news

News from April to June, 2008

June 29th

How was your weekend? We had miserable weather on the both Saturday and Sundayc I sat for an English exam, TOEIC yesterday. It was the first time in 4 years, so I was a little nervous. Ifve realized my listening skill is definitely decliningc I will get the result in a month, so I will think about what to do after that.

I was walking on Nishiki Street after the exam, and I found super expensive yellow cherries. How much do you think they are? They are 500yen each!!! I wanted to take a picture to put here, but I saw the sign saying NO PHOTOS. If you are interested, go to a fruit and veg shop [KANEMATSU] at the Nishiki Market and check them out. (Risa)

June 27th

wa

How are you today? Can you guess what the object is in the photo above? I found it while I was walking around the shopping complex the other day. Itfs precisely designed on an object in Japanese gardens. When the water fills the bamboo container, it falls one side and makes sound. Itfs believed to make animals threatened. As for this object, the water rotates in the stone part somehow and flows out from the faucet above. If you like Japanese gardens, this would be a good item. You can place it on a shoebox, for example, and enjoy a little bit of Japanese atmosphere. I hope you have a nice weekend!!! (Takashi)

June 26th

arashiyama

For some reason, small change is being thrown into a pond located in front of Arashiyama station of Keifuku line in Ukyo Ward, Kyoto. The coins began to be noticed about a year ago. Large and small ponds were made in time of the renewal of the station building in 2002, and they are arranged around the main entrance. The westernmost pond contains the most conspicuous amount of small change. More than 100 coins lie in the pond now. Staff working at nearby souvenir shops think that foreign tourists have probably started to throw coins in the pond like at the Trevi Fountain in Italyc, but nobody knows the real reason why people are throwing coins into the pond. I will check out next time I go to Arashiyama! (Risa)

June 25th

fuurin

On the way back to home, I dropped by a shopping complex in Kitaoji. I found a nice wind bell on which goldfish is drawn. A wind bell is a reminder of summer to me. I always wanted to buy one, but I have not. This year, however, I will get one definitely!! What Ifd like to get is in the photo above. It looks like a goldfish bowl, since a goldfish and water plant are painted and also the round shape makes me think like that. I believe this wind bell will ease the unbearable summer heat whenever the wind comes in. (Takashi)

June 24th

IseShrine

What do you think we were doing in the above picture? We, four of us, were holding hands and form a circle around a tree at Ise Shrine. Itfs a really big tree, and itfs approximately 6.4 meters round (I asked Takashi to measure my arm length, and itfs 1.6 meters long, so 1.6 m X 4 people = 6.4 m, right?). I wonder how old the tree isc It must be a few hundreds old or even older than that. There are so many huge trees at the shrine, and I loved it. Itfs always nice to be surrounded by nature. I feel as if I can get amazing powers from it! (Risa)

June 23rd

How was your weekend? I spent cleaning and getting my apartment ready for the rainy season. I was a bit behind for that. While I was cleaning the house, I thought it would be a good idea to put dehumidifying agents in the closet, kitchen and etc. After cleaning the kitchen, I washed the filter of the air conditioner so that I can use it whenever I need to. When all the cleaning was done, I went out to buy dehumidifying agents to the local home center. I bought a pack of agents and also found an interesting thing. It was a white charcoal called gBinchotanh which absorbs the humidity and odor. Isnft it great? I thought it would be an ideal item to put in the shoe box(especially this sticky rainy season), so I bought one. I hope all this effort will be paid off. Ifll see. (Takashi)

June 20th

kaleidoscope

There is Kaleidoscope Museum of Kyoto near our office. A projection kaleidoscope was opened to the public on June 6th there, which was created to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the museum. Beautiful geometric patterns were projected onto the walls and ceiling of the exhibition room (look at the above picture), and visitors enjoy the fantastic mood as if they had been in a kaleidoscope. You can get more information on their site; http://www.k-kaleido.org/museum_e.html The museum has a café too, so it would be nice to drop by while walking around Kyoto downtown. (Risa)

June 19th

pepsi

How are you today? I often hear that there are a lot of summer-limited-products such as snacks, beverage and etc. Two days ago, I tried one of them; a bottle of PEPSI called gBlue Hawaiih. The label says gPineapple & Lemonh flavor even though its color doesnft match any of these. Itfs hard to imagine pineapple/lemon flavor from this clear blue!! Plus, it doesnft taste like any of these, too. It just reminded me of a portion of shaved ice with blue syrup. It wasnft like PEPSI at all, but it was okay as a refreshment drink on a humid day. One thing UI noticed after drinking it was the color of my tonguec It was unbelievably BLUE. Ifll try other gsummerh food. Maybe ice cream will be nice. (Takashi)

