news

Sept. - July, 2010

2010-09-30

A kind of shopping mall, [KOTOCHIKA] will be open at Subway Shijo Station tomorrow. There are some shops which are new to Kyoto, so I will check it out this weekend! (Risa)

2010-09-29

Tomorrow is the last day of September, and we only have 3 months left this year. I canft believe that time passes so quickly. How is your 2010 going so far? My one is ok, but Ifve been tired of being tiredc I know the reason, so I just need a good rest. I usually make a long trip in November, but I decided not to this year. I might go somewhere close, but I havenft decided yetc I hppe you are having a good year and will enjoy the rest to the fullest! (Risa)

2010-09-28

Sunday, my mother and I went to Nara Prefecture to see my grandmother. She lived by herself after my grandfather passed away about 9 years ago, but she decided to move to an assisted-living apartment earlier this year and moved there on Sep. 15th. When I met her before she moved, I was quite worried because she looked so sick and tiredcbut, she looked great on Sunday. She eats healthy meals served at a dining room and can put some weight, I think. Also, her sister lives on the same site, so she doesnft feel so lonely. I hope she enjoys her new life there. (Risa)

2010-09-27

How was your weekend? My one was good. Saturday: I went to do yoga with my aunt and had lunch with her. I think itfs nice to share common interests with family and friends. At night, I went out for dinner with a friend. She wanted to go to Yakitori (skewered chicken) restaurant, so I picked a few restaurants and called them...but, they were all full. So, we decided to go to [Wabiya Koreido] at Pontocho. We had to wait for 30 minutes or so, but we were led to a table around 8pm. We ate a lot, drank a lot, and talked a lot. It was a fun night. I will write about Sunday tomorrow. (Risa)

2010-09-24

Yesterday was a public holiday called Autumnal Equinox Day, so I went to Kobe to catch up with a friend and stayed there on Wednesday night. My friend booked a table in a healthy restaurant [issa] in Motomachi and took me there. We had a few vegetable dishes and felt so full and content after dinner. Next day, we went to see a movie near my friendfs place in the morning and came back to Kyoto in the early evening. I can always relax and have a great time with her. I hope our friendship will last forever. (Risa)

2010-09-22

As I promised, here are the dishes we were served at Kamigamo Akiyama last Friday.

AKIYAMA

Smoked mackerel and seasonal vegetables. I liked the smoky flavor very much.

AKIYAMA

Broiled Hamo (Japanese conger) and Matsutake mushroom. Matsutake is one of the autumn flavors that represent Japan.

AKIYAMA

Clear soup with a slice of tile fish and rare vegetables such as Korean pumpkin and Zebra eggplant, etc.

AKIYAMA

Sashimi. Finely chopped horse mackerel (miso flavor), snapper, and tsubasu (young yellowtail).

AKIYAMA

Black rice porridge. It doesnft look so good but tasted very nice. It was my favorite.

AKIYAMA

Small dishes. You can try different tastes. I guess especially women like this kind of style.

AKIYAMA

Sliced pork with corn sauce. Unique taste but I liked it.

AKIYAMA

Dried (not too hard though) Ayu (sweetfish) on rice gruel. It was quite simple but very flavorful.

AKIYAMA

Capsicum soup with deep fried Hamo and green pepper. It was my first taste, and I was very impressed with the dish.

AKIYAMA

We dipped the fresh Spanish mackerel and seasonal vegetables in the boiling soup and had it with salt or citrus flavored soy sauce. Yummy!

AKIYAMA

Assorted fruit. Pawpaw, mango and grapes.

AKIYAMA

Fig rice cake. It was not sweet enough for afternoon snack, but it was adequate sweetness for after dinner sweet.

