The Kamogawa Delta

June 29, 2015

By Mao Osako and Yuina Terasaki

Most people think of Kyoto as a place to see temples, shrines, and geisha. However, Kyoto is more than that. In this article, we will introduce a place that many tourists don’t know about: the Kamogawa Delta. After describing its history, we will tell you how to enjoy it. We hope that after reading about it, you will want to visit it yourself.

History of the Kamogawa Delta

Kamogawa Delta form is triangle.

The Kamogawa Delta is in the shape of a triangle (source).

 

The Kamogawa Delta is a part of the Kamo River, the main river in Kyoto that runs from the north to the south, right through the center of the city. From its source in the mountains north of the city, it runs for 31 km to the south, where it merges with the Katsura River in Fushimi Ward. The Kamogawa Delta is located at a place called Demachiyanagi, where the Takano River meets the Kamo River in their journey southward.

The word ‘delta’ means ‘triangulation point’, and indeed a triangular shaped piece of land between the two rivers is the result of many centuries of water flow. The delta was formed gradually by sand carried from the upper stream of the river being deposited where the two rivers merged. Over time, the deposited sand got hard and became solid ground.

The Kamogawa Delta is home to the forest of Tadasu of the famous Shimogamo Shrine. This place is sometimes called the ‘tip of a blade’ because the Y-shaped resulting from the two merging rivers is similar to the point of a sword. Historically, the river north of the delta was written with different kanji (賀茂川), whose name derived from the Kamo Clan, whose home was in mouth of the valley in the north, leading into the city in ancient times. Meanwhile, the southern portion was written (鴨川), meaning ‘wild duck river’. Both kanji compounds are pronounced in exactly the same way.

The Kamogawa Delta Today

As you may know, Kamo River is a really famous landmark in Kyoto. However not only the river, but also the Kamogawa Delta is a popular place. Local students and residents often use it as a place of rest and relaxation. On the weekends, they enjoy playing musical instruments, practicing sports, or doing something what they want.

Another common name for the Kamogawa Delta is simply, Demachiyanagi.  It is located next to two train stations, one on the Eizan Densha line and the other on the Keihan line. Both are named, Demachiyanagi. From there, you can easily find the triangular shaped delta just a few meters to the west.

One of the most interesting things you can do at the Kamogawa Delta is walk across the river on stepping stones. Even more intriguing is that the stepping stones have differing levels of difficulty, with some stones being more challenging than others. So if you are confident in your sense of balance, you should try stepping on the more difficult ones. If not, then it would be wise to stick with the easy ones. Also, you will find some of the stones in the shape of turtle, if you look closely.

Kamogawa Delta have stepping stone. There are famous some movies and animations.

Kamogawa Delta have stepping stone. There are famous some movies and animations (source).

 

In addition to being filming location for the occasional scene in a Japanese movie, the Kamogawa Delta is also an active spot for visitors to the annual Daimonji festival in Kyoto each summer. On August 16th, thousands flock to the delta to get a good view of the bonfires set into the mountains surrounding the city, all in the shape of a meaningful Japanese kanji. The name of the festival is the Great Bonfire Event on Five Mountains in Kyoto (五山の送り火). From the Kamogawa Delta, you can get an unforgettable view of several of the fires. That is why the Kamogawa Delta is so crowded on the 16th of August each year.

If you find yourself at the Kamogawa Delta, don’t forget to visit the nearby Shimogamo Shrine which is famous throughout Japan. It is a shine built on the delta itself, just north of the confluence of the two rivers. The Shimogamo Shrine is famous as a place that can help you realize your dreams and wishes. The shrine even appears in The Tale of Genji and The Pillow Book, both famous classical novels written over 1,000 years ago.

Because Kyoto’s land slopes downward from the north to the south, the best way of walking in Kyoto is to start at the north and make your way south. Along the way, you can enjoy memorable seasonal scenery as you walk along Kamo River. When you reach the Kamogawa Delta, you can stop and enjoy the scene. Now you can understand why the Kamogawa Delta is so wonderful. Why don’t you visit this unique area during your visit to Kyoto?

