Fushimi: History and Tourist Attractions

August 28, 2016

by Hayato Tochimori and Yuta Sakurai

Recently the number of tourists from other countries to Kyoto has been increasing. There are many good tourist attractions in Kyoto, like The Golden Pavilion, Kiyomizu Temple, Arashiyama, and so on. However, have you ever heard a place called Fushimi? We can get to Fushimi by train within only 15 minutes from Kyoto station. It is mostly famous for the Fushimiinari Taisha shrine. However, Fushimi also has a very interesting history and a number of other tourist attractions worth visiting.

History of Fushimi

One of surprising facts about Fushimi is that it was a capital of Japan in the Azuchi Momoyama era, which was from 1573 to 1615. A top shogun, which means a leader in Japan at that time was Hideyoshi, and he made his castle in Fushimi. From Fushimi, it was possible to see Nara which is an ancient capital, Kyoto city, Osaka in which he has his private castle. It was very useful for him to check what was happening around the capital, and he loved this place.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimiinari Taisha shrine is chosen as the place where the tourists from other countries want to visit the most. This shrine is the head one of over 30,000 shrines related to this shrine.  This shrine was built in 711.  Inaritaizin, the god enshrined there, is the deity of fertility, business, and safety of family.  There are a lot of Shinto shrine gate called Torii. It is said that there are over 1,000 Torii in Fushimiinari Taisha shrine, and it is very famous scenery.  Actually, it is very popular spot in Kyoto.  I am going to introduce three more good tourist attractions and goods.


The term nihonshu means Japanese alcohol, or sake. Fushimi is famous for its production of good quality sake. The reason is because of the superb water in Fushimi, which is near the point at which three big rivers in Kyoto meet: the Kamo river, the Uji river and the Katsura river. Also, spring water from Momoyama-Kyuryo, a mountain in Fushimi, is very clear. Excellent water is necessary for making a good nihonshu, and Fushimi has it. Therefore, the culture of nihonshu developed in Fushimi before the Azuchi-Momoyama era.  When Hideyoshi turned Fushimi into a castle town in the Azuchi-Momoyama era, the nihonshu industry began to develop further and flourish.  Moreover, in Edo period (1603~1867), Fushimi was center of traffic because it had nice roads and three rivers joined there.  Therefore, the demand of products including Nihonsyu increased so much at that time that the culture of Nihonsyu flourished more and more.

For this reason, there are many shuzou (sake breweries) in Fushimi. One of the most famous producers of nihonshu in Fushimi is Gekkeikan, which also has a sake museum. The museum was originally built in 1909. There, we can learn about the history and culture of nihonshu, as well as how to make it. Originally the museum building was a shuzou, but it was remodeled as the museum in 1987.

400 traditional tools to make nihonshu are exhibited in the museum, and we can also study the process of making nihonshu. Moreover, at the end of the museum tour, we can taste three different types of nihonshu made by Gekkeikan. The entrance fee is just 300 yen, so it is not expensive. If you like drinking sake, you should definitely pay the traditional Gekkeikan Sake Museum a visit.


Gekkeikan Sake Museum

Access to Gekkeikan Sake Museum

Access to Gekkeikan Sake Museum

Access to Gekkeikan Sake Museum

Traditional Sweets

Fushimi is not only famous for its sake, but also its traditional sweets. One famous traditional sweet in Japan is called neri-yokan, which you can buy in just about any convenience store these days. What many people don’t know is that neri-yokan was originally made in a very traditional Japanese sweet shop in Fushimi, called Surugaya-Honpo, which was founded in 1461. Long ago,normal yokan  could not be preserved, so it could not develop in popularity. But Surugaya-Honpo improved this by using agar. The yokan made with an agar is called neri-yokan.

This sweets culture in Fushimi is also related to Hideyoshi. He held some meetings in Fushimi in the old days for a number of daimyo (regional leaders) from different places in Japan. Hideyoshi liked neri-yokan so much that he gave each daimyo neri-yokan as a present during the banquets or tea ceremonies. The daimyo took a liking to neri-yokan and eventually brought it back to their region and made it popular. If you have time, please visit Surugaya-Honpo and taste this traditional Japanese sweet.



