Shijo Kyomachiya

I have been taking Japanese Lessons at Kyoto City International Foundation and last week my teacher invited me to an Ikebana exposition at Shijo Kyomachiya.

Shijo Kyomachiya is a typical Meiji era Townhouse , built in 1910 as a private home to a steel material wholesale dealer, so the house has combined living spaces and store area.

The structure is basically a very long hallway that starts at the front door and ends at the back yard and a series of traditional style rooms to the left side of the hallway. The hallway was designed for tradesmen to gain access to the rear side of the house without having to take of their shoes and the rooms on the left hand side along the hallway were used for business transaction between the tradesmen and the merchants, there are also guest rooms inside the house on the second floor and a storage room in the backyard. On the right hand side of the hallway is a store currently selling traditional sweets and kyoto souvenirs.

Kyoto City Government bought and restored this machiya and opened it as a City Hall named Kyoto City Hall for Industrial Promotion on 11 April 2002 . Kyomachiya can be rented for cultural expositions, like the one I was invited to, and it is free of charge so there is no excuse not to come see this house.
This is a great place to see the inside of one of the many old and narrow houses that line the streets of Kyoto, here are some pics :

This is a well located on the main hallway in the kitchen area:

Along the main hallway there are steps to walk in to the rooms but if you look at the floor board you will see it has handles on it. This houses are narrow and the space limitation does not leave much room for storage so places like the stairs and floorboards were used as extra storage spaces, you can see drawers on the first step of the stairs:

The kitchen still has the original stove and lumber heated furo, I was really impressed with the size of the brick stove, it is massive, looks like it was used to cook for an army more than for a family.

This is a picture of the Mise Niwa right at the entrance (inside the house):

Here is a very short video of the house and a bamboo flute concert (I really dont like the way youtube lowers the quality of the video image, if you guys have any suggestions for a video hosting site better that youtube please post a comment to let me know, I'll be forever gratefull) :
Shijo Kyomachiya
Shimogyo-Ku, Kyoto City

Phone#: 075-361-5938
Hours: From 11:00 am to 9:00pm Closed on Wed.


Kinmokusei (Orange Osmanthus)

It's the beginning of the fall season and already the noisy bug sounds of summer have disappeared , now the breeze is cooler and the days are shorter and apart from all the product labels and window displays that signal fall is here, there is also something all over Kyoto that signals the season has changed. It's called kinmokusei

Kinmokusei is a shrub or small tree that seems to be in every house with a backyard in Kyoto. You can find different varieties of Kinmokusei trees all over Asia : white, pale yellow, yellow, or orange-yellow but for some reason in Kyoto everybody seems to have the same type of orange kinmokusei tree.

The flowers on the Kinmokusei tree grow in bunches and have a very pleasant fragrance, and since so many people have them all over the city ( places like typical neighbourhoods and hospital parks, train stations, but not the more urban parts of town) there is a very citrusy sweet scent in the air that makes any walk a pleasant experience.

I took the picture above while walking around a neighbourhood in Nagaoka , you can see 2 large kinmokusei trees , but all the houses on that street had at least 1 kinmokusei tree in them. Kinmokuseki ga daisuki !!!!!!

Mata ne


Mamboo (sunfish)

We went to Shimonoseki Kaikyokan, an aquarium in Yamaguchi prefecture.
We had a great day at the aquarium, saw a lot of different types of Fugu or puffer fish , which is one of the things Yamaguchi prefecture is famous for, you can get really good Puffer fish sushi in Yamaguchi , but I'm getting carried away and straying from my main subject which is the Mamboo or sunfish.

I had never in my life seen a fish like this, at first I thought I was looking in to a failed lab experiment (with all due respect to the mamboo fishes of the world) but seriously, this fish looks like its just a head and tail put together, I kept staring at it for a long time and still didn't get used to the sight of it, so anyways, if you also have never seen a Mamboo (or Sunfish as they are called in the states) here is a little clip for you to see what Im talking about.

Mata ne !


Gion Matsuri

July 1 -31 was Gion Matsuri.

Since the 14Th you could see the girls walking down Kawaramachi and Shijo street wearing their Yukatas, hanging out with their friends or their boyfriends. There are speakers all over shijo, kawaramachi and terramachi streets, they play a melody called "Kon-chiki-chin" non stop to signal the coming of the festival, this melody is later played by musicians on the floats that parade the city.

Everyday the number of people wearing Yukatas increase more and more, and also the amount of tourists gets really crazy, walking to work was very difficult with the streets and the trains being sooooo crowded.
In the afternoon shijo street was closed to the traffic so that people could walk freely to see the floats and take pics and buy things from the hundreds of street vendors that set up shop in this festival. The photo bellow is the intersection of kawaramachi and shijo street you can see the big Hankyu Building on the corner, seeing so many people walking around was surreal.

On Gion Matsuri about 32 Floats are put together using only wood and no glue or nails to hold them together, the floats are massive and they carry musicians, lanterns and very old Persian rugs which are displayed for people to see, you can see musicians in white and blue tops sitting on the inside of one of the floats on this pic, you can see the rugs on the lower part of the float:

It was very interesting to see the stuff you can buy on matsuris and also the crowd was a bit scary but all around a very cool matsuri, if you come to Kyoto in July don't miss the matsuri you'll miss out on a great event.

Here are someimages from the street vendors and floats from the matsuri, enjoy:

Mata ne!



Yesterday was Tanabata day( the star festival), there were bamboo branches decorated with colored paper everywhere, in stores and family houses, apartments , everybody was displaying their decorated bamboo branches.

You are supposed to write a wish on a piece of paper and hang it on the bamboo branch and after tanabata this branch is burned with the paper ornaments and wishes, this is said to make the wishes go up to the Deitys and then they will make your wish come true.

To me it looked a lot like a summer kinda Xmas, you have a branch that is placed much like a pine tree, and then its decorated with paper ornaments and streamers anything you like as long as its paper and kids have a lot of fun putting these up so taking the presents and Santa out of the picture it is very similar, at least to me it is

Jya ne.