interested in daily Japanese life, you can see it in Kyoto Station. You can see common Japan. In famous places in Kyoto, you can feel old Japan. Kyoto Station however, is filled with another part of Japanese culture. These pictures taken in Kyoto station belong to this part. If you have time to stay in Kyoto, I want you to enjoy World Heritage sites, but I want you to see daily life in Japan. It may be fun to find differences between your own country’s life and that of Japan. You may be surprised . Kyoto station has both a traditional and contemporary atmosphere. I want you to take an interest in the morning time in Kyoto Station.

Kyoto’s Historical Boulevard

by Takumi Abe

Many people who visit Kyoto want to seeonly  Kiyomizu temple, Kinkakuji temple or the Ryoanji rock garden. However, when most people first arrive in Kyoto, they will see the Kyoto Tower and a wide avenue going to the north. This street has many cars, taxis and buses. Its name is Karasuma-dori, and its length is six kilometers. Karasuma street is an important and central street in Kyoto, so there are many business buildings and some temples along it.  In addition, two universities are located on Karasuma, and the Kyoto Imperial Palace flanks the avenue as well. It is an important street especially from the views of the economy, education and Japanese history.

Karasuma from 794

Kyoto city has prospered for about 1200 years so many streets in Kyoto have a long history. If you walk down Karasuma street, you can see buildings from various eras. Karasuma was constructed in the Heian period (794-1185). At that time, this road was called Karasumaru-koji street. “Koji” means small road. This street was named after a family of Heian-period aristocrats. Karasuma has been significant because among the many Fujiwara families it was the largest area where Heian aristocrats lived. The street flourished,  but it fell into ruinduring the civil war in Medieval times. After this period of battles, the street was revived by Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Due to his project, the street had many upper-class mansions, houses and stores. In  the Meiji period (1868-1912),  one of the modern Japanese periods, Kyoto Station was built at the south end of Karasuma street. As a result, this street was expanded and extended to all the way to northern Kyoto. At the same time, a streetcar started to run along the street. Today, Karasuma is in the central business district, where there are many banks and companies. Additionally, it is a gateway to Kyoto for people from various countries first arriving at Kyoto Station.

 

The gateway of Kyoto

What you can see on Karasuma

Shijo Karasuma

Shijo-Karasuma is one of the big commercial areas in the city. Many banks and insurance companies are located here. You can see the modern Japanese architecture and a long history. On the left side of the above photo of Shijo -Karasuma is the Mitsui building. This entrance was created in 1941.

Cocon Karasuma

Doshisha University

Cocon Karasuma is a commercial complex and office building. You may be fascinated by the arabesque pattern on the wall. This building was constructed in 1938, and it was recently renovated. It was not exposed the fires of war, so you can see the old-style stairs and floors inside. “Cocon,” in Japanese means both ancient and modern, so this amazing building shows the past  and the present in Kyoto.

If you continue much further north on Karasuma you will come to Doshisha University. This university was founded in 1875, and now about 27,000 students go to this school. It was established by Jyo Nijima. He was the first Japanese person to graduate from a university in the USA. He opened the door to modern education in Japan.

Toraya

If you want to eat Japanese sweets, I recommend that you go to Toraya. It has a long history, and this store has been around for nearly five centuries. From the days of old, this store made sweets for the Emperor. Its famous itme is Azuki-bean jelly. It has been loved for more than 500 years. Is is on Karasuma just southwest of Doshisha University.

Traditional culture inJapan is not only concerned with food, but there is also kadou or literally “the way of flowers”. Kadou is arranging flowers beautifully. It represents and expresses the beauty of Japan. Kadou was formed in the Muromachi era (1336-1573). It is said that it originated at the pond of Rokkakuji temple. This temple is crowded with tourists. Next to it on Karasuma is the headquarters of the Ikenobo School of Flower arrangement.

Manga museum

Moreover, people who love Japanese culture had better go to the Manga museum, which is nearby the Oike-Karasuma intersection. As the name indicates, this museum keeps more 30 thousand manga. You can read manga in the museum or in its garden. The Giga-Ukiyoe, which is a collection of funny pictures and was printed in the Edo era (1603-1867), is in the collection of the museum. Moreover, some manga housed here are from overseas. The amazing thing is that this building has been used since 1929. it used to be an elementary school, therefore you can see also the old style of Japanese school.

