Dec. - Oct., 2010



On the 21st of each month, a famous flea market is held on the ground of To-ji Temple. This market is popularly called [kobo-san] in honor of Kobo Daishi, who died on March 21st. The flea market features a variety of antiques, art, clothes, pottery, some food, and typical second-hand flea market goods. By far the largest market is held on December 21st, as it is the last of the year. My brother went to the market on the 21st and took a few pictures. You now know how crowded the market was from the pictures above.

Today is the last working day for 2010 for me. I canft believe we only have 2 days leftc I will enjoy the rest of this year to the fulluest and I hope you will too! Happy New Year to you all! (Risa)


My family and I went to a Japanese restaurant [SANGENCHA] in Gion area for Christmas dinner on Dec. 25th. I always wanted to go there, so I was looking forward to the dinner very much.


Sliced abalone and shrimp seasoned with vinegar, miso and egg yolk.


Grated turnip soup with crab meat. The dish warmed our body from inside.


Sashimi 1 (arch shell, striped jack, and snapper with salt and soy sauce). The chef showed us two kinds of way to enjoy the dish.


Sashimi 2 (octopus and squid with pickled plum sauce).


Steamed sticky rice with karasumi (botargo). It was a very simple dish, but it was my favorite.


Grilled yellow tail with Yuzu flavor


Three small dishes (Grilled beef, salmon roe & crab meat, and Fugu)


Steamed turnip and lobster tempura. We dipped the toasted bread in the soup and fully enjoyed the dish.


Soba as plate fresher


Fugu (ballon fish) and Japanese radish


I was getting full when the rice was served, but the chef showed us various ways of enjoying the rice. It was like a show.


Grapefruit jelly and strawberry


We could choose either Japanese sweet made of lily bulb or soft azuki (red bean) jelly. I tried the both desserts and they were delicious, but I preferred the latter one.

We started eating a little after 6pm and finished our dinner after 9pm. The three hours passed so quickly and we were very surprised when we looked at our watch. We fully enjoyed the dinner and had a great time. I would love to visit there again in the future. (Risa)


How was your Christmas? I hope you had a wonderful time with your family and friends. I ate my Stollen for breakfast on the 25th and went out for dinner with my family and relatives on the night. I will write about the Kaiseki dinner tomorrow (I forgot to bring my camera todayc) (Risa)


Merry Christmas! Our office will be closed tomorrow, so we send you our best wishes for Christmas today. Happy Holidays to you all! (Risa)


Itfs the Winter Solstice today. There is a custom of eating pumpkin and taking yuzu (kind of Japanese lemon) on the very day of the Winter Solstice since early times, and lots of people still follow the custom. There is a ancient proverb [As the day lengthens, the cold strengthens]cHmmcI donft like the cold weather, so I try not to believe the proverb! (Risa)


Lots of people put on weight around this time of the year and I am one of them. I have put on 1-2 kilos so far, so I have to make sure I donft get any fatter than this. I have quite a few plans to eat out around Xmas and New Years as you do, but I will try to get enough exercise and eat healthy food at home! (Risa)


How was your weekend? My friends and I got together and went out on Saturday. One of us reached her [xxx]th birthday on December 9th, so we celebrated her birthday at a French restaurant [Apaiser] in Shiga Prefecture and then went to [Nabana No Sato] in Mie Prefecture to see the illuminations. This yearfs theme of the illuminations is [Mt. Fuji and Ocean], and the park was very crowded with people of all ages. The event will be held until Marh 13th, so how about adding the park to your itinerary if you are coming to Japan by then? If not, enjoy the pictures below. (Risa)



I canft believe itfs already Friday! I feel time passes by faster than usual in December and I guess you feel the same. We only have two weeks left until the new year 2011, but letfs fully enjoy the rest of 2010! I hope you have a top weekend! (Risa)


I have been under the weather for the past two weeks or so. Stomachache, bad cold, external otitis, and I have very bad stiff neck and shoulders now. I didnft have time to go to have a massage so I had a moxa treatment (I burned moxa on my neck, shoulders, and hands by myself) at home yesterday. I know it doesnft give instant results, but I tried to think some effect was better than none. I made an appointment with a masseur after yoga tonight, and I canft wait to go there! (Risa)