We were led to a different room and served a bowl of green tea. We enjoyed the dinner to the fullest, and I would like to say thank you to my aunt again. (Risa)

2010-09-21

How was your weekend? My one was very nice. On Friday night, my aunt took me to a popular Japanese restaurant [Kamigamo Akiyama] and treated me Kaiseki dinner there. (I was going to write about it today, but I forgot to bring my camerac I promise I will put it in my bag tonight!) On both Saturday and Sunday, I went to Shiga and caught up with friends there. We saw a movie, went to a cafe, and did some shopping, etc. We didnft do anything special, but we had a good time together. On Monday (public holiday, Respect-for-Senior-Citizens Day), I went to buy a gift for my grandmother, took a yoga lesson and went out for dinner with my parents. I had a very productive weekend, I think. (Risa)

2010-09-17

The mornings and evenings are now getting chilly, and I caught a coldcI hardly ever get colds, so I think it was the first time in 5 years or so. As I was feeling so sick on Wednesday night, I ate warm food, took medicine, and went to bed quite early. Next morning, I was feeling bettercand I am almost ok now! There is a big difference in the temperature between day and night, so please be careful not to catch a cold. Hope you will have a nice weekend. (Risa)

2010-09-16

baking

My mother and I went to a baking class on Sunday and made simple pound cake this time. There are millions of pound cake recipes, so I always wanted to learn from a professional pastry chef and it came true. I like that kind of cake, so I thought it was delicious but my brother said it was just so-so. Everyone has his own tastec (Risa)

2010-09-15

tsukimi

Tsukimi, literally moon viewing, refers to Japanese festivals honoring the autumn moon. The celebration of the full moon typically takes place on the 15th day of the eighth month of the traditional Japanese lunisolar calendar. The day normally falls in September of the modern solar calendar. Tsukimi traditions include displaying decorations made from Japanese pampas grass called susuki and eating rice dumplings called Tsukimi dango in order to celebrate the beauty of the moon. The above picture is Tsukimi dango, and it was taken by my uncle and aunt when they were staying at a ryokan in Yamagata. The full moon night this year is Sep. 22nd, so donft miss it! (Risa)

2010-09-14

After Kitano Ijinkan, we went to Kobefs Chinatown and had a light dinner there. The chinatown isnft big, but itfs fun to walk around. The restaurants and food stalls sell dishes in small portions, so you can try various types of food there.

We headed back to Kyoto after 7pm and arrived at my friendfs place around 9pm. We just kicked back and relaxed therec A little before the clock struck midnight, my friends started countdowns and celebrated my birthday. I really had an awesome day!

2010-09-13

How was your weekend? I had a very nice one. September 11th is my friendfs birthday and 12th is mine, so we went out with our other friends on Saturday. We had lunch at a popular Italian restaurant [hikari-yurari] in Kyoto and headed to Kobe. If you are a regular reader of this news site, you might rememberc I wrote about a chair at Kitano Ijinkan in Kobe on June 11th, and we went to site on the chair! We expected more people were waiting in line, there werenft so many people as we thought. We waited for 10-15 minutes and our turn came. Letfs see when our wish comes truec I will write more about Kobe tomorrow. If you are interested in the news on June 11th, here is the link; http://www.kyotoguesthouses.com/newslib/news_2010_2Q.htm (Risa)

2010-09-10

Friday today! Ifve been really busy and so exhausted these days. I usually start to think of my holiday around this time of the year, but not this yearc Are you guys planning to come to Japan to see autumn colors this year? If yes, I recommend you to start making travel arrangements now! Hope you will have a nice weekend. (Risa)

2010-09-09

OKAMA

While my uncle and aunt were in Yamagata, they went to see [Okama], a crater lake of Mt. Goshikidake. The lake straddles the border of Yamagata and Miyagi Prefecture and itfs a very popular sightseeing spot because the water color changes according to the weather condition. Due to the strong acidity, no creatures can live in the lake. I wanted to see it when I went to Yamagata a couple of winters ago, but I couldnft as the road up to the lake is closed during the winter months. Hopefully next time! (Risa)

2010-09-08

[Daikon no Hana] – thatfs where my uncle and aunt stayed for their 3rd night in Yamagata. The ryokan is located in the Togatta Onsen village at the foot of Mt. Zao and is often introduced on TV and in magazines.

There are 4 reserved outdoor hot spring baths at the ryokan. The photo below is named [ASAKAZE] and located in the woods. You can feel a nice breeze from Mt. Zao.

