Sanjo street digital map

Sanjo Street from the Showa to the Heisei era.

Rice pounding to celebrate the spring

Since 2008, a Setsubun rice cake pounding (Mochitsuki) event titled "Sanjo Takakura Spring Calling Setsubun Mochitsuki Event" has been held on the wooden deck of The Museum of Kyoto

The event is held in the hope of creating an attractive community and promoting intperiodction between people who work and live on Sanjo Dori and those who visit there.

It also reflects our desire to pass on the Japanese culture of "Mochitsuki" to the children of the community.

In this Mochitsuki event, 20 kg of glutinous rice is prepared, steamed in a steamer basket, and pounded with a stone mortar.

The rice cakes are rolled into small pieces and served to local residents and visitors to Sanjo Dori with red bean paste, soybean flour, sugar, soy sauce, and other ingredients.

Just one stone mortar of rice is enough to make us wobbly; 20 kg of rice is more than ten of them, which is too much for the council members to handle alone. So, we appreciate that students from Kyoto Intercollegiate Festa always come to help.

With the help of young power, we have a lively rice cake pounding event with the community.

In the process, visitors from overseas jumped in and tried their hand, passersby gave guidance, and children also had a chance to try it. The local community, students, tourists, and children all had a great time together.

To enhance the Mochitsuki Festival, there will be a Shishimai (lion dance) performance by members of the KYO-SHISHIMAI Project and children can try their hand at playing traditional games with spinning tops and kendama.

We hope that this Mochitsuki Festival will become a place for local residents to intperiodct with each other and to spread the word about the community development goals of the Kyo No Sanjo Machizukuri Council.

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Sanjo Street from the Showa to the Heisei era.

The Mikoshi Festival

The Sanjo Dori Omikoshi Festival is a community event that began in 1996 to welcome the three portable shrines used in Gion Matsuri.

The festival is organized by the Kyo No Sanjo Machizukuri Council and aims to promote interaction among local residents and to pass on local culture.

The Sanjo Dori Omikoshi Festival is held in an area spanning seven townships and three former school districts, and plays an important role in conveying traditional culture to local children and new residents.

During Gion Matsuril, mikoshi (portable shrines) are carried on July 17 for Shinkosai and July 24 for Kankosai.

Until 1965, the Yamaboko floats were also divided into the Sakimatsuri on the 17th and Atomatsuri on the 24th, but since 1966, all floats have been paraded jointly on the 17th. Nevertheless, the portable shrine procession, which is a Shinto ritual of the Yasaka Shrine, is still held on two separate days as it was in the past.

Each of the three portable shrines of Gion Matsuri travels along a different route, but on the 24th, all three will pass through Sanjo Dori. This is a tradition that has not changed since the Heian period.

The Sanjo Dori Omikoshi Festival is held every other year in front of The Museum of Kyoto and in front of Chiso Co., Ltd.

On the day of the festival, student volunteers from the Kyoto Intercollegiate Festa kindly assist with fireworks, yo-yo fishing, and other events to promote interaction with local residents and children.

The festival is also enlivened by a dedication performance by the Tanba Yasaka Daiko drum group.

When the mikoshi arrives, it is raised by the yotei in a heroic manner and presented to the participants in all its mighty glory.

The portable shrine parade of Gion Matsuril is becoming more famous every year, and the Sanjo Dori Omikoshi Festival attracts not only locals but also many tourists from overseas.

It should be noted that on July 24, 2014, for the first time in 49 years, the solo procession of the Yamaboko floats of Atomatsuri was restored.

However, due to road environment issues, Oike Dori has become the route for the procession, and it has not returned to its former route on Sanjo Dori.

In the future, we aim to return to the traditional form of welcoming the Yamaboko floats in the morning and the mikoshi at night on Sanjo Dori.

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Sanjo Street from the Showa to the Heisei era.

The current streetscape of Sanjo Dori in Kyoto, and the undergrounding of power lines and poles

(Left) Sanjo Yanagi-no-banba eastward: before removal of traffic signal / (Right) Sanjo Yanagi-no-banba eastward: after removal of traffic signal

Kyo No Sanjo Machizukuri Council, established in 1995 to improve Sanjo Dori and solve traffic problems, developed Sanjo Dori as a road where pedestrians and cars can coexist from 1998 to 2001.

Streetlight designs and light colors were also decided, and Sanjo Dori was transformed into a safer and more attractive streetscape, but the increase in pedestrians and dangerous driving of vehicles became a problem; in March 2014, a request was submitted to the Chukyo Police Station for a 20 km/h speed limit, which was effected in November 2015.

In conjunction with this change, the intersection was colored and paved with cobblestones. In addition, the removal of traffic signals made it mandatory for vehicles to pause at intersections and for vehicles to pass slowly and with caution.

(Left) The current Sanjo Tominokoji / (Right) Image of undergrounding of power lines and elimination of power poles

In addition, the undergrounding and pole-free installation of power lines along Sanjo Dori is an important project to protect the landscape and improve safety.

