news

News from October to December, 2008

December 31st

ema

This is the last day of 2008. How was your 2008? I travelled a lot and enjoyed seeing different culture, scenery and food. This morning, I saw an Ema (=a wooden plaque on which you write a wish) for 2009. An ox is painted on the one I saw. It is believed that the God sees a wish on ema where it is hung, usually at shrines. When you visit a shrine on the New Yearfs Day, why donft you write down your wish on an ema? I hope you have a great time on this last day of 2008, and wish you all the best for 2009. Happy New Year!! (Takashi)

December 30th

ERIC

My friend and I went to an exhibition of work by Eric Carle last Sunday. His book, eThe Very Hungry Caterpillarf was always my favourite when I was a kid. The book was translated into so many languages and is still loved all over the world. His paintings are so colourful that I think kids are attracted to those. I went to a few exhibitions this year, but I enjoyed this one the most. I want to go to art galleries/museums more often next year. (Risa)

December 29th

taisuki

Around this time of year, a number of people and companies have an end of year party called eBonen-kaif. Last Friday, Risa and I had an end of year dinner at one of the Thai restaurants in Kyoto. Before we started eating, we thought about ordering salad, but we were full when we finished. It was such a cold day that it was a good choice to have a nabe (=hot-pot). I will have a nabe when I get back in my hometown for New Yearfs. (Takashi)

December 26th

Itfs very cold and snowing this morning. According to Takashi, the ground was lightly dusted with snow in his neighborhood. He lives in Kokusaikaikan, which is 20 minutes north of Kyoto downtown, so it seems a little colder than there. I asked him if he took a picture, but he said noc Maybe next timec Hope you have a great weekend! (Risa)

December 25th

xmas

Merry Christmas!! The Christmas tree above is set at Shinpu-kan. Yesterday evening I went there to get a Christmas present for my friend. Before that, Risa and I went to a department store and saw a lot of people lining up to buy cakes. I had never seen so many people there. I think it was not an ideal timing to go there, but we had to. The crowd made it difficult to walk through. As a result, I bumped into so many people and someone stepped on my foot. I like Christmas, but I would like to avoid the crowd as much as I can. Anyway, I hope you have a great time with your family and friends. I wish you very Merry Christmas. (Takashi)

December 24th

Is there anyone who is planning to come to Japan this winter? Wefve just got a nice offer from Yuzuya Ryokan (http://www.kyotoguesthouses.com/guesthousedyn.php?GH_ID=71). They have set a winter plan from December 1st to February 28th (except from Dec. 26th to Jan. 4th), so you can stay there much cheaper than usual. 27,500yen/person including dinner & breakfast on weekdays and 30,800yen/person on weekends. If you are a single traveler, 3,000yen is added to the above rates. Yuzuya Ryokan is a very beautiful and popular ryokan, so you shouldnft miss the chance. If you are interested, please contact us ASAP. Thanks. (Risa)

December 22nd

How was your weekend? I had a relaxing time in my PJs. Here is another report from our workmate. This is about eOugatouf in Nagano prefecture.

nagano

The Hotel stands at the top of Ougatou which is the highest of the Utsukushigahara mountain range. As the hotel is located in the National Park, access by car is limited. You can take a shuttle bus either from Matsumoto Station or some parking lots. This place is known as one of the best lookouts of Japanese Alps, since 41 mountains out of the 100 most celebrated mountains in Japan can be seen. Examples of those are Mt. Fuji, Yatsugatake, Norikuradake and others. In addition to this, city lights of Matsumoto city can be seen at night.

nagano

Summer will be good for people who would like to go trekking and observing alpine flora. However, I recommend you go there in winter. When it snows a lot, a snow coach takes you up to the mountain. While you stay there, you can enjoy various activities; snowshoe hiking, cross-country and star observation. Early in the morning, trees are covered with hard rime and a sea of clouds can be seen. Of special note is that you can enjoy activities for free EXCEPT snowshoe hiking. While you do snowshoe hiking, you might even encounter Japanese serow. Not only the activities but also local dishes would be really appealing. Enjoy the Japanese winter at Ougatou. (Takashi)

December 19th

Kanji

The Kanji of the year was chosen and announced in a ceremony at Kiyomizu Temple on December 12th. A Kanji character is selected through a national ballot every year after it started in 1995. People vote for a Kanji which they think represents the year most. What do you think of this yearfs character? Itfs eHENf meaning eCHANGEf in Japanese. The reasons are changing of the Japanese prime minister, Obama winning the presidency using the word echangef, economical and ecological changes around the world. Do you agree? (Risa)