DAIKON NO HANA

They are proud of their vegetable dishes. They think vegetables play the lead and meat & fish do a supporting part of their dinner/breakfast.

DAIKON NO HANA DAIKON NO HANA DAIKON NO HANA

This is their specialty in summer, Pumpkin Fondue. I thought itfs a hot dish, but itfs served cold in summer. You may have free refills on both soup and ingredients if you want.

DAIKON NO HANA DAIKON NO HANA DAIKON NO HANA DAIKON NO HANA

This is a dish called [TOKOROTEN]. Itfs made from seaweed and served like a noodle. You will use special equipment, TENTSUKI to make it. Please see the below. My aunt demonstrated how to do it.

DAIKON NO HANA DAIKON NO HANA

And, the healthy looking breakfast. Must be delicious.

DAIKON NO HANA

One more post about Yamagata tomorrowc (Risa)

2010-09-07

For the 2nd night, My uncle and aunt stayed at a traditional ryokan called [Miyamaso Takamiya] at Zao Onsen (hot spring). It has been in business in 290 years and has the best reputation in the area. They especially like the hot spring there. The water is whity color and it is said to be good for eyes and skin problems, etc.

miyamaso takamiya

The dinner at the ryokan. Looks like the food in the midst of the mountains, doesnft it?

miyamaso takamiya miyamaso takamiya miyamaso takamiya miyamaso takamiya miyamaso takamiya

And, their breakfast. According to my aunt, a few local dishes of Yamagata such as DASHI and IMONI were served.

miyamaso takamiya

Ifll write about their third night tomorrow. (Risa)

2010-09-06

How was your weekend? I saw my grandmother & aunt and had lunch together on Saturday.

MEIGETSUSOU

My uncle and aunt went to Yamagata Prefecture located in Tohoku region in late August and stayed there for 3 nights. The first ryokan they stayed was [Meigetsusou]. In Kaminoyama hot spring village. There are 20 rooms, but they are all different with each other. My uncle and aunt stayed in the room called [MAI] and they could see Mt. Zao from their room.

The dinner was Kaiseki-style. Please see the below pictures.

MEIGETSUSOU MEIGETSUSOU MEIGETSUSOU MEIGETSUSOU MEIGETSUSOU MEIGETSUSOU MEIGETSUSOU MEIGETSUSOU

And, their breakfast. I love this kind of breakfast! Looks yummy!

MEIGETSUSOU

This post is getting long, so I will write more tomorrow. (Risa)

2010-09-03

[Micheline Guide to Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe 2011] will be released on October 22nd. I am very interested in which restaurants have been chosen this year and canft wait to see the results. I didnft buy the guidebook last year, but I will this year. Some people say you shouldnft reply on what guidebooks say, but I like reading them as reference. The restaurant I would like to go now is [Sangencha] and wonder if itfs been chosen or not! (Risa)

2010-09-02

Itfs still very hot here in Kyoto (the high temperature today is 36 degrees and the low 26 degrees), but I feel that autumn is coming especially in the morning and evening these days. According to the weather forecast, temperatures will start to drop next week (hopefully!)cso, I try to believe what he says is true. Autumn is my favourite season, so I canft wait! (Risa)

2010-09-01

I completely forgot to post the news yesterday. I am sorry about that if you checked it.

I went to Osaka to catch up with a friend on Sunday. Her friend rents a studio and teaches yoga at random times, so we took her lesson in the late afternoon. It was a very easy and relaxing class, and I quite liked it. After the lesson, my friend and I went to a Korean restaurant, [Manma] and ate very healthy dinner there. It was a perfect day for me. I donft go to Osaka so often, but I should go there more as there are lots of interesting places according to my friend who lives in Osakacso, I will! (Risa)

2010-08-30

How was your weekend? My mother and I went to see my grandmother on Saturday. She has lived by herself since my grandfather passed away about 8.5 years ago, but she decided to move to an apartment for the elderly in Nara Prefecture next month. A special nursing-care home is located next to the apartment, so she can take medical treatment immediately if she gets sick or injured, etc. I felt sad when I heard her saying she can never come back home againc I saw her about a few months ago, but she looked sicker and more tired this time due to the heat wavec Her sister lives in the same apartment in Nara, so I hope she will enjoy her new life there. (Risa)