The street as a face of Kyoto

Kyoto Imperial Palace

Karasuma street has a long history. It is rare that you can see a story that is 1200 years long. This place has faces of traditional Japan, modern Japan and present-day Japan. You can feel a Japanese passion to create the city, protect its heritage, and reinvigorate its culture.  The street is bustling with university students and some of its cafés are filled with young power. What is more, many workers use the street to find lunch or dinner, or go shopping. In  old times, there were many people riding in a carriage or walking in kimono. Suppose you come to Karasuma—you may feel the history of Japan.

 

Touring Kyoto by Rental Cycle

By Kensei Iizuka, Yuta Kobayashi and Takanori Tsuhako

As you know, in Kyoto, there are a lot of attractive places. However, how do you visit such nice places? Do you use buses or trains? Now, let us introduce the most active and flexible way to move around Kyoto: by rental cycle.

In Kyoto, there are many rental cycle shops and you can rent a bicycle for one day, which costs somewhere between 1 and 2 thousand yen. Optionally, you can rent a sport-type bicycle, a power-assisted bicycle, or child’s bicycle.

Merits of Using Rental Cycles

There are many merits of using rental cycles. First, it is the most active way to move around Kyoto. For example, if you like athletics, it is the best way to sightsee. Second, it is the most flexible. While you are sightseeing, you don’t have to worry about time like you do when taking the bus and/or train. Therefore, you can simply enjoy the places you like and just forget about the clock. In addition, because of its flexibility, you can enjoy Kyoto by going wherever you want to go. For example, you can bike down interesting Kyoto-like back alleys, encounter a temple which suddenly appears in front of you, or stumble across a friendly café. You can discover places which are not written in guide books, while choosing your destinations with your own senses.

Cautions

Pay attention to the seasons. If you come to Kyoto in the spring or autumn, you can enjoy your bicycle tour because you can feel a comfortable wind and see great cherry blossoms (in the spring) or red and yellow leaves (in the autumn). However, if you come to Kyoto in the summer or winter, you must pay attention to the temperature. In the summer, it is very hot and muggy, so you should be careful about heatstroke. And in winter, it is too cold to ride a bike, so you must wear warm clothes, a scarf and some gloves. At last, we don’t recommend renting a bicycle in June because it is the rainy season in Japan. You will get wet.

Places to Rent Bicycles

In Kyoto, there are many places to rent bikes. It is easy to access if your hotel is near the rental shop. Some shops are near the train stations. For example, here are some popular stores around Kyoto station:

Kyoto Eco Trip (http://www.kyoto-option.com/english/)

Kyoto Cycling Tour Project (KCTP) (http://www.kctp.net/pc/en/)

Kyoto Miyabiya (http://k-miyabiya.jp/index.html)

Fuune (http://miyakoshiki.wixsite.com/mysite)

How to Rent / Return

Renting a bike is easy. For example, we rented some bikes at Kyoto Eco Trip, near Kyoto station. You can reach it in five minutes after getting off the train. First, at the desk, a staff member gave instructions to us. Then, we could choose the type of bicycle and the plan. Some places rent an electric bike, which is a little bit more expensive than a normal bike, but you can ride it easily. It is necessary to show your I.D. card in order to rent a bike.

There are various kinds of plans by stores. It is good for you to choose a store by looking carefully at the plan. You pay in advance, but if you end up renting it longer than you had planned, you can pay the difference when you return. It’s convenient, isn’t it?

After paying the rental fee, the staff will bring you a bike and explain how to use it. The shop we rented from uses a dial type of key. You can decide whatever numbers you want to use. We also received some ice-cold bottled water for our journey. It was a very hot day, so we were really happy about that.

Famous Spots around Kyoto Station

Toji temple

One of the main symbols of Kyoto is Toji Temple, located in Minami-ku, which was registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. When you are just about to arrive at Kyoto station by a bullet train, you can see this five-storied pagoda from the south side window of your train. It only takes about 7 minutes on bicycle to arrive at Toji Temple from Kyoto station.