June 18th

Thai

Takashi and I went to a Thai restaurant [Café Kati] for dinner last Friday. There are quite a few Thai restaurants in Kyoto, but I think itfs the best so far. Preferably more seafood menu though. Itfs located in the downtown area, but I guess itfs a bit hard to find if you are new to Kyoto. Please contact me if you would like to know more details about the location. I wonder if Takashi and I write about food too much? Sorry about that! (Risa)

June 17th

murani

Last Saturday, my friend and I went to the museum in Shiga to see the exhibition of Italian artist "Bruno Munari"(1907-1998). He was such a great artist who put his limitless imaginations and unique ideas into shapes. His picture books, for example, have got some tricks. When you open a lid on a page, something smaller appears. It's exciting to turn the pages, so it must have a great influence for kids. He, in fact, invented things for kids so that they can nourish their imagination. There are some toys. For instance, transparent sheets on which pictures are drawn. You can place one sheet on another and make one scene with a tree, mountain, clouds, car and etc. I spent most of the time at the Picture book section. I really wanted to get a copy, but it was really expensive, so I gave up... Maybe one day when I become rich... (Takashi)

June 16th

How was your weekend? I hope you had a good one. We had beautiful weather during the weekend although we are in the middle of rainy season. I went to an Indian restaurant [Savera] with friends last night. We were going to a Vietnamese restaurant, but it was fully booked when we got there, so we decided to go with Indian food. One of my yoga instructors told me about the restaurant a while ago, but it was the first time to go there. We ordered several kinds of curry and side dishes, and we liked them all. The restaurant is located on the 2nd floor in Empire Building on Kiyamachi Street now, but the owner mentioned she would move it to somewhere in Sakyo Ward soon. She hasnft decided exactly where it is, but I am glad I visited the restaurant before that. We are planning to try the Vietnamese restaurant again, so I will let you know how it is sooner or later. (Risa)

June 13th

choco"

Look what I had for lunch today. Yes, a lot of gnutellah. I spread it on a baguette. I like the flavor and hazel nuts scent. I prefer this to peanuts butter and I would eat it almost every day when I was in New Zealand. This weekend, one of my friends and I are planning to go to a museum in Shiga. There is an exhibit of gBruno Murarih, who is an Italian artist. He worked on picture books, woodcut prints and etc. Itfll be interesting to see his work. I hope you have a good weekend. I think Ifll be eating gnuttelah for breakfast next 2 days.(Takashi)

June 12th

We ate the specialties of Ise on Sunday. Ise-Udon for lunch and Akafuku for dessert. If you donft know what Akafuku is (Ifm pretty sure you donft knowc), see the picture below. They are rice cakes covered with sweetened red bead paste. They are said to have been sold in front of the Ise Shrine since 1707. Most people who visit Ise would buy them as a souvenir. As it was a very hot day, we ordered eAkafuku Gorif this time. It is a bowl of shaved ice with green tea syrup, and Akafuku is in it. I think itfs an ideal dessert for a hot summer day. Why donft you try it if you get a chance to visit Ise? But, remeber it is sold only in summer! (Risa)

Akafuku Akafukugori

June 11th

starbucks

Starbucks started selling a new Fruppeccino, which is gDark Mocha Fruppeccinoh. Itfs sweet but a little bit bitter at the same time. Itfs not as sweet as gCaramelh or gJava Chip Fruppeccinoh, so even if you donft like sweets, it may be delicious. Also it seems like Starbucks will release new flavors such as gMango and Passion Fruit Fruppeccinoh. Hiroko-san bought Risa and me the Fruppeccino yesterday. Thank you so much, Hiroko-san!!! It was really good. Itfs getting hotter day by day, so why donft you drop by Starbucks in your neighborhood and have a cup of cold drink? (Takashi)

June 10th

I went to Ise, Mie Prefecture with friends on Sunday. According to the weather forecast, it was going to rain and thunder in the south part of Kansai area, but we had stunning weather unexpectedly. We visited typical tourist spots such as Ise Shrine and Meoto Iwa, and we also enjoyed eating the local specialties. Can you guess what they are? I will keep the topic until Thursday. It was a pretty long trip, but we all fully enjoyed it. Hope you also had a nice weekend! (Risa)

Meotoiwa

June 9th

How was your weekend? I stayed home the whole weekend. You may have heard that a terrible thing happened in Tokyo yesterday. At first, the man drove a truck into the pedestrian only street and hit 3 or 4 people. Then, he got out of the track and stubbed another 3 or 4 people and ran away. However, he got caught soon after trying to run away. It is really shocking, since Japan is believed to be a safe place. Nowadays, there has been a lot of news of homicides. It must be the time to re-consider about the security and tendency of recent murder cases. I hope I can hear some good news. There is one; Japan National Volleyball team grabbed a ticket to the Beijing Olympics!! (Takashi)

