The best shops we selectted in Uji City

October 3, 2017

By Yu Sakamoto, Tashi Nisikawa and Kazu Shibao

There are many sightseeing spots in Kyoto, such as Amanohashidate, Uji, Fushimi Inari Shrine, etc. There are so many wonderful sightseeing places that the list of examples is endless. This is a wonderful thing about Kyoto, but some people are confused by too many sightseeing spots. If you could stay longer, you would go to various places, but not everyone can stay for a long time. I would like many people to visit so many places and have lots of good experiences. Therefore, I’d like to tell you how to enjoy sightseeing efficiently even if you stay a short while. This guidance is for Uji, which is also popular with local people. Uji has plenty of places to see the sights. I will introduce a sightseeing itinerary that does not waste time.

First of all, we will introduce the history of Uji city. Uji city is located around the beautiful, clean Uji River, and is graced with many temples and shrines, which is indicative of Uji city’s long history and rich culture. In Uji city there are two UNESCO World Heritage sites. Ujigami Shrine and Byodoin Temple were registered in December 1994. In this area. From the15th century to the 16th century, Uji city was a place of a lot of fighting where various generals fought to control Japan. Since that time, Uji city has spent many peaceful years and Uji city has become a cultural center of Japan. Uji city has many historical sights and famous cultural specialties. Also, Uji Green Tea is the best and most famous Japanese Tea. We will show you some great tea shops in this article, and please enjoy it in traditional tea houses.

At first, I recommend you to take a train as the easiest way to go to Uji. Because most of the spots of Uji that can be enjoyed are in front of the station, if you get to the station you just have fun! However, there are two Uji stations, so some people are confused. One is JR line. The other is the Keihan line. Either way you get off. Therefore, the train to ride depends on where you are. When coming from Kyoto if you are near Kyoto Station, please use JR line. If you are near Kawaramachi please use the Keihan line. Likewise, if you are coming from Osaka, you can take JR or the Keihan line.

  • When you are near Kyoto station
  1. First of all, please buy a ticket to Uji station. (240 yen for one way)
  2. Please look for the time table board for the train in the direction to Nara
  3. Once you get on the train you do not need to change trains and you will arrive at Uji station in about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • When you are near Kawaramachi
  1. First of all, please buy a ticket to Uji Station at Gion Shijo Station. (310 yen for one way)
  2. Please get down to the platform, number 2 and get on the limited express train bound for Yodoyabashi.
  3. From there, we get off after 3 stops (about 10 minutes) in Chushojima and transfer.
  4. Please go to the platform number 3 in Chushojima and get on the Keihan Uji Line and get off after 7 stops (15 minutes) in Uji.

In Uji city, there are a lot of stores. So, when you go there, you can easily become confused. Therefore, we have put together a guide to the best shops in Uji city. When you come out of the Kyohan station, you can see the bridge front of the station. You need to cross the bridge, then you can see Torii gate. Here is the start point on this guide in our article. In this point, there have two ways. Please go left side. Do not go to the Torii gate way.

 

This way.

Torii gate. Not this way.

 

 

Kyo-Food: Uji Kawa Ryokan.

 

At the very beginning, when you first enter the left side way, you can see the shop on your left. In this shop, you can enjoy the river view from the room and you can eat Kyo-food. This shop is a Ryokan (Japanese traditional style hotel), so you can stay there if you like. If you want to eat some native Kyo- food, we suggest you visit this shop.

 

 

 

Obanzai buffet: Rokujyoan.

 

Just nearby Uji Kawa Ryokan, you can find you can find an obanzai store named Rokujyoan. In this shop, you can eat obanzai. Obanzai is the word for home cooking in Kyoto dialect. You can eat different kinds of obazai food, and this shop is buffet style so you can eat many foods. This is a great place to have a lunch time. If you want to eat obanzai, we suggest you visit this shop.

 

 

 

Green Tea Takoyaki and Soft Cream Shop: Tako Q.

 

After Rokujyoan, walk straight to about 1 minute. You can see the shop. In this shop, you can have green tea, takoyaki and soft cream. Green tea takoyaki is a rare food in Japan. If you visit Uji city, you should try to eat green tea takoyaki. It will become a great memory.

 

 

 

Old Green Tea Shop: Akamon-chaya.

 

Have you ever drunk green tea beer before? At the Akamon-chaya, you can have a green tea beer. After Tako Q, walk straight to about 4 minutes. After that, you can see three ways. You need to go left side. Then you can see the shop. In this shop, you can also experience how to make green tea. This shop has an old history. This shop using a great high level green tea, so the price is little expensive. However, you can feel Japanese traditional in this shop. We will recommend drinking green tea beer. It is so sweet and you can feel green tea smells in your mouth after drinking this beer.

 

 

Byodoin Temple.

 

 

Walk straight to Uji bridge shopping street, you will see the entrance of Byodoin temple. This temple is opened at 8:30 a.m. and closed at 5:30 p.m., so do not go too late, otherwise you can’t go in.

Byodoin temple is a Buddhist temple which was built in the late Heian period, 794 to 1185. This temple is registered as a World Heritage site. Also, this temple is very famous for being on the reverse of the 10-yen coin, and the phoenix which you can find behind is on the 10000 yen-note.

