Over-Tourism in Kyoto

March 23, 2020

By Aki Kawashima, Arisa Yamauchi and Haruki Ishimoto

  Kyoto is the one of the oldest cities in the world. Just ten years ago, the number of inbound visitors to Kyoto was only 930,000. In 2011, the number dropped by almost half. This is because of the Tohoku earthquake. In the period after the earthquake, the number shows a dramatic improvement. In 2013, “Washoku”, a traditional Japanese cuisine, was added to the World Heritage List for food. The following year, Kyoto was chosen as the World’s Best City for the first time by “Travel + Leisure” – one of the most influential travel magazines in the world. In 2015, Kyoto was chosen as No.1 again. Since then, the number of tourists has exploded. About 3.5 million people from overseas visited Kyoto in 2017 and the number of people from different countries continues to rise. Surprisingly, in fact, the number of tourists has increased by seven times, 5,000,000 people since 2011. In this article, we would like to introduce about the problem of transportation and the garbage problem in Kyoto city as a result of ‘Over-Tourism’.

Why Has Kyoto Become So Popular?

There are many reasons to answer this question. First, Kyoto is much safer than Europe at the moment (2019), so tourists who come here from Europe, for example, don’t have to worry about crime. Indeed, Kyoto is one of the safest international cities on the planet. Second, the cost is very reasonable. The weak yen makes Japan a cheaper holiday destination. This has also contributed to a sharp increase in tourists. Moreover, direct international flights from Europe to Japan have been increasing. Finally, the Japanese Government also has relaxed visa restrictions for visitors from Asia, particularly China. Thus, the increasing number of tourists in Kyoto is actually better for the economy. However, “too many tourists” can bring problems to a popular destination such as Kyoto. For example, manner and congestion, to name a couple.

Do You Know The Word “ Over-Tourism”?

Nishiki Market

 The word “over-tourism” is quite new, so it hasn’t formally been entered into popular dictionaries like Oxford or Collins. This means that when a place starts to become popular or fashionable to visit, problems occur: crowded buses and noise pollution to name just two. It goes without saying that having too many people in the same place also contributes to the problems of garbage. In other words, a rapid increase in the number of tourists to Kyoto is having a serious impact on local people’s daily lives.

Local People

The rapid increase in the number of tourists in Kyoto is having a serious impact on the local population and is becoming extremely frustrating about this problem. Let us outline a few of them in more detail. First, the most serious problem is public transportation. You will see many tourists waiting for the bus in long lines. This creates much longer waiting times at the bus terminal in Kyoto. And tourists often ride the bus with suitcases. It blocks local people, so they can’t find seats. It is really uncomfortable and inconvenient. Perhaps inconsiderate, too. But this is part of modern daily life in Kyoto these days. Actually, we have seen this situation many times. But we couldn’t work out why they always use buses and not the subway. We searched on the Internet, and I we found a clear answer to our question. In Kyoto, there is a travel pass for buses everyday. Tourists can take a bus as many times as they want and visit the key sightseeing spots cheaply. Indirectly, and attempt to make Kyoto more attractive place to visit, this travel way is creating problems by making the public transport system, especially buses, overcrowded. Secondly, we would like to highlight the problem of garbage. This has also become a serious problem. Actually, Kyoto has found a way to solve it. Ten years ago, in the Kamo River, there were a lot of trash cans along the banks. You could eat lunch and throw it into the trash can. You could also do fireworks and throw them into the trash can. With good manners, the riverside was always kept clean. But some tourists throw trash cans for their private-use. Also, 6 years ago, the Kyoto government decided to remove all trash cans from the Kamo River area. However, the more the number of tourists has grown, the more the amount of garbage has increased.

Nishiki Market and Gion

Gion (Hanamikoji Street)

Nishiki Market and Gion are now one of Kyoto’s most popular tourist spots in Kyoto. Tourists can easily experience eating traditional Kyoto food while walking through Nishiki Market. As a result, some tourists throw their garbage on the street on and around Nishiki Market. In addition, in Gion, for example, trash cans become full quickly, so staff have to replace garbage bags many times in a day. This behavior has a negative impact on the local people.

