March - January, 2010


A stroll, where visitors can become familiar ith Buddhism as they touch stone Buddhist images in the templefs precincts and along the streets, has started around Kodaiji Temple. Visitors enjoy touring around and receiving blessing as they touch various kinds of God. Kodaiji Temple has played a central role in organizing the tour to enliven the neighborhood through expanding tourist spots from single points to a whole area, bustling with activity like a theme park. Kodaiji Temple, its subsidiary temples and Ryozen Kannon are participating in the project, and eight touching spots are included. Signboards with explanations in Japanese and English about Buddha and the benefits gifted by each item have been set up in front of each spot. There is an admission fee to enter Ryozen Kannon, but the other temples are free of charge. If you would like to know more details about this tour, please let me know! (Risa)



I was invited to a private show at a hotel, KIZASHI THE SUITE, which was opened about a year ago, on March 18th. The hotel manager showed us each room and explained its features. I was so amazed with the gorgeous atmosphere and I loved it so much. Itfs all-suite hotel and located in the middle of Gion. I think we can have the information about the hotel on our website in a few weeks, so donft miss it! (Risa)


sakura sakura sakura

How was your weekend? I went out for dinner with friends on Saturday night and went to see the cherry blossoms on Shinbashi Street in Gion area after that. We got there around 9:30pm and there were a lot of locals and tourists enjoying the blossoms. There are so many viewing spots in Kyoto, but it is definitely one of my favorites. The illumination started on March 26th and will last until April 4th. If you are in Kyoto during the period, I recommend you to visit there! (Risa)



The cherry blossoms have finally started to bloom in Kyoto! I found it last Sunday, but I thought it would take a while for them to be in full bloom as itfs been quite cold this week. Butc I found a cherry tree with full bloomed blossoms when I was walking around the office the other day. Look at the picture above. Itfs [Miyaki-zakura] at Rokkaku-do and itfs so pretty, isnft it? If you are already in Kyoto, how about going there? Here is the URL of Rokkakudo (sorry, only Japanese available); (Risa)



The spring special opening started on March 13th at Kiyomizu Temple. The event usually starts in late March, but this year, the temple brought it approximately two weeks forward to concur with the March 13 start of Kyoto Higashiyama Hanatouro, an event where the paths to temples and shrines in the Higashiyama area are lined with lanterns. Approx. 500 lights have been placed in the templefs precincts and the veranda and cherry trees with flowers and buds emerge from the darkness. The special event is from March 13th to April 11th, from 6:30om to 9:30pm. If you will be in Kyoto during the period, donft miss it! (Risa)


In conjunction with the spring tourist season, [Miyako Navi], a joint tourism office set up by Kyoto Prefecture and Kyoto City, opened on March 15 in the Kyoto Station Building and it started operations next day. The new office is approx 280 square meters, and the corridor in front of the office has been widened. Kyoto Station Building has two separate prefectural and city information desks which were integrated with the aim of providing sightseeing information in Chinese, Korean, English and Japanese with increased convenience tourists. It is open every day of the year from 8:00am to 7:00pm. (Risa)


Did you have a good weekend? I was busy on Saturday and Sunday, but I just relaxed yesterday as planned. I went to do yoga in the morning and baked a cake with my brother in the afternoon. My mother baked a few kinds of biscuits and my brother baked two more different cakes. I felt as if I were in the kitchen at a pastry shop. We wonft eat all the cakes and biscuitscmy mother will give them to one of her co-workers who retires at the end of this month. My father was upstairs while we were baking and I guess he was wondering when his dinner was ready! (Risa)


The days are really getting longer and itfs still light when I leave the office at 6pm. March 22nd is Spring Equinox Day this year, so we have a three-day weekend this week. I have a few plans on Saturday and Sunday, but I would like to spend Monday relaxingc Ifve been quite busy these days, so I need a good rest! (Risa)


I was watching the news on TV this morning and it said the cherry blossoms started to bloom in Miyazaki Prefecture yesterday. According to the forecast, the cherry trees in Kyoto will start to bloom on Tuesday next week or so. I found a few swelling buds when I was walking Kiyamachi Street (one of cherry blossom spots) last night and that made me very happy. I canft wait to see full-bloomed cherry blossoms!!! (Risa)


imperial palace

My brother took the picture of peach blossoms at Kyoto Imperial Palace and sent it to me. Itfs so pretty, isnft it? If you miss beautiful cherry blossoms, but donft worry! Peach blossoms are waiting for you instead!!! You can enjoy various colors of peach blossoms there until early April, so how about adding the Imperial Palace to your itinerary if you are in Kyoto during the period? (Risa)


