Tenryuji

February 8, 2019

by Haruko Ishii and Mai Kobayashi

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

Gate of Tenryuji

Inside the temple grounds

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

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

 

Garden of Tenryuj

 

Tatami

Akusejo of Tenryuji

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

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

 

Event of Tenryuji

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

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

 

Getting to Tenryuji

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

Gozyu-no-to(五重塔)in Kyoto

Gozyu-no-to(五重塔)

〜Five Storied Pagoda〜

Saki Hirobayashi
Ikumi Maeda
Ryoya Miura

 

Kyoto has four five-storied pagodas, which are located in temples around the city: Hokan-ji, Daigo-ji, To-ji and Ninna-ji. All of them are significant buildings in Japan and have been added to the World Heritage List. They have five roofs, and each roof has a special meaning. Going from the bottom roof upwards: ‘round’, ‘water’, ‘fire’, ‘wind’ and ‘sky’. The meanings depict each worldview and express the universe in Buddhism. We highly recommend you go to these pagodas to feel each worldview. Well, let’s take a look at each one.

 

 

Five Storied Pagoda in Hokanji

Hokan-ji Temple is located in the traditional area of Higashiyama in Kyoto. Its pagoda is called Yasaka-no-to. It was built in 1440, and the height is 46 meters. Yasaka-no-to is the oldest pagoda in Kyoto and the third highest in Japan. The Higashiyama area doesn’t have a lot of tall buildings, so the pagoda is a landmark in the Higashiyama area. Yasaka-no-to is surrounded by traditional Japanese-style houses so if you go there, you can feel the history of this area.

To Yasaka-no-to takes about 25 minutes by foot from Kawaramachi. The area around Kawaramachi is quite lively and wonderful so you can go to Yasaka-no-to from there by walking while doing some nice sightseeing. Of course, you can go there by bus too. Visitors should make an appointment to go to Yasaka-no-to. Please contact there directly: Tel & Fax: 075-5512-417 (10:00am-4:00pm).

 

・Address

〒605-0862 388 Kiyomizu-yasaka-jomati, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto city, Kyoto-prefecture ℡:075‐5512‐417

 

・Access

From Kyoto Station: Kyoto City Bus No.100, No.206

Get off at Kiyomizu-michi or Higashiyama-Yasui and walk for 5 minutes.

 

From Kawaramatchi (Shijyo-Kawaramachi): Walk for 25 minutes, or take Kyoto City Bus No. 207 and get off at Kiyomizu-michi or Higashiyama-Yasui and walk for 5 minutes.

 

 

Five Storied Pagoda in Toji

 

To-ji Temple is located in Minami-ku, near Kyoto Station. It was built in 1644; however, it has been rebuilt many times. The current structure is the fifth version. Its height is 55 meters, making it is the highest Japanese wooden building in Japan. You can see a super nice view of autumn leaves and feel the power of this five-storied pagoda in the autumn season. There are lots of tourists at that time as it is the best season for visiting this pagoda in Toji. We absolutely recommend you go there in the autumn. Of course, you can have a good experience in other seasons too!

 

Address

〒601-8473 1 Kujo-Mati, Minami-ku, Kyoto city

TEL. 075-691-3325 / FAX. 075-662-0250

 

Access

From Kyoto Station

By train: Take the Kintetsu Kyoto Line for 2 minutes. Get off at Toji Station and walk for 7 minutes.

 

From Kawaramachi (Shijyo-Kawaramachi)

By train: Get on the Keihan Line for 9 minutes. Get off at Tanbabashi Station and transfer to the Kintetsu Kyoto Line for 7 minutes. Get off at Toji Station and walk for 7 minutes.

By bus: Kyoto City Bus No. 207

Get off at Kujo-Kintetsu-mae and walk for 7 minutes.

 

Ninna-ji

Ninna-ji is a temple that was established in 888 and is now the head temple of the Shingon faction. Shingon faction is a religion that was established in the 9th century by Kukai, who was a Japanese poet. In the precincts, there is the five-storied pagoda and a two-way gate. The best view of the cherry tree is in April. The contrast between the five-storied pagoda and the cherry tree is stunning. In 1994, Ninna-ji was registered as a World Heritage Site. Historically, this temple had a good relationship with royal and aristocratic people. Many royal and aristocratic people visited here to enjoy the view and to soothe their mind. It has also been written about in Japanese poetry. It has been popular for many centuries.

 

Address

〒616-8092 Omurooouchi33, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City, TEL/075-461-1155, FAX/075-464-4070

 

Access

From Kyoto Station

By train: Get on the JR Sagano Line for 11 minutes. Get off at Hanazono Station and walk for 20 minutes.

 

From Kawaramachi (Shijyo-Kawaramachi)

Take Kyoto City Bus No. 59, get off at Omuro Ninnaji and walk for 6 minutes.

 

 

Daigo-ji

Daigo-ji Temple was established in 874 and in 1994 it was registered as a World Heritage Site. Buddhist images, old rare books and pictorial art of this temple are well-known all over the world. There are about 15,000 national treasures from the middle ages in this temple. The five-storied pagoda in this temple was built in 951. This is the third oldest five-storied pagoda in Japan. The height of this pagoda is 37.44 meters and is also one of the highest pagodas in Japan. Due to its long history and height, this temple is designated as a national treasure. Also, Daigo-ji Temple is famous for its extensive grounds, so there is not only the five-storied pagoda to enjoy but also you the other buildings that are national treasures.