In the area of Byodoin temple, there is a huge pond around the temple. There are many carp so you can feel Japan very much. Furthermore, there is a museum named Hosyokan in which you can see the history of Byodoin temple. The entrance fee is 600 yen for adults, 400 yen for junior high school students, 300 yen for elementary school students. In addition, if you would like to go inside of Byodoin temple, you need to pay 300 yen more. You might think it’s little bit expensive, but I’m for sure it’s worth it.

 

Green tea restaurant: Itokyuemon.

Walk along Uji river, you can see the restaurant named Itokyuemon just nearby Keihan Uji station. This restaurant is very famous for maccha, and at this restaurant we ate maccha soba, maccha cheese tart with hoji tea jelly and maccha parfait. You can smell maccha very much from each meal but especially Maccha soba. You think these two don’t match well but once you eat this soba you will change your opinion. Also, the maccha plus cheese tart is quite unique combination as well. Taste of maccha is very rich and creamy. Apparently, a famous TV show reported this maccha cheese tart. Furthermore, this maccha parfait is one of the best maccha parfaits I’ve ever had. The price is 680 yen, so it’s very reasonable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you find any interesting store?? This is our best way to experience Uji. In addition, there are a lot of other interesting stores or spots in Uji. It’s maybe good idea that have a look around while referring our article. Anyway, enjoy your Kyoto trip!

Make a Wish on Ema

by Nanae Uchida and Yu Nakabayashi

Kasuga

Ema (絵馬) is a wooden plaque with picture or painting on the surface. People write their wishes on its backside and hang it up at a special place at the shrine. It’s believed that gods will receive their wishes and grant their prayers. Ema can be found in most shrines in Japan, as it is a Shinto (one of the Japanese religions) custom. Although people are used to making a wish in writing on ema, especially for success in their entrance examinations, there is no rule when or what kind of wish to write. Each shrine has its own design of the ema it offers visitors, some of them quite unique.

Custom

with instruction

Ema with Instructions

How ema will be dealt with depends on each shrine. After visitors hang their ema with their wish written on it, it is usually kept hanging for while and when time comes, the ema are burned in a ritual. As Ema are burned, the smoke reaches the realm of the gods so that the gods can know the wish. The ritual is sometimes different with various meanings according to the particular shrine.

How to Write a Wish

You can write only one wish on one Ema. You should write your wish on its backside with your name and address (just your country and city is OK) at the bottom. Then you should hang it up at a specific place called emakakesyo (絵馬掛所). If your wish comes true, you should visit the shrine and thank the gods for their generosity.

History

The term ‘ema’ consists of two kanji: 絵 which means ‘picture’ and 馬 which means ‘horse’. Traditionally, in Shinto, horses were believed to be the vehicles of the gods. People used to donate real horses to the shrines when they prayed for more serious wishes so that gods would listen more carefully to their prayers. However horses were so expensive that many people couldn’t afford to buy them. Also, it was hard for the caretakers of the shrine to deal with the horses that were donated. For these reasons, people started using a wooden plate or figure in the shape of a horse instead of a real horse. Thus, ema were born.

How Ema Have Changed

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Because ema originally came from real horses, ema used to have a picture of horse on their surface in the Nara period (710-794). Since that time, however, more animals have been displayed on ema since the Muromachi period (1336-1573), like foxes, snakes, birds, cows and so on. They also seem to serve as messengers to the gods.

Over time, the size of ema has changed, too. Ema of the past used to be much bigger than the ema of today. Also, in the past, paintings were done by artists on very large ema, and they were displayed at halls at the shrine. But these days, people get ema individually and make their wishes on these small wooden plaques more conveniently.

Modern Ema

As mentioned above, ema used to be a pentagon-shaped wooden plaque with a picture of horse in the past, but today, you can see ema with all kinds of different pictures, shapes, and designs. For example, you can get ema in the shape of pink heart at Kasuga Grand Shrine, which is the most celebrated shrine in Nara and where the god of marriage is enshrined. Many people go there to write their hopes and dreams about their relationships and marriages. In a similar way, the color, shape, size, and design of ema varies from shrine to shrine throughout Japan, and it is often related to which type of god is enshrined.

Ema at Several Shrines

As you probably know, there are lots of shrines and temples in Kyoto, so you can get ema just about anywhere. For example, the two shrines below are very famous, in convenient locations, and both have ema of unique shapes and designs.

Yasaka Shrine

This shrine is famous for the god of matchmaking. So, the ema at this shrine are heart-shaped with Japanese character en (縁), which means connection, fate, or chance. Within the grounds of Yasaka shrine, there are a several different shrine buildings and each one of has different gods and different meanings, where visitors can pray for different things. So, you can also find the standard type of ema there, too. You can get heart-shaped ema at Okuninushi-sha, a prayer building that is dedicated to the god of matchmaking located southwest of main shrine building for ¥500.

Access

It’s a 1-minute walk west from the Gion bus stop (City Bus #206)

It’s an 5-minute walk west from Gion-shijo Station on Keihan Main Line

It’s an 8-minute walk west from Kawaramachi Station on Hankyu Kyoto Line

Fushimi Inari Taisha

fox-shaped ema

fox-shaped ema

This shrine is very famous. Every day lots of people visit this shrine, not only tourists but also local residents. It is famous for good economic fortune, so people who run businesses often go there to pray for success.