I fell over on my way back from yoga lesson last night and I have a few scars on my facecaarghc I canft believe I get scars and bruises from falling down at this agec I think it takes a while until the scrapes heal, but I hope it wonft take so long! Sorryc I will write about Kyoto tomorrow, I promisec (Risa)


How was your weekend? I was planning to spend my weekend relaxing, but it turned out to be a different one. I went for dinner with a friend, had an argument with a friend, chatted with a friend for hours over the phone, visited a friendfs place and talked until midnight, visited the friend I argued with and had a talk, visited my grandma & aunt, etccDo I sound a busy person? Ifm sure I do! Hope you had a nice weekend!!! (Risa)


Kyoto City has published 400,000 copies of Kyoto Sakura Map 2010, a booklet introducing approx 40 cherry blossom-viewing spots in the city and information on special events such as illumination locations. The booklet is distributed free of charge at the Kyoto City Hall, ward offices, tourist information centers and other locations, so donft forget to get it if you visit Kyoto during the cherry blossom season! (Risa)


miyako odori

The costume fitting for the 138th Miyako Odori, which starts on April 1st, was held on February 24th. Geiko and Maiko attended a photo session for the program brochure in their costumes. This yearfs program expresses the seasonal atmosphere of Kyoto through dance and is composed of eight scenes. Performances will be held four times a day at 12:30pm, 2pm, 3:30pm, and 4:50pm until April 30th. Admission fees are from 2,000 to 4,500 yen. For more information, contact Gion Kobu Kabukai at +81-75-541-391. (Japanese or English language inquiries preferred, Spanish, Korean, and Chinese speaking staff are sometimes available too) (Risa)


I went to a friendfs place on Saturday and had dinner together. We went shopping and decided to have [Tomato Nabe]. Nabe is special in winter because it warms not only your body but also your heart, with the warm and cosy atmosphere it creates, so we try to have as many nabe dishes as possible during the winter time. It was the first time for me to have Tomato Nabe, but it was quite nice. If you donft like Japanese food very much, I guess you will like it. Talking about the weather, itfll get warmer soon and we will enjoy beautiful cherry blossoms in spring, but we will miss the warm, delicious dishes like nabe. (Risa)


I had breast cancer screening on Saturday. Mammography, echo, and palpationc I had to wait for quite a long time after I took the first two exams and was getting very nervous. I read books/magazines while waiting, but half of them were about breast cancer. As you can imagine, that made me more nervous and scaredc I broke out in a cold and uncomfortable sweat and couldnft stand it any more. My name was finally called one hour later and went into the consultation office. After a quick palpation, the doctor told me that the result was negative and I was so relieved to hear that. One out of 20 women is said to get breast cancer in Japan (one out of 8 in western countries, right?), so I always tell friends to get regular checkups before itfs too late. (Risa)



How was your weekend? My one was busy as usual. I went to a baking class yesterday and made Vanillekipfeln and Marshmallows. Ifve always liked baking, but I realize how important it is to learn the basics in everything. It was the first time for me to make marshmallows, but I never thought the making process was so easy and simple (Sorry I forgot to take a picture of marshmallows) We will make Easter Bunny Bread next month, and I am already looking forward to it! (Risa)



Prior to [Nahan-e] or the memorial service on the day when Buddha is said to have passed away, the opening of [Nahanzu] or the picture scroll depicting the scene of Buddhafs death, started on March 1st at Sinnyo-do Temple. This year, the temple is showing Nahanzu, which is said to have been drawn by Mincho, a Zen monk and painter in the Muromachi Period, at the main hall. The picture scroll is approximately 2.5 meters high and 1.6 meters wide. Buddha, dressed in gold clothing, lies in the center with his head on his right arm, and he is surrounded by his disciples, birds and other animals who are grieving his death. The exhibition will continue until March 31st. (Risa)