2010-08-27

I got a text message from an old friend last night, and I was surprised to know hefs still in Japan. Hefs from New Zealand and worked as a lawyer there but came to Japan about 8-9 years ago (I think). The last time I met him, he was teaching English in Tokyo, but I donft know what hefs doing now. He may come to Osaka for a meeting or something next month, so we will catch up if he comes. Itfs nice to catch up with old friends, isnft it? (Risa)

2010-08-26

The Japanese Yen soared and the Nikkei Stock Average has plungedc and people are worried about the influence on the economy in the futurec I wonder when better economic conditions return and hope the day comes back when people can lead their life without any anxiety about their future as soon as possible. (Risa)

2010-08-25

My friend and I went to a Japanese restaurant called [Sakamoto] in Gion area for dinner yesterday. The owner is 73 years old and itfs been very popular for decades. They serve purely classical dishes (except rice dish), and we loved them all. I am very interested in what ingredients they use and how they cook especially in winter, so I strongly hope someone takes me there again!

SAKAMOTO

Aperitif (thick Japanese sake) and rice porridge with pickled Japanese apricot.

SAKAMOTO

A few kinds of mushrooms. The dish gave us a sense of the upcoming autumn

SAKAMOTO

Pumpkin mousse, vinegared horse mackerel, and roasted gingko

SAKAMOTO

Clear soup with Hamo (Japanese conger). We loved the delicate taste and flavor.

SAKAMOTO

Sashimi (Bonito and a kind of snapper). The dipping sauce was pureed Japanese apricot. Yummy!

SAKAMOTO

Boiled herring and eggplant. It was our favorite.

SAKAMOTO

Char-grilled wild Ayu (Japanese trout). It was caught in the north of Kyoto called Miyama and delivered to the restaurant in the morning. It was the best Ayu I have ever had in my life!

SAKAMOTO

Palate freshener – Soup with thinly-sliced yam.

SAKAMOTO

Jelly fish with sesame dressing. Very creamy but not too rich.

SAKAMOTO

Yuba (soy milk skin). Itfs their specialty and also Kyotofs local dish.

SAKAMOTO

Vinegared Hamo (Japanese conger) and cucumber. Refreshing taste.

SAKAMOTO

Rice dish called Hiyajiru. Miso soup was poured over cooked rice. The other dishes were very classical, so we were surprised when it was served on the table, but it was delicious.

SAKAMOTO

Red perilla Sorbet. It was the first time to eat perilla flavored sorbet, but it was nice.

The restaurant is located by Shirakawa (one of the famous cherry blossom spots), so I recommend you to visit there in spring, too. The restaurant is on the Michelin Guide Book, so please have a look if you are interested. (Risa)

2010-08-24

I met a friend for lunch on Saturday afternoon. She got married to an American and moved there about 5 years ago, but shefs back in Japan on her vacation now. She said shefs finally getting used to a lifestyle in the US and enjoys her life there. I also think shefs getting an American (of course, not all part of her!) every time I see her. I sometimes feel like going to a café and having a chat with her, but I am happy if shefs happy there. (Risa)

2010-08-23

How was your weekend? My brother and I went to a newly-opened outlet mall in Ryuo, Shiga Prefecture yesterday. It opens at 10 a.m., but we left a bit early as we heard it was still very crowded. We got there before 9:30 a.m. and waited in line at the entrance. We stayed there for 4 hours and bought some clothes/shoes, but I prefer the one in Sanda, Hyogo Prefecture. If you are interested, here is their official site; http://www.31op.com/shiga/foreign/index_en.html (Risa)

2010-08-20

I have quite a few occasions to eat out for the next couple of weeks. I am going to a Japanese Kaiseki restaurant [Sakamoto] next week and [Akiyama] next month. The both restaurants were awarded the rating of one star in the 2010 Michelin Guide to Kyoto/Osaka. I always wanted to go to [Akiyama] especially, so I am very looking forward to it. There are many more restaurants I want to gocand I canft choose the next one! (Risa)

