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Arashiyama Hanatouro 2010 - Guide Review

One of the most famous annual winter night festival, Arashiyama Hanatouro is now in the middle of excitement!! I've guided the tourists from Canada the other day and enjoyed Arashiyama Hanatouro as nice finale of the tour!

The festival will be closing soon till this weekend (19th of Dec). If you're planning to visit Kyoto in this timing, just don't miss this special night illumination!

My one day highlight is usually be started with Arashiyama area to enjoy fresh air in its great nature, and ended up at Kiyomizu temple/Gion area to enjoy those beautiful traditional scenery with wonderful sunset! But only in this tour, I made the plan of the tour completely upside-down!

We started the tour from Kiyomizu temple area, enjoyed both sightseeing and souvenir paradise!! :)

-click on each picture to enlarge-

 After enjoyed our lunch at the quiet comfortable traditional restaurant, we've moved on to the most excited part of today's tour,

YES Arashiyama Hanatouro!!! Illuminated Bamboo!!! 

In Japan it's quite normal that small children take train or bus to school on their own. I'm always asked by the tourists when we come across such students if they are safe enough???  YES, of course most of the parents are giving their child a mobile phone or a pager for emergencies, school teachers or local people are trying to take care to watch. But this is still one of the biggest SURPRISE for overseas people!!

Autumn Colors Guide Review - Ryoanji and Takao Area - Jingo-ji, Saimyo-ji and Kozan-ji temple of World Heritage.

Kyoto's Autumn Colors has just started from last week finally! From the northern part little by little.

For a guide of nice Argentina girls, I've picked up Takao Area in the northern part of Kyoto to catch the first Autumn air! It's said that Kyoto's Autumn Colors will be begining from Takao area.

Because of the abnormal heat in this summer, I've worried about a little what would happen to this year's Autumn Colors, but no worries needed, we're welcomed by a gorgeous burning colors.

Here is the Guide Review Album of 13th of Nov.

Because Takao is in the northwest, we've started the tour from Ryoanji temple at first, the temple is open from 8:00am, so I recommend you to visit Ryoanji in the early morning, so you can enjoy more relaxing and spiritual way of viewing. You can take JR Bus from Kyoto station.

Japanese Maple (Momiji) is very tiny, so we can enjoy more detail gradation of colors than western Autumn Colors.

After refleshed spiritually in the great rock garden, we've taken the JR Bus just in front of Ryoanji temple.

In this best maple season, the bus was completely packed with the passengers like the train of rush hour, seemed no space at all to allow us to get in, but we're squeezed ourselves into the edge of the rear side of the bus. Thank you, the door was anyhow closed successfully!!

Now let's move onto the Takao tour into the world of burning color!

Hozu River Boat Tours Movie

Wonderful Boat Tour at Hozu river in Kyoto!
 In a trully fine day, I've enjoyed guiding the nice couple from America.

We've started the tour from exciting Hozu Boat Tour followed by
Romance torroko train ride from Arashiyama.
Completely relaxing joyful time on the boat! Perfect refleshing! :)

Gion Higashi Kouta (Song), Maiko Dancing with Green Tea

If you have enough time on weekend in your Kyoto travelling, I recommend you to include this Maiko Dancing in your Kyoto itinerary.

The other day, I've guided the tourists from America in Gion and by their request to see Maiko, we've enjoyed 'Meeting with Maiko' tour. She has performed for us the most popular dance at this Gion Kobu school, telling you how Kyoto is beautiful in each season in different way...

She has been just three months since her debut as Maiko, very fresh, but her performance was wonderful. Because she's already trainned for one year before debut.

I was so attracted by her each soft movement of hands and face... Actually this dance includes a small love story, too, so her facial expression includes a little shy sometimes... so cute.

For enjoying dinner with Maiko/Geiko in an authentic way, it's quite expensive like more than 600$ including the dinner, Kyoto Kaiseki. But in this 'Meeting with Maiko' tour is just 4800yen for abt one hour tour in Gion.