Spring is coming, and we can enjoy cherry-blossom viewing in a month. Ahead of it, STARBUCK has started to sell sakura (cherry blossom) flavored products; Sakura Latte, Sakura Cream Frappuccino, Sakura steamed bun, and Sakura chiffon cake. I havenft tried them yet, but they looked yummy. I wasnft really hungry when I went to STARBUCKS near the office a couple of days ago, but next time for sure. Look at their official site here; If you luckily come to Japan during the cherry blossom season, how about trying one of them? (Risa)



March 3rd is the Doll Festival called Hina Matsuri in Japan. An exhibition displaying Hina doll sets of historic value, chosen from dolls donated for memorial services to Saikyoji Temple, Otsu City in Shiga Prefecture has been held since February 15th. The temple has as many as 1,500 Hina dolls from across Japan. A selection have been put on display every year for the last 10 years, including rate doll sets mainly from the late Edo Period to the early Showa Period. In the exhibition hall, there are 25 doll sets, with 200 dolls in total. Today is the last day of the exhibition, so how about planning a trip to Japan around this time next year if you are interested? (Risa)


March is a medical checkup month for me. Ifll have breast cancer screening this Saturday and uterus cancer screening on the 20th. Itfs been 4 years since I took those exams for the first time, but I still havenft got used to them. The number of patients who suffer from gynecological disease is increasing year by year, so I force myself to go to the clinic on regular basis. If you have never had the exams before, have the courage to get the checkups. (Risa)


Did you have a good weekend? My one was quite busyc nonstop from Friday night. I went to do yoga after work on Friday and then visited a friendfs place. I donft know why, but I felt like walking, so I walked to Kyoto Station in the rain. I came back home next morning and took a quick nap and then went to do yoga again. I met up with a friend for lunch and coffee in the afternoon and went to have my hair cut in the evening. On Sunday, I slept in a bit and went to Osaka to catch up with a high-school friend. It was the first time since she gave birth to her second child, so we had a lot to talk about. It was a weekend of full of good things for me. I hope you had a great one too! (Risa)


The hay fever season has started again this year. It is said one in six Japanese suffer from hay fever, and there are various products to relieve its symptoms, including masks, glasses, and supplements. According to the report, it is predicted both the Kanto and Kansai regions will have less amount of pollen this yearc Ifm not sure if itfs true or not because one of my co-workers keeps sneezing todayc Poor him. I hope I wonft get terrible hay fever this year (last year was just terriblec) Hope you have a great weekend! (Risa)


Itfs been warm here in Kyoto for the last couple of days. I feel as if spring came, but the overcoat weather comes back next week according to the forecastc Even during the cherry blossom season from late March to early April, the mornings and nights get pretty cold, so donft forget to bring some warm clothes with you. (Risa)


I usually donft go out for a drink on weeknights except Friday, but I did last night (actually I was invited to someonefs house). The dinner started at 9pm, and everybody looked tired when it finished at 3am. I knew only a few people there, but it was fun to talk with someone new. Ifm not so sleepy at the moment, but I have cancelled the yoga class tonightc I will definitely have an early night! (Risa)


A 79-year-old resident of Osaka, Shizuya Satoh has started his tours for foreign tourists to introduce some sake breweries and temples in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto. In 1965, while he worked as a translator and interpreter at a trading company, he enrolled as a tour guide at a travel agency. Itfs amazing hefs been guiding for 45 years, isnft it? He proposed a tour of Fushimi, saying [There is a lot of information about Gion, however, the southern area (like Fushimi) is an unknown world. There must be many foreigners who are interested in Japanese Sake]. The approximately 3-hour tour provides the opportunity to experience the culture of sake and Kyotofs history, while visiting Chokenji Temple, Okura Memorial Hall, Teradaya Inn and other landmarks.There is a fee for the tour, and itfs by advance reservation only. If you want more information, he can be contacted at 072-831-2797. (Risa)


How was your weekend? I went to Kobe and stayed with a friend for the weekend. I first met her about 13 years ago, and we have been good friends since then. We usually catch up once every few months and have a good talk. The biggest news from her this time was she decided to quit her job in April and start her own business. I think it takes a while to get her business on track, but I believe she can stick it and hang in to the end. 2010 will be a very exciting year for her. Good luck! (Risa)


The Japanese Plum Garden at Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine is open to the public at the moment. The best time to view the plum blossoms will be from late February to late March, depending on the weather, so if you are planning to visit Kyoto during the time, donft miss it. Hope you have a great weekend! (Risa)