Kyoto Aquarium

There is a modern aquarium to the west of Kyoto Station, which was established in 2012 inside Umekozi Park. This is the first aquarium to use complete artificial seawater to keep displays beautiful in Japan. 15,000 different kinds of fish and animals are put on display there, such as the Japanese Giant Salamander (Andrias Japonicus), which is designated as a special natural monument, and which lives in the local Kamogawa River. There are also various kinds of penguins, dolphins, and fish there. It is only a 10-minute bicycle ride from Kyoto station.

 

Kyoto Railway museum

There are two hot spots in Umekozi Park, one is the Kyoto Aquarium and the other is the Kyoto Railway Museum. This museum is newer than the aquarium, and opened in 2016. There is the largest of Japan’s train museums. You can see many different kinds of trains there, for example a retired 0 series shinkansen. Also, you can take a short ride on an old steam locomotive. How special? It is also 10-minute bicycle from Kyoto station.

Nishihonganji temple

Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who is the famous builder of Osaka castle, established this temple in 1591. Inside the temple, a lot of traditional buildings and gardens representing the Azuchimomoyama Era are there. This temple is also registered as a World Heritage Site in 1994. It is approximately 3 minutes by bicycle from Kyoto station.

Higashihonganji temple

This temple is placed in almost in front of Kyoto station and you can reach it even on foot in 5 minutes. Furthermore, the shape of temple is very similar to that of Nishihonganji temple, and these temples are very close to one antoher. It can be fun for visitors to examine the differences between them.

Shoseien

Shoseien is a completely sophisticated and beautiful garden located in middle of the city. Although you are in the city, you can see brilliant green trees and shaped pond as soon as you enter. You can calm down and relax with a tweeting of birds in the garden. Also, you can view Kyoto Tower, which is a main symbol of Kyoto from the garden. It looks like a strange landscape, but it is actually wonderful. It is only a 7-minute bicycle from Kyoto Station.

Kyoto Tower

Kyoto Tower stands just in front of Kyoto station and is the highest building in Kyoto city. It was built in 1964. This is an important spot for visitors to get souvenirs from a complete range of souvenir shops and can enjoy local foods in the surrounding restaurants. At the top of the tower, you can see the whole landscape of Kyoto. It is a valuable spot to see other famous places from a high point.

Model Tour

After arriving at Kyoto station, go to the Hachijo-guchi exit (South Gate). A few minutes’ of walking will bring you to Kyoto Eco Trip. Check in and rent a bike; then your trip has started. First, go to Toji temple. It is in a south-west direction from Kyoto Eco Trip. You can get a map at Kyoto Eco Trip, so you can ride around without getting lost. It takes about 10 minutes from Eco Trip to Toji Temple. Park your bike near the car parking lot. If you are not sure, just ask the staff. If you park on the road, your bike might be removed by the authorities. In Kyoto, the places which you park your bike are basically free. Some places are only free for a few hours, so be careful about it.

Next, to go to Umekoji Park by heading north. It takes only five minutes to reach the park. There you can enjoy the Kyoto Aquarium and the Kyoto Railway Museum, too. There are a lot of nice restaurants near there as well. We decided to visit a sushi restaurant for lunch, which was delicious.

After taking a rest and eating your fill, move on to Nishihonganji and Higashihonganji temples. It only takes about 10 ~ 15 minutes to get there. Seisyoen is also near Higashihonganji. You can feel the real Kyoto spirit there. After feeling Kyoto, you can visit Yodobashi Camera and buy anything you want. There are a lot of restaurants there, too. You can also visit Kyoto Tower while you are at it. Finally, go back to Kyoto Eco Trip, give your bike back and end your trip. What a great day!

Randen Tour

by Kensei Iizuka, Takanori Tsuhako, Yuta Kobayashi

What is the best way to do sightseeing on the west side of Kyoto city? On this page, we recommend useful and comfortable transportation: a tram named Randen.

The Randen Keifuku Line is a tram which runs from Shijo-Omiya to Arashiyama with a total of 13 stations. In the day time, it runs 6 times per hour. Usually it is one car long, but at rush hour and at the height of the tourist season, it is two cars long.

