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social_activities

Hospitality in the COVID Era - 2: Kyoto’s Shinto Shrine, Kyoto Cuisine Restaurant & Rickshaws

A "nade-ushi" ox sculpture in the shrine

Insider Blog

social_activities

Hospitality in the COVID Era - 2: Kyoto’s Shinto Shrine, Kyoto Cuisine Restaurant & Rickshaws

In the era of COVID, many facilities in Kyoto are adopting various measures to safely provide their services (March, 2021).

In “Hospitality in the COVID Era – 1” we had a look at the safety measures taken at a theater, a bike rental shop and a transportation system (the City Bus) in Kyoto City. This time, we will be introducing you to the COVID countermeasures taken by jinrikishas (rickshaws), a Shinto shrine, and a Kyoto cuisine restaurant.
 
Each facility is taking different measures depending on the type of services they provide. We hope you find this information useful for making future outing plans and as tips to stay safe at home and on the go. 

1. The Shinto shrine, Kitano Tenmangu’s progressive countermeasures

Kitano Temangu, a Shinto shrine for the deity of scholarship
Kitano Tenmangu, dedicated to the god of academia Lord Sugawara-no-Michizane, is the head shrine of all Tenmangu shrines in Japan and is referred to by locals with the revering nickname ‘Tenjin-san”(Tenjin means the deity of the sky or heaven, and -san is the suffix used to show respect).

The “Tenjin-san” is a place where different beautiful sceneries can be enjoyed depending on the seasons: from the ume (plum) blossoms in spring, the fresh green maples in early summer, to the leaves turning color in autumn. Because of its great popularity among people of all ages, safety measures have been taken to allow everyone to visit and make their prayers at ease. Let’s have a look at the practices, following the way a visitor would take.   
 
A visitor rinsing hands with water at the "chozusha" adorned with flowers
Before we start, let’s go to the chozusha. The chozu (literally ‘hand water’) is where there is normally a water basin with wooden ladles to ritually purify yourself (‘purify’ may sound overwhelming, but it’s just rinsing your hands, and your mouth too to be formal, before entering sacred areas). Now the ladles are taken away, but visitors can still purify their hands by the running water. And, to make up for the loss of the authentic presence of the ladles, fresh seasonal flowers adorn the chozusha. This is called hana-chozu (‘hana’ means flower).

The word hana-chozu originally referred to the act of purifying oneself with the dew on fresh leaves or flowers in the olden times. Hana-chozu in the modern day too is not only meant to be beautiful, but also conveys the symbolic meaning of purification.   
 
 Now let’s pay a visit to the main shrine building where Lord Michizane is enshrined. It may look like nothing has changed, but in order to minimize the number of objects that a large number of unspecified people may come into contact with, the ropes hanging from the bells above are gone (It is customary to ring the bell before making a wish or offering prayers). Apparently, not only the main shrine building, but all the smaller shrines within the precinct, which numbers over fifty, have had the bell ropes taken off. 
One of the sculptures with a sign saying, "Nade-ushi: antiviral and antimicrobial treated"
When you walk around the shrine precincts, you will probably notice that there are a number of ox sculptures. These are called “nade-ushi ('nade' means pat, and 'ushi' means ox/cow).” The nade-ushi are said to bring good fortune by patting them and many think of it as the highlight of their visit to this shrine.

The year 2021 happens to be “the Year of the Ox” in the oriental zodiac (which usually records the largest number of visits to Tenjin-san), so action was taken to “enable the visitors to pat the nade-ushi as usual”, and in December 2020, more than a dozen of the nade-ushi sculptures in the precincts were anti-virus and anti-microbial treated. Antiseptics are also placed by the sculpture, so be sure to use them before and after you pat the sculpture.
 
A visitor pulling out a number from the brass tin for "omikuji" fortune telling
In addition to the nade-ushi, the devices used for omikuji fortune telling have also become antiviral and antimicrobial. The “devices” are the brass tins and all the numbered rods inside them that you use to tell the number of your fortune slip. 

If you still think, “I don’t feel safe enough touching it…” alternatively, you can tell the number that comes to your mind at the counter, and you will be given a fortune slip of that number. Every measure seems to be well thought through.   
 
A "miko" shrine maiden at the counter
The miko or the shrine maidens in charge of giving the fortune slips or the charms and talismans are not only wearing face masks, but also face shields and gloves. The clear panel installed between the miko inside and the visitors outside at the counter is part of the anti-droplet measures.
At the entrance of the "Bai-en" plum garden
Kitano Tenmangu has been long cherished for its famed ume or “plum” blossoms (They aren’t actually “plum” blossoms, but that’s how they’re known in English). It’s Bai-en (literally, ‘plum garden’) is open to the public every year from around late January to late March. On entering the Bai-en, each visitor undergoes a temperature check. 
 Usually, visitors are served tea and sweets while relaxing on the benches and enjoying the view of the ume blossoms in the garden. But, this year the sweets are handed out at the reception along with the words, “We hope you take them home with you.” 

We hope you take basic precautions such as wearing masks and safely visit shrines. 
 
Kitano Tenmangu
Address: Bakuro-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto City 602-8386
Access: Kyoto City Bus Stop Kitano-tanmangu-mae
Phone: +81-75-461-0005

 

EBISUYA Rickshaw (‘Rickshaw’ comes from the Japanese word ‘jinrikisha’) is popular among tourists for their friendly rickshaw pullers that give you guided tours as you enjoy Kyoto sightseeing from a slightly higher vantage point. They have two branch shops in Kyoto: In the Arashiyama area, one of Japan’s best scenic areas, and in the Higashiyama area with the quaint townscape of Gion surrounded by landmark temples and shrines.  

