SAGANO (Rakushisya, Nisonin, Chikurin, and Tenryuzi)

March 24, 2020

by Noa Murakami & Masashi Morishita

This article will introduce about a hidden and recommended spot in the Sagano area, which is located in the depths of Arashiyama in Kyoto. You can visit Sagano on foot from the Randen Line from Arashiyama Station. Although many tourists visit Arashiyama, only a few people visit Sagano because there are a lot of other tourist spots in Arashiyama that are well known by many foreigners. Therefore, we want a lot of people to know about the fascination of Sagano and to visit Sagano after reading this article. In addition, we hope that you enjoy new attractiveness in Kyoto and feel Japanese culture.


Rakushisya was a historical spot for Kyorai Mukai who was a pupil of Basho Matsuo and succeeded him from 1688 to 1704 as a Haiku poet in the Sagano area. Haiku is a Japanese poem with seasonal words. One of Mukai’s poems said that there were 40 kaki trees in this garden (Rakushisya) but most of the persimmon (fruit) fell down in one night. “Raku” in “Rakushisya” means “fall down” ,“shi” means “kaki” and “sya” means “building” in Japanese.

Therefore, it is said that this story is the origin of “Rakushishya”. You can enjoy 13 monuments from poems that were written by 13 people including Kyorai Mukai and Basho Matsuo. Also, you can enjoy a Japanese garden and Shishiodoshi: it is a Japanese traditional tool that was used to drive away deer, boar and birds. However, it was put it in some Japanese gardens because Shishiodoshi has a beautiful sound. In addition, you can post your haiku and read other’s haiku at Rakushisya.


Nisonin is a temple that was built by instructions of the Saga emperor 700 years ago. It became a designated cultural property of Kyoto. In addition, there are a lot of fascinating spots, and you can enjoy it there in all 4 seasons.

Especially, “Sando”, which is the road to go to the main temple called “Kouyou no Baba”, is known as spot of tinted autumnal leaves in the fall. Also, as you go up the stairs from “Sando”, you can see the main temple. In this space, there are two statues. On the right side is a statue of Shaka Nyorai and on the left side is a statue of Amida Nyorai. These were painted gold and put in the center of the main temple. Moreover, you can enjoy a gong called “Siawase no Kane”. This is a gong to wish happiness that we are alive, to give thanks for all things such as food, clothes and residential areas around us, and to make people happy all over the world. For these reasons, you have to ring the gong three times. Nisonin has a comfortable space and makes you relax. Also, you can look around and make yourself at home because there are only a few people who go there every day.


Next, we’ll introduce “Chikurin” in Sagano. The meaning of Chikurin is a pass which is covered with a lot of bamboo. It is one of the most famous sightseeing spots in Kyoto. You can walk through the pass covered with tens of thousands of bamboo if you visit there. It is very beautiful.

Many tourists visit this place every day. We recommend that you go there in the early morning or in the evening if you want to take beautiful photos because there are few people at that time.  In addition, you can go sightseeing on a Jinrikisha (see the photo below). It looks like a sofa for two people with large wheels on both sides. If you feel tired, we recommend that you choose a Jinrikisha. If you visit Chikurin in the summer, you will feel a very cool breeze. Conversely, you can see Chikurin, which is lit up with a lot of lights when you visit there in the winter. Please visit Chikurin if you want to relax in nature.

a Jinrikisha


Finally, we want to introduce “Tenryuzi”. It is a historical temple registered as a world heritage site. It is one of the most famous temples in Kyoto. It was built more than 700 years ago.

When you enter inside, you can see a very beautiful garden. You can see cherry trees in the spring, and you can see beautiful leaves which turn red in the autumn. You can also see beautiful green leaves in the summer. In addition, this place turns into a delightful snow scene in the winter. You can see different views from the four seasons. Because there are directional markers (directions) and staff there, you can visit there easily and smoothly.


We visited Arashiyama to go to Sagano but there were a lot of people at Arashiyama Station because Arashiyama is well known and is a famous place in Kyoto. Therefore, we were not able to be relaxed. However, Sagano has only a few people who visit there every day. It is a very quiet place, which is full of nature. There were directions in foreign languages such as English, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, so you will be able to go sightseeing in peace. There are also a lot of historical Japanese buildings in Sagano, and there is also a souvenir shop nearby. We think that Arashiyama is a good place. However, we recommend that you go to Sagano to go sightseeing. Please go and have a wonderful time.

Access Information

Rakushisya“: It takes about fifteen minutes on foot from Saga Arashiyama Station (JR Sagano Line).

It takes about fifteen minutes on foot from Arashiyama Station (Keifuku Dentetsu Arashiyama Line).

It takes about twenty five minutes on foot from Arashiyama Station (Hankyu Line).

TEL: 075-881-1953

Time: 9:00AM-5:00PM

Nisouin“: It takes about ten minutes on foot from Saga Arashiyama Station (JR Sagano Line).

It takes forty-five minutes by bus from JR Kyoto Station.

TEL: 075-861-0687

FAX: 075-861-7972

Time: 9:00AM-4:30PM

Chikurin“: It takes about five minutes on foot from Arashiyama Station (Keifuku Dentetsu Arashiyama Line).

Tenryuzi“: It takes one minute on foot from Arashiyama station (Keifuku Dentetsu Arashiyama Line).

TEL: 075-881-1235

Time: 8:30AM-5:30PM (March 21st-October 20th)

    8:30AM-5:00PM (October 21st-March 20th)

Teamlab in Shimogamo Shrine

By Akari Higashino & Natsumi Nishimura

There are many shrines in Kyoto. One of the most famous shrines is Shimogamo Shrine. We will introduce you to a special event there that you can definitely enjoy.

