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.

Cherry Blossoms

by Rina Hashiguchi

Cherry blossoms are special flowers for Japanese people and a symbol of spring in Japan. From now, I will introduce cherry blossoms and some places you can see beautiful cherry blossoms in Kyoto.

Why do Japanese people love cherry trees?

This is because ancient people thought that the god of agriculture dwelt in the cherry tree. In addition, the flowering of cherry blossoms was a guide for people to start planting rice. For that reason, people were grateful for the cherry tree and loved it. Another reason is that Japanese people love its evanescent life. Cherry blossoms soon fall, so they think that the life of cherry blossoms resembles the life of a human. Also, cherry blossoms were a symbol of the way of the samurai because they had to die gracefully for their master. Japanese people  love its beauty.

What is ‘Ohanami’?

‘Ohanami’is to enjoy viewing cherry blossoms while drinking and eating with our family, friends, and colleagues under the trees. During the Heian era (794-1185), Ohanami was only observed by the emperor and the nobility. From the Edo era(1603-1868), ordinary people were allowed to take part and people have enjoyed Ohanami every year since then. Generally, people bring their own lunch box and dumplings that have three colors: pink, white and green. The pink represents cherry blossoms that symbolize the coming spring; the white represents snow that symbolizes  the remaining winter; and the green represents a mugwort that symbolizes an omen of summer.  Why don’t you try ‘Ohanami’ next spring?

Beautiful cherry blossoms in Kyoto

There are a lot of places you can enjoy viewing beautiful cherry blossoms in Kyoto. I’ll introduce some of them to you.

Maruyama Park

Maruyama Park

Maruyama Park

There is a big weeping cherry tree in this park. The first weeping cherry tree died, so there is now a second tree. During the Ohanami season, it is lit up at night. You can see a fantastic cherry blossom.

Illuminated cherry blossom at Kodaiji Temple

Illuminated cherry blossom

Kodaiji temple

There is a weeping cherry tree in this garden. Illuminations of this tree are very famous and beautiful. Its color and brightness change every few seconds, so you may not be able to take your eyes off it.

Hirano Shrine

Hirano Shrine

Hirano shrine

There are no less than 50 kinds of cherry trees in this shrine. Also, you can see rare cherry trees, only present at this shrine. In the Ohanami season, a lot of outdoor stalls are lined up just as at a festival in this shrine. That’s why it is so lively. You can enjoy viewing, while drinking and eating.

Ninnaji Temple

Ninnaji Temple

Ninnaji temple

There are uncommon cherry trees in this temple. They are called ‘Omurozakura’. Common cherry blossoms come out at the beginning of April, but Omurozakura come out in the middle of April. They come out the latest in Kyoto, so you can enjoy seeing cherry blossoms for a long time.

Finally…

There are a lot of other places you can enjoy seeing cherry blossoms in Kyoto. I have only introduced some of them. I would like you to enjoy walking around Kyoto while viewing cherry blossoms.