June 6th

Four cities were picked as finalists for the 2016 Olympics on Wednesday. Do you know which cities were chosen? Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo! The finalists now advance to a race that will finish on Oct. 2, 2009 when the winner is chosen by a secret ballot y the full IOC in Copenhagen, Denmark. The four cities have to submit their detailed bids to the IOC by Feb. 12, 2009. After that, a panel of IOC experts will visit each of the cities, tour proposed sites and meet with government leaders etc. The panel will provide an evaluation to IOC member a month before the Oct 2009 vote. Which city do you think will be chosen? Rio would be become the first South American city to host the Olympics if chosen. I think that would be great. Of course, I am interested in how strong Tokyo would be in the race! (Risa)

June 5th

bbq

I decided not to buy a bento from this week. By doing this, I can save some money and spend for something else such as Starbucks Fruppecchino!! I thought it would be troublesome to do this, but I find it fun to cook a bento everyday. I cooked 3 times this week and Ifll cook another one for tomorrow. My bento mainly consists of leftovers of dinner the night before and ingredients in my fridge. I do respect those who cook bento for their kids and partners every day. Itfs very difficult to decide the menuc I might buy a book for bento ideas. You can see my todayfs bento. (Takashi)

June 4th

I feel like I am an Asian food freak! My friend and I went to a Balinese restaurant [Alam Bali Café] for dinner last night. Every time we passed by the restaurant, we kept saying eLetfs try some dayf. My impression? To be honest, I wouldnft recommend you to go therec I am afraid that the quality of service (food itself, friendliness, promptness, and cost-performance) is unfortunately quite low. We ordered only 4 small dishes, but it took nearly 2 hours to finish our dinner. I donft think you want to know the location and phone number etc, I wonft tell you herec Sorry this isnft useful information today!(Risa)

June 3rd

choco

I got a package from my friend in Australia last week. I found a new Cadbury dessert chocolate in it. In Australia and New Zealand, Cadbury produces dessert chocolate such as Fudge Brownie and Lemon Cheesecake. My friend sent me a Tiramisu flavored one. Itfs really sweet and of course good. I looked up an article on Wikipedia about Cadbury products and I found out that Australia and New Zealand have way more products than others do. This makes a lot of sense because I always had a difficulty which one I should buy when I was in New Zealand. After all, I couldnft decide, so I bought a couple of them though. When you buy chocolate in summer, be careful not to let it melt!! The heat can spoil your chocolate. (Takashi)

June 2nd

How was your weekend? I went to Kobe to see a friend and stayed with her on Saturday night. We went to our favourite Thai restaurant eBaan Thaif for dinner, and we really enjoyed the meal there. I love spicy yet flavorful foods like Thai and Vietnamese, so I always try to find good Asian restaurants in Kansai area. I think the Baan Thai is my favourite one so far. Itfs located just behind Hankyu Sannomiya Station, so itfs very easy of access. Itfs always incredibly crowded, so donft forget to make a reservation in advance. If you get a chance to go to Kobe, why donft you try it? Phone; 078-391-0545 (Risa)

May 30th

china

The Beijing Olympic Games 2008 are taking place very soon. I donft think Ifll go there. Instead of going there, especially for those who really would like to go, but donft have time, there are China Towns in Japan where you can at least enjoy a little bit of atmosphere of what China would be like. There is one in Kobe where I visited last weekend. It was very lively and crowded. You can try really good Chinese cuisine at a reasonable price. What I liked most was dumplings with sesame on their surface. You can go with family, friends and eat a lot. By the time you leave, you would feel very full. Why donft you go out this weekend? I would love to go to the one in Yokohama!! Maybe one day. Have a good weekend!! (Takashi)

May 29th

There are various kinds of dialects in Japan, and we have the Kyoto one here, too. Actually, younger people donft speak it any more (Ifve never heard them speaking it at least), but you can still find that older people still speak it especially in traditional area such as Gion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gion) and Kamishichiken (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamishichiken) etcc Do you know the word eookinif? Do you know the meaning? I totally believed it means ethank youf just until now, but it doesnft. According to the article I read, it means everyf not ethank youf. If you have a chance to hear the phrase eookini arigatof from someone, he/she thanks you very much. It is interesting to learn languages, eh? (Risa)