Ema at this shrine are fox-shaped because foxes are said to be messengers of Inari Okami, god of agriculture. These fox-shaped ema can be found at Okusha Hohaisho, a prayer building located in the Myobu-dani valley to the east of the main shrine building, at the end of the famous Senbon Torii (Thousand Gateways).

The fox-shaped ema are sold for 500 yen, and there is a table, some pens, and some instructions on how to write your wish. It is quite easy to do for visitors.

Access

Take Kyoto City Bus #5 to the Inari Taisha-Mae stop, and walk about 7 minutes to east

The shrine is right next to Inari Station on the JR Nara Line.

If you take the Keihan Line, get off at Fushimi-inari Station and walk about 7 minutes to east.

Hatsumoude – A Japanese New Year Tradition

by Miyabi Saeki, Shiho Tojo, Sakina Nishitsuji

Hatsumode is a Japanese tradition of visiting a shrine or temple for the first time at the start of a new year. Hatsumode is a very important custom for Japanese people because it gives them a chance to pray for happiness in the upcoming year with their family members. People pray for the sake of their health, studies, pregnancies, traffic safety, love, and various other things. For this reason, many people go to the shrine on New Years Day, so it is always very crowded at that time. At larger, more popular shrines, vendors of different types also put up stands on the shrine grounds or even outside the shrine. The whole atmosphere is like that of a festival.

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History of Hatsumode

Originally hatsumode was called toshikomori, and was a time for people to stay in their houses from the night of December 31st to morning of January 1st. This custom was meant to give people happiness by giving them a chance to meet Toshikamisama, or the God of the New Year. Toshikomori changed to hatsumode about 100 years ago, during the middle of the Meiji period. Many years ago, there was little in the way of transportation, so people could not so easily get to a shrine. These days, however, trains run almost non-stop, so people can easily get to the shrine and pray for happiness.

Hatsumode Customs

There are three main customs related to hatsumode that all Japanese people carry out during their New Years visit to the shrine: washing hands, praying to the gods, and drawing a fortune slip.

Washing Hands

When praying for good fortune, people follow a number of steps in order. The very first things people do is wash their hands. This is important because they need to enter the shrine symbolically clean. Here is how to do it:

1. Grab the ladle with your right hand and scoop water out of the basin with it;
2. Use this water to rinse your left hand;
3. Repeat the above steps with the opposite hands;
4. Grasp the ladle with your right hand again and pour the water into your left hand to rinse the mouth;
5. Still holding the ladle in the right hand, scoop water to rinse the left hand again, leaving some water in the ladle;
6. Rinse the ladle using the excess water. To do this, tilt the ladle upwards until the water pours out from the scoop and over the shaft.

Praying to the Gods

After people wash their hands, they walk to the main hall. That is where the saisenbako is, a large wooden box. In front of the saisenbako is a large bell with a rope hanging from it. Everyone stands in front of the saisenbako. Then, they pray to the gods for good luck. The way to pray is as follows:

1. Grab the rope and ring the bell. This is to wake up the god of the shrine.
2. Toss a coin into the saisenbako. Five yen coins are commonly used for this.
3. Bow to the shrine twice.
4. Clap hands twice in front of the saisenbako.
5. Pray for wishes.
6. Bow once, and then walk away from the saisenbako.

Omikuji – The Fortune Slip

In addition to praying to the gods, visitors also draw a fortune slip, called omikuji. These can be purchased at the shrine, often for around one hundred yen. Each omikuji represents different levels of luck for the year: very good luck, good luck, OK luck, bad luck, extremely bad luck and so on. Omikuji also tells you your fortune in specific areas of your life, such as health, romance, money, and education. After reading the fortune, most people hold onto it.

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Famous Hatsumode Locales

There are many shrines for hatsumode in Kyoto. Each one has a unique series of gods and spirits representing different energies.

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

Located in Kamigyouku, Kitano-Tenmangu shrine is famous for the god of studies. Therefore, many students go there to pray. However, not everyone prays for their studies; some people go there to pray for their good health or other purposes.

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Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is one of the most famous shrines in Japan, and is in Fushimiku. This shrine is dedicated to the god of business, so if you are one of the many businesspeople visiting Japan, we recommend that you go there. Fushimi Inari Shrine has some famous structures. There are the hundreds of torii, or tall red gates, to walk through, each donated by a different Japanese business. The building made from hinoki, or Japanese cypress trees, is the main shrine and is an important cultural property. It was refurbished in 1499. Also, there is a tower gate painted in red, which was made by the contribution of Hideyoshi Toyotomi in 1589. Hideyoshi Toyotomi was a famous Japanese politician who helped to unify Japan during the Sengoku period.

There are two events at Fushimi Inari Shrine for New Year’s Holiday on December 31st and January 1st. December 31st is when the Oharae ceremony is held. It is an event that cleanses people of the sins they committed in the second half of the year, to try to enable them to spend the New Year without impurity. Next is the Saitan festival on January 1st. At the event, people pray for safety and prosperity from the god of Inari Shrine.

