Enjoy Higashiyama

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Information here originally appeared in the past issues. Schedules and prices are subject to change without notice.

Enjoy a stroll around Higashiyama --  Higashiyama Karuta (Part 1)
 There are a number of historical and cultural assets, such as shrines and temples, in Higashiyama Ward, which lends the whole area a museum-like quality. In this ward, the residents and the ward office have collaborated to create "Higashiyama Karuta" as a way of promoting the great variety of important features in the area. ("Karuta" is a traditional Japanese card game with cards featuring haiku verse.) Here are a few examples of some of the places and events featured on the karuta.

Pottery Festival – Enjoy shopping and browsing on a hot and steamy summer day  
Pottery Festival – Enjoy shopping and browsing on a hot and steamy summer day

This large-scale pottery festival is held at Wakamiya Hachiman Shrine on the 8th of August every year.  Pottery traders, both local ("Kiyomizu-yaki") and from nationwide, set up their tents all over Gojo Street the day before the event to attract the greatest number of visitors. This is one of the most popular summer attractions in Kyoto, and is well worth watching for the haggling between the vendors and shoppers alone. (Rokuhara School District)


Imahie Shrine – A pair of monkeys welcome you.  
Imahie Shrine – A pair of monkeys welcome you.

This shrine was established by Emperor Shirakawa in 1160 for the enshrining of the god Hiyoshi of the Omi region, whom he greatly admired. The pair of monkeys, located at the front of the main hall, are believed, as messengers of the god, to have the magical power to purge one of misfortune, and are considered the true treasures of the shrine. (Shudo School District)


Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Festival – Lively atmosphere infused with the calls of pottery vendors  
Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Festival – Lively atmosphere infused with the calls of pottery vendors

The Hiyoshi Kamamoto Festival is traditionally held on a weekend from mid March to early April every year in the areas covering Hiyoshi Town and Minami Hiyoshi Town, and is located on the hill to the south side of Chishaku-in Temple. With approximately 60 stalls, including those of potteries, setting up tents to sell Kiyomizu-yaki, this year’s festival was successfully held on the 27th and 28th of March. Visitors can also take the opportunity to visit potteries in the neighborhood and collect a stamp from each one. This event is known as "Sakura Festival" as it is held during the cherry blossom period in spring. (Imakumano School District)


Entoku-in Temple – Lingering atmosphere of 17th century Momoyama Era  
Entoku-in Temple – Lingering atmosphere of 17th century Momoyama Era

Following the death of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, his wife Nene left Osaka Castle and moved to the Kyoto Imperial Palace. She had a strong desire, however, to establish within Kodai-ji Temple a shrine to the soul of her beloved Hideyoshi, so set about relocating the dressing palace and garden from Fushimi Castle to section of the grounds, and made this her home. This was to be the beginnings of the legendary Entoku-in Temple. This place, famous as the last earthly residence of Nene, is a reflection of Momoyama Era opulence, which is most evident in the "karesansui" style of the garden. (Kiyomizu School District)


Camphor trees in Shoren-in Temple – The trees that survived the War of Onin  
Camphor trees in Shoren-in Temple – The trees that survived the War of Onin

During the War of Onin, the city was devastated by raging fires that burnt everything in their path. The camphor trees in Shoren-in Temple, however, somehow managed to escape the ravages of the fires. We cannot be sure if this story is fact or fiction, but there is a certain, subtle power in these trees that can move us to believe it possible. (Awata School District)


Fushimi Dolls – A variety of shapes and types since olden times  
Fushimi Dolls – A variety of shapes and types since olden times

There are over 90 kinds of traditional clay doll nationwide, and it is said that they all have their origins in Fushimi Dolls, the very first of their kind. The number of shapes and types that have been produced totals over two thousand, and many traditions and customs have been represented through these simple yet lovely dolls. The only working pottery left in existence is Tanka, which was established in the mid-18th century and is now run by the 7th generation of craftspersons connected with it. (Tsukinowa School District)


The Statue of Kuya Shonin – A very familiar feature in Japanese history textbooks  
The Statue of Kuya Shonin – A very familiar feature in Japanese history textbooks

Many visitors are surprised to suddenly come across the beautiful red-painted building that is Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple while walking around this quiet residential area. This temple houses a number of amazing treasures, including the famous standing statue (13th century, Important Cultural Property) of Kuya Shonin, a very familiar feature of Japanese history textbooks, and other magnificent statues of Buddha from the 11th to 14th centuries. (Rokuhara School District)


Grave marker of the head – Cool autumn winds blow across the bellflower crest  
Grave marker of the head – Cool autumn winds blow across the bellflower crest

The bellflower is the family crest of Mitsuhide Akechi, who was defeated by Hideyoshi Toyotomi at the Battle of Yamazaki following the Honnoji Incident. Thereafter, he took his own life after being attacked and mortally wounded by a lowly peasant on his way to Sakamoto Castle in Omi (present day Shiga). As dawn approached, one of his followers severed Mitsuhide’s head and buried it in the ground near Chion-in Temple. The dignified impression reflected in the image of the bellflower makes manifest the tragic demise of Mitsuhide. (Awata School District)


Gesshin-in Temple – Hagi (Japanese bush clover) and camellia much admired by the literati  
Gesshin-in Temple – Hagi (Japanese bush clover) and camellia much admired by the literati

This temple is famous for the hagi and camellia that line the Nene Road, and which was mentioned in the verse, "At Gion on the way to Kiyomizu….," written by Akiko Yosano, a famous poet. The hidden room upstairs, which Takamori Saigo and Ryoma Sakamoto visited, is still there and in good condition, and a 600-year old camellia tree in the garden, planted by Yurakusai (Nobunaga Oda’s brother) still blooms in its full glory. (Kiyomizu School District)


Shirakawa River – Film location for many suspense dramas  
Shirakawa River – Film location for many suspense dramas

The Gion Shimbashi area along the Shirakawa River is a famous film location for TV dramas, such as "Kyoto Suspense" written by the popular mystery novelist, Misa Yamamura. If you are lucky, you may actually get to see scenes being shot, or meet a celebrity or two. (Yusai School District, Yasaka School District)


map Shirakawa River Gesshin-in Temple Grave marker of the head Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple Tanka Wakamiya Hachiman Shrine Imahie Shrine Hiyoshi Entoku-in Temple Shoren-in Temple

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