Access to Surugaya-Honpo

Access to Surugaya honpo

Access to Surugaya honpo

Jonangu Shrine

Of course, everyone knows about the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, but not as many people know about Jonangu Shrine, which is located to the west of the Kintetsu Takeda train station. This shrine was built to protect Kyoto when the capital of Japan was transferred to Kyoto  in 794. A deity of Hoyoke, which is protection from misfortunes coming from a certain destination, is enshrined in the shrine. Also, the deity of warding off evil is enshrined there. Today Japanese people visit Jonangu Shrine and pray for safe construction, travel, commuting, business or moving to a new house in Hoyoke.

For some people, these deities can provide road safety and safe travels. There was a port of Toba in the place of Jonan. The deity of this shrine had always kept an eye on people who travel by ship and Gissha (The oxen-drawn carriage). To this day, the place of Jonan is a point where arterial roads and motorways intersect.

People who hope for road safety visit Jonangu Shrine for purification and prayer. It is possible for you to receive purification of your car at the shrine. Japanese sweets and matcha (powdered green tea) are served at the tea ceremony room to prayers of Hoyoke warding off evil and purifying your car. How about praying for your safety during your trip to Kyoto or other places in Japan in this shrine?

There are five flower gardens related to the Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji) in Jonangu Shrine. Approximately 80 kinds of flowers that are described in the tale are planted in the gardens. You can see drooping cherry blossoms and wisteria in the spring, Chinese lanterns and lotuses in the summer, boneset and maple leaves in the autumn, and camellia in the winter. The admission fee is 600 yen for adults and 400 yen for primary and secondary school students, so this is affordable. If you add 300 yen to the admission fee, Japanese sweets and matcha are served to you in the tea ceremony room. We recommend you visit the beautiful gardens.

Jonangu Shrine

Jonangu Shrine

Access to Jonangu Shrine

Access to Jonangu Shrine

Access to Jonangu Shrine


Of course, when most people hear the word Fushimi, they immediately think of the Fushimiinari Taisha shrine, which is truly amazing. However, it is not the only thing that the Fushimi district of Kyoto has to offer. As you can see, there are other wonderful tourist spots, sweets, and drinks to be experienced. Again, the entire region is only 15 minutes by train from Kyoto station. If you have an opportunity to visit Fushimi, please consider visiting it. You will not be disappointed.

The Taste from Pure Kyoto Water

Sasakishuzo’s Handmade Sake

By Akari Yamamoto Kaho Nishimura










Kyoto’s food culture, and the traditions and skills of saké making are the most important considerations for Sasakishuzou, a Japanese brewing company established in 1893. The company’s location, near Nijo Castle in Kyoto, is known for its very pure and rich water. It is is called Rakuchu. In 2014, Sasakishuzo’s brand of saké named Jurakudai Junmaidaiginnjo (聚楽第 純米大吟醸) was awarded the gold prize for Best Japanese Wine-Glass Saké in one section of the Daiginjoshu Contest. Sasakishuzo has earned respect from several chefs of authentic Kyoto cuisine because its sakés suit these foods very well. This match is very essential for Kyoto cuisine. Sasakishuzo is not only preserving, but passing down traditional Kyoto tastes.


Sasaki Akira

Sasaki Akira



In spite of the fact it was early morning Sasaki Akira took time from his busy schedule at Sasaki Shuzou to have an interview with us. He spoke in  Kansai dialect, so we could feel a close relationship with him and he gave us a very warm welcome. Sasaki always thinks of Kyoto cuisine culture  so we could feel his passion of Japanese saké. He was born in April 1st, 1970 in Kyoto. After working in a sales position for an industrial-machine distribution company, he started the job of saké making at age 25. Now, through events promoting Japanese saké, he is out  to increase the number of  Japanese saké fans. At the end of our interview, we could take this wonderful picture of him with a bottle of Sasakishuzo saké.






KAHO NISHIMURA: What is the characteristic of Sasakishuzou?


SASAKI AKIRA: I believe the sake our company makes is the most suitable beverage for kyo-ryori (traditional Kyoto cuisine). When Kyoto chefs go to other prefectures to prepare Kyoto dishes they always take our saké with them.





IMGP0078AKARI YMAMOTO: We know you also make a non-alcohol Japanese saké. How do you produce this beverage? Why did you decide to make it?

