Kyoto Imperial Palace

Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto Gosho) was the residence of the Japanese emperors until 1869.

The original Kyoto Imperial Palace was established when the ancient capital city was moved from Heijo-Kyo (Nara) to Heian-Kyo (Kyoto) in 794.

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This palace was the stage for important events in Japanese history from 8th century to 1869.

Shishinden (Hall for State Ceremonies)

Shishinden (Hall for State Ceremonies)

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There is a place called “Takiguchi” at Seiryoden (Hall for Rites and Rituals).

Samurai who protected the palace used to stay this place. Therefore, those samurai were called “Takiguchi no Bushi” (Samurai at Takiguchi).

Takiguchi

Takiguchi

You can see the best quality of Japanese art and architecture here.

Please feel the breeze of the ancient capital city, Kyoto.

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Yoroikizomeshiki ~Armor Procession in Kyoto~

23rd November 2018, Yoroikizomeshiki was held at Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto.

You can see colorful and detailed Heian period style of armors at this festival. The participants parade out of the shrine grounds and then go inside of the main building of the shrine.

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This festival is based on the traditional ritual of being a man for boys which boys wear their first pair of armors. Today, both boys and girls, from the young to the old are able to join the festival.

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In Japanese traditions, each colors have their own names in Japanese. Those names have their own meanings and represent seasons, plants, animals, or natural phenomena.

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Heian period style of armor is created to show how the person is rich, sophisticated, matured, graceful and brave. Therefore, the armor has to be beautiful and sophisticated.

If you visit Kyoto in autumn, please enjoy the color and beauty of traditional Japanese armors at Kamigamo Shrine.

"Swords of Kyoto" in Kyoto National Museum!!

Special exhibition of Japanese swords is held in Kyoto National Museum until 25 November.

This exhibition is one of the best exhibitions of Japanese swords ever held in terms of number and quality of swords. There are 19 national treasures and other very famous historical swords.

Shichijyo Bridge

Shichijyo Bridge

Kyoto National Museum is near Shichijyo station.

Kyoto National Museum

Kyoto National Museum

At this exhibition, you can see various kinds of Japanese swords including Ken, Tachi, Katana, Wakizashi, Tanto etc. All of them are very famous and high quality swords that were made by talented historical blacksmiths in Kyoto. Kyoto has been called as ‘Yamashiro no Kuni’ for a long time, so those swords are generally called Yamashiro Kei (Yamashiro Style).

Swords of Kyoto

Swords of Kyoto

It is not allowed to take photos of swords at this exhibition.

Every swords at this exhibition are very beautiful to see. However, they also have their own histories or legendary stories. If you know those stories, it has to be much fun to observe the swords.

Mikazuki Munechika

Mikazuki Munechika

Japanese swords are now quite popular for Japanese, especially for young women because of the game called “Touken Ranbu”.

Touken Ranbu is an online game that you make your own team of deities of Japanese swords and fight using swords. These characters are deities of famous Japanese swords. For example, Mikazuki Munechika is one of the most beautiful swords in Japanese history, and a lot of historical people owned and cherished it from 12th Century, Heian period. Therefore, the deity is described as wise, strong and beautiful. You can see this sword at this exhibition.

Replica of Honebami Toshiro

Replica of Honebami Toshiro

When you watch Japanese sword, please enjoy the color and texture of its surface. Also, you can enjoy to see a pattern on the blade. Every swords are slightly different in many ways including their patterns on the blade; straight or wavy etc.

Katana Sweets!

Katana Sweets!

You can buy Japanese sweets which imitate hand guard of Japanese sword at Japanese sweets shop near Kyoto National Museum! (On the right of the photo, you can see Japanese sweets which imitate characters of Touken Ranbu. These are not for sale.)

Katana ~Samurai Swords~

It is said that the method of creating Japanese swords has not been changed over 1000 years. Swordsmith of Japanese swords has pursued sharpness and toughness of swords.

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The decoration of Japanese swords is also very important. Every swords are slightly different in terms of their length or shape, but also of their decoration.

Japanese swords are composed of various kinds of parts and every parts are detailed and sophisticated. Those symbols such as plants, animals or patterns have their own meanings.

Grapes, Wild waves

Grapes, Wild waves

This sword below has butterflies on the hand guard.

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This handle below has cherry blossom at the edge.

Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom

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If you are interested in Japanese swords, please observe every detailed parts. You will love to know the meanings and history of those decoration.

