Exploring Fushimi on Inside Kyoto

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My latest article for Inside Kyoto is an exploration of the backstreets and waterways of Fushimi – Kyoto’s famed sake making district. Included in the article are places to taste sake, a boating cruise, a visit to the Teradaya Inn (where Sakamoto Ryoma narrowly escaped assassination), and a Buddhist temple dedicated to a Hindu river deity that happens to have a Hidden Christian lantern!

Here’s a taste,

Fushimi. Say it aloud and the very sound of those soft syllables seems refreshing. This is not inappropriate. The name originally meant “underground water”, and Fushimi is famous for its springs. The water from these underground sources is soft, mellow and is held to be particularly delicious – perfect for sake production. Many sake breweries thrive in this area and Fushimi sake is renowned as the perfect complement for Kyoto cuisine. Historically the waters of Fushimi also made this area an important hub of transport and trade. Here the confluence of three rivers, the Uji, Katsura and Kamo, and an intricate network of canals were put to good use, sending rice, sake and other goods between the cities of Kyoto and Osaka…

Read more here: Exploring Fushimi – Kyoto’s Sake District

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See also:
Kabuki At Kyoto’s Minamiza Theater
Walking In Gion
Kyoto Samurai
Toka Ebisu

The Third Kyoto Record Fair @ Zest Oike on May 16th & 17th 2015

This weekend all the best record and CD shops in Kyoto, plus a few guest record shops will be taking part in a big old record fair at Zest Oike. Apparently there will also be some live music performances and “talk shows” during the event. Check below for details.

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Dates: May 16th (Saturday) and 17th (Sunday).
Time: 11:00 – 20:00
Location: Zest Oike is an underground shopping mall which lies beneath Oike Street between Kawaramachi and Teramachi. The record fair will be held in the Kawaramachi Plaza. Here is a MAP of the location.
Website (Japanese): http://kyotorecordmatsuri.blogspot.jp

Entry is of course completely FREE. Here is a list of participating record stores.

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Kyoto International School International Bazaar; May 24th 2015

Thanks to Justin Giffin who sent in the following:

On Sunday May 24 Kyoto International School (KIS) is having its annual International Bazaar / Festival. 10 am3pm.
There will be stalls with food from various countries, beer, performances by students and a flea market ( kids books, clothes etc).
This is not just for families of kids at the school – anyone is welcome – there are bound to be a number of people you know there- please do come if you can !

The festival is at the school : one street west of Horikawa, just south of Nakadachiuri (south of Imadegawa).

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Charles Roche’s First Exhibition – “For Friends” @ Papa Jon’s Eatery

Congratulations to Charles Roche on his first exhibition, “For Friends”. On Sunday, Mewby and I popped into Papa Jon’s Eatery to check out his paintings and we were both really impressed. Viewing his work, it really is extraordinary that Charles has only been painting for two and a half years and is completely self-taught.

Charles with one of his most recent pieces, "Inexorable Autumn".

Charles with one of his most recent pieces, “Inexorable Autumn”.

While there I took the opportunity to appreciate another piece of artistry; this Velvet Blueberry Cheesecake.

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Art and cheesecake – what more could you want? The show continues until May 17th, and if you would like to meet the artist in person he will be there to greet you from 5:00 pm. I would encourage you all to go and take a look.

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This image courtesy of Charles Roche.

Location: Papa John’s Eatery is on the 3rd floor of the Shimpukan Building, just south of Oike, on the east side of Karasuma.

nariiki – 「CORE」 Album Release Show at Urbanguild, Kyoto; May 29th

Jazz pianist Kevin McHugh‘s “experimental” improv/jazz/punk/chamber group, nariiki, are passing through Kyoto this month on their album release tour.

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Judging from this video performance I’d say they are worth a look.

Date: May 29th (Friday)
Location: Urbanguild, Kiyamachi, Kyoto.
Doors Open: 19:00
Show Starts: 19:30
Advance Tickets: 2500 yen with 1drink
On the door: 2800 yen with 1 drink

Also playing:
Shanti-Cology +
Sébastien Grandgambe & Sophie Maurin

Directions: To get to Urbanguild from Sanjo Dori, go down Kiyamachi Dori (This is the narrow street running alongside the Takase stream). Urbanguild is on the east side (the left hand side as you walk down from Sanjo) about 150 metres. It’s on the 3rd floor of the New Kyoto Building – access by elevator or stairs. Here is a MAP.

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Check out nariiki’s Facebook event page for their other shows in Kansai.