Actually, it is completely different from regular Japanese saké. You know that non-alcohol beer tastes like beer, but our non-alcohol saké does not quite taste like Japanese saké. The reason why we decided to produce is related to our production schedule. We make sake during the fall and winter, so we are not so busy during the spring and summer months. We wanted to make a new beverage that used similar techniques to those of saké making. Therefore we decided to try and make a non-alcohol “saké” during spring and summer and sell it as a seasonal product.




KAHO: Do you have any rivals? Which one makes the best saké?

There are many sake companies in Japan. Big companies make half of all saké in Japan and many small local companies make the other half. The smaller companies —like ours— compete on high quality. We always make an effort to brew the best saké we can, but it is a challenge to get customers to choose our product when there are so many other high-quality sakés. However, actually we do not have a bad relationship with other makers. We are actually good friends and give each other help, so our relationship is not like real rivals. We all consider ourselves part of a fraternity that preserves Japanese culture. We believe that we should not be satisfied with just making saké, but that we have a responsibility to educate others about the unique food culture of Kyoto through saké making.

AKARI: Who are the people who come to your shop?

In a single day, we have almost one hundred customers. They might be someone who is visiting from another prefecture for sightseeing, or students on a school trip, or local people. On average, the age of most of most of our customers is from thirty to forty.

KAHO: We will write this article in English so various foreign people will see it. Do you ever think about selling your products overseas? What points about sake do you want to bring to attention to the people in the world?

I think in the future, we should introduce Japanese food culture with Japanese saké to the world. However, I hope to tell them that Japanese food is mostly very good because it has been refined by high techniques.


This candy is similar to a whisky bonbon, however it has Japanese sake inside. We can experience a new taste and texture.

Recently, Sasakishuzo is trying to make other special products with Kyoto food companies, a bakery and a traditional Japanese sweet shop. This new project uses thetechniques used to make saké. One technique is called 麹糖化技術 (converting rice with malt to make sugar). The two companies we are working with are Mangetsu and Shizuya. Both are very famous in Kyoto and some of their products are popular as souvenirs. Making sweets and bread that use saké ingredients with these companies is one very good way to expand the Kyoto’s food culture to other places. This candy is similar to a whisky bonbon, however it has Japanese saké inside. We can experience a new taste and texture.



Matsunoo Grand Shrine

by Maki Mizobata; Natsuki Mitsuya
Matsunoo Grand Shrine (also known as Matsuo Grand Shrine) is located at the west end of Shijo Street, beyond Matsuo Bridge. This shrine is the oldest shrine in Kyoto, and the divinity worshipped here is a god of brewing sake. Throughout the year, more than a thousand people who are engaged in brewing sake visit Matsunoo Grand Shrine. There is also a famous well, Kame-no-I, as well as three gardens, and the treasury and Honden have been designated as important cultural properties.


In ancient times, the people who settled in the area around this shrine orshipped a boulder on Mt. Matsuo called Iwakura as their guardian deity. In 5 AD, a lord of the Hata clan, who had emigrated from Korea, settled in the area and introduced agriculture and forestry. The Hata clan also chose the deity of Mt. Matsuo as its guardian deity. In 701, Hata-no-imikitori built the shrine. Because the Hata clan had a lot of power and money, they were involved in the relocation of the Imperial capital to Nagaoka-kyo (784) and later to Heian-kyo (794). Therefore, they won the Imperial court’s confidence, and Matsunoo Grand Shrine was honored by the Imperial house. Not only has this shrine long played a role in ensuring the peace of the nation and protecting the people who live around it, but the shrine also houses guardian deities of cultivation, flood control, and trade. Since the Hata clan introduced to Japan the method of brewing sake, brewers and makers of miso paste visit Matsunoo Grand Shrine to pray for the success of their endeavors.


Matsunoo Grand Shrine enshrines Oo-yamagui-no-kami and Nakatsu-shima-hime-no-mikoto. The former is a male deity who governs Mt. Hiei and Mt. Matsuo. The latter, otherwise known as Ichiki-shima-hime-no-mikoto, is a female deity who protects people during their travels.


