One day trip in Kyoto

November 24, 2019

by Yuka Nakamura and Sakura Nakatani

 

When you come to Kyoto, where do you want to go? Actually, there are many famous spots such as Kiyomizu temple, Kinkaku temple and others. However, why don’t you go to Imamiya shrine and Shimogamo shrine? These are famous for dango (rice dumpling), so if you like eating sweet, please go there.

Moreover, when you go to these shrines, sometimes you will take a bus. Our recommendation is to use 1 day bus card, so we will introduce these shrine with using 1 day bus card. (600 yen for 1 passenger)

 

Schedule

  • Kyoto station → Imamiya shrine

Take a bus from station B3, Kyoto City Bus 205 or 206, get off at Funaokayama (take about 45~50 minutes)

 

  • Imamiya shrine → Shimogamo shrine

Take Kyoto City Bus 205, get off at Shimogamo Shrine (takes about 16 minutes)

Take Kyoto City Bus 1, get off at Shimogamo Shrine (takes about 16 minutes)

 

  • Shimogamo shrine → Kyoto station

Take Kyoto City Bus 205, get off at Kyoto Station (takes about 31 minutes)

Take Kyoto City Bus 4, get off at Kyoto Station (takes about 32 minutes)

 

Aburimochi at Imamiya Shrine

Imamiya Shrine is also called “Tamanokoshi shine”. How about taking back some traditional Japanese sweets home? These are called Aburimochi. Aburamochi also are reputed to have a benefit of driving out evil spirits. If you come here, please try it.

“Aburimochi” is a famous Japanese sweets shop at Imamiya Shine in Kyoto. It is rice cake that is just as big as the thumb, coated with soybean flour, grilled over a charcoal fire, and dipped in white miso sauce. Long ago, there was an ancient tradition that Aburimochi were provided to the public at the approach to a shrine.

There are two shops selling Aburimochi across from the approach to Imamiya Shine. The delicious smell of grilled sweets drifts out from the edge of the eaves, as you approach the shrine, so you may suffer from having two choices. My advice is to enter both shops if you have enough time.

 

Kazariya

Kazariya is a shop which serves Aburimochi with tea. Aburimochi is grilled and coated with soybean flour. It is a bit sweet. The point of taste is the good flavor of rice cake and mild sweetness of white miso.

Shop information

  • Shop name: Kazariya
  • Price: 500 yen
  • Nearest station: Kyoto City Bus 46 line “Imamiya Shrine” 3 minutes by walking
  • Adress: 96 Imamiya-cho, Murasakino, Kita-ku, Kyoto city
  • Phone number: 075-491-9402
  • Business hours: 10:00~17:30
  • Closed: Wednesday

 

Ichiwa

Aburimochi have been made for 1000 years with an unchanged recipe. They are coated with refreshing white miso and sweet sauce. The white miso sauce matches the mild and good flavor of rice cakes.

Shop information

  • Shop name: Ichimonjiwasuke (Ichiwa)
  • Price: 500 yen
  • Nearest station: Kyoto City Bus 46 line “Imamiya Shrine ” 2 minutes by walking
  • Address: 69 Imamiya-cho, Murasakino, Kita-ku, Kyoto city
  • Phone number: 075-492-6852
  • Business hours: 10:00~17:00
  • Closed: Wednesday

 

Which shop is tasty? In conclusion, both stores are delicious.

Kazariya’s Aburimochi are simple and look like they are handmade because of their irregular shape. The sauce is a bit sweet. On the other hand, Ichiwa’s Aburimochi have a uniform shape and good condition. Their sauce is a bit lightly seasoned. If you prefer sweeter sauce, you should go to Kazariya.

Both shops’ aburimichi cost 500 yen. Both shop offer free parking for 1 hour.

 

 

Mitarashi-dango at Shimogamo shrine

Mitarashi-dango (rice dumpling in a sweet soy sauce) came from the Mitarashi festival, which was held by Shimogamo shrine at Shimogamo, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto city. Although, there are other an ancient traditions, one story is that Mitarashi-dango were originally made and imitated the bubbles in Mitarashi pond in the precinct grounds.

 

The birthplace of Mitarashi-dango

Kamo Mitarashi Chaya

Mitarashi-dango came from Shimogamo shrine. Kamo Matarashi-chaya is an old-established teashop that was started in 1922. It is located in the west part of Shimogamo shrine. When you go inside that shop, you can smell roasting rice cakes. You can eat mitarashi-dango at this shop but also you can take some away if you want.