2010-08-19

My friend and I ate a bowl of Ramen (Japanese noodle dish that originated in China) last night. Actually, I am not a big fan of ramen, but I am impressed with the taste and flavor every time I eat it. Why? Thatfs because every ramen tastes different and has specific features. It might be fun to go to several ramen shops and compare the tastes and flavors while you are in Japan. (Risa)

2010-08-18

toilet

Why did I post a picture of toilet? According to the research, the most amazing thing foreign tourists find in Japan is TOILET. One of my co-workers bought an old house and had it remodeled and moved there last month. Her new toilet is completely automatic. Once you enter the toilet, the lid opens. And, once you stand up, it flushes and the lid closes. Itfs becoming increasingly common here in Japan now and my family and grandmotherfs houses have it too. Do you want to get it in your house, too? (Risa)

2010-08-17

DAIMONJI

One of the iconic festivals in Kyoto, Gozan-no-Okuribi or Daimonji took place yesterday. Five giant bonfires are lit on mountains surrounding the Kyoto city and it signifies the moment when the spirits of deceased ancestors, who are said to visit us during Obon period, are believed to be returning to the spirit world. Three of the fires form giant Chinese characters, and two form familiar shapes.

The most famous and the first to be lit is Daimonji on Mt. Daimonji and the other four fires are lit at five to ten-minute intervals, and by 8:30, all the characters can be seen. Each bonfire lasts for 30 minutes.

My uncle and aunt (yes again!) climbed up Mt. Funaoka and saw the festival from the top of the mountain. They could see Daimonji meaning large or great, Myo/Ho meaning wondrous dharma, and Hidari Daimonji meaning large or great again. (The other two are Funagata (the shape of boat) and Toriigata (the shape of shrine gate)).

If you are interested, how about planning to visit Kyoto this time next year? (Risa)

2010-08-16

eKyo no Tanabataf festival (Star Festival in Kyoto) was held in Horikawa area from Aug. 6th to 15th. My uncle and aunt went there and took lovely pictures, so I would love to share them with you.

milky way

You can walk under the huge Milky Way. Itfs so beautiful, isnft it?

reincarnation

This is made of bamboo and lit up by the headlight. The motif of this art work is [REINCARNATION]. Itfs my uncle and auntsf favorite.

yuzen yuzen

Kyo-yuzen (yuzen dyed fabric) is one of the traditional arts in Kyoto and people used to wash the fabric at Kamo River (it was stopped in 1970s though). The art works expressed the tradition.

bamboo&light bamboo&light

The theme of the art works is Bamboo and Light. Kyoto City collected the design and ideas nationwide.

yuzen

Adults and children wrote their wishes on strips of colorful paper called Tanzaku and hung them from the bamboo branches.

If the festival will be held next year, I will definitely go!!! (Risa)

2010-08-13

Many people receive company holidays during the Bon Period and go back to their hometowns and the traffic gets so heavy at this time every year. My hometown is Kyoto, so Ifve never experienced the traffic jamcbut it seems very exhausting and stressfulc Itfs like the traffic during the Christmas or Easter Holiday in your countries, I think. I hope no car accident happens! (Risa)

2010-08-12

The seasonfs 4th typhoon moved across the Kansai region last night and is moving toward the north over Japan Sea now. As I didnft think it would hit that early, I carelessly left the windows open and went to sleepc I was woken by the sound of heavy rain and thunder in the middle of night and shut the windows in a hurry. Typhoons cause a wide range of damage every year such as destruction of building, reduction of crops, and landslides, etc, but I hope it wonft cause any considerable damage this time. (Risa)

2010-08-11

A total of 118 people died of heatstroke this summer and the number is still increasingc When I was watching the news, I couldnft believe what I heard. 90% of them became unconscious and died in their house!??? How does it happen? To avoid the heat stroke, it is important to drink water and talk salt as you are lost in sweat. If you feel tired during the sightseeing, please take a rest at a cooler place and drink sports drink, etc. (Risa)

2010-08-10

My friend and I went to Mt. Miwa located in Nara Prefecture on Saturday. It has been an important religious and historical mountain in Japan and serves as a holy site in Shinto. The entire mountain is considered sacred and is home to one of the earliest Shinto shrines, Omiwa Shrine. Several burial mounds from the Kofu period (250-538) can be found around the mountain.