December 18th

tokyo

When I went to Tokyo, I visited Shibuya. One of the famous buildings is e109f where is the center of fashion in Japan. I went in the shops. Like I expected, I could hardly see men there. Outside, there is huge crossing. Once the traffic light turns green, so many people go that way, come this way. I was about to be swallowed by the stream of peoplec

tokyo

After I went to Shibuya, my friend and I took a subway to Omotesando. Almost all the shops there are designers brand shops, but it is fun to do some window-shopping. In the Omotesando-Hills, there is Christmas Decoration. You can see the photo above. When I stepped in there, the tree was lit by pink, but after a while, it became blue. I wish I could have a tree like that. (Takashi)

December 17th

Arashiyama

A winter illumination event called Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatouro started on December 12th. This event was first held three years ago to attract tourists even in winter. Approximately 987,000 people visited and enjoyed the event last year. Thatfs great number, isnft it? This event continues until December 21st, so how about going there this weekend? Here is more information; http://www.hanatouro.jp/e/index_a.html (Risa)

December 16th

tokyo

I went to see my friends in Tokyo about a week ago. I had been to Tokyo several times, but I think this was the first time I literally went around Tokyo. I saw symbols of Tokyo; Tokyo Tower, Odaiba, Asakusa, Roppongi Hills and more. Especially Tokyo Tower left a good impression on my mind. It does look different from it is at daytime. You can see it above.

tokyo

It seems that Asakusa is filled with people all the time. At some point, I could hardly walk forward because of the crowd among stalls. You could fill your stomach before you get to the temple, since there are many food stalls out there. I had a great time strolling around until I got bad luck on a written oracle. My friend, on the other hand, got the best luck of all. I guess this is what life is like. (Takashi)

December 15th

hotsprings

How was your weekend? Here is another information about hot springs in Yamanashi. The day spa called eHottarakashi Onsenf, looks down the Kofu Basin, Yamanashi prefecture. There are 2 hot springs; eAcchi no Yuf and eKocchi no Yuf. Especially the first one is recommended, since it opens 1 hour prior to the sunrise. And when the sun rises, you can see the sunlit Mt. Fuji from where you are. At night time, you enjoy the night scenery of the Kofu Basin and look up at the starry sky. The day spa has a restaurant, so having one of Yamanashi prefecturefs specialties eHoutouf would be interesting. eHoutouf is similar to Udon noodles and boiled with vegetables such as pumpkins, carrots and leeks, etc. As some travel tips, you can use shampoo, soap and hairdryer for free. I recommend you bring some towels, but you can buy one as well. (Risa)

December 12th

jigokudani

My workmate went to one hot spring. Here is the report from him. This is a real hideaway located further into the Shibu Onsen in Yudanaka, north east from Nagano city. Therefs an inn up into the mountain at the end of the road. After passing the inn, therefs a hot spring blowing up. Beside it, therefre stairs and when you reach the top of those, finally the Jigokudani-Onsen comes into sight.

jigokudani

Thatfs the only hot spring in the world where you can see wild monkeys soak in. Little monkeys dive into the hot spring just like kids do the same at a pool, and same as kids, theyfre scolded. Although you cannot feed wild monkeys, itfs fascinating to observe them come and go. Itfs getting colder, so the best timing to see all of these would be then!!

Other than Jigokudani Onsen, therefs a ski resort called gShiga Kogenh and gMaguse Onsenh as well. If you would like to stay there, itfd be good to book an accommodation at Shibu Onsen. This is because you can get a free pass to hot springs in the area. Please remind yourself that it might get really cold like minus 20Cc

From Kyoto... You take Shinkansen to Nagoya. At Nagoya, take Limited Express Shinano to Nagano. Then, take a train on Nagano Dentetsu to Yudanaka Onsen station. Finally about 15 minute taxi ride takes you to Jigokudani Onsen.

I hope you have a nice weekend!! (Takashi)

December 11th

luminarie kobe

Itfs been a while since I last posted the news here. A friend of mine went to see Kobe Luminarie last Saturday and sent me a few pictures. Arenft they beautiful? Kobe Luminarie is a light festival held in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture every December. It started in 1995 to commemorate the Great Hanshin Earthquake occurred in January that year. The festival lasts for about two weeks (Dec, 4th to 15th this year), but the lights are only turned on for a couple of hours each evening. If you are interested, why donft you go there this weekend? No admission fee is required.(Risa)

December 10th

bbq

About a week ago, Risa and I went to Iwakura Jisso-In. A lot of people visit there to see gYuka Midorih and gYuka Momijih. In early summer and autumn, the reflection of the leaves sets on the floor; respectively green and red. Also it would be beautiful in winter, since the floor reflects white snow.

