Gudetama lost in Edo!

Japan’s popular lazy egg, Gudetama, is lost in the Edo period! This autumn and winter only you can visit Gudetama world at the Toei Kyoto Studio Park.

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Image Credit: atpress.ne.jp

Born in 2013, Gudetama’s name is a play on gude gude, meaning someone without strength or spunk, and tamago, meaning egg. He has a negative attitude towards most things and spends his days lazing around, believing that some day he will be eaten. Of course Gudetama has no drive at all to return to the current times on his own, so you have to guide him. Go on a playful travel from the Edo period all the way to the modern Gudetama World.

We don’t know how Gudetama managed to become a lord, but he did it. Enjoy these funny photo opportunities and become a lazy egg yourself.

Gudetama photo
Image Credit: atpress.ne.jp

Afterwards, get on your feet and learn the Gudetama dance. You can already practice it at home using this video.

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After dancing, go back to a Gudetama lifestyle by relaxing in the Gudetama ballpit or resting on a giant Gudetama…yolk?

Gudetama activities
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This special event also has limited edition goodies such as the Gudetama Edo Lord plushie.

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Image Credit: atpress.ne.jp

Try some of the Gudetama Edo specials which may or may not contain egg. Special dishes include Gudetama shuriken curry, Gudetama parfait and more.

Gudetama food
Image Credit: atpress.ne.jp

If Gudetama isn’t your thing, the Kyoto Studio Park is still worth a visit. The area is a frequently used set for actual Japanese period dramas and movies. During the day samurai, geisha and townsfolk wander around the Edo style village and give performances. You can also visit the ninja show or ninja trick house and if you’re really brave, the haunted house.

Information

Dates: Sept. 10, 2016 – Dec. 4, 2016
Hours: 9am – 5pm (Mon. – Sun., Sept., Oct., Nov.), 9am – 6pm (Sat.,Sun.& Holidays, only in Sept.) / December: 9:30am – 4:30pm (Mon.-Fri.) 9:30am – 5pm (Sat.,Sun.& Holidays)
Admission: 2,200 yen (adults) / 1,300 yen (junior high & high school students) / 1,100 yen (children)
Location Toei Kyoto Studio Park
Access: 5-min walk from JR Uzumasa Station / 5-min walk from Randen Katabiranotsuji Station / 12-min walk from Subway Uzumasa Tenjingawa Station on the Tozai Line
Address: 10 Uzumasa Higashihachiokacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-8161
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
toei-eigamura.com

3 Historic Fan Shops in Kyoto

Kyoto’s rich history even extends to its many shops and these shinise, or historic shops, are some of the Kyoto’s oldest. In fact, these three fan shops are among Japan’s most historic, with some dating as far back as the 17th century!

3. Aiba

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Aiba has been continuously selling traditional Japanese fans since 1689. Although they specialize in more traditional styles, the shop continues to be innovative. One of the more modern styles they’ve created is a transparent fan that gives the suggestion of delivering cool air while remaining quite stylish. These round fans were historically used within the Imperial Court during the Edo Period. They’re artfully crafted, featuring natural scenery, people or poetry, cast in block print, dye or raised cloth.

Aiba is situated in downtown Kyoto between Sanjo-dori and Shijo-dori on quiet Yanagi no Bamba Street.

www.kyoto-kankou.or.jp

2. Miyawaki Baisenan

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Established in 1823, Miyawaki Baisenan specializing in the iconic Japanese folding fan. You can shop to your heart’s content on the first floor, but don’t miss the second floor, which features an exhibit on the history of Japanese fans. Baisenan sells fans for every occasion, from the purely utilitarian fans that start at ¥743 (US$7), to the more indulgent sandalwood fans that can go for as much as ¥43,532 (US$410). Even if you’re not there to make a purchases, Miyawaki Baisenan offers a fascinating look at the history of fans, and the many varieties that exist from region to region.

Miyawaki Baisenan is situated north of Shijo-dori, on Rokkaku-dori.

www.nytimes.com

1. Sakata Bunsuke Shoten

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This shop had its start in 1808, specializing in folding fans. The fans at Sakata are strictly for decor, ceremonies, or entertainment, so you won’t be pulling one of these works of art out of your pocket when you’re roasting on a crowded train. Sakata Bunsuke Shoten exhibited at The International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris in 1925, meaning these well-made fans have been held in international high-regard for nearly 100 years. Sakata keeps things interesting, releasing a new design each year in a continued effort to blend modern design with Japanese tradition.