 

Address

〒601-1325 Higashioojityou22, Daigo, Fushimiku, TEL:075-571-0002, FAX:075-571-0101

 

Access

From Kyoto Station

Get on the Kyotosiei Karasuma Line for 5 minutes and change trains at Karasuma Oike Station. Get on the Kyotosiei Touzai Line for 21 minutes. Get off at Daigo Station and walk for 15 minutes.

 

From Kawaramachi (Shijyo-Kawaramachi)

By train: Get on the Keihan Line for 9 minutes. Get off at Tanbabashi Station and transfer to the Kintetsu Kyoto Line for 7 minutes. Get off at Toji station and walk for 7 minutes.

By bus: Take Keihan Bus No.84 and get off at Nakayamadanchi and walk for 14 minutes.

 

These four pagodas are located around the center of Kyoto City so you can visit all of them in one day. To do this, here is a recommended route. Leave Kyoto Station to go to Ninna-ji in the morning. It takes about 60 minutes by city bus. Next, leave Ninna-ji to go to Hokan-ji. It takes about 60 minutes by city bus and change to the subway. Next, leave Hokan-ji to go to Daigo-ji. It takes about 60 minutes by city bus. Finally, leave Daigo-ji to go to To-ji. It takes 60 minutes by subway and train. There are many ways to go these pagodas, but a big recommendation to buy the One-day ticket for the city buses and subway. You can buy this ticket for 900 yen. If you use this ticket, the total cost of this tour will only be 1300 yen.

 

Model plan

9:00 Kyoto City

↓City bus No. 26

10:00 Ninna-ji (60min)

↓City bus No. 26 and change to bus No.207 at Shijyo-Karasuma

12:00 Hokan-ji (60min)

13:00 Lunchtime: Around Hokan-ji (60min)

↓Subway Tozai Line

15:00 Daigo-ji (60min)

↓Subway Tozai Line and change to the Karasumi Line, then change to the Kintetsu Kyoto Line.

17:00 To-ji (60min)

↓Kintetsu Kyoto Line

19:00 Kyoto Station

 

If you visit these pagodas, you can not only enjoy viewing them but also their beautiful and historic surroundings. We hope you enjoy your trip around these national treasures!

Three Rare Torii in Kyoto

 

By Yuki Fujimoto, Sena Yagi and Misaki Kodama

 

 

What is a Torii?

Torii is an entrance gate at a shrine. It is said that it separates the world people inhabit from the world gods inhabit. So the gate is an entrance to the world which gods inhabit.

 

There is a torii in every shrine and most of these torii are similar in shape. But there are 3 rare toriis in Kyoto. So we will introduce Mihashira torii, Ishidorii and Karahafu torii for you.

 

 

 

Kaikonoyashiro ( 蚕ノ社 )

The first rare torii is Mihashira torii in Kaikonoyashiro. It is not an official name, the official shrine’s name is Konoshimanimasuamaterumitama-shrine. ( 木嶋坐天照御魂神社 ) the shrine is related with Hata-uji ( 秦氏 ). Hata-uji were ancient people who came from China and carried on the tradition of sericulture. So Kaikonoyashiro enshrines a god of fiber.

 

There are two toriis at the shrine, one at an entrance and another on the grounds of the shrine. The rare torii is on the ground of the shrine. A normal torii has two columns. But the rare torii has three columns and those three torii face toward three shrines which are related with Hata-uji, Shimogamo shrine, Fushimiinari shrine and Matsuo shrine. Stones are piled on the center of the torii and tamagushi is put on the stones. Tamagushi is a kind of decorative object which is an offering to a god. It marks a place in which a god is laid to rest.

 

There was a pond at the torii some time ago and it has dried up. It is called Mototadasu-no-ike. Tadasu is meaning to “to fix rightly”. The torii became the place in which people who have committed some sin and want to clean their souls can come. That’s why it is said people who bathed their feet in the pond water don’t get a disease. Even now the pond is replenished by pumping in some groundwater during the shrine’s event season. Then they will reproduce the old days. Visitors can wade in the healing waters in July which features a festival called Mitarashi-matsuri ( 御手洗祭 ). If you are interested in this rare torii and you want to clean your soul, please go to Kaikonoyashiro.

 

 

Information

There is no parking area. There is no entrance fee. The shrine is always open, so you can visit when you like.

 

Access

From JR Kyoto station to JR Hanazono (花園) station and walk about 10 minutes. Go straight toward the west after you exit the ticket gate. Go under Route 162 and the turn left at croft and stay on the road. Then you will see the shrine on the right hand side.

 

Take a Kyoto City bus 【28】at Kyoto station on the north side and get off at the Nishiojishijo (西大路四条). Wait for a Kyoto City bus【11】there and take it to Kaikonoyashiro.

