Neighbourhoods don't have borders. Close to your house there may be streets and places where you never go and a little further away there may be shops and restaurants which you frequent. Moreover, the people who enter the neighbourhood to work every day spend a good percentage of their time as your "neighbours", but after hours they become someone else's neighbours. Neighbourhoods also bear witness to trends - from theme coffee shops to the current boom in recycle shops.

This site aims to explore the concept of "neighbourhood" in Japan for one year in the ancient city of Kyoto - a city struggling to stay "ancient" and "traditional" in the year 2000. Its old houses, shops and temples are under daily threat of being bulldozed, turned into car parks or covered in more concrete.

We aim to encompass all the aspects of a neighbourhood in Eastern Kyoto - from the convenience store to the local Shinto shrine. It is not just about the people next door but about the people who also people work here, and those who are tourists, coming to visit the galleries, museums and temples in this area. This neighbourhood is undergoing changes, both physical and sociological.

Neighbourhoods in Japan used to be about planting rice together, preparing for festivals and maintaining harmony. These days although the sense of community has diminished there is resilience and spirit amongst people as they watch "progress" come to their area.

Our neighbourhood, Awataguchi (literally "millet field mouth"), is in the northern part of Higashiyama-ku ("Eastern mountain ward") and the southern part of Sakyo-ku ("Right section of the city" ward), in Kyoto City. The small, inner city suburb of Awataguchi, as well as parts of Gion, Okazaki, and Nanzenji are the focus areas. It is bounded on the east by a low mountain range, and on the west by the Kamogawa River. On the north and south sides we have settled on the rather arbitrary borders of Shijo ("Fourth Avenue")and Marutamachi ("Log Street"). The area features about a dozen major temples and shrines, including the Heian Shrine, Yasaka Shrine, Nanzenji temple, and Chion-in temple, as well as Art Galleries, Concert Halls and the Prefectural Library. There are a great many shops dedicated to servicing the tourist industry, as well as those which exist in all neighbourhoods in Japan i.e. tofu shops, video rental shops and sushi restaurants.

As "neighbourhood" is a personal concept, we have included places we regularly patronise or visit and who know us as "locals".

Our aim is to present about fifty photos in the period of one year showing the transitions of the seasons, the local festivals and everyday life. As I am principally interested in black and white photography, I will be aiming to mainly present only black and white photos (unless I change my mind!). I use two 35 ml Canon Camera's - an EOS 5 and an older 10QD (which I love very much!) I have a small darkroom which I use for printing and then I scan them in.

We are not planning to use the website to make money, however prints can be purchased from me, for a very reasonable price. Donations toward keeping the site open are also welcome.

All images are copyright Albie Sharpe. Images may not be reproduced without permission.

e-mail me at

e-mail me at

Thanks to: Yuka Yamaguchi for the calligraphy!

This site will remain commercial-free!!