Sakata Bunsuke Shoten is located at the corner of Gojo and Yanagi no Bamba street.

eng.trip.kyoto.jp


Read the original article on All About Japan: 3 Historic Fan Shops in Kyoto

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Kyoto 1~ 29


1Zenporitsu-ji Temple (善法律寺) in Yawata

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the Beginning of December
Hours: 9am – 3pm
Access: 15min walk from Yawatashi Station (Keihan Main Line)
Address: 88-1 Yawatababa, Yawata-shi, 614-8085 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
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2Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu (石清水八幡宮) in Yawata

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November
Hours: January-March 6:30am-6pm; April – September 5:30am -6:30pm; October 6am-6pm, November-December 6:30-6pm
Access: 3min ride with the Otokoyama Cable Car from Yawatashi Station (Keihan Main Line) until Otokoyama-sanjo Station (5min walk)
Address: 30 Yawatatakabo, Yawata-shi, 614-8005 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
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3Yokoku-ji (楊谷寺) in Nagaokakyo

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First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Hours: 9am-5pm
Access: 20min taxi ride from Nagaokakyo Station (JR Kyoto Line); 15min taxi ride from Nishiyama Tennozan Station (Hankyu Kyoto Line)
Address: 2 Donotani, Jododani, Nagaokakyo-shi, 617-0855 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
nagaokakyo-kankou.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


4Komyo-ji (光明寺) in Nagaokakyo

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Access: 10min Hankyu-Bus ride from Nagaoka-Tenjin Station (Hankyu Kyoto Line) until Asahigaoka Homu Mae (3min walk); 20min Hankyu-Bus ride from Nagaokakyo Station (JR Kyoto Line) until Asahigaoka Homu Mae (3min walk)
Address: 26-1 Saijonai, Ao, Nagaokakyo-shi, 617-0811 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
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5Kuwayama Shrine (鍬山神社) in Kameoka

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First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Beginning of November until the middle of November
Event: Autumn Color Light-up!
Date: November 10th (Thursday) – November 16th (Wednesday), 5pm-6pm
Admission: 300yen (adults), free for children
Access: 10min Community-Bus ride from Kameoka Station (JR Sagano Line) until Kuwayama Jinja-mae (direct access); 40min walk from Kameoka Station
Address: 22-2 Kamigaichi, Kamiyada-cho, Kameoka-shi, 621-0856 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor.com


6Bishamon-do (毘沙門堂) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Hours: 8:30am – 5pm
Access: 20min walk from Yamashina Station
Address: 18 Anshuinariyama-cho, Yamashina-ku, Kyoto-shi, 607-8003 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
nihon-kankou.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


7Shouji-ji Temple (勝持寺) in Kyoto

京都 長岡京 勝持寺の紅葉その9🍁 勝持寺の境内、不動堂へ #京都紅葉 #勝持寺 #kyoto

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First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Hours: 9am-5pm
Admission: 400yen (adults), 300yen (Junior-high-school students), 200yen (Elementary-school students)
Access: 25min Hankyu-Bus ride from Higashi-Muko Station (Hankyu Kyoto Main Line) until Minamikasuga-cho (20min walk)
Address: 1194 Minamikasuga-cho, Oharano, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 610-1153 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
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8Yoshimine-dera (善峯寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Hours: 8am-5pm
Admission: 500yen (adults), 300yen (High-school students), 200yen (junior-high-school & elementary-school students)
Access: 30min Hankyu-Bus ride from Mukomachi Station (JR Kyoto Line)or Higashi-Muko Station (Hankyu Kyoto Main Line) until Yoshimine-dera (8min walk)
Address: 1372 Oshio-cho, Oharano, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 610-1133 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
kyoto.travel/en


9Oharano Shrine (大原野神社) in Kyoto

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Access: 25min Hankyu-Bus ride from Higashi-Muko Station (Hankyu Kyoto Main Line) until Minamikasuga-cho (8min walk)
Address: 1152 Minamikasuga-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 610-1153 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
nihon-kankou.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


10Kosho-ji Temple (興聖寺) in Uji

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First colors: End of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Access: 20min walk from Uji Station (JR Nara Line); 10min walk from Uji Station (Keihan Uji Line)
Address: 27-1 Yamada, Uji, Uji-shi, 611-0021 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
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11Mimuroto-ji Temple (三室戸寺) in Uji

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Hours: April-October 8:30am – 4:30pm; November – March 8:30am-4pm
Admission: 500yen (adults), 300yen (children)
Access: 15min walk from Mimurodo Station (Keihan Uji Line)
Address: Shigatani 21, Todo, Uji-shi, 611-0013 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
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12Izumo Dai-jingu Shrine (出雲大神宮) in Kameoka

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First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Access: 15min Furusato-Bus ride from Kameoka Station (JR Sagano Line) North Exit until Izumo Jinja Mae (direct access)
Address: Izumo, Chitose-cho, Kameoka-shi, 621-0002 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
kyoto-kankou.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


13Arashi Yama (嵐山) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Togetsukyo Bridge
Access: 10min walk from Saga-Arashiyama Station (JR Sagano Line)
Address: Arashiyama, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 616-8383 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
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14Rokuo-in Temple (鹿王院) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Hours: 9am-5pm
Admission: 400yen (adults), 200yen (junior-high-school & elementary-school students)
Access: 5min walk from Saga-Arashiyama Station (JR Sagano Line)
Address: 24 Sagakitaboricho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 616-8367 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
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15Joujakkou-ji Temple (常寂光寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Admission: 400yen
Access: 15min walk from Saga-Arashiyama Station (JR Sagano Line)
Address: 3 Ogura-cho, Sagaogurayama, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 616-8397 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
jojakko-ji.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