 

Address: 50 Uzumasa-Morigahigashicho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto

TEL: (075) 861-2074

 

 

 

  1. Tomouji Shrine ( 伴氏社 )

 

Tomouji Shrine is a small shrine and torii in the precincts of Kitano-Tenman-gu Shrine (北野天満宮).

The shrine is very old, so its foundation date is unknown. Is it clear that the shrine was constructed far in the past.

Originally, the Imiake pagoda (忌明塔) was built here, but early in the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912) the Imiake pagoda was moved south, next to Higashimuki Kanonji (東向観音寺), then Tomouji shrine was constructed here.

 

Tomouji Shrine, is dedicated to Prince Michizane Sugawara※’s mother. Michizane Sugawara’s mother is a patroness of education and her reputation as a good mother is high. She was also a poet. Her worshipers pray for the growth and scholastic accomplishments of their children

 

※Michizane Sugawara (845 – 903) lived in the middle of the Heian Era (901-1068). He was a courtier, Sinologist and writer.

 

What does “Tomouji”mean?

Toumouji is called after Michizane Sugawara’s mother who was a native of Tomouji (it is came from Otmouji).

Because she is from Otomouji (one of the Japanese old ethnic group), people called so.

 

This torii is called Ishidorii (stone torii) it was made in the Kamakura Era (1185 – 1333). It is appointed in a Japanese art treasure.

 

The characteristics of Tomouji shrine

 

①Pedestal

This torii is called “Renza torii “. Renza means lotus pedestal. ②Gakuzuka (frame) Gakuzuka is something like signboard notified at the highest point of the torii’s frame. The normal torii has a Gakuzuka under the under Shimaki※, but this torii is different because Gakuzuka penetrates under Shimaki and reaches Kasagi※.

※Shimaki

※Kasaki

 

Location of Tomouji Shrine

San no torii (三の鳥居) is located near Kitano-Tenman-gu Shrine (北野天満宮)

Kitano-Tenman-gu (北野天満宮) 〒602-8386 Kitano, Bakurocho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi Tenman-gu Shrine office

Take a Kyoto City bus 50 or 101 at JR Kyoto station, then get off at the Kitano-Tenman-gu mae ( 北野天満宮前 ).

 

Opening and closing time of the tower gate

From April to September from 5:00 a.m. to 18:00 p.m.

From October to March from 5:30 a.m. to 17:30 p.m.

The shrine office, is staffed from 9:00 a.m. to 17:00 p.m.

There is no admission fee.

 

 

 

 

Itsukushima shrine: Karahafu Torii

 

◎What is Karahafu Torii?

⇒It is at Kyotogoen (京都御苑) which is Itsukushima shrine (厳島神社) and one of the three great Torii of Kyoto. Karahafu Torii was built in Mie in old times. After that it was built at Kyoto in 1772.

 

◎Why is it called Karahafu Torii?

⇒ There are two common styles of Torii. They are Shinmei Torii and Myojin Torii. Most Torii are either Shinmei Torii or Myojin Torii. But Karahafu Torii is neither of these styles.  It is called Karahafu Torii which ⑦Shimagi and ①Kasagi is Karahafu style. Karahafu style is a rare Torii in Japan because it is the only one in this style. Karahafu Torii which was at  Mt. Mikami (三上山) in Shiga in olden times. So it is also called Mikami Torii. (It is written in 2 styles in kanji三上鳥居 or 御上鳥居.)

⇒Shinmei Torii.                           ⇒Myojin Torii

 

 

 

⇒Karahafu style

 

In old times, Kiyomori Taira (平清盛) was built to honor his mother from Hiroshima. And now, it is an important cultural artefact, recognized by the Japanese government.

In addition, it is one of the branches of Itsukushima shrine in Hiroshima.

 

◎Recommended spot at Kyoto Goen.

Kujo pond

(九條池) has especially good scenery of Kyoto Goen. People can look all over Shusui-tei (拾翠亭) .  Shusui-tei can be seen only from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. During the rest of the week, it is rented for tea ceremony or gathering of haiku poets or other cultural events. If you come to there on Friday or Saturday, you should go to Shusui-tei.

⇒A view of the scenery in June.                           ⇒A view of the scenery in  August.

 

◎Where is it?

Kyoto Goen Itsukushima shrine

Address: Kyotogyoen Kamigyo-Ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Japan 602-0881

Access : Kyoto city subway Karasuma line Marutacho station (7 minutes walk)

HP: http://fng.or.jp/kyoto/

 

Beautiful Nature in Kyoto

by Suguru Takauji, Yuka Yamazaki & Hanami Yanagi

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

Maruyama Park

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

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

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

Gion Sidare

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

Ryoma Sakamoto & Shintaro Nakaoka

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

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

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

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

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

Kitano Shrine

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

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

Kitano Shrine

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanzen-in Temple

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

Japanese traditonal garden

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

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

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

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

Unryuin

by Mayu Nihari, Ayu Kitora & Yuki Fujimoto

Unryuin (雲龍院) is a temple located in the Higashiyama Ward of Kyoto, not far from Fushimiinari Shrine and Kyoto station.