The wrapping of each mitarashi-dango has a picture of Shimogamo shrine and that shape looks like a chimaki (a cake wrapped in bamboo leaves) of Gion festival. A feature of this mitarashi-dango is that the top rice cake and the other four rice cakes are separate. There are two theories to explain this. The first theory is that the Kamakura period when emperor Go-daigo tied to draw from Mitarashi pond, one big bubble and four small bubbles appeared. Another theory is that mitarashi-dango imitated human body. Thus, the top rice cake symbolizesthe head and the others symbolize the arms and legs.

In addition to mitarashi-dango there are other sweets available here. These are are chestnut rice cakes, chestnut sweet bean jellies and bracken-starch dumplings.

Their mitarashi-dango is covered in brown sugar and soy sauce. It is matching with a rice cake and kuro mitsu (black syrup, similar to molasses).

 

Shop information

  • Shop name: Kamo Matarashi-chaya
  • Price: 420 yen
  • Nearest station: Kyoto City Bus 46 line “Imamiya Shine mae” by 3 minutes walking
  • Address: 53 Matsunoki-cho, Shimogamo, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto city
  • Phone number: 075-791-1652
  • Business hours: 9:30~19:00
  • Closed: Wednesday

In Kyoto, there are many sweet shops including these shops that we recommended. If you have an interest of Kyoto’s sweets, please search for them. After that, please come to Kyoto and try to eat a lot of sweets and find your favorite sweets!

Aburimochi

by Chiaki Imanaka

“Aburimochi” is a traditional kind of sweet found in Kyoto, and its connection to a particular shrine in Kyoto has ancient roots. In the year 1000 A.D., plague spread throughout the Kyoto area. In response to this, Imamiya Shrine was built, in 1001, as a place to worship, and pray that the plague would not decimate even more of the population. Despite this act of faith, the plague returned to wreak havoc again and test the people of the area. Thereafter, people started to put aburimochi in front of the shrine and prayed for good health as part of the Yasurai festival. This festival is a public event held in the spring, and during it people wish for good health as they eat aburimochi. There are people who wear formal dress, dress as demons, dance, play flutes, drums, and so on. This festival takes place on the second Sunday of April each year. Now, it has become a custom, after visiting the shrine, to eat aburimochi in order to prevent sickness.

The making of aburimochi is quite simple. The rice cake is cut into thumb-sized pieces, and dusted with soybean flour. Following this, the pieces are threaded one by one onto a skewer made of bamboo. The tip of the skewer is forked so that the rice cake pieces don’t slide off the skewer during toasting. After visitors have placed their order, the salesperson toasts the rice cakes, until they are a little burned, over a charcoal fire. Next, they are dipped into a sweet sauce made from white miso and presented to the customer. Finally, you can smell the fragrant aroma of freshly-toasted aburimochi, very delicious and not too sweet. You can take aburimochi home with you, of course, but eating it freshly-toasted is the nicest. If you take it home for later, it will likely be hard by the time you get back.

There are two stores selling aburimochi in front of Imamiya Shrine’s east gate; “Ichiwa” and “Kazariya”. Most visitors have a hard time deciding which store they would like to enter, and the staff of each vie for their custom most enthusiastically. Both shops have a long and interesting history, so I would like to introduce Ichiwa and Kazariya to you here.

Ichiwa

Ichiwa

This store has been open since 1002, and there is an old well located here from which water still springs even now, and it is this water that is used in the making of aburimochi. This well has been here since 1002, and has been used as the location for the filming of numerous period dramas. They also have a cooking oven in a recess inside the store, which uses a firewood fire for boiling glutinous rice in order to make the rice cakes. Beyond this, there is a small yard and a Japanese-style room with a tatami floor, a jar and a scroll hanging on the wall. You can stretch out your legs here, relax, and admire the hanging scroll and jar, which are changed according to the season. Why don’t you try to visit here every season to see the changes?

oven

cooking

well

yard

Open: 10:00~17:00
Closed:Every Wednesday, and the 1st and 15th of each month
(When the 1st or 15th is a Wednesday, the store will be closed on the following day, Thursday)
Address: Imamiya Shrine, east gate, south side, 69, Murasakino Imamiya-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
Tel: 075-492-6852

Kazariya

Kazariya

This store has been open since 1656. They also have a cooking oven, a small yard, a Japanese- style room and a hanging scroll. Many famous Japanese people have paid a visit to this store.

Cooking Oven

In the garden

Inside the garden

Dining Area

Open: 10:00~17:00
Closed: Every Wednesday, and the 1st and 15th of each month
(When the 1st or 15th is a Wednesday, the store will be closed on the following day, Thursday)
Address: Imamiya Shrine, east gate, south side, 96, Murasakino Imamiya-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
Tel: 075-491-9402

In both stores, you can buy aburimochi for 500 yen for one person. Also, you can get a take-out from 1500 yen for 3 persons. After you have visited Imamiya Shrine, you should try to eat aburimochi at Ichiwa or Kazariya at least once. If you don’t feel you have had enough to eat, why not try to eat a little more in both stores? The salespeople do say there seems to be some difference between the two. Enjoy your visit to Imamiya Shrine and the wonderful Kyoto traditional sweet of aburimochi.