May 28th

niku

Look what I ate at the China town in Kobe!! Itfs a black steamed pork bun. There is only one stall which sells this. When I saw it, one though came up in my mind; itfs not such a good idea to eat this weird black thing. However, I really wanted to try it at the same time. Even though a part of me was a bit scared, I bought one. Can you guess what makes it black? It is squid ink!!! I reckon itfs common to have pasta in squid ink sauce, but I had never tried squid ink in a steamed bun before. You can find it quite easy because the stall stands out. It looks a bit scary to eat, but it did taste good!! If you go to the china town, why donft you try one? (Takashi)

May 27th

The rainy season has begun in Okinawa and Amami Islands since last week. According to the Meteorological Agency, it will start in Kansai area at the beginning of June. I donft like rainy weather so much, but I can think of one good thing. There are a few temples which are famous for their hydrangeas in Kyoto. Mimurotoji, Sanzen-in, and Yoshiminederac I would love to go to one of them at least this year! (Risa)

May 26th

mug

How was your weekend? I went to Kobe to see the collections from the Louvre Museum. I expected to see more paintings, but there were few. The collections are from the period of Louis XV to the end of the kingship, which includes gorgeous things of Mary Antoinette. There are posh objects such as vase, dishes, golden clocks, writing desk, etc. Did you know that the belongings of Mary Antoinette hold the sign? It looks like logos of baseball teams. The museum was packed with people last Saturday. After that, I went to Starbucks and found a Kobe designed mug. I prefer the one of Kyoto. (Takashi)

May 23rd

Thanks for your advice, Takashi. I will think about it.

Do you keep a diary? I never do, but I exchange e-mails with a friend quite frequently, so itfs like a diary for me. Itfs been a year since we started the mail exchange, and it is very important to me now. It always helps me clear my mind and/or sort out my thoughts when I feel a little down. I want to send my most sincere thanks to my friendc Thank you!

Sorry, todayfs news has nothing to do with Kyoto/Japanc I hope you have a great weekend!!! (Risa)

May 22nd

tumbler

Risa and I went to Starbucks after work. We had a chat over coffee. While I was there, I was thinking about buying a white Starbucks tumbler, for this can reduce the waste of plastic cups whenever I go to Starbucks. Also, it gives me a little bit of discount. The latter reason attracted me more. I didnft buy the tumbler at Starbucks in Shijo, but after 20 minutes or so, I bought it at Starbucks Kitaoji. I was very indecisive because there were different sizes. I had gwhite chocolate mochah today with my new shiny tumbler. Ifll recommend Risa to get a tumbler!! Why donft you buy one? (Takashi)

May 21st

Japanese water irises called Kakitsubata in Japanese as one of Japanfs national natural treasures, have been in full bloom in Ota-no-sawa pond at Ota Shrine in Kita Ward, Kyoto. The purple/dark blue flowers are vividly reflected on the water. The 2000-square-meter pond has about 25,000 wild irises growing in clumps in and around it. Since ancient times, the flowers have attracted many people, including Fujiwara-no-Toshinari, a very famous poet in the Heian Period (794-1185) who wrote a waka poem in appreciation of their beauty. The flowers can be enjoyed until approximately May 25th, so you have got a few more days! Donft miss your chance!!! (Risa)

May 20th

spider

On Sunday, I had my friend around at my house. I hadnft seen him quite for a while, but he remembered my birthday. That was a big surprise. He gave me the Spiderman underwear as a belated birthday present. I have to admit that this was a bigger surprise, because I didnft tell him that I like Spiderman. Well, itfs quite interesting that there are so many character-designed-T-shirts, undies and etc. I think there are too manyc As for designersf brand, one of the phone companies will sell a cellphone which designed by GUCCI. There will be more and more collaboration goods and some people will be so much into those. I donft know if itfs good or not though. (Takashi)

May 19th

wedding

How was your weekend? Takashi and I went to our workmate, Hirokofs wedding party on Saturday. It was a huge party, and there were more than 100 people there. She was preparing for the wedding until the very last minutes, but we were glad everything went perfect. They left for Australia for their honeymoon last night, and we do hope they are having a great time there. Congratulations again, Hiroko! (Risa)

May 16th

bbq

Do you know Starbucks have different designed mugs and tumblers? I bought a Kyoto-limited-edition mug last week. Itfs got a picture of the Golden Temple, colorful fans, rock or zen garden and silhouette of a pagoda. I think itfs very Kyoto like. I saw an Osaka version, and itfs got swirls and quite blue because Osaka is said a city of water and light. Not every city has its own design, but there still seems to be a lot of designs. For instance, Tokyo version has got a picture of Tokyo Tower of course. It may be interesting to pay attention to mugs and tumblers when you go to Starbucks in various places in Japan. Have a good weekend!!! (Takashi)