One of my friends went to Kinkaku-ji Temple and sent me a few pictures about 10 days ago. Ifve never seen the temple dusted with snow, but itfs very beautiful, isnft it? According to my friend, she saw lots of snowmen in various shapes here and there in the precincts. Please enjoy the beauty of Kyoto in the winter time. (Risa)




Do you like [ramen]? The picture above is Tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen at ICHIRAN. The noodle restaurant was founded in Fukuoka Prefecture in 1960 and it has been expanding their chain shops in the larger cities around the country. Once you enter the shop, you will fill out a detailed multiple-part order sheet (English, Chinese and Korean ones are also available) according to your taste and wait till your ramen is brought to your table. As you see the picture below, your table/seat is partitioned with walls, so you can concentrate and enjoy the taste of your ramen. I went to one of the chain shops when I visited Fukuoka a couple of years ago and found it interesting. If you come across the restaurant while you are in Japan, youfve got to try it. (Risa)



I went to do yoga for the 5th day in a row and I really feel yoga is a part of my life now. I had an argument with a friend one day last week and spent the day with mixed feelings. I tried to brush away the cobwebs, but I couldnft during the day and went to do yoga after work. It worked like magic! I felt much lighter and even refreshed in mind and body. My anger, sadness, and regret, etc. disappeared all of a sudden and made up with the friend that night. I think everybody has their own stress reliever and itfs yoga for me. (Risa)


valentinefs day

How was your weekend? As I wrote here on Friday, I made some sweets on Saturday afternoon. I didnft have much time, so I chose easy recipes and baked a few kinds of cakes. I tasted a bit, but I gave almost all of them to my family and friends. Look at the picture below. Not too bad? Hope you had a very nice Valentinefs Day! (Risa)

valentinefs day


Yesterday was a public holiday (National Foundation Day) in Japan. I had a day off and went to see my friend in the afternoon. When we were talking about Valentinefs Day, we both got the urge to make some sweets. We didnft have enough time yesterday, but I will bake something (maybe chocolate sweets) tomorrow. Itfs a bit early to day, but I hope you have happy Valentinefs Day! (Risa)



Restoration work on the colors of the paintings has been completed inside the Amida-do hall of Eikando at Zenrin-ji Temple. The intense colors of dragons ad heavenly beings on the pillars and beams have been painted afresh, bringing them back to the state they were in about 400 years ago when the hall was constructed. Eikando is the head temple of the Jodo Shu Seizan Zenrin-ji Sect. A survey and restoration has been underway since 2006 covering general maintenance of the temple precincts to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the death of Honen, the founder of the Jodo sect of Buddhism, in 2011. The Amida-do hall containing the principal image, known as Mikaeri Amida Nyorai-zo (meaning Amitabha looking back) is said to have been at the Mandala-do hall of Shitenno-ji Temple in Osaka and was relocated to this location and reconstructed in 1607. The hall is a designated cultural property of Kyoto Prefecture, so I believe itfs worth visiting the temple and have a look at it. (Risa)


Last Saturday was my friendfs birthday. I asked her what she would like to do on her birthday about a month ago and she said she wanted to go on a bus trip to Tango area to eat crabs. So, we did. We left Kyoto around 8:30a.m. and arrived at the ryokan named [Hanagozen] ( before noon. We had crabs for lunch and soaked in the hot springs there. It was nice. We headed to Izushi, Hyogo Prefecture after lunch and had a little break there. We walked around the town (see the pictures below) and bought some gifts for our family and friends. It was very cold and snowy that day, but we enjoyed the walk and shopping. We came back to Kyoto earlier than we expected and said good-bye at Kyoto Station. My friend said she enjoyed her birthday a lot and Ifm glad to hear so! (Risa)

Izushi Izushi


How was your weekend? Yesterday, my mother and I took a baking class and made [Honigkuchen] or also known as [Lebkuchen]. It was the first time for us to make German sweets, but the process was very simple and intersting. After we finished, we tasted the same sweets our teacher made and had a chat for a while. There was another student except us and she comes from Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture. She loves German sweets, but she canft find any German baking classes in Hyogo/Osaka, so she comes all the way to Kyoto. As for the taste, it reminded me of ginger nuts I liked in New Zealand. We will make [Vanillekipfeln] next month and look forward to it very much! (Risa)



Yesterday was my friendfs birthday, so we went to have dinner after work last night. A few other friends of hers whom she met in Australia joined us later, too. First, we went to a restaurant [Daiyasu] attached to a fish shop at Nishiki Market and we were there about 2 hours. My friend works part-time at the shop/restaurant, so we enjoyed our dinner in a cozy and relaxed atmosphere. If you like oysters, itfs their specialty, so donft miss it!