Solution

Finally, we will suggest what we would do for the ‘over-tourism’ problem. In terms of over-tourism, things could get a lot worse before they get better. Personally, and in addition to the solutions mentioned above, we feel the Kyoto City Government could do more to teach tourists how to behave. What we mean is: manners. Japan is going through a tourist boom. As a result, we have the opportunity, more than at any time before, for cultural exchange. If we embrace this opportunity, we believe that we can make Kyoto a better place for residents and visitors alike.

One Day Crazy Curry Bus Tour

by Manaka Tsuneyama, Mayu Nishikawa & Natsumi Nishimura

There are a lot of delicious food and beautiful places in Kyoto. We recommend that you take a Kyoto city bus to visit many places in one day. You can take the bus for 600 yen a day. What do you imagine when you think about delicious food in Kyoto? Of course, you might think about traditional Japanese food, like sushi, tempura, or grilled fish. But did you know there are many traditional curry shops in Kyoto? In this article, we will introduce you to three delicious curry shops and three good places to visit along the way. Then, you can get the most out of your one-day bus pass by eating tasty food and seeing some amazing places.

Asipai & The Kyoto Nishiki Food Market

If you want to experience Japanese style, you have to go to a curry shop called Asipai. This curry shop is in an old house, so you can feel like you are at a Japanese grandmother’s house. It has a relaxed atmosphere, where you can enjoy a leisurely meal. When you enter this shop, you have to take off your shoes. It’s traditional Japanese style.

Asipai Curry

Once you are seated and ready to order, you can choose chicken curry, pork curry, the special curry plate, or a seasonally limited curry. The special curry plate comes with either chicken curry or pork curry. If you like cheese, you have to add optional cheese. We recommend the cheese topping. For example, one of us chose the seasonally limited curry named Mushroom and Eggplant Chicken Curry with Cheese. It had lots of vegetables and big chunks of meat. It was perfectly spicy and so delicious. Because cheese was added, it became so creamy. The seasonally limited curry is made with Kyoto food, so please give it a try.

After your lunch, you can go to the famous Kyoto Nishiki Food Market. It’s only about ten minutes on foot from Asipai. This market has 400 years of history, with about 130 shops on each side of the street. There are many seasonal ingredients of Kyoto available there. For example, you can buy Kyoto vegetables, yuba, tofu, dried fish and Kyoto pickles. Also, there are many foods you can taste, while you are looking around. We recommend three foods you should try:

Octopus Egg

The first is called an octopus egg. It is an octopus head that contains quail eggs. It’s so small, like a golf ball, which makes it very cute. The taste is little sour, but it goes well with beer.

Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki is basically a rolled Japanese omelet. It is made with broth from bonito flakes, cooking sake, soy sauce. It goes well with rice and miso soup. It is included much Japanese seasoning. So, you can feel Japanese food. 

Nishiki Food Market

Wagashi

Wagashi is the word for Japanese-style sweets. There are many varieties in Nishiki Food Market. For example, you can find Mitarashi dango and yokan. Mitarashi dango is rice dumpling in a sweet soy sauce. It is like a golf ball. Yokan is made with plant based gelatin and small red bean. It is a bar of galled sweet bean paste. The taste is so sweet, like maple syrup.

Besides these, you can find good stores in Nishiki Food Market such as KAI, which sells octopus balls, Miki Keiran, which sells tamagoyaki, and Ko-fukudo, which sells Wagashi. You can also find new Japanese foods in Nishiki Food Marcket.

Kyoto Curry Works – Karil & The Imperial Palace

The next curry shop is called Kyoto Curry Works – Karil. The shop is off the main street, so it is quiet there. You will be able to find this shop easily, because all you have to do is follow the smell of good spicy curry. This shop has eight counter seats, so it is no problem to go there alone.

Karil Curry

The curry there is made by two curry chefs. On the regular menu are dishes like chicken curry, pork curry, and beans and vegetables curry. If you like spicy curry, you should choose the chicken curry rather than the pork curry. In addition, they offer a special curry each month attract repeat visitors.