Access

By train: Get off at Dematiyanagi station of Keihan and go to Exit 3

By bus: Get off at Kawaramachi imadegawa. You must ride No.3, 4 or 102 .

Daimonji-yaki

by Miho Hosotani, Keita Kitagawa, & Takuma Osawa

What is Daimonji-yaki?

Daimonji-yaki is original Japanese culture, and one of the most famous events in Kyoto. In this event, kanji characters are marked on the mountain side and illuminated by fire. This ceremony is held during Obon, on the 16th of August. Obon is one of the Japanese national holidays, and according to Buddhist legend, is when the souls of dead people return and we receive them.

Daimonji-yaki is set on the sides of five mountains in Kyoto, and the burning proceeds in order from East to West: Daimonji → Myoho → Funagata → Sadaimonji → Torii . They continue to burn for about one hour.

1. Daimonji

Daimonji is a kind of opening ceremony to kick off Daimonji-yaki, and its origins date back between 300 years and 500 years.

It is also called Joseigata, which in English means female style, because of the slender and beautiful character used.

Light up starts from 20:00.

 

 

 

2. Myoho

Myoho, the second one, comes from Japanese religious belief. People dance a bon-odori (Japanese traditional dance at the top of the mountain, and the character is lit 10 minutes after Daimonji, at 20:10.

 

 

3. Funagata

Preparation for Funagata, the third one, starts from early morning on the 16th. At night, accompanied by the sound of a temple bell, people light it 5minutes after Myoho at 20:15. Once the ceremony is finished, the chief priest and other workers talk about it inside the temple.

 

 

 

4. Sadaimonji

The fourth one, Sadaimonji has a shorter history than Daimonji, Myoho and Funagata. It is called Otokogata, which in English means male style, because it is thicker and stronger than Daimonji. If we compare it with Daimonji, Funagata, and Myoho, Sadaimonji it is newer, but it still has more than 300 years of history. The light up time is the same as Funagata, from 20:15.

 

 

 

5. Torii

Preparation for the last one, Torii, starts from 20.00 on the 16th. It is said to be the grandest and most beautiful of all five. Originally, Torii is the gate that marks the territory of the gods. It is the fastest burning of the five, so it is called the ‘Fire runner’. People call these five stages of the burning ceremony Gozan Okuribi.

Daimonji-yaki is well known to foreigners, so Kyoto is frequented by tourists every summer looking to view it. Originally, ”Daimonji-yaki” took place as a memorial service for ancestors during the Bon Festival. The Bon Festival is a ceremony to welcome spirits, a bit like Halloween. Daimonji-yaki is made using the Chinese character 大, which is composed of three lines. The first horizontal line measures 80 meters; the second, 160 meters from the top down to the left; and the last 120 meters from the horizontal bar down to the right. As it is so large, we can see it clearly even from far away on a summer’s night. The local people call it Daimonji-San, and through this, we can see how much it is loved by local people. During World War Ⅱ it was cancelled, but thanks to the strong mind of Japanese people and their actions, an understanding was reached to revive it and continue the beauty of its form to this day. From now on as well, we hope to see every year this beautiful flame as part of Japanese traditional culture.

The interesting modern history of Daimonji-yaki

Due to fears of making Kyoto an easy target for Allied bomber planes during the Second World War, Daimonji-yaki was cancelled in 1943. However, with the Japanese spirit of ganbari, the ceremony, was continued by using local school kids as a substitute for the flaming markers. They climbed the mountain to make a giant white 大 wearing white T-shirts. This was repeated the following year in 1944; however this was to be the last Daimonji ceremony until its official revival in the year 1946, following the end of the Pacific war.

For several years leading up to 2011 pine trees from Rikuzentakata in Iwate prefecture had been imported and used in the okuribi ceremony. However, due to fears of radioactive contamination stemming from the 2011 Eastern Japan Great Earthquake Disaster the organizers of the event put a ban on the use of Iwate pines on the 6th of August. The decision to cancel was met with severe protest and the organizers of the event were flooded with phone calls demanding the decision be overturned. Caving to this pressure, the organizers of the 2011 event decided that they would use the imported pines until a test definitively proved the presence of the radioactive material cesium, which solidified the organizers’ resolve to ban the use of Iwate pines.