Simogamo Shrine

It is officially called “Kamomioya Shrine”. Kyoto is built around the Kamogawa River. It is called “Shimogamo Shrine” because it is a shrine that sits on the Kamogawa River. Both the east and west main shrines are designated as national treasures. Shimogamo Shrine is very old and there is a record that the shrine was renovated in 90 B.C. and there is a theory that it was there before that. Excavations have revealed a lot of earthenware from the Jomon Period (14,000 – 1000 B.C.) and the remains of residences from the Yayoi Period (1000 B. C. – 300 A.D.) In addition, festivals, shrines, dedications and sacred treasures are recorded in the biography and history books. In 698 of “Shokunihongi”, there is an article that an order was issued to guard the shrine because there were many spectators gathered at the festival. From this, we can see that this shrine had a big and a grand festival held before the Nara Period (710 – 794).

The Highlights of the Shrine

Walk! Walk!

There are some highlights of shrine precinct. First, the Aioinoyashiro has the god of marriage. Aioinoyashiro is part of Shimogamo. It is said that Aioinoyashiro is the place where you can get love power. The sacred tree is there. This tree is actually two branches tied together in the middle, so this is said to be giving us godlike power. The procedure for worship is easy for us. At the first, you write your wishes on the Ema, which is a board for that purpose. Second, you go to in front of Aoinoyashiro, and if you are female, you go around twice toward the right. However, a man goes around toward the left. Final, you dedicate your Ema. Your love will go well. The second highlight is Kawai Shrine in the Shimogamo Shrine. Kawai shrine is dedicated to the god of beauty. The procedure for worship is to make up your cosmetics on an Ema shaped hand mirror. You can draw your favorite face, so you will enjoy drawing, and you will be beautiful.

Summer Event


Shimogamo Shrine has a special event in summer. This event’s name is “Digitized Forest at the World Heritage Site of Shimogamo Shrine –Art by TeamLab- “. TeamLab is an organization that conducts an art project. The Digitized Forest means a forest remains a forest and become an art. This is the concept of event. Teamlab event in Shimogamo Shrine has been held since 2017. There are some artworks displayed at this event. First art is “Walk, Walk, Walk – Tadasu Forest at Shimogamo Shrine. This is like a projection mapping, and portrait people keep walking along the river in the forest. The characters of a work keep walking endlessly and facing various events. The visitors also follow them. This work is drawn in real time by a computer program. We can’t see the same portraits of people, images are forever changing. Second, “Floating, Resonating Spheres- Shimogamo Shrine.” This art features many bright floating spheres. These spheres change as if breathing and ring a beautiful sound. These seem to be breathing slowly. The spheres are touched by people, and they change color with the light and make a special sound. Third, “Resonating Forest and Autonomous Resonating Life-Tadasu Forest at Shimogamo Shrine”. This is a work of many ovoids and trees lighting on the road. The ovoids are pushed by people, and change color. Fourth, Autonomous Resonating Life on the Water –Mitarashi Pond at Shimogamo Shrine. This work is spheres floating on the surface of the water. The light reflected from the water’s surface is very beautiful. Finally, “Forest of Autonomous Resonating Life”. This work is a space filled with ovoids. People will surely be more conscious of their existence than usual from encountering these ovoids. All of them are wonderful works. This event will be enjoyable, regardless of age or sex. You should visit there once a year. Let’s have a fantastic time!


Shimogamo Shrine is a traditional and very famous shrine in Kyoto. In addition, there is special event which is such a fascinating event in summer. Of course, you can enjoy it anytime, but if you attend the event, you can enjoy it more. You should visit Simogamo Shrine if you go to Kyoto.


From Kyoto Station to Shimogamo Shrine-mae (or Aioinomori) by city bus. It takes about 30 minutes. 59 Izumikawacho, Shimogamo, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-0807 No regular holiday The opening hours 6:30 a.m. to 17:00 p.m.

Sutra Copying at Ryosokuin

By Haruka Mishima

What a Sutra Is

Sutra copying is one of the customs of Japanese Buddhism. Sutra copying is called “Syakyo” in Japanese. Copying sutras is Buddhist training to get Buddhist teaching. When copying a sutra, people hope for things like peace, happiness, health, fortune, harmony for themselves, for their family and for humanity. You focus on writing each word of the sutra, and it is good to empty your mind. When you finish writing, you will feel refreshed in your body and mind.

Try Copying Sutra at Ryosokuin

I recommend copying sutra at Ryosokuin in Kyoto. The temple offers some English supports, therefor you can listen guideline with English. It is very good point for foreigners. A lot of people that are from foreign countries try copying sutra these days. I heard from the manager that one day 30 percent of participants were Japanese and 70 percent foreigners. When I heard about this, it was really surprising. Moreover, I am so happy. The reason for this is that a lot of people are interested in Japanese culture. In addition, it does not matter whether you are good at writing or not. It is a good thing to put your heart into the words. There are 4 seats near the window. You can enjoy good views each seasons, spring, summer, fall, and winter through the window. Although, the place is very quiet, you can listen to the wild of cries of animals in the summer.

Personal Experience of Sutra Copying

I tried copying a sutra in Ryosokuin. It was the first time to do that. I wrote a sutra for about 45 minutes, however, time passed very rapidly. I think that is why I did not lose concentration. In addition, the place was very nice and quiet. I could feel and see nature that was good with fresh green in the window while writing the sutra. When I finished writing, I felt relaxed. I was glad to write a sutra. I had a good experience, and want to go to there again. Therefore, I wanted share this experience with both Japanese and foreigners.

Location and Access

Address: 〒605-0811 591

Komatsucho Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi Kyoto-fu, Japan


  • Get off at Gionshizyo stationon the Keihan main line . Walk east, turn to your right at second traffic right, and walk the end of the Hanamikozi street.
  • Get off at Kawaramachi station on the Hankyu Kyoto line, and walk 10 minutes.
  • If you get off at JR Kyoto station, it is better to take a bus.