You can choose to have two kinds of curry from the four types on the menu. One of us chose to have the chicken curry and the shrimp butter curry, the latter being the special curry for the month of November. It had juicy shrimp with a creamy taste. Also, the chicken curry was very spicy and delicious.

The Imperial Palace

After you enjoy eating curry at Karil, you can visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace. You can get there in about 15 minutes on foot. The Kyoto Imperial Palace is the place where successive emperors lived. Passing through the gate, you will see a large site. The ground is covered with gravel. The Imperial Palace is surrounded by the Tsuiji wall. There are six gates in the wall: the Kenrei-mon, Sakuhei-mon, Gisyuu-mon, Seisyo-mon, Kougou-mon and Kensyu-mon. Once you are inside the palace, I recommend that you see the Shishinden, where the emperor holds important ceremonies. This is the main building of the Imperial Palace. The enthronement ceremony was held here until Emperor Showa. This was built in 1855. You can go to see close it twice a year in spring and autumn. This is the most remarkable place in the Imperial Palace. You should take a lot of pictures here. You will come to have a peace of mind after visiting it.

Songbird Coffee & Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle is one of the most famous castles in Japan. At Nijo Castle, you can experience Japanese tradition and history, such as floorboards that creak when walked on and Japanese style garden that express a fountain of got and Mount Penglai. Mount Penglai is mythical island where immortals lived in china. No matter what time of the year you visit, you will be able to enjoy all seasons. In the spring, three hundred cherry trees bloom all at the same time. In the summer, you can enjoy stargazing and illumination at night. In the fall, you can see the colorful autumn leaves. And in the winter, you can enjoy the beauty of goldfish in a special art aquarium.

Songbird Coffee is near Nijo castle. This curry shop is good for people who like spicy curry. The shop has a relaxed atmosphere, where you can enjoy a leisurely meal. The curry is called Bird’s Nest Curry because the arrangement of curry and rice resembles the nest of a bird. The most popular attraction is the soft-boiled egg top on the rice. It makes the curry taste mild. The taste of onions is sweet, and the taste of the meat is very tender. In addition, there is an optional menu for making your order even more delicious, such as by adding cheese, cilantro, natto and/or broccoli super sprouts.

Songbird Coffee

Songbird Coffee not only serves curry, but also large egg sandwiches. Furthermore, they offer seasonally limited drinks. For example, you can order sweet potato shake in the fall, which is when sweet potatoes are in season in Kyoto. Just like with your visit to Nijo Castle, you can enjoy each of the four seasons at Songbird Coffee in different ways.

Conclusion

We recommended you three delicious curry shops and good tourist spots. Do you want to try going? There are many good places in Kyoto. You will know more about Kyoto than before.

Access

Asipai & Kyoto Nishiki Food Market

・Asipai

The opening hours 11:30~14:00

Kyoto city bus stop Shijo Nishinotoin

・Kyoto Nishiki Food Market

The opening hours 9:30~18:00

Kyoto city bus stop Shijo Kawaramachi

  1. Caril ~Kyoto Curry Factory~ & The Imperial Palace

・Caril

The opening hours 11:00~15:00, 17:00~21:00

Kyoto city bus stop Fuchomae

・The Imperial Palace

The opening hours 9:00~16:30

Kyoto city bus stop Karashuma Imadegawa

3.SONGBIRD COFFEE & Nijo Castle

・SONGBIRD COFFEE

The opening hours 12:00~20:00

Kyoto city bus stop Horikawa Marutamachi

・Nijo Castle

The opening hours 8:45~17:00

Kyoto city bus stop Nijo-mae

The Best of Nishiki Market

by Yu Sakamoto, Tashi Nisikawa and Kazu Shibao

Entrance

Inside Nishiki ichiba

In recent years, the number of tourists who come from overseas has been increasing. In 2003, for example, the number of visitors was 5,211,725. However, that exceeded ten million people in 2013 and recently hit almost 20 million. Even Japanese who are not good at speaking English have struggled to help foreigners be more comfortable during their visit. Simply put: Kyoto is flooded with tourists.

