Gojo・Chawanzaka Cultural Area Tour
Just for one moment, envision the place you now live. What would your city, town, or village have looked like over 1,200 years ago? Over the many hundreds of years how would the people, places and things have changed? Were there any individuals who dared manifest their own destiny?
Like many travelers before you, during a walking tour of eastern Kyoto you will discover the Gojo・Chawanzaka Cultural Area, situated near Kiyomizudera Temple and in the surrounding area. For over millennia, this area has attracted travelers from far and wide, and has become one of Kyoto’s richest commercial and cultural areas.
Have a quick peak at the tour contents in the video and brief written summary below.
JOIN A TOUR
Note: Possible to arrange other days. Please contact the email below.
8:30-12 pm (3-4 hours)
5,000 yen/person (prices include entrance fees)
Please send an email to the following address for reservations or other inquiries.
View Gojo Chawanzaka Cultural Area in a larger map
Many people visit Kiyomizudera and see restaurants, souvenir shops and the like, unaware there is a deeper experience waiting. This Gojo・Chawanzaka Cultural Area Tour is perfect for those interested in getting their “Hands On Kyoto” (experience Kyoto on a deeper level).
This memorial stands as a very poignant reminder of mankind’s destructive tendencies. Under military leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Japanese samurai were ordered to bring back ears and noses as proof of their conquests during the Pottery wars in Korea. They were then enshrined in mimizuka (mounds of ears and noses) such as this. Today, it stands as a memorial to the Koreans who fell during the multiple invasions.
Although despised in Korea for the destruction caused during the Pottery Wars, Hideyoshi was revered by the emperor in Japan for helping restore peace and stability to a Japan that had been ravaged by nearly 100 years of war. His spirit was enshrined here at Toyokuni Shrine, intertwined with a legacy as both unifier and destroyer.
Kawai Kanjiro Memorial Museum
At the Kawai Kanjiro Memorial Museum we get a look at the actual house and workshop used by the prolific Japanese potter, Kawai Kanjiro. His main pursuit was ceramics. However, he was also a calligrapher and sculptor among other things. He was presented with many accolades during his lifetime, none more prestigious than the Living National Treasure designation. However true to his love of simplicity and the ordinary, he refused all official honours.
Another admirable quality about Kanjiro was his willingness to support other potters and artists. He shared his impressive stepped chamber kiln, and in turn fostered a stronger bond between potters and artists in the area. Today, the Kawai Kanjiro Memorial Museum has become one of the major symbols of the Gojo・Chawanzaka Cultural Area.
On the way to Kiyomizudera Temple we visit Otani cemetery-a massive graveyard, full of countless tombstones. The area dates back to the Heian period (794-1184). Originally it was composed of a larger area that seems to have extended all the way up to the eastern bank of the Kamo River. It appears to have been used as somewhat of a burial or dumping grounds for dead bodies. Interestingly enough, those who lived on the west side of the Kamo River considered everything east of the Kamo River to be the netherworld.
Kiyomizudera stands for Temple of Pure Water, named after the legendary pure water that has flowed from the Otowa waterfall for many hundreds of years. It dates all the way back to the year 778. According to legend, the pure water provides longevity and has mythical healing powers. The Otowa waterfall along with the incredible 11 face 1,000 arm Kannon of Mercy (Buddhist statue Goddess of Mercy) have captivated visitors for well over millennia.
The massive stage attached to the main hall is also quite impressive. No nails were used in its construction and it was originally built to hold excessive numbers of devout worshippers but also used for Noh plays (dramas or plays for the aristocracy).
Insider’s Look・Hands On Experience
You will get an insider’s look or unique hands on experience at the Gojo・Chawanzaka Cultural Area. Maybe a rare behind-the-scenes look at a ceramics workshop or possibly an opportunity to try your own hand at pottery or some other traditional art or craft. For the most part though, experiences will revolve around ceramics.
Members of both the imperial court and upper-class samurai enjoyed lavish lifestyles based upon extravagant tastes and a high level of aesthetics. To satisfy their particular tastes they usually employed master craftsman. To a large degree, many artisans from across Japan flocked to the capital, hoping to enter into the graces of these men of position and wealth. Whole areas of Kyoto became known for high quality arts and crafts.
Pottery became one of the arts and crafts that grew and took shape in Kyoto. Along with the other traditional arts and crafts it helped transform Kyoto into the cultural capital of Japan. With an increased concentration of artisans and exceptional tastes of the wealthy, Kyoto’s overall level of craftsmanship rose to incredible levels. In turn, a diverse and specialised craftsman tradition was created. One of those traditions was Kyoyaki (Kyoto ceramics).
Come join a Kyoto tour of the Gojo・Chawanzaka Cultural Area and help rekindle the embers of this traditional craftsman spirit, seemingly forgotten by modern Japan.
Bicycle Tours in Kyoto
Kyoto Cycling Tour Project (KCTP)
Judging from the name, it sounds more like a university project rather than a company. However, KCTP is unique in that it has meshed an entrepreneurial spirit with a social initiative to promote bicycle culture in Kyoto. Though you may see a plethora of bicycles on the streets of Kyoto, bicycle culture is still a work in progress. What I mean by this, is a the mindset of incorporating bicycles into the urban planning of Kyoto city, much along the lines as the Netherlands. For example, providing more bicycle paths or specially designated bicycle lanes along with incentives for people to use a bicycle as opposed to other modes of transport.
