A New Encyclopaedia of Kitakuwada SHS and

the Area around It, Published by the Students Themselves

Student’s Foreword

This project of preparing for an encyclopaedia of our hometowns turned out to be a very good opportunity for us.  We made many new discoveries, though it is a land which we were already accustomed to and fond of, and many wonderful things about Kitakuwada (北桑田) were noticed.  Hereafter, we have to protect this wonderful land and the traditional culture.  We hope that many people will visit our towns and enjoy themselves there.

The Staff’s Foreword

Kitakuwaedia (『キタクイディア』or『北桑百科』) is an encyclopaedia of the Kitakuwada area in the cities of Kyoto (京都市) and Nantan (南丹市), written by the seniors at Kyoto Prefectural Kitakuwada Senior High School (京都府立北桑田高等学校).  Recently interest in ecology and natural environments has been growing, yet there is very little written in English about the area and its great environmental beauty.  Partly due to its geographic isolation from the rest of the two cities that it is a part of, most foreign travel guides about Japan do not mention the area.  This has left the value of the area virtually off limits to those who do not understand Japanese.

     Below you will find information about the abundance of natural sights in the area, as well as various other things of interest.  This encyclopaedia is meant to open up this new world to English speakers in a way that has not been done before.

     The project of Kitakuwaedia has been carried out by students at Kitakuwada SHS, and we would like to thank them for what they have done for the project.  In addition to writing the text of the various entries, they provided most of the pictures you will find throughout the encyclopaedia.  We would also like to thank all the people who earnestly supported and advised us for their kindness and understandings towards this project of ours.  We hope that we will have an opportunity to revise and enlarge the encyclopaedia in the future.

Neil Murphy and Kazunari Takaya



Ashu no genseirin (芦生の原生林, the primeval forest of Ashu)

  I’ll introduce the primeval forest in Ashu.  The area is northwest of Kyoto and borders Fukui Prefecture (福井県). 

  This forest is characterized by a variety of wildlife.  There are many kinds of plants and animals which belong to both northern and southern parts of Japan because the forest is on the border of climate zones.  We can also find some kinds of  natural monument like the Japanese serow, or kamoshika (カモシカ), and the great salamander, or osanshouo (オオサンショウウオ). 

   Lately, many oak trees in the forest are dying because the ecosystem is changing.  We have to reduce CO2 emission in order to protect the beautiful forest of Ashu.

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Choro ga Dake (長老ヶ岳, Mt Choro)
  This is the ninth highest mountain in Kyoto Prefecture.  The top lies in Wachi, Kyotamba-cho and is 916.9 meters above sea level.  This mountain was consecrated as a religious mountain, and there is an account of Buddhists practicing at the top.  At one time, there were about 100 esoteric Buddhist temples at the top.   There are two popular routes to climb the mountain.  One is from Miyama-cho (美山町) in Nantan-shi (南丹市), the other is from Wachi (和知) district in Kyotamba-cho (京丹波町).  The Sea of Japan is said to be seen from its top on a sunny day.  I have never climbed it.  I hear the leaves turn very beautiful in autumn.  It must be very wonderful!  I want to climb it someday.

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Fudo no Taki (不動の滝, Fudo Falls)
  Fudo Falls is in the heart of a mountain at Chimi (知見), Miyama.  The local people go there once a month.  There is a steep mountain path to get there, but they go anyway to protect the environment and pay a visit to a small shrine.  The small shrine was built to worship Fudo.  Fudo is a supernatural king in Buddhism.  In my community, he is associated with water.  People have prayed to him for rain, because there were many forest fires a long time ago.  When you clean around the waterfall, it is said that it will rain.  I will go and clean there again.
fukuro no ittobori (フクロウの一刀彫り, sculpture of an owl)

  This is a traditional woodwork in Kitakuwada (北桑田) area, shaped like an owl.  It looks like a kind of religious idol and sometimes even divine.  Of course, the owl can’t do anything particularly, but it does make us feel solemn to some extent.

     By the way, why is the sculpture shaped like an owl?  In Japanese an owl is called fukuro.  According to folk etymology, fu (不) is ‘no’ and kuro (苦労) ‘problem’.  So as a whole, fukuro is said to mean ‘No problem!’  You can use this mascot of an owl as a present for someone important for you.

