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Monday, October 31, 2011

Woman Riding Bicycle Kyoto

Woman Cyclist Kyoto自転車乗っている京女

Near the campus of Doshisha University and the Imperial Palace, a young woman waits for the light to change.

She is on a sporty aquamarine cross bike. It is outfitted with yellow tires, a trad leather seat, and rubber handle grips.

The look is made complete by her quirky fashion sense.

She has on a multi-colored polka-dotted dress, and light gray tights.

Ah, the joys of autumn.


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Sunday, October 30, 2011

This Week in World Cycling 30 October 2011

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2011年10月30日

A Man, a Bike and 4,100 Miles New York Times

Designers create airbag cycle helmet BBC

Confessions of a serial bicycle buyer Guardian

Reckless cyclists face crackdown Japan Times

Et si on offrait des ateliers solidaires aux cyclistes urbains? Rue89

El niño de la bicicleta El Pais

[自行车]“黑客”兰迪斯被判入狱18个月 Caijing

Four injuries every bicyclist should know about Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Literary Kyoto by Bicycle


Kyoto has been home to many well-known writers, both born and bred Kyotoites and those who were drawn to the city.

Among them are Lady Murasaki Shikibu, Sei Shonagon, Tanizaki Junichiro, Kawabata Yasunari, and many others.

Others have passed through - Matsuo Basho and Mishima Yukio - leaving their mark.

Many foreign writers have also spent time in the city.

This page includes information on David Zopetti and Gary Snyder.


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Friday, October 28, 2011

Bicycle GPS Models

Bicycle GPS自転車GPS

For the cyclist who has everything, there are now GPS models made specifically for a bicycle.

Joining the ATLAS ASG-CM21 (22,500 yen), XPlova G3 (35,910 yen), and various Garmin gadgets are models made by major local companies.

Pioneer debuted on the 25th with its PotterNavi. It uses a cell phone line to connect to the Internet, allowing riders to plot routes, check the weather, and measure riding distance and time. The PotterNavi will go on sale in February and cost 40,000 yen.

Already on the market is Sony's NV-U37, which is 29,100 yen. It guides riders to side streets and roads with easier inclines.

Last into the fray is Panasonic. Its CN-MC01L can also calculate calories burned and is waterproof. It lists for 33,380 yen on


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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cycling Sidewalks New Regulations Japan

Cycling sidewalk in Kyoto3メートル未満の歩道自転車通行ダメ

The police are at it.

And none too soon.

Cycling on sidewalks in Japan - widely accepted and practiced - now comes with a caveat. The sidewalk must be at least three meters wide. If not, cycling is not permitted.

Ticketing is being threatened for the first time.

The police are also calling for an increase and improvement in the infrastructure for cycling.



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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Matsuo Basho Kyoto

Konpukuji Temple松尾芭蕉京都

Matsuo Munefusa, better known as Basho (1644-94), was a poet and writer during the early Edo period (1615-1868).

Basho was a samurai until he was 20. From this point, time he devoted his life to poetry.

Basho was the main figure in the development of haiku, a poetic form that contains 17 syllables.

Haiku is primarily concerned with and about nature and is influenced by Zen.

Basho today is best-known for the document of a five-month journey deep into the rural north he took in 1689.

The work, Oku no Hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Deep North), remains beloved to this day in Japan.

His strongest connection to Kyoto is found at Konpukuji Temple (金福寺), pictured above. Within the grounds of the temple is a hut known as Basho-an, in which he composed the poem below. This was the hut in which he resided in the late 1690s. It was restored a century later by Yosa Busan, himself a legendary poet.

More information can be found here.


Konpukuji Temple
20 Saikata-cho Ichijoji Sakyo-ku
Close to the Ichijoji Station on the Eiden Line
TEL: 075 791 1666

For those cycling it is south of Shugakuin Villa.

Even in Kyoto--
hearing the cuckoo's cry--
I long for Kyoto.

A crow
has settled on a bare branch--
autumn evening.

The crane's legs
have gotten shorter
in the spring rain.

Weathered bones
on my mind,
a wind-pierced body.

This road -
no one goes down it,
autumn evening

Another year gone--
hat in hand,
sandals on my feet.

The old pond--
a frog jumps in
sound of water.

The winter sun--
on the horse's back
my frozen shadow.

Seeing people off,
being seen off--
autumn in Kiso.