bbq

I really liked the garden with stones. You can have a look at the photo of it above. The stones and red leaves were lit up at evening. I hope you can visit there one day. (Takashi)

December 9th

Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto

Today, I like to introduce a very beautiful walking trail around Ginkaku-ji., called gTetsugaku no Michi.h According to wekipedia, gThe Philosopher's Walk (“NŠw‚Ì“¹ Tetsugaku no Michi?) follows a cherry-tree-lined canal in Kyoto, between Ginkaku-ji and Nyakuoji-jinja. The route is so-named because a Kyoto University philosophy professor, Nishida Kitaro, used it for daily meditation. It passes several temples and shrines such as Miroku-in, Otoyo-jinja, and Koun-ji.h When I visited there on last weekend, after visiting Ginkaku-ji, there were some autumn leafs left along a creek. It was so quiet. However, it becomes lively waking trail during a cherry blossoms season on March or April. I wish I can come back here to see it! How about you? (Akira)

December 8th

Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto

Good afternoon everyone! How was your weekend? It was very cold here in Kyoto, but the weather was so nice! Anyways, I visited gGinkaku-jih over the weekend. Those of you don`t have any idea about Gingaku-ji, please visit the web site below. (http://www.yamasa.org/japan/english/destinations/kyoto/ginkakuji.html) In the past, I have visited Kinkaku-ji twice. Kinkaku-ji is a very famous tourist spot in Kyoto. gKinh means ggoldh in Japanese, therefore, Kinkaku-ji is a ggold temple.h Here is funny thing about Ginkaku-ji. gGinh means gsilverh in Japanese, but Ginkaku-ji is not a gsilver temple.h It is a quiet looking old temple. The reason I always wanted go to Ginkaku-ji was many people recommended me to visit there; everyone said Ginkaku-ji is better than Kinkaku-ji for people who really like temples. So I was very excited until I see real Ginkaku-ji temple. After seeing it, I was so disappointed because the temple was caught by a fire, I don`t know when it was happened, and it was on the process of repairing. As a result, the temple was covered and some carpenters who specialize in building temples were working on it. I missed an original Ginkaku-Ji!! (Akira)

December 5th

Kyoto Kyoto

Good morning! How are you doing? It is a hard rainy day here in Kyoto today. I hate rainy daysc. Anyways, is your face oily? For those of you who worry about oily faces, I have good news. Today, I will introduce you gYojiya.h Yojiya is very famous brand of oil blotting facial paper company in Kyoto. Most of tourists coming to Kyoto buy their products as a gift. Beside oil paper, they have a variety of face care products. If you worry about your skin, they can help you too. Please visit the website below for more info. http://www.juliedesigns.com/webdesign/Yojiya/about.html In addition, they also have three cafés in Kyoto. You can buy their products and have a break by drinking coffee, eating pasta, pizza, desserts, etc (http://www.yojiya.co.jp/pages/cafe3.html ©this is the website of Yojiya café I visited. Please visit the web for more details, however, the web is written in Japanese.). One thing I recommend at café is a cup of green tea cappuccino. These pictures I took show the character of Yojiya written on the top of cappuccino. Is it cool? It is tasty too! Try their famous oil blotting facial paper and a cup of cappuccino while you are in Kyoto. Have a good weekend! (Akira)

December 4th

Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen! I have to tell you that today is the end of Arashiyama area series. The reason is very simple. I don`t have any more information available for you to share. In other words, I have visited only three places at Arashiyama so far. Therefore, I will stop talking about Arashiyama until I get back there again (maybe Risa or Takashi can talk about it in near future). Anyways, the place I will introduce to you today is called gHongoin.h This place is part of Tenryuji, and it is well known as viewing autumn leaf, especially a light up during a night time is very beautiful. You must pay 500 yen to enter, but don`t worry about it, you can earn something more than 500 yen after visiting the temple. You will know what I mean if you have visited there before! Peace! (Akira)

December 3rd

Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto

Good afternoon everybody! It`s me again!. Like I mentioned yesterday, I will continue to introduce sightseeing spots for you around Arashiyama area (I have a few more places to show you). Those of you who checked the news yesterday, I talked about Tenryuji, and today I like to talk about one of my favorite place in the area; it is called gChikurin no michih or gChikurin`s road.h This road is found near Tenryu-ji monastery where a bamboo grove rises up the hill. You can probably hear the voice of bamboos and birds while you are going through the road. Chikurin no michi is very famous because this place is used for many Japanese dramas and TV commercials. If you watch Japan Rail (JR) commercial of Kyoto, you will see it!(Akira)

