Yamashina Ward (山科区)

Yamashina Ward is one of the eleven wards that constitute Kyoto City. It covers the northern part of Yamashina Basin, which lies on the eastern part of Kyoto City, and its surrounding mountainous districts.

Mt. Higashi (Kyoto Prefecture) divides Yamashina from Kyoto Basin, and mountains such as Mt. Otowa (Shiga Prefecture, Kyoto prefecture) and Mt. Daigo (Mt. Kasatori) separate it from Omi Basin. It has long been a key junction for transportation between Kyoto and eastern regions of Japan.

Although Yamashina Ward was once a farm village that bordered Shiga Prefecture, it has become a commuter town for downtown Kyoto and Osaka City and is populated by many residents who moved in from other regions.

The eastern part of the ward borders on Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture and has a close connection with it. The southern part borders on the Fushimi Ward Daigo area, which shares the same life and economic zones with Yamashina Ward. The relationship between Yamashina Ward and Daigo area is said to be deeper than that between the central Fushimi Ward and the Daigo area.


Yamashina Basin


Ancient Times
Since ancient times Yamashina has always had a sizable amount of traffic, and the Hinooka-toge mountain pass over Mt.Higashi as well as the Osaka no Seki checking station toward the Otsu-juku Station are known as crossroads of the Tokaido Road. Yamashina, a post town of the Tokaido, flourished in particular during the Edo period. There were many roads that passed through the city: the Nara Kaido Road that extended south from Osaka (the Hokurikudo Road when Nara was capital), the Shibuya Kaido Road that crossed Mt. Higashi south of Hinooka (linking eastern regions with Rokuhara Tandai (the Kamakura Shogun's Kyoto Agent)), present-day the Kajuji Imagumano Line of Kyoto Prefectural Route 118, and Oiwa Kaido Road.

Ruins of a large scale settlement in the Yayoi period were found in a plateau of Kurisuno, showing people had lived there since the Jomon period. Nakatomi ruin is most important because it has several sites from the period during the late Old Stone Age (Japan) through the Muromachi period.

Since ancient times Yamashina has had a close relation with governments; a garden for monks (Yamashina-dera Temple) was founded by NAKATOMI no Kamatari in 669 and the Imperial mausoleum of Emperor Tenji (Tenchi) was built in the late seventh century. After Heian-kyo and Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple had been built, many temples such as Ansho-ji Temple (Kyoto City) (in 848), Bishamon-do, Kaju-ji Temple (in 900), and Mandara-ji Temple (later Zuishin-in Temple, in 991) were built, and Daigo-ji Temple (in 874) were founded on and at the base of the Mt. Daigo and Mt. Kasatori along the lower Yamashina River outside the ward.

From the Muromachi period to the Sengoku period (period of Warring States)
During the Middle Ages there was a Shoen, or a manor named 'Yamashina no sho,' which had been owned by a noble family for generations, later named Yamashina family, but Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) in 1548 deprived it from Tokitsugu YAMASHINA known as a richly cultured person representing the Sengoku period (Japan).

Since Yamashina Hongwan-ji Temple was founded by Rennyo in 1478 of the late Muromachi period, temples and their precinct towns surrounded by long earthworks started to occupy a large area of the Yamashina Basin. However Harumoto HOSOKAWA, fearing the presence of Hongwan-ji Temple--as if it had been a walled town--and strength of its followers, joined hands with the Nichiren sect, who held power over the entire Kyoto City, and attempted to attack the Ikko-shu sect.

In 1532, the Nichiren sect followers destroyed and burned Yamashina Hongwan-ji Temple in the Tenbun-hokke Rebellion. The Hongwan-ji Temple sect lost its headquarters and moved to Osaka (Ishiyama Hongwan-ji Temple). Yamashina Hongwan-ji Temple fell into ruins with only a high earthwork remaining in the Ward today.

Edo period
During the Edo period, Yamashina, Shinomiya, and Higechaya-oiwake (present day Oiwake, Otsu City) constituted a town along the Tokaido Road (it is now called Old Kaido Road or Old Sanjo-dori Street after the opening the Sanjo-dori Street), where there were many travelers including express messengers and parades by daimyos who would alternate their Edo residence. The Fushimi Kaido Road (Otsu Kaido Road)--a route extending from Higechaya-oiwake and connecting the Otsu-juku Station and Fushimi-juku Station as well as Osaka without passing through Kyoto--ran south of Yamashina Basin. It also served as an Imperial estate for cultivating food to supply farm products to the Emperor living in Kyoto and as a suburban farmland to supply citizens of Kyoto City with vegetables. Furthermore Kuranosuke OISHI had lived in Nishino, on the western edge of the Yamashina Ward, and kept everyone deceived by visiting Gion every day through Mt. Higashi until he carried out his revenge.