KCTP is trying to promote bicycles and a new bicycle culture by working with Kyoto municipal government authorities.
In the past few years, Kyoto City has provided more parking areas for bicycles and low-cost rental bicycle ports citizens can use. These are but a few measures, however KCTP has been very strategic in facilitating these measures, and I have no doubt they will continue to influence future policies related to bicycles.
Bicycles range from 1,000-2,000 Yen/day to rent. They have three categories of bicycles broken down into Comfort, Mountain, and MiniVelo. Within each category they are reduced further into Standard and High (Special) Class.
Length of Rental
◊ Extra 500 Yen insurance that covers theft and flat tires etc.
◊ Accident Insurance is not included in rental cost
◊ 400 Yen extra fee if bicycle is returned to a shop other than original shop designated upon rental
◊ Bicycles impounded due to illegal parking are the responsibility of the renter and additional costs of 3,300 Yen or more will be added (costs to return bicycle)
Of course you are able to explore Kyoto by yourself on a bicycle. However, you can also decide to arrange a tour and choose 1 of any 6 tours KCTP offers (KCTP Tour Packages).
Tours usually start at 9:15-9:30 am and run till about 17:30.They are generally divided into:
half-day (short course) 3 hours
full day (long course) around 7 hours
Related to number of people and length of tour. The more people you have, the cheaper it becomes. Accident insurance is included in the tour price.
View KCTP Shop Locations in a larger map
◊ Information referenced from KCTP Homepage
The site where the present movie studio is located was originally a bowling centre started in 1968, but in 1975 Toei expanded it into a movie studio with Edo Period sets. It has outdoor sets open to the public and sometimes there are staged antics by actors and other festivities. In the past Toie Movie Studio was referred to as the Hollywood of Japan. With over 80 years of film making experience, Toei Movie Studio is one of the oldest in Japan and has 2000 feature films and 10, 000 TV programs to its credit.
Attractions involve a haunted house, throwing star or archery games and the opportunity to dress-up in costumes. You are also able to check out daily shows (Ninja show) and may even come across an actual film shoot.
Hours of Operation
January 1-February 28 9:30-16:00
March 1-November 30 9:00-17:00
December 1-December 31 9:30-1600
Special Dates of Operation
March 15-September 15 9:00-18:00
Note: You are able to enter the studio up to 30 minutes prior to closing time
Students (12-17yrs) 1,300
Toei Movie Studio Park Information
View Toei Movie Studio Park in a larger map
The building was formally the Kyoto Branch of the Bank of Japan. It was built in the Meiji period (1868-1911) and has been designated a Japanese Cultural Property. Now the building is primarily used to introduce the vibrant culture of Kyoto spanning over 1,200 years.
The museum’s Permanent Exhibitions are composed of three sections.
1) History & Culture
2) Japanese/Western Painters & Sculptors/Artisans
3) Film Theatre (Japanese Film)
There is also a Special Exhibition Hall. Exhibitions typically involve of a variety of themes dealing with Japanese and non-Japanese culture and art. On occasion local artists and associations also use the facilities to showcase their work that provides a more modern feel to Kyoto’s traditional roots.
In general, the museum was established to show the genesis of Kyoto culture and illustrate how Japanese arts, culture and society have developmed over the various historic periods in Japanese history.
It also has the “Roji Tempo,” (shopping street) with a number of stores for dining and shopping meant to recreate the typical shopping street one would have encountered in the latter half of the Edo Period (1750-1868).
Hours of Operation
10:00-18:30 (extended to 19:30 on Fridays; final entry at 19:00)
10:00-19:30 (must enter prior to 19:00)
Adults 500 Yen
University Students 400 Yen
High/Junior/Elementary Students Free
Special Event Admission
Price is subject to the event (check the website for prices)
Special Holidays (New Years’ 12/28-1/3)
〒 604-8183京都市中京区三条高倉 京都府京都文化博物館
TEL: 075-222-0888 FAX：075-222-0889
View The Kyoto Cultural Museum in a larger map
◊ Pictures by Greg Koch
The doors were opened to the public in 2006. It’s a collaborative project between Kyoto Seika University and Kyoto City with a mandate to collect, preserve and exhibit manga donated by generous individuals as well as companies. Through this collection systematic research and study initiatives are encouraged along with an expectation to create new industries and promote tourism.
Holds close to 300, 000 items (2009) and is considered to house one of the world’s largest collections. The collection is composed mainly of modern Japanese manga but there are also historical materials dating back to the Meiji Era (1868-1912) and other comics from around the world. The bulk of the materials are kept in archives for conservation purposes, however the remaining 50, 000 items are available to visitors in the section referred to as the Wall of Manga.
Wall of Manga
Publications from the 1970’s to the present day (2005) are stacked along a wall spanning 140 metres. Most of the manga were donated from Okubo Negishi bookstore that went out business in 2005.
Closed: Wednesday (open on National holidays, but closed following Thursday)
Adults 500 Yen
Junior to Senior High Students 300 Yen
Elementary Students 100 Yen
View Kyoto International Manga Museum in a larger map
◊ Pictures by Greg Koch