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Just before reaching Chushojima Station on the Keihan Line heading into Kyoto from Osaka, or just after crossing the Uji River on the almost parallel Kintetsu train that runs between Kyoto and Nara, two towers that look old and of European design flash briefly into view before disappearing among the modern houses and buildings.

The towers are part of a canal lock sitting at the entrance to the old port of Fushimi. Though a quiet park today, a century and a half ago, Fushimi was, for foreign nationals living in the concessions of Kobe and Osaka in the 1850s, the closest they were allowed to get to Kyoto for many years without special permission from the Tokugawa government.

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