Category Archives: Kyoto

An In-between Day on Kyoto’s Ainomachi

Source: deep kyoto

This month our friend, Edward J. Taylor, continues his exploration of Kyoto’s modern and historical streets with a walk along Ainomachi.

A traditional inn

“Do you Kyoto?” is a slogan seen frequently throughout the city, one puzzling both to its residents, who may not grasp the English, and its foreign guests, who are not quite sure of the vague sentiment. It becomes a point of derision to many, including this writer. What it refers to of course is the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, prodding us all in a nanny-like way about what we are doing to meet the agreement’s CO2 goals.

In a similar spirit, I think that the name of one of the city’s streets, Ainomachi, would make a good tourist slogan, if only the character for ‘Ai’ read ‘Love,’ ala “I Red Heart on Apple iOS 12.1 NY”. Sadly, kanji is oft times a spoiler, and the characters instead read “The neighborhood between,” causing us once again to throw up our hands and cry “Between what?”

Toyotomi Hideyoshi has the answer, for it was he who insisted on a street being built between Takakura Street and Higashinotōin Street. Both these adjacent streets had their roots in the Heian period, as the sites of former estates of famous nobility. The latter, belonging to Fujiwara Michinaga, is said to have eventually evolved into the Imperial Palace itself.

But for my own purposes today, Ainomachi’s southern end stands between a carpark and a carpark. That is to say, the entire half block below Shichijō has been paved over into a parking lot now, an act so recent that Google Maps has yet to make the correction.

I wander away from its fenced in enclosure, to quickly find another reference to wheeled vehicles. The kurumaishi were grooves cut into stone that allowed …continue reading

    

An In Between Day on Kyoto’s Ainomachi

Source: deep kyoto

This month our friend, Edward J. Taylor, continues his exploration of Kyoto’s modern and historical streets with a walk along Ainomachi.

A traditional inn

“Do you Kyoto?” is a slogan seen frequently throughout the city, one puzzling both to its residents, who may not grasp the English, and its foreign guests, who are not quite sure of the vague sentiment. It becomes a point of derision to many, including this writer. What it refers to of course is the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, prodding us all in a nanny-like way about what we are doing to meet the agreement’s CO2 goals.

In a similar spirit, I think that the name of one of the city’s streets, Ainomachi, would make a good tourist slogan, if only the character for ‘Ai’ read ‘Love,’ ala “I Red Heart on Apple iOS 12.1 NY”. Sadly, kanji is oft times a spoiler, and the characters instead read “The neighborhood between,” causing us once again to throw up our hands and cry “Between what?”

Toyotomi Hideyoshi has the answer, for it was he who insisted on a street being built between Takakura Street and Higashinotōin Street. Both these adjacent streets had their roots in the Heian period, as the sites of former estates of famous nobility. The latter, belonging to Fujiwara Michinaga, is said to have eventually evolved into the Imperial Palace itself.

But for my own purposes today, Ainomachi’s southern end stands between a carpark and a carpark. That is to say, the entire half block below Shichijō has been paved over into a parking lot now, an act so recent that Google Maps has yet to make the correction.

I wander away from its fenced in enclosure, to quickly find another reference to wheeled vehicles. The kurumaishi were grooves cut into stone that allowed …continue reading

    

Crafting Tatami in 21st Century Kyoto: An Interview with Mitsuru Yokoyama

Source: deep kyoto

Today we have a special guest post from our old friend, Lisa Y. Allen.

Traditional Japanese Craftsmanship: Tatami in the 21st Century
An interview with award-winning tatami craftsman, Mitsuru Yokoyama

Tatami is a rush-covered straw mat used for flooring and dates back to the Nara Period when the word, tatami, first appeared in the Kojiki, the oldest Japanese book written in 712. Originally a luxury item available only to the wealthy, tatami were thin handmade mats that could be rolled up or placed on top of wooden flooring for the highest aristocrats and nobles to use as seating. In the Muromachi Period (1336–1573), nobles started to spread and install tatami to cover entire floors, and these rooms became known as zashiki, measured by the number of tatami mats that could be configured to fit in a room. In the 16th century, Sen no Rikyu, the founding tea master in Japan, began incorporating tatami in tea rooms, and by the 17th century tatami was common-place and could be found in everyday homes. Even to this day regardless of whether a floor is wooden, carpeted or tatami, rooms in Japan, are measured by tatami fit — for example, “a 6-mat room.” In recent years, however, the demand for tatami has decreased as young people opt for easy-to-clean, modern flooring. Similar to other traditional Japanese crafts, the tatami industry is having to find ways to evolve and adjust to a new market.

Mitsuru Yokoyama.

A little while ago Lisa Allen sat down for a talk with award-winning tatami craftsman, Mitsuru Yokoyama. Mr. Yokoyama creates tatami for temples and shrines in Kyoto as well as catering to an increasing demand for tatami abroad. He lives in Kyoto with his wife and children.

Lisa Allen: How did you become a tatami shokunin (craftsman)?

Mitsuru Yokoyama: I was living in Australia and working as a …continue reading

    

Writers in Kyoto Fourth Annual Writing Competition

Source: deep kyoto

Thanks to Karen Lee Tawarayama for sending in details of the Fourth Annual Writing Competition conducted by our inexhaustible friends at Writers in Kyoto.

◆THEME: Kyoto (English language submissions only)
◆DEADLINE: March 31st, 2019 (Midnight JST)
◆GENRE: Short Shorts (unpublished material only)
◆WORD LIMIT: 300 Words (to fit on a single page)
◆FORM: Short poems, character studies, essays, travel tips, whimsy, haiku sequence, haibun, wordplays, dialogue, experimental verse, etc. In short, anything that helps show the spirit of place in a fresh light.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS
●Limited to one submission per person
●You do not need to be located in Kyoto to participate. We accept submissions from anywhere in the world.
●Must be submitted by Microsoft Word attachment file. (Submissions by PDF attachment are NOT accepted.)
●At the top of the Microsoft Word attachment (not in the body of the e-mail), please include the following: Full Name, E-mail Contact, Nationality, Current Residence (Town, Country).
●Please accept your Microsoft Word attachment file to: kyotowritingcompetition2019@gmail.com

TOP PRIZES INCLUDE:
[First Prize] ¥30,000, Kyoto Craft, publication on the Writers in Kyoto website, and inclusion in the Writers in Kyoto Anthology
[Second and Third Prize] Kyoto Craft, Zen Gardens and Temples of Kyoto, publication on the Writers in Kyoto website, and inclusion in the Writers in Kyoto Anthology

PUBLISHING RIGHTS/COPYRIGHT:
Writers in Kyoto reserves the right to publish entries on its website. Winning entries will be eligible for publication in the WiK Anthology. Authors retain the copyright of their own work.

LOCAL PRIZES INCLUDE:
[USA Local Prize] Quiet Beauty: The Japanese Gardens of North America by Kendall H. Brown

(Kyoto crafts are generously provided by the Kyoto City Tourism Association. Quiet Beauty is awarded by the Japan-America Society of Greater Philadelphia. This competition is also sponsored by the Kyoto Journal and Kyoto …continue reading