And then, we moved to another Izakaya restaurant because [Daiyasu] closed a little after 8pm. We were already kinda full but we ordered some snacks and chatted for a few more hours. We wished it was Friday night not Thursday, but it was much fun! (Risa)


February 3rd is Setsubun in Japan, and a Setsubun ceremony was held at a temple/shrine across the country. Setsubun literally means ethe day between two seasonsf and winter ends on this day according to the lunar calendar. People participate in various events to expel evil spirits and attract good fortune such as bean throwing, etc. People in Kansai area used to eat Ehomaki (rolled sushi) and (grilled) sardine on Setsubun and its tradition has been spread nationwide these days. I didnft do anything special, but I ate Ehomaki for dinner last night. I hope I will have a good year 2010! (Risa)


An exhibition introducing photos of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, taken since Taisho Period, has been held at the lecture room in the Kan-in-no-miya Imperial Familyfs former house located in the Kyoto Imperial Palace. On display are approximately 80 photos, including sets of pictures in which the present cityscape is compared with that of years ago, such as the Karasuma-Maruta-machi intersection where trams used to run, and other pictures depicting the natural riches of the palace, which has been loved as an open park by citizens since Meiji Period. The exhibition will continue until March 14th and is closed on Mondays. The exhibition is free of charge, so how about visiting there if you have free time while you are in Kyoto? (Risa)


My friend and I went to IKEA in Kobe on Sunday. There is IKEA in Osaka and itfs closer to Kyoto, but we wanted to avoid a loop line motorway. We looked up the direction on the Internet and got there with no problems. We enjoyed our shopping for a couple of hours and headed back to Kyotocbut, we got lostc We noticed we were on the loop line we avoided and didnft know where to go. We finally found the way out and arrived back in Kyoto, but it took more than 4 hours from Kobe. It took only 1.5 hours on our way, but 4 hoursc It was unexpected, but it was a fun trip! (Risa)


Did you have a nice weekend? I went to Ayabe, which is 2 hours away from Kyoto, to see my grandmother with my mother on Saturday. Shefs lived by herself since my granddad died about 7-8 years ago. My mother and sisters visit her regularly, but I do only 3-4 times a year. Shefs still doing ok but itfs obvious shefs getting weaker year by yearcso, I will try to visit her as many times as possible while her health is still good. (Risa)


Hatsutenjin was held at Kitano Tenmangu on January 25th. In the precincts where blossoms of Japanese plum trees have just begun to bloom, approximately 1,000 street vendors opened their shops. The shrine holds the festival and market on the 25th of every month, the date Sugawara no Michizane, the shrine deity, is said to have been born and died. Hatsutenjin in January and the year-end Shimaitenjin in December especially attract many people. If you have a chance to come to Kyoto around the 25th, how about visiting the shrine? (Risa)


Prior to the public opening, a private viewing of Nagahama Bonbaiten (Japanese plum tree exhibition in Nagahama) was held on January 19th. Approximately 90 potted plum trees are presented at the exhibition, and white blossoms have begun to flower on about 20 potted trees, including the white plum tree named Shoryubai, which has been exhibited 59 times consecutively and is estimated to be 250 years old. Buds on the 400-year-old red plum tree named Furo have also started to show their color. My friend and I went there last year and enjoyed it very much. Once you enter the hall, you will notice the sweet fragrance of the plum tree scented in the air. If you are interested, the exhibition will continue until March 10th. (Risa)



The annual [Toshiya] or a Japanese archery event, where people who turn 20 years old during this year pledge to improve their skills and grow up, was held on Jan. 17th at Sanjusangen-do Hall. Toshiya originates from an historical event in the Edo Period, where samurai warriors competerd to show their skills under the eaves of Sanjusangen-do Hall. Now in its 60th year, approximately 2,000 people from around the country participated. Many women in attired gorgeous Furishode kimono and men dressed in black-and whilte Hakama robes gathered at the shooting range of the hall and aimed at the targets set 60 meters away. There are so many interesting traditional events which I didnft know before and I think itfs amazing! (Risa)



