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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Japanese Shimekazari New Year Decoration

Japanese New Year Decoration七五三飾り

At the end of December, Japanese decoreat their front door with a "shime kazari."

This is a knitted rope made from rice straw with strips of folded white paper ("shide") that zigzag across the straw.

They are similar to shimenawa, which can be found at Shinto shrines. Their purpose to inform supplicants and other visitors that s/he is now entering a sacred space, and moreover to chase away the evil spirits. According to an old neighbor, the shimakezari serves the same purpose.

The decorations come in many sizes and price ranges. Most opt for a simple decoration, similar to the one pictured above.

And with that, CycleKyoto wishes all a happy, healthy, and sacred year of the dragon.


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Friday, December 30, 2011

Murakami Sweets Teramachi Kyoto

Murakami Bakery Teramachi村上開新堂京都

Founded in 1904, Murakami is a cookie and sweets institution in Kyoto.

The shop is located on Teramachi north of Nijo Dori, which is between City Hall and the Imperial Palace.

It is the oldest western style pastry maker in Kyoto.

The shop has a pre-War vibe and is a real step back in time. The floor is made of tiles, and the cookies are kept in old-time glass jars.

Murakami is a known for its "Russian Cookies." Many of the cookies bring to mind the buttery cookies grandmom made: melt in your mouth delicious and topped with raisins, chocolate, and other items.

Much of Teramachi is lined with interesting shops: used book shops, restaurants, bamboo goods, a wonderful liquor store, the city's pellet shop (for heating), clothing shops.


Open 10 am - 18 pm
Closed holidays and the third Monday of the month
075 231 1058

Murakami Bakery Teramachi Kyoto©

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Window Decoration Near Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto

Kyoto window decoration下鴨神社近くの窓飾り

Close to the south entrance of Shimogamo Shrine is a block of opulent homes that back onto the Takano River just before it flows into the Kamo River.

Within one of them was a window that had been filled with a table, screen, and vase in which there was a bright red floral decoration.

Several of the houses in the neighborhood has similar, purpose-built windows that faced the street. These are common in older homes in central Kyoto, in which there are flowers or byobu screens or something decorative for the benefit of those walking by.

On a cold gray day, the lighting and red were a welcome sight.

The torii gates below announce that you are entering sacred ground, the shrine itself.

For those interested in cycling there, from the Eiden Demachiyanagi train station, ride west across the bridge. At the first street on the right, turn right (north).

Near Shimogamo Shrine©

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Demachiyanagi Kyoto Shrine

Kyoto Shrine Demachiyanagi出町柳神社

A stone's throw from the Kamo River on the Imperial Palace side is this small shrine.

It does not appear on Google maps and is but a small neighborhood shrine.

The plain cement torii gate, two lanterns, simple garden within - and requisite bike parked out front - give it a certain charm.

It sits next to a garden shop, in front of which vegetables and herbs were lined up for perusal.

The garden shop has the heady smell of soil, fertilizer, bulbs, and tools.

It fronts the west bank of the Kamo River, just north of the Demachiyanagi Bridge.


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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cycling Under the Japanese Bullet Train Video Kyoto


On a cold day, we rode down the bike path on the Katsura River, in Kyoto.

After a bit, the bridge for the  bullet train came upon us.

Fortuitously, the Intrada 80S/930 camera, attached to the helmet, was ready to roll.

This is along the Katsura River on the bike path about 5 km from Arashiyama.

More Kyoto cycling videos.


Cycling Under the Bullet Train Kyoto Route

If the map does not load when using Internet Explorer (IE) on a Windows PC, please hold down the "Control" key and refresh the page

View Cycling Under the Bullet Train Kyoto in a larger map


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Monday, December 26, 2011

Book Review Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities


Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities

Cyclist and writer Jeff Mapes rides and documents his way around the US with a detour to bike heaven: Holland.

Unlike Europe and Japan - where cycling has remained more practical than political - the act of cycling in many parts of the United States by an adult bicycle verges on being a political statement. In much of western Europe and certainly Japan

Mapes visits Amsterdam, Portland, Davis (California), San Francisco, New York, and other places and reports on the state of cycling and regional cycling cultures.

A good read with keen insight on the state of cycling, particularly in the US.

