Ichijo Dori Yokai Street
Walk down Ichijo Dori Yokai Street in Kyoto City and you’ll find yokai (妖怪; Japanese spirits) greeting you at shopfronts or peeking out from nooks and crannies. From humanoids to animals and outlandish monsters, from the good to the mischievous and evil, this unique street in Kyoto has them all.
Get spirited away to the world of yokai
Image credit: @yeon.tanie
Ichijo Dori is a yokai menagerie embedded in local life. If you’ve watched yokai-inspired anime such as Natsume Yuujincho and Kamisama Kiss, you’ll recognise the florist kappa (河童; frog-like yokai) welcoming you outside the Sakurai Flower Shop.
Image credit: @liamdrane
Yokai figures are creatively incorporated into the shops’ themes, like a smiling rectangular boroboroton (暮露暮露団; futon yokai) that resembles a mattress outside the Katobun Futon Shop.
Yokai shaped like croissant on the left and bread on the right.
Image credit: @yokaitoons
Keep an eye out for more elusive yokai that are disguised as other objects, such as a pair of brothers fashioned after baked goods.
Nurarihyon (left) and teapot-like yokai follower (right).
Image adapted from: Surprising Horizons
Some of them even keep up with current affairs. Case in point – 2 yokai wearing masks outside the Nishiki-kagetudo tea shop.
Annual night parade inspired by historical folklore
Image credit: 河出書房新社
Though Ichijo Dori wasn’t always decorated with yokai art, its long history with yokai dates back to the Kōhō Period (964-968).
According to the Tsukumogami Chronicle, the residents along Ichijo Dori were conducting the annual end-of-year susuharai (煤払い; soot sweeping) ritual to clear out broken or unused household objects. Upset, the discarded objects came to life.
Image credit: Yukio Shimizu
A hundred object-turned-yokai marched down Ichijo Dori to haunt their ex-owners for abandoning them. This event became known as Hyakki Yagyō (百鬼夜行; Night Parade of One Hundred Ghosts).
Centuries later, local business owners of this traditional shopping street drew inspiration from Ichijo Dori’s yokai backstory to attract shoppers and compete with modern shopping malls.
Image credit: 今日日本
The annual Yokai Night Parade is held on the 3rd Saturday of October each year as an re-enactment of the Hyakki Yagyō. Residents, performance groups, and even tourists would dress up in costumes of yokai for a night of fun.
Image adapted from: 今日日本
Yokai-themed market, food & museum
Image adapted from: Kyoto Taishogun
Ichijo Dori’s mononoke-ichi (モノノケ市; ghost market) presents yokai-themed goods and unusual antiques that will lift your spirits. Suspended for 2 years due to the pandemic, the ghost market made its return in April 2022. Check out the official Kyoto Hyakki site for updates on the next mononke-ichi, organised by the yokai art group Kyoto Hyakki.
Image credit: Y.Takekoshi
Ichijo Dori offers lots of food options that seem stomach-churning at first blush, but are surprisingly delicious. Ichijo Dori’s store catalogue provides a handy overview of what you can expect.
Image credit: Y.Takekoshi
An iconic staple not to be missed is the hellish-looking Shokudo Inoue’s Yokai Ramen. The black ramen broth is coloured with bamboo charcoal, which is then paired with purple noodles made with gardenia seeds and topped with red paprika powder.
Image credit: Lucia Tsujiguchi
For the curious and courageous, there’s even a yokai museum with a haunted house to put your guts to the test for just ¥100 (~USD0.75) per person.
Getting to Ichijo Dori Yokai Street
Image adapted from: 空飛ぶお坊さん・長松清潤のブログ
If you’re up for a yokai watch, you’re in luck – all roads from Kyoto Station lead to Ichijo Dori because it’s so accessible.
How to get there:
- By bus: Alight at Kitano-Hakubai-Cho bus stop or Kitano-Tenmangu bus stop via Kyoto city bus and take an easy 200m stroll.
- By train: Head to Kitano Hakubai-cho Station via Randen railway and walk for 400m.
Address: Ichijo Dori, Kyoto
Opening Hours: Every shop has different hours and rest days, but most are open 10am-7pm. You can find opening hours of specific shops through the shop catalogue below.
Contact: 0754-61-2520 | Kyoto Taishogun Ichijo Yokai Street website
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