Gion Hatanaka ryugin

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Kiyomizu Dera

Located in the eastern area of Kyoto, Kiyomizu Dera is certainly one of the most famous view of Kyoto. This temple, built in the 8th century is registered since 1994, on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.

Kiyomizu Dera means "temple of clear water" in japanese, and was named after Otowa Waterfall. 

On the way to Kiyomizu-Dera and inside the temple, you will be surprised by the number of little shops selling all sorts of Japanese artifacts,such as pottery, pieces of clothes and food. When the weather is becoming very hot and humid, don't miss the famous "kakigoori", a delicious crushed ice topped with syrup.


Traditionnally, in Shinto and Buddhist temples, you can buy "Omamori", which are Japanese amulets said to provide various kind of luck or protection. They are dedicated to different life aspects, such as health, love or success.

To access Kiyomizu Dera, you will need to pay an admission fee of 300 yen/adult or 200 yen/child.
Moreover, from August 14th to 16th, every year, you can access the temple by night during the Thousand Day Visit. A wonderful opportunity to see the old buildings beautifully illuminated. 

Main Source:
Other pictures: Marjorie

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Nene-no-Michi Lane


This almost only-pedestrian zone is by far one of Kyoto's most beautiful and full of surprised area. Located in the Southern Higashiyama area, it was named after the wife of one of Japan's most famous warlord, Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Statues of Nene and Hideyoshi.

The beauty of this place lays in all the wonderful suprises you may come across when walking down the street. Do not hesitate to explore and follow the stairs and the streets, for you might discover some enchantments and beautiful scenery.

"Follow the stairs" they said...

View of Gion and Kyoto from Kodai-Ji Temple

And what would be this path without its traditional shops, from Soja Sauce small factory to Traditional Liquors shops? Be sure to stop by one of the many artisan food shops present in the streets, and treat yourself with a Matcha Ice cream, ideal in the heat of Kyoto's summer.

Pictures: Marjorie

Monday, 11 May 2015

Yoshikawa Tempura Restaurant

If you are searching for the perfect place to be served a traditionnal Japanese lunch, Yoshikawa Tempura Restaurant is THE place.

Located in Central Kyoto, and adjoined to Yoshikawa Ryokan, this restaurant opened in the 1950s. For those not familiar with the Japanese term, "tempura" refers to a Japanese dish, composed of vegetables and seafood that have been deep fried, and which is eaten with salt.

Yoshikawa Tempura Restaurant is very popular among tourists and locals, for the quality and taste of the products are exceptionnal. If you are sceptic about the concept of "tempura", this place is the right one to give it a try. Although it consists of fried ingredients, we are far from the greasy meal. Plus, each type of product is to be eaten with a different type of salt or sauce, at your convenience, which is really great if you want to experience unique flavors.
Moreover, entering this restaurant makes you feel at home,as only 11 people can sit and eat at the counter at the same time. The food is prepared right in front of your eyes, and both the chief and the waitress are lovely people who will do anything to let you enjoy a traditionnal Japanese meal.

More informations here (website in English)

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Kyoto National Museum - Kyoto Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan

The Kyoto National Museum presents a collection of very rare and beautiful artifacts from Japan and other Asian countries. While it primary focuses on the millenium when Kyoto was the Capital of Japan (from 794 to 1868), you can also admire there more ancient pieces of arts as well as weaponery.

The main building (see the picture above) opened in 1897, under the reign of the Emperor Meiji. This building, designated an Important Cultural Property in 1969, is used today for special exhibitions, such as "Eitoku's Legacy".

Until May,17th 2015, you can have the chance to admire the work of the Kano Painters, members of the famous Kano School, a group of Japanese painters, supported by the Shogunate. After the death of the leader Kano Eitoku in 1590 and the Siege of Osaka in 1615 (marking the beginning of the Tokugawa's reign), the School suffered an important internal crisis. This exhibition shows the change of perspective taking by the painters under the new Rulers, "from bold dynamism to lavish splendor".

