Category Archives: Websites

Inside Kyoto – An Excellent Resource for All Kyoto Lovers!

insideLast year Chris Rowthorn, of Lonely Planet fame, gave his personal website, Inside Kyoto a complete revamp. And what a transformation! Inside Kyoto has become an indispensable resource for anyone, whether visiting Kyoto or resident here. If you are looking for places to stay, places to eat, transport information or touring itineraries – it is all there! Basically, Chris has created a free online guidebook to the city. Need help finding your way around? Check the Inside Kyoto map. Wondering when to book your trip? Inside Kyoto has the answers. A long term resident of Kyoto himself, Chris, knows this city inside out, and now he has given all that knowledge away – for free. Check out the blog also, for the latest news from Kyoto, including the excellent monthly events listings. I recommend signing up for the Inside Kyoto newsletter (at the bottom of the homepage) so you don’t miss out on this. You can also follow Inside Kyoto on Twitter and Facebook.
OK. Now go visit the website and see what you can find: http://www.insidekyoto.com/
See also:
Organic Kyoto
Kyoto & Poetry on Japan Navigator
Cycle Kyoto
Other Recommended Kyoto Sites

Introducing Organic Kyoto

Here’s a valuable new resource for health loving Deep Kyotoites: a very well laid-out site with a tonne of useful information!
organic KyotoOrganic Kyoto was created by Kyoto resident Alice Miyagawa and launched on 16th August 2013. Living in Japan since 2002, she realised it would be a great service to have a comprehensive website that could be found by searching the English keywords “organic” and “Kyoto”. Continue reading

Kyoto & Poetry on Japan Navigator

A miniture replica of the Rashomon Gate - picture source Wikipedia

Ad Blankestijn, the writer of the Japan Navigator site, is an incredibly prolific blogger on all kinds of subjects, among them travel, history, art, literature, film, music, Japanese cuisine and sake. So many subjects in fact, it is quite hard to keep track. Readers of this blog will certainly be interested in his ongoing (and ambitious) Kyoto Guide. This post for example, on the site of the legendary Rashomon Gate, is fascinating.

The Rashomon Gate was 32 meters wide and 8 high. It had red pillars and double green roofs, a bit like the present Heian Shrine. On the top floor of the gate originally a stern statue of Tobatsu Bishamon was placed, looking like a soldier standing guard. Tobatsu Bishamon originated in Central Asia and acted as a protector of cities. I imagine him glaring at the lands beyond, to protect Heiankyo from evil… LINK

Recently though, I have also discovered his “Walking Waka Tracks”; verses from the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu with a brief guide to their respective locations. Today the writer introduced the one verse in the collection that includes our beloved Mount Ogura. Two days ago he introduced the poetry of famed Heian scholar and statesman Sugawara no Michizane, who was later deified as the God of Learning Kita no Tenjin. Here he is introducing the first poem of the anthology, Dew in the Hut:

The Hyakunin Isshu anthology of waka poetry, collected by Fujiwara Teika, opens with a poem by the Emperor Tenji (626-671), who ruled from Otsu (then briefly Japan’s capital)…  …Although the poem resembles a simple folk song about thwarted love (and surely is one, the attribution to the emperor is contested), the traditional interpretation is that the poem expresses Tenji’s compassion for the lot of the peasants. That is why it was considered suitable as the starting piece of the anthology… LINK

The translations of the poems and the unfolding of their meaning and intent are both clear and precise. I wonder if Mr. Blankestijn plans to continue this series until he has finished all 100 waka. I sincerely hope so. I am enjoying them a lot.

Here are two more entries in the Walking Waka Tracks series:

The Ausaka Barrier – Semimaru
Nakoso Falls – Kinto

See also:
Cycle Kyoto
Other Recommended Kyoto Sites

A Change of Tack

The March issue of Kyoto Visitor’s Guide is now available and with it my piece recommending other useful websites for online information on our great city. One of the sites I recommend in the article is the new Kyoto Journal site, whose ever shifting deadline for release has now moved from “the end of January” to “spring” (so I’m thinking maybe August). Though the new site isn’t available as yet, I have had a sneak preview, and can tell you that it will be something really quite special (hence the endless faffing around by the web designers as they try to get it absolutely perfect). Ken Rodgers has, however been good enough to construct a page on the old site where he collates a lot of very good general information on Kyoto and Kyoto museums.You can find that here: http://kyotojournal.org/info.htm

This will be my final piece for Kyoto Visitor’s Guide, as I have decided to focus more on working and writing for Kyoto Journal in the near future. My first mission on their behalf is to write a fresh article on our local disaster relief volunteer group IDRO Japan. After interviewing Rob Mangold for that purpose, it became apparent to me that I can’t really do the article justice unless I go up to Tohoku and do a spot of volunteering myself. So, I’ll be taking the night bus north this evening and heading off to Ishinomaki for a ten day stretch. I’m looking forward to meeting and working with some of the local heroes and dedicated volunteers that I have been hearing so much about.

For more insight into my departure from KVG, please refer to Harlan Ellison.

Cycle Kyoto


Kyoto is the spiritual, artistic, and cultural center of Japan. It is also the home to a thriving tourist industry, attracting nearly five million visitors in 2009. It is the city that all visitors to Japan go to. Its 17 World Heritage Sites are spread throughout the city, easily accessible.

The city was laid out in checkerboard fashion, some 1200 years ago, following the example of the ancient Chinese imperial capital Xian. With mountains on three sides of the city, the inhabited areas of Kyoto tend to be flat but sloping slightly as you travel north – all of which means it is a wonderful city to cycle in.
From Cycle Kyoto

I suppose I’m shooting myself in the foot a bit by sending you all over to the competition, but I really do feel impelled to recommend Sanborn Brown’s very excellent website Cycle Kyoto. Here you will find everything you need to know about cycling in the ancient city with information on where to rent a bicycle and suggested itineraries for cycle routes. Even if cycling is not your thing, there is also a wealth of information on hiking routes, temples, shrines, cafes and museums. Sanborn has obviously put a lot of work into his website and it shows. His alternative cycle tours especially look fascinating. Check out his Literary Kyoto, Creepy Kyoto and City of Tea cycling routes. And for those overwhelmed by the huge number of shrines and temples in Kyoto, Cycle Kyoto offers an inspired solution: 88 temples in a half hour hike! I’m very impressed by this website.  Highly recommended!

Images used courtesy of Sanborn Brown.