Samurai Experience in Kyoto! 日本刀で斬ってみませんか?

At Samurai Juku, you can feel the spirit of the samurai and learn how to use Japanese swords. The master is a descendant of Samurai family which served Mouri family in Yamaguchi prefecture.

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It can be said the it is difficult to maintain the best condition of Japanese swords and let people who have never touched it cut tatami rolls.

It is also difficult to answer the question, “What is the meaning of protecting the techniques and spirit of Samurai in today’s Japan?” As you know, we don’t “need” it in our daily lives in today’s Japanese society.

However, as long as someone is interested in Samurai and their culture or Japanese swords and its histories, we believe it is worthy to keep telling people about our own culture. We welcome people from all over the world including Japan!

Please feel free to visit us and let’s enjoy Kyoto and its history and culture.

日本人の方も、もちろん大歓迎です。京都の古い町家にて、刀で斬ってみませんか?お待ちしております。

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Nanzenji

At Higashiyama area of Kyoto, there is a temple called Nanzenji. This temple was established in 1291 by the order of Cloistered Emperor Kameyama (an ex-emperor with a Buddhist name).

The Gate of Nanzenji

The Gate of Nanzenji

This place used to be an imperial villa. It is said that strange things happened a lot after Emperor Kameyama retired and took a Buddhist name. At that time, it was usual to think that strange and scary things happen because of deities or monstrous beings.

It was a Zen monk called Mukanfumon (1212~1292) that resolved this incident. Therefore, Cloistered Emperor Kameyama decided to change this imperial villa into a Zen temple to celebrate his achievement.

Nanzenji Temple

Nanzenji Temple

The precinct of Nanzenji is huge and it is covered with beautiful green.

There is a hight-rise waterway structure called Suirokaku inside of the precinct of Nanzenji. It carries water from Biwako Lake of Shiga prefecture and runs through the precinct of Nanzenji, and runs 700m parallel to Imadegawa-dori (street). It was established in 1888 (or 1890).

Suirokaku

Suirokaku

Suirokaku

Suirokaku

Suirokaku

Suirokaku

There are several beautiful Japanese gardens at Nanzenji.

Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden

The area around the temple is very beautiful and nice to walk around. Also, you can take a lot of nice pictures here. Please enjoy your walking around Nanzenji area.

Nejirimanpo

Nejirimanpo

Jidai Matsuri ~Festival in Kyoto~

Jidai Matsuri is a traditional festival in Kyoto that takes place every year on October 22nd. This festival started from 1895 (Meiji period).

Jidai Matsuri

Jidai Matsuri

The aim of Jidai Matsuri is to preserve and exhibit the traditional methods and techniques to create armors, costumes, or tools. You can see beautiful costumes or armors which are made with refined and solid techniques from Heian period to Meiji period. (8C ~ 19C)

Fujiwara Period (Around 894 to 12C)

Fujiwara Period (Around 894 to 12C)

The parade leaves Kyoto Imperial Palace around noon and walks to Heian Jingu Shrine. It takes about 3 to 4 hours from the beginning of the parade to the end of it. 2,000 people join the festival and all of them wear traditional clothes and walk the main streets of Kyoto to Heian Jingu Shrine.

Edo Period (1600~1868)

Edo Period (1600~1868)

Azuchi Momoyama Period(1568~1600)

Azuchi Momoyama Period(1568~1600)

Shibata Katsuie

Shibata Katsuie

Ashikaga Shogun

Ashikaga Shogun

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Muromachi Period (1338~1573)

Muromachi Period (1338~1573)

Shizuka Gozen

Shizuka Gozen

Sei-Shonagon and Murasaki-Shkibu

Sei-Shonagon and Murasaki-Shkibu

Ono-no-Komachi

Ono-no-Komachi

Wake-no-Hiromushi

Wake-no-Hiromushi

Tomoe-Gozen (Lady Samurai)

Tomoe-Gozen (Lady Samurai)

Sakanoueno Tamuramaro

Sakanoueno Tamuramaro

Enryaku Period (782~806)

Enryaku Period (782~806)

Tomoe-Gozen

Tomoe-Gozen

Jidai Matsuri is one of the biggest festivals in Kyoto. Please visit Kyoto and see these beautiful works of art.

Nashinoki Shrine

On the east side of Kyoto imperial palace, there is a shrine called Nashinoki shrine. This is one of the most newest shrines in Kyoto.

