Translated by Masahisa Matsunuma
Footsteps of Ryoma Sakamoto at Ryoma-dori Shopping St., Fushimi
Written by まいまい京都
Fushimi, which is a ward located in Kyoto, is well known for its sake breweries. The Ryoma-dori shopping street, named after a famous Japanese samurai Ryoma Sakamoto, is a five minute's walk from the Chushojima Station on the Keihan Line. Since it is also close to Teradaya Inn used regularly by Ryoma, many fans of Ryoma come to visit it from all over the country.
The history of the shopping street dates back to about 300 years earlier when a red-light district was built in Chushojima. A row of stores that sold kimono and daily necessities for the prostitutes was the origin of the present-day Ryoma's shopping street. In 1996, the street landscape underwent a makeover as paving stones and gaslamp-looking streetlights were newly installed and the exterior of the stores was renovated in the traditional Japanese style. It has become a favourite spot for both locals and tourists.
Let's start with the famous Teradaya Sailor's Inn. The area was ravaged by the hard-fought Battle of Toba-Fushimi in 1868, or 4th Keio, so the building at the time was destroyed in fire and later rebuilt in the Meiji era. The inn was a site of the Teradaya incident in 1866 where Ryoma was attacked by the Bakufu government force. Ryoma was able to escape thanks to help by Oryo, who later became his wife. Still today, visitors keep coming to follow in the footsteps of one of the most popular samurai in history. The inn part of the building is open for a visit. (open 10:00 to 16:00. Last entry 15:40. 400 yen for adults.) So if you are interested in history, you do not want to miss it.
Across from Teradaya is a small store that looks like a sailor's inn. You know what, this Piers’n’Peers, or Pia-Pia, is not just a souvenir store, but also a community development base that aims to make Fushimi the most fun city to take a stroll around. The owner of the store Mr.Fujisaki says that they offer selected fair trade following Ryoma's passion for trade. As you expect from such a place, their staff is friendly and they hold many fun events like music performance and workshops on weekends. It is a great place for a visit.
Right at the beginning of the Ryoma-dori shopping street stands a signpost with a nostalgic air of days gone by.
Take some more strolls and you will see a work of shop shutter art with a picture of Ryoma. This is a part of the Bakumatsu Ishin Kairo（幕末維新回廊; meaning corridor gallery of the ending of Tokugawa shogunate, and the Meiji Restoration）artwork created in collaboration with Kyoto University of Art and Design. The artwork was prepared for the Fushimi+Art Festival which was organized by seven shopping street communities (Fushimi Furoyamachi Shotengai, Fushimi Otesuji Shotengai, Nayamachi Shotengai, Aburakake Shotenkai, Ryoma-dori Shotengai, Chushojima Yanagimachi Haneikai, Chushojima Haneikai) to revitalize the town through art. It is wonderful that local shopping street communities and future artists are working together.
There is a comic foreground and the characters designed are, of course, Ryoma and Oryo. Sometimes foreign tourists look at it curiously and take a photo.
At a fruit and vegetable store that sells old-fashioned pickled vegetables, there is Ryoma-zuke, a bag of which costs 200 yen. It is Nukazuke (Japanese rice bran pickles) that is said to be Ryoma's favourite and popular among tourists.
If you feel like a cozy place, Cafe Tsukinotoki is the best for you. They boast menu items that are made from local sake kasu (sake lees) or served with fresh vegetables full of natural blessings of good old Miyama, Kyoto. Their original "Curry with Seasonal Vegetables and Sake Kasu from Kyoto" has a mild taste and heals your heart and body.
Our last stop is Yasumoto Chaho which has been here since 1871, or 4th Meiji. Displayed together with aromatic green tea and Kyoto coarse tea are so many tea chests that were used in the Edo period, making an air of a historic store.
There is an eat-in space called Otose Chaya (お登勢茶屋). You can buy a dumpling with a rich matcha flavour for 150 yen or a matcha soft serve for 230 yen.
Ryoma-dori Shopping Street
Access: 5 min walk from north exit of Chushojima Station on Keihan Line.
Address: Ryoma-dori, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, 612-8364
Closed: New Year Holidays (Jan 1 to 3) and occasionally on Monday
Open daily, but occasionally closed.