A cold rain starting
and no hat--

Singing, flying, singing
the cuckoo
keeps busy.

Visiting the graves--
leaning on their canes.

Midnight frost--
I'd borrow
the scarecrow's shirt.

When the winter chrysanthemums go
there's nothing to write about
but radishes.


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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kyoto Fall Festival Fukuoji Shrine

Ninnaji Temple福王子神社 神輿巡幸  仁和寺境内

Every year on the third Sunday of October, the area of western Kyoto along the Keifuku rail line explodes with neighborhood festivals.

Within hearing distance are three:

Fukuoji Shrine Festival
Sumiyoshi Shrine Festival
Matsumiya Shrine Festival

Like a resident of a parish, you "belong" to one of these festivals depending upon where you live.

In our case, we live just on the edge of the Fukuoji Shrine festival area of Omuro.

And thus every October we don a white happi coat and go out to carry the portable shrine through the six "villages" that supply the men - no women carry the mikoshi portable shrine - for the day.

The festival gives thanks for the fall harvest and is a form of ancestor worship.

The portable shrine is stored all year at Fukuoji Shrine. It is brought out once a year for the festival.

During an 11 kilometer trek the portable shrine - and hundreds of men in white festival clothing - wends its way through western Kyoto.

The climax of the shrine takes place at Ninnaji Temple, the "parent" to nearby Fukuoji Shrine.

The portable shrine is carried up the steps of the main entrance - pictured above - and into the inner grounds of the temple.

There, in front of the head priests of Ninnaji and Fukuoji and several hundred onlookers, the mikoshi is raised aloft. To watch, click here.

After departing, the mikoshi is carried out of Ninnaji Temple, down its steps. There, once again, the two-ton shrine is carried for roughly 15 minutes.

A final "climax" takes place just prior to reentering Fukuoji Shrine.

Then the mikoshi is put away for another year.


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Monday, October 24, 2011

Bicycles in front of Ninnaji Temple Kyoto

Ninnaji Temple仁和寺前の自転車

On a big-blue sky fall day, the bikes are lined up at the main gate of Ninnaji Temple.

The 1100 year-old temple is a big draw for tourists.

It has a five-story pagoda, spacious grounds, massive sub-temples - and except for the one area designated a World Heritage Site free.

Children, local people, even dog-walkers abound.

In spite of its elegance, Ninnaji is a casual temple.

Gates open early in the morning, and close around 4:30 pm.


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Sunday, October 23, 2011

This Week in World Cycling 23 October 2011

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2011年10月23日

A Gentle Push for Bikers, Not a Shove New York Times

Jakarta: The last frontier BBC

Folding bikes: OK on the Victoria line, yet banned from the cavernous V&A Guardian

Bicycle tours popular among middle-aged, elderly Daily Yomiuri

Berlin, paradis du vélo. Les villes françaises n'ont qu'à se rhabiller Rue89

Retratos en bici: Gala y una 'holandesa' #BikeMad El Pais

“自行车王国”迎来“强国机遇” Caijing

Bike Share is Coming to New York West View News

Cyclist receives 8-year ban for 2nd doping offense Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Radiation Levels in Kyoto Japan


According to data now available on the Welcome to Kyoto HP - a government sponsored site - the amount of radiation in Kyoto on Saturday, October 22, at 14:10 pm was 0.0373 μSv/h.

For those not fluent in radiation measurement, that is well within the range of normal.

Normal rates of radiation is Kyoto is 0.01~0.2μSv/h; thus, Kyoto is, has been, and remains a safe and wonderful place to visit.

The data is derived from ARIS (Ambient Radiation Information System).


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Friday, October 21, 2011

Hiking Hozukyo Arashiyama Kyoto

Hozukyo Trail京都嵐山保津川ハイキング

West of the Arashiyama area in Kyoto is the Hozukyo Gorge and River.

Along one side of the river runs the Torokko tourist train (also known as the "Sagano Romantic Train").

The train runs between JR Saga Arashiyama Station and Kameoka Station. From Umahori, it is possible to take the Hozu River Boat Tour on the return journey.

The boat takes about two hours and lets you off near the Togetsukyo Bridge in downtown Arashiyama.

For those who would rather hike, a good option is to take the JR Saiin Line one stop from Saga Arashiyama to Hozuyo Station. The station lies in the gorge and there are no inhabitants.

The purpose of the station is to let hikers and others get into the gorge easily.