16Nison-in Temple (二尊院) in Kyoto

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First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Hours: 9am – 4:30pm
Admission: 500yen; free for children
Access: 15min walk from Saga-Arashiyama Station (JR Sagano Line); 45min Kyoto Bus ride from JR Kyoto Station until Saga Shakado-mae (10min walk)
Address: 27 Chojin-cho, Saganison-in Monzen, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 616-8425 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
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17Daigo-ji Temple (醍醐寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Admission: 800yen (adults), 600yen (high-school & junior-high-school students)
Access: 10min walk from Daigo Station (Subway Tozai Line)
Address: 22 Daigohigashioji-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, 601-1325 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
daigoji.or.jp


18Kurama-dera (鞍馬寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Access: 5min walk from Kurama Station (Eizan Kurama Line)
Address: 1074 Kuramahonmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 601-1111 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
insidekyoto.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


19Kyoto Botanical Garden (京都府立植物園) in Kyoto

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Admission: 200 yen (adults), 150 yen (high-school students), children (free)
Hours: 9am – 4pm
Access: Direct access from Kitayama Station (Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line)
Address: Shimogamo Hangicho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 606-0823 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
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20Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Hours: 6am-5:30/6:30pm
Access: Bus ride from Kawaramachi Station (Hankyu Kyoto Main Line) or Gion-Shijō Station (Keihan Main Line) until Kyomizu-michi (10min walk)
Address: 1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, 605-0862 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
kiyomizudera.or.jp


21Choraku-ji Temple (長楽寺) in Kyoto

#fujifilm#fujifilmxt10#fujinon#紅葉#姨捨#長楽寺

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First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Admission: 500 yen (adults), 200 yen (children)
Hours: 9am – 5pm (Closed on Thursday)
Access: 20min bus ride from JR Kyoto Station
Address: 626 Maruyama-cho, Yasaka Toriimae Higashi-iru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, 605-0071 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


22Tofuku-ji Temple (東福寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Hours: 9am – 4pm
Access: 10min walk from Tofuku-ji Station (Keihan Main Line, JR Nara Line)
Address: 15-778 Honmachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, 605-0981 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tofukuji.jp


23Kodai-ji Temple (高台寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Admission: 600yen (adults), 250yen (junior-high- school & high-school students), children are free
Hours: 9am – 5:30pm
Access: 5min bus ride from Gion-Shijo Station (Keihan Main Line) into Kujoshakomae direction until Higashiyama Yasui (5min walk)
Address: 526 Shimokawara-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, 605-0825 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
kodaiji.com


24To-ji Temple (東寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Hours: 8:30am – 4pm
Access: 15min walk from JR Kyoto Station; 10min walk from Toji Station (Kintetsu Kyoto Line)
Address: 1 Kujo-cho, Minami-ku, Kyoto-shi, 601-8473 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
toji.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


25Genko-an Temple (源光庵) in Kyoto

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Admission: 400 yen (adults) [during November 500 yen], 200 yen (Children)
Access: 15min bus ride with Busline Kita 1 from Kitaoji Station (Subway Karasuma Line) until Takagaminegenkouan-mae (1min walk)
Address: 47 Kita-Takagamine-cho, Takagamine, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi, 603-8468 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
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26Eikando Zenrin-ji Temple (永観堂 禅林寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Event: Autumn Night Time Visit
Date: November 8th (Tuesday) – December 4th (Sunday), 5:30pm – 8:30pm (closed 9pm)
Admission: 600yen (adults)
Access: 15min walk from Keage Station (Subway Tozai Line); 25min bus ride from JR Kyoto Station until Nanzen-ji ・Eikando-michi (3min walk)
Address: 48 Eikando-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 606-8445 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
eikando.or.jp


27Nanzen-ji Temple (南禅寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Hours: December – February; 8:40am – 4:30pm / March – November 8:40am – 5pm
Admission: No admission fee for the temple precincts.
Hojo Garden: 500yen (adults), 400yen (high-school students), 300yen (children)
Sanmon Gate: 500yen (adults), 400yen (high-school students), 300yen (children)
Nanzen-in: 300yen (adults), 250yen (high-school dtudnts), 150yen (children)
Access: 10min walk from Keage Station (Subway Tozai Line); 25min bus ride from JR Kyoto Station until Nanzen-ji・Eikando-michi (8min walk)
Address: Nanzenji Fukuchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 606-8435 Kyoto

Ranking: ★★★★☆
jnto.go.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


28Enko-ji Temple (圓光寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Hours: 9am-5pm
Admission: 500yen (adults), 400 yen (Junior-high-school & high-school students), 300 yen (children)
Access: 15min walk from Ichijoji Station (Eizan Main Line), 35min bus ride from JR Kyoto Station until Ichijo-ji Sagarimatsu-cho (7min walk)
Address: 13, Ichijojikotani-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 606-8147 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
enkouji.jp