Unryuin is what is known as a tatchu (塔頭), or sub-temple on the site of a main temple. Senryuin is the main temple to which Unryuin belongs, where on occasion public events of the Imperial family are held. If for any reason these events cannot be held at Senyuin, Unryuin will host them instead. In this way, Unryuin is associated in an indirect way with the Imperial family. Also, Unryuin is up on the mountain just above Senryu temple. It gives an image that dragon (龍- ryu) lives above clouds (雲- un). That’s why the temple was named Unryuin.

History of Unryuin

Unryuin was built in 1372 by Chikugan Shoko who were a Buddhist monk on the wishes of Emperor Gokougon who were the 4th emperor in Nanbokucho period. The temple developed over time with the support of Emperor Gokomatsu and Emperor Shoko who were the 101st emperor in Muromachi period. It is sacred to Yakushinyorai that is a Buddha and consists of Ryugeden and Reimeiden which are building in Unryuin.

Ryugeden was not originally in Unryuin. Josyusoushi who were a member of high official rank along with Ryugeden, which is related to Emperor Goenyu who were the 5th emperor in Nanbokucho period merged into Unryuin. Ryugeden was then designated as a nationally important cultural property. Ryugeden is a very precious building because the roof is constructed with sawara cypresses and bamboo nails. It is a traditional technique of construction in Japan.

Also, Yakushisanzon (薬師三尊), meaning ‘three statues of Buddha’ is in Ryugeden. Reimeiden was built to enshrine the spirits of the dead by the emperor of the Meiji period in 1884. The building also has close links with the Imperial family. That’s why Unryuin is held in such high esteem, even though the temple is a branch temple of Senryuin.

In the new year time, Senryu temple holds an event called, Shichifukujin Meguri. People visit Shichifukujin (Seven Deities of Good Luck) in hopes of acheiving happiness during the year. Daikokuten is one of the Shichifukujin deities in Unryuin. He features a stern look and representes prosperous business. So many business people come to Unryuin to offer blessings to him.

Window of Colored Paper

You can look out at the garden through the window of a shoji (paper sliding door). It is common to slide open a shoji in order to see what is on the outside. However, in this room, you can close the shoji and still look out onto the beautiful scenery in the garden, due to special windows created in the shoji.

From the left moving to the right there are four windows: the window of camellia, the window of lantern, the window of autumn tints, and the window of pine tree. The scenery outside each window reflects the change of the four seasons. It is a view felt that captures a very traditional Japanese feeling. In addition, you realize that the scene changes depending on angle at which you are sitting. You can totally see it like a picture of four pieces of colored paper.

The Four Seasons of Unryuin

The scenery seen in Unryuin is very beautiful. In the spring, cherry, camellia, and plum blossoms cause the scenery to turn pink. Every year, cherry blossoms bloom in April, but they change depending on climate. You can also see the beautiful garden of moss.

In the summer, there is a lot of greenery in Unryuin. Bellflowers also bloom in a corner of the garden. In addition, a Suikinkutsu (水琴窟) was added in the summer of 2017. Have you seen this unique object? This is one of the decorations of traditional Japanese gardens. It enjoys the reverberation sound that occurs when dropping water droplets by filling a pot in a cave.

In autumn, the leaves at Unryuin are very colorful, and can be enjoyed from mid-November to early December. Despite being so close to Kyoto station, there are usually few tourists, so you can enjoy it without too many people around. Furthermore, a night-time lighting-up event up is held each year. In 2017, it was from November 18th to November 26th. The fare is 400 yen and you can see a spectacular illumination of the fall leaves.

Finally, in the winter, this area of Kyoto often gets lots of snow. The temple with the snow piled on the roof is worth seeing. It gives you the feeling that you are seeing a beautiful painting. A lot of tourists visit here every year and take pictures.

As you can see, Unryuin is beautiful and impressive anytime of the year.

Sutra Copying at Unryuin

Sutra copying, or Syakyou in Japanese, means making your own handwritten copy of Buddhist scriptures. It is getting more popular recently for its effect on freeing one’s mind to a state of peace. If you are planning a healing trip to Kyoto, why don’t you consider copying sutras in Unryuin in a solemn atmosphere? Recently, the number of people copying a sutra for the purpose of relaxing their hearts and minds has increased. Living in a modern society of only the smartphone and printed word, we can feel at ease by painting Japanese characters with a brush and Indian ink.

Anyone can copy a sutra copying in Unryuin. All you need to do is just cleanse your hands with incense and start copying a sutra in red-ink. You can also enjoy green tea and cake while looking at the garden when you are finished.

Sutra copying (entry and green tea included): 1,500 yen. 9:00-15:30 (daily)

As you can see, Unryuin is famous and one of great sightseeing spots in Kyoto. In its garden, various beautiful plants bloom all year round, and it is very enjoyable whenever you visit. Moreover, the experience of sutra copying will be a wonderful memory. Also, you can visit other famous temple nearby, such as Sennyuji (泉涌寺) and Kaikouji (戒光寺).

Access

TEL:075-541-3916

Address:36 Sennyuji Yamanochicho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0977, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

Business hours:9:00 am – 16:30 pm (Irregular day off)

Worship fee:adult – 400yen / child – free of charge

The Sake of Matsuo Taisha Shrine

by Kana Kobashi, Kensuke Nagai & Motonari Iwamoto

Do you like Japanese sake? Japan makes many kinds of sake, but did you know that some of those sake types are connected to a certain place. This is especially true of certain shrines, especially in Kyoto. In this article, we will tell you about one of those shrines: Matshuo Taisha, otherwise known as God of Sake.