Access to Daimonji

There are two ways to access the best viewpoints for Daimonjiyaki:

1. Kyoto City Bus: From Kyoto Station Bus Terminal catch bus number 17, and get off at the “Demachiyanagi” stop. It takes about 20 minutes, depending on the traffic and costs 220 yen.

2. JR Kyoto: From Kyoto JR Station, take the Nara line, train to Tofukuji Station and change to the Keihan line, take the north bound train and get off at Demachiyanagi terminal. It takes about 30 minutes, and costs about 480yen.

From our experience, we recommend you to take the train, because during this season a lot of tourists come to Kyoto, from inside Japan, as well as from all over the world. Last year, we went to Daimonji-yaki ceremony separately and planned to meet there, but it was impossible and we couldn’t find each other until the ceremony had finished and most people had disappeared. We hope you like it and enjoy your summer vacation in Kyoto!

Thank you.

References:

Asahi Shinbun, 2011, Cesium detected in Daimonji-Yaki firewood – usage of Iwate pines to be discontinued, accessed 5th December 2013, <http://www.asahi.com/special/10005/OSK201108120098.html>

The Second Kyotoism Blog, Daimonji: gozan okuribi sono futatsu, 2011, accessed 5th December 2013 <http://2ndkyotoism.blog101.fc2.com/blog-entry-319.html>

Kioto-shi Kankou Kyoukai, accessed 5th December 2013 < http://www.kyokanko.or.jp/okuribi/>

Der Shimogamo Schrein

Foto vom Shimogamo Schrein

Der Shimogamo Schrein Frontansicht

Mitarashiike

Der Teich Mitarashiike

Haben Sie mal vom Shimogamo-Jinja gehört? In Wahrheit ist dieser Name nur ein Rufname und die offizielle Bezeichnung lautet Kamomioya Schrein. Es gibt auch nicht viele Japaner, die das wissen. Von diesem Schrein, auf den die Japaner sehr stolz sind, handelt dieser Artikel.

Die nächstgelegene Bahnstation ist „Demachiyanagi“ an der Keihan-Linie, und wenn man mit dem Bus kommt, steigt man direkt am Shimogamo-Schrein aus. Das genaue Alter des Shimogamo-Schreins, der sich in Sakyo-ku befindet, ist unbekannt, doch man sagt, dass er 90 Jahre vor Christi Geburt  vollendet worden sei. Der Shimogamo-Schrein war gemeinsam mit dem Kamigamo-Schrein einem Schutzgott der adligen Kamo-Familie gewidmet. Beide Schreine gemeinsam bilden den Kamo-Schrein. Das  Kamo-Fest, besser bekannt unter dem Namen Aoi-Fest, das beide Schreine veranstalten, ist sehr berühmt. Der Shimogamo-Schrein ist der älteste Schrein Kyotos. Die Hauptgebäude zum Osten und Westen gehören offiziell zum nationalen Kulturerbe Japans. Ihr historischer Wert ist sehr hoch. Momentan  wird ein Teil des Gebäudes renoviert, um es vor dem Verfall zu schützen.

Außerdem wird der Schrein als „Powerspot“ für Liebeswünsche  betrachtet. Es gibt dort einen Baum , der aus zwei einzelnen Bäumen zu einem einzigen zusammengewachsen ist. Das symbolisiert Glück in der Liebe. Über diesen Baum wird in letzter Zeit viel berichtet. So wird an diesem Baum auf korrekte Weise gebetet: Zuerst schreibt man seinen Wunsch auf ein Votivtäfelchen. Dann denkt man an seinen Wunsch, während man die rote und die weiße Schnur fest miteinander verknotet. Danach geht man mit dem Votivtäfelchen in der Hand zur Vorderseite des Schreins und umkreist den Schrein mit dem Baum zu Fuß dreimal, während man an seinen Wunsch denkt. Beim dritten Mal bringt man des Votivtäfelchen am Baum dar und kehrt zur Vorderseite des Schreins zurück. Zuletzt verbeugt man sich zweimal, klatscht in die Hände und verbeugt sich dann noch einmal.