29Sanzen-in Temple (三千院) in Kyoto

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Hours: March – December 7th, 8:30am-5pm / December 8th – February, 9am-4:30pm
Admission: 700yen (adults), 400 yen (Junior-high-school & high-school students), 150yen (children)
Access: 1hour bus ride from JR Kyoto Station until Ohara (10min walk),
Address: 540 Ohara-Raigoin-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 601-1242 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
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Birthplace of the Mibu Wolves

In central Kyoto is a small temple called Mibu Dera with a somewhat special link to Nishi-Honganji. During the late 19th century both places housed, for a short time, the now famous special police force of Kyoto, the Shinsengumi. Many people come to see the special Mibu Kyogen (comedy plays), designated as one of the National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties. They attract a big audience during Golden Week, Setsubun and a special weekend in October. But the real majority comes to visit the birth-and final resting place of this band of samurai.

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Mibu Dera

According to the stories, Mibu Dera Temple was established by the order of Emperor Shomu(r. 724-749) but the actual founder was Kaieken, a monk of another temple in the Mibu district in 991. This makes Mibu Dera one of the oldest temples in Kyoto. The entire temple was destroyed by fire in 1788 and while rebuilding they turned the stage for the Mibu Kyogen performances into separate structure.

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The Shinsengumi

People often call the Shinsengumi a group of samurais, but in actuality most of its members were not part of the samurai class. During Edo period Japan you were either born a samurai or earned this status through vigorous efforts. After coming from Edo(now Tokyo) the Shinsengumi settled in Mibu to protect Kyoto, which was the capital of Japan at the time. They did this on a voluntary basis to serve the Shogun, then ruler of Japan, who they revered. This seems noble, but most inhabitants of Kyoto can only remember the Shinsengumi as a violent troupe, causing trouble wherever they went. Due to this behaviour they earned the nickname “Wolves of Mibu”. In modern Japan the Shinsengumi is heavily romanticized in novels, manga and Tv-series because of their loyalty to the way of the samurai and an old system that was facing extinction due to a forced Western influence.

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On the temple grounds there is a small garden area with a commemorative stone and plaque, honoring the members of the Shinsengumi. In this same area is a bust of their commander Kondo Isami, who was beheaded on suspicion of assassinating Sakamoto Ryouma, an important Japanese reformer who changed Japan’s government to a more Western model. In reality, they still don’t know who was actually responsible for the murder.

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Fans leave beautifully decorated plaques near the graves of the Shinsengumi

Yagi-Kei

Right next door of Mibu Dera is the old house of the Yagi family. This is where the Shinsengumi’s core members met and made plans. The entrance to the house has a white and blue banner. This was the color of the Shinsengumi’s uniform and it was considered very flashy during their time period. The kanji on their signature red banner flag is the same as on the back of their haori (kimono jacket), 誠 (makoto), which is short for 誠忠 (seichuu) meaning “loyalty”.

Unfortunately you are not allowed to take photos inside the house but it is a very interesting visit. Inside, the guide will show you katana marks on the ceiling and wooden beams from real sword fights by the Shinsengumi. You will also get a brief history of the group with details as to what rooms they used in the house.

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Whether you are already familiar with the Shinsengumi or not, the guide gives an amazing tour and it is the perfect opportunity to learn more about Kyoto during the time of the last samurais.

Information

Access: A 8-min walk from Hankyu Omiya Station and Shin Omiya Station (you will see signboards when leaving the station).
Hours: 8:30am-4:30pm
Mibu-dera Admission: Free
Yagi-Kei Admission: 1,000 yen including a cup of matcha and a traditional Japanese sweet.

Gion Festival: A matsuri of “moveable art museums”

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A Kyoto summer without the Gion Festival would be like imagining the ancient capital without all its beautiful art and architecture. Fortunately, at this festival – one of Japan’s three biggest – you can gaze upon a procession of towering two-story floats so elaborately decorated with ornate tapestries they’re called “moveable art museums”!

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Centered around Yasaka Shrine and the nearby streets just west of the Kamo River in Kyoto, this month-long festival (July 1-31) includes parades, mikoshi (portable shrine) processions, theatre and music performances, as well as the displaying of these beautiful floats, known as yamaboko. The two yamaboko parades are the highlight of this annual festival, as 23 of them appear for the parade on July 17th, as well as 10 more for the one on July 24th. 

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Be especially amazed at the larger hoko variety of these floats, having massive two-meter tall wheels, and weighing up to 10 tons. With entire musical ensembles sitting on the second story, it’s no wonder these hoko require up to 50 people to pull! And in case you’re wondering what’s on top, these long spear-like poles are raised to appease the gods of disease and calamity, which was the original purpose when this festival began as a purification ritual in the 9th century. 

Yet the true beauty of these gigantic floats is in the detail of the woven fabric, dyed textiles, and vivid colors of the the artwork that adorns these yamaboko. Seeing them on the street isn’t close enough? Head to the Yoiyama evening festivities starting three days prior to both parades, where these floats are stationed for you to gaze upon leisurely. Of course, with the appetizing aroma from food stalls nearby, along with crowds of celebrating festival participants, you just might get drawn away into the evening excitement!