Howfs your Christmas shopping going? I nearly forgot about it, but I went shopping last Saturday and sent the parcels to my friends in New Zealand yesterday. I always try to get something Japanese and I bought a bottle of essential oil named [ZEN]. I hope they will get it by Christmas and like it. If havenft done your Christmas shopping yet, you only have 10 days to go! (Risa)



The Kanji of the year was chosen through a national ballot in Japan and announced at Kiyomizu Temple on Dec. 12th. 285,406 people voted for the contest and 14,537 people chose the character for the best kanji for 2010.The reasons are extreme heat, global warming, San Jose mining accident in summer, etc. I looked at the other Kanji ranked in the top 10, but almost all of them have a negative meaningc I hope 2011 will be a better year for everyone! (Risa)



How was your weekend? My mother and I took a baking lesson and made Stollen yesterday. It is a traditional German cake, usually eating during the Christmas season. Many bakeries and pastry shops sell Stollen these days, but every Stollen tastes different. Some of them are just like bread, so you have to be careful when you buy it. The traditional weight of a Stollen is around 2kg, but we made a smaller one, 250-300g, this time. It will be ready to eat around Christmas, so I have to wait for 12 more daysc HmmcI canft wait! (Risa)


kurobe kurobe kurobe

My uncle and aunt went to Kurobe Gorge in Toyama Prefecture earlier last month and took the Kurobe Gorge Railway nicknamed [Torokko Electric Railway]. The train weaves its way through a deep, steep-sided canyon with breathtaking cliffs and provides you with 80 minutes of sightseeing as covers 20.1 km at 16km per hour. My family and I took the train when I was a child and I remember it was fun. The railway is only open from April 18th to Nov. 30th, so you have to wait until next spring if you are interested. Here is more information in English; (Risa)


I have caught a cold and I am not feeling well. Itfs getting cold and there is a flu/cold going around, so I think Ifve picked it up somewhere. Ifll have an early night tonight and I hope I recover soon. Be careful not to catch a bad cold! (Risa)


hoju-ji hoju-ji

My brother went to Hoju-ji Temple in Higashiyama Ward on Nov. 15th and took the pictures above. Itfs a ritual called Daigoma. The Homa (Goma) Ritual of consecrated fire is unique to Vajrayana and Esoteric Buddhism. It stems from the Vedic Agnihotra Ritual and is performed by qualified priests and monks for the benefit of individuals, the state or all sentient beings in general. The consecrated fire is believed to have a powerful cleansing effect spiritually and psychologically. The ritual is performed for the purpose of destroying negative energies, detrimental thoughts and desires. In most Shingon temples (Hoju-ji is one of them), this ritual is performed daily in the morning or the afternoon, and is a requirement for all t ascetic monk to learn this ritual upon entering the priesthood. Larger scale ceremonies often include the constant beating of Taiko drums and mass chanting of the mantra by priests. I believe you will be impressed if you get chance to see the ritual (held on Nov. 15th every year) sometime in the future. (Risa)


Sushi is one of my favorite food and Ifve been looking for a nice sushi restaurant in Kyoto. Today, I would like to introduce you a sushi restaurant my friend and I went last week today. The restaurant [Sushi Senta] opened in April last year and itfs quite new, but itfs often quoted in food magazines and websites these days. The chef is still 33 or 34 years old and he runs the restaurant with his wife. We ordered a few kinds of sashimi and appetizers to go with sake (rice wine) first and then asked him to make sushi for us. I didnft count, but I think we had 10 pieces or more. The restaurant opens for lunch, so why donft you go there and check it out if you are interested? There are two more sushi restaurants I would like to, but they are too expensivecso, I will wait for a whilec (Risa)