Merits of Using Randen

There are several advantages to using the Randen. First, the Randen is punctual. If you use a bus for sightseeing, it will be late because buses are often late. On the other, the Randen is never late. In addition, because it runs 6 times per an hour, you can plan your trip by the minute. Second, it is not crowded, so you can ride it very comfortably and don’t need to worry about your big baggage. Finally, it is fast. It only takes about 1~2 minutes to move to the next stop, so you can save your time to do sightseeing.

Fare for Randen

You can buy a Randen one day pass at Shijo-Omiya (A1), Katabiranotsuji (A8), Arashiyama (A13) or Kitano-Hakubaicho (B9). It costs 500 yen and with it, you can ride the Randen all day without limit. If you board the Randen without a one day pass, you have to pay 220 yen (adults) or 110 yen (children, between 6~12 age) per ride. Once you board, all you need to do is pay or show your one day pass when you get off the train. At Shijo-Omiya, Katabiranotsuji, Arashiyama and Kitano-Hakubaicho, you have to pay or show your one day pass at the ticket gate.

Famous Spots Along the Randen

KORYUZJI


Located in Uzumasa, the Koryuji temple is one of the oldest pieces of architecture in Kyoto. This temple was established approximately 1,300 years ago and is dedicated to Shotoku Taishi, one of the founders of Buddhism in Japan. As soon as you enter the temple, you can walk on the stone-paved road. On both sides of the road, a wide range of trees, such as pine, is planted. Moreover, you can go to the Toei Uzumasa Movie Park, which is just a 5-minute walkfrom Koryuji temple. This is kind of historical theme park in which you feel like you are back in Edo era, with samurai, ninja, and geisha. The nearest station of these spots is Uzumasa Koryuji Station (A7).

KURUMAZAKI SHRINE


Located in Saga, the Kurumazaki Shrine is dedicated to the Confucian scholar, Kiyoharano Yorinari. This shrine is well known for its religious stones, so many tourists go there to get fortune stones to make their wishes come true or to remove bad luck. There is strange way of wishing, which is to write down your name on a human-shaped piece of paper and then put it into a box while making your wish. Inside the shrine, there is a sub-shrine, called the Geino shrine. A lot of famous entertainers in Japan visit here and they write their name or group name on a red stick for their success in the future. The moment you get off the train at Kurumazaki Shirine Station (A10), you can see the shrine in front of the station.

ROKUOUIN


Here is a Japanese beautiful garden Before reaching this garden, you go through a road covered with various kinds of vivid green trees. You can feel nature strongly here, even though you are in the middle of Kyoto city. The nearest Randen station is Rokuoin Station (A11). It is about a 7-minute walk to reach the garden.

HOGONIN


As soon as you enter this temple, you will start to feel very calm because there is extreme quiet or only a tweet of some birds. The period you can enter there is limited to only the spring and autumn. In both seasons, you can see a great garden, which contains some beautiful red trees in the autumn. The nearest Randen station is Arashiyama Station (A13). You can also enjoy some famous sightseeing spots, such as the Togetsukyo bridge and the Bamboo Road in Arashiyama.

OMURO NINNAJI TEMPLE


Omuro Ninnaji temple was registered as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1994. Construction began in 886 and was finished two years later. In the spring, this temple is famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms. The nearest Randen station is Omuroninnnazji Station (B5). In front of the station, there is restaurant where you can eat traditional Indian curry.

RYOANJI TEMPLE


Ryoanji is also World Heritage site. It has the most famous rock gardens in Japan. You can feel wabisabi (the art of imperfection) in this sophisticated garden with no chaos at all. One interesting way of observing this garden is when you focus on stones in the garden. From any angle you can’t see all the stones at one time. The last stone is definitely hidden behind another stone. The nearest Randen station is Ryoanji Station (B7).

TOJIIN


Here is placed in near Ninnaji temple and Ryoanji temple and was established in 1341, Muromachi era, by Takauzi Ashikaga who is the founder and first shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate. There is also beautiful garden inside here. Furthermore, you can see the tea-ceremony room, which is completely sophisticated and extremely Japanese shape of culture. Nearest Station is Tojiin Station (B8).