Sake in Kyoto

Before anything else, it is important to understand how sake in Kyoto is made. As you probably are aware, Japanese sake is Japan’s national liquor, and there are many types. Three of the most well-known types are Junmai-shu, Honjozou-shu, and Ginjou-shu. They have different brewing processes and different levels of rice polish.

Junmai-shu is made from rice, rice mold, and water. The rice polishing ratio is below 70%. Its requirements are good flavor and shine.

Honjo-shu is made from rice, rice mold, and distilled alcohol. The rice polishing ratio is below 70%. Its requirements are also good flavor and shine.

Ginjo-shu is made from rice, rice mold, and distilled alcohol. The rice polishing ration is below 60%. Its requirements are a peculiar flavor and good shine. Every percentage of rice mold is at least 15%.

Jizake. There are many kinds of Jizake in Japan. ‘Jizake’ means Japanese sake brewed using locally grown rice grains and water from local areas. Their uniqueness varies from region to region. Kyoto has many kinds of it. Kyoto’s sake is one of the most famous Japanese sake in the world. This is because Kyoto is blessed with abundant nature. Therefore, Kyoto’s water is pure and the level of rice polish is high.

Now we will introduce two famous sake brands from Kyoto.

Eikun sake is made in the Fushimi area of south Kyoto. It is made with fresh local water from and high-quality rice. For this reason, it is delicious and therefore has become famous in world.

Kokorono-miyako is the most famous sake in Kyoto. It is produced by the sake brewing company Tamano-hikari, which has been in business since 1673. Their sake has a smooth taste. They only use Iwai sake rice which is grown in Kyoto. On the bottle’s label is an image from Tale of Genji, so you can sense the feeling of traditional Japan while drinking the delicious sake.

Matsuo Taisha Shrine

Matsuo Taisha–Shrine is called Matsuo-san by neighbor it located Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto.  It about one third of Kyoto’s population serves residents Nishikyo-ku, Ukyoku, Shimogyo-ku and Minami-ku.  Unlike the others shrine, it features powerful gate with two guardian gods.

Tortoises have meant in China, Korea and Japan as emblems of good fortune, about long life and good health.  The water is said to be health, and the shrine is visited both by ordinary people to get good water.  Manufactures of miso paste and sake brewers who pray for the success of their enterprises.

We can see figures of tortoises in the precincts.  The most famous of which is called the Kame-no-i, Tortoise Well, near the entrance to the first garden.  Matsuo Taisha is specify for important cultural property, and have many god statues inside here.  Moreover, this shrine is known for better fortune, so many people come here from the other places.

History of Matsuo Taisha Shrine

A god is enshrined in the Matsuo Taisha who have a power for helping agricultural and farming.  The name is Ooyamakui-no-kami.  It is one of the big god in Japan from a very long time ago.  Hiyoshi Taisha in Shiga, which is headquarters to enshrine Ooyamakui-no-kami.  The near residents decided why locate at Nishikyo-ku.  Because a person has the honor toward guardian of living at the top of Matsuo mountain.  Agriculture developed concurrently with the other industry.  And then, how to make sake imported from Shin (the old China) in this place.  So, Matsuo is known for the first sake in Japan.  After the end of the World War 2, it was decided not to use the title of the government secretary Taisha, due to the abolition of state management.  So, in order to avoid confusion with the same name Shinto shrine was renamed Matsuo Taisha in Showa 25 and it has reached the present.

Connection between Matsuo Taisha Shrine and Sake

Matsuo Taisha shrine has a deep relationship with sake. There are two accounts of how it became the God of Sake.

The first was that in the 5th and 6th centuries, a man named Hatauji of the well-known Hata clan, a Chinese immigrant clan that came to Japan through Korea. Hatauji eventually went to Matsuo Taisha shrine and worshiped the God of Matsuo Taisha shrine. Also, Hatauji, like many of his clan member, was good at making sake using techniques from mainland Asia, so he taught Japanese people how to do it. Therefore, the God of Matsuo Taisha Shrine came to be known as the God of Sake. This account is written in the historical Nihon Shoki.

The other account is actually a myth. One day, the Gods nationwide gathered at Matsuo Taisha shrine and talked. The God of Matsuo wanted to hypnotize the other gods. Therefore, he made sake to make the other gods happy, using rice from the nearby Arashiyama district and water from the mountains of Kyoto. Because of that, he came to be called the God of Sake. The God of Matsuo Taisha Shrine is strongly followed by alcohol-related companies, who worship the God by making offerings of barrels of sake.