December 2nd

Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto

Good morning! This is Akira again. I just want you to know that it is my responsibility to keep updating the news for this week. After talking to Risa and Takashi, they accepted my challenge, so I will continue to introduce you tourist spots around Arashiyama area. Today`s spot is gTenryujih; please visit the website below for more information about the temple«. http://zen.rinnou.net/head_temples/10tenryu.html Anyways, Tenryuji was designated by the United Nations as a World Cultural Heritage in 1994. When you visit there, you have two choices. If you pay 600 yen, you can visit both inside of the temple and the yard. If you pay only 500 yen, you can only visit the yard. It is totally up to you! However, if you visit inside of the temple, you can see some drawings in India ink of Dragon, Dharma dolls etc. Can you get some idea of drawings from my pictures? (Akira)

December 1st

Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto

Good morning all! How was your weekend? Did you have a great Thanksgiving weekend for those of you who live in the United States? And do you know it is already December!? Well, I had a great weekend too! I went to Arashiyama to see autumn leaves. Arashiyama is becoming No.2 sightseeing spot after Kiyomizudera in Kyoto. There are many temples, café, restaurants, and gift shops around the area. Also, there is a bridge called gTogetsukyou`. Togetsukyo is the symbol of Arashiyama and it means gCrossing Moon Bridge". If you see any catalogs or (guide) books about Arashiyama, you will find Togetsukyou bridge for sure! I always wanted to visit Arashiyama so I really had good time over there! One of my dream has come ture~~~~~^^v In addition, I took so many pictures at Arashiyama area; I will introduce you some wonderful places to visit at the area later if I have a chance!(Akira)

November 28th

Kyoto Kyoto

Hello everyone! Today, I like to introduce you your travel mate called Ekiben. Ekiben is known as gRailway boxed mealh which is a specific type of bento. Ekiben is available to purchase at most Japanese rail stations. You can buy it at stands in every station, the platform, or on the train. Each Ekiben has different taste, because Ekiben is made from local food specialties; you will know what kind of food is famous at the area you visit by tasting Ekiben. What I tasted the last time is from Kyoto station. There are more than 10 kinds of Ekiben at least within Kyoto station. I spent more than 15 min at least to choose. Oh, by the way, sorry for making a mess yesterday. I was too excited to post pictures....my bad! (Akira)

November 26th

tofukuji

How are you today? I went to Tofuku-ji last weekend. It was really crowded with tourists form everywhere. The bridge called gTsuten-kyoh is famous for viewing autumn leaves and itfs often focused in autumn season every year. The leaves are superb and people seemed to enjoy its beauty.

tofukuji

The pebbled garden adds elegance to the simple structured temple, so I liked it a lot. Actually you can have a rest sitting down at the templefs veranda. When itfs quiet, itfd be a good place to relax. (Takashi)

November 25th

bashing garlic

Hello everyone. I am back from my holidays in New Zealand. I had a great time there, and it was really nice to catch up with friends too. I didnft do anything touristic at all. I just spent my holidays like I was living there. See the above picture and guess what she was doing. Too difficult? You might not believe, but we made Worcestershire sauce from scratch. Looking for an old recipe, preparing ingredients, bashing garlic & onions, soaking them in vinegar, boiling/brewing, and bottlingc It took almost four days to make the sauce! I have to wait for about three more weeks to try the taste, but I believe Itfs very delicious! (Risa)

Worcestershire

November 21th

Kikunoi

Kikunoi

Kikunoi

Good morning everyone! Here I am again! Like I promised the last time, I went to Kiyomizu-temple to see the light up. Please see pictures I took! I know my camera is not good enough to capture this luxurious view, but I hope you can have some idea of the light up. Please visit Kiyomizu-temple for this light up if you are visiting Kyoto or making plan for visiting Kyoto recently because this light up offers limited time only. I am sure you will have an unforgettable experience, so please do not miss it!! (Akira)

November 20th

bbq

One of my friends went to Nanzen-ji last weekend and sent me a beautiful photo. Please have a look at above. The garden is lit up at the evening. I think I will go there this weekend if my family would like to. The autumn leaves will turn red gracefully because the temperature dropped in the past 2 or 3 days. If you can come to Kyoto, you will see beautiful leaves and light up of temples. But be prepared not to get a cold. (Takashi)

November 19th

Kikunoi

Kikunoi

Kikunoi

Good evening everyone! This is Akira again! How was your day today? It was very cold here in Kyoto. Everybody felt the middle of winter weather today. I guess the winter is coming soon. Anyways, Kyoto is facing very busy season these days; a lot of people from around the country, and the world visiting in Kyoto to see autumn leaves. Some temples open until the night for light up. It is very amazing and awesome view to see autumn leaves with lights. I will visit those places and I will take some pictures if I have a chance. For today, I will show you some picture of gcrowded Kyoto.h Do you see how much people are visiting in Kyoto recently? Is it fun to see many students coming for a school excursion? (Akira)