We were planning to climb the mountaincbut, my friend was a bit late and left Kyoto behind schedule. We arrived at the Omiwa Shrine a little after 2pm and the gate for the mountain was already shutc I was pretty disappointed, but never mind. We will go back there in autumn and definitely climb the mountain next time! (Risa)

2010-08-09

tokiichi tokiichi

How was your weekend? I was pretty busy both on Saturday and Sunday. Yesterday, my brother and I went to [Toki-Matsuri] (pottery fair) on Gojo Street. The origin dates back to 1921 and more than 400 pottery shops open a stall every year. We arrived there after 5pm but there were still a lot of locals and tourists. We especially liked one shop and stopped there for quite a long time. We didnft buy many, but we had a great time there. The fair takes place from Aug. 7th to 10th every year, so please come to Kyoto this time next year if you are interested in pottery. (Risa)

2010-08-06

Ifve been suffering from stiff neck and shoulders for the last couple of daysc I went to do yoga to alleviate the stiffness for the third day in row, but it didnft help. I couldnft stand the pain any more, and it made me cry last night. I made an appointment at a Shiatsu clinic for tonight and canft wait! Please tell me if you know a good way to relieve the tension/pain in my shoulders! (Risa)

2010-08-05

2010 Biwako Fireworks Festival will be held at Biwa Lake tomorrow. About 10,000 fireworks will illuminate the night sky and the surface of the lake. Many men and women go to see the display in Yukata (summer kimono) and enjoy the summer tradition. If you are interested, please call +81-77-522-3830 at Otsu Information Center and ask for the details. (Risa)

2010-08-03

An 18-meter-tall life-size Gundam statue has appeared in the center of Shizuoka Prefecture. The 2010 Shizuoka Hobby Festival started at Higashi Shizuoka Square on July 24th, featuring the gigantic monument as well as the history and technology of plastic figures. Shizuoka is known as the home to the head offices and factories of many plastic model manufactures including Bandai, Co and Tomiya Inc. The Gundam stature was first appeared at Odaiba Waterfront in Tokyo last summer and lots of people visited to see the stature. The fair will run through March 27th, 2011, so donft miss it if you like Japanese animation! (Risa)

2010-08-02

How was your weekend? I canft believe itfs already August! A famous Bon event [Gozan-no-Okuribi] will be held in Kyoto on Aug. 16th, but some ryokans still have vacant rooms on that night of the festival. If you have not booked your accommodation yet, please contact us ASAP! (Risa)

2010-07-30

I feel like eating something spicy or acidic these days. I think thatfs because of the hot weatherc I heard the temperature went up to over 38 degrees in Moscow, but how about your country? We had a cool day in Kyoto yesterday, but itfs hot again today. I hope you are enjoying the summer season so far. (Risa)

2010-07-29

I got a postcard from a friend living in the UK yesterday. Wefve been in contact with each other even after he left Japan last summer, but it was a very nice surprise. People usually contact via e-mail these days because of the widespread use of the Internet, and I admit itfs very convenient and quick. But, I still like receiving autograph letters. How about sending letters/cards to your family and friends? I believe it puts a smile on their face. (Risa)

2010-07-28

I wrote about the vaccination for cervical cancer on this site last week and went to take it soon after that. Itfs expensive, but I thought itfs ok if it reduces the risk of the cancer and helps reduce stress. The doctor told me to have the cancer screening on a regular basis even after I received the vaccination, and I will. The numbers of women dying from breast and womb cancer are increasing year by year, so I think we have to take good care of ourselves. I want to say this to all women... (Risa)