  • Get off at Shizyokeihan, walk south along Yamatoozi street about 5 minutes.
  • Get off at Higashiyamayasui, walk about 2 to 3 minutes at Yasui street.
  • Get off Minamizamae, walk about 10minuts.
  • Get off Gion, walk about 10 minutes.

Telephone Number: 075-561-3216

(The telephone reception is from 10 a.m.  to 4 p.m.)



Fee: 1000 yen per person

The required time: 40-60 minutes (depends on the person)

Seating capacity: 8 people


Please get permission when you take pictures while copying a sutra. I got permission to take pictures.

Jidai Matsuri

Jidai Matsuri


Because Kyoto has a long and complex history, there are many traditional festivals in Kyoto. Kyoto is famous for the number of the festivals. It is said that there are more than 300 festivals in a year in Kyoto. In addition, those historical festivals started hundreds of years ago. Especially, most of the people who live in Kyoto know the three largest festivals in Kyoto and people love those festivals. “The three largest festivals in Kyoto” refers to the three festivals held in Kyoto City, the center of Kyoto Prefecture. It has the Aoi Festival (葵祭) in spring, the Gion Festival (祇園祭) in summer, and the Jidai Festival (時代祭) in autumn. In those festival seasons, Kyoto becomes very lively and full of excitement.



Jidai Matsuri (時代祭) is celebrated on the 22nd of October at the Heian Jingu shrine (平安神宮) every year. This festival has been held annually since 1895, when Kyoto City celebrated the 1,100th anniversary of “Heian-Kyo”(平安京), the beginning of one of Japan’s historical eras. Actually, Kyoto was the capital of Japan from 794 until 1868 AD. Compared with other two largest festivals, the Jidai Matsuri has a relatively short history. However, many people who live in Kyoto can participate in this festival, so most of the citizens love it. Not only Kyoto citizens, but also a lot of foreign visitor and Japanese tourists come to Kyoto to watch this festival.

Jidai Matsuri is a large-scale event involving more than 2,000 participants dressed in spectacular historical costumes. A main feature of this festival is the procession which departs from the Kyoto Imperial Palace at noon, goes along Karasuma-dori (烏丸通り), passes City Hall, and then goes towards Heian Jingu Shrine, which is the ultimate destination of the procession. The participants of the procession are wearing costumes of Kyoto’s main historical periods, starting with the most recent and finishing with the oldest period styles. Each historical era is represented by students or citizens of Kyoto acting the part of the most famous people of the time. All the participants are clothed in carefully constructed and costly costumes specific to the period they represent.

The Jidai Festival (時代祭) reminds one of a time machine that carries the viewer more than 1,200 years back in time in about three hours. It is a great event in which people in Kyoto can take pride in their history and traditions. Unfortunately, this year’s Jidai Matsuri(時代祭) was cancelled due to a big typhoon. Therefore, many people are looking forward to the festival being held next year.


Fire Festival of KURAMA

The Kurama Fire Festival is held on 22 October, same day as Jidai Matsuri in Yuki –jinja shrine, it near Kurama station. At 6 o’clock in the evening, watch fires called kagaribi are ignited all at once in front of the houses, and people holding up small and large taimatsu (pine torches) parade all night long announcing in loud voices the arrival of the festival. the main features of this festival are the 3-meter tall watch fires placed here and there along the streets, and the pine torches, which total more than 250. At 8 o’clock in the evening, people gather at the gateway of Kurama-dera Temple and pay a visit of worship to the Yuki-jinja Shrine. Later, two mikoshi (portable shrines), carried on the shoulders of youths are paraded through the town streets, bringing the festival to its climax. Every year, the festival ends a little past midnight. Moreover, the buildings of Yuki-jinja Shrine, where this festival is staged, are structures representative of the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1573-1598), and a sugi (Japanese cedar) tree about 800 years old stands in the precincts of the shrine. As it is located in an area blessed with beautiful natural landscapes, it is an ideal place for viewing the autumnal tints in early November or cherry blossoms in the sakura season.

Because the Jidai matsuri starts in the morning, it is possible to attend both festivals in one day, if you have enough stamina.


The way to participate this festival

Jidai matsuri is a festival of Heian-Jingu Shrine in Kyoto. Public festivals were held in the early Heian period. Japanese mythical dance and music were performed for the gods. Some Edo-period shops were reproduced at the festival. One of the famous Japanese women of old time, called “Ono no Komachii” during the Jidai matsuri Festival wore “Uneme costume” during the early Heian period.

”Uneme costume”

We can experience one of these Japanese traditional mythical dances and hear the music performed for the gods for a part time job. But this job can only be had by Kyoto citizens or college students attending school in Kyoto. Of course, people can work as participants in the historical pagent, wearing costumes, another job is to give brochures to tourists. Jidai Matsuri (時代祭)recruits participation by local residents and corporations as volunteers. An internet article explains that the average salary is about \6700 per a day and lunch and drinks are also supplied. This part time job is amazing because we can join in and experience of one of Japanese traditional Jidai matsuri festivals. If you are not living in Kyoto or attending school in Kyoto, we can’t join in these wonderful festivals. However, anyone can come to watch the Jidai Matsuri.




Jidai matsuri festival is the one of the famous Kyoto festival in around the world. Jidai matsuri festival is the traditional Japanese culture. It is the 20 lines then over 2000 people come on this festival every year. How wonderful? It can experience only this place in Kyoto. If you have a chance you should go and join in this marvelous Kyoto jidai matsuri festival.





by Yuki Fujimoto,  Sena Yagi and Misaki Kodama

What is a Goshuin?