Heian-jingu Shrine

Heian Jingu is probably the most famous and iconic shrine of Kyoto. It is in Sakyouku. It was built to memorialize the peaceful removal of the Japan’s capital of 1100 years. Kyoto was laid wasted by war at end of Edo period. So this shrine was built by enthusiasm of Kyoto’s citizens. It is one of the main locations of the famous Jidai Matsuri, which is held in October each year. There is also a Japanese garden and a shrine garden around the main shrine. The total area of the gardens is about 30,000 square meters. Cherry blossoms and irises bloom there during certain times of the year.

Heian Jingu is dedicated to the emperors Kanmu and Koumei. Praying there is supposed to improve your fortune. During hatsumode, many people pray for business prosperity, good luck, sending away evil spirits, matchmaking, and the success in school. New Year’s ceremony is held on January 1st, at 6 o’clock.

Shimogamo Jinja Shrine

This shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto, and also in Sakyouku. It contains two shrines within: the East and West shrines. Each shrine has its own separate god, the two of them being husband and wife. Shimogamo Jinja is also known for its magnificent cherry blossoms, autumn leaves, and its fresh greenery. The famous Aoi Matsuri festival is held at Shimogamo Jinja each year on May 15th. At Hatsumode, many people come to pray at this shrine for good luck in marriage and having kids.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many kinds of shrines in Kyoto. So before you go to Hatsumode, you should choose which shrine is suitable for you. From the last day of the year to the second day of January, Kyoto city buses and the subway remain in business during the night at no additional fee. You can go to Hatsumode as soon as the New Year begins, but at that time the shrines are always very crowded every year. If you don’t want to go when it is crowded, you should try going to a shrine from 3 a.m to 5 a.m., when there are fewer people.

Enjoy your New Year’s in Kyoto.

Kyoto Surprising Fact

by  Sakamoto Keisuke, Sumikawa Tukasa, and Kinjyou Tetuya

Do you know Five-Story Pagoda? We call that building Goju-no-to . It seems like Most people misunderstand about Goju-no-to. Most people think that there is only one Goju-no-to. In fact, Kyoto have a lot of Goju-no-to. we are going to introduce various Five-Story Pagoda.

Five-story pagoda is several types. Ho-ryu-ji, Daigoji and Rurikoji are famous tower in japan. They are a national treasure. Daigoji goju-no-to is in Kyoto. It was completed in 951 years. When the war which is called ONIN WAR break out, Daigoji was burn out, but  five-story pagpda  rebulded later. Daigoji is the oldest bulding in Kyoto .

daigoji3 DAIGOJI TEMPLE

admission fee

Admission fee for adults is 600 yen. Junior and senior high school students 300 yen. But  kids under elementary school age is free. Daigoji goju-no-to is open from 9 am to 5 pm.

Access

Walk 10 minutes walk from digo station on the Tozai subway line.

 

Toji Temple

The tower of toji is the most highest tower in japan. Thoji have about 55 meters high . This tower repeated rebuilding. So, current tower is the fifth build in 1644. The tower was build in 883 at the first time.

Admission fee

Adults: 500 yen
High School Students: 400 yen
Junior High/Elementary School Students: 300 yen

Access

Access: 10-minute walk from To-ji Station on the Kintetsu Railway, City Bus Stop To-ji-higashimon-mae, 15-minute walk from JR Kyoto Station Hachijo-guchi exit

ninnaji6 NINNAJI TEMPLE

The most popular tower in Kyoto is the tower of ninnaji. Because, this tower was used by many movies and historical drama frequently. and It is registered as a world heritage. This have 32,7meters high and was build in 1637.

Admission fee

Adults: 500 yen, Junior High and Elementary School Students: 300 yen

Access

Access: 15-minute walk from JR Hanazono Station on the JR Sagano Line
2-minute walk from Omuro-Ninnaji Station on the Randen Kitano Line
City Bus Stop Omuro-Ninnaji

yasakanotou9 YASAKA-NO-TO

There is a Goju-no-t0 called Yasaka-no-to near Kiyomizu temple. We hardly see people who enter the precincts. It seems that people work in the temple is frequently absent. This building was made by Shotoku prince in 589. Yasaka-no-to have been reconstructed again and again. This building has 46 meters.

Admission fee

Every one 400yen

Access

10 minutes Walk from Keihan gion shijyou.

There are many World heritage in Kyoto.  Tourists will be satisfied with Kyoto . you Should visit this fantastic place at least once.

Shokoku-ji

Shokoku-ji

Yuri Kamakura, Akane Kaneta

20150505175027

Gate

 Shokoku-ji

Temple is one of the great Zen temples in Kyoto. It was founded in the Muromachi period by Yoshimitsu Ashikaga, who was a shogun at that time. Although, Shokoku-ji was destroyed by fire and rebuilt again and again, it has the oldest Zen lecture hall (hatto), originally built  in 1605 and it is an important cultural asset. It has a large dragon painted on its ceiling.There is a wooden sculpture of its founder, Muso Soseki, in the Founder’s Hall (kaisando), which is only open at special times in the spring and fall. ​Also ​the hojo, the abbot’s​ living quarters in a Buddhist temple, a sutra library and Benzaiten shrine are all tangible cultural assets of Kyoto city​.

