Most of you have probably heard about Kyoto, but did you know that Kyoto is more than a city and also a prefecture in Japan? Within Kyoto prefecture, one can find a beautiful city named Yawata. In this article I will introduce you to the city, that holds many bamboos related wonders..

Yawata City in Kyoto Prefecture is located between Kyoto City and Osaka City. It is a suburb of a large city undergoing development, but it is known as a bamboo production center that has had an impact on world history. Nowadays, it is a small city with a population of 69,000, which remained famous for its bamboo production until today. I have traveled to Yawata city with Keihan Railway from Kyoto city. 

Upon my arrival at the station, I made my way to the cable cars, as I went up into the mountain area. Within the mountain area, one can find one of the major shrines in Japan. The Iwashimizu Hachimangu shrine is believed to protect against evil and the current main building is also known a national treasure. It is one of the three major shrines build in Japan to enshrine Hachiman, to tutelary god of warriors. I also had the pleasure to join a special ceremony and to see parts of the shrine that are usually not open for public access. It is truly a majestic building and I suggest to pay this one definitely visit.

As mentioned in the beginning of my article, bamboo has an impact in the history and daily life of Yawata city. The green bamboo used in the filament of the incandescent light bulb invented by Edison was produced in Yawata City. Green bamboo is a plant that prefers flatlands, but the green bamboo of Otokoyama, which grows on hillsides, is said to have had hard fibers that made it suitable as a filament material. Unfortunately, most of the green bamboo forests have now been replaced by moso bamboo forests, but remnants of the past can still be seen. In Yawata this historical achievement has still a huge impact and monuments and even restaurants named and designed after Edison can be found.

One might be surprised, that there is even more bamboo related topics that refer to Yawata city. The floating Bridge, named Nagarebashi, is the longest wooden bridge in Japan, with a total length of more than 356.5 m, which spans the river. The deck is designed to flow downstream to reduce resistance during floods. It is a very common location which is used in movies. Some of you have might discovered it already, without knowing.

As for me, I am a foodie and when it comes to culinary aspects, I’m really crazy for mochi. I was really excited, as I got to visit Yawata Hashiriimochi-Rouho. It is a very famous shop with a century long history. Personally, I believe I had the best mochi in my entire life over there and additionally even enjoyed shaved ice with matcha as well. Probably, I could tell that I would already be enough of a reason to travel to Yawata only to enjoy this culinarily highlight. Besides, Yawata has many more vegan and vegetarian options to offer, which also can be found on the official website.

Along the river side, one can also explore the many tea fields of the city. A huge different of the production in Yawata is, that the green tea is steamed and dried but not rolled. Matcha is moreover made from this specialty, which is a very popular product, not only in Yawata. As we are already talking about tea, I want to tell you more about the tea ceremony, that I had in Yawata. Most of you are already aware of it, but tea ceremonies play an important part in Japanese culture. For the ceremony, bamboo is obviously essential, as it used within the different utensils. This is referring again to the impact, that bamboo has within this city.

I have visited the Shokado Garden Art Museum, near Otokoyama hill. The garden has 44 different types of bamboo and a traditional tea house, where visitors can experience a Japanese tea ceremony. The tea house pursues a simple design in order to enhance the beauty and richness of the space. In Japan there is a saying which is “wabi-sabi”. It is an aesthetic that emphasizes shading, similar to less is more.

The Garden covers a huge area, which can be nice for walks in nature. Besides, the garden offers the above mentioned tea ceremony and even more, one can also explore the museum with art pieces. Yawata is generally rich in nature. One of my highlights was definitely exploring the sunflower field along the road and the many flowers and gardens all around the small city.

Although I only had a short excursion, I feel like it’s a city that is definitely worth a visit for a longer stay. I would want to return to Yawata, especially in summer, to enjoy more of the food, but also the rich flower blooming and the many national festivals around. It is a huge contrast in comparism to Kyoto city and I actually liked, that Yawata is not overran by tourists. In summer it might be even a nice idea to rent a bike which is available directly next to the station.