Posts Tagged ‘ Higashiyama ’

Kyoto’s Heian Shrine (平安神宮)


Heian Jingu Main Hall. May 2010.

Heian Jingu (平安神宮) is a “new” Kyoto Shinto Shrine, founded and constructed in 1884 to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto (then, “Heiankyo”) by Emperor Kammu and Emperor Komei, father of the Emperor Meiji who was reigning in the late-1880s (Note:  Emperor Meiji reigned from 1868-1912). Heian Jingu’s designation  as a Jingu, and not a Jinja (a “regular” Shinto Shrine), denotes that it is associated with the Imperial Family.

Heian Jingu on a chilly day. March 1991.


Omikuji (fortunes) at Heian Jingu. 2003.


Every June a National Noh Theater Performs at Heian Jingu. June 2003.


Pine at Heian Jingu. 2008.


Bride (left) and her mom on their way wedding at Heian Shrine (directly behind), with the Great Gate (大鳥居) in the background.


Faux Sake Casks (kazaridaru). Hiean Jingu front, for blessing’s sake. 2008.


Evening at the Great Torii, Heian Jingu Mae Street. 2009.

The Garden

Heian Jingu is famously known for its large garden.  While entrance to the main shrine area is free (see photos above), enjoying the walking behind the building complex will cost you a ¥600 entrance fee and it’s open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  The garden was laid-out by the renowned designer Ogawa Jihei (who designed several of Kyoto’s famous, modern-era gardens) and meant for leisurely, contemplative strolling.  Here are several photos I’ve taken of The Garden from over the years . . .

Heian Jingu’s Garden. October 2001.


Ogawa used shakkei, “borrowed scenery,” in Heian Jingu’s garden. 1990.


Yes, that’s a model. Her real photographer stands just to my right. 2001.


Lilies in a cove of the central koi pond. 2001.


Sign at the stepping stone bridge. 2001.


A ticket stub I saved for Heian Jingu’s garden.

Heian Jingu is located in Kyoto’s Higashiyama (Eastern Mountain) area with Reisen Dori (street) running directly in front of it, Marutamachi Dori running along the block behind it, and Okazaki Dori up along side it on its eastern side.  Right where Okazaki Dori intersects Marutamachi Dori at Heian Jingu’s back, northeastern side, you’ll find the Three Sisters Inn Annex, where I’ve stayed countless times and which itself is just a few minutes walk to Kurodani Dera (Temple), Okariba (restaurant) and Hanafusa Coffee Shop.

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Coming up next:  Philosopher’s Path (Tetsugaku on Michi) –

Along “Philosopher’s Path” (哲学の道), Kyoto. 2003.


Two Views from the Westin Miyako, Kyoto

The two photos below were snapped with a little “smartphone.”  The first on July 31 and the one below it on August 3, 2011.  They were both taken from my little balcony, attached to my room at the Westin Miyako Hotel in Kyoto.  I’ve posted them, or versions of them, before, last year near the times I took them.  I offer them again because they’re somewhat peaceful and calm-making, I think.

Looking towards Nanzen-ji Temple, Kyoto. 31 July 2011.

Looking east, towards Nanzen-ji Temple, Kyoto. 31 July 2011.

I took this in the afternoon, after arriving at the hotel.  The sun’s behind where the camera’s pointing, beginning to go down in the west.  You can see large main gate (yes, that’s a “gate” — the Sanmon, completed in 1628) of Nanzen-ji Temple on the left.


Looking north towards Okazaki District. Kyoto, 3 August 11.

I took this in the morning.  The sun’s to my right.  The green roof on the left, towards the foreground, is the International Community House.  Lots of memories there.  In the background, against the last green hills, you can see several of Kurodani-dera’s buildings (Kurodani Temple).

I hope you like these photos. . .

Okariba ・ お借り場 

Over the course of the past year, since this site’s inception, I’ve several times referenced Okariba (Oh*kah*ree*bah) and its owner & chief cook, Aoki-san.  However it’s been more than 9 years since I first walked into Kyoto’s best, and, to me, what must be one of the world’s best, barbecue joints.

Sign in front of Okariba.


Okariba’s in Kyoto’s particularly quiet Okazaki District, situated on Marutamachi Street, just shy of where Marutamachi ends, running into Shirakawa Street, which runs parallel with Higashiyama, Kyoto’s eastern line of mountains.  “Okariba” means “hunting ground.”  The specialty of the house is grilled and sauced-up boar, but its menu goes deeper than that, ranging from smoked duck to steamed, gingered bear (yes, that’s beAr, not beEr).

Aoki-san at the grill. November ’09.