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Gion Festival:
Dates: Jul. 1 – Jul. 31, 2016
Time: Hours vary depending on the events of the day.
Yamaboko parades on July 17, 9am – 11:30am; July 24, 9:30am – 11:30am.
Yoiyama festivities take place on July 14-16, 6pm-11pm; July 21-23, 6pm-11pm.
Access: JR Tokyo Station to JR Kyoto Station via Tokaido Shinkansen, Kyoto Station to Shijo Station via Kyoto City Subway Line. Festivities (including the parades), and the Yasaka Shrine are located along Shijo Dori, connected to Shijo Station. 

UNESCO world heritage : Nishi-Honganji

Kyoto has many temples and shrines that are famous in Japan and all over the world. But there are many interesting temples that do not appear on the classic tourist routes because they are out of the way of the classic areas you would visit. One of these temples is Nishi-Honganji, the headquarters of one of the biggest Buddhist sects in Japan and a recognized UNESCO world heritage site.

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What makes this site so impressive is not only the size of the buildings but that it is the head temple of the Honganji faction of the Jodo-Shinshu sect. The name Honganji is a collective name for Shin Buddhism, the most widely practiced form of Buddhism in Japan with about 20% of the population identifying as active members. This temple has about 10,000 subtemples across Japan and 200 overseas temples.

The temple was built in 1591 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, after the sect’s former head temple in Osaka had been destroyed by Oda Nobunaga due to the temple’s interference in politics. In 1602, in order to diminish the power of the Jodo-Shinshu, Tokugawa Ieyasu split the main Honganji in Kyoto into two temples, Nishi Hongan-ji and Higashi Hongan-ji. 

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Nishi Honganji’s has two large structures, the Goeido Hall dedicated to the sect’s founder Shinran and the Amidado Hall dedicated to the Amida Buddha. Amida is the most important Buddha in Jodo-Shin Buddhism. The halls of the temple are beautifully decorated and there are even regular services in the temple. If you’re lucky, you can even sit in on one and get a unique Japanese experience.

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In 1865 Nishi-Honganji was also home to the special police force of Kyoto, the Shinsengumi. It did not please the priests at all that this violent group of samurai intimidated them and took up lodgings in the temple. While walking on the temple grounds you can imagine this spacious area being used for sword fighting practice.

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The temple grounds are free to enter for everyone and it is a nice place to relax and think about what you are going to visit next in Kyoto. The wooden structure is so beautiful and the high ceiling makes you feel all the more smaller. There couldn’t be a better place to properly meditate than here.

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Access

Free to enter, open every day

The Honganji temples are located a 10-15 minute walk north of Kyoto Station.

Hours:  5:30 to 17:30 (March, April, September, October)/ 15:30 to 18:00 May to August) / 15:30 to 17:00 (November to February)

 

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Kyoto’s Okonomiyaki

Most people who have been to Japan have encountered Japan’s savoury pancake known as “Okonomiyaki”. The name of this dish literally means “bake it how you like it”, so it’s to no surprise that this dish, originally from Osaka, received a Kyoto twist.

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The restaurant “Isshen Yoshoku” in Kyoto’s Gion district serves only one dish, and that dish is also called isshen yoshoku. The owner started this restaurant to offer a cheap food option near the Gion area. The whole restaurant is decorated with weird statues, slightly inappropriate woodblock prints and mannequins wearing kimonos. According to the owner the kimono ladies are there to trick drunk men to come inside for a late night bite.

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Kyoto’s okonomiyaki is made with a wheat flour based batter cooked like a crepe on a hot plate. Then they add chopped scallions, egg and slices pork, fold it over and cook it a bit more. It is garnished with lots of sauce and strips of nori (dried seaweed).

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After eating your okonomiyaki you can get a commemorative stamp to add to your travel journal.

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Information

Address: 238 Giommachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama-Ku, Kyoto 605-0073
Hours: 11am – 3am (Weekdays), 10:30am – 10pm (Sundays and Holidays)

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Best Matcha Parfait in Kyoto

Matcha is loved all over Japan and foreigners are joining in on the powdered green tea hype. The delicious multi-layered dessert called “parfait” is very popular in Japan and many cafés have at least one on their menu. Now combine this tasty treat with all the goodness of green tea and you get an amazing Matcha Parfait!

The best matcha – and parfaits – are found in Kyoto at Tsujiri. This shop has been specialized in matcha since 1860. The founder Riemon made many important contributions to the tea industry such as inventing the tea cabinet and enhancing tea flavors. Tsujiri has always used tea from Uji near Kyoto, the best area for green tea in Japan.

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Walking in the Gion area of Kyoto you might miss this small shop as it completely blends into the street with similar facades. On the first floor you can buy take-out sweets and souvenirs. But where we really want to go is the second and third floord, Tsujiri Café. If you can’t read Japanese, don’t worry! The café has English menus available.