On January 14th, the Hadaka Odori (Naked Dance in English), where men dressed only in loincloths valiantly crash into each other, was held at Hokaji Temple. In the chilly temple precincts, men and boys yelled out as they jostled against each other, praying for bountiful harvests and a safe year ahead. As a Buddhist sermon was recited in the templefs Yakushido Hall, 16 local boys started things off by running onto the board verandah of the Amidado Hall, a national treasure, clapping their hands above their heads and stamping their feel (Look at the picture above). Next, 18 men entered, pouring well water over themselves to stir themselves up, with white steam rising from their bodies as they crashed into each other. It is said that the event started in the mid-Edo Period. (Risa)


How was your weekend? I had a busy but nice one as usual. My friend and I went to an Izakaya restaurant [ONIKAI] for dinner on Saturday. I went there with my yoga friends before and I liked it very much, so I wanted to go there again. As I knew itfs very popular, I made the reservation more than a week before, but there were only two seats available. Lucky us! We both fully enjoyed our dinner and my friend said she would definitely visit there again. If you are interested, I strongly recommend you to make a reservation in much advance. Their specialty is boiled seasonal vegetables, so please do try them there. Here is their official site; (Risa)


Ifve been taking yoga lessons for nearly 4 years, and I decided to take baking classes from next month, too. Itfs a patisserie named [GLUCKS-SCHWEIN], but the owner also gives baking/cooking class. I love cooking and baking, but I have never taken those classes before. The first class is on Feb. 6th, so I will let you know how I liked it here next day. Ifm looking forward to it. (Risa)


If you visit Kyoto in the near future, I would like to recommend the art exhibition of House of Habsburg. It is held at Kyoto National Museum from January 6th to March 14th. They have variety of collection from Italian, German, to Spanish arts. The House Habsburg prospered from the 13th Century to 20th Century in Europe. They were art lovers and protected fine quality of arts for over 600 years. I would like to visit there when I have time and let myself absorbed in those arts. It is said that the sketchbook the Emperor Meiji sent to the Kaiser of the time comes back to Japan after 140 years. It should be worth seeing. (Takashi)



[Soroban-hajiki-zome] or the ceremony to use an abacus for the first time in the New Year took place at Kitano Tenmangu on January 5th. In the precincts where Japanese plum tree blossoms have just begun to bloom, children moved beads on abaci with crisp sound. The event is held this day annually to pray for the improvement of calculation ability when using an abacus. Approximately 350 elementary and junior high school students who attend abacus schools participated. I remember I learnt how to use an abacus when I was a primary school student, but I have completely forgottenc Ifve always disliked mathematics since I was a childc (Risa)


How was your weekend? I met a friend from university who lives in Yokohama yesterday. She got married last October, but she didnft hold a ceremony then. She and her husband are planning a traditional wedding ceremony at Shimogamo Shrine in June this year. I believe she will look good in Kimono! (Risa)


Nijo Castl

A New Yearfs special exhibition is being held at Nijo Castle. On exhibit are collection on 37 paintings on sliding doors, which are designated an Important Cultural Property, depicting thick pin trees and sharp-eyed hawks in powerful brush strokes. It is said these paintings were drawn by either Tanyu Kano or Sanraku Kano. They were replaced with replicas in 2003, and the originals are exhibited once a year though glass screens in a combined exhibition/storage hall within the castle. Explanations about the works will be provided by the curators at 10:00am and 2:00pm on January 16th and 17th, so how about visiting the castle if you are in Kyoto this weekend? If you canft make it, the exhibition is open until February 11th. (Risa)


Coming of Age Day

January 11th was a public holiday called Coming of Age Day in Japan. Coming of age ceremonies have been celebrated since at least 714 AD, when a young prince donned new robes and a hairstyle to mark his passage into adulthood. The holiday was first established in 1948, to be held every year on January 15th. In 2000, as a result of the Happy Monday System, Coming of Age Day was changed to the second Monday in January. One of my co-workers went to Fushimi Inari Shrine on Jan. 11th and took the picture above. You can see how we celebrate Coming of Age Day in Heian/Kamakura Period through the ceremony.