Model Randen Sightseeing Plan

Let us suggest a sightseeing plan for using one-day Randen ticket. First, your Randen trip starts from Shijo Omiya station. Take the tram for 13 minutes to Uzumasa-Tenjingawa station. There you can visit Koryuji temple.

Next, take the tram from Uzumasa-Tenjingawa station. to Kurumazaki-jinja station. You can visit Kurumazaki-shrine there. Then, take the tram to Rokuoin station. It’s the next station from Kurumazaki-jinja station. Walking a short distance from the station, you will find Rokuoin.

After that, take the tram for Arashiyama station. The station is really nice and wonderful. They sell a lot of food and souvenirs. You can also enjoy a foot-bath there. Arashiyama has a lot of places to visit, but we recommend you visit Hougenin if it is the right season of the year. If you show your coupon, you can get some presents.

After you enjoy your stay in Arashiyama, take the tram again and get off at Katabirano-tsuji station. When you get off the tram at this station, you don’t have to show your one-day ticket. Change trains at the station, and get off at Omuro-ninnaji station. It’s the fifth station. There is a wonderful curry and rice restaurant right front of the station. We recommend you have some nice lunch there. After having lunch, you can visit Ninnaji temple.

Once you have seen Ninnaji, go back to Omuro-ninnaji station. and take the tram to Ryoanji station. It’s the second station. From the station, walk about 10 min. to arrive at Ryoanji temple. After visiting Ryoanji, finally, take the tram again and get off at Tojin station. It’s only a 5-minute walk.

That’s the best plan for using your one-day Randen ticket. You end up taking the trams nine times, and if you haven’t bought the one-day ticket, you would have spent over 2,000 yen!

Shijo-omiya sta. Start
↓ 13 min. 6 stops
Uzumasa-koryuji sta. Koryuji Temple
↓ 7 min. 3 stops
Kurumazaki-jinja sta. Kurumazaki Shrine
↓ 1 min. 1 stop
Rokuo-in sta. Rokuo-in
↓ 3 min. 2 stops
Arashiyama sta. Hogenin
↓ 8 min. 5 stops
Katabira-no-tsuji sta. Change Trains
↓ 7 min. 5 stops
Omuro-ninnaji sta. Lunch, Omuroninnaji Temple
↓ 3 min. 2 stops
Ryoanji sta. Ryoanji Temple
↓ 1 min. 1 stop
Tojiin Tojiin

Illumination in Kyoto

by Haruka Onishi and Natsumi Hosono

It has become second nature to enjoy Christmas illumination every winter for Japanese people. How did this come about? According to one research (1), the origin of Christmas illumination dates back to the 16 century , when electricity still hadn’t been developed. In Germany, Martin Luther was impressed to see shining stars in the forest and tried to reproduce the beautiful scenery by decorating trees with candles. Afterward, Thomas Alva Edison started bulb illumination. He decorated his laboratory with incandescent light bulbs to advertise his invention. It is said that his decoration is the first bulb illumination in the world.

About 150 years ago, in the Meiji era, illumination came to Japan. Meijiya, the company that sold foreign goods at the time, started turning on illumination every night from December 15th until Christmas day. This event attracted public attention and people started flocking to see the flashy illumination every year. Now, we can see illumination all over Japan every winter. The warm light heals our heart and gives us a feeling of peace.

Then, we will give you some information about illumination in Kyoto that we recommend to you.

Gojo Street Illumination

Gojo street illumination

Gojo street illumination

The Gojo Street Illumination is put on by the ROHM company, a Japanese semiconductor maker. This display first appeared in 1995 as a contribution to society. It is usually held between November 25th to December 25th from 17:00~22:00 of every year. More than 80 trees are decorated with more than 80,000 light bulbs. The main point of interest in this illumination is a tree-lined road. It is free to see, and people like to go there with someone special.

Arashiyama Illumination

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Arashiyama illumination

The illumination display in Arashiyama is called Hanatouro. “Hana” means flower, “tou” means light, and “ro” means road. Its main concept is to color the nights of Kyoto with flowers and lights. This event has been held since 2005. This illumination is held from 17:00 to 20:30 in every year. About 2500 LED bulbs are used in this illumination. Moreover the road is decorated by a lot of flowers and it is beautiful. Moreover, the path through the bamboo forest is also lit up which expresses a sense of the Christmas season in Kyoto. Therefore we can enjoy walking down paths filled with a Japanese atmosphere.