Buy on Amazon USA


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Sunday, December 25, 2011

This Week in World Cycling 25 December 2011

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2011年12月25日

Bicyclists may be inhaling twice as much soot as pedestrians Los Angeles Times

Sports Personality of the Year 2011: Mark Cavendish wins BBC award BBC

Save our cyclists with Dutch courage Guardian

Test of Metal set for 2012 edition Cycling News

Conseils de sécurité Vélo Québec

Señoras que... pedalean El Pais

塞舌尔 印度洋上的宁静交响 Caijing


Norway’s Hagen signs 3-year deal with Team Sky Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Museum Eki KYOTO Hokusai Exhibit

hokusai exhibit生誕250年記念展「北斎の富士 冨嶽三十六景と冨嶽百景」

The Kyoto Eki Bijutsukan, located on the 7th floor of the Kyoto Station Building, will be hosting an exhibit of works by Hokusai.

Hokusai is perhaps the preeminent ukiyoe painter. He lived from 1760 - 1849; the exhibit is a celebration of the 250th anniversary of his birth.

Hokusai lived to almost 90 and painted women, historical scenes, natural scenes, samurai, satirical works known as tanka, and more.

However, Hokusai is best known - both within Japan and abroad - for his depictions of Mount Fuji.

This exhibition will feature many of Hokusai's works, both the Fuji works and others.


The Museum Eki KYOTO is open from 10 am - 8 pm. The entrance fee is 700 yen for adults. The exhibit runs from January 2 - 22.


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Friday, December 23, 2011

Pontocho Kyoto

Pontocho Street Kyoto自転車で先斗町

Pontocho is one of Kyoto's licensed geisha areas. Thus, along the narrow atmospheric street are tea houses where geisha and maiko perform and entertain.

Many other restaurants and bars also line the street, so it is thronged with people every night.

Cycling is not an option except in the very early hours of morning. Even then it is a bit dodgy: if someone were to come out of a shop just as a cyclist was passing, the ending would not be good. There is no room to avoid a collision.

Hence, this street is a park-and-walk place. There is a lot on nearby Kiyamachi Dori.

Ponotcho runs north-south and is a tight alley that lies between the Kamo River and Kiyamachi in central Kyoto.

The name is thought to derive from the Portuguese "ponto" (point) and Japanese "cho" (neighborhood). The flowers of the night - geisha and maiko - have been working in the tea houses here since the 16th century. In the distant past, prostitution also was common on the street. Today that is not the case.

At the northern end of the street is the Pontocho Kaburenjo (pictured below), a theater in which geisha have performed twice annually since the 1870s.

Pontocho Kaburencho Theater©

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bicycles Parked on Kawaramachi Kyoto

Kawaramachi Kyoto河原町で駐輪した自転車

On a stretch of Kawaramachi Dori, in central Kyoto, cycling is not permitted on the sidewalk or the street itself.

Cycling on the sidewalk would be an act of both masochism and sadism. Because of the high volume of pedestrian traffic, it is not possible to ride at speed or at all. Also, you would probably hit someone.

However, for those who come in off of Kiyamachi via a side street, there is parking along the railing on Kawaramachi.

The light pink paving hard by the railing indicates that bicycles are allowed to park.

This picture was taken in front of the BAL department store.


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Wednesday, December 21, 2011



One of the great areas for cycling in Kyoto is Arashiyama.

For more information, in Japanese (with a link to an English page), here is a page on riding from to Adashino nenbutsu Temple:

Arashiyama to Adashino Nenbutsu


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kobe Port Island Bicycles

Kobe Port Island神戸ポートイランド自転車

Port Island is a manmade island in the harbor of Kobe, Japan.

It is literally a world apart.

It is home to a large expatriate population, the elite Canadian Academy school, a German school, and many shopping malls and highrise apartments.

On a visit to the Kobe Fashion Museum, we kept an eye out for bike and cyclists.

Compared to other urban spaces in Japan, it was pretty bleak. Though the streets are wide and traffic relatively light, there were not many cyclists on the ride.


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Monday, December 19, 2011

Kyoto Hiking Ninnaji Temple 88 Temples Route

Kyoto 88 Temple Pilgrimage京都ハイキング八十八ケ所霊場

Surrounded by hills and mountains, Kyoto has many great hiking spots.

Among them is the short trail behind Ninnaji Temple, which is modeled on and named for Japan's most famous hiking trail: the 88 temple trek on Shikoku Island.

