Shinkyogoku is the oldest downtown area in Kyoto. It is a staple sightseeing spot lined with temples and shrines, dining and drinking establishments, souvenir shops, and other facilities. Here is a guide on the best spots that are found in and around Shinkyogoku!
What is Shinkyogoku?
Shinkyogoku is a shopping street spanning about 500 meters north-to-south that is located on Shinkyogoku-dori street, in between Sanjo-dori and Shijo-dori streets. This area was originally packed with temples and shrines, but it has been operating as a shopping strip since 1872. Inside this shopping area, you will find a wide array of old and new shops, from stores with a history of more than 100 years to newer shops from the latest brands.
Check Out the Famous Sightseeing Spots!
Nishiki Tenmangu is an old shrine with a history dating back more than 1,000 years. Enshrining Sugawara no Michizane, the deity of learning, this shrine is said to give benefits in the areas of wisdom, academics, and business acumen. The slightly bizarre omikuji (fortune slip) called Karakuri Omikuji (mechanized fortune slip) inside the shrine grounds has been a hot topic of conversation of late. If you insert a coin into the machine, the robotic lion will fetch and carry a fortune slip to you. They even have English-Japanese fortune slips for English speakers.
Built in 667, Seiganji is an old temple that is said to have been constructed by the emperor of that time. It has been a home to a lot of devout worshipers from ancient times until today. This shrine has a particularly deep relation to women, such that it is also called the “temple where women are reborn.” Further, it is famous for its ogizuka (fan-style monument) where people pray for the refinement of their art. The inside of the temple is filled with a solemn atmosphere, thanks mainly to the seated statue of the Amida-butsu Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata), which is the principal object of worship of this temple. Your eyes will surely be drawn to the highly formal, decorated ceiling and the beautiful canopy.
Tako Yakushi-do (Eifuku-ji)
Tako Yakushi-do is a famous temple that bears the name of the street called Takoyakushi-dori. Known for the story of devotion that is centered on “tako” (octopus), there are "ema" (votive pictures) bearing images of octopuses, wooden octopuses for praying for a cure for illness, and other octopus figures inside the temple grounds. This temple is also known for the Dai Hannya-e for praying for healing (prayer fee starts at 3,000 JPY). Prayers are offered from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm on the 8th day of each month.
Enjoy Shopping, Too!
Kikuichi-monji Main Shop
Kikuichi-monji is a knife shop that has been in the business for more than 700 years, having originally been a swordsmith that made swords for the Emperor. Today, it makes knives for cooking and craft-making as well as other products, all with the help of its outstanding techniques. The term “Kikuichi-monji” has now even become synonymous to high-end knives. At the main store, there is a wide selection of various knives. In fact, there are so many of them that they are almost overflowing to the shop front. The products sold by this shop come in a wide variety, including knives, scissors, and hatchets.
Hakuchiku-do Main Shop
Hakuchiku-do, a historical shop that was founded way back in 1718, is a shop that specializes in fans for enjoying a cool breeze. Here, they sell folding fans of different varieties, from traditional Kyo-sensu (Kyoto-style fan) to fans that bear more modern designs. They also offer a printing service for putting your name on the fan, and the Kyo-Sensu Etsuke Taiken Course (reservation required) where you can experience decorating a Kyo-sensu of your own.
Savor the Food!
Mishima-Tei is a famous sukiyaki (beef hotpot) restaurant known by everyone in Kyoto. It is a well-established restaurant with a more 140-year tradition, filled with a nostalgic air thanks to the retro gas lamps and its classic decor that comes from being housed in a Kyo-machiya (traditional Kyoto townhouse). As for dishes, this restaurant serves sukiyaki using premium wagyu (Japanese beef) from carefully raised cattle. Here, the sukiyaki incorporates marbled meat that is so tender it will melt in your mouth.
Price of course/set meal: 7,722 JPY – 20,790 JPY (incl. tax)
Restaurant STAR Kyogoku Branch
Restaurant STAR is a veteran restaurant that will be celebrating its 100th anniversary soon. The restaurant's most famous dish is the Omurice Cheese & Demi-glace Sauce (961 JPY (incl. tax)). The demi-glace (a type of brown sauce) that is created from ripe tomatoes, mangoes and other special ingredients is a superb match to the cheese. The Okkina Omurice (2,138 JPY (incl. tax)) that is triple the normal size or omurice (omelet with rice filling) is also popular at this restaurant.
Shinkyogoku is filled with many other famous spots, so make sure to find time to visit while in Kyoto.
*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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