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Out of all the amazing parfaits to choose from I decided to go with the current Spring Special parfait and once the parfait came I did not regret my decision for even a second. It was a beautiful creation of variatons of ice cream, matcha jelly, dango, matcha cream, cookies and crunchy flakes.

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Even the coaster was so pretty that I had to take it home with me as a souvenir.

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The interior of the shop is very Japanese and just invites you to sit down and relax.

P1050374P1050376If you are in Kyoto, a visit to this café is sure to delight any sweets and tea lover.

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Access:

573-3 Gionmachi Minamigawa Shijo Dori Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0074.

Hours: open every day from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Diary of a Japan Tour Guide: James and Debra in Kyoto

Japan Tour Guide (JTG) is an online portal that aims to match volunteer Japanese guides with visitors coming to Japan. Read about their tours put together for tourists by these friendly local guides in this regular column!

We received a request from James and his mother Debra who are tourists from Kentucky, USA.
They wanted to go to some traditional buildings in Kyoto and have some lunch together.
The guides were university student, Yuto Nakahata and workers, Kyoko Kawaguchi, Ryoko Yasuda . We met with them at 8:15 a.m. at JR Kyoto station.
The first stop was the famous Kinkakuji (Golden temple).
We got on a local bus.

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It was the first time for Debra to ride on a local bus in Japan. She was kind of surprised by how clean it was!
We passed a Subaru car dealer on the way, which James loved, so he was very excited when he saw it.
His reaction was funny to us because it was nothing special thing for us, but he said there are only a few Subaru dealers in USA. .
After 40 minutes, we got to Kinkakuji.

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Kinkakuji was built in 1393 as a retirement villa for Shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga (1358-1409).
There were a lot of tourists, and some security guys were trying to speak English to them but they could not speak very well. That’s why we were there with them as local guides!☺

After looking around, we moved to Kyoto Gosho (Kyoto imperial palace) by bus.

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Usually they close the main door so we cannot go into the main area, but this time they opened the door for tourists only for 5 days completely for free!
Of course we knew about the special deal!! They came to Kyoto during the perfect season!!
There were many traditional buildings and they were awesome.
We learned that Ms. Debra likes trees. There were some big Matsu trees that left her pretty impressed by their old age.

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After we enjoyed the big imperial palace, we walked to our next destination, Nijyo-jyo (Nijo castle).

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It took about 20 minutes. While we walked, we talked about our school systems.
Actually, Kyoko was an international nursery school teacher until last month.
And Debra was a 6th grade science teacher who recently retired.
They exchanged their opinions and Kyoko asked Debra how she should be good teacher at school.
It was good opportunity for Kyoko to talk with her.

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After a while, we came upon a lot of cherry blossoms by the road!!
As you know, April in Japan is the time to see beautiful cherry blossoms.☺
So we told them, “You guys came to Japan during a great season!!”
Then, they told us that in the USA they also have some cherry blossoms that came from Japan as gift of friendship. We didn’t know that!! What a surprise!! It was nice to hear that!!

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Finally, we got to Nijyojyo, our final spot for sightseeing.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures in Nijyojyo. They don’t allow it.
But it was very interesting for us, so quiet and holy.

After all the sightseeing, we went to have some lunch.
We decided to have hamburg steaks. We were totally hungry so… we forgot to take pictures ;(
Sorry about that.
The reason why we decided to eat hamburg steaks was that they had already had some Japanese meals and it is unfamiliar for Americans to have only the hamburger patty as the main dish.
It would be nice experience to try it in Japan. Maybe you can tell the difference between the Japanese and Western styles! If you ever get sick of eating Japanese meals in Japan, just try it out sometime!!

After lunch, we took them back to the closest station for them to head to the next place by themselves, and said goodbye.

That is just a small look into one of the many adventures you can have with Japan Tour Guide.
We are looking forward to guiding you around the city and showing you the ins and outs of Japan!!

Charge Up On Luck & Love At Kyoto Power Spots (2)

Feel spiritually recharged at these spots believed to impart its visitors with a special energy, and bring home some luck in the form of an omamori (charm)!

Jishu Jinja Shrine (Kiyomizu Temple)

Jisha Jinja
For: Love/Good Marriage/Matchmaking
Located  behind  the  World  Heritage  site  of  Kiyomizudera  Temple,  this  shrine  is  the ultimate  power  spot  to charge  up  on  luck in  love.  Japanese  have  made  pilgrimages to the gods of love believed to reside here since 1,300 years ago. The main god, Okuninushi no Mikoto, is worshipped as the god of abundance, luck and happy marriages. Test your love luck by walking between the “love fortune-telling stones” here. Get a love charm for 500 yen, or one for good marriage for 1,000 yen.
Address: Kiyomizu Ichome 317, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Hours: 9am – 5pm

Suga Jinja Shrine (Kotsu JinjaShrine)