Imamiya Shrine

by Satoko Kawaguchi; Natsuki Kamikura

Imamiya Jinja is a picturesque Shinto shrine located northeast from Daitoku-ji, one of Kyoto’s well-known Rinzai Zen temples. This shrine is said to originate from a holy place established on Funaoka Hill in 994 for protection against plague. The present Imamiya Jinja was established when that shrine was moved to its current location, where three deities are worshipped: Daikokuten, god and symbol of the earth; Ebisu, god of the sea and prosperous business; and Kushiinadahime-no-mikoto, a goddess of the paddy fields. “Imamiya” means a newly established shrine. The present buildings were built in 1902.
Imamiya Shrine is famous for a festival known as the Yasurai Matsuri, one of the three “eccentric” festivals in Kyoto. The others are Ushi Matsuri (Ox Festival) in Koryu-ji Temple and the famed Kurama Himatsuri (Fire Festival). Yasurai Matsuri is held on the second Sunday of April and is an intangible cultural heritage. The festival originated in attempts to appease, through festival music and dance, the petrels flying around Kyoto with cherry blossom petals in their beaks, which were thought to be spreading plague, since it had started at the time when such petals fall. During the festivities, people costumed as goblins or red and black devils jump and dance to the music of beating drums and flutes. It is said that festival participants won’t become ill if they pass beneath a special long-handled, decorated umbrella. Yasurai Matsuri is the first festival of the year in Kyoto (where everything begins in spring) and it is also said that the weather will be fine for all of the year’s festival days in Kyoto if the skies are clear when Yasurai Matsuri is held.

A mysterious stone: “Ahokashisan”

 

There is a magical stone in Imamiya Shrine. It is called “ahokashisan” and displayed a small building. Folk wisdom holds that if a person who is in delicate health strokes the stone and then rubs the faulty points in their body, he or she can recover early. You can also perform an augury here to see if your wish will be fulfilled or not. First, tap the stone with your palm three times and then lift it. You must now feel it to be heavy. Next, stroke the stone three times while making your wish and then lift it again. If you feel it is light, your wish will be realized.

Unique charms

 

In Imamiya Shrine, you can get unique charms or talismans. One of them is the tamanokoshi (marry into the purple) charm. It is a vivid navy blue and printed with the designs of Kyoto vegetables. This charm is derived from an old story: Tokugawa Iemitsu (1604-51), the 3rd Edo shogun, fell in love with a beautiful girl named Otama, who was born in Kyoto’s Nishijin weaving district as the daughter of a greengrocer. Iemitsu took Otama as a concubine and she bore him a son, who later became the 5th Edo shogun, Tokugawa Ietsuna. In 1651, when Iemitsu died, Otama became a Buddhist nun under the name Keishoin. She had kept Nishijin in mind even after achieving a high status, and she seems to have exerted herself to build a temple, revive the Yasurai Matsuri (which had been suspended), and support Nishijin after she heard of the ruin of Imamiya Shrine. The guardian gods of Nishijin also protect Imamiya Shrine, so people wished for the prosperity of the Nishijin area. Local residents say that the word “tamanokoshi” can be traced back to Otama’s story, and anyone who wants to become a “Cinderella”, or simply be happy, can visit this shrine to buy this charm.

The daruma doll is a red-colored charm and it’s said that you can gain happiness and success from it as your prayers are answered. The daruma has a limbless round shape, either small or large, and has pop eyes. These eyes have a certain significance. The Japanese word me means both “eyes” and “sprout”, and the expression “a sprout appears” means that you can get a chance for happiness or success. When you buy a daruma doll you paint in a black dot on the right eye and wish for something; then when your wish comes true you paint in the left eye to express your thanks.
Many people consult oracles when they visit shrines. Imamiya Shrine also has paper fortunes, like a bookmark which is called murasakino waka omikuji. It is a beautiful paper upon which is printed a princess dressed in kimono with a waka poem. In the Heian period (794-1185) there were some female novelists such as Murasaki Shikibu, the author of The Tale of Genji. Waka poems written on paper fortunes are love poems, mainly from The Tale of Genji.
You can enjoy the atmosphere of ancient Kyoto at Imamiya Shrine because it has a long history and observes ancient traditions. You will be fascinated with its beautiful buildings and big torii gate. If you would like to consult oracles, we recommend that you pull out a murasakino waka omikuji. Drive away your bad luck and get the blessings of a good fortune! You will spend an enjoyable time when you visit here.