2010-07-27

Yesterday was the day of the ox in midsummer called [Doyo no Ushi no Hi] and there is a custom to eat eel on the day to recover from summer weariness in Japan. I saw quite a few people buying broiled ell rice bowl when I went to a convenience store to get lunch yesterday. Are you enjoying summer so far? I hope you are not suffering from the summer heat yet. (Risa)

2010-07-26

Did you have a good weekend? Yesterday, my friend and I went for a drive and visited [Izumo Daijingu] in Kameoka City, Kyoto. The shrine was built in 709 and is said to bring romance/marriage to the visitors. We saw quite a few young men and women on the grounds of the shrine although itfs located in a remote place. I hope their wish comes true in their near future! (Risa)

2010-07-22

Itfs been scorching hot since the rainy season ended last Saturday. The temperature goes up to 35 degrees (95 degrees F) every day and quite a few people are rushed to hospitals with heat stroke. If you are planning to come to Kyoto during summer months, donft forget to receive good hydration and enjoy your stay here. (Risa)

2010-07-21

Cervical cancer is said to be prevented by vaccination, and the vaccine was approved by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare last autumn here in Japan. I think thatfs good news, but itfs not covered by insurance, so you have to pay about 50,000yen to get the vaccine. When I went to a clinic two weeks ago, I was encouraged to be vaccinated for the cancercand, I am still thinking. Probably I will though. What about the situation in your country? I am pretty curious. (Risa)

2010-07-20

How was your weekend? Yesterday was a public holiday called Marine Day here, so we had a three-day weekend.

Shimogamo Shrine

My friend and I went to Shimogamo Shrine on Sunday. It is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan and is one of the 17th Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which have been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The shrine became the object of Imperial patronage during the early Heian Period. From 1871 through 1946, the shrine was officially designated one of the Kanpei-taisha, meaning that it stood in the first rank of government supported shrines.

Shimogamo Shrine

The nearby forest, Dadasu no Mori has been in the public spotlight these days. Someone said you can gain spiritual power there on TV, so lots of people visit the forest from all over Japan. The forest wasnft as big as I expected, but the trees were so old and big, and I enjoyed walking there. (Risa)

2010-07-16

Gion Matsuri

Gion Festival is being held now, and My friend and I went to Yoiyoiyama last night. It was a thunderstorm when I left the office, but it stopped raining a while later. More than 150 stalls (most of them are food stalls) have been set up along big and small streets and you can have the food while walking and enjoying the atmosphere. Even Italian and Spanish restaurants sell their specialty in front of their restaurant during the festival, and I was really impressed with it. I was going to Yoiyama with the other friends tonight, toocbut, I am still in the officec I am a bit disappointed, but thatfs ok because I enjoyed myself last night. Hope you have a great weekend. (Risa)

2010-07-15

My friend and I went to a pizza restaurant [Da Yuki] for dinner last night. The restaurant is said to be the best pizzeria in Kyoto, and I always wanted to go. I tried a few times before, but I could finally get a table reservation yesterday. We orders simple appetizers and pizza with nice wine and fully enjoyed the food. If you are in the mood for a pizza while traveling in Kyoto, I strongly recommend you to go there. Please contact me if you want to know more details. (Risa)

2010-07-14

Itfs been raining so hard in Kyoto since last night and it will continue until Friday according to the weather forecast. The rain is unexpected and localized, so people call it [guerrilla rain]. Due to the concentrated heavy rains, the flood damage continues to spread all over Japanc I am already sick of rain and hope the rainy season will come to an end so soon. (Risa)

2010-07-13

Gion Matsuri Gion Matsuri Gion Matsuri

The Gion Festival is being held in Kyoto from July 1st to 31st, and the climax will come on July 17, when a fleet of gorgeously decorated floats parade through the main streets. You can see people preparing for the parade here and there in Kyoto now. My brother took the pictures above and would like to share with you. (Risa)

2010-07-12

How was your weekend? The House of Councilors election was held in Japan yesterday, so I went to vote after I took yoga lessons in the afternoon. Kyoto City has had a low turnout in recent elections and there was a turnout of 53.71%, which is 4.21% lower than the national average, in this election. The three highest prefectures are Shimane (71.70%), Tottori (65.77%) and Fukui (65.26%) and the three lowest are Okinawa (52.44%), Miyagi (53.34%) and Hiroshima (53.51%). I wonder why the voter turnout varies so greatly from prefecture to prefecture. Have you got any ideas? (Risa)