Suga Jinja
For: Traffic Safety/Matchmaking
The  Kotsu  (Traffic)  Jinja  Shrine  is  the  only  shrine  in  Japan  dedicated  to the  gods of traffic  and  travel  safety  and  people  from  all  over  Japan  come  here  to  pray  for  safe journeys.  Car  owners  can  get  their  vehicles  blessed  at  a  drive-through purification station. In the same premise is the Suga Jinja Shrine, whose main god is the god of the sea and storms, Susano-o no Mikoto, who is married to another deity and prayed to for happy marriage.    
Address: 1 Shogoin Entomi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto  
Hours: 9am – 5pm

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
Fushimi Inari
For: Prosperity and good business
This  is  probably  the  most recognized  Kyoto  shrine  for  its  thousands  of  vermilion toriigates  lining  the  paths  in  its  compound.  Each  gate  is  donated  by  an  individual  or company, starting from 175,000 yen for a small gate and 1 million yen for a larger one. This  is  the  head  shrine  of  Inari,  the  Shinto  god  of  rice  and  patron  of  businesses  and merchants. Foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers, explaining the many fox statues in the temple grounds.
Address: Fukakusayabunouchi-Cho 68, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto
Hours: Always Open

Charge Up On Luck & Love At Kyoto Power Spots (1)

Feel spiritually recharged at these spots believed to impart its visitors with a special energy, and bring home some luck in the form of an omamori (charm)!

Kifune Jinja Shrine

For: Rain, protection from floods, ship traveling

This 1,600 year old shrine is said to enshrine the gods of water, Takaokami-no-kami and Kuraokami-no-kami.  As  a  sign  here  says, “Water  is  life”,  and  through  the  centuries, farmers, Imperial messengers and more have come to seek rain, protection from floods, and  safe  ship  travels.  Pick up  a Mizuura  Mikuji (water  fortune  paper  slip),  unique  to this shrine, which reveals your fortune when placed upon the sacred waters here. It can even be translated into four languages (including English) by scanning the QR code on the slip!

Address: 180 Kuramakibune-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Shrine Hours: 6am – 6pm (Dec. – Apr.), 6am – 8pm (May – Nov.)
Omikuji & Omamori Conferment Desk: 9am – 4:30pm

Kifune

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

For: Academics, passing exams, improving skills

The first Japanese shrine to enshrine a person as a deity, this is the main shrine of over 12,000, dedicated to the god of academics, Sugawara no Michizane. Likewise, students preparing  for  exams  and  anyone  wishing  to improve  their  skills  come here  to rub  the cow statues at this National Treasure, also famed for its picturesque ume (plum) trees. If the Ume Blossom Festival on Feb. 25, is too early for your trip, stop by on the 25th of any month for the street market, “Tenjin-san’s Festival”. Address: Bakurocho, Kamigyou-ku, Kyoto   Roumon Gate Hours: 5am – 6pm (Apr. – Sept.), 5:30am – 5:30pm (Oct. – Mar.) Prayer Hours: 9am – 4:30pm Office Hours: 9am – 5pm Kyoto Ebisu JinjaShrineWealth, good business, agriculture and fishing Ebisu  is  the  god  of  wealth  and  prosperity,  and  the  only  one  of  the  seven  lucky  gods native to Japan. While small business owners and shop keepers especially flock here in early January for the Toka Ebisu festival – visitors come all year round to seek blessings upon their businesses from this fisherman god, picking up charms here in the form of boats and red sea bream (tai). Knock on the worship hall wall before leaving, as it’s said Ebisu is hard of hearing!

Address: 125 Komatsu-cho, Yamato-oji Shijo-sagaru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto

Hours: 9am – 5pm

Kitano

Imamiya Jinja Shrine

For: Longevity, good health, matchmaking

Relocated here in 1001 to prevent the spread of epidemics in Kyoto, this shrine protects from illness and disease, and enshrines deities for good health. Besides bringing home an  omamori,  find  the  deity’s  stone  Ahokashi-san  here,  which  is  said  to  possess wish-granting powers. During sakura season, stop by the Yasurai Matsuri – one of the Kyoto’s Top Three Unusual Festivals – on the second Sunday of April. Those who walk under the sakura and camellia decorated giant red umbrellas are said to stay healthy throughout the year!

Address: 21 Murasakino, Imamiya-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto

Hours: 9am – 5pm

Imamiya

Kyoto Ebisu Jinja Shrine

For: Wealth, good business, agriculture and fishing

Ebisu  is  the  god  of  wealth  and  prosperity,  and  the  only  one  of  the  seven  lucky  gods native to Japan. While small business owners and shop keepers especially flock here in early January for the Toka Ebisu festival – visitors come all year round to seek blessings upon their businesses from this fisherman god, picking up charms here in the form of boats and red sea bream (tai). Knock on the worship hall wall before leaving, as it’s said Ebisu is hard of hearing!

Address: 125 Komatsu-cho, Yamato-oji Shijo-sagaru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto

Hours: 9am – 5pm

Ebisu

 

Sakura Sightseeing In Kyoto (2)

See the Eternal City tinted in the delicate pink of Spring and sigh at the fleeting beauty of the sakura. Here are the top spots to for ohanami (cherry blossom viewing).