Goshuin is a stamp which is written by the priest of a shrine or a temple. It is a kind of evidence that a person visited the shrine or the temple and we can get a goshuin from both shrines and temples. Goshuin includes the date of the visit, the name of the shrine or the temple, the name of gosonzo and name of gosaijin. Gosonzo is a statue of a Buddha. Gosaijin is the enshrined Buddha in the shrine or temple. Goshuin is not a stamp which everyone can get, so it’s special. There are numerous variations of goshuin in recent years. However, people who collect them may have a purpose beyond that of collecting the stamps for their own sake. Some visitors collect the stamps as part of a pilgrimage to a shrine or temple.

Goshuin have existed since the early Edo Period (1603 – 1868) and as such they are part of Japan’s cultural traditions. The origin of goshuin was as a sign that someone enshrined a shakyo. Shakyo is a handwritten copy of a Buddha sutra. So even now there are shrines and temples which don’t allow visitors to receive a goshuin without having enshrined shakyo. But a lot of shrines and temples accept the request of casual visitors. Besides, there are shrines and temples which offer goshuin for 300 yen, 500 yen or 2000 yen. In some cases, a shrine or a temple doesn’t charge a set amount of money for it but have a message saying, “Please, donate your goodwill.”

Some shrines and temples write two or three goshuin designs, not only one. And when shrines and temples will hold an event, they make a special one, just for that occasion.

Goshuin is written by a priest of the shrine or the temple and some people think it is just a stamp, but it is considered to be the very existence of a Buddha. So goshuin has a similar effect to a charm and people who receive the goshuin lay it up in lavender.

Some Goshuin (stampbook)


Temple 【 Konkai komyo-ji temple 】

【Top right】The meaning is “worship with sincerity”.

【Center】The red stamp is the sonzo of the temple and the temple’s name is written on it.

【Bottom left】It is the temple’s name stamp and the temple’s name is written on it.

【Free space】It is the date when you visited the temple.

Shrine  【Ebisu shrine】

【Top right】The meaning is “worship with sincerity”.

【Center】It is the shrine’s name stamp and the shrine’s name is written on it.

【Free space】It is the date when you visited the shrine.

How to receive a goshuin.


If you are interested in collecting stamps, you will need to know proper etiquette for getting them.

At first, prepare a Goshuin. Recently, these Goshuincho (red seal books) can be bought in various places. The internet or temples are selling original Goshuincho. The designs are also various so it’s also possible to choose a design of a Goshuincho that you enjoy or find appealing. Although it is rare for someone to try to get a temple stamp in an ordinary notebook, nonetheless we want to caution visitors against this. Using an ordinary notebook or other paper is considered an impolite act, so you will be declined to receive a Goshuin.

Then, you can get a Goshuin at the shrine office.

Please speak to Shinto priest and priestess by saying, in Japanese, “Goshuin wo onegaishimasu.” ( A Goshuin, please.)

If it is a large shrine, there may be a designated place that visitors can get Goshuin or, you may be given numbered ticket. If it is a small shrine, you may ring an intercom.

The usual price of Goshuin is \300. However, there are places which may charge less or more.

A Goshuin and the price of the other items from shrines ( likea charm and charm card etc.) are called HATSUHO RYO (a charge of the first ears of rice) at a shrine.

How to get Goshuin.

This is how people worship at a Shrine.

1 Make a bow toward the Torii.

2 Wash your hands at Chozusha (building for cleaning hands and rising mouth)

3 Throw money at the worship hall (haiden)

4 Clasp your hands together.

How to worship at a Temple.

1 Make a bow toward the Sanmon gate (temple gate)

2 Wash your hands at Chozusha (building for cleaning hands and rising mouth)

3 Throw money at the It is the date when you visited (main temple building)

4 Clasp your hands together.

When paying a visit to a shrine or temple to get a Goshuin, please follow this guide to good manners.

1 Turn off your mobil phone.

2 Take your hat off in front of the God and Buddha.

3 You can’t got Goshuin if a chief priest or priests are busy.

This is usually not be unreasonable, someone may tell you what time they are available, so you should match your time with theirs.

4 You should be punctual at the reception time.

In most places, reception time finishes at 4 or 5 o’clock. Also there may close for lunch time. If this is the case, you should not be unreasonable.

5 You should prepare the Goshuin book.

6 Be quiet when they write the Goshuin. And don’t talk the others, Do not talk them, Do not use your Mobil phone and you should set silent mode.

7 You should say thank you to them when you get the Goshuin.

8 Keep the Goshuin Book carefully

Recommended goshuin in Kyoto


・Konkaikomyoji (金戒光明寺)

Konkaikomyoji is in Sakyo-Ku, Kyoto City. We can receive 5 types of goshuin and an original goshuincho. We can usually stroll inside the temple grounds for free, but we have to pay the entrance fee when the temple has a special festival or an event.


Konkaikomyoji is open to the public from 9:00 am to 16:00 pm. It takes about 40 minutes by Kyoto city bus to Okazaki-michi from North side of Kyoto Station.

Address: 121 Kurotanicho, Sakyo-Ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto


Phone: 075-771-2204

・Ebisu shrine (ゑびす神社)

Ebisu shrine is in Higashiyama-Ku, Kyoto City. The Ebisu Buddha is a patron of success in business. The Buddha has fishing rods in his right hand and holds a red porgy fish under his left arm. So the shrine’s goshuin is stamped with a red porgy pattern.


Ebisu shrine is open to the public from 9:00 am to 17:00 pm. Times open to the public can be changed for special events. It takes about 20 minutes by Kyoto city bus to Kawaramachi-matsubara from North side of Kyoto Station.