Since the time the Hata clan founded the shrine, the Honden, or the main shrine building, has been through several reconstructions, and the present one was built in 1397 and repaired in 1542 during the Muromachi period. Because of its unique style of roof, which is called Matsuo-zukuri, or Matsuo style, the Honden has been designated as an important cultural property.


Shofu-en has three famous gardens: Iwakura, Horai and Kyokusui. These gardens were designed by Mirei Shigemori during the Showa era. They are not so old but are among the greatest of the works made after the Meiji era. He designed them with a combination of rocks, and the opposite ideas of “stillness” and “movement” are harmonized well.

・Iwakura Garden(The ancient era style)

This garden was made to be the spiritual place for the god of Mt. Matsuo. Two main boulders symbolize the god and the goddess who are enshrined in this shrine. Other rocks around them represent dieties dependent on the main ones.

・Horai Garden (Kamakura era style)

The Kaiyu style, which you can enjoy by walking around the garden, is used here, and there are islands in the pond. In this garden, we can imagine a place where an unworldly man lives. It is said that this garden expresses Horai ideas, which include a longing for a world where people will not grow old and die.

・Kyokusui Garden (Heian era style)

The Heian era, when Matsunoo Grand Shrine was most prosperous, is the theme of this garden. Water channels its way along the foot of a hill, curving seven times, and there are many glaucous (light blue and green) rocks on the hill. The design is simple, but its color scheme is unique.

Kame-no-I (A well)

Near the waterfall Reiki-no-taki is a well of spring water, Kame-no-I, which is said to produce a mysterious effect. This water is famous for producing longevity and revival. Sake brewers put the water of Kame-no-I into their sake because not only do they adore the deities but also they believe the sake will not go bad.

Sake-no-Shiryokan (Museum of Sake)

Since Matsunoo Grand Shrine has housed a god of sake from ancient times, it is believed that sake brewed with water from here will bring people happiness and prosperity. In the Museum of Sake,we can see the tools used in brewing sake that were donated by sake brewers, and also we can learn about the tradition and history of sake.

Ichinoi River

There are about 3,000 Japanese rose bushes within the shrine’s precinct. The Japanese rose is most beautiful in April and May when it blooms. Especially, the harmony of the stone bridge, fresh green leaves, and Japanese rose bushes along the Ichinoi River is wonderful.


The Matsunoo Festival consists of two processions: Shinko-sai and Kanko-sai. Shinko-sai is held on the first Sunday after April 20th. Six mikoshi, or portable shrines, are carried and ferried across the Katsura River to the opposite side, and each mikoshi is placed in a shrine there. Three weeks later,the mikoshi are returned to Matsunoo Grand Shrine, and this procession is called Kanko-sai.


  • By bus: Take Kyoto city bus No. 28 or Kyoto bus No. 73 from Kyoto Station to the “Matsuo-taisha-mae” bus stop.
  • By Hankyu Railway: Get off at “Matsuo” station.

Fees for Garden and Treasure House

  • Adult: 500 yen
  • Student: 400 yen
  • Child: 300 yen

*Admission to Sake-no-Shiryokan (Museum of Sake) is free.


  • Garden: 9:00 – 16:00 (9:00 – 16:30 Sundays and holidays)
  • Museum of Sake: 9:00 – 16:00

Kyoto Sake

by Konishi Yuji

Konishi Yuji


Takimoto Meishu-kan

Matunoo Taisha

Noriko Fujimoto

La storia

Matsunoo Taisha, il Grande Santuario di Matsunoo, è il più antico santuario scintoista a Kyoto.
Nell’antichità gli abitanti di questa regione veneravano lo spirito del Monte Matsuo e lo consideravano il protettore della vita.

Lo scintoismo è la religione autoctona del Giappone, in cui si rispettano gli antenati e che ha come fondamento il rapporto con la terra e la natura.

Circa nel 5 secolo d.C., un uomo di nome Hata e la sua famiglia emigrarono in questa regione (Yamashiro, Tamba) dalla Corea, e qui prosperarono.
La famiglia di Hata e i nativi cominciarono ad adorare Matsuo come loro divinità.
Nel 701 fu costruito il santuario scintoista che esiste ancora oggi.
Oggi, Matsunoo Taisha è sostenuto
da circa 100.000 famiglie di fedeli a Kyoto.
In particolare, è famoso in tutto il Giappone
come sede della divinità che fa fermentare il sakè.
Il sakè, come è noto, è il tipico vino di riso giapponese.
In primavera, a Matsunoo Taisha ha luogo una bellissima fioritura di Yamabuki, fiori gialli.
È consigliabile visitarlo in aprile o maggio.