2010-07-09

My aunt and I went out to dinner after work last night. We went to a casual restaurant [ONIKAI] and enjoyed various kinds of vegetable dishes. The specialty of the restaurant is boiled vegetables, so we ordered a dish of assorted boiled vegetables twice! How many kinds of veggies did we have last night? Tomato, onion, egg plant, green peppers, bitter gourd, okra, lettuce, cucumber, cabbage, etcc We ate a lot but I didnft have heavy stomach feeling. If you are a meat lover, donft worry. There are meat/seafood dishes on their menu, so you wonft starve there! Here is the site of the restaurant, so please have a look (only Japanese though); http://isozumi.jp/onikai/index.html (Risa)

2010-07-08

The best season for mountain climbing has come. The huts and other facilities at Mt. Fuji are operating from July 1st again and lots of people climbed the mountain last weekend. Approx. 200,000 people climb Mt. Fuji every year, and 30% of whom are foreigners. There are four major routes from the fifth station (you can go there by bus from July 1st to Aug. 27th), so you can choose from Lake Kawaguchi, Subashiri, Gotemba, and Fujinomiya. One of my best friends climbed the mountain and really enjoyed it (of course, it was toughc). I would love to try some time in the future before I get too old! (Risa)

2010-07-07

Today, July 7th is the day of Tanabata (Star Festival) in Japan. The Tanabata is said to be the only time when a husband and wife, stars separated by the Milky Way, can see each other. It was originally celebrated in August, but after the solar calendar was adopted in Japan during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), the festival fell during the rainy season.

TANABATA

To celebrate the festival, people write their wishes on strips of colorful paper and then hang them on bamboo branches. The above picture was taken at Kodai-ji Temple the other day.

TANABATA

I got a text with the above picture from my friend last night. She wrote wished for her friends and hung them. She is so considerate, isnft she? How about making this at your home? (Risa)

2010-07-06

BAKING CLASS

My mother and I took a baking class on Sunday and we made [Bayeriscer Milch-Karamellbudding] (Barvarian milk caramel pudding in English) this time. The process was super easy, but I had difficulty making the chocolate decoration. I am not good at fine manipulation and I always have this problemc I shared them with friends and they also liked it. Our teacher is going to Germany in August, so our next class will be held in September. We donft know what we will make yet, but I am already looking forward to it! (Risa)

2010-07-05

How was your weekend? I couldnft sleep well last night, so I am feeling a bit tired todayc

The Japanese government started to issue personal visas for Chinese tourists and eased visa requirements from this month, so it is expected to lead to an increase in number of tourists from mainland China. The hotels/ryokans/department stores, etc. in Kyoto also hired staff who can speak Chinese and are ready to greet the visitors. (Risa)

2010-07-02

According to the latest Cost of Living date from ECA International, Tokyo has regained its status as the worldfs most expensive city, for the first time in 5 years. The continued strength of the Japanese yen, which has gained in value by approximately 30% against the US dollar in the past 3 years, has contributed to Tokyofs position at the top of the ranking. 3 years ago, the weakness of the yen pushed Tokyo out of our global top 10, but as the currency has strengthened, the cost of living has risen. Nagoya was ranked 4th, Yokohama 5th, and Kobe 7thc I looked for Kyoto in the top 50 list, but it wasnft there. If you are planning a trip to Japan, please come to Kyoto! (Risa)

2010-07-01

One of the three largest festivals in Japan, Gion Matsuri has started and is being held from July 1st to 31st. The festival was originally started to pray for an end to diseases spread in Japan in 869. People in Kyoto know summer has arrived when they hear the festival music being practiced all over the city. More than 1 million people come to Kyoto to see the festival (mainly on July 16th and 17th) from all over the world. I am definitely going to the festival with friends after work on the 16th. If you will be in Kyoto during the period, enjoy yourself! (Risa)

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