November 18th

bbq

Hello everyone! My name is Akira. I am the newest member of Kyotoguesthouse team. I am writing this because Risa is on vacation. Well, I have visited in Kyoto only three times in my life; everything I see here in Kyoto is still bright new to me! There are a lot of reasons why I like Kyoto very much. One of the reasons is food. There are many gourmet foods in this town, especially, I love gsoba.h Soba is buckwheat noodles and it is very popular noodle for Japanese people. Unlike pasta, you can make a lot of noise when you suck in soba noodles. It does not mean you have a bad manner; it is a traditional way to eat soba so people are very proud of making noise. Therefore, when you eat it, please make more noise and be a soba master! In addition, there are a lot of soba restaurants in Kyoto. Every restraint is unique, and has own traditional way to make soba. As a result, each soba has a different taste. I am sure that you will enjoy the city of Kyoto if you are soba crazy lover like me. (Akira)

November 17th

jingo-ji

How was your weekend? I went to one of the temples in Kyoto city. Itfs called eJingo-jif. The best way to get there is to take a bus from Shijo Karasuma because there are too many cars around the temple and the parking space is limited. You can see the autumn leaves in the photo above. They turned red more than I expected. It was so quiet at the temple before tourist group arrived.

jingo-ji

I will put photos of autumn in Kyoto when I go out and take photos. The forecast says leaves at Sanzen-In should be beautiful now. If you have time, or chance to visit Kyoto, please go and admire the autumn beauty. (Takashi)

November 14th

Ifm off to New Zealand tomorrow, but I still donft know what plans I have therecand, I donft even know who is coming to pick me up at the airport. I will let you know how my trip went when I get back next next week. Hope you have a nice weekend! (Risa)

November 13th

Fraser

While I was in Australia, I took a day trip to Fraser Island, which is the biggest sand island in the world. The color was just stunning; sky blue, ocean blue, white sand and clear lake. This island is the World Heritage, and itfs banned to take any animals onto the island. This is to protect the pure species such as dingos.

Fraser

There is a big tree there called gStrangling Feeth. The host tree is actually dead because of the tree which strangling it. It seems like these trees are typical species in rainforests. If you see the big one, you can actually enter the hole and climb up to the middle of the tree from inside. It was really interesting to see different kinds of nature on the island. (Takashi)

November 12th

Momiji-en, or maple garden at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine was opened to the public on November 1st. The garden is a new scenic spot which was built last autumn in the area of Odoi (bulwark), which is designated as a national historical site. The walls there are said to have been built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to protect the city from attacks. According to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine he autumn leaves weill be at their peak from mid November to late November, so donft miss it! (Risa)

November 11th

OZ

OZ

How are you today? Ifm back from the holidays in Australia. It was really nice to chill out on the beautiful beach. On the first day, I went to eCurrumbin Wildlife Sanctuaryf to see koalas and kangaroos. They are just cute and adorable when they holding babies. Since they are nocturnal animals, most of them seemed sleepy or actually were deep in sleep. I saw crocodiles and other animals that day, and I ate crocodile meat that night. I couldfve eaten kangaroo meat, but I patted and fed them a couple of hours ago, so I thought itfd be too cruel to eat them. Anyway, crocodile meat was good and it was similar to chicken, but a little bit chewier. Ifll post more photos later. Have a nice day!! (Takashi)

November 10th

Kikunoi

How was your weekend? I had a pretty busy day on Saturday. My mother and I visited my maternal grandmother living in the country in the morning/afternoon. We stayed there for a few hours and headed back to Kyoto as we had another plan with my paternal grandmother and relatives. We went to a very nice Japanese restaurant called Kikunoi (http://www.kikunoi.jp/honten.htm) and had traditional Kaiseki dinner. Every dish was really delicious, and we were so impressed with it delicate taste and flavor. Itfs located near Yasaka Shrine and Koda-ji, so it would be very nice to have lunch or dinner during your sightseeing! Hope you had a great weekend too! (Risa)

November 7th

Hiroko is back and Takashi is away now. Yay! My turn is next. Ifm going to New Zealand on Nov. 15th and coming back on Nov. 23rd. If you are a regular reader, you know I went there last year, too. Yes, I am a NZ freak! Itfs still one more week to go, but Ifm getting excited about my holiday there. Hope you have a great weekend! (Risa)