While it may be difficult for people not aware of Japanese History and Arts to really understand how the political crisis at that time influenced painters of the Kano School, one can simply be amazed by the talent and the sense of details these Painters had. The choice of colors and gold magnified scenes of everyday life, and the exhibition also diplayed portraits of famous people, such as Oda Nobunaga.
The general part of the museum is also stunning, from the weaponery (extremely well preserved) to the ancient Kimono, and the Buddhist Statues.

These exhibitions are a "must-seen" for all Arts and History Lovers, but also for the general audience willing to go back to these times where Kyoto was the capital-city of Japan.

Hours and Admissions Informations
General Exhibition

Kyoto National Museum

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Noh Theater

服部 英二 (Eiji Hattori)

"The Noh, it's the pursuit of the ideal beauty of things."

       The Noh Theater is the legacy of the oldest forms of Japanese theater. It was at first religious celebration, to please the deities and ensure their goodwill for the harvest. It changes through time, with the arrival of Buddhism.

«As might be expected, Barrault [...], was struck by the intimate blending of dance, music, mime, text, chant, which makes of the Noh a total kind of theater. Particularly fascinating, however, is Barrault's sensitivity to the symbolism of the fan and to the inwardness of the Noh experience. "
(Theater East and West: Perspectives toward a Total Theater, PRONKO, p.94)

The most commonly used prop in Noh is the fan, as it is carried by all performers regardless of role.  With an incredible talent of mime, it's almost like performers will really turn the fan into another object.

The Noh Masks: 

In Noh, the main performer always wears a mask while playing. It's like wearing make-up, but some people see in Noh masks something more spiritual "than a prop used to change ones appearance."  Thus, it seems natural that there is a great variety of them. "There were originally about 60 basic types of Noh masks, but today there are well over 200 different kinds in use." 
 If you look well into cultural activities to do during a long journey to Japan, you might be able to find a master that will show you how to carve your own Noh mask.

For example, Ryugin's manager, KOZAKI, carved a beautiful Noh Mask under GENPAKU Kitazawa-sensei's teachingson of professor Nyoi, whom used to be a well known master in the cultural community.

北沢・元白 先生 - GENPAKU Kitazawa-sensei

Pictures: KOZAKI 

- Theater East and West: Perspectives toward a Total Theater, from Leonard Cabell Pronko
- 出会いの風景 or 世界の中の日本文化  服部 英二

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Come enjoy the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto

The festival took place for the first time in 869; it was a religious ceremony to prevent plagues and natural disasters. Nowadays, the festival of Yasaka shrine in Kyoto, Gion Matsuri, is probably the best known Japanese festival. It lasts the whole month of July, so come enjoy it!

The main event is on the 17th with the YAMABOKO PARADE:

“The world Yamaboko refers to the two types of floats used in the procession: the 23 yama and 10 hoko. One of the reasons the Gion Matsuri is so impressive is the enormity of the hoko, which are up to 25 meters tall, weigh up to 12 tons, and pulled on wheels as big as people.”

On the 14th to the 17th of July, at night, you will be able to attend the YOIYAMA festival: floats are put on display, within a festive atmosphere, traditional music and street hawkers.

On the 16th, at night, every traditional district is illuminated with lanterns, hangings and floral banners.   


Friday, 27 June 2014

Popular snack in Japan : Taiyaki (たい焼き)

Taiyaki litterally "baked sea bream" is a fish-shaped pancake that is usually filled with Azuki red bean paste. But it also comes with different favors such as chocolate or custard. Taiyaki is said to have been invented first in 1909 by a shop in Azabujuban. 

Although they're frequently sold from temporary stalls  (street sellers near temples, during festivals or farmers' markets), there are also few permanent places that make selling taiyaki a full-time business. I advise the one below in Kyoto.

幸せの黄金鯛焼き 清水寺店
        Price :         ~ ¥150
      Address :      126-2 Kiyomizu 5 Chome, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto prefecture 
605- 0862
      Access :        Kiyomizu Gojo Station
      Phone :          075-551-3160

Source :  &