From here, it is about 5-6 kilometers back into Arashiyama.

After alighting at Hozukyo, cross the large red bridge - that spans the river below - to the road on the other side (there may be a few cars on the station side as well). Then turn right. Follow this road as it leads you to the trail and back into Arashiyama.

Highlights along the route are the Ochiai Bashi Bridge and the bamboo forest in Arashiyama. The route follows the river until a bit beyond the Ochiai Bashi Bridge.


Boats depart hourly between 9:00 and 14:00 and then at 15:30.

However, between December 1 - March 9, the boats leave at 10:00 and 11:30 in the morning and 13:00 and 14:30 after lunch.


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Thursday, October 20, 2011

La Madrague Cafe Kyoto

La Madrague Cafe Kyoto喫茶店 la madrague (マドラグ)

With the passing away of the owner of the classic cafe Seven, Kyoto seemed poised to lose an offbeat and off the beaten path place to get a great cup of coffee.

Located near the corner of Oshikoji and Nishinotoin a couple blocks north of Oike and east of Nijo Castle, Seven was a no-nonsense old-school machiya cafe.

In its place, under much younger and hipper ownership, the cafe has been reborn as La Madrague.

It is a shrine to "B.B." (Brigitte Bardot), chic things from the 1960s, and fashion.

The name of the cafe derives from a property Bardot owned (owns?) near St. Tropez, and which later became a well known French song.

The atmosphere is very casual, and the woman tending the shop was dressed and coiffed tres a la mode - that is, pre-hippie 1960s fashion.


La Madrague Cafe
Tel: 075 744 0067
Hours: 11 am - 11 pm


La Madrague Cafe KyotoCycleKyoto Home Page


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cycling Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle自転車で二条城へ

Nijo Castle is a large inland castle a short ride from downtown Kyoto.

The castle was ordered built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, who founded the Tokugawa Shogunate.

In 1601, Tokugawa ordered all feudal lords in western Japan to "donate" towards the construction of Nijo Castle.

The castle was completed in 1626 and was the residence of the Tokugawa Shoguns, and - conveniently - a short distance from the Imperial Palace, home of the symbolic head of state, the emperor.

In 1939, the palace was given to the city of Kyoto and opened to the public the next year.

Today it is one of the best known sites in the city.

It has two moats, multiple fortifications, and lavish gardens. One of the most interesting features of the Ninomaru Palace in the castle are the "nightingale floors." Special flooring, which "sings" when someone walks upon it was installed to alert those within that intruders were in the castle.


A one-minute walk from Nijojo-mae subway stop. A seven-minute walk from JR Nijo Station. An easy ride from downtown.


Hours: 8:45 - 16:00
Fees: 600 yen


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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More Bicycle Accidents in Tokyo Since Earthquake and Tsunami

東日本 大地震後東京で自転車事故が急増

Since the horrific earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan, more people have been commuting to work and school in the Tokyo area.

According to the Metropolitan police, this has resulted in more accidents.

The March 11 disaster paralyzed the capital's transportation systems, leaving many to spend the night on the floor of their office - or in a bar.

As a result, many have as a result renounced trains and turned instead to another 19th century form of transportation: the bicycle.

With few bicycle lanes and insufficient infrastructure, this has lead to collisions.

Which the Tokyo police have reflexively blamed on cyclists.

From March to August of this year, there were 2,129 accidents involving bicycle commuters, up 96% from the same period in the previous year.

As always, CycleKyoto recommends: assume cars are not paying attention and ride safe.


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Monday, October 17, 2011

Kyoto City of Tea


For tea devotees, Konnichian is the Vatican of the Kyoto tea world (world tea world).

However, it is not open to the public.

Located behind the Urasenke Center, on Horikawa Dori, it is part of an estate controlled by the organization that runs the foundation.

Within the Center itself, it is possible to see and experience much of the tea atmosphere and history.

Kyoto itself is home to many tea rooms, stores, and sites related to the history of tea.

Many of them can be done on a bike easily.

Urasenke Foundation

613 Honpojimae-cho, Ogawa Teranouchi agaru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 602-8688; Tel: 075 451 5166

Gallery Hours : 10:00 A.M.-4:00 P.M.; Saturdays, 10:00 A.M.-3:00 P.M.