In addition, there is water in Matsuo Taisha, and it is said that the company will not go bankrupt if you make alcohol using that water. Besides, Matsuo Taisha shrine has rare things not found in other shrines. For example, there is barrel fortune telling. When you pay 300 yen, you receive two arrows and release an arrow in a barrel. After you have finished it you can get a talisman to take home with you.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are many shrines in Kyoto, but Matsuo Taisha is the one famous for sake. Since the Muromachi period, the God of Matsuo Taisha Shrine was called the God of Sake, and from that time many tourists and worshipers have visited Matsuo Taisha. However, at present young people go to Matsuo Taisha for their annual New Year’s visit, but they do not fully understand that the God of Sake is enshrined at Matsuo Taisha. Since we researched Matsuo Taisha, we hope tourists will know more about its history and meaning.

Access

You can get to Matsuo Taisha by bus or train.

If you use the train, take the Arashiyama line of the Hankyu train. Get off the train at Matsuo Taisha Station, and walk for two or three minutes to get there.

If you take a bus, you have to take a Kyoto City bus using the Arashiyama Daikakuji or Kokedera lines. Gett off the bus at Mastuo Taishamae and walk for one or two minutes to get there. Arashiyama, Suzumushi temple, and Saihoji are nearby. These spots are famous in Kyoto, so if you have time, we recommend that you go visit them as well.

Kurumazaki Shrine

by Mayu Nihari, Ayu Kitora & Yuki Fujimoto

Kurumazaki Shrine (車折神社) is a shrine located in Saga-Ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto prefecture. It is located a little away from Sagano and just between Arashiyama and Uzumasa. This shrine enshrines Yorinari Kiyohara (清原頼業, 1122-1189), who was a Confucian scholar in the late Heian period.

Praying at Kurumazaki shrine has various benefits such as academic success, economic fortune and good relationships. It is especially popular with entertainers, who frequently visit. It is popular as a power spot in Kyoto.

 

History of Kurumazaki shrine

Originally, in 1189, it is said that the building was constructed to mourn Yorinari Kyohara, who was the predecessor of this shrine. After he died, from his name, Hojyuinden, a temple called Hojyuin was built. This temple existed until the Muromachi period, and when the Tenryu Temple was founded in Arashiyama by Ashikaga Takashi (足利尊氏), it became a branch temple. In addition, many cherry blossom trees were planted in the surroundings because he loved the cherry blossoms. Therefore, as the cherry blossoms bloom in the spring, it was called Sakuranomiya.

The origin of Kurumazaki is that when the Gosaga emperor visited Kurumazaki shrine, his car stopped suddenly. He wondered what it was, so he asked people who lived in the shrine. They said that this shrine was dedicated to Yorinari Kiyohara. He was impressed and he conferred upon it the title Kurumazaki.

Mifune festival at Kurumazaki shrine

The Mifune Festival  was held for the first time in commemoration of Emperor Showa in 1928.  It is held on the third Sunday of May every year, but is cancelled on rainy days. The festival uses boats as a way to pray to the gods. It was held in the Arashiyama River in the Heian period, where it is still held today. It is a traditional event.

First, they do a Japanese ceremony for the appearance for gods. The ceremony is important for gods to move from the shrine to an oxcart. The oxcart goes to the river.  Next, they go boating with gods. There are four boats for dedication and gods move to the boats. These boats are called Gozabune, Ryuutoubune, Gekisyusen and Mitomobune. Every year a woman is selected to play the role of Seishonagon (清少納言), and she waves a special fan on the Gozabune. Seishonagon was a historical person and a great poet in Heian Period. Also, Gagaku plays traditional Japanese instruments on the Ryuutoubune. Gagaku is traditional Japanese music and had spread around Japan in Heian period. Besides, some people sing Imayouuta on the gekisyusen. Finally, Mitomobune goes with Gozabune. Mitomobune is just go with Gozabune together, it’s a duty of the boat. Finally, the gods go back to the oxcarts and go to Arashiyamatonguu. Then gods then return to the shrine.

 

Tessai Tomioka

Tessai Tomioka (1836-1924) was a Japanese artist in the Edo period. In Kyoto, he studied history and Buddhism. At first, he served as a priest at Ishigami Zingu (石上人宮) and Otori shrines. After that, he served as a priest at Kurumazaki Shrine. Because of this, there are many his works at Kurumazaki Shrine. There are about 100 works there, and many artists are attracted to them. In addition, he said “I do not paint meaningless pictures.”

Talisman for Entertainers


Inside Kurumazaki Shrine is Geino Shrine, literally the “performing arts shrine,” which is known to help entertainers.  As it is said that the god of performing and fine arts is enshrined here, this shrine is extremely popular with a variety of entertainers. You can see a fence around the shrine made from more than 2,000 talismans bearing the names of famous entertainers, such as the singer Atsushi from the popular band EXILE.

Divine Power of Kurumazaki Shrine

The divine power of Kurumazaki shrine is also effective for studies and exams.

It seems that it has an effect on conventions and management, too.

It is effective for promises at the individual level, for lovers, money making, company contracts of shops, etc. For example, you can pray to borrow money, pay back lent money, and becoming better at the management of your household economics.

Power Stone Amulets

Kurumazaki Shrine is often associated with its power stone amulet called Kinen Shinseki. Before you receive a Kinen Shinseki, your must rinse your hands and mouth at the temizuya, a place for ritual cleansing of hands and mouth with water when visiting shrines. Then you worship at Kiyome no Yashiro to purify yourself.