Address: 125 Yamato-oji-dori-shijo-kudaru-komatsucho, Higashiyama-Ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto


Phone: 075-525-0005

Gion Festival

by  Momoyo Matsuoka, Yumika Yamaguchi and Momoka Yamada

Gion Festival

Japan has a lot of traditional and local festivals. For example, the Aomori Nebuta festival and Sapporo Snow festival are world-famous and well-known. Many foreign tourists actually enjoy the festivals to get in touch with Japanese culture. However, according to a survey by a travel company, the Gion festival is the most famous one for foreign people. They are fascinated with the powerful performance, and gorgeous festival floats and mikoshi; a small and portable shrine that is believed to house gods. In 2017, about 1,800,000 people came to the Gion festival in all.

What is “Gion festival”?

Gion festival is a local festival, which is held in Kyoto from July 1st to 31st. In Japan, it is one of three biggest festivals, along with the Tenjin festival (Osaka) and Kanda festival (Tokyo). The Gion festival has a very long history and it is known as the large-scale festival because it is held for one month.

History of Gion Festival


Over 1100 years ago, in 869, an epidemic spread in Kyoto, and there were countless sick people and deaths among the public. People believed this must have been a curse by the god, called Emperor Gozu, so in order to put down this disturbance, they had deep faith in Gion-sha; the old name of Yasaka shrine. Then, they made 66 Hoko at Shinsen-en and held Gion Goryo-e to pray for the disappearance of disease. Hoko is a long-handled spear or pike with two blades, set at right angles, which was used from Yayoi Era (5th century B.C.- 3rd century A.D.) to Kohun Era (the middle of 3rd century A.D.- around 7th century A.D.) That was the beginning of Gion festival. After that, the name of the festival Gion Goryo-e was shortened to Gion-e. At first, it was held only when an epidemic was spreading, so it was an irregular festival. However, it has been held every June 14th from the first year of the Genroku Era (970). According to historical records, Gion-e died out temporarily during the Hogen revolt and Heiji revolt, but it revived in Muromachi Era (1336-1573). After that, because of Ounin revolt and Bunmei revolt, Gion-e almost died out again, but a lot of people had passion for Gion-e. Therefore, in June in 1500, people made a tour of around Yasaka shrine with 26 festival floats From that time, the festival became more gregarious, and people had a strong passion for continuation of the festival. From the Momoyama Era (1568-1598) to the Edo Era (1603-1867), Japan started promoting trade with other countries, and textiles, including Gobelin (originally a French textile company) and Nishijin (the textiles produced in the Kamigyo-ku area of Kyoto) were used in Japan. From that time, the shape of festival floats changed into the current shape with gorgeous decorations. As you may know, the Gion festival has a long, long history of more than 1000 years, and it has been associated with the history of Kyoto.

The Big Event


The Gion festival has a lot of ritual events. Especially, Yamaboko Junko is the main event: the processions of festival cars. It takes place between 9:00 and 11:30 a.m. The first half of the festival is called Saki Matsuri, which is held on July 17. The procession route is from Shijo Karasuma to Shinmachi Oike. On the other hand, the last half of the festival is called Ato Matsuri, which is held on July 24. The route of this day is from Karasuma Oike to Shijo Karasuma. On the Saki Matsuri, 23 festival floats go around Yasaka shrine. In contrast, 10 festival floats go in procession on Ato Matsuri. There are some kinds of paid seats, so if you would like to watch the processions at the best place, we recommend you buy the ticket for paid seats on the Internet. In addition, you can listen to the information of Gion festival by tourism guide through your seat’s headphones provided with your ticket. Therefore, you will enjoy both seeing the processions and listening to the information.

Other Popular Events Included in Gion Festival


From July 10 to 14 and from the 18 to the 21, the festival floats for Yamaboko Junko  (grand procession) are assembled in a traditional way, and you can watch that process. The way of assembling the festival floats varies from city to city, and each city has original shapes of floats. Another ceremony to watch is the Mikoshi Arai, which is held on July 10  and the 28th: this is the washing of the mikoshi (portable shrine) using water from the Kamogawa River. It is the most important ritual ceremony. If you want to watch it, you should go to Shijo-ohashi Bridge at around 6:00 p.m  on July 10 or the 28th.

The most popular event is Yoiyama. It is held twice, from the 14th to the 16th and from the 21st to the 23rd. At Yoiyama, all of the floats are lit up in the evening. With lightening the floats up, Gion Bayashi is played: people play with musical instruments such as flutes, drums, and bells on the floats. It is a very beautiful event, so many tourists come to watch it. In 2017, more than 320,000 people came to see Yoiyama. During Yoiyama (on the 15th and 16th), Shijo Street and Karasuma Street are kept completely free of cars. There are also a lot of refreshment and souvenir stands along Karasuma Street, Muromachi Street, and Shinmachi Street.





If you go to enjoy the Gion festival, the access is below:

From Kyoto Station, you can take a taxi or bus to Shijo Street or Yasaka shrine.


No. 206 bus goes to Gion, so you can get off there. It takes about 15 minutes to get there from Kyoto Station to Gion.


Keihan Electric Railway: get off at Gion Shijo Station and walk about a minute.

Hankyu Railway: get off at Kawaramachi Station and walk about 5 minutes.

The area around Gion is crowded with many tourists during the Gion festival season. Therefore, coming by car is not recommended, and there is no parking area for this festival.

The Gion festival has been designed as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property from 1979. In addition to this, it was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Property in 2009. Gion festival has become more and more noticeable. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of tourists will come to watch Gion Festival this year. Therefore, everyone should follow the rules, and we hope you enjoy Gion Festival!

Detective Conan Tour

by Mayu Nishikawa and Natsumi Nishimura

Detective Conan is one of the most popular manga (comics or graphic novels) in Japan. It was written by Gosho Aoyama in the mid-to-late 90s. The main character is Conan Edogawa. His real name is Shinichi Kudo. He is a high school student. He is very smart. However, he looks like child because of a poison he ingested, but his brain remains that of an adult. He hides his real self from around people. He uses the name “Conan Edogawa.” He lives in his girlfriend’s house, but she doesn’t know that Conan is actually Shinichi.