November 6th

Kodai-ji

I was watching TV yesterday morning, and it was about autumn light-ups in Kyoto. Some temples such as Kodai-ji and Shoren-in have already started it a little earlier than the others, but quite a few temples and shrines will be illuminated by the time the foliage season starts. Ifll do some research and make a list of where to go this year soon! (Risa)

November 5th

A special autumn exhibition is being held at Ninna-ji now. Items on display include archives, which show the origins of the templefs doctrine, and the principal image of Amida Nyorai, a national treasure, which was created around the time when the temple was founded in AD 888. The exhibit is open every day until November 24th, so why donft you go there if you are interested? (Risa)

Ninna-ji

November 4th

rurikei

How was your weekend? Yesterday was a public holiday here in Japan, so we had a three-day weekend. My friends and I went for a drive to Sonobe and enjoyed hiking there yesterday. There is a nice hiking trail at Ruri-Kei (Kei means valley in English), and lots of people visit there for a weekend trip from Osaka and Kyoto. Sonobe is located about 1.5 hours north of Kyoto, so it's a bit colder up there. The leaves have already started to turn red and yellow beautifully. We didn't expect to see the coloured leaves, so it was a nice surprise. We felt a little tired after the hike, but we had a very nice day yesterday. Hope you had a great weekend too! (Risa)

October 31st

I watched one of Japanese TV program the other day. And it featured box lunch, and the box lunches which they produce began to be sold at convenience stores. There are 2 kinds of boxes; one is well balanced with meat and vegetables, and the other is mainly focuses on meat (chicken). I had one on Wednesday and the other yesterday. You can have a look at the photos below. It seems that a lot of box lunches have been produced in cooperate with TV programs and university students. It would be fun to have various kinds of those. By the way, Happy Halloween!! And Ifll be away to Australia next week, so Ifll post what I experience throughout the trip when I get back. (Takashi)

junk

junk

October 30th

According to the local newspaper, the maple leaves at Jingo-ji have started to turn red and yellow. I went to the temple two years ago, and I quite liked it. Therefs a nice hiking trail from Arashiyama to Jingo-ji, so why donft you make the plan for hiking and viewing the autumn colours? The temple is located in the north of Kyoto city, so itfs a bit earlier than central Kyoto. I check the trees on my way work every day, but they are still very green. Takashi sounds like hefs fed up with autumn, but I am very looking forward to seeing the beautiful coloured leaves! (Risa)

October 29th

Halloween is coming, just 2 days ahead!! Itfs got the similar meaning of that of gObonh in Japan. Itfs believed that ancestorsf spirits come back on Oct. 31 st, and so do other evil sprits and also witches. To prevent the evil spirits from coming into houses, people put jack-of-lanterns outside to scare them. This is just like a scarecrow at rice fields. Compared to western countries, it is not that popular in Japan at all. However, people have parties and some theme parks have Halloween events such as a parade. Especially at Universal Studios Japan ( http://www.usj.co.jp/e/ ), you can enjoy Halloween limited meal as well as the parade. While writing this news, I began to feel like going to USJ. Maybe this weekend? (Takashi)

October 28th

A chronic stiff shoulder. It started when I was a high school student, so Ifve been suffering from it for more than 10 years. I tried lots of ways to ease the symptoms, but itfs still herec A friend of mine introduced a chiropractor in Shiga as I always complain the pain. I called the clinic to make an appointment as soon as possible, but it seems like really so popular. Believe it or not, I could only book the appointment on December 27th. Apparently, patients come to the clinic for help from all over Japan. Even if they live in Hokkaido, they take time off work for a week, stay at a hotel near the clinic and concentrate on their treatmet. I donft know it works on me, but I will try anyway and let you know in my diary/news next year! (Risa)

October 27th

canada

Hello, everyone. How was your weekend? I just chilled out at home watching some movies and I organized photos into albums because I have taken so many photos both in Alaska and Canada. I would like to show you the photo of a fried dough stick I had in Mont-Tremblant. This is the very basic kind. If you wish, you can add chocolate or caramel syrup and various kind of nuts. I really liked it, so I became a frequent customer at gBeavertailh. There are some branches in Canada, so if you have a chance to go there, why donft you try one? (Takashi)

October 24th

I sometimes (often?) write about yoga on this page. I just started to take a bit harder lesson these days, and I quite enjoy it. Itfs only natural to feel anxiety when you try anything new, but I think itfs important you sometimes branch out and take on a difficult challenge. But, please donft forget to take a rest, too. You are used to working hard every day, so I guess it might be difficult to know when/how you should restcbut, itfs easy! Just be honest with yourself. Hope you have a good weekend. (Risa)

