Local conscious in protecting the value of traditional & new culture
Text: Kenji Tuchihashi / Photo Takahiro Mitsukawa
Koyaku-zushi connects 2 major streets of Shijo-dori and Ayanokoji-dori. It bends once at the middle and then again in a T-shape. At the end of the narrowest path of this complex structure, there is a small jizo stone statue (child of buddha) making the place all the more Kyoto-ish.
This alley also has long history that goes back to the mid-Edo period (1651-1745). Kuya Shunin had once build a training monastery here. The monastery was named 'Kuya' which gradually changed to 'Koyaku' then to 'Kouyaku-zushi'. This alley is also said to be where Masakado Taira, a samurai in Heian period, was hanged and his memorial grave is placed, too.
There are number of Yahamahoko-cho (area owning a Yamahoko float carried out during the Gion Festival. The float is decorated with tapestries, wood and metal ornaments and are called 'moving museum') around this alley, so if you visit during the grand Gion Festival, you will be able to enjoy Kakkyo-yama float in the north and Hakuga-yama float in the south, many visitors in yukata (casual kimono), and gorgeous atmosphere will take up the place. The Sugimoto family's house at the southeast of the alley is the biggest machiya (Kyoto style house) in the City and also designated as important cultural property. This house becomes one of the decorating spot so visitors can really experience the grand festival here.
Shops are gathering in the alley recently. Takezasado is one of them. Wooden block printed paper and cloth is turned into many items like book cover, bag, letter paper, etc. There is also a collaborative series by Kunie Kanbara, Kyoto based illustrator.
Koyaku-zushi has settled their own rule, Koyaku Tsuji Shikimoku to maintain the beautiful cultural value as historical street as well as to take in the newly arising trend. One rule is to be active in cleaning up the area and keeping good relationship with the neighbors. They have put up poster stating these rules to keep everyone's conscious high.
ADDRESS: 737 Ayanokoji-dori Nishinotouin Higashi Iru Shinkamanza-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto (map)
HOURS: 11:00-18:00 (May vary seasonally)
CLOSED: Sunday & public holidays