Winter Sightseeing Spots and Events in Kyoto

November 27, 2019

Winter sightseeing spots and events in Kyoto

by Akane Mukai, Riho Miyagi, and Yuka Yamazaki

In winter, a lot of people might go to western or northern Japan to do winter sports or to see winter events, however there are also popular and famous spots in Kyoto. As people know, Kyoto has a lot of world heritage sites. Moreover, people enjoy the winter view at these beautiful places. The reason for the low temperature is that the area of Kyoto is a basin. The world heritage and cultural heritage sites are covered with snow, which attracts a lot of tourists. The beautiful scenes reflect Japanese culture.

Hanatourou

Hanatourou  is an event held in Higashiyama, and Arashiyama in Kyoto. It is the lantern festival, and is at the beginning of March, lasting for 10 days. A lot of lanterns are along the Yasaka street in front of Chionin (知恩院). These lanterns use LED light bulbs from Rohm, which is a company of electronic components.During the event, the lanterns are lit from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. every evening. It started in the 21st century with the goal of becoming a tradition of night viewing in Kyoto. In 2003, in March, Hanatourou started to hold this event in order to create business as a new tourist attractions. “Tomori” (灯り), which means light, is the theme in the Higashiyama area. There are also other events at the same time. Firstly, Flower arrangements, called “Ikebana”, which are organized by a flower arrangement association in Kyoto are displayed along the street. People enjoy seeing beautiful lighted up flower arrangements. “Kitunenoyomeiri” (Fox wedding) parade in the same street to Hanatourou. This parade will go to Maruyama park (円山公園) though the Yasaka street, two years slope(二年坂), three years slope (三年坂), and other streets.

“Kitunenoyomeiri”(Fox wedding) is Japanese folk tale. In the story, it rains but is sunny on the same day, then a female fox marries a male fox.

Reenacting this ancient story, the Fox wife, wearing a pure white Kimono for her wedding rides on a rickshaw (人力車) passing through the street slowly. If people watch this parade, it is said that the people will be blessed with good relationships. It starts 19:00 and 20:00. People rarely watch this parade. Lastly, In Yasaka shrine, people can take part in an event, which is to write people’s hopes on colored leaf stickers and then put them on large lanterns with paper shades. People can enjoy writing their hopes on stickers. There are some enjoyable events with Hanatourou.

 Projection Mapping Winter Kyoto

Recently, many projection mapping events are held in Japan. Projection mapping is the fairly new technology that allows computer-generated 3D images and video to be projected onto three dimensional objects, like buildings. You can see the projection mapping in some temples or shrines in Kyoto. There is an event using projection mapping techniques in Kodaiji temple (高台寺). Kodaiji temple is one of Japan’s greatest historical figures, by Hideyoshi’s wife Nene. This is an outstanding temple in Kyoto‘s Higashiyama District. It was established in 1606 and is the most famous temple at which to see beautiful autumn leaves in Kyoto. These days, not only Japanese visitors, but also many people from abroad, visit there to see the autumn leaves and some great zen gardens in Kodaiji temple. In addition, you can see a beautiful bamboo there.

In such a great temple, a projection mapping event is held from autumn to winter, and summer. The last winter’s theme of the projection mapping was “Hyakki-Yagyo” (百鬼夜行). One performance has three minutes and the beautiful display is projected onto the Karesansui (枯山水) garden and the gate behind it. In order to watch the performance, you will pay 600 yen, and there are usually long lines of people waiting to get in. The open time of the mapping is 5 p.m. and it closes at 9 p.m. The ticket counter will be very crowded, so you should buy the admission ticket in advance before night.

 Popular hot foods in Kyoto

Kyoto is cold in winter  time. So you absolutely want to eat hot food because of the freezing cold winter in Kyoto. If you are in Kyoto this is a very special trip for you and your memory. So I really want you to eat delicious special meals. First I recommend that you have a delicious hot meal. This udon noodle shop’s name is FUMIYA. This udon noodle shop has been carrying on for 50 years. This food is udon noodles served in a pot with a variety of ingredients. This hot food is popular in Kyoto. So you should go there. Next I recommend as a delicious hot meal noodles in sauce in yuba. Yuba is diced bean curds. This dish of noodls in sauce in yuba  shop name is Toyouke tea house. This shop is near the Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine so you can go there easily. The shop is mainly making tofu so you can eat it as well as simmered tofu and other tofu dishes. This shop is really popular, so be prepared to line up. Next, I recommend as a delicious hot meal of simmered tofu. This simmered tofu shop name is Tosuirou. This shop is not so expensive so you can eat lots of hot tofu meals. Next I recommend a hot sweet delicious called Zenzai. Zenzai refers to stewed red beans sweetened with sugar that are served in a bowl with mochi (sticky rice cake), shiratama dango (dumplings made of sticky rice flour called shiratamako), and chestnuts stewed in sugar. This shop’s name is Umezono. This shop is near Kawaramachi. So you can go there during shopping breaks. This shop sells not only zenzai, they have mitarashi dumplings and shaved ice with matcha sauce as well. I could recommend only these shops but Kyoto has lots of shops so you can eat lots of delicious food and sweets in Kyoto. You should try it.

Conclusion

Kyoto has lots of winter sightseeing spots and people can feel charm of winter events. These winter events are really fantastic events and you can feel traditional of Japan and you can find lot of new things. Kyoto is trying lots of new things. Projection mapping is one of the new winter night events. You can go to a winter night event with family or with a girlfriend or boyfriend. You can feel really romantic. You can spend really good time and have really good memories. Kyoto is a really good place for eating traditional Japanese foods. So you can eat a delicious meal and then you feel warm in both your body and mind. Let’s enjoy winter Kyoto.

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

Spheres
Forest

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!

Conclusion

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.

Access

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.