Special Feature on Valentine's Day, Shines, Temples, Churches, and Monuments
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Author:YugaoAuthor
Yugao

"Chourakukan" in Kyoto, a recommendation for Valentine's Day

Tell me about your best Valentine's Day.

Which Valentine's Day immediately comes to mind when you think about it?

「"Back in my school days, I can't forget the handmade chocolates I received from the girl I had a crush on."
"Exchanging friendship chocolates with my female friends.
Even though it was prohibited, we brought them to school, got caught by our teacher, and got scolded."
"I was called out behind the gymnasium and someone confessed his feelings for me. Snow had just started falling."
"In her rebellious phase, my daughter who wouldn't even talk to me handed me a chocolate wordlessly."

For those episodes stored in our hearts, when we recall them, we may feel those memories are just like the sweetness of chocolate that warms our heart.
And for those who only have bitter memories, it's okay.
What's most important is what lies ahead.

So, why not have the best Valentine's Day of your life this year?

Be with the loved one at the place where you fall in love at first sight

Exterior of Chourakukan
Exterior of Chourakukan

To have a Valentine's Day that remains memorable for a lifetime,
you'd want to find a location befitting the occasion, wouldn't you?
The place I recommend this time is 'Chourakukan' in Kyoto.

The first time I visited Chourakukan was during my school days.
My aunt took me there,
and the moment I stepped inside, I was struck by its overwhelming architectural beauty.
I fell in love with this place at first sight

What is Chourakuka?

In a corner of Maruyama Park in Kyoto, a renowned cherry blossom viewing spot, stands an elegant building that catches the eye.
That is Chourakukan.
Originally built as the villa for Kichibei Murai, a businessman often referred to as the 'Tobacco King',
it has been beloved as a social gathering spot for prominent figures of the Meiji era such as Hirobumi Ito and Shigenobu Okuma.

Moved by the beautiful architecture incorporating every element of luxury

Chourakukan was designed by an American named Gardiner, who harmoniously combined architectural styles from around the world to create a lavish and dazzling ambiance.

The exterior of Chourakukan has a refined beauty with a sense of the Renaissance.
The room on the right after you enter has a delicate Rococo design.
The stained glass and windows feature the elegant decorations of Art Nouveau. In addition, there are rooms with Chinese-style ink paintings and traditional Japanese rooms designed in the 'Shoin-zukuri' style, allowing you to experience architectural styles from all over the world.

  • You can enjoy afternoon tea in the first-floor ' Geihin-no-ma ', which is designed in Rococo style.
    You can enjoy afternoon tea in the first-floor ' Geihin-no-ma ', which is designed in Rococo style.
  • The stained glass of the entrance door depicts an iris flower.
    The stained glass of the entrance door depicts an iris flower.

Feel the presence of the great figures from the Meiji era.

A signboard inscribed with 'Chourakukan'
A signboard inscribed with 'Chourakukan'

There's a must-see spot when you visit Chourakukan.
It's the signboard located on the mezzanine foor.
From the luxurious lobby, you can look up and see the characters for 'Chourakukan'.
These characters were actually calligraphed by the first Prime Minister of Japan, Hirobumi Ito.
During a stay right after its completion, he was so moved by the view from the window that he composed a poem saying, 'When I visit this place, the pleasure feels as if it will last forever'.
True to its origin, which means 'may the joy last long', it continues to be cherished and handed down, deeply loved by many people.

Enchanted by desserts

There are several ways to enjoy Chourakukan, but the perfect choice for Valentine's Day is to use its café.
At Chourakukan, there are wonderful menu items available to add color to the Valentine's season until February 14th.

Rose et Fromage, Berry Chocolate Blanc
Left: ■Rose et Fromage
1870 yen
Right: ■Berry Chocolate Blanc
1430 yen
(Inclusive of tax and service charges)
バレンタインの装飾

By viewing the dish that was served, one may fall in love with these adorable dishes.

Besides, the furnishings in the room have historical value.
To spend time in the very place where great figures of the Meiji period once did, gazing upon furnishings of that era, makes it a truly precious date.

The inside of the mansion is adorned with adorable decorations with the concept of Valentine's Day, ensuring an unforgettable and unique date experience.

Enjoy the top-class hotel that is evaluated by Michelin Guide

Chourakukan is famous for its afternoon tea.
However, many might not know that it also offers accommodations, allowing guests an even more relaxed experience.
The Chourakukan hotel is situated in a building that underwent a renovation in 2008.
With only six rooms in total, it's undeniably exclusive. Yet, this very exclusivity is what accentuates the personalized hospitality provided to its guests. The hotel has achieved the "4 Red Pavilions" rating from the Michelin Guide for six consecutive years, indicating top-level comfort and particular allure.