The ​Temple’s ​Origin


“Shokoku-ji” means “helping the country” or “governing the country.​” This terminology original ​comes from China. In Japan, the Minister of the Left (in medieval and pre-modern Japan) was called “Shokoku.​” Yoshimitsu Ashikaga was the Minister of the Left, so his temple was named “Shokoku-ji.” In China, there are “Taishokoku-ji” which was a temple and the beginning Gozen or “Five Mountains” ​system. The Gozen system​ designated the top five Zen temples in Kyoto.

 

Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji

“Kinkaku-ji” and “Ginkaku-ji” are branch temple​s​ of Shokoku-ji. Kinkaku-ji was founded by Yoshimitsu Ashikaga. Later, Ginkaku-ji was founded by Yoshimasa Ashikaga.

 

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Hatto

Activities

Shokoku-ji ​has a wide variety of activities. Zazenkai or ​Zen meditation meetings​ are held for lay people twice a month. Since 1999, the Enlightenment Activity Committee was set up to explore proper measures for religious outlook for several problems in a modern society. ​They have regular study and training and publisha transcripts​ of lectures ​they hold in cooperation with teachers of various fields.

Jotenkaku Museum

This museum is located in the temple grounds and contains many treasures. It has a deep relationship with the tea master Sen​-​no-​Rikyu, so its collection of items related to the tea ceremony is substantial.  On permanent exhibition are many important cultural properties, such a bokuseki or ink painting and the tea implements, etc. Now, this museum has five national treasure and many excellent cultural properties include 143 important cultural properties.

Admission fees

Adult 800円
65years of age older・College students:600円
Junior and senior high school students:300円
Primary school children:200円

Open: 10:00~17:00

 

 Zen meditation

Zen meditation is a practice of Zen Buddhism; it  is a means to wake up. People want to live like Buddha, sit and hope that get the enlightenment. Since it’s difficult to continue alone  the temple holds zen meditation meetings. It’s encouraging if there are others doing meditation with you.

 

Opening day

Every month second fourth Sunday

But there are flying off, be careful.

→Holding time

AM9:00~11:00

Zen meditation 9:00 ~ 10:30

Lay sermon 10:30 ~ 11:00

Okokorozashiosame  ¥100

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☆Access☆

〒602-0898

Kyotoshi-kamigyouku-imadegawadori-karasuma-higashiiru
TEL:075-231-0301

「Imadegawa」 near the subway station

「Doshisyamae」name of nearest city busstop

Tanden-an and Hiko-jinja Shrine

by Ayano Seguchi and Emiri Masunaga

Tanden-an: unique temple in Kyoto

Tanden-an

Entrance to Tanden-an

There are many famous temples in Kyoto because Kyoto was an old capital of Japan. Amongst those, there is an interesting and unique temple called Tanden-an. Tanden-an is located in Yawata City, in the south part of Kyoto Prefecture.

It was built in the early Edo period (from 1603 to 1868). It is a temple of the Myoshin-ji School of the Rinzai Sect, one of the five Zen sects of China (Rinzai, Igyo, Soto, Unmon and Hogen) and one of the five Zen sects of Japan (Nihon Daruma, Rinzai, Soto, Obaku and Fuke). So, this is an old temple with a long history.

Your visit to Tanden-an

When you visit Tanden-an, you can see Mido Hall as soon as you pass through the Sannmon Gate, which is the main entrance of any Buddhist temple. Daikokudo hall is an enshrinement hall of a Buddha and Daikoku is an object of worship. Daikokudo hall is made of wood and they don’t know when it was constructed. Daikoku is known as Daikokusama, the god presiding over food and wealth, and was counted one of the seven Shichifukujin.

Shichifukujin: Seven gods of Japan

Shichi means seven in English and fukujin means the god of wealth in English. Shichifukujin bring people good luck. The seven shichifukujin are Ebisu, Daikoku, Vaisravana, Benzaiten, Fukurokuju, Jurōjin, and Hotei. They are all gods of good luck. Ebisu is the god of wealth. Daikoku is the god presiding over food and wealth. Vaisravana is the guardian god of Buddhism. Benzaiten is the goddess of music, eloquence, also wealth and water. Fukurokuju is the tall-headed god of happiness, wealth, and long life. Jurōjin is the god of longevity. And Hotei is the god with a potbelly. You should visit because Daikoku brings you good luck.

Another name of Tanden-an: Rakugaki Temple

Tanden-an is also called Rakugaki Temple. This is because people who visit there write their aspirations on the white wall of the Daikokudo hall in which Daikoku is enshrined. Rakugaki means that to write letters or draw pictures freely, in other words: graffiti. Whoever visits there can write their wishes on the wall, just like writing graffiti.

There is a unique rule that you have to write your most important wish on the white wall. In addition, there is another rule that after you write your wish, you must throw 300 yen into an offertory box. Many visitors write their wishes on the entire surface of the white wall. Because of this, the white wall has become black. For this reason, the wall is restored to a white wall again on New Year’s Eve every year. The chief priest of a Buddhist temple renews it on that day because New Year’s Eve is the last day of the year.

You should visit Tanden-an and write your most important wish on the white wall. Maybe it will come true!