Rurikei Hot Spring Illumination

Ruri Kei illumination

Ruri Kei illumination


The Rurikei Hot Spring illumination is called Illumiere. This term is a combination of ‘illumination’ in English and ‘limiere’ in French, which means ‘light’. They want to give peace and hope to people all over the world from Kyoto through this illumination. It has been held since 2012, from October 29th to April 9th after sunset to 21:30. However it costs a small fee of \1,000 per person. More than 100 thousand LDE bulbs are used, and it is very beautiful.

Joyo City Illumination

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Joyo City illumination

The Joyo City illumination is called TWINKLE JOYO and was started in 2002. This event is held from 17:30 to 21:30 in every year. It was originally held at a large park, but the illumination expanded to the city community center and shopping arcade, a sign of its growing progress. This year is the 15th anniversary, and the number of the bulbs is about 700,000. This display gathers illumination design ideas from various groups and companies. Volunteers decorate the illumination. During the display, a variety of events are held, such as the sale of special local products.

In conclusion, Kyoto has a lot of nice illumination spots, not only these illumination written in this article. However, most of these events in this season have been finished yet. If you have a chance to go to illumination next season, we recommend you go there with your someone special.

Getting There

Gojo Street Illumination

This illumination is located around Kasuga Gojo. Kasuga Street is the west of Kyoto station and Gojo Street is north of Kyoto station. If you are in Kyoto station, first you should take the JR Sagano Sanin Line (#33) and get off at the Tambaguchi station. It costs \140. Then you should take a bus (#32, #43 or #75) and get off at the Nishi-oji- Gojo bus stop. It costs \230. It takes about 10 minutes from Kyoto station to the bus stop.

Arashiyama Illumination

Take the JR Sagano Sanin Line (#33) to Saga Arashiyama station. It takes about 15 minutes and it costs \240. If you are near the Randen station, take the train to Arashiyama, which is the last station on the line.

Rurikei Hot Spring Illumination

Rurikei is in Nantan City, which is in the northwest of Kyoto Prefecture. It is quite far from Kyoto City. If you’d like to go to there, you should use a car. It takes more than 1 hour to get there from the city.

Joyo City Illumination

Take the JR Nara Line to Joyo station. It takes about 30 minutes and it costs \360. From there you should take the private bus – called Joyo SanSan Bus Primein – which takes about 10 minutes.

Reference

(1) http://weathernews.jp/s/topics/201611/250075/

https://sp.jorudan.co.jp/illumi/kyoto.html

Kyo-yuzen

by Mayumi Otsuka, Mai Takezawa, and Kanako Wakamatsu

You can see Kimono (old style Japanese clothes) all over Japan, but especially in Kyoto. Kimonos have many different patterns and colors, but do you know how many of them are actually designed? Well, the designs on kimonos are often achieved by dyeing, using a method known as Kyo-yuzen. Here, we would like to introduce some aspects of this unique dyeing method.

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Kimono

1. History of Japanese dyeing methods

2. What is Kyo-yuzen?

3. How to dye by using Kyo-yuzen

4. Kyo-yuzen in foreign countries

5. Actual experience of Kyo-yuzen

History of Japanese dyeing methods

There have been a lot of dyeing methods used in Japan over the years, and most of these were developed from Chinese dyeing types. These were introduced to Japan several thousand years ago, and taught by people from China or Korea, they formed the basis of Japanese dyeing tradition. Before this people dyed clothes very simply by applying different types of grass, flowers or even mud. In the Asuka era, in the middle of the 6th century, there was a system developed that divided people by the color of the clothes they wore. This was to distinguish between class and status, and required greater use of color in fabrics and design. In addition, in the Nara era, in the 8th century, international trade was increased, which meant further diversification in dyeing methods were introduced and spread all over Japan, with each area developing its own style. One of the most famous of these was Kyo-yuzen, a dyeing method created in Kyoto that became hugely popular. Next, we would like to introduce this unique and beautiful, traditional Japanese item.

What is Kyo-yuzen?