You can't have dinner, but enjoy nice green tea (Matcha) and then, authentic beautiful Maiko dancing like in the video up close. and enjoy taking picture with her at the end.

If you have enough itinerary and really interested to see Maiko so close in a relaxed way, not like a paparazzi chasing on the street, I recommend you to enjoy this tour. Maiko doesn't speak English, so you need an interpreter for this tour.

For more detail ===>>> Click

Kyoto Visitors? How to Process Free Guide!

Ancient Parade, "Saigu Gyoretsu" in Arashiyama

On 17th of Oct (Sun) 2010  from 12:00

SAIGU-Gyoretsu is a re-creation of the ancient ritual scene of the sacred parade of Imperial [a Royal] princess heading from Heiankyo to Ise Shrine.

After a religious ceremony in the Nonomiya shrine, women in ancient costume parade to the Togetsu Bridge in Arashiyama Area.

* Recommend best viewing spot is in front of Nonomiya shrine through the bamboo forest.

Parade route:
12pm Depart: Nonomiya shrine
12:30pm JR Saga-Arashiyama sta. ⇒ Tenryuji temple ⇒ Togetsu bridge
⇒ Nakanoshima park at 13:20pm ⇒ Togetsu bridge ⇒ The stage at 14pm

From 14:00
Sacred ritual and Ancient music and dancing will be held at the special stage.

Admission : Free
Access:  10mins walk from JR Saga-Arashiyama sta.
(abt 20mins from JR Kyoto sta. in Saga-Arashiyama line)

Kyoto Visitors? How to Process Free Guide!

★ Shoren-in Temple - Special Night Light-Up

From October 30  to  December 5, 2010

*November 10 is discontinued.

In Spring and Autumn, there are several temples which you can enjoy beautiful night light up in Kyoto, among them the exotic light illusion at Shoren-in Temple" is outstanding!!

The best season must be at around the end of November for the full Autumn colors like the picture below, but October also would be nice in the comfortable Autumn breeze. Enjoy the solemn, but romantic light world...

Shoren-in temple is one of the five Monzeki temples, meaning the head priests originally belonged to the imperial family. So the look of the temple is solemn and peaceful like Imperial Palace...

This temple is very famous for its breathtaking night light up show of the garden.

Shorenin temple is dedicated to the Shijoko Nyorai (Buddha).

The Shijoko Nyorai signifies Light itself, and Fudomyo-o, one of his embodiments, is followed by fire. Thus, particularly light is regarded as being divine.

So these show is intended to recreate the graceful and elegant image of the temple itself which at times served as a seat of emperor.

Right after you step in, its mysterious world will spread in front of you! Welcome its pure and sacred land...

Especially, you would be amazed the circular pond is to be magnificently lit up!!

Opening Hours:
(Day session)    9am to 5pm (entry accepted until 4:30pm)
(Night session)  6pm to 10pm(entry accepted until 9:30pm)

Admission fees:
Adults - 800yen (for night session)
* In the day time you can be offered Matcha green tea at the temple if you pay extra 500yen.

Kyoto Visitors?
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Kyoto Night Cruise (Yoru Bus) Bus Tour

Enjoy a Tour of Kyoto's Enchanting Night Scenery by Bus!

If you visit Kyoto in the evening and interested to do something night sightseeing, or you don't have enough days like one night in Kyoto and impossible to see all the famous sites at once in your itinerary, this night bus tour must be something nice experience to try!

Please noted: The serbive is only on every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and National holidays.

Adults 1,600 yen, Children (7 to 12 years old) 800 yen,

If you pay extra for English audio guide: 2,100 yen
* 300yen discount! If you bring the leaflet or other unlimited travel passes. Read more detail below. 

You can make the reservation three days in advance, or if you don't mind even no guarantee for the seat availability, you can just visit the pick-up point in time.

Online Reservation (English okay):   >>> Click  
Or by Telephone: 075-662-1700 (MK Travel)

The cruise is around one hour and half. Jut be sitting back and relaxed! You will be taken around UNESCO World Heritage sites including To-ji Temple (1), Nishi-Honganji Temple (2) and Nijo Catsle (3), as well as Heian Jingu Shrine (10) and Yasaka Shrine (13). Including Shijo Kawaramachi and the Gion district, at the heart of this ancient city.