Hiko-jinja Shrine

This is the symbol of the Hiko-jinja

Hiko-jinja

After you visit Tanden-an, we recommend that you visit Hiko-jinja Shrine, which is also located nearby in Yawata City.

In 1915, Hiko-jinja Shrine was built by Chuhachi Ninomiya, who first studied the principles of air flight in Japan. Born in 1866, Ninomiya succeeded in an early air trial with a model plane containing an engine in 1891, but he stopped developing the airplane when he found out that the Wright brothers successfully had made a two-person airplane and had flown in it. Hiko-jinja Shrine was built in dedication to both the deity, Nigihayahi, and to plane crash victims.

Nigihaya no mikoto: The main enshrined deity

The main enshrined deity in Hiko-jinja is Nigihayahi, who is also called Nigihaya no mikoto. Nigihaya no mikoto is a child of Tenjin, the god of heaven and earth. Because of Ninomiya’s death in 1935, Hiko-jinja Shrine was eliminated. This was because nobody succeeded in taking over custody of Hiko-jinja Shrine. However, Kenjiro Ninomiya, the second son of Chuhachi Ninomiya eventually rehabilitated Hiko-jinja Shrine and rebuilt the present main building to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Chuhachi’s discovery of the principles of flight.

In 1989, around the same time, a museum was built for people interested in flight principles or aircraft. A lot of materials about fighter aircraft are on display at the museum connected with the shrine. Some are model aircrafts that had been given to a Hiko-jinja Shrine as an offering, in addition to a lot of documents about fighter aircrafts and the life of Chuhachi Ninomiya.

People who visit Tanden-an should also make sure to visit Hiko-jinja Shrine because is it not so far away, especially those with an interest in aircraft or the history of flight.

Access to Tanden-an

Address
33 Kakiuchi, Yoshino, Yawata, Yawata-shi, Kyoto, Japan

Access
You go here on foot for ten minutes from Keihan Yawata station.
You go there by Keihan bus from Keihan Yawata station and walk for one minute.

Opening hours
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Phone
075-981-2307

Fees
Admission: 100 yen
Making a wish: 300 yen

See map of Tanden-an location

Access to Hiko-jinja

Address
44 Doi, Yawata, Yawata-shi, Kyoto, Japan

Access
You go here by Keihan train and walk for 4 minutes.

Phone
075-982-2329

Opening hours
Shrine is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hiko Jinja location on Google Maps.

Fukakusa

by Manami Otahara & Miki Sawai

Our travel dairy: Fukakusa’s loves story

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We visited Fukakusa to see Fushimi-inari shrine. It is very famous shrine, so people visited to there from around the world. People visit to see many Torii. Torii separates gods and humans. Torii looks like shrine gate made of wood, the color is bright red. Fushimi-inari shrine is the main shrine of all the inari shrines in Japan. Other Famous place is Fuji-no-mori shrine, it has to with Japanese emperor Tenno.   This shrine is famous Ajisai festival and the god is known for having luck in games, so people visit this shrine. When we visited this shrine, we saw may beautiful Ajisai. Ajisai is one of the flower in summer. Next place was main the temple for this trip. This temple is Gonjo-ji temple. Gonjo-ji temple is has to with our report.

Fukakusa’s love story

 

The place we visited is called Fukakusa. It is called Fukakusa because a long time ago, a person named Shosho-Fukakusa lived there. He loved Onono Komachi. She was most beautiful woman in Japan in Heian period. He loved her, but she didn’t love him, so she got an idea. The idea was very simple, he met her every night for 100 days. Her house and his house were far away. The distance was about 7 km, but he would like her to be his wife, so he met her every night. First day, second day, 97th day 98th day 99th day, he met her with peanuts. On the 100th night, she waited for him. However, didn’t come. That day he died because of heavy snow. The next day she found out that he died. She was very sad, so she was planted his nuts in her village. Later the nut grew and the tree is believed to be 1,000 years old.

Gonjo-ji temple

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Gonjo-ji temple is a very important place. This is where Fukakusa lived.   There is a pond and this pond is where he looked at himself. There is a big Buddha in this temple, and Fukakusa and Komachi are buried here. Her house was in Yamashina. Yamashina is a town on the border of Kyoto and Shiga, so her house and his house were far away. However when she heard that he died, she was very sad. Therefore when she died, she was buried in this temple.

Access

Fushimi-inari shrine

68 Fukakusa Yabunouchi-cho, Fushimi-ku Kyoto

Fuji-no-mori shrine

609 Fukakusatoriizakicho, Fushimi-ku Kyoto

Gonjo-ji

1038 nishimasuyacho, Fushimi-ku Kyoto

Koromode Shrine

by Chinami Aizawa

Kyoto has many temples and shrines. Kinkaku Temple, Ginkaku Temple, Yasaka Shrine and Shimogamo Shrine are all very big and famous. Many people, not only from Japan, but also from foreign countries, visit those places. However, when visiting Kyoto, it is also a good idea to try to get off the beaten path and see a smaller, local temple or shrine that most visitors never get to see. One such place is the Koromode Shrine, which is located in the Nishikyogoku region of Kyoto’s Ukyo Ward. It’s a small shrine surrounded by nature.