There are many chances to get written information about the recommendable spots in Kyoto. However, theses spots are popular and are therefore always crowded. This can make you irritable. One of these famous spots is a 400-year-old market called Nishiki Ichiba, which shouldn’t be missed. Below is our advice on how you can enjoy Nishiki Ichiba in spite of the crowds.

Nishiki Ichiba is nicknamed Kyo no Daidokoro by the Japanese. Kyo means ‘Kyoto’ and daidokoro means ‘kitchen’. So as you can imagine, Nishiki Ichiba is the place where you can find food from all over Kyoto in one place. The market is a straight path running east and west, and is 390 meters long and only 3.25 to 5 meters wide. Nishiki Ichiba is typical of the structures of Kyoto. As mentioned previously, it has existed for more than 400 years, so it has a long history.

How to Get There

Unfortunately, Nishiki Ichiba is not located near Kyoto station, which is where most tourists usually arrive first. Although people can get to the market by both bus and subway, taking the subway is faster and easier than taking the bus.

Kyoto station has many train lines. You should take the train that is the Subway Karasuma line. Simply buy a ticket to Shijo station, which costs 210 yen. When come out of the station at ground level you should walk down Shijo street to the east and turn left at the second corner. The entrance to the market is on the right as you walk north about 100m (see photo at the top).

In Nishiki Ichiba, there are a total of about 126 stores. So when you go there, you can easily become confused. Therefore, we have put together a guide to the best shops in Nishiki Ichiba.

Raw Oyster Shop: Daiyasu

At the very beginning, when you first enter the market, you can see the shop on your right. This shop provides the fresh Oysters to customers. In the summer season, you can eat a kind of oyster called iwa kaki, and in the winter you can eat ma kaki. Iwa kaki is much bigger than ma kaki. (see the photos below). Its taste is juicy. Ma kaki is smaller than iwa kaki, but its taste is much creamier than iwa kaki. You can eat them either raw or grilled. We suggest you try eating raw oyster. The taste is amazing. If you visit Nishiki Ichiba, you should definitely go to Daiyasu.

Inside “Daiyasu”

Up “Iwa kaki”, Down “Ma kaki”

Soybean Shop: Kyo no Omamehan

A lot of flavor in the store.

Just nearby Daiyasu, you can find a soybean store named Kyo no Omamehan. If you can’t find it, don’t worry. Your nose can lead the way, as the smell of beans will attract you. Inside, there are so many different kinds of bean snacks, as you can see in the photo. Also, you can sample every flavor of bean snacks on offer. Therefore, you can discover your favorite before making a purchase.

Also in this store, you can get some bean-flavored ice cream, which has an unusual, but pleasant taste. There are 3 flavors: black vanilla, tofu milk and black soy bean. These are limited to only 50 a day, so if you want to have some, you can’t be late. Otherwise they will be sold out. These bean-flavored ice cream prices are all 380 yen, so it’s quite reasonable.

We ate Ice cream.

Matcha Sweet Shop: Sawawa

Front of SAWAWA

After Kyo no Omameha, walk to straight to the east about 50 meters. There you will see a shop on your left that provides freshly ground matcha, or powdered green tea. The shop uses tea grown in Uji, which is a region in the south part of Kyoto. It is famous for its high quality green tea. Of all the sweets make with matcha in the shop, we suggest that you eat matcha warabimochi, which is similar to a jelly-like sweet made from bracken starch and covered in powdered green tea. The taste is mild and you can enjoyed the aroma of matcha. Of course, it goes well with freshly brewed tea.

 

 

 

Spice Shop: Ochanoko Saisai

Front of “Ochanoko Saisai”

After walking 1 minute more to the east, you will come upon a Kyoto-style spice shop named Ochanoko Saisai. There, you can buy the spiciest ichimi togarashi and shichimi togarashi in the world. Ichimi togarashi means ‘one flavor chili pepper, while shichimi means ‘seven flavor chili pepper’. Ichimi is made from dried red chili pepper flakes, while shichimi contains seven spices, some of which are uniquely Japanese.