Entrance Fee: 300 yen


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Sunday, October 16, 2011

This Week in Cycling 16 October 2011

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2011年10月16日

Hitting the Road to Get to Work, and Back New York Times

Travelwise: Bike sharing around the world BBC

Blackfriars junction: a redesign by cyclists, for cyclists Guardian

Bikes keep the wheels of progress rolling Japan Times

La Vélorution, défilé bobo ou vrai choix de société ? Rue89

Las bicicletas podrán circular por las aceras de más de tres metros El Pais

“自行车王国”迎来“强国机遇” Caijing

Colombian cyclist leaves hospital after 4 months Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Noodle Bar Kyoto

Noodle Place in Kyotoそば屋京都

The exterior of this noodle place is to die for.

It looks like it was once a kura, or a traditional storehouse.

It was renovated and reborn as a noodle restaurant across the street from Kita no Tenmangu Shrine.

In homage to its neighbor, which has a grove of plum trees, the owner had a plum painted onto the white wall above the entrance.

Prices are a tad bit higher than a less elegant restaurant would be, but the setting is well worth it.


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Friday, October 14, 2011

Kurama Fire Festival


The annual Kurama Fire Festival takes place on the evening of October 22.

It is held at Yuki Jinja Shrine in the village of Kurama, which is in the mountains north of Kyoto.

The festival is thought to reenact the scene of receiving a deity that had travelled from the Imperial Palace to the village.

At 6 pm, fires are lit in front of the village houses. These "kagaribi" are lit and, in addition, people with small and large pine torches parade through the town.

The Kurama Fire Festival is one of the three "most eccentric festivals" of Kyoto. The other two are Yasurai Matsuri at Imamiya Jinja Shrine (on the second Sunday of April), and the Ushi Matsuri (Bull Festival) at Koryuiji Temple (which is currently suspended).

The highlight of the festival is the more than 250 three-meter tall pine torches. Like other festivals, there are portable shrines that are carried through the town.

For those cycling, it is possible to get into the town if one arrives prior to roughly 3 pm. At that point, the police close off the road.

By about 6 pm, cycling will be impossible due to the crowds. Moreover, the road is not reopened until after the festival, which means waiting until the wee hours of morning for the return ride.


KuramaCycleKyoto Home Page


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Heron on Kyoto Roof

Heron on Kyoto Roof京都屋根の白鷺

Perched on a traditional tile roof just outside Arashiyama, Kyoto, is a white heron (blue?).

These birds, in both blue and white, are common in and around Kyoto.

On the Kamo River, they share space with hawks and ducks, crows and smaller birds.

This one was looking about, about to take off for a small river below the house.

With a tremendous Squawk!, he (?) took off and glided out of view.


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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Blood Ceilings Kyoto


In several temples around Kyoto, the ceilings were built using old lumber from Fushimi Momoyama Castle, which was destroyed in 1623.

That in and of itself is not particularly interesting. The old planks though were soaked through with the blood of hundreds of warriors, in places leaving clear footprints, handprints, and in places even images that look like faces.

In 1592 Toyotomi Hideyoshi succeeded in uniting Japan under his rule. As part of a celebration of that accomplishment, he had a castle built in Fushimi, Kyoto, which was to serve as his retirement palace.

The castle and Hideyoshi did not survive however. Following his death, in 1598, a power vacuum arose. That was soon filled by Ieyasu Tokugawa.

In 1600 Tokugawa, however, soon found himself in a bit of a tight spot. Tokugawa had 2,000 of his troops garrisoned in Fushimi Castle as yet another general approached with 40,000 troops.

Fushimi Castle was destroyed after an eleven-day-long siege in 1600 by the 40,000-strong army of Ishida Mitsunari, one of the late Toyotomi Hideyoshi's generals. The leader of the troops within the castle, Torii Mototada refused to surrender.

Ultimately, he committed ritual suicide as the castle burned around him after ordering his men to fight to the death. This allowed Tokugawa time to escape. In addition to Mototada, his family and nearly 400 soldiers committed suicide, thus soaking the floorboards with blood.

Those same floorboards were used in other locations after the castle was dismantled in 1623.

Among them are Genkoan (pictured above right), Shodenji Temple (below), and Yogenin.


47 Kitatakagaminecho Takagamine Kirta-ku Kyoto,

Tel : 075 492 1858

Entrance Fee: 450 yen

Shodenji Temple
72 Kitachinjuan-cho Nishigamo Kita-ku, Kyoto

075 491 3259

Entrance Fee: 300 yen

Shodenji Temple©

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Kiyamachi Bicycle Pile Up

Kiyamachi bikes木屋町自転車

Kiyamachi is a narrow north-south street in downtown Kyoto that runs parallel and very close to the Kamo River. It is full of bars and restaurants and many other less savory establishments.