Wegbeschreibung Shimogamo-Schrein

Wegbeschreibung zum Shimogamo-Schrein

Ich habe es übrigens wirklich mit dieser Methode versucht. Und tatsächlich habe ich eine tolle Freundin gefunden. Daher kann ich die Wirkung persönlich bestätigen.

Probieren Sie doch auch einmal Ihr Glück beim Shimogamo-Schrein.

Der Kurama Tempel

by TSUDUKI Rina

Die Energie der Natur in Kurama und Kibune

Was ist der Kurama Tempel? –

Der Kurama-Tempel steht am Fuß des Berges Kurama im Nordosten der Stadt Kyoto. Hier kann man von den Göttern Energie zum Leben bekommen.

„Die Götter“ bedeutet hier die „Kosmische Energie“ und ihre
Wirkung soll sich durch Liebe, Licht und Kraft manifestieren.
Der Kwannon Bodhisattwa mit den eintausend Armen ist für
„Liebe“ zuständig. Der buddhistische Kriegsgott,
„Bischamon-ten“, regiert das „Licht“. Und „Goho-mao-Son“ wird
als der Schutzgott des Buddhismus bezeichnet. Er beherrscht
die „Kraft“. Diesen drei Göttern ist der Kurama-Tempel geweiht.
Dieser Glaube ist auch in Japan ungewöhnlich . Die religiöse Kraft in diesem Tempel ist stärker als in den anderen Tempeln in Kyoto. Er ist sehr heilig und mystisch. Im Kurama-Tempel kann man besonders gut den japanischen religiösen Begriff fühlen. Wer sich für japanische Religion interessiert, der sollte hier herkommen.

– Machen wir einen Ausflug in der Schatzkammer der Natur! –


Aber alle Leute können hier die Schönheit der Natur genießen, wenn
Sie sich auch nicht für die japanische Religion interessieren. In der
Natur des Berges Kurama kann man sich regenerieren. Der ganze
Berg Kurama ist ein Naturschutzgebiet. Genießen Sie in Dankbarkeit die Natur. Sie hören keinen Krach. Sie besuchen einen Tempel, aber fühlen, dass Sie einen heiligen Ausflug machen. Besonders die Bäume mit der bunten Färbung sind im Herbst sehr schön.

Vielleicht haben Sie auf dem Weg Hunger, weil Sie auf den Berg steigen. Nehmen Sie sich Proviant mit! Aber natürlich dürfen Sie in den Bergen keinen Müll hinterlassen.

– Kibune –

Wenn Sie vom Kurama-Tempel eine Weile laufen, erreichen Sie Kibune mit dem Kibune-Schrein. Er ist einem Wassergott geweiht und man betete hier früher um Regen.


– Weissagungszettel –

Es gibt seltsame Weissagungszettel im Kibune Schrein, man nennt sie „Mizuura-Mikuji“, Wasserorakelzettel. Die Weissagung auf den Zetteln wird sichtbar, wenn man sie in das bereitgestellte Gefäß mit heiligem Wasser eintaucht. Nachdem man seine Weissagung zu Ende gelesen hat, bindet man den Zettel an einen Zweig.

– Gaumenfreuden im Sommer und im Winter –

Der Kibune-Fluss fließt durch diesen Bereich und viele japanische Restaurants stehen am Fluss entlang. Im Sommer werden über dem Fluss terrassenartige Böden aufgebaut und Sie können so über dem rauschenden Fluss in der Natur sitzen und essen. Im Sommer isst man Ayu, eine Art Forelle, und Somen, diese japanischen feinen Nudeln sind sehr lecker. Im Winter bekommt man eine Art Wildschwein-Eintopf.

– So kommt man zum Kurama Tempel –

Fahren Sie mit dem Eiden-Zug vom Demachiyanagi-Bahnhof aus. Besonders möchte ich empfehlen, dass Sie mit dem Zug „Kilala“ fahren, weil „Kilala“ speziell so gebaut wurde, dass man die schöne Aussicht vom Wagenfenster aus gut sehen kann.