The old cobblestone streets of Ichinenzaka, Ninenzaka, and Sannenzaka have prospered since ancient times. These sloping streets are lined with historic Japanese-style buildings that typify Kyoto, even including many souvenir shops. Nearby Kodaiji Temple and Yasaka Shrine also make these narrow streets part of a popular sightseeing route centering on Kiyomizu Temple.

Here you can immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Kyoto, with Kiyomizu’s three-tiered pagoda overlooking private houses and scattered temples as you ascend the gentle incline.

Main image: 7maru / Shutterstock.com

How to get to Ichinenzaka, Ninenzaka, and Sannenzaka

●From JR Kyoto Station: Near the central exit, take the No. 206 bus from city bus stop D2 to Higashiyama Yasui.
● From Hankyu Kyoto Kawaramachi Station or Keihan Gion-Shijo Station: From Shijo Dori, take the 207 bus eastward to Shimizu.
●On foot: Around 18 minutes from Hankyu Kawaramachi Station or Keihan Gion5-Shijo Station.

Brief history of Ichinenzaka, Ninenzaka, and Sannenzaka
Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s wife, Nene, founded Kodaiji Temple and from her nearby house would ascend the hill to Kiyomizu Temple to pray for the safe birth of a healthy child. Sannenzaka (“Three-year hill,” a.k.a. “Sanneizaka)” and Ninenzaka (“Two-year hill,” a.k.a. “Nineizaka”) derive their names from the Japanese word for childbirth and Nene’s name, respectively, with the third street eventually being given the name of “Ichinenzaka” (“One-year hill”).

Walking course and recommended sites
From the bus stop on Higashioji Dori, go east on Kodaiji Minamimon Dori. When you reach the Nene no Michi alley (on your left, but easy to miss), there will be a small sign on the right indicating the foot of Ichinenzaka. After passing through this quiet street of souvenir shops and private homes, turn south and you will come to Ninenzaka then continue to Sannenzaka from there.

At the end of Sannenzaka is Matsubara Dori, the lively route to Kiyomizu Temple, full of worshippers coming and going from the temple.

Here are some of the highlights of each slope.

1. Ichinenzaka

Ichinenzaka is a gentle slope only 85 meters long. Traditional buildings line the narrow street, home to soba and udon noodle shops, souvenir shops, etc.

If you don’t spot the sign on Kodaiji Minamimon Dori, you’ll easily walk past Ichinenzaka. There are private homes found among the street’s shops, and when the number of tourists is low, it feels like a regular neighborhood street, so please walk as quietly as possible.

Yasaka Koshindo

Yasaka Koshindo Serg Zastavkin / Shutterstock.com

Yasaka Kosh…

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