The latter have spilled off of the east-west side streets that connect Kiyamachi to Kawaramachi, and onto prime real estate on Kiyamachi north or Shijo. This has taken a bit of the luster off of what was once an elegant avenue。

Still, Kiyamachi boasts the Takase River - a canal once plied with boats carrying goods to and from points south, such as Fushimi and Osaka - that is lined by lovely willow trees.

Cycling on the street is a tricky affair. It is narrow and, at night, thronged with people.

There is a motorcycle parking lot, and one bike lot on a side street. It gets full fast.

Hence, people often park wherever they can.


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Monday, October 10, 2011

Cycling Utano Youth Hostel

Kyoto Utano Youth Hostel京都宇多野ユースホステル

Not far from Arashiyama and Daikakuji Temple in the west of Kyoto is the Utano Youth Hostel.

It is about as beautiful a hostel as one could ever hope for.

The architect has incorporated many traditional design elements: tile roof, long halls, wooden flooring, tatami rooms.

In addition, the common areas are spacious and full of light.

There is a courtyard in the back, and in the rear of the main building a tennis court.

Just across from the court is a lovely little temple, Daisenji.

For those riding towards the city, Ninnaji Temple is the first major site.

More Information

Utano Youth Hostel
Tel: 075 462 2288

Daisenji Temple
Tel: 075 463 0544

Daisenji Temple©

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

This Week in Cycling 9 October 2011

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2011年10月09日

Bicycle Visionary New York Times

Lawyers cleared after Stafford Hospital probe BBC

Bombay Bicycle Club – review Independent

Bicycles and traffic safety Japan Times

Cyclistes, attention : la selle de vélo est l'ennemie de l'érection Rue89

Sin manos El Pais

德国选手获公路自行车世锦赛男子精英计时赛冠军 Caijing

Cycling world’s elite head for first Tour of Beijing Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kyoto Machiya Nishijin

Machiya restaurant京町家西陣

Here is a quite typical Kyoto cityscape:

refurbished townhouse (machiya) with telephone wires overhead, a somewhat cheesy building exterior to the left, and small forms of personal (bicycle, scooter) transportation parked in front

It could be almost anywhere in the city, but this restaurant is in Nishijin, the city's weaving district.

The restaurant is called Vertigo, and has a fabulous interior.

The food is good, perhaps a bit expensive, but the building alone is worth the extravagance.

For those thinking of going, Vertigo is around the corner from Cafe Frosch.


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Friday, October 7, 2011

Young Kyoto Mothers Kawaramachi

Young Kyoto mothers京都若いママたち

Sunday is a major shopping day in Japan.

Many descend on central shopping areas and make a day of it.

For those who intend to get to the Shijo - Kawaramachi area in Kyoto via bicycle should park and walk from farther out. 

Cycling in this part of Kyoto is not allowed - either on the sidewalk or street.

Moreover, once in the maw of people and cars, it is difficult to extricate oneself.

Kyoto has one of the highest rates of population density in Japan, which is itself crowded. Of cities with more than 800,000 residents, only five cities have a residential density of more than 10,001 residents per square kilometer in their most crowded wards:

Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, Kawasaki, and Kyoto

And on weekends, the sidewalks on Shijo Dori and parts of Kawaramachi are barely passable on foot.

On a recent Sunday, many young mothers were out with their children.

Clad in surgical mask, tight shorts, and black tops, they are ready for anything.


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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Japanese Police Cracking Down on Fixies


Fixies (in Japan: piste bicycles, pronounced pisuto) are coming under a bit of scrutiny.

The racing type bicycles that have no gears were originally designed for the track. In French, "piste" means track.

Most of the bikes are sold with brakes in Japan, but for the fashion conscious the clean lines of a brakeless bike are hard to resist.

Thus, many young people have bought a piste and removed the brakes, which - big surprise - has lead to accidents.

In 2011 alone, according to Japanese police, there have been roughly 600 violations involving piste bikes.

That is half of the total of all bikes.

If caught, violators face fines of up to 50,000 yen.


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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Kitano Tenmangu Bicycle Shop

Bicycle Shop 北野天満宮自転車屋

Across the street from the rear of the east side of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is an old mom-and-pop bike shop.