The trail in Shikoku consists of 88 temples, spaced around the island. It is the best-known pilgrimage route in Japan and takes roughly three months to walk. Many do so in white pilgrim's wear.

In Kyoto, a much shorter version exists in the hills behind Ninnaji.

It is called 88 Kasho, mirroring the name of the hike in Shikoku.

Even at a slow pace, it will take an hour at best. At the top, it affords views of the entire city.

To get to the trail head, walk out the rear exit of Ninnaji Temple. From there contnue up the narrow street into the woods. A small "temple" will come into view. There are a total of 88, and the trail can be hiked in either direction.


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Sunday, December 18, 2011

This Week in World Cycling 18 December 2011

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2011年12月18日

A Workout Where You’d Least Expect It New York Times

Top Manx cyclists join together to make training films BBC

Guardian Focus podcast: are Britain's roads safe for cyclists? Guardian

Cyclingnews Fitness Q&A - December 16, 2011 Cycling News

Circulation urbaine : le piéton ne pèse pas lourd Rue89

Pedalear a la danesa El Pais

房价因小吃而改变:沙县房价赶上厦门 Caijing

池袋 自転車 バイクで罰金は嫌だ!(自行车的罚款讨厌!)YouTube

4-year ban requested for Androni manager Savio Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book Review: It's all about the bike


It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness On Two Wheels

This book should be on every cyclist's bedside table.

Robert Penn is a very serious bicycle traveler. He has put in some 25,000 miles on a bike. Now entering middle age, he is in search of the "perfect" bicycle - and documents it in It's All about the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels.

Penn seeks out the world's best craftsmen and parts to have a bespoke bicycle built for him.

"I want a bike that shows my appreciation of the tradition, lore and beauty of bicycles."

En route, he takes the reader on a trip through cycling history, beginning with the 1817 Draisine that is thought to be the first bicycle (Japanese historians beg to differ).

All About the Bike is a wonderful book, full of facts, quotes, information, and illustrations.

Buy on Amazon USA


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Friday, December 16, 2011

Osaka Cycle Tour March 18 2012

Cycle Mode International Osaka 2011大阪サイクルエベント

Kansai cyclists mark you calendars.

March 18 of next year will be a chance to ride either a 30 km course that leapfrogs three of the manmade islands in Osaka Bay.

The 30 km course is the "Sports Bike Course;" a second course, "general course," is 10 km.

The ride begins at Intex Osaka.

The fee for the 30 km course is a 7,000 yen, 1,000 yen for the 10 km course. Bring your wallet.

Registration is until December 16 (today). However, because of demand, there will be a lottery for those who have registered for the ride.

The course is normally off-limits to cyclists and, weather permitting, should be a great ride.

Osaka is a good city for cycling, and this event has become more and more popular.


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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tokyo Police Cracking Down on Cycling

shibuya, tokyo, street東京警察自転車対策

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police have announced measures intended to reduce the number of rogue cyclists.

The plan will introduce fines and other measures against dangerous cycling.

The plan will be implemented on January 1, 2012, and includes citations for those riding bicycles without brakes.

Moreover, cyclists who ride and use headphones and or a cell phone at the same time will be warned.


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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kobe Japan Cosplay Girls


Two young girls preened in front of a camera that one controlled with a remote control. And many more were nearby.

Over the weekend a "cosplay" (costume play) convention was held at the Kobe Fashion Museum.

Many young women, and a few men, were decked out in outrageous costumes.

The young women above right were both holding boxes of Pocky chocolate sticks.

When asked about the connection between the chocolate sticks and their attire, one said "We are totally yummy, just like the chocolate sticks." And her friend nodded in agreement.

Then it was off to the Kobe Fashion Museum.


Kobe Fashion Museum
9, 2-chome, Koyocho-naka, Higashinada
Kobe 658-0032
Telephone: 078 858 0050

Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Admission Fee: 500 yen

Kobe Fashion Musuem©

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kiyamachi Kyoto Red Bicycle

Kiyamachi Kyoto木屋町赤い自転車

We love this bike.

A sporty red Giant with upturned handlebar grips, it was parked on a bridge on Kiyamachi Dori.

Fall this year has been warm, so the leaves even in early December are just starting to change.

Strategically placed behind the bike - and not staged - is a floor mat from a nearby bar or restaurant.

The owner of the establishment has hung it out to air or dry before business hours start in the evening.