What do you think this is? Itfs a skewered quailc There are some shops which sell grilled quails and sparrows near the shrine, so please try if you are interested. Not me though! (Risa)


My friend and I went to Ebisu Shrine for Hatsu Ebisu last Saturday. [Ebisu] is the god of fisherman, good luck, and merchants, so lots of people visit the shrine and buy decorated bamboo branches to wish for success in business. There were so many people when we got there around 7pm and it was pretty hard to walk properly. We bought some food on our way back as there were lots of food stalls on the street in front of the shrine and it was fun. It was the first time for me to visit Hatsu Ebisu, but I enjoyed it. If you have a chance to visit Kyoto around Jan. 10th next year, how about going there? (Risa)



How was your weekend? My friends and I went to Tachikisan-ji Temple in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture on Saturday. I am 33 years old for the traditional age system (actually, Ifm still 31 years old for the Western age system though) and it is said that we (only women) require the best of care as we most encounter bad things/disaster at age 33. Sounds very scary, doesnft it? So, we went to the temple to drive off the ill luck in advance. I hope it works well! (Risa)



I spent New Yearfs holiday in my hometown with my family. Then, my moher, uncle and I went to Nara to stay at my auntfs house. On the 3rd, we visited Kashihara-jingu shrine and Hase-dera temple. At Kashihara-jingu shrine, there is such a big votive tablet called gemah. 2010 is the year of tiger, so you can see a white tiger on it.


After visiting the shrine, we headed for Hase-dera temple. It is located in the mountains, so it should be easier to drive to get there. The temple holds a big statue of the God, but usually, only its head can be seen. However, we were lucky enough to see the whole statue because we went there on New Yearfs celebration time. As the temple is on the mountain, there are so many stairs. According to my mother, there are 399 stairs!! (Takashi)


My friend and I went to Yasaka Shrine for Hatsumode (the first shrine visit of the New Year) after work yesterday. Many people visit a shrine or temple on the first, second, or third day of the year, so we were a bit latec A common custom during Hatsumode is to buy a written oracle called Omikuji. If your Omikuji predicts bad luck, you can tie it onto a tree on the shrine grounds, in the hope that its prediction will not come true. The Omikuji tells you how you will do in various areas in your life, such and business and love, for the year. My one said [Kichi] and my friendfs [Han-Kichi]. They werenft so bad, but we tied them on a tree in the shrine to wish for a healthier and happier year. Are we too greedy? (Risa)



An annual event called [Kemari Hajime] was held at Shimogamo Shrine on January 4th. Kemari is a form of football that was popular during the Heian Period (794-1185). The game originated from the Chinese sport of Cuju. The characters for Kemari are the same as Cuji in Chinese. The sport was introduced to Japan in about 600, during the Asuka period (538-710). The object of kemari is to keep one ball called Mari in the air, with all players cooperation to do so. Players many use their head, feet, knees, back and possibly elbows to keep the call aloft. Kemari is played on a flat ground, about 15 meters long. The uniforms that the players wear are reminiscent of the clothes of the Asuka age and include a crow hat (look at the picture above). I have never tried Kemari, but it sounds interesting, doesnft it? (Risa)


My family and relatives went to have New Yearfs dinner to [Hatano] near Heian Jingu Shrine on Jan. 2nd. It should be a traditional Kaiseki restaurant, but I felt as if I went to Fugu (puffer fish) restaurant. Sashimi, Grilled fugu, and soft roe were served as you can see in the pictures below (I know itfs very hard to know which is whichc) and we had more than enough. According to the news I saw the other day, we get a large catch of Fugu this year and they are much cheaper than usual. They are usually quite expensive, so itfs a great chance to try them! (Risa)

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Happy late new year! I hope you had a great holiday with your loved ones and friends.

I went to a concert on New Yearfs Eve. One of my friends has been a big fan of the group and invited me to the concert. To be honest, I wasnft sure if I was interestedcbut, I thought it would be an interesting experience. The concert started on time and lasted for more than 3 hours. I was overwhelmed by enthusiastic fans and my legs were so tired when it finished. I was grateful to my friend for giving me the opportunitycit became a good experience. (Risa)


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