I had a day off work last Thursday and went to Kobe with my friend. We walked around the Harborland and China Town during the day and went to see Kobe Luminarie at night. The event was first held in December 1995 to mourn for the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake occurred in January and it brought a sense of hope to the residents of the disaster-stricken. Luminarie has now become an annual winter event in Kobe and highlights include illuminates gates and arches. It celebrates its 16th anniversary this year and itfs being held from Dec. 2nd to 13th. If you are interested and your schedule is flexible, I strongly recommend you to go there on weekdays except Friday. (Risa)

luminarie luminarie


Last Sunday, my friends and I went to Nara and had lunch at a nice café called [AIDA]. One of my friends lives near the café and she took us there. The owner grows organic vegetables in his farm and uses them for lunch. There is a little shop near the entrance, and you can buy vegetables and fruit there. According to my friend, itfs always crowded with many people and you sometimes have to wait to get into the restaurant especially on weekends. My grandmother moved to an elderly home in the same area in September, so I would love to go to the café with my mother when we visit my grandmother. Hope you have a nice weekend. (Risa)


My uncle and aunt went to Tofuku-ji to see the autumn colors last week and sent me a few pictures, so I would like to share them with you.

Tofuku-ji is a Buddhist temple and it takes its name from two temples in Nara, Todai-ji and Kofuku-i. It was founded in 1236 by the Imperial chancellor Kujo Michiie. He appointed the monk Enni as founding priest, who had studied Rinzai Zen Buddhism in China. The temple was burned but rebuilt in the 15th century according to original plans.


The main gate is the oldest [sanmon] in Japan and it is a National Treasure of Japan. The sanmon is the most important gate of a Buddhist Zen temple, but itfs not the first gate, and in fact it usually stands between the somon (outer gate) and the butsuden (Hall of Buddha).


I went to Tofuku-ji to see the autumn leaves two years ago, and I think itfs my favorite temple. Itfs very famous for the autumn colors, so millions of people visit there every year. You have to expect the overcrowding, but itfs worth seeing! (Risa)


I brought my camera today, so Ifll post some pictures of my day trip to Kobe on Saturday.

Nunobiki Falls

nunobiki falls nunobiki falls

Nunobiki dam reservoir – It was completed in 1900 and itfs the oldest concrete dam in Japan.

nunobiki dam

The view of Kobe City from the top of the hill.


The weather and temperature were perfect for hiking and I would like to do the hiking in spring next time. (Risa)


How was your weekend? My friend and I went to Kobe to do some hiking on Saturday. The weather was nice and it was a perfect day for hiking. We met at Sannomiya Station at 10:30 in the morning and headed to Nunobiki Falls ( and then to Kobe Nunobuki Herb Park ( We stopped for lunch on the top of the hill and had a rest for a while. The wind was a bit chilly, but it was nice to eat outside. We climbed down the hill and got back to Sannomiya Station around 3 p.m. We walked a lot and talked a lot, and it was much fun! I took a few pictures but I forgot to bring my camera to the office today, so I will post them tomorrow. (Risa)


Ifve been having stomach pain since the last day in Okinawa and itfs getting worsec I donft like heavy and oily foods and rarely eat them, but maybe I ate too much during the tripc I donft have time to go to the doctor today and tomorrow, so please let me know if you can think of any cure or remedy for it! (Risa)



We stayed at [The Atta Terrace Club Towers] in Onna Village this time. I always wanted to stay there, but I didnft expect the day to come so soon. The room, facilities, and service were excellent, and I sometimes felt like a fish out of watercbut, I do recommend you to stay at the hotel on your special occasion.


We stayed at the hotel for 2 nights and took a yoga lesson in the morning. I usually take yoga lessons in the afternoon/evening, but I thought itfs also nice to do yoga in the early morning (before breakfast). According to the yoga instructor, you can enjoy yoga outside in summer. HmmcI started to feel like going there againc

If you would like to know more details about the hotel, here is their official site; (Risa)



We went to one of the national parks, [DAISEKIRINZAN] near Hedo Cape, which is the northernmost point on Okinawa Island. There are four walking courses and I liked the course with huge natural rocks the most.