Every room is equipped with its own fireplace.
Guests can relax, listening to the crackling of wood and watching the dancing flames, ensuring a relaxing stay.

Intoxicated by the splendid scenery...

Chourakukan is located in Kyoto's exceptionally beautiful Higashiyama area. From inside the building, guests can gaze upon the trees of the adjacent Maruyama Park. Additionally, it's within walking distance to two of Kyoto's famous tourist attractions: Kiyomizu-dera and Kodai-ji temple.
Now, let me introduce the perfect "power spots for love" for Valentine's Day.

Maruyama Park

A well-known cherry blossom viewing spot located in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto.
It's designated as a national scenic spot.
The Japanese poem (waka) penned by Yosano Akiko, which goes, "To Kiyomizu, passing through Gion on a cherry blossom moonlit night, all the people I meet tonight look beautiful," is quite famous. The majestic beauty of the "Gion weeping cherry tree" in the park is indeed breathtaking.

Gion weeping cherry tree
Gion weeping cherry tree

The original Gion weeping cherry tree has withered away, and the current tree is its second generation.
During Valentine's season, it has yet to blossom, but how about taking a romantic stroll with your loved one and making a sweet promise? "Next time, let's definitely visit in spring and watch the cherry blossoms in full bloom together.

Kiyomizu-dera

An extremely popular spot where about 20% of Kyoto visitors visit this place. While it is known for its "Kiyomizu Stage", the real charm for those in love is the "Otowa Waterfall".
Located within Kiyomizu-dera, the waterfall is split into three streams.
Standing in the front, from right to left, they represent longevity, love, and studies. In my high school, there was a superstition that if you drank the water of the waterfall, you'd get a boyfriend!
Be careful not to drink the water of all three streams though!

Being greedy might result in none of your wishes coming true.

  • Kiyomizu-dera Niōmon
    Kiyomizu-dera Niōmon
  • Kiyomizu-dera Hondo (Main Hall)
    Kiyomizu-dera Hondo (Main Hall)

Jishu Shrine

A fortune-telling stone for love in Jishu Shrine
A fortune-telling stone for love in Jishu Shrine

Kyoto's oldest and most powerful matchmaking deity resides here.
The temple is famous for a pair of stones located within its grounds known as the " fortune-telling stones for love."

It's believed that if you can walk from one stone to the other with your eyes closed, your love wish will come true.
The place is always crowded, often with school trip students and university couples trying the challenge blindfolded.
However, please be aware that the temple is currently closed due to a three-year renovation of the main shrine building.

Yasaka Shrine

Often referred to affectionately as "Gion-san," this shrine is known for warding off the bad luck.
As it's a shrine where weddings can be held, if you're lucky, you might see a bridal procession.
Seeing a beautiful bride might make you dream, "Maybe I'll be next...!"

Yasaka Shrine
Yasaka Shrine

Within the shrine grounds, the "Ookuninushi Sha" is a popular power spot for women.
It enshrines the famous "Ookuninushi-no-kami," known as the deity of matchmaking.
Ookuninushi-no-kami is the kind-hearted deity who saved the "White Rabbit of Inaba."

Additionally, there is also "Utsukushigozensha," known as a power spot for beauty. Utsukushigozensha has a spring known as "Beauty Water." It's believed that if you drop a few drops of this water on your skin, it will enhance both the beauty of your body and mind.

Kodai-ji Temple

Also known as "Nene's Temple."

Kodai-ji Temple
Kodai-ji Temple

After the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the temple was established by Kita no Mandokoro in order to pray for his afterlife.
Given that they are one of the most famous couples in Japanese history, many come to the temple hoping to benefit from their romantic fortune.
Personally, I like the karesansui.
Especially during the cherry blossom season, it's amazing.
Why not experience the happiness of sitting on the veranda with loved ones, enjoying the scenery of the garden?

Other than the spots previously mentioned, there are other picturesque locations in the Higashiyama district. Take, for example, the teahouses lined up in Hanamikoji Street or the willows gracefully swaying in the breeze at Gion Shirakawa. In this Higashiyama district, every scenery is beautiful.

Let's experience the greatest love in Kyoto!

Everyone is captivated by the beauty of Chorakukan.
Once you immerse yourself in its space, you naturally start your contemplation about its history.

I wonder how the people of that era felt when sitting in this place...
With whom did they talk, and what did they talk about?

As you lose yourself in thought,
with the flow of time,
You'll suddenly realize that perhaps you don't belong to this era.

Life is " Accumulation of encounters and choices."

Be grateful for meeting the person you love in front of you.
Rejoice in the fleeting moments you share together.

This year, let's enjoy the best love of our lives in Kyoto!