It is a small and messy shop, and the owner rarely comes out.

The nearby shrine dominates the streetscape.

However, the shrine is not the only reason tourists visit.

Just down the block from the shop is one of Kyoto's four geisha districts.

The smallest and oldest of the four, Kamishichiken is basically one long block of tea houses, restaurants, and boutiques with traditional goods.

We like to imagine the owner is a regular (jorensan, in Kyoto dialect) - not, god forbid, unknown (ichigensan) to the establishment and therefore denied entry - at one or more of the tea houses, and spends his evenings carousing with the maiko and geisha until the wee hours.

Then, the next day, he dons his workman's smock and is back fixing flat tires.


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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Osaka Castle Moat

Osaka Castle Moat大阪城の近く

Osaka Castle is the great historical attraction in Japan's second city.

Aside from the geographical layout of the city - canals, port, hills, etc. - little remains of pre-War Osaka.

(A friend who was born and raised in Osaka, married a US Serviceman in the early 1950s, and spent 50 years in the US, upon returning in the late 1990s said the only familiar aspects of the city were the street names and dialect.)

The Castle, however, miraculously survived US Air Force raids of March 13th and 14th, 1945. (It also survived several later raids, in June and August, as well.)

The rest of the city was flattened when 274 B29 bombers dropped napalm - incendiary - bombs on a wooden and paper city.

Today Osaka Castle is beacon of sorts, ensconced in a large relaxed green park, surrounded by buildings, buildings, buildings.

The image of the castle is visible in the reflection of the building pictured above right.


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Monday, October 3, 2011

Cycling Gojo Rakuen Kyoto

Gojo Rakuen自転車で五条楽園

When prostitution was made illegal in Japan in 1958, many of the old red light areas faded away.

They have of course been replaced by other, non-officially sanctioned, areas.

The older areas have been torn down and or rebuilt, and are today mostly drab residential areas that give off no whiff of their former selves.

Kyoto's Shimabara is one such example.

One former red light area, though not frozen in time, does still have enough of the theaters and tea houses and older buildings to give one an idea of what the pre-1958 atmosphere was like.

Gojo Rakuen (5th Street Paradise) is located south of Gojo Dori, from Kiyamachi to the Kamo River. In the Taisho Period (1912 - 1926), it stretched south all the way to Shichijo Dori.

The area was a mix of inns, theaters, restaurants, bars, and brothels. 

Many of the buildings appear unused today. Part of that stems from the 1958 ruling. However, on October 28, 2010, five men were arrested for running brothels in the area, and as a result all of the tea houses were shuttered.

Today 15 of the original tea houses, a kabuki theater, and many old buildings remain.

Gojo Rakuen©

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bike Symbol Kyoto

Bike symbol Kyoto新しい自転車マーク

At the corner of Gojo - Horikawa in Kyoto is a tight curve that leads to a tighter situation.

After leaving the bike lane on Gojo - from the Kamo River to Horikawa - cyclists are thrown instantly back to the reality of Kyoto cycling.

First you cross a small street. Watch out for taxis and trucks.

Having crossed that, there is now a bike "lane" painted on the sidewalk and a smart little bike symbol. No problems here.

However, having enjoyed the three-second lane, the foot of a pedestrian overpass awaits.

It is narrow, and there will be pedestrians coming down the steps and from he opposite direction, on Horikawa. A cyclist may also be coming barreling down from Horikawa.

Gojo - Horikawa corner©

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cycling Osaka Castle Park

Osaka Castle自転車で大阪城へ

Osaka Castle is one of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's great legacies.

Modeled after Azuchi Castle, rival Oda Nobunaga's headquarters, Toyotomi wanted to and achieved a castle that was similar to but greater that Nobunaga's.

The castle was completed in 1597, the year Hideyoshi died.

However, the castle was destroyed shortly thereafter, in 1615, by troops loyal to Tokugawa. It was first rebuilt in the 1620s.

Disaster struck once again in the 1660s: this time lightning struck and the castle burnt down.

The current castle was built in 1931, and it managed to survive US bombing during World War II.

The castle is surrounded by moats and is located in a large urban park.

There is nothing equivalent in Kyoto. Nijo Castle is fabulous - as castles go, better - but there is no park. The Imperial Palace is a more beautiful park, but it is not as casual as the park around Osaka Castle.

Near Osaka Castle©

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