Also, at the storefront you can try ichimi and shichimi togarashi rice crackers. I can tell you one thing that if you want to try this one, get a bottle of water beforehand. You’ll need it!

Click here to learn more about Shichimi.

 

Deep Fried Chocolate Shop: Inoue Tsukudani

Have you ever eaten deep fried chocolate before? At the bento store named Inoue Tsukudani, you can have a chocolate croquette. You might think this is gross, but once you eat it, your thinking will be changed. According to one of the shop’s workers, the chocolate is hard to melt, so you can also take it back to your hotel if you are full. In this store, there are a couple of seats, so if you want to eat comfortably, you can go inside and sit down. And if you ask politely, you can get cold or hot tea for free. Also, like in the picture below, you can leave your message on the wall. This is a great place to have a little fun time while you eat something delicious and unique.

We wrote messages.

Mochi Shop: Mochi Tsukiya

Front of “Mochi Tsukiya”

After your chocolatey visit to Inoue Tsukudani, walk straight to the east for about 2 minutes. You will then see a shop on your right, just east of Yanagibamba street. It is called Mochi Tsukiya and it is famous for mochi, or Japanese pounded rice cake. If you are hungry, you can eat high quality mocha filled with red bean paste. You can also sample mochi made with different ingredients, such as seaweed, cheese, fish eggs, pickled plum, grated white radish, and shiso (perilla) leaf. And if you feel hot, you can cool down with some kakigori, which is made with mocha and shaved ice. They have some chairs and tables, so you can take a break here. We suggest you eat kakigori. You can also order a half-size mochi with kakigoori. This shop was is so good that it was featured on a famous TV program. Don’t miss it!

Liquor Store: Tsunoki Shuho

You can buy this sake only here.

Near the east end of the street, you can find a liquor store named Tsunoki Shuho. It is over 220 years old. In this store, there are so many unique types of Japanese sake. Even you can taste the sake which Barack Obama drank during his visit. You can also sample sake inside the shop; just make sure do not drink too much. This is good place to buy a gift for your father.

 

 

Well, that brings us to the end of our recommendations for visiting Nishiki Ichiba. Did you find anything of interest? We think it is the best way to complete your visit of Nishiki Ichiba. In addition, there are a lot of other stores in the market, so it’s a good idea to explore some of the other shops in addition to following our guide. You might discover something even better. Anyway, enjoy your Kyoto trip!

Teramachi-dori (Teramachi Street)

by Shiho Tanaka and Keita Matsui

About Teramachi-dori

Teramachi-dori is one of the most famous streets in Kyoto city. This street has a variety of characteristics, and a calm ambience.  There are many good stores from south of Kyoto City Hall to north of the center of Kyoto. These stores can be both tasteful and traditional, but on the other hand, there are also a number that offer modern styling for Japanese people. University students in Kyoto often go here to shop, and we often go there, too, as we like the clothes you can buy on this street. There are always many people around on the weekend because there are lots of people from different places, so if you hate crowds you should go on a week day.

Teramachi-dori signpost

The History of Teramachi-dori

From the Heian period to the time of Sengoku, Teramachi-dori’s width was around 32meters. This wide thoroughfare was named Higashikyogoku-oji, and was considered a high-class residential area. However, it was badly damaged during the Ohnin and Bunmei revolts. Teramachi-dori was actually named by Toyotomi Hideyoshi over four hundred years ago, as he decided to locate specific temples and shrines here. In the Meiji period, smart shops were opened, one by one, including confectionery stores and the first photo studio in Kyoto. In the Heisei period, a sheltered sidewalk was created to make the Teramachi shopping arcade, and it became the Teramachi-dori we are familiar with today.

