Sharing Kyoto’s feature articles

In our feature articles we dig deep into the Japanese psyche,
from seasonal topics like cherry blossoms to staples like soba noodles.

What’s happening in Kyoto

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Kyoto Oden Guide 2019 – From Classics to the Unconventional
When you're talking wintery Japanese foods, what's the first thing to come to mind? Shabu shabu? Sukiyaki? Maybe even boiled yu-dofu? Yes, while these are pretty well known overseas, there's one warm, winter Japanese dish that hasn't made its way to the food courts and sushi bars of the west. That's right, we're talking about the essential Japanese winter food–oden! This Japanese stew-like amalgam of ingredients is made up of dashi broth filled with the likes of hard boiled eggs and white daikon radish. While you'll see it at some homes, a lot of the time, people eat oden outside at food stalls and izakaya pubs with heated tables called kotatsu to warm themselves. This tradition of eating oden in winter has essentially woven itself into the winter customs of Japan. While oden is a simple dish at its core, this has opened it up to a world of innovation across the varied regions of Japan. In this oden feature, we will highlight all the fantastic and exciting aspects of oden in Kyoto. Not only because we love Kyoto, but because the area in and around Kyoto is one of the coldest in Japan, so naturally, winter just isn't complete here without oden. Take a look over all parts of the feature and see everything from veteran oden restaurants beloved by Kyoto locals, to the best places to grab a drink with your oden and enjoy something a little out of the ordinary.

Seasonal Kyoto

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Eat hot food to get through the cold winter of Kyoto!
When the cold winter winds howl in Kyoto, and the temperatures drop below 10 degrees, it truly starts to feel freezing. But worry not! With a hot pot dish and some hot noodles, you’re going to be able to get through the winter in Kyoto. There are udon and soba noodles, yudofu, hot pot, and hot drinks for you to enjoy here, so there is something for everyone, so come join me on my trip to find out about the most heart and body warming dishes in Kyoto!
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Leading You to Plum Blossom's Season in Kyoto
If you visit Kyoto in the spring, you are sure to love the exquisitely beautiful scenery of cherry blossoms in full bloom. However, cherry blossoms are not the only beautiful flowers you can see in Kyoto during springtime. In the Edo period, the common people enjoyed singing a short folk song that starts with the line “The plum blossoms have bloomed?” The song continues “Is it time for the cherry blossoms yet?” This expresses the anticipation for the cherry blossom season among people who felt the blooming of plum blossoms marked the coming of spring. Plum blossoms are the earliest sign of the arrival of spring, and they have been beloved by the Japanese people since ancient times, sometimes even more so than cherry blossoms. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine has the greatest number and variety of plum trees of anywhere in Kyoto, and it is famed as the best place in Japan to view plum blossoms. So much so, that during the peak viewing season from early February to late March, tourists come from all over Japan to see the picturesque views of plum blossoms. Adjoining Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is a closely associated area called Kamishichiken, which, like Gion, is a hanamachi (Maiko and Geiko quarter) live that has survived in Kyoto to modern times, and where the traditional scenery has been carefully preserved almost unchanged. The Kitano Tenmangu-Kamishichiken area is unfortunately not well-known as a famous Kyoto sightseeing spot among people overseas. However, it could be said that this secluded area, with its gorgeous yet understated scenery and solemn atmosphere, is the best place to enjoy the traditional scenery and landscapes of Kyoto. Whether you are planning to visit Kyoto before the start of the cherry blossom season, or you are a major fan of Kyoto who has visited the city many times, we definitely recommend paying a visit to this area.
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Celebrate Setsubun with demons, beans, and maiko!
Every February a traditional event called Setsubun is observed in Japan. Setsubun means the changing of the season, and there are many rituals, the most famous of which is the expelling of the demon by throwing beans at it. Setsubun is a tradition that is alive and well today, before Setsubun you can find beans and demon masks at most convenience stores and supermarkets, and there are many festivals to celebrate Setsubun. Of course Setsubun is also celebrated in Kyoto, and there are many Setsubun festivals celebrated at the shrines and temples of Kyoto. There the people of Kyoto enjoy the Setsubun festivities like bean throwing. Setsubun is usually held on February 3rd, but there are also festivals and events on 2nd and 4th too. This feature is all about Setsubun! Parts one and two are about the Setsubun festivals held in Kyoto while parts three and four are about Setsubun traditions like bean throwing! If you are in Kyoto during Setsubun, I hope you will try to get into a festive spirit!