As you can tell from the photos, Okariba is intimate and rustic.  It’s cozy.  On slow nights its a place for a few regulars to gather and ease-into, or while away, an evening.  Couples come for good food and an atmosphere in which they can talk low, laugh at inside jokes with each other and compare lovers’ notes.  When groups —  of friends, nearby Kyoto University professors, families, or, in a couple of recent cases, American university students I’ve lead through Kyoto, etc.  — descend on Okariba, it can turn raucous, but always joyfully so.  The groups can also provide some entertainment for the lone wolves and couples, too.  I’ve been on both sides of that.


Okariba Entrance. November 2009


Okariba Menu & one of many sakes varieties on hand.


Back to the pork.  For a little more than US$14.00 you get 3 large wooden skewers-worth of hunks of pork that’s been grilled-up by Aoki-san, basted with a thick, brown miso bbq sauce that’s incredibly savory, somewhat tangy and slightly, ever-so-slightly sweet (but the smokeyness cancels-out most of that).  While one very hungry person can eat one order, but it’s enough for two.  Besides, you have to try the duck (which tastes astoundingly similar to “honey-baked ham”), the bear, a sampling of deer, and grilled fish (whatever’s in season).

New Snapshots, From August 2011. . .

Friends gather at Okariba. August 2011.


Deep into the evening… Okariba. August 2011.


Yours truly and Aoki-san, May 27, 2010.


Last month, May 2009, I was back in Okariba with another group of university students.  This time it was a group of MBA students from here in Alabama.  A good time was had by all.  And, as a bonus for me, I and one of my Japanese sisters (from home stay days back when I was a college student) arranged to meet at Okariba that same night, with Yuko bringing my Japanese mom and Yuko’s two young sons along.  My Japanese dad was under the weather and couldn’t make it, which I regretted terribly.  Worlds intermingled that night at Okariba and when Aoki-san brought out the snake-infused white lightening, then the hornet-infused stuff — apparently home made and stored in large clear glass jars — I knew that the students had truly been embraced by our host as new-but-most-welcomed friends, a kindness Aoki-san was, indeed, paying to me.

For several months I’ve been working on a story about my dear home stay family, from way back in 1984, and the way their and my lives have been intertwined for more than 25 years.  Hopefully I’ll have that completed within the next few weeks.


Another Okariba sidewalk sign.

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Update – I neglected to mention that after the last morsel’s tasted and the last nigori-zake toast is made, after you settle-up your tab with Aoki-san, consider popping next to to Hanafusa coffee shop (touting itself as Kyoto’s first Siphon Coffee establishment), as clean and well-lighted and convivial a coffee shop as you’ll find anywhere.  Open from 7:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.  Most all of the kindly staff there knows that my “usual” is Kilimanjaro, or “Kirimohn.”


Dear, Beautiful Kyoto . . .

Amid various emails and Memos to clients and necessary phone calls to make and receive I find myself thinking  about Kyoto this morning, and looking ever-so-forward to soon being there again, to just Be there…  I write this (as an update to this post) in mid-November 2009.  I returned from a business trip to Japan (which took me to Kyoto for a few days) less than a week ago.  I’m still jet-lagging somewhat.  In a way it was like going home and now I’m homesick for it.

Closing Time at Chion-in Temple. Kyoto.  2003.

Closing Time at Chion-in Temple. Kyoto. 2003..




Wall at Shinyodo Temple. Nov 2009.

The photo of Noh actor above, mid-performance at Heian Shrine, is from June 2003.   There is only one evening a year, in June, that Noh is performed at Heian Jingu, and I happened to be in Kyoto on that evening.  Only time I’ve seen this.


Next to Kurodani-dera. Okazaki. 2008.


Lanterns at Okazaki Shrine.  Kyoto.  2007.

Lanterns at Okazaki Shrine. Kyoto. 2007.


A side street off of Shirakawa-dori. . . in a mirror. Kyoto. 2007.

A side street off of Shirakawa-dori. . . in a mirror. Kyoto. 2007.


Kawabata Street. Looking North. November 2009.


Nanzen-ji Temple. From my hotel balcony. July 2011.


Sunset near Shoren-in, Jingumachi. November 2009.

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Neighbor Wars, or... it's not all Zen & Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto.  Rough translation:  ”Dog poo left behind! Poo MUST be picked up and taken with you.  If you can't do this, then don't bother walking (your dog) in the first place!

Neighbor Wars.  Rough translation:  ”Dog poo left behind! Poo MUST be picked up and taken with you. If you can’t do this, then don’t bother walking (your dog) in the first place!”   then… Angry face.

A few links to other (but not all) Kyoto-related posts here at LetsJapan.Wordpress.Com:

+ Kiyomizu-dera – (one of the “must see and experience” temples for first time visitors).

+ Okariba (a great, and atypical-for-Kyoto, restaurant on Marutamachi Street).

+ To-ji Temple (東寺 )Flea Market (Japan’s largest.  The 21st of every month).

+ Rain (A Photo Gallery.  Many images from Kyoto).

Where the Rivers Meet:  the Kamo & Takano.  (Post from August 2011).

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Gallery. San-jo Street. November 2009.