October 23rd

bbq

How are you today? Itfs raining here in Kyoto. I didnft realize that November is close ahead. Leaves will turn into red and yellow. As usual, this will be one of the busiest seasons in Kyoto. In Canada, I already saw colorful autumn leaves. Some leaves were really red which means trees produced a lot of sugar by autumn.

bbq

I found a really tiny maple leave when I was walking down the street one day. It was as big as my finger nail. I experienced autumn in Alaska, Canada, and I will see beautiful leaves again in Kyoto soon. (Takashi)

October 22nd

canada

Hello everyone, how have you been doing? Ifm finally back in Kyoto. I was in Canada from Sep. 24th to Oct. 20th. To be more specific, I was in Mont-Tremblant Village which is in Quebec. This village is famous for winter resort, but during the autumn season, lots and lots of Japanese tourists visit there. I was in charge of looking after groups which visit the village. There is a gondola up to the mountain (875m above the sea level) and the view from the top is just awesome. You can see in the photo above. Ifll post more photos later. The autumn leaves were beautiful in colours of red, orange, yellow and green leaves make them stand out more.

canada

I tried one of the traditional Canadian food in the village. Itfs called gPoutineh and it consists of fried potatoes, gravy sauce and cheddar cheese. Itfs an easy and cheap menu at almost every restaurant. A good thing about this is I love all three food, so everything was well combined and tasted really good. Itfs easy to cook, so you can give it a go!! I definitely will. Have a nice day. (Takashi)

October 21st

Takashi is back from Canada! Hefs not here yet, but he is coming to the office tomorrow. I canft believe he was away for more than two monthsc Thank you for reading my diary (I think I often give out personal detailscsorry about that) every day. I believe Takashi has brought back interesting topics, so donft forget to check the news tomorrow! (Risa)

October 20th

Todai-ji Todai-ji deer

It's Monday again. We had beautiful autumn weather during the weekend. Saturday, I went to Nara with a friend. It's pretty close from Kyoto, but it was the first time since I was a junior high school student. After we arrived there by train, we walked to Wakakusa-yama (Mt. Wakakusa) and had lunch on the top of the mountain. The air was cool and fresh, and I loved it. We also visited some sightseeing spots like Todai-ji and Kofuku-ji, and then we found a cosy cafe called 'Kanakana' in Nara-machi. It's a kind of western-style cafe, but the building (80-year-old townhouse) and decor are very Japanese. I strongly recommend you to go there if you look for a place to have a rest in central Nara area. We felt a little bit tired when we got back to Kyoto, but we enjoyed our day a lot. Hope you also had a nice weekend. (Risa)

October 17th

I have been thinking of where to go on my holiday next month. I was going to Australia to visit a friend, but I had to cancel it due to circumstances beyond my controlc So, I am right back where I started. I went to the travel agency to check the flight availability to New Zealand, but it seems that all the flights are booked out at the moment. Ifm on the waiting list of Cathay Pacific and Korean Air, but Ifm afraid the chances arenft so high. All I can do now is just wait and see, but I feel really stuckc Hope you have a nice weekend! (Risa)

October 16th

Before the foliage season begins, the lighting up of maple trees with lanterns started on October 1st at Jingo-ji. The leaves have just begun to turn red and yellow due to the chill of night. When the lights are turned on just as the sun sets, the whole path takes on a magical atmosphere. Visitors enjoy strolling up the temple path (quite hard!) while viewing the maple trees. The evening light-up finishes on Oct. 19th, but it will start again from October 31st, with the illumination continuing until November 30th. Autumn is my favourite season, so I canft wait the foliage season! (Risa)

October 14th

Akame Akame Akame

How was your weekend? Yesterday was a public holiday, National Sports Day in Japan, so we had a longer weekend. On Sunday, I went for a hike to Akame Shijyuhachitaki in Mie Prefecture and enjoyed it a lot. I was feeling so nice and refreshed during/after the hike. Ifve heard that negative ions happen naturally in places like waterfalls, so I think thatfs why. It takes only about 2-3 hours from Kyoto, so why donft you go there if you get a chance? (Risa)

October 10th

kurama fire festival

I wrote about Jidai Festival yesterday, but another festival called eKurama Fire Festivalf is held at Yuki Shrine on October 22nd. It is famous as one of the strangest festivals in Kyoto (the other two are eUshi Festivalf at Koryu-ji and eYasurai Festivalf at Imamiya Shrine). It is said to reenact the scene of the enshrined deity greeted after travelling from the Imperial Palace to Kurama Village, at the end of the Heian Period. On the evening of the 22nd, watch fires are lit at the entrances to the local houses, and the village is lit up with torches carried by children at 6:00 p.m. Soon after the local people parade through the streets carrying a huge torch and yelling along the way until they gather at the sacred precincts of the shrine. Itfs quite different to the other traditional festivals, so I think it would be very interesting to see it. (Risa)

October 9th

Jidai Festival is coming up on October 22nd. This is one of the three most representative of Kyotofs festivals, along with the Aoi Festival in May and the Gion Festival in July. It was first celebrated in 1895 to celebrate Kyotofs 1100th anniversary of becoming the Heian capital and home of the emperor. The central event of this festival is a parade featuring large numbers of people demonstrating the customs from each of the major historical periods from the Meiji Restoration back to Heian times. The parade starts from the Imperial Palace and moves on foot for about four kilometers all the way to the Heian Shrine. I think the highlight of the festival is the row of women dressed in period costume. It adds great color to the parade. If you are planning to visit Japan during that time, how about coming to Kyoto on Oct. 22nd? (Risa)

October 8th

Credit crunch has gripped the world, Arsenal lost to Hull City F.C. and the cows have come to Tokyo. Only one of these is a good thing. Until the 19th October, you can go on your own cow hunt in the Marunouchi area in central Tokyo. Part of a global charity venture that has seen cow statues placed in conspicuous locations in many of the world's cities, the Cow Parade always seems to take people by surprise. It's the sort of thing that stops you dead in your tracks. Local communities, artists and household-name talents have all painted their own cow, now to be found on Marunouchi Nakadori and in the surrounding area. Many have been innovatively painted and some sport accessories like shards of mirror or bulging eyes, according to the theme or the whim of the artist. Following the end of the parade, the cows will be auctioned off for charity, so make sure to take a look while you can. (Guy)

October 7th

Autumn is here. These days, I get carried away by the fragrance of Kinmokusei (Do you call it eorange sweet teaf in English?) on my way to work every morning. The scent comes from nowhere, and I usually canft find any flowering trees around me. The Kinmokusei season is pretty short, so I want to enjoy the scent to the fullest now. (Risa)

October 6th

Did you have a nice weekend? I caught up with old workmates and took a drive along the Lake Biwa on Saturday. Two of us have just split up with their boyfriend, so we wanted to be nearby to comfort them. While we were together, they talked and laughed a lot..., but we knew they were so down and depressed. They looked exhausted from lack of sleep, so we asked them what they wanted to do, but they couldn't find their answer. They even didn't know if they wanted to be alone or they still wanted to be with us. We ended up staying with them until late night, and we headed home. Time is a cure - everybody knows this, but I believe it's pretty difficult for them to accept the situation as reality. But, they sent me a bit positive text messages today, so I am a little relieved now. I think it will take a little while for them to get over from the shock, but I hope they will be ok soon. (Risa)

P.S. We were talking, seeing the sunset over the lake. Itfs beautiful, isnft it?

sunset

October 3rd

gArt Treasures from Shokokuji, Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji Templesh exhibition will start in Paris, France from October. 15th. Itfll be held at the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts, or the Petit Palais, in commemoration of 50 years of the signing of the sister city agreement between Paris and Kyoto. 79 cultural artifacts will be on display aborad for the first time, and the collection includes one national treasure and six important cultural properties, such as Okyo Maruyamafs ePeacocks and Poniesf and Jakuchu Itofs gSakyamini Triadh. The visitors can experience Zen culture at the exhibition through activies such as Zen meditation, tea ceremony and Japanese flower arrangement. If you are in Europe and interested in Japanese culture, why donft you visit the museum? (Risa)

October 2nd

I canft believe itfs already October! There are only 3 more months leftc How is your 2008 going? I hope you have been enjoying it so far.

Spider Lily

The Higanbana (How do you call it in English? Spider lily?) reminds me of the coming of autumn. As the word ehiganf means ethe other shoref or nirvana in Buddhism, some people donft like the flowers in Japan, but I think they are quite beautiful. (Risa)

October 1st

You might not believe this article, but bananas have become scarce in supermarkets across Japan since TV programs and magazines claimed that eating bananas has weight-loss benefits. The boom has pushed up prices, and prompted importers to buy more of the fruit. However, observers have pointed out the phenomenon is similar to the natto boom last year, in which a TV program claimed the soybean product aided dieting, although this was later proven to be untrue. I had time after work yesterday, so I visited a few supermarkets and checked if they had bananas, butcthey were completely sold out. I think people tend to overestimate the effects of a certain food product. I donft understand why they didnft learn from the natto incidentc I believe you should try to eat healthy if you want to lose weight. What do you reckon? (Risa)