Popular spots

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Kiyomizu-dera Temple and its Surroundings
Built in 778, Kiyomizu-dera is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Situated halfway up Otowa mountain, the temple complex covers an area of about 130,000 square meters. Almost all of the buildings in the temple grounds were built around 400 years ago, and are surrounded by lush greenery (including cherry blossom in spring, and red maple leaves in fall), creating spectacular views and stunning scenery that continually attract visitors from all over the world. There is plenty to see and do within the spacious grounds of the temple, as well as attractions to enjoy before you even pass through the temple gate. For a unique, delicious, and traditional Japanese experience, this is the perfect place. If you’d like to know a little more about the best way to enjoy Kiyomizu-dera and its surroundings, please bear with us a little longer. In this special feature article, Sharing Kyoto will introduce a unique perspective on the best way to enjoy the area in 4 parts. We would be extremely pleased if our guide goes a little way to making your visit to Kyoto a pleasurable one.
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A complete guide to Fushimi Inari Shrine
Maybe the most famous among the many sightseeing spots in Kyoto is Fushimi Inari Shrine. Many people head to the shrine to see the mysterious sight of the countless torii gates and the many foxes guarding the shrine. But Fushimi Inari Shrine is not only about torii gates and foxes, there is a lot more to the over 1000-year old shrine. By reading this feature article you will get a better sense of what Fushimi Inari Shrine really is about, like: What is Fushimi Inari Shrine’s history like? Why are there shrines all the way up the mountain? Why are there so many foxes at Fushimi Inari Shrine? And why are there so many torii gates? What are the most popular Fushimi Inari Shrine souvenirs? You will find the answers to these questions and more by clicking on the links below:
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Time to change to a kimono and go for a walk in Gion!
Among the sightseeing spots of Kyoto, one of the most popular ones is Gion. But do you know why Gion is known as the geisha district of Kyoto? And what is the difference between maiko and geisha, or geiko as they are called in Kyoto? We are going to find out, and on the way we are also going to rent a kimono, go to the shrines and temples of Gion, and finish with some fine dining establishments with Michelin stars. So, it is time to start our trip to the traditional hanamachi of Gion!

Culture of Kyoto

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The shrines and temples of Kyoto and their traditional Japanese sweets!
There are many shrines and temples in Kyoto, many of them World Heritage Sites, so a huge number of tourists visit them every year. But did you know that some of these places of worship have their own Japanese sweet they’re famous for? In Japanese, these treats are called “Sweets sold in front of the temple gates,” which as you can probably guess, is where most of the places selling these sweets are located. These sweets are great to have when at the temple, or you can eat them later at your hotel. In this article, we take a look at what kinds of shrine-sweets you can have in Kyoto, and what they have to do with the shrine! So come with Vanessa and find out which are the best shrine-sweets in Kyoto!
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Extraordinary Kaiseki Dinner in Kyoto
What is “Washoku”? When posed with that question, what comes to your mind? Sushi? Tempura? Or ramen? Japanese food comes in many forms. There is a diverse range of popular foods and trendy foods, and Japanese food has also rapidly undergone a myriad of changes in response to the trend of the times. But even so, can new cuisine that have evolved with incorporations of the current culture and trends be really called Japanese food? Does this “Washoku” that was registered as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage in 2013 include ramen and curry rice? UNESCO does not define “Washoku” as a reference to the menu itself. Instead, it refers to a hearty, balanced menu that cherishes the four beautiful seasons, respects nature and enjoyed with customs that seek its harmonious coexistence. These spiritual and aesthetic consciousness is a unique culture of Japanese cuisine and this is what was registered as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. In this way, it is precisely this expression of the transitions of the four seasons and respect for the original flavours of the ingredients that make a meal “Washoku”. So, where exactly should one dine at in order to experience the charms of “Washoku”, the traditional food culture of the Japanese people? The answer is none other than Kyoto. There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is because Kyoto is known as the “Home of Washoku”. On that note, this time’s feature will be about the Washoku restaurants in Kyoto that have been loved in the past and is still loved today. I will write about the following four points to showcase the beauty of Washoku: “Kaiseki cuisine,” traditional Kyoto Washoku that more prominently brings out the allure of Washoku, hot and popular Washoku in Kyoto evolving day by day, Washoku that can be enjoyed lightheartedly, as well as ways to enjoy Sake, the perfect drink to go with Washoku.
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The tea culture of Kyoto
The tea culture of Kyoto is very old, and you can even find the oldest tea field in Kyoto in the area of Takao, at the World Heritage Site of Kosan-ji Temple. Tea ceremony and matcha are maybe the most important part of tea in Kyoto, but there are also many other types of delicious teas in Koyto, some with a lot of umami, some with a more grassy taste, and some that have a nice smokiness to them. Read below if you want to know more about the types of teas you can find in Kyoto, like gyokuro, kabusecha, sencha, hojicha, and many more.

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