May 15th

Have you ever heard of the rumor; It is rude to make eye contact during conversation in Japan? I often hear Japanese people are not good at making eye contact, and I think itfs quite truec But, I have never heard of the above rumor before. According to the article by Robert Whiting, a Japanese-culture expert, that used to be the rule, back in the old days, during the Meiji and Taisho periods (the late 1800s and early 1900s), and it was considered disrespectful, especially when talking to a superior. WowcI didnft know the rulec People in Japan act like people in the West these days, and not making eye contact would be considered a bit odd when talking to someonecbut, I now understand why they are still kinda poor at making eye contact. (Risa)

May 14th

osaka

As I mentioned in the last post, I put a photo of Osaka Castle. The wall which surrounds the castle is really big. Itfs said those stones were mined and shipped from various parts of Japan. I really canft believe all these work was done by human. An interesting thing I found about those stones is that the surface of the stone wall has thin stones which cover smaller stones behind them. This is like a cover, but these stones are still big. This surprise or secret struck.

osaka

There is one more photo of the Castle. This golden fish like statue is believed to protect people from fire and other bad luck. Nagoya castle also has these statues. I think those are more famous than ones of Osaka Castle. In Okinawa, you can see same kind of ornament but in different shape; lion like statue. Can you think of something like this in your country? (Takashi)

May 13th

Can I talk about a thing unrelated to Kyoto today? I always suffer from a symptom when I have a headache. What do you guess it is? This might sound odd, but I smell petrol fumes every time I get a headache. I take aspirin, but it cannot get rid of the smellc Actually I was suffering from the symptom over the weekend, and it was really nasty. I talked to several doctors about it before, but it wasnft solvedc They all said they never heard of the case. So, I thought it is a rare case, but apparently itfs not. I googled it and found that quite a few people suffer from the same symptoms all over the world. I do hope someone will develop a remedy very soon! (Risa)

May 12th

osaka

How was your weekend? I was supposed to laze around, but I went to Osaka to see my friend from Australia. It was pouring down on Saturday, but we went to Osaka Castle avoiding so many paddles on the road. By the time we got to the Castle, I got my pants soaking wet!! The Castle was crowded with kids (maybe elementary school trips). Ifll upload a few photos next time. We had gOkonomi-yakih for lunch. It was the first time for her to eat it, so she was so excited that she took a video of a staff cooking it. We were so hungry, so it was like a torture while we were waiting. We could smell and even touch the okonomi-yaki, but we managed to suppress the nasty urge. I couldnft remember the word gbonito flakesh, so I explained her that Japanese eat gsaw dusth. Ifm such a bad personc At least I can correct it now. Haha. By the way, gFugetsuh is the place we went. It was really good. You can try it!! (Takashi)

May 9th

Yay! Itfs already Friday! As we had lots of holidays for the last 2 weeks, so it passed so quickly.

A big festival called Aoi Matsuri is coming up on May 15th. The festival is also know as the Kamo festival, and is held at both the Kamigamo and Shimogamo Shrine. The both shrines are registered on the World Heritage list, so you might know them. The origin of the festival dates back to the time of the KInmei Emperor in 567. And, it came to be celebrated on a grand scale from the Heian Period. The name of the Aoi Matsuri originated from the tradition of offering geraniums (Aoi in Japanese) to the gods, and decorating the temple, attendees and ox carriages with geranium leaves. The Aoi Matsui is one of the three major festivals in Kyoto, so itfs definitely worth visiting. I hope we will have good weather on that day! (Risa)

May 8th

koi

I had a relaxing time during the Golden Week. Itfs always nice to have a long weekend. Itfs a good opportunity to catch up with friends and have a silly chat over coffee at Starbucks. I saw carp streamers (aka Koinobori) on Childrenfs Day. This reminded me of my little ones. I used to live in an apartment, so I wasnft be able to have bigger ones. However, I guess these were big enough for me at that time. On the way to the station, I saw heaps and heaps of carp streamers flattering in the wind. I saw really big ones at the corner. Actually these were visible from far!! You might know, but these different colors and sizes describe a family; parents and a boy. Usually there are 3 carp streamers. But what happens if a family has more than 1 boy? Do they have to add as the number of boys they have? I just wondered. Anyway, I hope you have a good day!!! (Takashi)

May 7th

Wefre back after a long weekend. I was walking around Kyoto downtown during Golden Week, and I found the restaurants and bars have already set the dining deck by Kamo River and started to serve lunch and dinner there. It is called [YUKA], and it is one of summer features in Kyoto. How many restaurants and bars are there? What do you think? According to the article I read, there are 91! I had posh images of Yuka until a couple of years ago, but thatfs not true. There are quite a few casual restaurants and bars, so you can visit there without any hesitation. Maybe you just want a coffee? If yes, go to Starbucks by Sanjo Bridge. Isnft it nice to enjoy a coffee, soaking up the sunshine? Here is a tip for you. The restaurants and bars wonft be open during lunch time from June to August as itfs too hot outside! If you want to get more information about Yuka, visit http://www.kyoto-yuka.com/shop/map.html (Risa)

