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  • Japanese: 船岡山 (funaoka-yama)

Funaoka-yama is a small elegant mountain about 112 meters high, and 25000 tsubo in area, located in the north of Kyoto. It was the ancient reference point for the northern direction in the Heian capital.

The site is also significant as the base of Yamana Sôzen's "Western Army" during the Ônin War, as a result of which the surrounding neighborhood came to be known as Nishijin (lit. "western camp").

Today, Funaoka is home to a public park, which contains Kenkun Shrine (a shrine dedicated to Oda Nobunaga), and one of the few protected natural virgin forests in the city.


When Kyoto was established as the imperial capital, it was designed in accordance with ancient Chinese concepts of geomancy, incorporating feng shui, yin & yang, and the five elements. Funaoka was associated with Genbu, the "Dark Warrior" and guardian of the north; the hill served as the reference point for north within the city, and the Daigokuden (main central throne room palace building) was placed directly south of it. Suzaku-ôji, the capital's main north-south avenue, located to the south of the palace, similarly lined up with Funaoka-yama.

For people of the Heian court, Funaoka was a place of leisure and recreation. Heian poet Sei Shônagon mentioned Funaoka in her "Makura no sôshi," writing the line "[as for] hills, there is Funaoka...". Many waka poems also survive mentioning Funaoka, by poets such as Kiyowara Motosuke and Fujiwara Shunzei.

Centuries later, at the time of the Ônin War (1467-1477) which started off the Sengoku period (1467-1600), Funaoka became the base of the Western Army led by Yamana Sôzen, giving the surrounding neighborhood its name, Nishijin.

Following the 1582 death of Oda Nobunaga in the Honnôji Incident, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, with the permission of Emperor Ôgimachi, had a shrine to Nobunaga built at Funaoka. Funaoka thus came to be known as an important place associated with Nobunaga, and in 1869, the Meiji Emperor had Kenkun Shrine built there. The Ministry of Education (Monbushô), recognizing Funaokayama as a whole as an important historical site, has officially designated the mountain a "national historical landmark". The land cannot be changed, and there are preservation/conservation efforts to protect it. Furthermore, the prefectural and city governments of Kyoto have designated the mountain as an important site in various other ways.


  • Plaques on-site.

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