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 2)
 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.

Click here for Part 1.


Hill streets in the Kiyomizu area – The hill streets: Sannei-zaka, Ninen-zaka, and Ichinen-zaka, lead you to The Path of Nene  
Hill streets in the Kiyomizu area – The hill streets: Sannei-zaka, Ninen-zaka, and Ichinen-zaka, lead you to The Path of Nene

Sannei-zaka is the hill street to take for the approach to Kiyomizu-dera Temple or the road that connects with Maruyama Park. This stone-paved street is popular among tourists to Kyoto for its machiya (traditional wooden townhouses) and a variety of other attractions.
Ninen-zaka and Ichinen-zaka, which connect with Sannei-zaka, lead to The Path of Nene. Lining both sides of these streets are certain places of interest, such as souvenir shops, Kiyomizu Pottery shops, and traditional Japanese-style cafés. The area is also perfect for a relaxing stroll, especially if you are not used to exercising, and can be enjoyed in the early mornings, evenings, or mingling with a crowd. (Kiyomizu School District)


Juen-ji Temple – Daikoku-ten on a lotus leaf  
Juen-ji Temple – Daikoku-ten on a lotus leaf

Juen-ji Temple is accessible from Daikoku-cho Street, which is south of Matsubara Street. The name of the street and the area (Daikoku-cho) came from “Aburawaki Daikoku-ten,” a deity that is enshrined in this temple. Daikoku-ten, a god of good luck, is usually positioned sitting atop bales of rice, but the Daikoku-ten here is represented standing on a lotus leaf. Long ago, Juzenji Forest stood in this location, and this is where Ushiwakamaru (a skillful young swordsman) and Benkei (a warrior monk) were said to meet. Though the forest is no more, there is a monument associated with it to be found here. (Rokuhara School District)


Hokokubyo Mausoleum – A hard climb up hundreds of steps  
Hokokubyo Mausoleum – A hard climb up hundreds of steps

This is the tomb of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, a legendary leader in Japan’s history. He died at the age of 63 in 1598 at Fushimi Castle in Kyoto and was buried here on the top of Amidagamine Hill. You have to climb up approx. 500 steps to reach the Gorin Tower at the top of the hill, and it is quite hard work. Nonetheless, it is more than worth it to experience the greenery and serenity of the environment and, of course, the magnificent view. The current tomb and its architecture were the result of an extensive reconstruction in 1898, to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the death of Hotaiko, or Hideyoshi Toyotomi. (Imakumano School District)


Seikan-ji Temple – A beautiful view of Kyoto in the mist  
Seikan-ji Temple – A beautiful view of Kyoto in the mist

When looking out over Kyoto from the large rock named “Kaname-ishi” in the garden of Seikan-ji Temple, the view, framed by the mountains, takes on the shape of a fan. In olden times, this was a renowned place of scenic interest as it was the first view one would get of Kyoto when approaching from the Yamashina area. (Shudo School District)


Mimi-Zuka (Tomb of Ears) – People come to pray here in the early morning  
Mimi-Zuka (Tomb of Ears) – People come to pray here in the early morning

People regularly start to appear on the street in front of Toyokuni Shrine just after six in the morning, getting up early and coming here to pray at the shrine or the Tomb of Ears (Ears and noses were often taken as proof of a strong performance in battle, and were buried here at the time of Hideyoshi’s Korean invasion.) (Teikyo School District)


Red brick building –  Home of tobacco in Japan, with a Meiji Era ambiance  
Red brick building –  Home of tobacco in Japan, with a Meiji Era ambiance

This building, known to be the first tobacco factory in Japan, was established by Kichibei Murai, a wealthy man in the 1890’s. When the sun shone, it made for a very impressive sight, with the subtle tones and coloring of each individual brick on display changing in the natural light. Unfortunately, we are no longer able to see the building as it was in its former glory. (Shudo School District)


The Kennin-ji Fence – The beautiful tea flowers and impressively styled bamboo fence of Kennin-ji Temple  
The Kennin-ji Fence – The beautiful tea flowers and impressively styled bamboo fence of Kennin-ji Temple

The Kennin-ji Fence is a style of bamboo fence first used at Kennin-ji Temple. It consists of bamboo slats laid vertically side by side with no gaps, held in place with horizontal bamboo bars and tied with hemp-palm rope. In the garden of the temple, a number of tea trees have been planted which bloom with small and exquisitely beautiful flowers in the autumn. (Shinmiti School District)


Tsuridonoi –  A well with a special connection to the Taira Family  
Tsuridonoi –  A well with a special connection to the Taira Family

There is a very auspicious well, named “Tsuridono-I” in the grounds of Myojun-ji Temple, which has an interesting imperial connection. The Taira family used to have residences in this area, and it is said that Kenreimonin (or Taira-no Tokuko) used this well to bathe her newborn baby, the Emperor Antoku. (Rokuhara School District)


Gion-kaku  – A steeple with a crane, about to take flight  
Gion-kaku  – A steeple with a crane, about to take flight

Gion-kaku is a tower located in the grounds of Daiun-in temple and was constructed by Kihachiro Okura (Tsuruhiko Okina) in 1928 to commemorate the Emperor’s coronation ceremony. It resembles a float of the Gion Festival, and is situated at the foot of the Higashiyama Hills, offering a fine view over Kyoto City. The decorative bird that sits atop the steeple may look like a peacock or a phoenix, but is actually a crane, so designed to acknowledge the association with Tsuruhiko Okina (Tsuru = crane). (Yasaka School District)


Todoroki River -  Issun-boshi sailed this river en-route to his fight with demons  
Todoroki River -  Issun-boshi sailed this river en-route to his fight with demons

Issun-boshi (The Inch-High Samurai), a character in a Japanese folk story, sailed along the Tordoroki River in a bowl for a boat with a chopstick for an oar. There used to be a large dry riverbed situated near the current Shimogawara area, where the Kikutani River, which runs between Mt. Kacho and Mt. Kodaiji, and the Todoroki River, which runs from Kiyomizu Otowayama, used to meet. The quality of the water of the Todoroki River was once very evident by its clarity, and the locals say they miss the beauty of this and also the many dragonflies the river once attracted. (Kiyomizu School District)


map Todoroki River Daiun-in Temple Juen-ji temple Kennin-ji Temple Home of a tobacco manufacturing plant Sannei-zaka Hill Street Myojun-ji Temple Hokokubyo Mausoleum Seikan-ji Temple Toyokuni Shrine

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