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So Much To See! 4 Places Open to the Public For a Limited Time During Kyo no Fuyu no Tabi

Kyo no Fuyu no Tabi is an annual event conducted from the beginning of the year to mid-March in which private cultural properties and historic sites are specially unveiled. Here are some of these which are especially recommended, especially for those who like history!

What is "Kyo no Fuyu no Tabi"?

Kyo no Fuyu no Tabi ("winter trips in Kyoto") is a massive sightseeing campaign held annually from the beginning of January to mid-March in which temples and important cultural properties which are normally not open to the public are specially unveiled. 2017 marks its 51st year and also the 150th year since the restoration of government to the Emperor by the 15th shogun of the Edo shogunate Tokugawa Yoshinobu, so there will be 14 cultural properties including 3 temples which will be open for the first time, under the theme of that event. This year, you can visit where Kyoto where the great historic event happened during the bakumatsu (the end of the Edo period, 1853-1867). This was the first step in modernizing Japan.

Dates: Jan 7 (Sat), 2017 to Mar 18 (Sat), 2017
Hours: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm (last entry)
Fee: 600 JPY for adults per site

*Open periods and hours may vary according to the sites. Please check with the Kyoto City Tourism Association prior to your visit.

Ninomaru Palace in Nijojo Castle where the shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu asked senior vassals of various domains for opinions regarding the restoration of the government.

What is "Kyo no Fuyu no Tabi"?

1. Konkai Komyoji Temple

At the end of the Edo period, Kyoto was the center of politics. Radical activists from all over Japan who wanted to overthrow the shogunate to revere the emperor and expel public forces gathered there, and public safety was deteriorating. In 1862, the Kyoto shugoshoku (a position for keeping the peace) was established to maintain public order, and the lord of Aizu, Matsudaira Katamori, was appointed to this position. He made Konkai Komyoji the headquarters of the shugoshoku, a temple that was beloved by locals under the name "Kurodani-san." This temple is very famous as the place where the Shinsengumi were formed. The Shinsengumi were an elite corps made up of selected ronin (masterless) samurai to police Kyoto. This year, the meido (main hall), the ohojo (big abbot's chamber) and the Shiun no Niwa (garden of purple clouds) will be open to the public. The tea room in Saioin, the sub-temple, will also be open. It's very rarely available for public viewing so don't miss it!

In Konkai Komyoji's ohojo, the room where Matsudaira Katamori, the Kyoto shugoshoku, and Kondo Isami, the head of the Shinsengumi, had a meeting will be open to the public. Temple treasures such as the calligraphy left by Katamori as well as the armor and helmets worn by Aizu samurai will also be exhibited.

1. Konkai Komyoji Temple

121 Kurodani-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

2. Myohoin Temple

On August 18th, 1863, when the desire to revere the emperor and expel the foreigners reached its peak, those part of a movement centered around Aizu and Satsuma to keep the shogunate in collaboration with the imperial family carried out a coup d'etat to expel Choshu and radical court nobles at the center of the foreign expulsion movement like Sanjo Sanetomi from Kyoto. The fallen court nobles spent their last night in Kyoto in the Emperor's residence in Myohoin Temple. After some consultation, the group decided to leave Kyoto for Choshu in order to regain power, so they left early in the morning the next day in an event called "the exile of the seven nobles from Kyoto." This year, the Emperor's residence as well as the main hall will be open to the public.

2. Myohoin Temple

Myohoin Maekawa-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

3. Mibudera Temple

The Shinsengumi, a group whose existence is essential to the history of the end of the Edo period, is extremely popular among modern history fans. Mibudera Temple is where the Shinsengumi was headquartered. Since it was close to Tamurojo, where the members lived, they conducted tactics training here. On the grounds, there is a statue of Kondo Isami, the Shinsengumi head, as well as tombs of some of the members, so this temple is known as a sacred place for Shinsengumi fans. Mibudera Temple was established in 991, and possesses various cultural properties. Mibu Kyogen, a type of pantomime done at this temple, is an important intangible folk culture asset with about 700 years of history. This year, the inside of the main hall, the wooden Kshitigarbha that's the main object of worship, and the Kyogen Hall will be open to the public.

3. Mibudera Temple

31 Mibunaginomiya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

4. Sumiya

Sumiya is an ageya (traditional restaurant of the time period) left in Shimabara, one of the red-light districts that blossomed at the time along with Yoshiwara in Edo. The building relocated to its current location in 1641, and is designated as a national important cultural property since it's the only ageya-style building left in Shimabara. Meetings and political discussions were conducted here at the end of the Edo period. It's said that members of the Shinsengumi also frequented this building, and that cuts made by a Shinsengumi sword is visible inside the building. There are many things to see, such as the vivid red walls, a huge kitchen unique to ageya architecture, elaborate party rooms of all sizes, and the garden made to suit the rooms' atmosphere. Please take a look at the important cultural heritage which symbolizes the turbulent period at the end of the Edo era.

4. Sumiya

32 Nishishinyashiki Ageya-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

Kyoto is often portrayed as having a refined image, but it is also the place where significant changes occurred which changed the history of Japan. See a different side of Kyoto this winter.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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