The charm of EBISUYA Rickshaw is not only their comfortable rides, but also the fun stories about Kyoto that the rickshaw pullers can tell you as they take you around the sightseeing spots, taking photos along the way.

Also, riding on a rickshaw is a recreational activity that naturally lets you avoid the “3Cs” (Crowded places, Close-contact settings, and Confined and enclosed spaces) because they operate in the open air. The rickshaw pullers may also show you to lesser-known places (with lesser crowds), so there’s a good chance you can enjoy Kyoto deeper while avoiding the “3Cs”. Also, the fact that each carriage can only accommodate two passengers makes it an ideal option for private trips with close friends or family.

And, of course, EBISUYA Rickshaw is taking a variety of measures, from the rickshaw pullers to the rickshaw carriages, to keep everyone healthy and safe.
 
Let’s have a look at what countermeasures the rickshaw pullers are taking. First, they have their temperatures taken after every morning meeting. 37.5 degrees Celsius is the border line to judge whether they can be on service or not. At the same time their temperatures are taken, they also are checked if they are wearing masks.
Wearing face masks on site is a must. They may use a combination of different types of droplet prevention devices while they are operating the rickshaws. For example, using mouth covers designed for sports activities, cloth masks with good ventilation and face guards in combinations. 
The rickshaw carriages are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The railings that passengers may touch while getting on and off the seat, the seat, and the blanket are all disinfected using alcohol.
A sign saying, "We ask for your kind cooperation with temperature check and hand sanitizing.
And, not only the rickshaw crew, but also the passengers are required to disinfect their hands before going on board, using the antiseptics in portable spray bottles provided for each carriage. 

Recreational activities like rickshaw riding takes place outdoors, relatively free of the “3Cs’” concerns; nevertheless, careful precautions are being taken to avoid risks. We hope you will be able to enjoy touring Kyoto in safe and comfortable environments, too. 
 
Kyoto Rickshaw EBISUYA (Arashiyama head office) 
Address: 3-24 Susukinobaba-cho Sagatenryuji, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City 616-8385 
Access: 2-min walk from Keifuku Railway (Randen) Arashiyama Station (near Togetsu-kyo Bridge)
Phone: +81-75-864-4444 
 
 

3. Keeping both customers and employees safe: Kyoto Cuisine MANSHIGE’s countermeasures

The façade of the restaurant
Next up is about the safety measures at a traditional luxury restaurant. This time we are introducing Kyoto Cuisine MANSHIGE in the “weaving district” of Kyoto, Nishijin. The restaurant has been running for over eighty years, and now, the second generation owner Kunikatsu Tamura and the next generation owner, his son, Keigo Tamura are maintaining the restaurant’s good name.

Behind the quaint façade of the shop, there is a variety of different types of rooms, some facing the garden or with a sunken hearth. We will see what efforts are being made in the employees’ operation and the guestroom’s arrangements.
 
When you pass through the door and go inside the shop, there is an air purifier located in the entrance hall. They chose a sterilizer featuring a photocatalytic filter here. 
Temperature check and hand sanitizing takes place in the entrance hall. Your temperature will be taken by a non-contact thermometer, and you sanitize your hands using an automatic disinfectant spray dispenser, so all is done contact-free while you receive assistance with instructions.
Disposable face masks are made ready in the entrance hall. You can help yourself if you forgot yours or if you want to exchange yours.
Each room has an air purifier-humidifier and an air circulator to maintain the ideal air condition.

One thing that stands out is that they also have a CO² monitor. Air ventilation is one of the key aspects of COVID counter measures, and this monitor can notify when ventilation is needed. When the concentration of the carbon dioxide reaches a certain level, it’s time for airing out the room. 

Paying attention to the monitor, ventilation fans are turned on or windows are opened, letting fresh air into the room. Also, this allows the guests to be aware of their room’s air condition.
 
There are special arrangements made not only by using monitors and ventilation, but also by the seating of each room. Larger rooms than before per number of guests are used, to allow seating that maintains wide space between each guest. The generous use of space secures minimum distancing among guests.
Also, employees are consistently wearing masks, washing and sanitizing hands, and using alcohol antiseptics. They are also frequently disinfecting items that may come into skin contact like the tables in the guestrooms, and disinfectant sprays are made handy in areas including the bathrooms and the entrance halls.

We saw how careful measures were taken, from welcoming guests in the entrance hall to the employees themselves, to allow guests to feel safe and comfortable. We hope you will show your understanding to practices such as ventilation and disinfection upon your visits to shops, making it safe and comfortable for both you and the staff through mutual cooperation. 
 
Kyoto Cuisine MANSHIGE
Address: 9-1 Shiba Omiya-cho, Omiya-dori Imadegawa-agaru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto City 602-8438
Access: 3-min walk from Kyoto City Bus Stop Horikawa Kamidachiuri
Phone: +81-75-441-2131
 
This time we had a close-up look at the Coronavirus (COVID-19) control measures taken by three different facilities in Kyoto City: a Shinto shrine, a rickshaw operator, and a Kyoto cuisine restaurant. The measures ranged from basic steps such as the staff members’ wearing face masks, ventilation, disinfection, to additional steps such as antiviral and antimicrobial treatments of items that come into contact with everyone or installment of devices including CO²  monitors.

We hope that everyone will make sure to pursue basic measures such as wearing masks and washing hands so that each of us can visit or use facilities like these at ease. In order to protect not only yourself but your loved ones health, we hope that you will make safety precautions a part of your plan.

Planning: JTB Publishing