Kamishichiken in Kyoto is an area with an old townscape to stroll around in. It is popular for its retro atmosphere and if you're lucky, you'll be able to see maiko and geigi walking around. This article introduces five recommended sightseeing spots around the Kamishichiken area.
1. Kamishichiken Dori
The Kamishichiken area is Kyoto's oldest hanamachi* with a history of over 400 years. Its main road is Kamishichiken Dori, a cobblestone street with traditional buildings on both sides, creating an elegant and sophisticated townscape befitting Kyoto. In the evenings, the lanterns by the doors on this street are lit up, giving it a different look from the daytime. It is about 30 minutes by bus from JR Kyoto Station to the Kamishichiken bus stop.
*An area with many shops where one can enjoy food and drinks together with performances by maiko and geigi.
2. Kitano Tenmangu
Kitano Tenmangu is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane (845 - 903), considered to be the deity for academics. It is a popular spot visited by numerous tourists and is located to the west of the Kamishichiken area. Its highlight is the Main Shrine built in 1607, a magnificent building with gorgeous decorations that is designated as a national treasure. The shrine is also famous for the beauty of the seasonal plants around it, such as the plum blossoms in February, the fresh verdure in May, and the colorful foliage in October. The path to the shrine is lined with stalls and the shrine grounds are lit up in a mystical light after sunset on the 25th each month.
3. Hirano Jinja
Hirano Jinja is a Shinto shrine on the west side of Kitano Tenmangu. It has a history of more than 1,200 years and is believed to have the power to help with career prospects and recovery from illness. It is popular as a spot to see a variety of different cherry blossoms between mid-March and late April every year. The shrine building suffered considerable damage during a typhoon in 2018, but the annual light-up during the cherry blossom season is scheduled to go ahead in 2019 from late March to mid-April. The shrine is about a 9-minute walk from Kamishichiken Dori.
*The photograph was taken before damage from the typhoon.
4. Senbon Shakado
Senbon Shakado is an ancient temple that was built in 1227. It is said that worshippers can expect matchmaking, marital harmony, and childbearing benefits by paying their respects at this temple. It is famous for its Main Shrine, which is the oldest wooden structure in Kyoto. It is a valuable structure that is a great example of the architectural style from the time it was built and is designated as a national treasure. There are also numerous treasures in the Treasure House, which should not be missed. There are impressive statues of Buddha that appear as if they are alive, such as the Rokkannon statue (an important cultural property of the nation) that represents the Six Forms of Avalokitesvara. The temple is located about 6 minutes on foot from Kamishichiken Dori.
Entrance fee: 600 JPY/adult
5. Seimei Jinja
Seimei Jinja is a shrine dedicated to Abe no Seimei (921 - 1005), who was a famous onmyoji*. It is believed to have the power to ward off evil, and has long been venerated by everyone from the common people to members of the Imperial Family. There is much to see on the grounds, such as a shrine gate with a pentagram (a design used to ward off evil) and the Seimei Well that Seimei is said to have willed into existence. One of the attractions of this shrine is the wide selection of religious items available for purchase, such as amulets with pentagon patterns on them. It is about 5 - 10 minutes by bus from the Kamishichiken bus stop to the Horikawa Imadegawa bus stop near the shrine.
*An official position that once existed in Japan and was given to those who performed divination and sorcery.
If this article piques your interest, be sure to visit these places in person.
*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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