Nashinoki Shrine

Nashinoki Shrine

Nashinoki shrine was established in 1885 (Meiji 18) by the order of Emperor Meiji.

It enshrines a father and a son of the nobility in Edo to Meiji period. The father is Sanjyo Sanetsumu (1802~1859) and the son is Sanjyo Sanetomi (1837~1891).

Sanjyo Sanetsumu served three emperors, Emperor Kokaku, Emperor Ninkou, and Emperor Koumei. It was a time of huge change of Japanese society. Politics was unstable mainly because of the encounter with the U.S., and people were divided into two groups, the group supporting the shogunate and the group supporting the emperor system. Sanjyo Sanetsumu served emperors and tried to restore practical imperial rules to the society.

His son, Sanjyo Sanetomi also supported the emperor system. He was once demoted to outside of Kyoto for 4 years because of his support to the emperor system under the Tokugawa shogunate.

However, after the civil war between the group supporting the Tokugawa shogunate and the group supporting the emperor system, Meiji Restoration (1868) occurred and it restored practical imperial rule to the Empire of Japan.

Therefore, Sanjyo Sanetsumu and Sanjyo Sanetomi who have surved to the emperor family for a long time were highly valued by Emperor Meiji. This is why Nashinoki shrine established to enshrine them by Emperor Meiji.

Nashinoki Shrine

Nashinoki Shrine

Today, Nashinoki shrine is covered with beautiful green leaves. It is also famous for Hagi, the autumn flower in Japan.

You can see a lot of little papers tied on Hagi leaves here. People write their wishes or poems on these papers and tie it on Hagi leaves.

Hagi in Nashinoki Shrine

Hagi in Nashinoki Shrine

Sanjyo Sanetsumu was famous for his academic talent, and Sanetomi was good at drawing and creating poems. Therefore, people pray for their progress of art or scholarship at Nashinoki shrine.

There is a well called Somei where you can still get clear water today. This water is said one of the 3 best water in Kyoto, and tea ceremony is held here using this Somei water.

Nashinoki Shrine

Nashinoki Shrine

Nashinoki shrine is near to Rozanji, the former site of the resident of Murasaki Shikibu (the author of The Tale of Genji) and Kyoto Imperial Palace. There are several fine Japanese sweets shops nearby.

When you visit Kyoto, please visit Nashinoki shrine and the area around it. The area is nice to walk around and feel Japanese history.

Yuga Shrine in Nara

There is a shrine called Yuga shrine in Nara prefecture. It is located halfway up of Yuga mountain, near Nara Hotel.

Yuga Shrine

Yuga Shrine

The main enshrined deity is Uka no mitama, the deity of huge harvest of cereals, foods, or fertility. Today, Uka no mitama is also enshrined as the deity of thriving business, so you may see little shrines of this deity at a business district or on the top of a office building.

Uka no mitama is also seen as the same deity of Inari, the deity of harvests and the guardian of the land. There are usually fox statues at Inari shrines because it is said the messengers of Inari is a fox. Here, Yuga shrine, you can see two fox statues in front of the main building.

Yuga Shrine

Yuga Shrine

Yuga shrine was originally at Asuka Kyo (538~710), the imperial capital city of Japan before Heijyo Kyo (710~784) . It is said that when the city moved from Asuka to Heijyo Kyo, this shrine was also moved from Asuka to Yuga mountain. Therefore, Yuga mountain is also called “Asuka mountain at Heijyo Kyo”. Asuka Kyo was located at the present village Asuka, Nara prefecture.

You can see several old temples, shrines, or historical sites at Asuka village. If you love ancient stone monuments or old legendary stories, then you would love Asuka.

Yuga mountain is famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms and autumn leaves.

Momiji at Yuga Shrine

Momiji at Yuga Shrine

There is a famous poem by Otomo no Sakanoue no Iratsume (700~750) in Nara period. Sakanoue no Iratsume is a famous poet during Asuka and Nara period.

ふるさとの あすかはあれと あおによし ならのあすかを みらくしよしも

Furusato no Asuka ha areto Aoniyoshi Nara no Asuka wo Mirakushiyoshimo

This poem means;

I cherish my old city Asuka, but Heijyo Kyo where the place with beautiful red and green color (temple’s color) is also nice and I would like to live and love this new city.

