3 Must-See Sites in Kyoto This Spring.

Spring is the perfect time to walk around in Kyoto. Brilliant cherry blossoms decorate the city.

April is coming again.

Fortunately, not only for tourists, spring is also a good season to see around in Kyoto for me too.

Because most of our clients are municipalities or national governments, most of the projects which I involved in finished last week. We will have a relatively low season in April, to wait for the start of governments’ commissioned projects.

However, actually, spring is also melancholic.One reason is pollen allergies. I am scratching my eyes, face, nape…. All over. In addition, I’m overwhelmed by the cycle of reincarnation of my job, at the beginning of the fiscal year.

Sometimes my heart ponding with the spring sun light like an unconditional love, sometimes I am feeling irritated by my ichy eyes, I’m trapped in confused feeling.

Anyway, it is time to go out and walk around. I pick up some must-see sites this spring based on my personal perspective. If you are fed up with stop-and-go driving city buses or tourists packed Zen temples, it might be useful.

1: Nashinoki Shrine and Shimogamo Shrine

 Nashinoki Shrine

Nashinoki Shrine, famous for legend of Murasaki Shikibu, the writer of “The Tale of Genji”

A luxury apartment has built in the land of Nashinoki Shrine, beside the imperial palace. The shrine has fiscal problems, and decided to lend the sacred land to a real estate developer.

The same controversy over Shimogamo Shrine, UNESCO registered world heritage site. This phenomenon arose vast argument between financialy challenged Shrines and people who are concerned that the construction destroy the scenery and the dignity of the place.

My coworker who is originally from Kyoto told me that people from Kyoto will NEVER purchase the apartments. She said it will be a sinful waste of money, and people will be cursed….

Shimogamo Shrine apartment construction planned site.

2: High-end residential area in Okazaki

Kayuso garden, Okazaki.

Kayuso garden, Okazaki.

South east of Heian Jingu Shrine, we can find high-end residential area. In the area, there are 50-60 traditional villas. Those houses were built after the Meiji revolution.

In the revolution, the Japanese new government took the vast land in Okazaki area which was owned by Nanzenji temple, and commercialized them. Some of the houses are ruined because no one afford to take care of them.

Fortunately, many of the villas are surviving today. Like the photo, named “Kayuso”, the owner is American software president (very wealthy).

Because many you cannot of them are private properties, we are not able to enter the houses, though we can catch a glimps of the gardens over the walls. Actually, I took a walk this morning around this area. 30 mins walking clear my mind. Less tourists, quiet streets.

Incidentally, Okazaki area has another aspect. In fact, right nearby the luxury resident area, we can find a love hotels area. According to Masahiro Kato, high-end restaurant and hotel business had developed after some owners gave up their propaties. I guess that one of those was converted into love hotel. If you are not familiar with the culture, check out Wiki.

3: Small churches around Imperial Palace

Around Imperial Palace, there are many Christian churches. It might be a little weird because the area is supposed to be a center of Japanese culture which is strongly connected with Shinto religion. Some of these churches have famous historical buildings.

Kyoto Annunciation Cathedral in  Nakagyo-ku

Kyoto Annunciation Cathedral in Nakagyo-ku

Kyoto Gokomachi Church, Gokomachi, Nakagyoku

Kyoto Gokomachi Church, Gokomachi, Nakagyoku

Think about their history, I guess that Kyoto was cosmopolitan-minded rather than classical and conservartive, as like we usually imagine, under the influence of famous private universities such as Doshisha and Ritsumeikan during Meiji to Taisho period,

 Extra: Sakura Mochi

Sakura mochi, Oimatsu

Sakura mochi, Oimatsu

It is a Japanese sweet, only for spring, lightly sweetened beans jam wrapped in sticky rice ball, then a rice ball wrapped in a/two pickled cherry leaf. The taste is complex,  it is a combination of 4 essential tastes, like Thai food which is consisted with sweet salty sour, and hot. Instead of spicy, you will taste subtle bitter taste. This harmony is beyond my description.

And the looks, Don’t you think it’s lovely? A slightly pinkish small rice ball in a moss green leaf, it is a miniature of the spring scenery.

I love sakura mochi the best for all kinds of Japanese sweets. Especially, for me, Oimatsu’s one is the best. You can taste sakura mochi from different confectioners, and find your favorite one.




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