A Variety of Shops

First, we will introduce clothes shops. There are many clothes shops here, catering for the young to the old, so people of all generations can enjoy shopping. There are a number of Kyoto specialist stores in which you can buy goods with a Kyoto look and original style. There are also some interesting Japanese-style confectionery outlets, which sell every type of Japanese-style sweets. And you can also buy many uniquely Japanese things, for example, Furoshiki, Noren, Obi and so on. In addition, there are many stores selling all kinds of items from comics to rice bowls. We are sure you can get a feel for the Japanese mind and culture through them. There are also many kinds of restaurants for the food lovers to enjoy. For example, there are traditional and modern Japanese restaurants, coffee shops, Italian and Indian restaurants, and so on. You can eat just about whatever you want to here. For the tea lovers, there are green tea stores too, with Houraido and Ippodo being the best examples. They are really good tea stores, and the Ippodo Tea Warehouse is a particularly famous Japanese specialist tea emporium. So many kinds of tea, and all so delicious, it will be really hard to choose. Don’t worry though, if you can’t come to Kyoto, you can buy them on the Internet.

Ippodo Tea Emporium

Around Teramachi-dori

Parallel to Teramachi-dori to the east in the downtown section, you can visit Shinkyogoku-dori. This street is very famous too, and there are lots of restaurants, clothes shop and other stores for young people. You can keep up with all the latest and popular fashions and food by visiting here. Nishiki-dori also runs east to west across the southern part of Teramachi-dori, and is a very good place for foreign visitors because there are many special food and cultural products of Kyoto on sale here. If you go to Teramachi-dori, you should also go to these places to make sure you have seen the best of what Kyoto has to offer. Have a great time!!

Shinkyogoku covered arcade

 

Chirimen Craft

by Chiaki Imanaka

Chirimen is a traditional weaving technique that was developed in the late sixteenth century in Japan. The cloth or silk fabric that is made from this technique is also called “chirimen.” The cloth has the unique feature of soft wrinkles. According to the pamphlet from the Chirimen Craft Museum, “the wrinkles are created by alternating two types of silk thread, twisted in different directions, by turns in the weft. The woven cloth is at first flat, but the wrinkles suddenly emerge after rinsing dirt out of the thread. This is the moment when the breathtaking beauty of the wrinkles is born.” These wrinkles are called “shibo” in Japanese. The shibo also appear because the weft (the thread being woven) is ten times thicker than the warp (the set of lengthwise threads). Chirimen is mostly used for finely made kimono. However, in chirimen craft, small pieces of the chirimen cloth are sewn together to create small, artful objects such as flowers, birds, animals, dolls, and small toys.

These days, Japanese women have advanced the art of chirimen by taking up the chirimen craft. Many of them want to cultivate themselves by learning to value fine things, develop their aesthetic sense, and become skilled with their hands. Now chirimen is also used as a material for pouches, wallets, bags, and other fashionable Japanese goods.

The Chirimen Craft Museum

There are several chirimen craft shops that have many cute items for sale in Kyoto. One of them shops is the Chirimen Craft Museum in Arashiyama. Other chirimen shops can be found on the Nishiki market street in central Kyoto and in the district of Gion. One popular item that is sold only at the shop in Arashiyama is the “hanging hina “hina” means “doll”. It is a kind of good luck charm that is hung from the ceiling and is used to pray for the health and happiness of children. Besides “hanging hina dolls” you can buy many different kinds of craft items made of chirimen: pierced earrings, combs, necklaces, pouches, T-shirts, and other small items. Seasonable articles are also popular. Some of them are made for a particular month. For example, for the month of June, which is known for the rainy season in Japan, there is a chirimen frog, tadpole, and snail for sale. Other sewn chirimen figures include seasonal vegetables, flowers, and animals. One item that is especially recommended is the chirimen rabbit. These are sold at a very reasonable price. In this store a lot of chirimen crafts are displayed. Have a good time in the Chirimen Craft Museum!

combs

hanging hina doll

 

Chirimen Craft Museum, Arashiyama

Business hours: 10:00~18:00
Address: 19-2, Tsukurimichi-cho, Saga-Tenryuji, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
Tel: 075-862-6332
Fax: 075-862-6333

Nishiki store

Business hours: 10:00~17:30
Address: Hokusei-kado, Nishikikoji-dori Yanaginobanba, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Tel: 075-241-1324
Fax: 075-241-1325

Gion store

Business hours: 10:00~19:00
Address: 216, Nakano-cho, Yamato-oji Nishi-iru, Shijo-dori, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Tel: 075-551-1802
Fax: 075-551-1803