The Toy Film Museum – おもちゃ映画ミュージアム

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Kyoto’s newest museum, the Toy Film Museum,  opened on May 18th 2015 on a tiny little side street just off Koin Doori in the Mibu area. I ventured down there shortly after it opened to see what it was like. My general feeling after visiting is that the place has a lot of potential, but if you are not fluent in Japanese and/or super interested in old movies then this place isn’t really for you. I am interested in old movies, so I really liked the place, but I would understand if it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, they will be holding events, talks and movie screenings there, which may be of more general interest. More about the events later. First here’s what I found when I visited:

* It’s in a cute old machiya building, but at present only a small part of that building contains exhibits.
* The main exhibits are antique cameras and home movie projectors. These are not individually labelled with information.
* I was given a print about the contents of the museum and there is some information on the surrounding walls about movie history but naturally this is all in Japanese.
* Likewise the staff only speak Japanese, but they are super friendly, and they very kindly gave me a cup of coffee and a biscuit!
* There are some toys and toy projectors you can play with, but by themselves they are probably not enough to warrant the 500 yen entry fee.
* They also have some old silent movies on show on a TV screen hooked up to a computer. These seemed to be mostly swashbuckling samurai chambara movies, which back in the golden age of Japanese movie making were as popular as Hollywood westerns.

Some of those old timey projectors.

Some of those old timey projectors.

I rather enjoyed talking with the people at the museum who were very happy to talk about old movies with me. It’s also nice to see this aspect of Kyoto’s heritage being celebrated. Kyoto has a long historical connection with the movie industry, Japanese movie making was basically born here, and during Kyoto’s movie-making heyday in the 1930s the local studios at Uzumasa were knocking out 4 movies a month. Remember, in those days, people didn’t have TV, so movies were the most popular form of entertainment and showings were always packed.


Some of the exhibits at the Toy Film Museum.

During the silent movie era, Japan had a rather unique way of presenting movies. In addition to musical accompaniment, there was also a narrator, called a 活弁士 (katsubenshi). Like the very best storytellers, this narrator wouldn’t just explain the action on screen but would give voice to the characters and really bring the movie to life. Some of these narrators were extremely popular in their own right and people would go as much to enjoy the katsuben performance as to see the movie itself.

Now this brings me to an upcoming event at the Toy Film Museum which presents a unique opportunity to enjoy a silent movie screening in an old-timey Japanese style. As I wrote above, the organizers of the museum are planning to hold some talks and old movie screenings at the venue and there is a special movie screening coming up this Sunday on June 14th. The movie is called 僕らの弟 (Our Little Brother), a 1933 movie by celebrated screenwriter Yoshitaka Yoda, and it will be narrated live by expert movie narrator, Kataoka Ichiro. You can read more about the movie in the flyers which I shall post below. The fee for entry is 1,700 yen and the doors open at 18.30 for a 19.00 screening. Of course the whole event is in Japanese, but if your language skills are up to scratch this could be a really entertaining event. And if they aren’t up to scratch, well it’ll be good practice for you. Here are those (clickable) event flyers.

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Location: The Toy Film Museum is on a tiny side street on the east side of Koin Doori: the diagonal street that runs betwen Shijo Omiya Station and Nijo Station. The side street is easy to miss but there’s a shop with a sign reading “National Bicycle” just opposite and a Toy Film Museum sign to point the way. You can find a map here: MAP.
Address: 〒604‐8805
Telephone Number: 075(803)0033

Many thanks to Akira Yamamoto for posting about the Toy Film Museum on the Deep Kyoto Facebook Page, and to the folks at the Toy Film Museum for keeping me posted on events.

FESTIVIN! Natural Wine Festival in Kyoto June 28th 2015

Since 2010, Festivin, Japan’s largest natural wine festival, has been held in Tokyo, but this year for the first time it comes to Kyoto!

What is Festivin?

As the name FESTIVIN suggests (the coinage of the words “festival” and “vin” – vin meaning wine in French), it is not a professional tasting session (we do not have any spittoons at the venue), but an opportunity to share delicious wines with mates. The number of attendees has increased year by year and we were happy to have around 2,000 people (over two sessions on the day), last year. You will be able to taste as many wines as you want from a selection of around 300 labels from France, Italy, Georgia, Austria, Chile, Slovenia and other countries. – From Food & Wine Diary from Tokyo.

Event details:

Date/Time: 2015.6.28 (Sunday) 12:00-16:00

Admission: ¥6,000 in advance ¥7,000 cash at the door (subject to availability) – please understand that tickets for the event may sell-out in advance of the event date and may not be available on the day. Admission includes unlimited tasting of available wines, one tasting glass and a memorial glass holder; yours to keep forever. Please note that food is not included in the admission price and is available on a “pay as you eat” basis.

Online tickets (Ticket Pia):
Ticket Pia Tel : 0570-02-9999
P-code: 629470 (using this code, aside from Ticket Pia, tickets can also be purchased at Circle K and Seven-Eleven convenience stores)

You can also buy tickets at participating restaurants and wine bars (see for details).

Venue: Miyako Messe, 9-1 Okazaki, Seishoji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 606-8343

E-mail: (English enquiries are welcome)

For more details see the official Festivin website:
For a history of Festivin see The Food & Wine Diary from Tokyo.

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.


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):

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).

kis bazaar

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.


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.

for friends

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.


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.


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

See also:

“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:

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.

“ 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

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

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:
※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

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

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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