5) Maruyama Park

The  12m  tall “Gion  no Yozakura (Night Sakura of Gion)” weeping cherry tree here is a Kyoto sakura icon. The night illumination of this and some other 680 cherry trees in four varieties make Kyoto’s oldest park (since 1886) a favourite night spot.

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6) Keage Incline

Once used as a ship-transporting railway between canals until the 1940s – the longest incline  rail  in  the  world –  this  582m  track  is famous  for  its  nearly  100 Yamazakura  and  Somei  Yoshino cherry  trees.  The  eastside  of  Niomon  Dori  is  the best viewing spot!

Keage

7) Philosopher’sWalk

Named  after  famous  philosopher  Kitaro Nishida  who meditated daily along  this path, the cherry blossoms here form a pink canopy over this 1.5km canal route, gently  sprinkling  petals  along  its  waters. Cited  as one  of  Japan’s  Top  100 Walking Paths, there’s no better place to ponder!

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8) Kamo River

Stroll  along  the  river bank  or  have  a  picnic  under  the  cascade  of beni  (red) weeping  sakura  that  forms  during  full  bloom,  before  following  the  path  to  the  Kyoto Botanical Gardens’500 cherry trees consisting of 70 varieties, which are illuminated at night.

Kamo river

Sakura Sightseeing In Kyoto (1)

See the Eternal City tinted in the delicate pink of Spring and sigh at the fleeting beauty of the sakura. Here are the top spots to for ohanami (cherry blossom viewing).

1)  Tenryu-ji Temple

This is Kyoto’s most famous temple, with the Arashiyama mountains as a backdrop and a Zen garden – Sogenchi-teien – that has been recognized by the Japanese government as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty. The weeping sakura tree at the Tahoden Sanctuary is a must-see.

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2)  Ninna-ji Temple

This World Heritage Site is famous for its locally-cultivated sakura trees, called the Omuro sakura,  which  are  shorter  in  height  and  bloom  one  week  later  than  the  mainstream Somei  Yoshino  variety.  See  the  timeless  beauty  of  these 200 sakura  trees,  which  have been enjoyed here for over 400 years.

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3)  Hirano Shrine

See over 60 varieties of sakura trees here, particularly the early blossoming of the Sakigake sakura which  is  said  to  herald  the  start  of  the  ohanami  season.  The  shrine’s  annual  cherry blossom festival is the oldest in Kyoto, dating back to 985 AD.

Hirano Jinja

4)  Nijo Castle

50  varieties  of  sakura –  including  Satozakura  and  many  rare  types –  are  scattered throughout  this  World  Heritage  Site,  built  as  the  Kyoto  residence  for  Japan’s  first shogun. Evening entertainment such as taiko drumming, koto performances and tea ceremonies accompany the evening “light up” hours.

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Watch out for Part II of this series for more must-see sakura spots!

 

How to ohanami:

-Ohanami involves sitting under a sakura tree end enjoying its natural beauty with a picnic. So bring a mat or sheet to sit on for your ohanami session and a small blanket as it can get cold sitting in the open.

-Check the dates of the local ohanami festival, where plenty of food stalls and some public events or performances will be set up

-Go early if you want to get a good ohanami viewing spot!

-The start of the cherry blossom season varies from year to year, but is generally from late March to mid-April in Kyoto (depending on the region).

 

 

Maple Hunting in Kyoto: Tofukuji

Sacred temple leafs

As one of Kyoto’s best spots for autumn foliage, Tofukuji temple should be high on the list of anyone that calls him/herself a “maple leaf hunter”.
You will be overwhelmed by the myriads of maple trees that stand on an area equivalent to 5 baseball stadiums, and enchanted by the Japanese harmony they create together with one of Kyoto’s most picturesque temple complexes.

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Especially famous is the Tsuten bridge, which connects the main temple to the Kaisando temple that stands at the foot of Mt. Higashi.
From the viewing point at the middle of this bridge, you look out at the stunning maples from both sides.
However, don’t expect to be the only visitor as this is a really popular destination during the autumn foliage season. But even with the shutters of photographs that go on like summer crickets, the magnificent view on tons of golden and crimson maple leafs take away your breath anyway.

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For photography, also check out the Ga-un bridge and Engetsu bridge, which are two smaller bridges located next to the Tsuten bridge.

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Tofukuji temple is also renowned for its 4 artistic gardens laid out by acclaimed Japanese gardener Mirei Shigemori. Each garden has a completely different style, ranging from the southern traditional Japanese rock garden to more eccentric gardens such as the northern garden with its check pattern of moss and square-cut stones.

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While most tourists only come to visit the Tofukuji temple, it is only the start for the devoted maple hunter! A walk from Tofukuji temple to Sennyuji temple is highly rewarding, with tons of hidden maple spots on the way. Spots like the Raikoin temple and the Imakumano Kannnonji temple are just as picturesque and breathtaking as Tofukuji temple, but without the crowds!

Tofukuji

Best period for autumn foliage: End November – Begin December

Location: A 10-min walk from Tofukuji Station (JR Nara Line, Keihan Main Line)

Access: Honmachi 15-778, Higashiyama, Kyoto