Yokai Street

August 28, 2016

By Ayano Seguchi  and Emiri Masunaga

The city of Kyoto has been called Kyoto-Makai for about 1,300 years now. ‘Makai’ means the world of spirits in English. This is because Kyoto has been related to ghosts and evil spirits since ancient times. In Kyoto city, there is a street named Ichijo on the northern edge of Heian-kyo in Kamigyo Ward. It is located in the center of the city. Ichijo is one of the biggest streets in Kyoto and corresponds to the same Ichijo-oji street of Heian-kyo (from 794 to 1191). The east-west streets which run every four cho (approximately 436 m) were called Ichijo-oji, Nijo-oji and so on, while the north-south streets were called Ichibo-oji, Nibo-oji and so on.   It has been said that Ichijo Street is a boundary line between the external world and the real world. Because of this, Ichijo has been famous as a typical example of Kyoto-Makai. It was said that Ichijo was the place where people met with evil spirits and Ichijo-dori Street was the way of Hyakki Yagyo, which is a mysterious legend. Hyakki Yagyo literally means ‘Night Parade of One Hundred Demons’ is like a procession of hundreds of demons and ghosts that wander about streets at midnight. Later, people gave the name ‘Yokai Street’ to a portion of Ichijo Street at the Taishogun shopping area. This revitalized the area in 2005.

Ichijo Hyakki Yagyo

At Yokai Street, Hyakki Yagyo is performed once a year in October. At the time of a day when the sun sets, it gets completely dark. Then it is said that ghosts and evil spirits start to wander about the street at the time. Therefore, people who disguise themselves as ghosts appear and proceed to the sound of whistles and drums in a line. It creates a very vibrant and colorful scene. The participants make a strange atmosphere by making the sounds of whistles and drums. The situation is appropriate to the name ‘Hyakki Yagyo’.   Many tourists form Asian countries such as China, Taiwan, South Korea, come to enjoy Hyakki Yagyo every year. This is because it is such a unique festival. However, children are scared of the people who disguise themselves as ghosts and they begin to cry. It is often too scary for children to see. There are large crowds of people during the procession. And as a result, it can be very difficult to walk around. You can probably guess that the day Hyakki Yagyo is held is much more vibrant than usual at Yokai street.

Mononoke Ichi

Also an important feature of the Ichijo Street region is the Mononoke Ichi, which is similar to a ghost-themed flea market. This shopping district voluntarily holds photo exhibitions of ghosts and various other events. For example, the sellers disguise themselves as ghosts and sell many kinds of food. Also, many of the stores in the area are decorated in a ghost or demon themes. In addition, many ghost researchers and writers from the all over Japan gather at this free market They sell many fine goods and unique articles, such as stuffed toys, accessories, convenience goods, masks of ghosts, ghost figures, ghost mango, and so on. In addition, there is also a place for cultural exchange, which attracts many Yokai fans from all over Japan. They look forward to it every year and buy many goods that they want. Whether they like ghosts or not, all people can come to enjoy Monoke Ichi.

Yokai Noodles

The most famous of local culinary specialties on Yokai Steet is Yokai Noodle. The color of the noodles is purple, while its soup is black. In addition, its ingredients are leeks, roast pork and red paprika. This gives Yokai noodles the appearance of a hell as a motif. The reason why Yokai noodles are black is to contrast the noodles with the color of ghosts. The noodle is stained with the ink of squid, while its soup is dyed with the seeds of a gardenia. Contrary to its dreadful appearance and color, its taste is very light. People who visit Yokai street eat it. You can eat it at a restaurant called ‘Inoue’. It is located in Tenjinbashisuji, Higashi-iru, Ichijo onmae-Dori, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. The cost of Yokai Noodle is 750 yen. You can also eat various kinds of dishes such as gyoza, tonkatsu, fried cartilage and a chicken cutlet.Tuesday is regular holiday. It is open from 11 to 14:30 and from 17:30 to 21:00. Kitano Hakubai-cho bus stop is the nearest bus stop. It takes a few minutes from the bus stop on foot.

Access

Yokai street is about 400 meters away from the Kitano Hakubai-cho station on the Keifuku train line. It is also 200 meters to the east of the Kitano Hakubai-cho bus stop, and 250 meters to the southwest of the Kitano-tenmangu bus stop.

Map

Taishogun shopping area

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