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Kyo-yuzen

Kyo-yuzen is one of the dyeing methods developed in Kyoto during the Edo era of the mid to late 17th century. At that time, there was an artist in Kyoto by the name of Miyazaki Yuzensai, who had built a reputation for the exquisitely drawn folding fans he produced.  Due to this, his patrons soon began to encourage him to apply his artistic skills to designs for kimono, too, which he did.  Following this, his name quickly came to be associated with top class kimono design in Kyoto, hence the name that was given to this particular dyeing style, Kyo-yuzen.

There are some interesting features unique to Kyo-yuzen that need to be noted.  First, it is possible to apply any kind of design you want, just like drawing a picture.  Second, there are many colors and hues used in the production of Kyo-yuzen pieces.  Third, a technique using elements of glutinous rice is used to guard against colors mixing or merging together.  Finally, Kyo-yuzen is done by combining more than one dyeing method, and requires several steps to achieve a final result.  Through this, Kyo-yuzen is quite superior to other dyeing methods and has become very popular all over the world.

Kyo-yuzen in foreign countries

As we said before, Kyo-yuzen is very famous globally.  For example, some events involving Japanese culture have been held recently in Paris, and there are sales booths for Kyo-yuzen products set up there.  At the booths, stainless steel mugs that are made in cooperation between Japanese Kyo-yuzen craftpersons and craftpersons in Paris are sold, and these are also available in Eigamura, a very famous sightseeing spot in Kyoto. Selling a large number of these mugs means expanding the exposure to traditional crafts of Kyoto to people in foreign countries

How to dye by using Kyo-yuzen

There are two main types of dyeing method used for Kyo-yuzen. One of these is hand painting, and the other is using stencils. First, we will explain the hand painting method:

  1. Think of the design you want for the cloth and make a design pattern  
  2. Trace the design onto the cloth
  3. Apply the special glue ② to prevent the colors from mixing with each other (this is called Itomenorioki)
  4. Apply the colors to the cloth
  5. Steam the cloth
  6. Wash the cloth
  7. Steam the cloth again and stretch out the wrinkles
  8. Using a stencil, draw the design onto special Japanese paper and cut out the pattern to make the stencil
  9. Paste the cloth onto a wooden board that is called “Yuzen-Ita”
  10. Put ① onto ② and dye
  11. Same as ⑤~⑦ of hand painting method

Actual experience of Kyo-yuzen

In Kyoto, visitors can actually experience Kyo-yuzen at some special studios.  Participants can experience dyeing cloth items like handkerchiefs, wrapping cloths, and so on.  One session is usually about one and a half hours long, and costs between 1,500 yen and 2,500 yen. Therefore, you can experience a traditional craft of Kyoto easily, and after the lesson, you can take the Kyo-yuzen item that you made with your own hands home with you.

Japanese dyeing methods have continued to develop over the centuries, and Kyo-yuzen especially. This method was created by combining a lot of different dyeing methods, which have been improved upon over time, and have become famous all over the world.  You can buy Kyo-yuzen items in many places in Kyoto, and you can also make them by yourself.  Why not give it a try!  

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Kyo-yuzen studio

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Kyo-yuzen items

One of the studios where you can experience Kyo-yuzen is “Marumasu-Nishimuraya” in Kyoto city.

Here’s their website:   http://www.marumasu-nishimuraya.co.jp/

You can reserve an experience time and get the access details there.

Kyoto City Subway – Karasuma Line

by Yumika Fujii and Erica Wada

 

Kyoto StationJapan has a lot of public transportation, for example, Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, has an amazing fifteen subway lines. You can transfer everywhere by those subway lines, but it is very complicated even for Japanese tourists. However, there are only two lines in the Kyoto City Subway system: The Karasuma line and the Tozai line. If you read this article and master the Kyoto City Subway system, you can enjoy Kyoto with more ease and comfort of movement. Here we would like to introduce to you some of the main points and interesting features of this very important part of the Kyoto travel network.

 

Karasuma LineThe Karasuma Line

The Karasuma line was the first subway line in Kyoto City when, in 1981, the line connecting Kitaoji station to Kyoto station started. The extent of the line grew longer and longer until it reached its present length in 1997. The railway runs under Karasuma Street, north to south, between Kokusaikaikan station and Takeda station. In the beginning, the Karasuma line trains consisted of only four cars, but now they consist of six cars, following the connection to Takeda Station. There are actually fifteen stations now, numbered K1 to K15, and all the stations are located in Kyoto City, with the express and regular trains all stopping at every station.