From the Meiji Restoration to World War Two
In and after the Meiji period, the Lake Biwa Canal, the Tokaido Main Line, and the Keihan Keishin Line were built in Yamashina, and the Keishin National Route (later the National Route 1 and now the Sanjo-dori Street) opened in 1933.. In and after the Taisho and Showa periods, it flourished as a residential suburb and industrial area after fibers and dyeing related plants were built.

In particular, a big plant of Nihon (Nippon) Kenpu (Japan Silk Cloth) was built in Nishino in 1921 and became Kanebo Yamashina Plant the next year as a result of a merger. In the neighborhood, markets and movie theaters were built targeting many female workers who lived near the plant, contributing to the urbanization of the area surrounding Yamashina Station.
(The Yamashina Plant was relocated to Nagahama in 1970 and Yamashina housing complex was built on the vacant site.)

Yamashina also developed as a leisure area in the suburb of Kyoto, as leisure facilities such as a golf course, dance hall, and a high-class Japanese restaurant were built. It was merged into Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City in 1931, when residences and plants were found only mainly along the Tokaido Road and near Yamashina Station; the remaining areas were mostly suburban farmlands.

After World War Two
After the war, the Kyoto Higashi Interchange of the Meishin Expressway, the Gojo By-pass, (present-day National Route 1), Kyoto Outer Loop Expressway, and the Kosai Line leading to Tsuruga, were constructed. In and after the high-growth period, the farmlands were steadily turned into lands for housing, in particular housing complexes, making it a commuter town for Kyoto and Osaka. However, the development of roads did not catch up with the development of housing lands, which may be the cause of chronic traffic congestion in many areas within the ward today.

In 1976, Yamashina Ward was divided from Higashiyama Ward. In recent years, the traffic network has further improved with the development of the Kosai Road and the opening of Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line which runs from central Kyoto, passes through the foot of Hinooka, and traverses Yamashina Ward southward. With the opening of the subway, a building housing a department store (Daimaru) was built in front of Yamashina Station for a redevelopment project. This is mainly the reason that areas surrounding Yamashina Station and areas along the Outer Loop Expressway developed into a busy town but, in contrast, areas along the Old Tokaido Road and Ono Yamashina Teishajo Line of the Kyoto Prefecture Route 117 lost their prosperity.


April 1, 1889: Yamashina-mura, Uji-gun was founded when the municipal organization was enforced.

October 16, 1926: Yamashina-mura was organized as Yamashina-cho.

April 1, 1931: Yamashina-cho, Uji District was merged into Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City.

June 1951 A ward office Yamashina Branch opened.

October 1, 1976: Yamashina Ward was divided from Higashiyama Ward.

National facilities

Kyoto Prison

Adjacent municipalities

Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City
Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City
Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
Otsu City, Shiga prefecture


Tokaido Main Line (Biwako Line) of West Japan Railway Company (JR West)
(from/to Kyoto Station) - Yamashina Station - (from/to Maibara Station)
Kosai Line of JR West
(from/to Kyoto Station) - Yamashina Station - (from/to Tsuruga Station)
Keihan Keishin Line of Keihan Electric Railway
(linking up with Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line to Uzumasa Tenjingawa Station) - Misasagi Station - Keihan Yamashina Station - Shinomiya Station - (from/to Hamaotsu Station)
Tozai Line of Kyoto Municipal Subway
(from/to Uzumasa Tenjingawa Station) - Misasagi Station - Yamashina Station - Higashino Station (Kyoto Prefecture) - Nagitsuji Station - Ono Station (Kyoto Prefecture) -(from/to Rokujizo Station)

Fixed-route buses
(The Kyoto City Bus has withdrawn.)

Keihan Bus Co., Ltd. (Refer to Keihan Bus Co., Ltd Yamashina Office.)


Meishin Expressway
Kyoto Higashi Interchange

Urban Highway

Hanshin Expressway No. 8 Kyoto Route

Yamashina Deiriguchi Half-interchange


Kyo-yaki, Kyo Pottery (Kiyomizu-yaki, Kiyomizu Pottery) - many pottery producers moved in with the completion of Kiyomizu Pottery houses near Kaju-ji Temple in 1968.

Scenic and historic sites

the Imperial mausoleum of Emperor Tenji (Tenchi) (Gobyono burial mound, the oldest Imperial mausoleum of Kyoto)
Bishamon-do Monzeki (Monzeki Temple) (a temple where the head priest is a member of the imperial family)
Ansho-ji Temple (Kyoto City) (Monzeki Temple)
Yamashina Shoten
Oishi-jinja Shrine
Kaju-ji Temple
Zuishin-in Temple
Gankei-ji Temple
Lake Biwa Canal
a tomb of SAKANOUE no Tamuramaro

ZIP Code
Yamashina Post Office (607-00, 607-08, 607-09, 607-80, 607-81, 607-82, 607-83, 607-84)

[Original Japanese]