The bridge is just south of Sanjo Dori with the Takase Canal in the background.

Behind the bike and to the left, there is a modern building designed by Tadao Ando.


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Monday, December 12, 2011

Kyoto Public Bath Kyogokuyu

Kyogoku sento Kyoto京都銭湯京極湯

Kyoto's neighborhood public baths are not dead yet.

Indeed, compared to other Japanese cities, the humble public bath seems to be holding on in Kyoto.

This bath, off Senbon Dori in north central Kyoto, is an old place that is worth a visit.

Most of the bathers are regulars and of a certain age, so visitors may be in for a bit of Japanese language practice.


Open 3 pm - midnight; closed Mondays
From the corner of Senbon - Nakadatchiuri, walk or ride one block east on Nakadachiuri. At the first small street turn left (north). After a few small blocks it is on the right.
Fee: 410 yen


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Sunday, December 11, 2011

This Week in World Cycling 11 December 2011

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2011年12月11日

After a Son Is Killed, Facing a Police Runaround New York Times

Emma Pooley seeks higher profile for women's cycling BBC

How two wheels and a camera recreated Tron light ribbons Guardian

Hall goes solo on global cycling record attempt Cycling News

Boris, technicien Vélib pour 1357 euros net hors primes Rue89

Guerrilla Lane El Pais

刚果:木头自行车畅销 Caijing

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz! (Now With Electronic Shifting!) Bike Snob

Top 10 Gifts for Cyclists Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, December 10, 2011

High School Boys Cycling in Kyoto

Students cycling Kyoto京都でチャリ乗っている高校生

The school day is over! Ah, the joys of youth.

A group of high school boys, clad in their "gakuran" - old style uniforms - pound their all purpose "mama chari" bikes home or to who knows where near Taishogun Shrine.

The bikes have no gears, a simple basket, and almost never break down.

They all flashed smiles at me when I took their picture.


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Friday, December 9, 2011

Taishogun Shrine Flea Market

Taishogun Shrine Musician大将軍神社の音楽家とフリーマーケット

The small shrine known as Taishogun in north central Kyoto holds periodic flea markets in its narrow complex.

It is close to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, which holds a much better known flea market held on the 25th of every month.

Kitano Tenmangu's Tenjin-san; Kobo-san, the flea market held on the 21st of every month at Toji Shrine; and Hyakumanben are the Big Three of Kyoto flea markets.

However, small markets flourish.

Taishogun is one example, and worth a visit.

On the first Sunday of every month, from 9 am - 4 pm, a low-key flea market takes place. Sellers spread out tarps and place their goods on top.

Recently, musicians have been hired to entertain. The accordian-playing woman was friendly and talented.

Taishogun Shrine ©

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cycling Toei Uzumasa Movie Park


Toei Kyoto Studio Park is a theme park in western Kyoto city that opened in in 1975 following the closing several years before of what had been one of Japan's great film studios.

Following the Great Kanto Earthquake, in 1923, which destroyed much of Tokyo, the film industry fled to Kyoto. Kyoto became the Hollywood of Asia, where most of the great Japanese films of almost 50 years were shot, either on location or at the studios.

Many of those were "jidaigeki" (period or samurai dramas).

At Toei Kyoto Studio Park, visitors can watch filming of period dramas and television programs. The park is still a working film studio.

In addition, you can put on period costumes.

For children, there are many game and animation related attractions.


10 Uzumasa-Higashihachigaokacho
Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 616-8586

Hours: December 1 - 31, 9:30 - 16:00; January 1 - February 29, 9:30 - 16:00; March 1 - November 30, 9:00 - 17:00

Fee (in yen): 2200 adults; 1300 yen junior and senior high school students; 1100 yen for children 4 - 12


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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

CycleKyoto Partner Site GoodsFromJapan


CycleKyoto's partner site Goods From Japan has recently been updated with a new design just in time for Christmas present from Japan.

Popular gifts for Christmas are baseball caps, byobu, toy gyroscopes, and kendama.

Cycling goods from Japan are coming soon.


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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cycling Fushimi Canal Kyoto

Boat in Fushimi Canal伏見運河宇治川

Close to the Gekkeikan Museum and brewery, in Fushimi south Kyoto, is an elegant canal.

It snakes its way near several of the area's sake breweries.

In the past the canal was built so that boats carrying the sake to Kyoto, Uji, and Osaka, could sidle right up to the breweries.