See also:
http://www.urbanguild.net/
http://therealmchugh.com/
http://nariiki.com
https://nariiki.bandcamp.com/

“The Question of Butoh” – A Celebration; May 18th – 24th

The following information was sent in by our friend Bridget Scott, for further details please see the website: http://butohtoi.wix.com/meguru

What is “Butoh”?
What is “Butoh” asking of us who are living today?

For one week from Monday 18th May to Sunday 24th, a series of butoh performances, workshops and lectures will take place in Kyoto. There will be performances, workshops and lectures featuring 30 butoh dancers, held at 5 different venues. This is are great opportunity for butoh fans, as well as those who are discovering the genre for the first time, to encounter what the expression of butoh is today. A celebration of butoh on this scale has not been seen in Kyoto for over 20 years!

The Question of Butoh

The Forum “The Question of Butoh”

It has been over a half century since the word “butoh” was born. Butoh has been continuously changing as it’s passed on from person to person. This event is an attempt to find “butoh” in each butoh dancer / contemporary dancer who is living and expressing today. Over seven days, covering six themes, performances and workshops will be held by over 30 people/groups at 5 different venues around Kyoto. Kansai based performers will be joined by performers from Tokyo, Fukuoka and Yakushima.

●Performance
“ To Become・To Transform”
19th May (Tuesday) 18:30start@space ALS-D
performers:Hiraoka Hideyuki, Yurabe Masami, Saisaku (from Tokyo)
“SUITAIGAIRO *extrapyramidal movements”

20th May (Wednesday) 19:00start@UrBANGUILD
performers:Kuroko Sanae , Seisaku, Takeshiyo Mariya, Yamaguchi Keiko
“At The Beginning and The End” Solo and improvisation while listening to a faint something

21st May (Thursday) 18:30start@Social Kitchen
perfomers:Atashi Yoshiko, Ichikawa Maya, Ozaki Nobuyuki, Keruko, Sakata Kaori, Takeda Keiko, Tamara Kouji, Nakamura Miharu, Hirano Akihiro, Matsumoto Kiyokazu, Yamamoto Masashi
“Wear, Wrap, Dress, Take Off”

22st May (Friday) 19:00 start @UrBANGUILD
perfomer:Ima Tenko, Kinki Iori, Harada Nobuo(Butoh Seiryukai,, from Fukuoka), Bridget Scott
“Butoh For the Dead”

23rd May (Saturday) 18:00start@Nishijin Factory Garden, Space ALS-D
performer:Seki Noriko, Tanaka Seiji, Rosa Yuki
“The [traditional] body”

24th May (Sunday)17:00 start@Nishijin Factory Garden
performer:Fukurozaka Yasuo, Fujieda Mushimaru (from Yakushima), Butoh Company KIRAZA, Yamamoto Kazuma, Yangjah+Bando Chikako

●Workshop
18th May
(Monday) 10:20~19:00@Space ALS-D
facilitator: Yurabe Masami, Hiraoka Hideyuki, Seisaku

22nd May (Friday) 14:00~17:00@Nishijin Factory Garden
facilitator: Fujieda Mushimaru

23rd May (Saturday)13:00~15:00@Ima Tenko Butoh Kenkyujo
facilitator: Ima Tenko

●Lecture
24th May
(Saturday)14:00~15:30@Nishijin Factory Garden
lecturer:Kobayashi Masahiro(Professor of The Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences)

For more details and reservation, please visit the website:
http://butohtoi.wix.com/meguru
【contact】butoh.toi@gmail.com
※Please note each venue has limited number of audience seats.
Kindly reserve your tickets as soon as possible.
Produced by: The Committee of “the question of butoh”

KYOTOGRAPHIE SPECIAL: Night Viewing with Torches of Martin Gusinde’s Exhibition

Night
This looks like fun and there is still time to catch it! From Marguerite Paget:

Experience a special and exciting night viewing of the Martin Gusinde’s exhibition: The spirit of the Tierra del Fuego people, Selk’nam,Yamana, Kawésqar.

Every day from 8-9pm at Kyoto City Hall open square in the Paper Tube Pavilion by Shigeru Ban.
The venue will be plunged into darkness during the event. Bring your torch or borrow one at the venue!

Date: everyday from May 1st until May 10th
Time: from 8 to 9pm
Admission Fee: Adults, Students (University, High school students) 500 yen or KYOTOGRAPHIE passport
Place: Kyoto City Hall open square
488 Teramachi-Oike, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto,604-8571Subway Tozai Line Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station” 1 min. on foot from exit 15 Keihan Line “Sanjo Station” 7 min. on foot from exit 12

Azaleas at Myoman-ji Temple

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Azaleas, (called very prettily tsutsuji in Japanese), are blooming all over Kyoto right now, but we won’t be able to enjoy them for much longer.  If you get a chance I recommend going to see the display of azaleas at the entrance to Myomanji in northern Kyoto. Here are some pictures I took there last year.
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The grounds here are quiet and pleasant but the most striking thing about them is the Busshari Daito – a great concrete tower modeled after the  Bodh Gaya in India.