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Differences Between Temples and Shrines

Before anything else, do you know the difference between temples and shrines? There are several key differences. First, temples are religious buildings associated with Buddhism, which was brought to Japan from India and China and other S.E. Asian countries. Shrines, on the other hand, are buildings devoted to the gods of Shinto. Shinto is Japanese religion. Many Japanese people go to temples for worship, weddings, and New Years visits. They go to the shrine, however, to attend funerals and to take part in seasonal festivals. Also, temples have tombs, while shrines have iconic gateways at their entrances, also known as torii.

About the Koromode Shrine

The name of this shrine comes from the forest of Koromode. There are old and famous classical Japanese poems that refer to “the forest of Koromode,” such as the Pillow Book by Sei Shounagon. It says that the trees of Koromode forest are really beautiful in autumn, and you can enjoy the view of each season in the forest. Some say this forest was actually nearby the current site of the Koromode Shrine. However, others who study Kyoto history said the forest was near a different shrine, called the Matsunoo-taisha Shrine. So there are several views on the origin of the name.    

The deities enshrined within the Koromode Shrine are Tamayorihimenomikoto, who is the god of the wilds, and Hayamatonokami, who is the god of agriculture. Koromode Shrine is actually an outer precinct shrine of Matsunoo-taisha Shrine, a larger shrine located in Arashiyama. It is a really famous tourist spot for both Japanese and foreign visitors to Kyoto, so many people visit there every day. However, no tourists visit Koromode Shrine. This is because Koromode Shrine is actually a local shrine, serving the Kori area of Kyoto. So only people who live in Kori visit this shrine on a regular basis.

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How to Make an Offering to the God of the Shrine

When you visit a shrine, you might see many Japanese people making an offering to the god of the shrine by tossing money into an offertory box. Do you know why people do that? Actually, even some Japanese people don’t know exactly why. They think that you have to put money into the box to make your wishes come true. However, this is a misunderstanding. You have to put money in the box so that the god of the shrine will grant your wish.   There is a specific method of making an offering to the god of the shrine:

  1. Step in front of the Main Hall and make a slight bow once.
  2. Between you and the Main Hall is an offertory box. Put a coin in the offertory box and pull the rope. Then you will hear the sound of a bell.
  3. Make a low bow twice.
  4. Clap your hands twice.
  5. Make a low bow once.
  6. Make a slight bow once.The money you offered is used for maintenance and repairs of the shrine.

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Festivals at Koromode Shrine

There are several festivals at Koromode Shrine throughout the year. The first is on the Sunday just after April 20th. It is called Oide, which means ‘Welcome’. 21 days later, there is another festival called Okaeri, which means ‘Going Back’. During the interval between the Oide and Okaeri festivals, a portable shrine from the main Matsunoo-taisha Shrine is moved to the Koromode Shrine. At that time, the Koromode Shrine becomes an Otabijo (temporary shrine) of the Matsunoo-taisha Shrine. This is a very big festival for the Koromode Shrine. For this reason, many local people of all ages have a great time at the shrine.

Entrance Fees?

Good news: you don’t have to pay money to visit Koromode Shrine. It’s free. However, you should bring some coins if you want to pray properly. I recommend you put 5 yen in the offertory box at the beginning of your prayer. In Japanese, 5 yen is pronounced ‘goen’, which is also the same sound as the Japanese word for ‘fate’. That’s why many people put 5 yen in the offertory box. It is auspicious.

Visiting Hours

There don’t seem to be any set visiting hours. So, you can go to Koromode Shrine just about anytime. I recommend you go there in the evening. Because the shrine is located in a residential area, there are many houses, a park, a nursery school, and a supermarket near Koromode Shrine. The evening is the time when people return home from the day’s activities. If you go there in the evening, you can see the real Japanese lifestyle from the shrine, such as Japanese men arriving home from work in their suits, Japanese boys playing baseball in the park, and Japanese mothers riding a bike to go buy groceries for supper, and so on. I think you can’t see real Japanese people’s life style at the famous tourist spots. This is why a visit to a local shrine like Koromode is so special.

How to Get There

Kyoto City Bus from Kyoto Station Take bus #73 for Rakusai Bus Terminal from Kyoto station. Get off at Nishikyogoku bus stop. If you follow the red line on the map, you can reach Koromode Shrine in about 10 minutes.  

Hankyu Train from Kawaramachi You have to take the train for Umida iki from the Hankyu Kawaramachi station. Get off at Nishikyogoku station and walk for 15 minutes.

Two Temples in Saga

 By Eri Aoki and Shoko Osawa

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Jikishi-an

There are many famous temples in Kyoto, but Jikishi-an and Adashino-nenbutsu are not among them. These two small but significant temples are both located in Kita Saga, an area to the west of Arashiyama.

Jikishi-an is surrounded by beautiful bamboo forests. Upon entering, you will see a building that looks more like an old Japanese house at the end of a long, narrow path than a temple. In January, you can see the Japanese flower ‘roubai’. This yellow flower is so lovely and you can see it bloom only during the months of  January and February. In Jikishi-an, there are a lot of trees, so in autumn you can see many red leaves.

Jikishi-an has a long history. It was founded by Dokushou Seien in 1646 and its name, Jikishi-an, originated with the phrase “jikishi-denshin,” which means to “pass on tradition.” Today, Jikishi-an is known as a temple of the Jodo  sect.

