OWL Magazine Korea

Kyoto Stone Staircase Streets “Ninen-zaka & Sannen-zaka”

In Kyoto, many photos are taken with Hokanji as the backdrop. However, if you pass Hokanji and head towards Kiyomizu-dera, you’ll encounter stone stair streets known as Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka.

“Kyoto’s Night View of Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka”

After passing Hokanji, Ninen-zaka is the first to appear. Before reaching Ninen-zaka, there’s a picturesque spot with Hokanji as the background, making it an excellent place for capturing photos.

During my visit at around 8 PM, the area was surprisingly quiet, with shops closed and few people around. I later discovered that many shops in Kyoto, including cafes, tend to close around 5 or 6 PM.

Arriving late turned out to be advantageous as the absence of crowds allowed for undisturbed photography.

“Ninen-zaka, meaning a 2-year slope”

Ninen-zaka is written in Chinese characters as “2-year slope,” literally meaning a slope that takes two years. The area is lined with various shops, and a Starbucks with tatami rooms is situated there. Visiting during my late hours provided a serene atmosphere as all shops were closed.

Ninen-zaka was once a neighborhood for commoners. However, due to the path leading to “Godaichi,” a temple created by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s wife to honor her late husband’s spirit after the Imjin War, expensive paving stones now cover the area. Despite its history as a commoner’s dwelling, the presence of costly stones remains.

“Sannen-zaka, meaning a 3-year slope”

After Ninen-zaka, Sannen-zaka comes into view, also considered one of Kyoto’s notable attractions. Like Ninen-zaka, Sannen-zaka is written using the character for “slope,” denoting a “3-year slope” as it was constructed in 808 during the Daido era.

“Discover 46 Stone Steps at Sannen-zaka”

Sannen-zaka boasts 46 stone steps and is surrounded by legends. It is said that falling here brings misfortune within three years. However, a local legend suggests that carrying a Hori-bukuro, a charm against misfortune, can prevent calamity.

After passing Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka, you can continue uphill to reach Kiyomizu-dera.

Whether you visit Kiyomizu-dera or explore these streets after, Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka offer a delightful journey.

“Japan Kyoto, Ninen-zaka & Sannen-zaka”

  • Address: 2-chome Kiyomizu, Masuyacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0826, Japan
  • Website: http://www.2nenzaka.ne.jp/
  • Operating Hours: 24 hours
  • Note: Ninen-zaka is indicated on the map, and Sannen-zaka can be found after passing Ninen-zaka.