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Here are some more pictures from around the grounds.

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This temple belongs to the Nichiren sect of Buddhism, and was originally built in 1383. Formerly it stood at Teramachi Nijo but was moved to its present location in 1968

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The grounds are free to enter, but there is a fee (300 yen) to visit the main buildings and the inner garden. The garden is called Yuki-no-niwa, or snow garden, so I imagine it must look spectacular in winter. However, it looked very fine when dressed in spring green too. The viewing room is a good spot to rest and be at peace.

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There is also a small museum room in the temple which houses a bell of legendary ill-repute, known as Anchin Kiyohime no Kane. The story goes that sometime in the 9th century, a monk named Anchin was travelling through Wakayama on a pilgrimage. One night he stayed at an inn on the way, and had a liaison with the inn-keeper’s daughter, Kiyohime. Anchin promised the girl he would return, but his promises were false and the scorned maid, consumed by anger, was transformed into a giant snake. She pursued Anchin to a temple where he hid himself under a bell – but to no avail! The giant serpent wound itself about the bell and then created a scorching heat that burned Anchin alive. The serpent then threw herself in a river and died also… From then on the bell was associated with disaster and misfortune whenever it was rung… In 1585 it was brought to Kyoto, and since then the monks of Myoman-ji hold a ceremony each year to bring peace to the souls of Anchin and Kiyohime… This is apparently quite a well-known tale, and has been the inspiration of both Noh dramas and Kyogen comedies. Terrible behaviour for a monk though, eh?

Myoman-ji (妙満寺) is a five minute walk from Kino station on the Eiden line. This is the tenth stop and takes about 15 minutes when going north from Demachiyanagi. Here is a MAP. Check Jorudan for train times.

The grounds are open from 6.00 am until 5.00 pm and the main building and garden are open from 9.00 am till 4.00 pm.

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Fujinomori Festival & Kakeuma Shinji – Acrobatic Horseback Riding

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Trick riders at Fujinomori Shrine get ready to awe the crowds.

Mewby and I caught this festival last year and for sheer excitement it can’t be beat. I highly recommend you catch this event on May 5th.

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A parade from Fujinomori Shrine arrives at Fushimi Inari Taisha

Earlier that morning (from around 10.30) we saw mikoshi (portable shrines) from Fujinomori Shrine carried in a parade to Fushimi Inari Taisha. It was raining but that did not dampen the spirits of the people carrying the mikoshi – they all had beers waiting for them in ice buckets at Fushimi Inari.

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The main part of this festival though is the renowned “Kakeuma Shinji” (駈馬神事) at Fujinomori Shrine. This is an acrobatic horseback riding ritual,  held on May 5th every year. Participants perform all kinds of crazy stunts whilst galloping full tilt through the shrine grounds. I’ve read that the stunts performed are derived from techniques used in battle, but it is hard to conceive of what practical use these tricks would be, except maybe to distract your enemy with thoughts of “Wow, you’re really cool”. Upside down, side saddle, tossing paper streamers – if you can imagine it, they do it – and the cheering crowds are left gasping in admiration.

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All the riders are from families who have been performing these stunts for generations. The older gentleman at the end of the video below was performing his last stunt before retiring.

The stunt riding takes place at 1 o’clock and 3 o’clock (each time lasting for about an hour). I’d recommend getting to this event early, as it packs out pretty quick. Fujinomori Shrine is a 5 minute walk from JR Fujinomori Station on the JR Nara Line, or a 7 minute walk from Sumizome Station on the Keihan Line. Here is a MAP.

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A First View of Kabuki

"A Scene from A Play" by Masanobu Okumura (1686–1764), depicting Edo Ichimura-za theater in the early 1740s - public domain.

“A Scene from A Play” by Masanobu Okumura (1686–1764), depicting Edo Ichimura-za theater in the early 1740s – public domain.

My latest article for Inside Kyoto is about a visit to Kyoto’s Minamiza Theater to see a kabuki show. Going to see kabuki is one of those things I have long wanted to do, but somehow I had never gotten around to – until now. I had strong doubts before going about whether I could enjoy it, as I knew that the language would be archaic and difficult to understand. In the event I couldn’t understand a lot of what was going on in the show, but nonetheless I enjoyed it immensely. Find out why by clicking on the link!

Kabuki At Kyoto’s Minamiza Theater

The refreshment stand in Kyoto's Minamiza Theater.

The refreshment stand in Kyoto’s Minamiza Theater.