Autumn (Tokyo Studio)

Rittou: Earth begins to freeze/ buckwheat kernels form (2 of 5)

November 15th, 2008

Rittou 7 of 15The season of Autumn leaves guarantees a crowd in Japan’s old capital and the weekend brings even more people to Kyoto. Having brought no guidebooks or maps, we simply walked about the city in a random sort of way. In our attempt to reach the Kamogawa (river), we stumbled upon a number of temples (which is difficult to avoid in Kyoto) before ending up in Teramachi – a covered street mall in the downtown area (northeast of central Kyoto, just west of the Kamogawa).

As we wandered in we realised that this was no ordinary mall. Both slender and broad temples periocially popped up between shops along this long street. These temples and shrines were relocated here, then known as Kyogoku (edge of city or sometimes Tokyogoku: eastern edge), as part of Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s remodelling of Kyoto in the 16th century. He renamed the street Teramachi, which means Temple street or town.

This part of Kyoto was historically served by the Kamogawa as the main transport route with the Nishiki market nearby. When the country’s capital officially moved to Tokyo (with the Emperor) during the Meiji restoration in 1868, morale of city was low. Prefectural government councilor, Masanao Makimura, hoped to uplift the general morale by revitalising this area. The adjacent streets were similarly fashioned into a commerical and entertainment district. Like Termachi, a parallel street Shinkyogoku (new Kyogoku) was constructed with many relocated temples. These streets rapidly evolved into areas for both spiritual and earthly delights.

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