After that, you can receive a Kinen Shinseki. When we went there, there were two types of Kinen Shinseki: a portable amulet (700 yen) and a household amulet (500 yen). Both types have sacred stones in them.

Finally, in front of the main shrine building, put your power stone amulet between your hands and make your wish with all your heart. Those who are in show business have to visit Geino Shrine after that, and do the same thing there, too. They carry the portable Kinen Shinseki every day, or put the household Kinen Shinseki somewhere in your home higher than eye-level and pray to it every day. If your wish comes true, fetch one stone from a mountain, a river or your home yard, and write a thank-you message on it. Then bring it to the shrine and place it in front of the main shrine building. Also, return your Kinen Shinseki to the box by the main shrine building.

Conclusion

Kurumazaki Shrine is one of the traditional places in Kyoto. It is located between Arashiyama and Uzumasa. It enshrines Yorinari Kiyohara, who served the Emperor during the Heian period. Many stones are dedicated to the main shrine. We highly recommend going to Kurumazaki shrine. Especially, you will be able to see a very beautiful view of cherry blossoms in the spring.

Access

Kurumazaki Shrine is open to the public from 9:00 am to 17:00 pm and admission is free. It takes 35 minutes by bus from JR Kyoto Station. Alternatively, get off at the Keifuku Dentetsu station ‘Kurumazaki Shrine’.

Keifuku Railway ”Kurumazaki-jinja Station”Near
Hankyu Train ”Arashiyama Station”(A 20-minute walk)
JR Sanin Line “Saga Arashiyama Station”(A 15-minute walk)

Address: 23 Sagaasahicho, Ukyō-ku, Kyoto city, Kyoto

Website: http://www.kurumazakijinja.or.jp/

Phone: 075-861-0039

Open:8:00 a.m〜5:30 p.m

Hirano Shrine

Kyoto is one of the best places to experience the four seasons. For example, in fall you can see lots of beautiful autumn leaves everywhere, and in winter you can see wonderful temples or shines covered by snow. Especially in spring, you can see cherry trees in full bloom. Many people say that Hirano Shrine (平野神社) is the best places to see these beautiful cherry blossoms.

The History of Hirano Shrine

Hirano Shrine is located in northwest of Kyoto. In this area are many famous landmarks: Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Kinkajuji Temple, and Ritsumeikan University. Hirano Shrine was established in 794 when the capital was changed to Heian-kyo from Nagaoka-kyo. When you visit Hirano Shrine can see the large torii (a gateway at the entrance to a Shinto shrine) and you can pass through it for fee. The shrine has been involved with Japan’s Imperial Household and Imperial Family. This shrine is very famous for its cherry blossoms. There are about 400 cherry trees of sixty different types on the shrine grounds. Every spring, many tourists come to visit here to see the beautiful blossoms.

Events at Hirano Shrine

As already stated, Hirano Shrine is famous for cherry blossoms. A cherry blossom is on the crest for the shrine. The origin of it is from the Heian period and at that time Emperor Hanayama had thousands of cherry trees planted on the shrine precincts. One of the cherry trees in Hirano shrine is called “Sakigake.” It comes from this Shrine and it is said that when this cherry tree starts to bloom, then people in Kyoto start to have cherry blossom-viewing parties. Cherry blossoms are not usual, but special. Every year, On April 10th, Hirano holds a cherry blossom festival. People cannot merely see these trees, but can also see them lit up at night from March 25th to April 19th. When the light up is held, music concerts are also held. They are held outside and free of charge.

Shops around Hirano Shrine

I want to recommend going to lunch and takinga break around Hirano Shrine. At first I recommend going to Shikura ramen (Chinese noodles) shop. The ramen here is based of the pork-bone broth. It is so popular that at lunch time there is always a long line. Next I want to recommend you to go to Tawaraya. This shop is famous for udon noodles. It serves a really different style of udon. It is famous for very thick and long udon that you cannot eat at any other udon shops. Next I recommend you to go OKONOMIYAKI JYANBO. This shop is famous for okonomiyaki and fried noodles. Their okonomiyaki is really big, so it is a good place to go for growing boys. Next I recommend you to go to the Harbor Cafe. This shop is nothing special, but it is open 24 hours. So you can go there after a walk at night time.

In conclusion, Kyoto has a long history, so there are many kinds of temples or shrines. And each temple or shrine has a best season to visit. The season you should visit Hirano Shrine is spring. Please enjoy the four seasons in Kyoto!

Shimogamo Jinja

by Yuri kamakura & Akane kaneta

Located on the southern banks of the Kamo river, Kamomioya-jinja both reflects and inspires Kyoto City. Even its common name is a product of the city. “Shimo-,” meaning lower, and “-gamo,” after the city’s central river, yields the familiar Shimogamo. The creator and guardian of the city, Kamotaketsunomi-no-mikoto, is enshrined in the main sanctuary of the shrine, along his daughter Tamayorihime-no-mikoto, a mythical figure with her own repute. Together these deities welcome and protect all who visit the shrine, from Kyoto and beyond.