Jikishi-an is mostly well-known, however, for ‘omoide-gusa,’ a kind of notebook in which visitors record their own impressions and messages. This notebook was started in about 1965 and the number of entries now exceed 5000. During a special period in autumn, the notebook is opened to the public.

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Entrance to the temple for adults is 500 yen; students are 400 yen.

 

Adashino-nenbutsu-ji

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Adashino-nenbutsu-ji temple is near Arashiyama Station and belongs to the Jodo sect. The temple has a special graveyard. It is famous for being an area where people abandoned the bodies of the dead to let them decompose by exposing them to the elements. This was a customary way of getting rid of corpses during the Heian period.

It is said the temple was established by Kukai in 811 in this place where the ashes of the dead had been beaten into the earth. Afterward Honen founded an Amida Buddha training hall here. The principal image is of Amitabha Tathagata. The main hall of temple was rebuilt in 1712.

Sento-kuya

There are about 8000 carved stone Buddhas or gravestones on the precincts of the temple. These stone images had been scattered around Adashino but were collected and place here together in 1903. There is also an image of Jizo, the guardian deity for spirits of miscarried children, at the temple. A special prayer service Is held for the spirits of children here on the 24th of every month. In addition, the temple hosts the Sento-kuya, a service for the dead that takes place every August 23rd-24th. In this ceremony, 1,000 candles are lit to honor ancestral spirits. In the fall a bonfire is made to show gratitude for the harvest and delicious food from the land and sea are offered.

The temple is open every day from 9:00-16:30. Entrance fee is  500 yen for adults and 400 yen for junior high school and high school students; children are free. Visitors can see a lot of cherry blossoms in spring and colored leaves in the autumn.

Under Maples & Cherry Trees—Bishamon-do

By Chinami Aizawa, Marino Takeuchi and Nao Mochizuki

 

Bishamon-do, 毘沙門堂, is one of the great temples of Kyoto. It belongs to the Tendai sect and is a Monzeki temple. It is located in Yamashina. Visitors can wander the grounds freely from 8:30 to 17:00, but the temple closes early at 4:30 pm from December to February. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit. This temple is famous for the maple trees in its garden and a large, 150-year-old “weeping willow” cherry tree. Many people visit Bishamon-do during these seasons, so it can be crowded at those times. The entrance fee is 500 for adults.

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The History of Bishamon-do

Bishamon-do was originally built near the Imperial Palace in Kyoto as Izumo-dera Temple by the order of Emperor Monmu in 703. It is believed that the founder of this temple was Gyoki, a very famous Buddhist priest of the Nara period. The temple was later moved to Yamashina and renamed Bishamon-do.

Over the centuries this temple fell into ruin many times. Taita-no-Chikanori, a member of the government, rebuilt the temple once in the early Kamakura period. In the Middle ages, Izumo-dera became a famous place for its cherry blossoms, and was referred to in some famous books, such as the Meigetsuki, a diary written by Fujiwara-no-Teika. The temple went into ruin again in the late medieval period because of the Onin wars. In the Edo period, Izumo-dera was moved to Yamashina, where it stands today. People began referring to the temple as “Bishamon-do,” because of the image of the deity Bishomonten that was kept there. After that, the temple gradually prospered as an important stop on the route between Kyoto and Shiga. It is said that many people started to come to this temple to see beautiful red leaves in the Edo period. In its long turbulent history, Bishamon-do had many head priests. One of them was the Imperial Prince Koben, who was the son of the Emperor Gosai. So this temple is also known as a Monzeki temple, a temple in which the head priest is related to the Imperial Family.

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Bishamonten

The temple is named after Bishomenten, one of four heavenly warrior Kings that defend Buddhist Law. Bishamonten is easily identifiable —he holds a spear in one hand and a small pagoda in the other. He is also a member of shichi-fuku-nin, the Seven Gods of Good Fortune, who are celebrated in many local Japanese folk festivals. People believe these gods can bring them prosperity and good luck. It is said that Bishamonten brings people good luck for “winning” any kind of competition.

 

The Temple Precincts

There are eight buildings and a monument on the temple grounds. Nioumon is the main gate—it leads to the main temple building up a steep stone stairway. A second gate, the Imperial messenger gate, is opened only at special times. The Bansui Garden is a landscape-style garden with a stroll path. It dates back to the beginning of the Edo period when stroll gardens were in vogue. The garden features a waterfall, a mountain stream, a “bridge to paradise” and many maple trees. The shinden is a new reconstruction the older building that was built by Emeror Gosai. The mausoleum contains many portraits and an image of the Buddhist deity Amitabha Tathagata that rests in the center of the building. Takadai-bensanten is a building dedicated to the happiness of ordinary people.

 

 Special Events

Many events take place at Bishamon-do. An annual light-up at night is held when the maple trees turn red in autumn. During this period the temple stays open until 8:30 pm. On New Year’s Eve, the general public is invited to ring the temple bell from 11:45 pm.

 

Access

If you come from Kyoto station, it’s better to use a train. You can use JR, subway, or Keihan. The temple is about a 15 -20 walk from Yamashina Station. The way is marked clearly with many flags upon which are written “毘沙門堂.” There is a free parking lot if you come by car.

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