Enjoy Higashiyama

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Enjoy a stroll around Higashiyama --  Higashiyama Karuta (Part 3)
 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. | Click here for Part 2.


Nasuari Path – A showcase of beautiful flowers lines the path  
Nasuari Path – A showcase of beautiful flowers lines the path

To commemorate the completion of the repair work to Shirakawa-kita Street (between Higashioji Street and Hanamikoji Street), this small lane was named “Nasuari Path” in 1998. The name “Nasuari” appears in the lyrics of the Yusai Elementary School song, and was originally mentioned in Shujing, an old Chinese history book. It means “you can achieve anything if you try hard enough.” This street attracts a lot of visitors during the cherry blossom season. (Yusai School District)


Shinmonzen Street – Home to a variety of antique shops  
Shinmonzen Street – Home to a variety of antique shops

Shinmonzen Street runs from east to west between Nawate Street and Higashioji Street, and is located almost half way between Sanjo and Shijo Streets. This area, originally developed as a temple town of Chion-in Temple, has been lined with antique shops and fine arts dealers since late in the 19th century. This street is also called “Daruma Street” due to its symbol, the Daruma doll. (Yusai School District)


Kiritoshi  – A by-way and a window to traditional Kyoto  
Kiritoshi  – A by-way and a window to traditional Kyoto

This street runs from Shijo Street north to Furumonzen Street, via Tominaga-cho, Sueyoshi-cho, and the Shinbashi Bridge over the Shirakawa River. During the Edo Period, there were a number of restaurants here, which helped to create a bustling atmosphere. Also around this area, there are certain back streets, including “Kuragari,” which have preserved houses and buildings that offer a tantalizing glimpse back to that period. (Yusai and Yasaka School Districts)


Bloody ceiling at Yogen-in Temple – Lie on the floor and gaze up at a reminder of a violent past  
Bloody ceiling at Yogen-in Temple – Lie on the floor and gaze up at a reminder of a violent past

It may seem strange, but the wood of the ceiling in the main hall of Yogen-in Temple actually bears bloodstains. The reason for this is the section of floor, where Torii Mototada committed suicide after he and his garrison were unsuccessful in their defense of Fushimi Castle, is enshrined as a ceiling panel here. On the cedar doors of this temple are pictures of animals, including elephants and lions, drawn by Tawaraya Sotatsu, an artist of the early 17th century, as a dedication to Mototada’s soul. It is quite an experience to lie and face the bloodstained ceiling and imagine the terrible acts of a time gone by. (Ikkyo School District)


Takio Shrine – A dragon rising up to the sky, a magnificent ceiling decoration  
Takio Shrine – A dragon rising up to the sky, a magnificent ceiling decoration

This shrine is said to have been burned during the Onin War in east Kyoto in 1467, moved to Hiyoshizaka, and then transferred to this location in 1586 in line with the establishment of the Great Buddha Hall of Hoko-ji Temple. It was revered by the Shimomura family, one of the wealthiest merchant dynasties in Kyoto and the founders of Daimaru Department Store, and its current pavilions were built with their support. This is one of the few shrines to offer such a wide variety of sculptural decoration, including a dragon (Haiden Pavilion), the twelve animals of the Oriental Zodiac (East-West Corridor), and a monkey god (Main Pavilion). (Ikkyo School District)


Kyo Odori (Kyoto Dance) – Three rings of Kyo Odori swing merrily in the spring breeze  
Kyo Odori (Kyoto Dance) – Three rings of Kyo Odori swing merrily in the spring breeze

Kyo Odori is held at Miyagawa-cho Kaburen-jo Theater from the beginning to the middle of April every year. There are five “hanamachi,” or entertainment areas, in Kyoto, including Miyagawa-cho, and each of them has its own dance style and emblem which are represented on paper lanterns. The emblem for Miyagawa-cho is three rings. (Shinmichi School District)


“Marugoto” Museum – Exhibiting the whole of Higashiyama – past to future  
“Marugoto” Museum – Exhibiting the whole of Higashiyama – past to future

“Marugoto (total) Museum” is the theme for the second term of the project, “Higashiyama, Town, Future Juku (school),” part of which is the creation of this Higashiyama Karuta. The word “museum” is used as the whole of the Higashiyama area is considered a museum in this project. The aim of the project is to pass on a variety of the essential features concerning the long history of Higashiyama to future generations.


Furukawa-cho Shopping Arcade – An atmosphere of bye-gone days  
Furukawa-cho Shopping Arcade – An atmosphere of bye-gone days

This arcade stretches 250 meters north from Sanjo Street to Furumon-zen Street near Chion-in Temple. Once you step in to the arcade, you will probably feel you have slipped back in time when you see the old-fashioned greengrocery, fishmongers, and deli. The arcade itself has a unique Japanese-style design with attractive roof tiles. (Awata School District)


Ebisu Shrine – The god Ebisu saves the world of Heisei  
Ebisu Shrine – The god Ebisu saves the world of Heisei

Ebisu Shrine is well-known for the Toka Ebisu Festival, where the chant of “Shobai Hanjo de Sasa Motte Koi!” or “Business is thriving. Bring out the bamboo branches!” can be heard. There is an old story involving the god Ebisu, which tells the tale of when the priest Eisai was caught in a storm on his way back from So (China). As the legend goes, he prayed single-mindedly to the god Ebisu to save him, whereupon the storm lost its intensity and calmed down. (Shinmichi School District)


Sanjusangendo Temple – Actually the building is over 65 ken (approx. 120 meters) in length, not 33 (“Sanjusan”)  
Sanjusangendo Temple – Actually the building is over 65 ken (approx. 120 meters) in length, not 33 (“Sanjusan”)

This temple was established in 1164 on the orders of the Emperor Goshirakawa to Taira no Kiyomori, a general of the late Heian period of Japan. Its official name is “Renge Oin.” The temple houses the magnificent and breathtaking one thousand statues of the Thousand Armed Kannon, as well as other national treasures, including statues of Fujin & Raijin (the god of thunder and the god of wind, two traditional Buddhist temple guardians) and those of 28 Japanese deities who protect the Buddhist universe. The name Sanjusan (33)-gen-do came from the length in ken between the pillars of the inner sanctuary of the temple, with the overall length of the temple building being over 65 ken. . (Ikkyo School District)


map Sanjusangendo Temple Ebisu Shrine Shinmonzen Street Miyagawa-cho Kaburen-jo Theater Nasuari Path Furukawa-cho Shopping Arcade Kiritoshi Yogen-in Temple Takio Shrine

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