In the story, he always happens to be at the scene of a crime. Then, he solves criminal cases. This manga has not concluded yet. Last year, the 95th volume was released. The 95th volume contains the 1000th episode. Commemorative of the 1000th episode, the main characters went to Kyoto on a school trip. Conan temporarily returns to Shinichi as an antidote. However, at the hotel where they stayed, there was a murder case. Moreover, the romance between Shinichi and his girlfriend, named Ran, developed at Kiyomizudera temple. They visited this famous tourist spot in Kyoto.

In this article, we’d like to introduce three tourists spot they visited. These are Kiyomizudera temple, Kinkakuji temple and Kitanotenmangu shrine. If you like Detective Conan, you can enjoy these spots. Even if you don’t know much about Dectective Conan, you will like those spots and become interested in Detective Conan.


Kiyomizudera temple

Kiyomizudera temple is one of the famous temples in Kyoto. It was built in 778. It was burned to the ground by fire over ten time, but it was reconstructed again and again. It was registered one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Kyoto in 1994. There is main gate called Nioumon. This is a good picture spot because it is a beautiful red color and so big. Kiyomizu temple is also famous for cherry blossoms and autumn leaves. If you go there, we recommend you visit in the spring or autumn. Kiyomizu temple also has a stage called Kiyomizu stage. The picture of the stage is front cover of the 95th volume of manga. The view from the stage is wonderful. On the stage, Shinichi and Ran had their photo taken by their friend. At the end, Ran expressed her feelings to Shinichi. Moreover, he solved murder case. The Kiyomizu stage is the best place for Detective Conan’s fans.


Kinkakuji temple

Kinkakuji temple is another one of the World Heritage Sites of Kyoto. It was built by Yoshimitsu Ashikaga in 1397. He is the third Shogun of the Muromachi Shogunate. This Shogunate is the samurai government of the Muromachi Shogunate. The official name of Kinkakuji temple is Rokuonji. Kinkakuji temple was burned to the ground in 1950, but it was reconstructed in 1955. This temple is a three-layered building, but only the second and third layers are covered with gold foil. This golden Kinkakuji temple reflected in the pond is very beautiful.

Shinichi and his friends visited Kinkakuji temple. They took photos and enjoy the view.


Kitanotenmangu shrine

Kitanotenmangu shrine deifies Michizane Sugawarano. He has great ability for studying. For example, he is well known for composing an emotional Japanese poetry and creating Chinese poetry. He is called the god of learning, so this shrine is famous as a place where people pray for success in school. This shrine was built in 947. There is a light up event held in the precincts on the 25th of every month. This day is called Tenjin Day, because Michizane Sugawarano’s birthday is on July 25th. Every month of that day, there are many food stands.

After Shinichi solved the murder case at Kiyomizu stage, they visited Kitanotenmangu Shrine as the end of sightseeing. If you want to be smart like Conan, you should visit and pray there.

As you can see, we introduced three spots where the main characters of Detective Conan visited: Kiyomizudera temple,Kinkakuji temple and Kitanotenmangu shrine. If you visit these spots, we are sure you feel like you are a member of Conan’s school trip. Every place is perfect for sightseeing in Kyoto. Let’s visit those temples and shrine!


Kiyomizudera temple

The opening hour 06:00~18:00 (~18:30)

The entrance fee is 400 yen for adults (high school students and above)
and 200 yen for elementary and junior high school students.

From Kyoto station- No.86, 206, 100 city bus, get off “Gojozaka”

Kinkakuji temple

The opening hours 09:00~17:00

The entrance fee is 400 yen for adults (high school students and above)
and 300 yen for elementary and junior high school students.

From Kyoto station- No.101, 205 city bus, get off “Kinkakujido”

Kitanotenmangu shrine

The gate opening hours: April~ September 05:00~18:00, October~ March

From Kyoto station- No.50, 101 city bus, get off “Kitano Tenmangumae”

From Demachiyanagi station- No.102, 203 city bus, get off “Kitano

Love Fortune in Kyoto

by Mayu Nishikawa & Natsumi Nishimura

There are many kinds of shrines and temples in Kyoto. There people pray for various things such as health, happiness, work, and learning. Of course, praying for love is important in life. Many shrines in Kyoto house the deity of love. Moreover, the Gion area, where many shrines are gathered, is best for praying for love. If you are in love or are considering getting married, you should go to places that we recommend, and try a love fortune. First, do you know what omikuji is? Omikuji is the paper that tells us about our future. One of the kinds of omikuji is a love fortune, which tells us about our future as concerns love. In this article, we will introduce two places that are well-known for their love fortunes: Yasui Konpiraguu and Jishu-Jinja shrine.

Yasui Konpiragu

Love Fortune in Yasui Konpiragu
Power Stone

If you want to meet the god of marriage, you have to go to Yasui Konpiragu. It was built by Kamatari Fujiwara in 671 A.D. Yasui Konpiragu is the shrine connected with breaking off all kinds of bad relationships and initiating good ones. You can break off not only relationships between men and women, but also all relationships with things such as sickness, alcohol, cigarettes and gambling. Once you do so, a happy life will follow. The love fortunes at Yasui Konpiragu are colorful and very cute. These omikuji in this picture are pink and blue. I’ m sure you’ll want to take a picture them. The way to draw a fortune is to pick a stick, and then you tell the Shinto priests the number on the stick. They give you the love fortune paper. It tells your fortune on the topics of health, love, and money. There are several kinds of luck. Daikichi means best luck, kichi means good luck, and kyou means bad luck. If you get a lucky strip, you should bring it home, but if you get an unlucky strip, you should go home after tying the strip to something, like a tree or fence, in the shrine. In the shrine, there is a power stone monument for breaking off relationships and initiating good ones. It is in the shape of an ema, or wooden prayer tablet. It is said that if you pass through this stone with a wish, the wish will come true. Do you want to meet a wonderful boy or girl? If your answer is “yes”, we recommend you that you go there immediately.