May 2nd

How are you today? Risa has a day off today. I hope shefs having a good, relaxing day. The 2nd part of the Golden Week starts tomorrow. I guess lots and lots of people are going abroad, coming into Kyoto. I guess people who visit Kyoto will have a difficulty in finding an accommodation. Also itfll be crowded everywherec My plan for this holiday is meeting up with my friends in Osaka at some stage, and Ifm not sure what comes next. Hefs in China at the moment, so Ifll call him soon. Hmm, chilling out at home sounds like a perfect plan if you donft have any plans to go anywhere. This Golden Week is not as long as last yearfs. But itfs good to have holidays!!! I hope everyone has a great time. Those who visit Kyoto during the Golden Week, please look after yourself. Have a nice weekend!!! (Takashi)

May 1st

It has warmed up in Kyoto, but I still feel a bit chilly especially when I am in the building. Takashi and I are totally opposite. He loves winter, but I much prefer summer. We have to quarrel about the preset temperature of air conditioner when it gets hotter...??? I hope not!

I feel as if it were Friday today because I am taking the day off tomorrow. Yay! I have a 5-day-weekend!!! I will definitely fully enjoy it. A bit too early to tell you, but I hope you have a nice weekend. (Risa)

April 30th

umi

Ifm back to work. I spent such relaxing time in my hometown with my family and friends. On Saturday, even though a credit card problem (I thought I lost it), I got back to my hometown in the evening. The next day, I met up with friends and had a practice session of Ultimate Frisbee. It was kind of windy that day, so it was difficult to control a disc. This sport is really tough. You have to be REALLY fit at first place. The Ultimate Frisbee competition takes place in July in Toyooka-shi if youfre interested in it. Now I have sore muscles on my legsc By the way, you can see the nice beach in the photo. Have a good week!!! (Takashi)

April 28th

How was your weekend? My boss and I went to have dinner at a ryokan/restaurant called eIkumatsuf with a client on Friday night. It was a fantastic meal, and I enjoyed it to the fullest. The dinner was rich in seasonal ingredients like bamboo shoots, broad beans, baby squid, Spanish mackerel, sweet fish and various kinds of wild vegetables. We all couldnft stop saying gmmmcvery delicioush. Apart from the excellent meal, we enjoyed the lecture about the building too. It was amazing the ryokan building had such interesting historiescI would definitely recommend you to visit the restaurant if you have a chance to come to Kyoto some day in the future. Here is the information; http://www.kyotoguesthouses.com/guesthousedyn.php?GH_ID=56 (Risa)

April 25th

ishi

Itfs already Friday. Ifm going to have a Monday off, so 4-day-weekend for me!! I plan to go back to my hometown, which is in the north of Hyogo Prefecture, and it looks like a dot on the map. The mighty gGoogle Earthh cannot show you the much details of my hometown gTakenoh. Anyway, Ifm going home for a couple of days and catch up with my friends and have BBQ on the beach, which probably is banned. If so, we have to think about alternativesc There is a rock trapped between two massive rocks on the photo. You can see it on the coastline. I donft know exactly how this happed, but Ifll go and see it, since itfs quite close from my home. I cannot wait to see the ocean!!! I hope you have a great weekend!!! (Takashi)

April 24th

One of our workmates, Hiroko is getting married next month, so she has been pretty busy preparing for the wedding. She took a day off yesterday, and she went to a final meeting with a wedding coordinator. She looked a little frustrated when she came to the office this morningcand she explained why. I canft believe there are soooo many things to do for the weddingc How much is the average budget for a wedding in your country? Itfs 3,000,000yen (US$30,000) here. Itfs only for a wedding ceremony! (Risa)

April 23rd

Last weekend, I went to one of the Irish pub gThe GAELh in Gion. (http://www.irishpubkyoto.com/en/index.html) On that day, there was an International party with all you can drink deal. Also we had free fish & chips. It was so crowded that night and it was pretty hard to get to the counter to order drinks and get back to where I was sitting. My friends and I got to know some random guys from Australia, France and etc. It was a blight side of the night, but some people were really dodgy. They came up to my friends and bought them a lot of drinks. This Irish pub is pretty cool place to hang out after work or such, but please remind yourself that there are some dodgy people. Of course, not only at this pub but other places. There seems to be another International party in Kyoto in May. You can find out about it from gWhy not Japan.comh. (Takashi)

