Nov. 14, 2019 UPDATE

5 Kyoto mysteries! Do you know them all?

When sightseeing in Kyoto, pay attention to your surroundings. You may notice some mysterious things!

Kyoto is the capital of thousand years, so of course there are countless sightseeing spots in this ancient city. But have you noticed that there are some things that are not quite, hot to say it, normal? Like mini torii gates on the walls of buildings? And have you heard of people jumping from the stage of Kiyomizu Temple? And have you heard what ochazuke tells of your personality? Sharing Kyoto’s Vanessa is going to find out, so stay tuned!

1Do people jump from the stage of Kiyomizu Temple? Kiyomizu TempleKiyomizu Temple is one of the places you must go it’s your first time in Kyoto. But have you heard of a strange saying about the temple?

the stageThere’s a Japanese saying that goes “Do things with the readiness to jump from the stage of Kiyomizu Temple” which is used when you are putting absolutely everything into what you’re doing. It also comes from the belief that if you jump down from the stage and survive, your wish will become true.

It looks very scaryIt looks very scary when you look up to the stage! But surprisingly, around 85 percent of the 234 people who have jumped from the stage survived. This is said to have been because of the many trees that used to grow below the stage and the soft ground. Jumping from the stage was forbidden in 1872, and after that no one has jumped from the stage.

2The complicated story behind the people of Kyoto and ochazukeochazukeThe people of Kyoto are famous for their carefulness with words. They don’t say anything directly to you. Take for example the simple dish of ochazuke, you have rice, tea, and dashi. But when after eating dinner you’re asked if you’d like some ochazuke, the meaning is, “It’s about time for you to leave.” If you happen to say yes to the question, you may be considered a bit cheeky.

You should consider going home alreadyBut this is actually just the way people of Kyoto are being polite. It would be a bit too frank to just say “You should consider going home already” but if you say ochazuke, the implication is understood and everything goes smoothly. But ochazuke in Kyoto is really delicious, so you should still try it somewhere.

3What’s with McDonald's in Kyoto? McDonaldEveryone likes McDonald's and their teriyaki burgers in Japan, but did you know that McDonald's in Kyoto looks a bit different? Before you go to McDonald's in Kyoto, take a good look outside. The McDonalds signs are not red, but black! The yellow M looks the same, but the signs are a bit different.

LawsonThe Japanese convenience store chain Lawson’s stores look even more different. They have lost the blue of their logo, and now the convenience store goes pretty well with the traditional surroundings. This store is the one just across from Yasaka Shrine. This is something you can only see in Kyoto!

4What’s this? A miniature torii gate! A miniature torii gate! If you’re walking near Gion or Kiyomizu Temple, you’ll get to see miniature torii gates on the walls of buildings if you’re careful. But do you know why there are so many miniature torii gates? Actually, they’re there to prevent people from relieving themselves by the wall!

a small sign

If you go to subway Shijo Station in Kyoto, you’ll also get to see a small sign with a torii sign on it. This is also there to stop people from peeing at the station.

Are there really people in Kyoto that would do that? Before writing this article, I always wondered why there are so many miniature signs in Kyoto. Now I know!

5The sky feels so vast in Kyoto! Why’s that?The sky feels so vast in Kyoto!When walking in Kyoto, I always feel happy when I take a look at the sky. It’s so vast. It feels like you get to see more sky here than in many other cities, and that’s because there are tight rules about how high buildings in Kyoto can be. Most buildings are only allowed to be five stories tall. This is especially important when it comes to the Kyoto summer tradition of Gozan no Okuribi when bonfires which form Chinese characters and symbols are lit up at the mountains of Kyoto.

some hotels
But recently some hotels have gotten permissions to build taller buildings, but the people of Kyoto have not been happy about this. So you can see how seriously the people of Kyoto take the view you get of the sky!
Vanessa[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]
Kyoto is one of the culture capitals of the world, and I’m sure that you will be charmed by this vibrant city when you come here. I think the most important part is that there are very few tall buildings so that the view of the city is kept the way it used to be, and the old temples and pagodas still look very tall. So, which one of these five mysteries surprised you the most?
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