Jishu Jinja Shrine

Lovefortune in Jishu-jinja
Love Stone

Jishu-jinja Shrine is located within the famous Kiyomizu Temple. This shrine is the oldest shine containing the deity of love in Kyoto. The history of the shrine is not clear because it is said the shrine was founded before Japan was established around 660 B.C. This shrine is famous for its love stone. This stone has existed from the Jomon era (12,000 B.C. ~ 4500 B.C.) There are two stones in the shrine separated by about 10 meters. The way to have your fortune told is simple, but difficult. First, you must stand in front of one stone. Next, close your eyes and walk to the other stone while making a wish. If you can walk to the other stone, your wish will come true soon. If you can’t walk, it takes a long time to make your wish. Furthermore, if you can walk because of people around you, your wish will come true by being helped. In other words, advice from people around you helped your wish come true. The shrine has not only love stones, but also love fortunes. There is a graph near the fortune section. If you draw a fortune, please follow instruction on the graph. Finally, the shrine sells love charms of various types. Therefore, you can find the perfect charm for you. As we said before, the shrine is in Kiyomizu temple. Many tourists go there. Therefore, we recommend that you go to the shrine in the early hours of the morning on weekdays. We hope your wish come true!

We recommend you to visit two great love fortune places. Which shrine do you like? There are many shrines and temples in Kyoto. They will help your love, and you will be able to make a boyfriend or girlfriend. Moreover, if you have a lover, god will lead you into marriage. Let’s try drawing a love fortune.


Yasui Konpiragu

The shrine is accessible 24 hours a day. The reception desk’s opening hours 09:00~17:30 From Kyoto station- No.206 city bus bound for Kitaoji bus terminal, get off “Higashiyama Yasui” bus terminal.

Jishu Jinja Shrine

 The opening hours 09:00-17:00 From Kyoto station- No.86,206,100 city, get off “Gojozaka”

Photogenic Spots in Kyoto

By Hanami Yanagi, Saya Ishida, Tomoka Yamazaki

Recently in Japan, photogenic spots are getting a great deal of attention. Such spots are increasing dramatically. There are many attractive places in Kyoto. Therefore, we would like to introduce a few specially selected locations in Kyoto that are very good for taking photographs. Not only Japanese, but foreign tourists can come to these spots. Tourists enjoy visiting these locations, taking lots of photographs and then upload their favorite images to SNS. We chose three spots to recommend and introduce them here.

Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine

Access: 7 minutes’ walk to the east of the Inari Taisha-mae bus stop on the Minami 5 line

Right next to Inari Station on the JR Nara Line (2 stations/5 minutes from Kyoto Station) 5 minutes’ walk to the east of Fushimi-Inari Station on the Keihan Main Line

Business hours: Always open

Closed: No closing days

Admission fee: Free

Also known as “O-inari-san”, the Fushimi-inari-Taisha Shrine is very famous in Kyoto. In the 1300 years since its establishment, people have gathered here to pray for good harvests, ecomnomic prosperity, the safety of their home and the health of their family. They may pray for many other things as well, such as finding a good partner, safe travels and good scores on examinations. And Fushimi-inari-Taisha Shrine has recently become famous as a photogenic spot.  There is “Senbon-Torii” in the shrine, or a thousand toriii gates, They are painted bright vermilion.


They are placed next to each other and so form tunnels up the mountain. In the winter, snow accumulate on them, and you can take beautiful pictures that are different from the usual.  Many people enjoy taking pictures there every day, but if you want to take especially good pictures there, we recommend you to go to the shrine in the early morning.

Senbon-Torii in winter


Access: Near to the Kyoto City 5 Bus Stop ‘Nanzenji-Eikando-michi Station’ stop.

Near to Keage Station on the Tozai Subway Line. Continue on foot about 10 minutes to reach Nanzen-ji.

Business hours: 8:40~17:00 (until 16:30 from December to February)

Closed: December 28 to 31

Admission fee: Sanmon Gate and Hojo is 500 yen, Nanzenin is 300 yen, Tenju-an and Konchi-in are 400 yen each.

Nanzen-ji is one of the most famous Zen temples in Japan. Emperor Kameyama loved this beautiful place so much that in 1264 he built his detached palace here. The temple is especially beautiful in the autumn because of the many yellow and red maples trees on its grounds.


We especially recommend “suirokaku”. Suirokaku is near Nanzen-ji. It is an aqueduct that was used to carry water from Lake Biwa to Kyoto in the Meiji-era. During this age Japan was rapidly modernizing and taking in a lot of Western culture. It is said that its design is based on the ancient aqueducts of the Roman age. It is very wonderful scenery and a photogenic spot. Therefore, there are always many people there taking photos, especially in recent years.


Shouju-in Temple

Access: Near to the ‘Okuyamada station’ stop

Business hours: 9:00~16:00(November 16 to March)8:00~17:00(April to November 15)

Closed: December 26 to January 4

Admission fee:400 yen

The Shoujuin temple was founded in 1291, about 800 years ago. It is surrounded by beautiful nature and fresh green. This temple treats visitor very kindly. Therefore, you can make special memories here.  The most recommend spot within the Shouju-in temple grounds is the window called ‘Inome-mado’.


It is a heart-shaped window because it is based on the shape of a boar’s eye. Boar is an animal regarded for its ability to expel evil and avert fire hazards. Moreover, it brings happiness. Of course, you can enjoy seeing it. However, we want you to see the heart-shaped pool of light. You can see it between 3:00 to 4:00 pm. You must take a picture it. There are many more beautiful things here. For example, the roof has a beautiful picture. You can feel the artistry of Japan traditions at this temple.