Il reliquiario principale

L’edificio che possiamo vedere adesso fu costruito nel 1397 e ampiamente restaurato nel 1542.
È famoso per il tetto in stile insolito. Questo stile peculiare è chiamato “Matsuo Dzukuri”(stile di Matsuo).
Il reliquiario è stato ufficialmente dichiarato importante patrimonio culturale.

Kame no I

“Kame no I” significa “pozzo della tartaruga (Kame)”.
La tartaruga è venerata in Cina, Corea e Giappone come simbolo di buona fortuna, e particolarmente di lunga vita e buona salute.
Si crede che chi beve l’acqua di questo pozzo vivrà a lungo e in salute.
Molti usano l’acqua per preparare il miso e fare fermentare il sakè.
Il miso è una pasta di soia fermentata anche oggi molto usata nella cucina giapponese.


Il sakadaru è il barile per il sakè.
La ditte che producono sakè portano i barili a Matsunoo Taisha per impetrare il succeso negli affari.

Il portale a torretta

Si dice che questo portale fu costruito nei primi anni del periodo Edo (1603~1867).
A destra e a sinistra ci sono due statue, coperte da reti metalliche. I fedeli attaccano alle reti Shakushi votivi con scritti i loro desideri e le loro speranze, e si crede che la divinità li esaudiscano. Questa è una delle espressioni tipiche della fede popolare dei giapponesi.
Lo Shakushi è un utensile a forma di spatola di solito usato per riempire la ciotola del riso bollito.


I Torii sono i portali dei santuari scintoisti, e indicano un luogo sacro.
Sono solitamente costruiti in legno o pietra, e sono dipinti in un colore rosso caratteristico.
Matsunoo Taisha ha due Torii.

Il giardino

A Matsunoo Taisha si trova un giardino giapponese, molto interessante per la varietà degli stili che rappresenta.
Il giardino fu creato nel periodo Showa (nel 1975) e riproduce tre diversi stili dei giardini giapponesi tradizionali.
Il primo è lo stile antico; il secondo lo stile del periodo Heian (dalla fine dell’ottavo secolo alla fine del dodicesimo secolo); il terzo è lo stile del periodo Kamakura (dalla fine del dodicesimo secolo al 1333).

Le feste religiose

Le tre principali feste religiose a Kyoto sono Aoi Matsuri, Jidai Matsuri e Gion Matsuri.

Ma Matsunoo Taisha ha una propria festa religiosa, la festa chiamata Shinkosai (o Matsuo Matsuri), che si tiene in Aprile, la prima domenica dopo il 20.

Durante la festa sei grandi palanchini sacri riccamente ornati (Mikoshi), in cui siedono le divinità, sono portati in processione a spalla da un gruppo di uomini fino al fiume Katsura, che scorre nei pressi di Matunoo Taisha. Da qui vengono trasportati al di là del fiume su barche. Questo rito esprime la forza e l’energia vitale del popolo giapponese, e assistervi lasciandosi trasportare dal flusso dell’energia è un’esperienza entusiasmante.

21 giorni dopo Shinkosai si può vedere anche la festa chiamata Kankosai.




Im Jahre 794 verlegte der Kaiser Kanmu
die Hauptstadt von Nara nach Kyoto, und
nannte sie „Heian-Kyo“. Der Schrein wurde
im Jahre 1895 zum Andenken an den 1100.
Jahrestag gebaut. Der Schrein ist den Seelen
der Kaiser Kanmu und Komei geweiht. Der
Kaiser Kanmu baute die Hauptstadt
„Heian-Kyo“ und der Kaiser Komei ist der letzte Kaiser, der in Kyoto wohnte. Außerdem gibt es im Schrein einen großen heiligen Garten, den „Shinen

- Warum ist das Torii so weit vom Schrein entfernt? -

Die Entfernung zwischen dem Torii und dem Haupttor wirkt seltsam. Das Torii ist für jeden Schrein ein unentbehrliches Element. Das Torii bezeichnet einen Eingang zur heiligen Welt (Schreinbezirk). Aber das Torii des Heian-Schreins steht mitten auf einer öffentlichen Straße.

