Kamigata Bunka (Kamigata Culture) (上方文化)

Kamigata Bunka is a culture cultivated in Kamigata centered in Osaka and Kyoto. It refers to every value of life such as food, clothing, housing, holiness, nature, truth, virtue and beauty. It has delicate shades of meanings and elegance.

In the Genroku era (1688 – 1704) the economy of Kamigata developed remarkably. The wealthy townspeople became the leader of the new culture and Kamigata Bunka appeared.

Kamigata means 'the direction of Kami (Imperial Palace)' and refers to Kyoto and its surrounding area.

It always remained the center of the Yamato race culture in the history of Japan. Since the Edo period began, with spreading culture eastward, refined and developed Kamigata Bunka was also brought to Kanto gradually, and finally in the Kasei era the own culture of Edo flowered.

The life and culture of Kamigata


Monomiyusan (a pleasure trip) including cherry-blossom viewing, moon viewing, viewing autumnal leaves and snow viewing

The outskirts of Kamigata

Sinsaibashi, Fushimi Inari, Ohatsu-tenjin Shrine (Tsuyunoten-jinja Shrine)

Kamigata Kabuki (Kansai Kabuki)

Tojuro SAKATA, Ichimatsu SANOGAWA

Kamigata rakugo (traditional Japanese comic storytelling)

Sanjikkoku (a popular item of rakugo, literally, "30 koku")

Noh play

Kyogen (farce played during a No play cycle)

Kamigata Ukiyoe

Ukiyoe (Japanese woodblock prints)

Kamigata Mai (static dance)

Kamigata uta (songs of Kamigata)

Jiuta (a genre of traditional songs with samisen accompaniment)

Iroha karuta (playing card)

Hyakunin-isshu karuta

Kamigata kodan (kodan storytelling in Kyoto and Osaka)

In the early Edo period, people in Kamigata liked kimono (Japanese traditional clothing) made of good quality materials and also dyed kimono and kanoko shibori (spot tie-dyeing) appeared earlier in Kamigata. In the Genroku era, Yuzen-zome (fabrics dyed by a method invented by Yuzen MIYAZAKI) became very popular and it was said that there was no place like Kamigata to see luxury clothes. The prosperity of kimono was supported by the financial power and aesthetic sense of the townspeople of Kamigata.


Furisode (kimono with long, trailing sleeves)


Nishijin brocade

Yukata (an informal cotton kimono)





Culture of Japanese restaurant

Seishu (refined sake)

Japanese confectionery

Somen noodles (fine white noodles)

Yokan (a bar of sweetened and jellied bean paste)

Kamaboko (boiled fish paste)

Soy sauce

Kuzu (arrowroot)

Hakozushi (pressed sushi)

Maki-zushi (sushi roll)

Udon noodles


Proverbs and Koji Seigo (Chinese origin and proverbs)
Three years on a stone (Perseverance prevails). Fortune favors cheerful homes. A horse comes from a gourd (It was only a joke, but it has come true/Something unexpected has happened). If you talk about next year, devils will laugh at you.

Works based on Kamigata

Literature of the townspeople in Osaka and Kyoto mainly in the Genroku era is called Kamigata literature. While the system of modern society was gradually appearing in the society, Kamigata literature described the diversified urban life and energetic human emotions and the subtleties of feeling. The three people - Saikaku IHARA who wrote Ukiyozoshi (Literally, Books of the Floating World), a joruri writer Monzaemon CHIKAMATSU and a haikai poet Basho MATSUO – have left major marks in it.

[Original Japanese]