Yuga Shrine

Yuga Shrine

From Yuga shrine, you can see the main are of Nara city, and Asuka mountains. She may visited here and saw her beloved city Asuka, and made this poem. This poem shows the basic atmosphere of poems in Asuka and Nara period. It is simple, pastoral and unconstrained.

If you visit Nara, please visit Yuga shrine and feel the atmosphere of Asuka and Nara period.

Byakugoji in Nara

Byakugoji is an old temple in Nara prefecture. It is not clear when or who established this temple, but it is said that this place used to be a mansion of Shiki no Miko (?~716), the prince of Emperor Tenji (626~672) during Asuka and Nara period.

Hondo of Byakugoji

Hondo of Byakugoji

The main building、Hondo of Byakugoji was rebuilt in Edo period. This style of building is called Sangen Shimen, the 3 roomed building surrounded by the veranda. This is traditional style for Buddhist temple especially around Asuka period (550~710) and Nara period (710~794). You can also see paintings of these buildings on the traditional Nara pottery, Akahada ware.

Byakugoji is famous for beautiful flowers and statues of Buddhism deities.

Asagao  at Byakugoji

Asagao at Byakugoji

It is located at the east side of Nara city, halfway up Takamadoyama mountain. There is a 450 years old camellia tree at Byakugoji. Red, pink, or white flowers bloom from March to April. The tree is called “Goshiki Tsubaki”, which means “A Camellia tree which produces flowers with 5 colors”.

Goshiki Tsubaki

Goshiki Tsubaki

There are over 10 statues of Buddhism deities. One of the most famous statues is “Enma”, the god of hell. These statues were created around Heian period (794~1185) to Kamakura period (1185~1333). You can sit in front of these deities and pray calmly.

Byakugoji

Byakugoji

The view from Byakugoji is wonderful because it is located halfway up the mountain. You can see the main area of Nara city from there.

The view from Byakugoji

The view from Byakugoji

When Shiki no Miko passed away, Kasa no Kanamura, a poet in Nara period made a beautiful poem for him.

高円の野辺の秋萩 いたづらに 咲きか散るらむ 見る人なしに

Takamado no Nobe no Akihagi Itazurani Sakika Chiruran Miruhito Nashini

This poem means;

I wonder whether Hagi (autumn flower) is blooming and falling just as usual or not even though there is no longer the person (Shiki no Miko) who admires it.

Byakugoji is famous for Hagi during autumn. This poem indicates the sadness and pathos of Hagi that is still beautiful and alive even though Shiki no Miko who admired the flower is no longer there.

The statue of the poem by Kasa no Kanamura at Byakugoji

The statue of the poem by Kasa no Kanamura at Byakugoji

At Byakugoji, you can see beautiful statues of Buddhism deities, flowers and enjoy a wonderful view. Please visit Nara as well when you come to Kyoto.

Rozanji and Site of the Residence of Murasaki Shikibu

At the east side of Kyoto Imperial Garden, there is a temple called Rozanji. Rozanji was established in 938 by the Buddist priest, Ganzan-Daishi (912~985).

Rozanji

Rozanji

It is said Ganzan-Daishi started “Omikuji”, Japanese fortunetelling papers at temples or shrines. Omikuji was originally a paper that tells a fortune of the person based on Ekikyo, ancient China’s fortunetelling.

This land used to be a mansion of Murasaki Shikibu (978?~1019?), the author of “The Tale of Genji” in Heian period. Her grand grand father, Fujiwara no Kanesuke (877~933) built a huge mansion here and her father Fjiwara no Tametoki inherited it.

Murasaki Shikibu is a famous novelist and poet. “The Tale of Genji” is one of the most be loved classics of Japanese literature. She had a daughter, Daini no Sanmi (999~1082). She is also a famous poet in Heian period.

Murasaki Shikibu raised her daughter and worked at the court, and the same time she wrote The Tale of Genji. It is said that she spent almost all her life here and created many great works.

Genji-Garden at Rozanji

Genji-Garden at Rozanji

At Rozanji, there is a beautiful garden called Genji-Garden.

Genji-Garden at Rozanji

Genji-Garden at Rozanji

At the beginning of autumn, you may see a beautiful butterfly called Asagimadara here. In Kyoto, you can see it for a limited time only.

Asagimadara at Rozanji

Asagimadara at Rozanji

If you are interested in Japanese literature and The Tale of Genji, please visit Rozanji. You’ll feel the atmosphere of a life of the nobility in Heian period.

Rozanji

Rozanji