• The modern station area is surrounded by ancient temples, preserving
the atmosphere of old Kyoto.
• JR Kyoto Station is the starting point for sightseeing in Kyoto, a city
where the old and new exist side by side. The station building, a new
landmark of the old city of Kyoto, opened in 1997 and boasts of a
concourse with an impressive 60-meter-long atrium, a 45-meter-long
raised glass passageway connecting the eastern and western parts of
the station, and a large 171 step set of stairs. It is a terminal for a city of
• Surrounding the station are modern areas where department stores,
restaurants, shopping arcades, theaters and hotels can be found. On
the other hand, old temples, such as Higashi-Hongan-ji, Nishi-Hongan-ji
and To-ji, also dot the area, providing an oasis in the city, with remnants
of the old city and resting places for the people of Kyoto. Nishi-Hongan-ji
Temple, commonly known as "Onishi-san," is the head temple of the
Jodo-shinshu Hongan-ji sect, and includes in its spacious grounds the
Goei-do and Hiunkaku buildings, and Kara-mon Gate. The most popular
structure, however, is the Shoin, where dazzling masterpieces of 16th
century art can be seen in the murals and decorations found inside.
Few museums are as hands-on as this old elementary school
turned shrine to manga, or comic books, and its collection of
some 300,000 comics and manga-related exhibits. Visitors can
read any piece of manga they fancy from the towering wooden
bookcases that line every wall and hallway. Some read propped
up against the walls or sitting crossed legged on the floor;
others hunker down with a coffee at the museum's wood-
decked outdoor café. The eclectic and universally transfixed
crowd is a testament to how much a part of mainstream
Japanese culture manga has become.
The museum is a one-minute walk from Karasuma Oike Station on
the Karasuma and Tozai subway lines. Admission is ¥500 and
it's open from 10am to 6pm. Closed Wednesdays and New
There are also temporary exhibitions of manga illustrators works.
1. Kyoto International Manga Museum
Karasume Oike, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan; 81-(0)75-254-7414 kyotomm.jp
• Yes, it's touristy, and yes, it's a bit tacky too, but dressing up as a
samurai and watching TV actors hamming it up on set does hold a
certain charm. Eigamura, or Kyoto Toei Studio Park to give it its English
name, is a working TV and movie set that doubles as a theme park,
where besides dressing up in period costume you can wander around a
mock-up Edo-era samurai town and take in exhibitions of the well-
known TV series and films shot here.
• It's the live studio performances, however, that steal the show. The
swordfights are extravagant, the facial expressions and body language
overly dramatic, and the dialogue at times delivered about as
convincingly as an elementary school end-of-year play. It's Japanese
kitsch at its finest. Quentin Tarantino would love it.
• Eigamura is open daily from 9am to 5pm (9.30am to 4pm from Dec to
Feb). Admission is ¥2,200, though you can get in for half that if you
come dressed in a kimono. Take bus number 75 from Kyoto Station to
the Uzumasa Eigamura-michi bus stop.
10 Uzumasa Higashihachigaoka-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan; 81-(0)75-864-7716 toei-
• Epicureans don’t miss the Nishiki Market. Meander down
the narrow, pedestrian street lined with hundreds of food
shops and stalls. This is where locals and most of Kyoto’s
great chefs buy cooking ingredients.
• I have never wandered through such an odor-free fish,
fruit and produce market. I could not even identify half of
the food items on display. Vendors stand in front of their
narrow stalls to offer samples of their fare, from pickles to
seaweed soup. Even the fresh seafood market had
tantalizing dishes, including tiny octopus heads stuffed with
hard-boiled eggs, fish eyes, individually plastic wrapped
cod, and whale skin. It is a great place to find knives and
Kyoto Costume Museum
• Another piece of ‘fun meets history’ that’s a great stop for
the kids. Note that the museum is really only 2 rooms and
could easily be closed off in an hour or two, depending on
your love of Heian dress.
• The museum holds a 1/25th scale of the house in Genji
Monogatari and a number of the scenes are set out
including the highly ritualised multi layer kimonos of
• On top of this there is a wonderful ‘dress up’ section where
you can put on courtiers clothing, both men and women’s
and photograph yourself in silly poses…. so long as you
work out how to get all the multi layered clothes on. Don’t
forget the silly hats.
• We could also visit the Kyoto Costume
Institute Gallery. I just can’t find where it is …