Ist die Straße heilig, die zwischen dem Torii und dem Schrein liegt? So ist es nicht. Auch der Platz gehörte bis zum Zweiten Weltkrieg zum Schrein. Aber zum Beginn des Krieges machte der Schrein der Regierung mit dem Platz ein Geschenk. Darauf wurde die Straße gebaut.

- Tiger und Drache -

Am Eingang des Schreinbezirks gibt es rechts und links ein Becken, an dem man sich vor dem Gebet den Mund und die Hände spült um die Seele zu reinigen. Auf jedem Becken steht eine Figur aus Stein, auf dem westlichen steht ein Tiger, auf dem östlichen ein Drache. Die Tiere sind nach altchinesischem Glauben Schutzgötter für je eine Himmelsrichtung.



Norden - schwarze Schildkröte
Süden - roter Spatz
Osten - blauer Drache
Westen - weißer Tiger

- Hochzeit im Schrein -

Man kann im „Kaguraden“ Hochzeit feiern. „Kagura“ bedeutet „die Musik, die Göttern dargebracht wird“. Bei einer Hochzeit im Schrein wird diese Musik intoniert. Manchmal sieht man in der Nähe vom Ausgang des heiligen Gartens Hochzeitsgesellschaften.

Eine Hochzeit

- Drei Gebäude -

„Der Daigokuden“, der Hauptbau im Schrein, besteht aus drei Gebäuden: Der Gaihaiden steht allen Besuchern offen. Die übliche Andacht besteht aus 3 Teilen, auf Japanisch „Nirei, Nihaku, Ichirei“ - „zwei Verbeugungen, zwei mal Klatschen, eine Verbeugung“
zwei Verbeugungen: Dank an die Götter
zwei mal Klatschen: Die eigene Existenz den Göttern kundtun
eine Verbeugung: Die Bitte für künftige Wünsche

„Mit den Wölfen muss man heulen“. Komm, machen wir „Nirei, Nihaku, Ichirei“!

Naihaiden → Man kann nur eintreten, wenn man die Götter anruft.
Gohonden → Nur Schinto-Priester können eintreten. Dies ist der heiligste Bau, weil er den Seelen von Kaiser Kanmu und Kaiser Komei geweiht ist.

- Lasst uns Sake mit Bier vergleichen!-

Im Heian-Schrein stehen ein Kirschbaum und ein
Tachibana-Baum (eine Art Mandarine), von dem
man jedes Jahr 100 kg Früchte erntet. Daraus
werden Süßigkeiten (Waffelkuchen mit Marmelade und Gelee) und Sake gemacht. Diese Waren kann man nur am Kiosk im Schrein kaufen, deshalb sind sie etwas ganz Besonderes. Der Tachibana-Sake ist wie ein süßer Wein. Außerdem hält man im Osten die Früchte für Ambrosia. Probieren Sie mal.

- Eine andere Welt? -

Der Heian-Schrein liegt an der Straße, aber man kann eine heilige Ruhe erleben, wenn man in den Garten „Schinen“ eintritt. Zu jeder Jahreszeit sieht der Garten anders aus. Es gibt Tiere und Pflanzen, ein Paradies. Eine Brücke (Taiheikaku) führt über einen großen Teich und lädt dazu ein zu verweilen und die Geschöpfe im Teich zu betrachten.

So kommt man zumHeian-Schrein Vom Kyotobahnhofmit dem Bus Richtung Gion Nr. 206mit dem Bus Richtung Iwakura oder Ginkakuji-Tempel Nr. 5

und zu Fuß ca. 3 Minuten

※Steigen Sie aus an der Haltestelle „Kyoto-Kaikan Bijutsukan

mae” (Vor der Kunsthalle Kyoto)

Öffnungszeiten 6:00 – 18:00 Uhr
Ruhetag Nur am 22. Oktober am Nachmittag(Wegen eines großen Festes)
Eintrittsgebühr Kostenlos (der Eintritt zum Schinen kostet 600 Yen)