April 22nd

I have been suffering from sore back and shoulders. I think they were caused by sitting all the way back from Alaska. 3 hours from Anchorage to Seattle, 11 hours from Seattle to Narita, and then 3.5 hours from Narita to Kyotoc It was a long way. I have heard that our bone structure is different from westernerfs, so we tend to get stiff neck and shoulders easilycArghc I thought yoga might help get rid of the pain, but it didnft work this timecso, I am going to get a massage after work tonight. I canft wait!(Risa)

April 21st

bday

How was your weekend? I had such a great time with my friends. I went to my friendfs birthday BBQ on Saturday, which was also my b-day party, and my friend Helen bought me a b-day cake for me!!! It was a big good surprise and I was so happy when I saw it. Maybe a bit overexcited, since I was a little bit drunk. After eating the cake, a couple of friends and I came back to Kyoto to go to another party at the Irish pub in Gion. I t was all-you-can-drink party, so needless to say, I drunk a lot. From today, I wonft drink alcohol for a while. Now Ifm 27 years old, but itfs just 2-digit-number, so I donft care how old I am. What really matters is how positively you think about getting old. Getting old means getting wiser, so I donft care. (Takashi)

April 18th

Ifm back! I am so glad I have survived the harsh Alaskan weather. It was freezing cold as expected, but I was doing ok there. I didnft think I would see snow this winter (Itfs already the middle of spring in Kyoto thoughc), but it snowed quite a lot while I was there. I went for a walk after work almost every night, and it was good fun, too. I have more to write about Alaska, but maybe next timec Hope you have a nice weekend! (Risa)

P.S. Thank you for writing the news every day while I was away, Takashi!!!

April 16th

I receive inquiries for booking around the end of April and beginning of May. To some people, I can offer a couple of options. However, as it is getting closer to the coming gGolden Weekh, I have more difficulties in finding ryokans for some people. Nowadays, people in Japan travel to overseas, but quite a few people spend the holiday in Japan such as Kyoto. Thatfs the reason why. I guess lots and lots of people will stream into Kyoto that time. This year, the Golden Week isnft that long; 4 days from April 26th to 29th as the first half. In addition to this, from May 3rd to May 6th as the second. I cannot believe itfs nearly the holiday season!!! Time flies, eh!!! (Takashi)

April 15th

As I said yesterday, I put a photo of tulips at Bampaku-Park. There were a lot of yellow, red, pink and white-like tulips there. However, what attracted most was the sight of one pink tulip standing in the middle of yellow ones. My friend described that a foreigner was standing in the middle of Japanese. Or could be a Japanese standing in the middle of foreigners in somewhere in the world. The pink tulip seemed as if screaming like, gWhy me?h or something like that. Anyway, I hope you can see as many tulips as I saw at the park last weekend. (Takashi)

tulip

April 14th

osaka

Hello, how was your weekend? I went to Osaka to see cherry blossoms. It is said that the cherry blossom season is nearly gone, but I could still see some spring beauty at the Bampaku-Park in Osaka. You can see the Tower of the Sun, which was designed by a Japanese artist gTaro OKAMOTOh. It is a memorial monument for the World Expo in 1970. (By the way, this is the reason why this park is called gBampaku-Parkh.) If you are tired of seeing cherry blossoms, how about tulips? There are hundreds, thousands of them at the Park. Ifll post a photo of them tomorrow. Have a nice day!!! (Takashi)

April 11th

hT.G.I.F.h Itfs the 5th day since Risa left for Alaska. We miss you heaps. We all hope youfre doing okay in Alaska where you can still see snow. Well, in Kyoto, it rains a lot this week. The cherry blossom season is nearly over. However, I have an invitation to another Hanami party in Osaka tomorrow. They think Ifm going even though I havenft said gyesh yet. This seems like Ifm in already. Hahaha. Ifm not sure if they will see sakura, or just drinkc Ifll see how it goes tomorrow, as Ifm kind of into this somehow. I hope you guys have a nice weekend!!! (Takashi)

April 10th

sakura

Can you see what it is in the canal? The white and pink sakura petals were floating on the water when I left the Sumpu-Park. It looks like a carpet, doesnft it? I cannot stop talking about SAKURA!!! Okay, changing the subject (finallyc) Recently I see lots of kids carrying a huge bag, which is as big as they are, on the way to the station. Schools start in April in Japan, which is different from other countries. I suppose term starts in September in western countries. My boss attended his kidfs entrance ceremony. This reminds me of spring, new season and new life. However, itfs raining all day here in Kyoto. I hope cherry blossoms wonft be gone because of this rain. (Takashi)