The undergrounding of power lines and the elimination of power poles are expected to reduce the risk of power poles toppling over during disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes and streamline the passage of emergency vehicles during disasters.

Also, if Gion Matsuri’s Atomatsuri procession, which was restored in 2014, returns to Sanjo Dori, the original parade route, electric lines will be in the way, so undergrounding electric lines is an important solution to this problem.

These efforts to improve the aesthetics and functionality of Sanjo Dori are an important step toward enhancing the whole appeal of Kyoto and creating “a pleasant town to walk through”.

Through these efforts, we hope to preserve the city's more than 1,200 years of history and improve the modern function of the city.

To this end, the Council will continue to work with local residents and other interested parties to develop Sanjo Dori into an even more attractive streetscape.

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Sanjo Street from the Showa to the Heisei era.

Development of Local Landscapes

In November 2016, the Council was certified by Kyoto City as a "Regional Landscape Creation Council," a system under which Kyoto City certifies organizations that are engaged in landscape creation led by local residents. In June 2017, the City certified the Council's "Regional Landscape Creation Plan," which outlines policies for landscape conservation and creation in the Council's activity area, and the Council established a "Landscape Community Development Committee" to begin activities.

The committee has a permanent membership consisting of eight secretaries, vice-chairmen, each neighborhood president and the president of the condominium board, with the aim of forming a good community. The committee mainly holds executive committee meetings on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month.

The committee also aims to protect the beautiful streetscape of the area lined with beautiful historic buildings, which was designated in 1985 as the "Sanjo Dori Historical Landscape District” (now the "Sanjo Dori Landscape Improvement District"), and to create a better streetscape.

We will continue to work together with local residents and stakeholders with whom we meet through our activities, in order to promote the development of a scenic town backed by "town development with dignity" that values the fragrance of the culture that has been cultivated by connecting the wisdom of coexistence between the living environment and the bustle of commerce.

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Sanjo Street from the Showa to the Heisei era.

Benkei Stone

The Benkei Stone is a historic stone associated with Benkei Musashibo, a man of various legends of monstrous strength.

Benkei was known for his monstrous strength. Legend has it that he dragged a bell from Mii-dera on Lake Biwa to Enryakuji on Mount Hiei, and threw it back the other way to Mii-dera. However, the stone is not something to prove his strength.

About this stone, there are multiple theories as to its origin.

According to one theory, Benkei loved this stone when he was in Oshu, and after Benkei died in Takadate, Oshu, the stone came to his birthplace, Sanjo Kyogoku, in adoration of him, and was brought here in 1454.

As a result, the area came to be known as Benkeiishi-cho.

According to another theory given in "Kyosuzume” (1664), a large stone on the bank of the Kamo River at Kuramaguchi, on which Benkei would often sit, was swept away by a flood to this area in a certain year. According to "Kyoto Minzoku Shi" (1968), the stone was found in the garden of Niemon Benkei, the master carpenter who built the Benkei Bridge in Edo.

What is interesting is the material of this stone, greenschist, which is found near the Median Tectonic Line from Kinki to Shikoku, so the theory that it was moved from Oshu to Kyoto is questionable.

Today the Benkei Stone is placed under the staircase landing, with a sticker above it that reads "Clouds”.

This is a representation of the sky above the Benkei Stone.

Incidentally, the stone also appeared in the 2003 movie "Detective Conan: Crossroad in the Ancient Capital," and many fans of the movie visit the site because of it.

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Sanjo Street from the Showa to the Heisei era.

Let’s play on Sanjo Dori

The “Sanjo Dori De Asonde Miyoshi (Let’s play on Sanjo Dori)”, which began in 2021, is an event to think about the future of the "town" and the "street" that is held every year around autumn, when a section of the roadway is closed to traffic and the street is utilized.

The goal of the program is to create paths that are enjoyable to walk along, relaxing and recreational paths, paths that are fun to play on, paths that connect people, paths that allow people to experience culture, and paths that allow people to engage in activities with peace of mind.

There you can enjoy variety of events designed to explore ways to utilize the pedestrian-centered path.

The event is designed to allow people of all ages to enjoy using the path with workshops related to Sanjo for children, traditional games such as Kendama, spinning top, and chalk art to draw on the road, a resting area with grass and chairs in the middle of the road, and an eating and drinking area to enjoy drinks and food while listening to music that fits the atmosphere of the Sanjo area.

The purpose of this event is to improve the attractiveness of the entire area, including the narrow streets in the east-west and north-south areas around Sanjo Dori, so that each path demonstrates their uniqueness.

This event is also held with the aim of creating a town where people want to walk by reconstructing road space in conjunction with a project to eliminate utility poles.

We hope to show the potential of the Kyoto model for utilizing roads with no sidewalks and small widths and creating a town where people want to walk.

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