The purple line is the round tour route. A,B,C,D,E,F is pick-up points.

The bus will take you to the sights above one by one quickly like highlight tour. Unfortunately you can't get off the bus to take the pictures, but just enjoy the magical night lit-up sites through the window. Buildings are illuminated at different times during the year (other than 16th of every month)! Especially The Heian Jingu Shrine will be lit up wonderfully only for this bus tour! 

                         Pick-Up Point                            Departure  Drop-off

It's a little trickey, but there's no bus stop stand for each stop, but please find the mark of the rabbit! and then, the bus driver holding this rabbit lantern will be coming at departure time!

Get Discount!
Print out this pdf leaflet and show the driver for 100yen discounted.
English-English Leaflet(639KB)

Also, you will be getting another 300yen discount if you show a valid passes like JR pass, Kyoto Sightseeing One or Two-day Pass, 500yen of All-Day Bus Pass etc if you have!

Enjoy your special Kyoto sightseeing at night version! Don't forget to bring a nice camera for night view... :)

Kyoto Visitors? How to Process Free Guide!

Kiyomizu temple Festival, "Seiryu-e" (Blue Dragon Dance)

"Seiryu-e" is very famous annual festival at Kiyomizu temple in Spring and Autumn.

Very lucky, I could record this video when I'was guiding the tourists at Kiyomizu temple in this Spring.

Seiryu, a dragon, is said to drink the waterfall in Kiyomizu Temple.

Colorful parade of the blue dragon with people in traditional costume.
So spiritual and authentic mood...
Just join this festival in coming September and purify your body through powerful dragon dancing!

In Spring
15th, 16th and 17th of March and 3rd of Apr

In Autumn
15th, 16th and 17th of September.

Time: from 14:00pm
Location: at Kiyomizu temple.

Kyoto Visitors? How to Process Free Guide!

★ Boat Tours down Hozu River

As for Kyoto sightseeing, visiting temples, shrines are one of the MUST, but another MUST I recommend is to experience a great nature of Kyoto!

Arashiyama area is well-known for its peaceful nature. Hozu River Boat Excursions is the best way to enjoy the great nature up close with a relaxing mood.

Enjoy the surrounding great mountain view and in these boat tour, you can save the energy without tired from walking!

In ancient days like more than 1000years ago, "Recreational boat rides" had been enjoyed only by the noble aristcrats.

Around 400years ago, the river has been used for water transportation, and then now, very popular for tourism. One of the three famous boat tours in Japan.

Especially in Spring and Autumn, those wonderful Sakura or Maple trees will give you a breathtaking scenery.

It's worth experiencing if you have one extra day in the nice season!

The boat tour is about two hours along 16km of rapids. Enjoy peaceful air.

If you have JR pass, you can get to Kameoka sta. directly for the boat boarding. But if you like to enjoy the great view of Hozu Valley especially in Spring and Autumn, I recommend another way.

Get off the JR train at Saga Arashiyama and change into "Trokko train" in another line, called Romantic Train.

The train starts from "Torroko Saga sta". and get to "Torroko Kameoka sta".

Never mind the directions of your train seat, because the train goes on a winding mountainous rail road, so both sides give you a nice view in turn! :)

Hozu river cruising is not so wild experience mainly, but the boat passed through a couple of very narrow spaces, don't miss seeing boatmen's perfect handling!!

Three skilled tough boatman will work so hard in turn, propel the boat with a bamboo rod.

They also never forget to entertain the passengers even while paddling by their unique joking. (they don't talk in English, though, unfortunately...)

At the latter part of rafting, you find one boat approaching... That's the boat selling drinks, snacks and some food... The delicious smelling may awake your stomach up after a long boarding!

If you like to enjoy the exciting rafting, April must be nice with more volume of water.