Today it is possible to take a ride on canal.

The area has other sites as well, many of them related to Sakamoto Ryoma, a 19th-century revolutionary who was nearly assassinated at the nearbyTeradaya Inn.

Today the inn is a museum.


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Monday, December 5, 2011

efish Cafe Kyoto

efish cafe kyotoefishカフェ京都

On a ride through the old redlight area Gojo Rakuen, we cycled past efish cafe on Kiyamachi just south of Gojo Dori.

The cafe backs onto the Kamo River - and nearly fronts the Takase River (canal) on Kiyamachi.

There are tables out front, and elegant interior, and a very chic vibe.

Coffee, tea, sandwiches, and a lunch menu are available.

It is not a machiya cafe - towards which we are hopelessly biased - but it is fantastic modern space.


11:00 am till 10:00 pm.

TEL: 075 361 3069
FAX: 075 361 3004


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Sunday, December 4, 2011

This Week in World Cycling News 4 December 2011

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2011年12月04日

In the Fast Lane, Biking in Tel Aviv New York Times

Cyclists 'urged to get insurance' BBC

Cyclist Mark Cavendish collects MBE from Queen at Buckingham Palace Guardian

New Japanese Continental team created Cycling News

Sécher son linge, à vélo en Amérique du Sud ou en galère à la cité U Rue89

Ciclista urbano = delincuente El Pais

“自行车王国”迎来“强国机遇” Caijing

BSNYC Single Speed Quiz-Taking World Championships! Bike Snob

Ullrich doping verdict expected in January Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Kyoto Fushimi Alley

Alley Fushimi伏見の路地

According to rumor, Kyoto alleys are a dying breed.

The reason is that, once knocked down or redeveloped, they cannot be rebuilt in the same way due to revised fire codes.

On either side of this alley are small flats, probably inhabited by one person.

In the past many of these alleys - known in Japanese as "roji" - dotted the cityscape of Kyoto.

Outside of areas such as Nishijin and Fushimi, there are fewer and fewer of them.

Nearby was a classic public bath, also in danger of extinction.

Enjoy while you can.

Public Bath Fushimi Kyoto©

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Teradaya Inn Fushimi Kyoto

Teradaya Inn Kyoto寺田屋京都

Sakamoto Ryoma is perhaps the most worshiped man in Japan today.

And he has been dead for more than 150 years.

He was born a low-ranking samurai in rural Kochi Prefecture in southern Japan. In his short life - he lived until his early thirties - however, he left quite a legacy.

Prior to being assassinated in central Kyoto on his thirty-third birthday, in December 1867, he organized a band of warriors and attempted to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate.

In March of the same year, assailants attacked and nearly killed Ryoma at the Teradaya Inn, in Fushimi, Kyoto.

As the site of the actual assassination - the Omiya Inn - no longer survives (a convenience store is at the location), the Teradaya Inn attracts busloads of tourists.

The Inn is now a museum and preserved more or less as it was in the 19th century. Sword cuts from the attack on Ryoma remain in the inn.

Today he is revered as a "pure hero."


263 Minamihama-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto
Telephone : 075 622 0243
Hours: 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. (entry until 3:30 p.m.); closed Mondays

Access: Keihan Line to Chushojima Station.
Fee: 400 yen

For those cycling, it is about 45 minutes from City Hall to Fushimi.

Ryoma Teradaya©

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Nintendo Original Headquarters

Nintendo Building任天堂

On a short ride through a former redlight area known as Gojo Rakuen, we came upon the original headquarters of Nintendo.

Nintendo is of course Kyoto's best known corporation (beating out Kyocera, Rohm, Omron, Wacoal, Murata, Nidec, and many others).

The former playing card company is now the multi-billion dollar world beater based in a large corporate campus in south Kyoto.

Now revered for its Super Mario games, its origins are far more simple.

Located on side street north of Shichijo just east of Kiyamachi, the old building remains.

The company began as a card company in 1889, first called Nintendo Koppai. Nintendo made Hanafuda, which are handmade Japanese playing cards.

Until the late 1950s it was a lively area of theaters, bars, restaurants, and brothels. Since the enforcement of anti-prostitution laws, the neighborhood has settled into a quiet area. It is hard by the Kamo River, and extends south of Gojo Dori to Shichijo Dori.

Nintendo Building Kyoto©

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