     They also have color variations.  You can get one in a simple wood color, or with mainly blue and red used, and so on.

     If you want to get one of the fukuro sculptures, you can get it at various festivals and fairs around Kitakuwada.  Two large shining eyes of fukuro will look at you there.

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Gyunyu Purin (牛乳プリン, Milk Pudding)
  Gyunyu Purin is pudding made from Miyama Milk (see the entry ‘Miyama Gyunyu).  Because it is a pudding made from such Miyama Milk, Gyunyu Purin is a very thick and savory pudding.  Only one bite and you can be very happy!  For people who like custard pudding, and people who don’t, I think having a Gyunyu Purin is worth a try.  Please be sure to try this pudding.  You will surely feel, “Wow! Very delicious!”  I love Gyunyu Purin and I believe you will love it, too.

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Hyakunen Zakura (百年桜, The 100 Year Old Cherry Blossom Tree)

  Hyakunen Zakura an old cherry tree in Keihoku Miyacho (京北宮町).  It is actually over 100 years old.  It is a mutation.  Two kinds of cherry blossoms live together in one tree.  Every year, Hyakunen Zakura blooms later than any other ones.  Many people come to see it both from the city and the country.  It is worth seeing the tree in full bloom.

Copyright photo courtesy of Itsumi Itoh

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inoshishi ramen (いのししラーメン, Wild Boar Ramen)

  Many people who make their way into Keihoku (京北) will be coming from Kyoto (京都), the nearest major city.  More likely than not, the route they will take will be 162, a sparsely populated windy road coming from northwest Kyoto which leads travelers through many tunnels and passes beautiful scenery.  Travelers will also notice that there are few stores and restaurants along the way.  However, one gem that they will come across which should not be forgotten is the noodle shop Kyaputen (キャプテン, Captain).

     What’s special about Kyaputen is well advertised inside and outside of the restaurant—its wild boar ramen.  By paying a bit more customers will be able to enjoy their noodles with the distinct flavor of wild boar instead of the standard pork.  For many people from North America, South America, and most of Africa it could be their first time trying wild boar; the animal is not native to those continents except the few found in the very north of Africa.  It was my first time trying the meat, and I found it to be very tender and have a stronger flavor than pork.  I left feeling quite satisfied.

     The dish comes in four different broth flavors: shoyu (しょうゆ, soy sauce), miso (みそ), shio (しお, salt), and miso tonkotsu (みそとんこつ, miso pork bone).  All are currently priced at 1250 yen.  The dish also includes green onions and bean sprouts.  If you are a hearty eater and want a bit more boar you can try the inoshishi chashumen (いのししチャーシューメン), a variation of the dish with more meat.  Another option is to try the dumplings, which can also come with wild boar.  Just ask for the inoshishi gyoza (いのしし餃子).  Bon appétit.

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Jidai-Matsuri (時代祭, The Historic Epochs Festival)

  Jidai-Matsuri is often said to be one of San-Dai-Matsuri (京の三大祭, The Three Great Festivals of Kyoto), together with Aoi-Matsuri (葵祭) in May and Gion-Matsuri (祇園祭) in July.  Literally, jidai means ‘era / eras’, and matsuri ‘festival / festivals’.  It is by far the newest one among the three festivals.  It was started in 1895, during the Meiji Era (明治時代), while the other two have much longer histories.

     The main event of Jidai-Matsuri is gyoretsu (行列, The Procession) usually held on the 22nd of October every year.  People in the parade are divided into several groups, each of which belongs to a certain period of time in the history of Japan.  They disguise themselves exactly in historical costumes and, of course, heroes and heroines of respective days are among them, such as a strong shogun or a tragic princess.  The procession starts at Gosho (御所, the Old Imperial Palace), goes through the streets in the City of Kyoto (京都市), and finally arrives at the Heian-Jingu (平安神宮, Heian Shinto Shrine).