* Until 50 years ago, after the tours finished, the boatmen has pulled back all the boats all the way up on the mountain by the ropes. What a hard work in old times!!


JR Kyoto sta. → JR Saga Arashiyama sta. (around 20min.)

Torroko Saga sta. → Torroko Kameoka sta. (around 20min.)
* you can reserve the torroko train at JR station (not JR tickets, though)
(Only One way: the fee from Saga to Kameoka stn. is 600yen)

* buy the "boat boading tickets" at Torroko Saga station before train leaving.
Fee: 3900yen (4yrs to 12yrs Children 2500yen)

At Hozukyo Valley station, Tanuki (Raccoon Dog) of Sigaraki ware will welcome you!!

After few minutes walk from the station, Bus will take you to the boarding point. (around 20min.)

Hozu River whitewater rafting. (around for two hours)
* please don't forget to apply your name in the office in advance.

Arrive back at harbor in Arashiyama area.

Enjoy your afternoon, visiting Tenryuji temple, walking an exotic Bamboo forest & shopping nice souvenir in Arashiyama!

Kyoto Visitors?
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★ Enjoy Gion Festival in Yukata, learning How to Wear and Bring home everything!

Now Happy Summer will be coming in Kyoto! In Japan, especially Kyoto is famous for its sticky hotness in summer! But it's one of the most excited and valuable season for Kyoto's culture and history.  YES! Gion festival's coming...

If you visit Kyoto in 14th of July, I strongly recommend you to join this exciting Yukata & Festival event!!  Why don't you enjoy hot summer of Kyoto in cool way. :) Your travelling would be more memorable!

In this workshop, you Make your original "Uchiwa" (must item for festival), Put On a cool Yukata! The price is very reasonable, because you can bring everything home!

Now Ready!! Let's Jump into the excited wave of crowd in gorgeous Gion festival!

You don't need to bring anything at all. Just visit the office near from Imperial Palace. We will get you everything needed for festival, Yukata, Obi and Sandals. Please choose any design you like, and we can teach how to wear Yukata.   

You can bring home everything you get from us. Nice souvenirs attached with a forgettable memory of festival... :)

Kyoto Visitors? How to Process Free Guide!

★ Kawadoko Dinner with Maiko

Would you like to know one of the secret places in Kyoto?

Takao is located in the north of Kyoto, a bit remoted area, but very famous for its breathtakingly beauty with full of true nature. Surrounded by great natural beauty and the Kitayama cedars.

Just one hour of journey by train from the central Kyoto, you will be welcomed by these heavenly peaceful nature of beauty.

During the summer months, Takao becomes popular for people to escape from the heat.

The Momijiya, founded in Takao in 1907, is very traditional ryokan with Japanese style rooms.

What is the special feature of Momijiya is their summer dinner plan that includes dance entertainment by maiko.

Spread out through three floors for Kawadoko-style Kyoto special cuisine. You can taste the best of the local cuisine including one of their specialties, "river fish", such as the ayu (sometimes known in English as the sweetfish for the flavor of its flesh).

Enjoy dining on a "kawadoko" platform built out over a scenic river, listen to the sound of the stream and cool off from the summer heat.

Maiko and Kawadoko are almost symbols of Kyoto!

MUST EXPERIENCE that you can't be missed.

Even if you were walking throughout Gion-area for so long, you may need a super luck to come across a real maiko.

But here in Takao, you don't have to feel exhausted from chasing, nor frustrated to take a better view of photo of maiko-san.

After you enjoy a lovely dancing performance of Maiko along with the Japanese traditional Kaiseki cuisine. Maiko will come to your table one by one for pictures with you! Don't forget to carry your camera!! :)

Reservation Needed:
Momijiya Inn - Tel: 075-871-1005

"Dinner Meal with a Maiko"
Price: 12000yen per person.
Only Limited Season: from early June to middle of Sep.

at: 17:25 - Momijiya's bus will pick up you at the bus stop in front of New Hankyu hotel in Kyoto station.

at around: 18:20 - Dinner starts, enjoy viewing maiko-san's lovely dancing performance along with taking pictures service at riverside pavilion (120min)

at: around 21:00 - Momijiya's Bus drop you off at New Hankyu hotel in Kyoto station.