Imadegawa Station

Imadegawa StationImadegawa Station is located in Kamigyo ward, Kyoto city, and the station number is K6. Imadegawa Station was opened in 1981 which was at the same time the line first began operations. This station is very close to the Kyoto Imperial Palace (Gosho), which is one of the most famous traditional places in Kyoto. Imadegawa station is really only close to the Gosho or Tohoganji Temple, therefore if tourists want to go to the other popular places, they would really need to use the Tozai subway line, Kyoto city buses, or Kyoto bus. However, compared to the Tozai line, the Karasuma Line is more convenient for schools and businesses.

 

Connecting to Universities in Kyoto

In the north of the city especially, the Karasuma line is a key transport link to a number of large universities. For example, Kyoto Seika University and Kyoto Sangyo University both run shuttle buses from Kokusaikaikan station; Kyoto Kougei Seni University is near Matsugasaki station; Kyoto Notre Dame University is near Kitayama station; Otani University is close to Kitaoji station; the Imadegawa campus of Doshisha University and Doshisha Womens’ University is close to Imadegawa station; the Kyoto campus of HeianWomens’ University is close by Marutamachi station; the Murasakino campus of Bukkyo University is accessible from Kitaoji station and the Shijo center is near Shijo station. As you can see, many universities have a station on the Karasuma subway line nearby, so this is one of the most important transportation methods for students in Kyoto to commute every day.

 

Kitaoji Bus Terminal

This is a big bus station hub located on the basement level of Kitaoji subway station and a large department store called Vivre. The buses that leave here head to Kyoto Sangyo University, Kamigamo Shrine, Kinkakuji temple, Shugakuin, and many other tourist spots all across the city. This makes the subway and the bus station a major transport hub for Kyoto City.

Karasuma Oike Station

Karasumaoike StationKarasuma Oike station used to be just another station until the Tozai Subway line was established, and the area near Karasuma Oike station was not well developed either. However, after the Tozai line started operations, Karasuma Oike station became one of the major stations to link the Tozai and Karasuma lines. This meant that the surrounding area also gradually began to develop, and is now a thriving business and commercial district in the city.

 

Kotochika Karasuma Oikestarbucks coffee

Kotochika is a commercial facility inside the subway stations at Yamashina, Kyoto, Shijo and Karasuma Oike, with Kotochika Karasuma Oike established in 2011. The shops and services you can find here are Daily Yamazaki (which is a convenience store with good bread), Kokokarafain (Drugstore), Ohgaki Shoten (Bookstore), Shizuya (Bakery), Raffine (massage and relaxation space), and Starbucks coffee. There are many people who drink coffee, or buy some when they get on the train or before going to their company.  People also want to buy their lunch before going somewhere, or read a book while they are riding on the train. In general, everyone needs something to do to kill time while riding the trains.  This facility is particularly useful for them, as they can buy all they need before boarding or heading out to work or school locally.

 

Tickets

There are many kinds of tickets available for the subway. A book of 11 tickets, from 1 city ward (210yen) to 5 city wards (350yen), can be bought for the price of 10 tickets because of bulk discount pricing. Daytime discount coupon ticket books have 12 tickets but you can only use them on the subway from 10am to 4pm. However, you can buy 12 tickets for the same price as 10 tickets if you purchase this way. There are also other types of transfer tickets that let you change to the other subway line as well as buses: Trafika Kyo card, Surutto KANSAI Miyako card, a booking card for exclusive buses, and so on, are also available.

In conclusion, Kyoto subway has two lines, the Tozai line and the Karasuma line. Both are used by a lot of tourists and a lot of citizens in Kyoto. Most stations on the Karasuma subway line are located near a university in Kyoto, so this line is in comparatively high demand by students living in Kyoto, or from other prefectures. In addition, there are many convenient ticket options that allow tourists to access the subway line during the day. Please use them to go to tourist spots, and enjoy a wonderful relaxing time in Kyoto.