     The festival is held in the urban area of Kyoto City, but it has much to do with the area around our Kitakuwada SHS (北桑田高等学校), which is located in a mountainous area of the same city.  Every year, the marching is lead by a band of people.  Some are armed with guns and swords, while others are playing drums and pipes.  They are called Yamaguni-Tai (山国隊, The Yamaguni Corps).  Yamaguni (山国) is a place name not far from our senior high, and people there were known to be variant and sincere.  Around the Meiji Restoration (明治維新) days, people in Yamaguni formed a body of troops, and worked bravely and unselfishly for the sake of the new Japan.  Members of Yamaguni-Tai then can possibly be ancestors of Kitakuwada students, their relatives, their neighbours, or their friends.

     Now in Japan, we don’t have to fight each other with weapons in our hands.  I hope, however, that people in Kitakuwada will keep on leading the new Japan in various fields, including studies, sports, culture, and industries.

Joshoko-ji (常照皇寺, Joshoko-ji, or Joshokoji Temple)

   Joshoko-ji is in Ido-cho (井戸町), Keihoku, Kyoto City.  The temple was established by Ex-Emperor Kogon (光厳上皇) in 1362.  It is one of the most famous showplaces of cherry blossoms.  There are several cherry trees there.  They are shidare zakura (しだれ桜, weeping cherry trees) and sato zakura (里桜, common cherry trees).  The best time to visit there is the beginning or the middle of April.

     There are three famous cherry trees in Joshoko-ji.  The first is called Kokonoe Zakura (九重桜).  The age of the tree is some 650 years.  This is specified as a natural monument of the nation.  The second is Mikuruma Gaeshi no Sakura (御車返しの桜).  To many people’s surprise, it has both single and eightfold cherry blossoms on its branches.  The third is called Sakon no Sakura (左近の桜).  It is said that Iwakura Tomomi (岩倉具視), an important and famous politician of the Meijia era, transplanted it.

     Many people visit Joshoko-ji to see cherry blossoms every year.  There are people who visit there from other prefectures, too.  Maples leaves there are also very beautiful in autumn.  Joshoko-ji is near the preschool which I went to in my childhood.  Therefore, it is very familiar to me.  I recommend everybody to enjoy beautiful natural sceneries in Joshoko-ji

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Katanami (片波, the primeval forest in Katanami)

  Katanami is a community of old and big trees called “Fukujo Daisugi (伏状台杉)” in Kuroda (黒田) District, Keihoku.  There are a lot of big Japanese cedar trees and trees of other species.  Some trees are more than 800 years old.  One of the trees, called ‘Heiansugi, (平安杉)’, has a trunk of 15.2 meters around!  There are also a lot of trees which have interesting names.  Katanami has such a deep forest that if you want to go to every corner possible, it will take more than four hours.

  If you go there, you might encounter a bear.  It is said that if you were to encounter a big bear, you should shout loudly or move back while watching the bear’s eyes. 

  A lot of tourists visit Katanami every year. I hear that they are very satisfied without exception.  Katanami is a very famous place.

Copyright photo courtesy of Itsumi Itoh

Yuriko Kishimoto

Kayabuki no Sato  (かやぶきの里, the Village of Thatched Houses)
  Kayabuki no Sato is located in Chii (知井), which is in the north of Miyama-cho.  Many sightseers visit there.  Kayabuki means thatched, and a sato is a village.  There are about fifty kayabuki houses there.  A museum of folk material and some inns for tourists are there, too.  That area has an atmosphere of several hundred years ago.  The area was selected to be an “important traditional building group preservation area” in 1993.  Many sightseers visit Kayabuki no Sato.  Every time I pass this district I feel healed.  I recommend everyone to visit there.

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migaki maruta (みがき丸太, polished log of Japanese cider)
  One of the special products of the Keihoku area is migaki maruta, or polished logs.  It is made out of Kitayama sugi (北山杉), which is also one of the special products of Keihoku.  Migaki maruta’s character is smooth and large.  It is used for building materials.  The forestry of Keihoku used to be popular, but it is not so popular anymore..

Miyama Gyunyu (美山牛乳, Miyama Milk)

  Miyama Gyunyu is milk produced from the cows brought up in Miyama-cho, which is a mountainous area in the north of Kyoto Prefecture.  It is a special product of Miyama, and it is sterilized at 85 degrees for 15 minutes.  It is also non-homogenized.