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Torii

Myth

The ancestor of the Kamo clan, Kamotaketsunomi-no-mikoto, is said to have descended to earth on the grounds of Mt. Mikage, a mountain east of Kyoto. According to Shinto beliefs, this god metamorphosed into the three-legged deity of the sun, Yatagarasu. In this form, he led the legendary first emperor of Japan, Jimmu, throughout the Kyoto countryside and finally settled at the future site of the Shimogamo shrine.

This great god’s daughter, Tamayorihime-no-mikoto, attended to her ritual duties on the shrine grounds. One day while purifying her body in the Kamo river, she saw an arrow floating downstream. Unknowingly, she picked up the arrow, placed it on the shore, which before her eyes turned into a beautiful god. Shocked and smitten, she married the god and begot a child. Her son took on another avatar of the Shinto arrow, as the thunder god. Worshipped at Shimogamo’s sister shrine, Kamigamo, the thunder god Wakeikazuchi is said to have all the power of thunder when it impregnates the land with life. His mother’s legacy is therefore one of productive marriage and parenting.

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Saru

History

The history of the Shimogamo shrine extends at least two thousand years. A recent excavation of the Tadasu-no-mori, the shrine’s forest, unearthed artifacts from as long ago as the Yayoi period (4 B.C. – 3 A.D.). Fragments of plates and arrowheads from the Yayoi were found in good condition throughout the forest excavation site. Artifacts dating from later periods document the evolution of society around the shrine. Heian period artifacts include the head of a ceramic horse figurine and elaborate roof tiles, while Edo period artifacts range from simple bowls and nails to mirrors and money.

The shrine grew in stature as the powerful Hata family adopted Shimogamo and its sister shrine, Kamigamo, as two of their favored shrines. Since then, the shrine has enjoyed considerable attention from important and indeed, imperial, families. It was during the reign of Emperor Temmu (675-686) that the first shrine buildings were constructed. Surrounding the shrine was an ever-growing amount of land. Records from the Tempyo Shoho period (749-757) indicate one cho of land (about one hectare) was given to the shrine to cultivate food for religious offerings; three hundred years later, Shimogamo owned 689 cho of land, extending all over the country. The growth in this influence came as Emperor Kwammu moved his capital into a neighboring province of Kyoto and finally to the site of modern day Kyoto. At the founding of the imperial capital (then called Heian), priests gathered at Shimogamo shrine to worship for its success.

Imperial culture flourished in Kyoto during the Heian period (794-1185) and the Shimogamo shrine alongside. The shrine was its most prosperous during the reign of Emperor Saga (809-823). Many of the shrine’s elaborate architectural designs and traditions come from this time. Emperor Saga was the first to dedicate one of his daughters as a Sai-in, or maiden of the shrine, following a similar custom as established at the Ise shrine. The Sai-in would only come once a year, in a grand procession with an imperial messenger. The shrine priests would decorate the buildings and their own costumes with branches of aoi (hollyhock), and so started the Aoi Matsuri. This event became so famous than it was known as “the matsuri” or the festival, throughout Japan. It is mentioned under this name several times in the classic Heian-period Japanese epic Tale of Genji. Tempestuous love rivals rammed their ox carts in battle during one matsuri and contented couples strolled through another. Contemporary to the Tale of Genji, the Makura-shoshi, a compilation of the likes and dislikes of a noblewoman, lists the matsuri as one of her favorite events in Kyoto. Noble by noble, Shimogamo shrine cultivated the good favor of the imperial court and aristocracy for several hundred years.

The court began having financial difficulties in the 13th century. The emperor suspended the tradition of the Sai-in, and gifts grew fewer in number. The country fell into strife and was eventually engulfed in civil war in the 15th century. When the new shogunal government emerged, the Shimogamo shrines were still intact, but as vestiges of the imperial era, their power was considerably reduced. Emperors would still visit the shrine, but with less pomp than in previous eras.

Perhaps the most famous imperial visit during this time was that of Emperor Komei in 1863. Legend has it that he prayed for the return of the antagonistic foreigners to the land from which they hailed. This wish went unfulfilled, and as the shogunal government collapsed as the threat of Western invasion advanced, imperial culture was, at least nominally, brought to the fore once again. During this Meiji era, the government glorified the role of the emperor and provided generous stipends to the Shimogamo shrine, listing the Kamo shrines second only to the Ise shrine. However, the process of modernization stripped away the hierarchical social structure that the shrine relied upon and redistributed the shrine’s land holdings.

During the 20th century, the country faced a more hostile exchange with Western powers. As World War II consumed the national psyche, festivals were cancelled and supplies rationed. After the war, the emperor was left defeated and humanized, and the imperially favored shrines lost visibility. Though festivities resumed in 1953, the shrine needed to recast itself for the post-war era.

Today, the Shimogamo shrine is integrated into the Kyoto community. It hosts community wide markets, an old book fair, a lecture series on religious and historical topics, always bringing people together for social and spiritual purposes. People from the community volunteer in the forest on Earth Day, and flock to the many festivals throughout the year.

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Keidai

Access

〒606-0807 Kyotoshi-Sakyouku-Shimogamo-Izumigawacho-59
TEL:075-781-0010
Mail:info@shimogamo-jinja.or.jp
Open-Close
6:30~17:00

The best shops we selectted in Uji City

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!