“Photogenic” is buzzword and popular all over the world nowadays.  Kyoto is famous area for photogenic spots.  In fact, there are a lot of spots in Kyoto that we haven’t introduced here.  We want you to go photogenic spots in Kyoto and take good pictures!

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji

by Ema Maeda, David Grogan & Tsukasa Ishibashi

About 1250 years ago, Emperor Shotoku built Otagi temple. However, at the beginning of the Heian Period, the temple washed away when the Kamo River flooded. The temple was reestablished by Senkan Naigu, who was a priest of the Tendai sect. At that time, the temple was named Otagi Nenbutsu-ji. At the beginning of 1922, during the Taisho Period, the temple was transferred to its present location in the Saga District from the south of Kenji temple in order to preserve it. The temple is a very old one, and has seen many changes over the centuries.

Otagi Temple has many features, including the gate, guarded by two statues, a main hall, and other buildings. Otagi Temple is a Buddhist structure, and has some features that are typical of that religion.


Nio-mon is an Edo Period style gate. At this gate, there are Nio guardians that were made in the Kamakura Period.

What are the Nio guardians?
Generally, Nio guardians are perfect with 2 statues. The right one is an Agyo statue, and the left one is an Ungyo statue. “A” means start, and “Un” means the end of something. Nio guardians usually stand at the gate of a temple in the role of gatekeepers.


The main hall of this temple is registered as an important cultural property for Japanese style buildings in middle Kamakura period. “Sente kannon” is famous as a talisman which is this temple’s principal image. Kannon is the goddess of Mercy.


The Bodhisattva of love and mercy, this Kannon is pleased by being touched by people’s hands. Statues of Buddha have been made by people for more than 2000 years, and they have been made by people who are not blind and have been prayed to by people who are also are not blind. This statue is the first one that was made especially for blind people in the world. Therefore, people can touch this with their hands.


Jizo is a popular deity in the folk belief of the Japanese. He is the patron saint of travelers, children, pregnant women. In this Jizo Hall, there is Hiyoke Jizo which protects Kyoto from fire. Also this is called “Enmei Jizo,” it means prolong the life. People visit this temple for pray their long life.


Originally, the role of ringing the bells in temples was to convey instructions to the monks. An important feature in this temple is that there are 3 bells, and each bell has a mark, one for “Buddha”, another for “Dharma”, and one for “Priest.” These three characters express the important treasures for monks. These bells are smaller than others and the tone is very high and clear.
What is Rakan?
Rakans, also called Syakatanzyoubutsu or Arakan, were pupils of Syaka and they spread the teachings of Buddha. Five hundred Rakans got together when Syaka passed away, and there are many temples that have 500 Rakans in Japan, but Otagi Nenbutsu-ji has 1200 Rakans because 100 years after Syaka passed away, an additional 700 Rakans came to this temple and to learn about Buddha. Therefore, there are 1200 Rakans in this temple. The worshippers started to make and dedicate Rakan statues from 1980. Because all of those were made by hand by worshippers, each Rakan has a different face.

Nishimura Koutyou

In 1952, Mr. Nishimura became monk when he was 37 years old and was appointed the chief priest when he was 40 years old. He was graduated from Tokyo Art University and he had a very high level skill as a sculptor. First, he restructured the Buddha in Japan, but after he became the chief priest in Otagin Nenbutsu-ji, he focused on the Buddha in Kyoto. Then he asked for prayers that make “Rakan” and dedicate it. Nowadays the number of Rakan is 1200. Mr. Nishimura made and reconstructed more than 1300 statues of Buddha. The reason why he reconstructed so many Buddhas is that he saw many broken Buddhas in China because of wars. He wanted to do something for Buddha.

Which season is the best?
And what can we see in each season?
Otagi Nenbutsu-ji is next to the mountains, therefore this temple shows different faces in each season.

 Spring
→cherry blossoms, maple trees, butterburs, and azaleas
“Rakan Spring Festivval” on the first Sunday in April, from 13:00-15:00.

 Summer
→hydrangea, gardenia and fresh green leaves

 Autumn
→yellow leaves and little cuckoos
“Autumn Festival” on the second Sunday in November, from 13:00-15:00.

 Winter
→snow on the Rakans and camellias
The most recommended season is winter for the tasteful Rakans with snow.

On the 24th of each month, there is a “Buddhist service.”
“Hoyou” people pray that a deceased’s soul may rest in peace. Also the monk gives a sermon.


1. “Saijo Syouhuku Kigan”
This is one of the prayers that people do in their unlucky year. Usually, it is important to be purified at 33 years old for women and 42 years old for men.
2. “Ohatu Senkan”
This event is a newborn baby’s first visit to a shrine. People pray for the baby’s happiness.
3. “Mitsuinana Mairi”
This is a child’s visit to a shrine to celebrate its third/fifth/seventh year. The origin of this event is from the Heian period. In the Heian period, children’s death rate was very high, therefore this event was started in hope for children’s good health and happiness. The reason why it is 3, 5, 7 is people think the odd numbers are auspicious.
4. “Kariteibosatsu”
This is prayer for easy delivery and happy family.
5. Wedding
A couple can hold a wedding ceremony in front of Buddha.


If you want to walk around traditional Kyoto, we recommend that starting from Otagi Nenbutsu-ji to Arashiyama.


Access: About 5 minutes’ walk from JR Saga Arashiyama Station
Address: 2-5 Fukatani-cho, Sagatoriimoto, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, 616-8439 Japan
Telephone: 075-865-1231
Open: 8:00 to 17:00 (Last entrance is 15 minutes before 17:00)
Admission fee: 300 yen (elementary & junior high school students are free of charge)
Denomination: Tendai
Official website: