December - October, 2009


I can’t believe there are only 3 days left in the year! I don’t know why, but I feel this year has gone by very quickly for me. I’ve had some bad times this year, but let’s see how 2010 will be. One more day at work tomorrow, and then I’ll have 4-day holiday. Yay! I’m planning to visit my grandmother on New Year’s Day, but it seems to snow in the northen part of Kyoto… (Risa)



My friend’s company chartered a cruise ship “Asuka II” and held the ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the foundation in early December. About 700 employees attended the ceremony and spent the night on the ship. They enjoyed the dinner and shows in such elegant surroundings. The ship left from Kobe and arrived at Nagoya next morning. My friend said it was a great experience for her. The cruise lines sells various destinations, so I think it might be interesting to go on a short trip on a cruise ship while you are in Japan. What do you think? (Risa)


Merry Christmas to you all! I hope you have a wonderful time with your family and friends.

The Kanji character for SHIN or new, was selected as a character best representing this year in the annual Kanji contest, and was announced on December 11th at Kiyomizu-dera Temple The selection reflects on public interest and expectations; the Democratic Party of Japan’s new administration launch, the H1N1 swine flu outbreak, and Ichiro Suzuki’s achievement of 200 hits for 9 straight seasons in Major League Baseball. About 160,000 people voted for the contest and 14,093 chose SHIN for the best Kanji for 2009. If you were a voter, what Kanji (or English word) would you choose? (Risa)




The other day, my friend sent me the cute picture above. She took it at the entrance of Kobe Chinatown, Nankin-machi in Japanese. The Chinatown developed as the residential area of Chinese merchants, who settled in Kobe after the city’s port had been opened to foreign trade in 1868. At that time, Japan didn’t have a peace treaty with China, so Chinese people lived in the designated foreigner residential quarter. That was the beginning of Chinatown. Now there are over 10,000 Chinese people living in Kobe, but there are few residents in the Chinatown as it is in the commercial area. If you get a chance to go to Kobe, don’t forget to visit there too. There are more than 100 restaurants and shops, so how about having lunch or dinner there? (Risa)


I couldn’t post the pictures on Tuesday, but I can now. Enjoy. (Risa)

begonia begonia begonia begonia begonia


How was your weekend? My friend and I visited [Nabana No Sato] in Mie Prefecture on Sunday. A special exhibition featuring begonia is being held at the moment, so we went to see it after lunch. I knew the flower, but I was surprised to see so many kinds and colors of begonia there. I took quite a few photos and downloaded them on my computer, but I can’t resize and put them here…sorry about that.. The park’s gardens are illuminated with lights in the evenings and it’s very popular, but we had to come back to Kyoto by then. It was a shame. Maybe next time… If you are interested, here is their official site; (Risa)



I received the above beautiful picture from my friend, so I wanted to share it with you. She went to Kobe Luminarie, which is a light festival held in Kobe every December since 1995, last Saturday. The festival commemorates the Great Hanshin earthquake happened in 1995 and it is the 15th anniversary this year. My friend arrived at the site around 4pm and started to wait in line to see the moment when the lights turned on at 5:30pm. Lights are kept up for about 2 weeks (from Dec. 3rd to 14th this year) and turned on for a few hours each evening. According to their official website, 365 million people visited the festival this year. If you are interested, how about planning to come to Japan around this time next year? (Risa)


Amano Hashidate

Last Sunday, my friend and I went for a drive to Tango Peninsula. We stopped at Amanohashidate which is one of Japan’s three scenic views. A thin strip of land connects two opposing sides of Miyazu Bay. This sand bar is 3.3km long and covered with about 7,000 pine trees. It can be viewed from mountains on either side.


Also, we visited a sake brewery in Ine Town. I was a driver, so I couldn’t try…but, my friend did and bought a few bottles of sake. We opened one of them after we came back home and enjoyed it with dinner. It’s a bit hard to find the brewery, but please let me know if you are interested. I believe you’ll love it. (Risa)


Fushimi Inari

My friend and I visited Fushimi Inari last Saturday. Inari is a god of business, so merchants and manufactures worship it for wealth. Donated torii (shrine gate) lining footpaths are part of scenic view. The shrine sits at the base of a mountain and includes trails up the mountain to many small shrines. I like walking the trails very much and I sometimes feel like going to the shrine. If you have a few days in Kyoto, I strongly recommend you to visit the shrine and walk the trails. (Risa)

Fuhimi Inari



I will introduce you one of the Cologne’s attractions this time. The building is called “Triangle” and the elevator takes you up to the top within a minute. From there, the view of Cologne city extends.

View from Triangle

The photo above is the view of Cathedral and city in the distance. It is nice to go there at daytime, but I strongly recommend you to go there at twilight. The lights of the city are mesmerizing. (Takashi)


How was your weekend? As I promised, I’ll write about our dinner at [Nakahigashi] on Friday night. My impression was it was very different to a traditional Kaiseki dinner but nice. If you’ve already had Japanese Kaiseki before, I think it’s a good idea to make a reservation at the restaurant. They start to take bookings for next month at 8a.m. on the 1st day of previous month, so don’t miss it. You’ll have trouble getting through, but be patient and keep trying. Here are the pictures of dishes we had…

Nakahigashi Nakahigashi Nakahigashi Nakahigashi Nakahigashi Nakahigashi Nakahigashi Nakahigashi Nakahigashi Nakahigashi Nakahigashi

I liked the second one (steamed rice with botargo and gingko nut) or the third one (sake lees soup with wild mushroom and vegetables) the best. The other dishes were also delicious though. Even if you are a big eater, I believe you’ll be satisfied with the dinner. (Risa)


I can’t believe it’s already Friday. Time goes by so quickly in December! I am going out for dinner to a Japanese restaurant [Nakashigashi] with my uncle and aunt tonight. It’s one of the restaurants I have wanted to go for a long time and was awarded one star in the 2010 Michelin Guide to Kyoto/Osaka. I’m getting excited and can’t wait. I’ll let you know how I liked it with pictures on Monday next week! (Risa)


Last Sunday, I met a friend who just came back from Australia. She stayed there on a working holiday visa for a year and got back about 10 days ago. She had financial difficulties at the beginning, but, eventually, she fully enjoyed her life there. She was so brave and I am very proud of her! (Risa)


The most popular names for baby boys and girls for 2009 were announced earlier this week. [Hiroto] is for baby boys and [Rin] for baby girls. The other popular names are Syota, Ren, Sota, and Sora…for boys and Sakura, Hina, Yua, and Yuna… for girls. What names are popular/trendy in your country now? (Risa)



The whole city is getting christmasy day by day. Have you done your Christmas shopping yet? I’ve been thinking of sending Christmas cards to friends living abroad, but I have been just lazy… I think December is the busiest time of year for most people, but keep your good health and enjoy this Christmas season! (Risa)



A huge Ema or votive pictorial offering, depicting a tiger, the oriental zodiac sign for next year, made an appearance at the oratory of Matsunoo Grand Shrine on Nov. 25th. The ema is 3.2 meters high by 5.5 meters wide. The annual event started in 1983, and this year’s original drawing was painted by Mitei Fujiwara living in Kyoto. A tiger is portrayed along with a calabash and a sake up, suitable for the grand shrine which honors a god of sake. If you are interested in the shrine, you can get more information here; (Risa)



I strongly recommend you to acquire a shampoo if you get a chance to go to Taiwan. I asked my parents and friends for advice as they visited there before, and everybody said shampoo is a must-try. I only half believed before I went, but I liked it very much. We went to a hair salon to acquire a shampoo for the second straight day! It’s quite cheap, but you can get a massage of neck/shoulder, too. I can say it’s definitely a must-try in Taiwan. (Risa)


Din Tai Fung

One of the pleasures of travel is food, I think. We went to a dim sum restaurant [Din Tai Fung] while we were in Taiwan. The restaurant is known internationally for its xiaolongbao (dumplings). It was ranked as one of the world’s top 10 restaurants in 1993 by the New York Times. We got there avoiding the busiest time, but there was still a long queue. We waited for about 40 minutes before we got in. We tried a few dishes and they all were very delicious. I thought the restaurant is worth the wait.(Risa)



My friend and I went to Mengjia Longshan Temple on the 2nd day. The temple was built in 1728 by settlers from Fujian, China. It served as a place of worship and gathering place for the Chinese settlers. The temple has been destroyed either in full or in part on numerous earthquakes and fires. The main building and the left corridor were damaged and many artifacts and artworks were lost in the ensuing fire during the World War II, but Taipei residents have nevertheless consistently rebuilt and renovated it. The temple is seen as an emblematic example of Taiwanese classical architecture, with southern Chinese influences commonly seen in older buildings. Like most temples in Taiwan, the temple worships a mixture of Buddhist, Taoist, and folk deities such as Matsu. We visited the other sightseeing spots while we were there, but I think I liked the temple most. If I get a chance to go back to Taiwan in the future, I would definitely visit there again. (Risa)



Hello everyone! I’m back from my holiday. I forgot about little things and just relaxed. It was a bit hard to return to my everyday life yesterday, but I’m ok now. I went to Taiwan with a friend during the holiday, so I will write about it tomorrow. (Risa)


Cologne Cathedral=

I went to Cologne as well. This magnificent Cathedral is one of the UNESCO World Heritages in Germany. Its twin towers stand out in the city. 157m in height, and there are approximately 300 stairs to the top. Unfortunately, I could not go up to the tower, but the view must be great.

Chocolate museum

There are several museums in Cologne. Most of those are art museums, but this is a museum of chocolate. Once you step into the museum, the aroma of chocolate wafts to greet you. The interesting thing is that you can see how chocolates are produced step by step. Also there is a chocolate fountain and you might be able to taste it. (Takashi)



Marburg is a city where the famous brothers Grimm studied and lived from 1802 to 1805. The city is famous for other reasons. First of all, stairs and hills are everywhere you go.


Next, in the 13 th century, Queen Elisabeth, who was really merciful, thought of poor people in the city and constructed a hospital. After this, this city is known as one of the most famous medical facilities and universities in Germany. When the Christmas season arrives, markets are out around Elisabethkirche. The scenery must be great!! (Takashi)


551 Butaman 551 Butaman 551 Butaman

I found a long line of people standing at Kyoto train station yesterday on the way to go home. I just wondered what they are waiting for, so I decided to take a quick look. Finally, I found out the reason; they wanted to buy `Buta-man.` `Buta^man` is a steamed bun contacting pork meat, and I believe it is originally from China. You can easily find it in any China town near your house. However, the store, I found at Kyoto station, called `551 HORAI` makes special `Buta-man.` Anyways, I bought a couple of Buta-mans. I am not crazy `Buta-man` lover, but I could easily tell that they were very juicy and tasty!!! Yummy x 2 I checked a guide book of Kyoto after arriving to my home, and the store was introduced by the book. Therefore, please be aware to wait on a long line of people if you are planning to visit any places on guide books in Kyoto!. Be patient and good luck!!(Akira)


curry with nan

One of the most important things of traveling is food, isn`t it? If you visit Kyoto, you can taste a variety of traditional Japanese gourmet food. I recommend you to check all restaurants by using guide books before you arrive here, because all restaurants are always crowded! It will be much better if you have a reservation! Enjoy real Japanese food here in Kyoto! As you know, Kyoto is one of the best sightseeing spot in Japan. Because of it, there are a lot of Japanese restaurants.On the other hand, there are a lot of foreign restaurants too, for people who are from outside of Japan, so they don`t get sick of Japanese food. Well, today, I like to introduce curry with nan(nan is a flat bread and it is very common in India). I am sure you can enjoy Japanese food three times a day, however, you sometimes want to try different food, don`t you? I sometimes see people from India here in Kyoto, and I just let them know that a curry with nan is available here in Kyoto too even though it is common to eat curry with rice in Japan. I have never been to India before, but I hope the taste of curry similar to their home curry and they don`t miss their home while they are in Kyoto!(Akira)


JR Pass JR Pass JR Pass JR Pass JR Pass JR Pass

Look what I found in Osaka during the last week! This is a very popular roll cake from Osaka; it is called `Dojima Roll.` The store is located very close to Osaka Station, about 15 min by walk, and you will see a long line of people standing along the building. In addition, the store is already preparing for Christmas cakes. If you wish a special Christmas Day, why don`t you go get a special cake for someone special for you? Also, the store produces seasonal cakes. They are also popular too. You must have a ticket to purchase each special cake (please see a picture above).They are limited items so you better hurry!! (Akira)>



At 11:11am on November 11th, the carnival started at Mainz. This carnival is one of the most popular ones in Germany. Cologne has the biggest one though. It is hard to see, but the square was so crowded with people in various colour costumes. Mainz is a city where the Rhine River and Main River meet. Also it is known as "Golden Mainz", since it was the main hub for trading since around 8 Century.


St. Stephans church is really famous for Marc Chagall's stained glass. Its blue colour is just breathtaking. The church itself is about 1,000 years old, but it was bombed during the World War II. The present building, therefore, was built after that. Even if you are not a christian, I believe you admire the beauty of it. (Takashi)




It has been quite a while since I last posted an article here. I was in Germany on my vacation from November 9 th. I caught up with some friends whom I got to know in New Zealand. My friends and I took a day trip to the Rhine River, which is 1,320km in the full length, and on the way from Frankfurt to St. Goar, we saw many castles like you can see above. Nowadays some of the castles are used as hotels or youth hostels. It may be interesting to stay at a castle hotel once. By the way, the castle in the first photo is “Stahleck” and the second one is “Kaub”. (Takashi)


takeda castle

My friend and I went to Takeda Castle in Hyogo Prefecture on November 7th. The castle was built on the top of Koga Mountain by Sozen Yamana in 1441-1443 and ruined in 1600, but the ruins are still there. It was a warm sunny day, so we had lunch outside and felt so nice and refreshed. We went there by car and it took less than 2.5 hours, so it’s not so far. I recommend you to visit there if you have a spare day in Kyoto/Osaka. (Risa)

takeda castle takeda castle


rokko-san rokko-san

My friend took part in a walking event [Rokko Zenzan Jyuso] held by Kobe City on November 8th. The event is held twice annually and getting popular these days. According to my friend, it took about an hour to get the participation certificate. The participants walk a 56-kilometer course from Sumaura-koen Station to Takarazuka Station. They must pass through a few points within the time limit, and if not, they have to give up the challenge. My friend left the starting line at 5:30a.m. and reached the finish line at 10:30p.m. Wow...17-hour walk!!! It was indeed a tough challenge, but she said she said she had a real sense of achievement. Good on her!!! (Risa)



kongo-in kongo-in

My brother went to Maizuru City located in the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture on business last week and sent me a few lovely pictures of autumn colors. They were taken at Kongo-in, which is known as the setting of the fiction [Kinkaku-ji] written by Yukio Mishima. It is at the height of autumn leaves there at the moment. If you are interested, you should go now before it’s too late! (Risa)


YokohamaYokohama walkYokohama artCrespyCream

Hello everyone! Today, I like to introduce you my home city, Yokohama. Yokohama is one of the largest port, opened in1854, in Japan. If you like to eat Chinese food, you should visit there because there is the largest china town in Japan. If you like to watch Japanese baseball game, a professional base ball team called `Yokohama Baystars` is there. There is a professional soccer team called `Yokohama Marinosu` too! If you love shopping, a lot of shopping malls and department stores are waiting for you. Your favorite Crespy Cream doughnut stores are also available too! Please use JR pass and visit Yokohama after visiting Kyoto! (Akira)>


On November 1st, the night illumination started at Jingo-ji Temple, celebration the 1200th anniversary of Kobodaishi Kukai’s joining the temple. In the temple precincts where approximately 120 lanterns are placed, visitors enjoy strolling while viewing the illuminated the tinted leaves. The wooden statue of Yakushi Noyorai, a national treasure and principal image of the temple, has been enveiled in Kondo Hall, and its vigorous figure illuminated by light-emitting diodes. Daishido Hall in the precincts has been opened to the public. The exhibition will continue until Nov. 30th, from 5:00 p.m. to 7 p.m., so don’t miss it!!! (Risa)


JR Pass

Are you familiar with this(please see a picture on top)? This is a very powerful item that helps you to discover many places in Japan. The item you are seeing is called `JR Pass` or `Japan Rail Pass.` You will gain a power of traveling within JR line during a period of time, which means you can ride any JR trains as much as you want including fast trains such as `Shinkansen`; you can go anywhere in Japan along rails! JR pass is sold outside of Japan, and you must not be Japanese citizen in order to purchase the item; this is a special pass for people from other countries. Please visit this website ( for more details. Visit a lot of places with this pass while you are in Japan, and be a Japanese specialist!!!Oh, please do not forget to visit us if you are planning come to Kyoto! (Akira)>



What do you image when you think about Japanese food? Sushi? Tempura? Of course, they are very popular food. However, did you know that many Japanese people are also crazy for noodles? There is a variety of noodles you can enjoy here in Japan. Today, I like to introduce `Udon` noodle. If you have read our news before, Risa already introduced `Udon` to you so you might have some ideas. Anyways, `Udon` is a wheat flour noodle, and it is thicker than `Soba.` You can probably find `Udon` restaurants around train stations; some restaurant are very cheap!!! Even though some Udon restaurant provide cheap udon, they don`t disappoint you. Instead of it, they make you smile^___^ If you feel sick of burgers, please try `Udon` here in Japan. (Akira)


Hello everyone! It is very nice weather here in Kyoto today; it is not too cold and too warm. If you are making a plan to travel, it is almost time to come back to Kyoto again because leaves are starting to turn red and waiting for your visit. Therefore, we recommend that you should reserve hotel or ryokan, a Japanese style hotel, as soon as possible before it gets too late!! Millions of people will be here very soon, so please let us know if you are still looking for a place to stay in Kyoto during this fall season.(Akira)


Kyoto/Nara area is always packed with tourists… If you would like to spend a quiet day during your trip, I recommend Shiga Prefecture. Embracing Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake, the Shiga had a part to play in Japan’s history almost from the beginning. The prefecture lies along the Nakasendo, the trunk road that wound from Edo (modern Tokyo) west through the mountains and then south to the ancient capital at Kyoto. A good place to begin is the Kannonji Castle ruins ( – more of a fortified hilltop village than a castle – and its accompanying temple on Mt. Kanonsho, which provide a quiet forest hike and the change to touch Japan’s past. Once you get the nearest station, you can rent a bicycle and do your sightseeing easily. Please feel free to ask me if you would like to know more details about the castle. (Risa)


Kyoto City has published a sightseeing map for walking around historical places from the turbulent final years of the Edo Period. The sites are all associated with Ryoma Sakamoto ( The map introduces five walking course, one is of the Kyoto Imperial Palace and the remains of the official residency for the Satsuma clan, where the peace pact for the alliance between the Satsuma and Choshu local governments again the then central government was concluded. Another includes the vicinity of Takenobu Inari Shrine in the Mibu area, where Ryoma was said to have dates with his wife Oryo. The map provides a brief introduction of the life of Ryoma and the history of the late Edo Period. They will be distributed from November 2nd for free at Kyoto City Tourist Information Office and other locations if you are interested. (Risa)


It was Cultural Day ( yesterday, and our office was also closed. I guess lots of people were planning to go out, but it was unbelievably cold for early November. According to the news, we had snow in many places around Japan yesterday. I had a few plans and was out almost all day, but I kept complaining about the cold weather… I hope it will get warm today! (Risa)



How was your weekend? A friend of mine visited Kyoto from Tokyo for the weekend. We had dinner at a Spanish restaurant on Friday night and stayed up late talking until 5 a.m. We went to Nanzen-ji, Tetsugaku-no-michi (Philosopher’s path), and Ginkaku-ji on Saturday. It was a beautiful day in Kyoto, sunny and warm – perfect weather for a good walk.


When we were walking back to the downtown from Ginkaku-ji, we saw the wonderful sunset. Lots of people stopped and saw the sun went down. We had an early dinner and chatted until 5am again! It was good fun!!! (Risa)


I’ve been thinking about my holiday plans for next month lately. Taiwan and Okinawa… I haven’t booked yet, but I am already looking forward to it. Hope you will have a lovely weekend. (Risa)



Walking through the district of Harajuku and Shibuya in Tokyo, you might encounter men in skirts. Not kilts or kimono, but skirts. The skirt-wearing men of Tokyo are beginning to get some attention from the fashion world. More than whether a look is manly or feminine, there are more men now who think that, as long as it’s stylish, it’s good. Street fashion news site operator says, “As disparities widen in this competitive society, there are more non-aggressive men who prize choosing their own lifestyle over conventional social status – a spirit that has come to be reflected in their fashion”, she concludes. What do you thin of this fashion trend? (Risa)


A delivery service for Geisha performances aimed at foreign tourists is gaining popularity at an event space in Tokyo Nihonbashi district. The Omtenashi Experience shows by performers from six geisha districts in Tokyo were initially planned as dinner shows for guests at luxury hotels in the city. In response to requests from the public, however, the shows are now also held at Muromachi Fukutokujuku in the Nihonbashi district in Chuko Ward. Shows are hosted in English, and are held from 6pm to 7:30pm on the first and third Saturdays of every month. The admission price is 10,000yen per person, including a meal. For inquiries, call the event planning company Shinnichiya at +81-3-3249-3136. (Risa)



The foliage season has come! The picture above was taken at Jisso-in ( yesterday. There are more than 200 maple trees in the garden, and some of the leaves are starting to turn red. The leaves in the downtown area are still green as it’s warmer down here, but I am looking forward to it already! (Risa)



A chrysanthemum exhibition started on October 17th at Nijo Castle in Kyoto. Arrayed on either side of the Kara-mon gate, which is designated as an Important Cultural Property, 470-newly-blooming chrysanthemums herald the approach of autumn. The exhibition is being held as a part of Nijo Castle Autumn Festa 2009. Chrysanthemums which have been carefully raised by 13 members of Kyoto chrysanthemum association are placed on the show. A meeting to judge the flowers will be held in early November when the blossoms are expected to reach their peak. The exhibition will continue until November 15th, so if you like flowers, how about visiting the castle? (Risa)


A special exhibition, which introduces famous treasures associated with Nichiren, the founder of the Nichiren sect of Buddism, started on October 10th at Kyoto National Museum. This year marks the 750th year since Nichiren dedicated his writing [Rissho Ankoku Ron] to Tokiyori Hojo in 1260, worrying about the national crisis. The exhibition traces Nichiren’s achievements and focuses on temple treasures of the Nichiren sect, which establish 16 temples in Kyoto and had a deep relationship with merchant class culture. Featured exhibits include a few national treasures, and there are 12 newly discovered items and 37 items exhibited for the first time. This exhibition will continue until November 23rd, so how about adding it to your list if you are interested. (Risa)


I mentioned a bit yesterday, but two festivals will be held in Kyoto today. One is Jidai Matsuri Festival and the other Kurama Fire Festival. I’ve seen the parade of Jidal Matsuri, but I have never been to the Kurama Fire Festival. It starts at 18:00, so it’s not easy to go see there after work, but one day… (Risa)


Jidai Matsuri or Festival of Ages, one of Kyoto’s three main festivals will be held tomorrow. Prior to it, newly-made costumes were revealed at Heian Jingu Shrine on Oct. 6th. Since the festival’s parade was exposed to rain last year, 120 pairs of footwear were renewed, including the shoes (see the below picture) for the role of Ono no Komachi which had been used for about 50 years. The shoes were renewed for the first time since the Heian Jidan Fujin Retsu, procession debuted in 1954.

Jidai Festival

There are 256 newly-made items in total and the cost for the renewal and other repairs came to about 6.7 million yen (approx US$73,000)!!! Also, dry-cleaning expenses totaled about 3 million yen (approx US$33,000), three times as much as usual years as there were many spotted costumes and moldy shoes due to the rain… I hope it won’t rain tomorrow!!! (Risa)


wedding wedding wedding

Here are the pictures of the wedding I went on Sunday. They held the wedding ceremony at Kobe Geihinkan Suma Rikyu Vizcaya Garden ( and I thought it was a really beautiful place. We had stunning weather and it was the perfect day for a wedding. As you can see the pictures above, the bride changed dresses three times during the reception. She looked gorgeous in every costume, but I especially liked the one in Japanese Kimono. Again, it was a wonderful wedding and it made us really happy to see the happy couple. I believe they share a long and happy life together. (Risa)


How was your weekend? I went to Kobe for my friend’s wedding yesterday. We contact with each other once a year or so, but we have been good friends for more than 10 years. I think it’s a bit weird relationship, but it’s comfortable for us. I got a card from him yesterday and it said [Thank you for coming today. I called you every time I felt down and depressed. Thank you again]. I was so glad and happy to read the message… I took a few pictures, so I will upload them here tomorrow. (Risa)


tetsujin28 tetsujin28

My friend went to see a full-size figure of Tetsujin No. 28 (maybe you are familiar with the name, Gigantor?) and sent me the above pictures. How big do you think it is? Its height is 18m, waist 20m, hand 1.7m, and feet 4m. Very huge, isn’t it? If you are interested, it’s on display at Wakamatsu Park in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture. Here is the URL of the project;


This is the picture of full-side Gundam in Odaiba, Tokyo. A student of my friend went to see it during her summer holidays and took the picture. If you like Japanese cartoons and animations, you know the both of them, but which would you like to see more? Here is more information of the Gundam; (Risa)


hokyoji hokyoji

A memorial service was held for dolls at Hokyoji temple in Kyoto yesterday. People bring or send their dolls to the temple from all over Japan and the service is held on Oct. 14th every year. The temple also keeps many dolls and they are shown to the public every spring and autumn. If you are interested, they will be put on public display from Nov. 1st to 30th this autumn. Please let me know if you would like to know more details! (Risa)



The 2010 edition of the Michelin Guide to Kyoto/Osaka will be released on October 16th. Prior to the release, a press conference was held at Kenninji yesterday and six restaurants in Kyoto were awarded the highest rating of three stars. Arashiyama Kitcho, Kikunoi, Chihana, Tsuruya, Hyotei, and Mizai – some people say it comes as no surprise or it’s just as they expected. What do you think? Also, I heard there were a few restaurants/ryokan that refused the award. Tawaraya is one of them, but where else? I’m so curios about it. If you would like to try one of the restaurants above, I recommend you to make a reservation as far in advance as possible. (Risa)



How was your weekend? Yesterday was a public holiday called Sports Day, so we had a three-day weekend. We had beautiful weather during the weekend and everywhere was packed with holidaymakers. My friend and I were invited to our mutual friend’s place on Saturday, so we went there for dinner. Another friend of us was also there, and they held a birthday party for us (we both had a birthday last month). We enjoyed the homemade dinner & cake and chatted until late night. It was a fun night. Thank you again, Nachi and Hiromi! (Risa)


A friend of mine made sushi for me the other night. We went shopping and bought ingredients for sushi. We got there a bit late so there wasn’t much left, but we chose snapper, salmon, saury, sweet shrimp, and tuna cheek meat. He cooked them beautifully and I took a picture of them with my mobile…but, I forgot to save it. Maybe next time (if he does it again). (Risa)


I’ll write about something personal today. My mother caused stroke and was sent to the hospital about a few weeks ago. I received the text on my way back from Koyasan and went to see her soon after I got back to Kyoto. She looked ok, but a tiny infarction in her left side of brain was found on a MRI scan. She was at the hospital for about 10 days, and she’s back at home now. She makes a habit of getting regular checkups, but it happened… It’s very scary, isn’t it? Proper diet, good sleep, and stress-free life – I feel they are very important to keep our good health. (Risa)


takeda castle

Look at the picture above. It looks fantastic, don’t it? It’s Takeda Castle and located on the top of Mt. Koga (353.7m) in Wadayama, Hyogo Prefecture. This is also known as [Castle in the Sky] or [Japanese Machu Picchu]. My friend and I are going to visit there early next month, and I am looking forward to it. (Risa)



After we climbed down Mt. Kurama, we visited Kibune Shrine. The shrine is known as a home of the god of water and marriage, and we met a bridal couple in Kimono there. It looked a bit hard to walk up the steps, but they made it. We also went up the stairs and drew omikuji (sacred lots) at the shrine. You usually choose a number and receive a paper saying your fortunes, but different style there. You choose a paper and float it on the water (look at the picture below) and then the fortune messages appear on the paper. We didn’t get very good results, but they were ok. If you have a chance to go to Kurama/Kibune area, don’t miss it. (Risa)




How was your weekend? My friend and I went to climb Mt. Kurama yesterday. It’s a mountain to the north-west of Kyoto City, and it is the birthplace of the Reiki practice. It is also said to be the home of sojobo, King of the Tengu (look at the picture above), who taught swordsmanship to Minamoto no Yoshitsune. There is Kurama Temple on the top of the mountain, and it is now designated as a national treasure of Japan. You can walk up to the mountain from Kurama Station and down to Kibune side. If you want to get refreshed during busy trip, I recommend you to go there and have a nice walk. (Risa)

kurama kurama



A special autumn exhibition started at Homotsukan Museum in To-ji Temple on Sep. 20th. They display rare items, including [Ryokan Mandala-zu] which is the oidest National Treasure in existence. It consists of two mandalas representing Taizo-kai, or womb world, and Kongo-kai, or diamond world. It was made in the 9th century, but the original red, blue and green colors are still vivid. A total of 54 items are on display, and the exhibition will continue until Nov. 25th. The National Treasure Ryokan Mandala-zu’s Taizo-kai will be displayed until Oct. 21st and Kongo-kai will be dispayed from Oct. 22nd. So, that means you should visit there twice if you are interested in the National Treasure! Hope you have a great weekend. (Risa)



A special autumn exhibition titled [Daigoji-no Meiho] or treasures in Daigo-ji Temple is held at the Reihokan museum of Daigo-ji now. Three important cultural properties by Edo period artist Sotatsu Tawaraya, including the noteworthy [Bugaku-zu] on a set of folding screens, are on display for the first time. This year is the 1,100th anniversary of the passing of Rigen Daishi, Shobo who founded Daigo-ji, and the museum decided to put representative treasures of the temple on display. There are 92 exhibits, including nine national treasures, among which is the Rigen Daishi Shobunjo, an administrative text for temples written by Shobo in his late years. The exhibition is open every day until December 6th, so you still have plenty of time. If you are planning to come to Kyoto this autumn, how about visiting the museum, too? (Risa)

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