April 9th

hanami

Whatfs the synonym for spring and gsakurah? Yes, itfd be gHanamih. It was the first hanami in last couple of years and of course the first one in Shizuoka. There were lots of pink lanterns everywhere. Literally everywhere. On the very day I went to hanami with my friend, there was a gShizuoka-Matsurih, so there were heaps and heaps of people. It was really crowded with people doing hanami holding beer can and buying food from stalls. Have you done hanami this year? The sakura season is going and will be gone soon. Hope you have a great spring day!!! (Takashi)

April 8th

tea

How are you everyone? Itfs gShizuoka Weekh, I guess. Believe it or not, I had a cup of green tea at a tea house for the first time in my life. Sunpu Castle has a cozy tea house. The small cake came with tea was just beautiful. I donft eat Japanese cake, but this white cake was beautiful!! The tea was bitter, but also good. After sitting in a gSeizah position, I had pins and needles on my legs. I couldnft feel my legs seriously. On the other hand, my friend from New Zealand, they were just fine after 20-minute-Seiza. Shame on mec Anway, this is my first tea house experience. Ifd like to have another chance here in Kyoto sometime. (Takashi)

April 7th

Itfs very strange Risa is not here when I come to the office. Shefs off to Alaska today for approximately 2 weeks. I hope she has a safe flight. I went to Shizuoka last weekend. It was the first time to go there in fact. Shizuoka is such a good place. Do you know why? You can see Mt. Fuji from the city center when itfs sunny. When I got off at Higashi-Shizuoka Station, the mountain was visible in the distance. People in Shizuoka might take it for granted, but it7s really great, donft you think? I went to the beach called gMatsubarah where you can see both the ocean and the mountain. Please see the photo below. This beach is a stage of one of the fairy tales, gHagoromo Densetsuh. In this story, a woman came down to the earth and while she was bathing, a guy stole her robe so that she couldnft go back to the heaven. That guy is so mean, but it seems like he couldnft stand the beauty of the woman from the heaven. Anyway, the beach is the stage of this fairy tale. Have a nice week!!! (Takashi)

bbq

April 4th

As Takashi mentioned yesterday, I am off to Alaska soonc Ifm sure he will post something interesting EVERY DAY (itfs quite hard, though) while I am away. I look forward to reading your diary shivering in Alaska, Takashi!

I guess most cherry trees will be in full bloom in Kyoto this weekend. I am planning to go to a botanical garden with a friend on Sunday. My friendfs mum went there last spring, and she was so impressed with the beautiful blossoms. Hopefully, we will have lovely weather this weekend! (Risa)

April 3rd

My weekend starts one day earlier than usual. gT.G.I.T.h=hThank God Itfs Thursday!!h Ifm taking a day off tomorrow, and going to Shizuoka to see my friend who works there as an ALT. I havenft seen her for a long time, so itfll be really fun to catch up with her and hanging out. We plan to go to gIzuh and probably the beautiful beach in gShimizuh. Ifll upload a few photos when I get back to work next week. Todayfs the last day to see Risa until she comes back from the business trip. Big cheer to Risa!!! (Takashi)

April 2nd

I met up with a friend from Yamagata and his mum from England for dinner last night. We had a quick drink at Ace Café before dinner, and then we went to a Shabu-Shabu restaurant, Morita-ya by Kamo River. I knew the name of Ace Café, but I never visited there before. As itfs located on the 10th floor and it has huge windows, so you get a really good view of north and east side of Kyoto city. The meal at Morita-ya was delicious, and we had a good window view of the river, which was nice, too. It is the first time for his mum to come to Japan, so I guess everything is a little weird for her. She said eJapanese food is wobblyfcOf course, not all of themcbut, I thought she was quite right. Tofu, Mochi (Rice cake), Warabi-mochi (Sorry, Ifm not sure how to say it in Englishc), Onsen Tamago(Japanese-style poached egg) etcc yeah, lots of wobbly stuff. Anyway, we had a lovely time last night. They are in Nara today, and I hope they are having a great time with deer there! (Risa)

April 1st

rodin

Last Saturday, I went out with my friend to see gSanjyu-Sangendoh and gKyoto National Museumh. The temple is famous for its 1,001 statues of Buddhist deities. The sight of so many statues put us in awe of them, as we felt as if these statues had been staring at us. We hurried to the exit after seeing enough of them. LOL Then, we were headed for the National Museum, which is across the road from the temple. This museum has got a massive garden and the statue of gThe Thinkerh by French artist gRodinh. The photo is titled gThe Thinker whofs deep in his thoughts and a guy who doesnft think much and believes in his instincth. Well, the latter one is mec Anyways, the museums collection is based on Asian things, so you might be interested in the exhibits. Have a nice day!!! (Takashi)