As Autumn version;
This Maiko event will start again from November!

Takao area is very famous for its fire-like red-color maple scenery in Fall.

Dinner is served Not Kawadoko style (outside is too cold), but inside of the room, at their gorgeous banquet tatami room. Of course Maiko-san will give you a nice dancing performance along with a picture time as always :)

Staying at Momijiya-inn would also give you a special experience. Enjoy their special beauty in each season!

Kyoto Visitors? How to Process Free Guide!

2011 Kabuki Calendar!

2011 Kabuki Calendar!
1600yen at Minamiza (Kabuki Theater in Gion) This is Minamiza Orivinal Design! What a Perfect Souvenir Idea!! Or Nice Wall Decoration in your Room! Limited Stock, Hurry to get soon! :)

Kyoto Guide Index

Ask Free Guide 
Kyoto Visiters? Welcome to Guide You! :)
Feedback from the Tourists! Thank you! :)
Kyoto Travel Tips
Drop your Luggages at Kyoto Station!!
Kyoto Itinerary (sorry, now in the rennovation)
"Must to Visit" Nijo castle, Kinkaku-ji, Ryoan-ji, Shijo Karasuma Shopping area, Kiyomizudera,Gion
"Must to Visit" <2nd Day> Arashiyama, Tenryu-ji, Bamboo Forest, Togetsu-bridge, Heianjingu shrine.
"Must to Visit" <3rd Day> Ginkakuji, Philosopher's Path, Nanzenji, Shorenin, Chion-in, Maruyama-Park
"Must to Visit" <4th Day> Fushimi Inari & Nara area
Kyoto Tour by Bicycle!
What to do after Sunset
"Must to Visit" <4th Day> Kyoto Night Cruise (Yoru Bus) Bus Tour
Suberbs of Kyoto
Boat Tours down Hozu River
Boat Tour Movie
Kibune area, Kawadoko Kaiseki Cuisine on the River! (summer)
Takao area, Kawadoko Dinner with Maiko (spring and autumn)
Dinner Retaurants
Twilight Pontocho or Kamogawa Riverbank Dining (summer)Okonomiyaki (at Downtown)
● Okonomiyaki (at Kinkakuji area)
● Kobe Beef
Kyoto Sweets
Kyoto Famous Flavor, What is Matcha?
Kakigoori (Shaved Ice)
Souvenir Tips
Recommend Kyoto Souvenir Gallery 1
Recommend Kyoto Souvenir Gallery 2
Maneki Neko (Lucky Cat)
Shichimi Spice
Astro Boy Museum
Japanese Wooden Doll, Kokeshi
How to Wear Yukata
Tea Ceremony
Tea Ceremony Experience
Matcha (Powdered Green Tea) History
Meet Maiko
Winter Gion - Tea Party with Maiko only by One Coin!
Maiko Dance Performance Every Sundays
Meet and Chat with Maiko on Weekends & National HolidaysKawadoko Dinner with Maiko
Maiko Dancing Movie (Gion Higashi Kouta Music)
Funaoka Onsen, Special Public Bath
Kurama Onsen, Houroku-yu
Plum Festival at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
Higashiyama Hana Touro Illumination
Kiyomizu Temple, Blue Dragon Dancing
Yabusame-Shinji (Archery on Horseback)
Aoi Festival Parade
Iris/Azalea Viewing
Bonfires, Daimonji Yaki Festival
Ancient Princess Parade (at Arashiyama)
Arashiyama Hana Touro Illumination
Spring Sakura (Cherry Blossom)
Hirano Shrine
Daigoji Temple
Omuro Ninna-ji (World Heritage)
Winter Special
Public Viewing 2009 (Toji, Chionin etc...)
Night Light-Up
What is Autumn Colors
Shoren-in Temple Night Illumination
Try "Omikuji" ! Enjoy reading your fortune

Okonomiyaki in Kyoto

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