     The milk is popular in my town.  I used to drink it when I was a junior high school student.  Now, all my peers and the junior high school students drink it while eating school lunch.  Miyama Gyunyu is cheap but delicious!

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natto mochi (納豆餅, rice cakes with ferment soybeans)

  This is a traditional local food in Keihoku.  It is made of mochi, or pounded rice cakes, and natto, or fermented soybeans.  It is eaten particularly in the Yamaguni area in Keihoku.  In Yamaguni, there is a person who insists that the natto used for the dish should be made in Yamaguni.  Japanese people have a custom of eating zoni, or rice cake broth with miso soup, on New Year’s Day.  Some people in Yamaguni, however, eat natto mochi as a replacement.

     Although it is said that natto and sugar do not go well together, if you add sugar to natto mochi, it will come to have a very nice taste.
Ono Damu (大野ダム, Ono Dam)
 Ono Dam is located in Miyama-cho, Kyoto Prefecture.  The man-made lake there is often called ‘the Lake of the Rainbow’.  A lot of cherry trees and maple trees are planted around the lake.  In the spring, many cherry trees bloom.  They are wonderful.  In autumn, beautiful maple trees decorate the dam.  In order to see them, a lot of tourists visit from far and wide.  Around the dam, festivals are held in spring and in autumn every year.  One is called the Ono Dam Cherry Blossoms Festival, and the other Ono Dam Maple Leaves Festival.  There are a lot of stands for food and other things then.  Moreover, it is a place famous for bass fishing.  There is a shop that lends you lures and boats.  We can enjoy fishing readily.

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P】 【Q】


Rennyo no Taki (蓮如の滝, Rennyo Falls)
  Rennyo Falls is a waterfall situated at Uchikubo (内久保), Miyama-cho.  The origin of the name is from when the Rennyo Shonin (蓮如上人, 1415–99), or the Venerable Rennyo, praised it in the old days.  It is characterized by its moderate drop and little quantity of water.  By the way, it is one of the Hiraya Hakkei (平屋八景), or the eight great sites of Hiraya, Miyama.  It is a one of the places that the people who live in Hiraya are proud of.

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Shakunage (シャクナゲ, Rhododendron)

  Shakunage is a very beautiful flower!  Its colors are white, pink, or purple.  It blooms in the mountains in spring.  Shakunage is Keihoku’s town flower.  It was elected as the town’s flower before Keihoku merged with Kyoto City.  The town is surrounded with mountains.  In fact, over ninety percent of the town is mountains and forests.  So, if you come to my town in the springtime, you can see and enjoy shakunage--near a private house, by a river, in the mountains, and all over the place!  

So yes, I think that shakunage is suitable for being Keihoku’s town flower.

Copyright photo courtesy of Itsumi Itoh

Shuzan Kaido Biru (周山街道ビール, Shuzan Highway Beer)
  There is a local beer called Shuzan Kaido Biru in my town, Keihoku.  It is made by the Haneda Shuzo Brewery (羽田酒造).  I hear that it has a unique smell and taste.  It is said that, generally, beer has a bitter taste, but the local beer in Shuzan is not so bitter, and comes in various delicious flavors.  Haneda Shuzo has a beer garden so you can drink their beer there if you are over 20 years old and if you don’t drive home.  I recommend you to try it!

Shuzan-jo (周山城, Shuzan Castle)

  Nowadays, Shuzan-jo is just the remains of a castle.  It stood several hundred years ago.  Local people call it just ‘Shiroyama-jo’.  Jo means ‘castle’.

    Shuzan-jo is situated on the mountain right in front of Haneda Shuzo Brewery.  It was built by Mitsuhide Akechi (明智光秀).  He is one of the most famous people in Japanese history.  He murdered Nobunaga Oda (織田信長), his feudal lord, and once ruled over Japan for a very short time.  Nobunaga was the most powerful samurai of the era.

     I have been to Shuzan-jo many times, because in my elementary school days we went there as a school event to welcome new students.  It is in a deep forest, so we had to walk for a long time to get there.  It was hard for me to climb the mountain.  Nevertheless, it is a good memory.

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