Dinosaur Rock


Pelvis Rock


Rhino Rock

We saw many rocks with interesting shape and I thought it was the mystery of nature. If you are a nature lover, you will love it. (Risa)


I took Thursday and Friday off work and went to Okinawa with my mother. The weather wasnft perfect, but we had a good time there.

manzamo manzamo manzamo manzamo manzamo

It was the 3rd time for us to visit Okinawa, so my main purpose was just to relax there (Ifm not sure about my motherfs. Maybe hers was different). We had aromatherapy massage on our 2nd and 3rd day there. The both salons were really nice, so I would like to introduce them to you. The 1st one was [Relax Body] at CanNa Resort Villa in Ginoza and the 2nd one was [the Green Spa] at Kafuu Resort Fuchaku in Onna Village. There are so many salons in Okinawa, so itfs difficult to choose a nice one but I am glad we made good choices.

Ifll write more about our trip on Wednesday as tomorrow is a public holiday here. (Risa)



My mother and I had a baking class on Sunday and we made [Spekulatius] (Speculaas in English?) this time. The biscuit is originally baked for consumption on St. Nicholasf Eve in the Netherland and Belgium, and itfs very popular in Germany around Christmas now. As cinnamon, cardamom, clove, etc. are used in the biscuit, the flavor is very Christmassy and I love it. I met friends after the baking class, so I gave some to them. I still have lots in the jar, but I am thinking of baking them before Christmas again. (Risa)



Here is the photo of [Yumomi]. It is the method of cooling the water that gushes directly from the source of hot spring. By stirring the water with 1.8-meter-long paddles for 20-30 minutes, the water is cooled to a suitable bathing temperature without being diluted.

You can enjoy the Yumomi and dance performance, too. Also, you can experience the Yumomi during the summer time if you are interested. The schedule changes depending on the season, so donft forget to check the certain time. I talked with my grandmother after she got back, and she said she really enjoyed the performance. (Risa)


My grandmother and aunt went to Kusatsu Onsen (hot springs) in Gunma Prefecture last month. It was the first time for them to travel by themselves, so they were looking forward to the trip.


Kusatsu Onsen is one of the most popular hot springs and more than 3 million people visit there every year. The above photos are [YUBATAKE]. Itfs the source of the hot springs and gushes 4,000 liters of hot water per minute. Itfs located in the middle of the spa resort and the symbol of Kusatsu Onsen. The Yubatake is lit up after dark, so you can enjoy the different atmosphere to the one during the day.

I will write more about the hot springs tomorrow. (Ris)


Here is a special offer from a luxury hotel [KIZASHI THE SUITE] in Gion area.

The below rates only apply to the reservations on weekdays, but this is a bargain! If you are interested, please contact us ASAP. Donft miss this great opportunity!

The manager strongly recommends to choose the plan with Kaiseki dinner and Japanese breakfast.

Junior Suite: 55,000yen/room/night (normal rate: 75,000yen)

Executive Suite: 84,000yen/room/night (normal rate: 150,000yen)

If you would like to go out for dinner, thatfs possible too. Continental breakfast is included in the rates below.

Junior Suite: 30,600yen/room/night (normal rate: 53,000yen)

Suite: 36,000yen/room/night (normal rate: 65,000yen)

Executive Suite: 65,000yen/room/night (normal rate: 105,000yen)

Donft forget to check the hotel information, too: (Risa)


I am going to take a day off on Friday. According to the weather forecast, itfs going to be sunny and warm, so I am thinking I will borrow my fatherfs car and go for a drive in the countryside. If I go up north, I might be able to see the autumn colors? Keep your fingers crossed! (Risa)


There will be ground wave digital broadcasting starting next year, so I have to buy a new TV for my room. I donft watch TV so often, but I think I need itc My friend and I are going to an electric store this weekend and get a new one. I hope we can get it at a bargain price. (Risa)


How was your weekend? I found a nice café called [Karirenge] the other day and went there with my mother last Saturday. I always wanted to go there, but I couldnft find the place even if I looked at the map and kept trying for more than a year. The café was nice and cozy, and we both liked it. Not only the cakes and coffees but also the owner was very sweet, so we would love to visit there again. Here is their official website (Japanese only): (Risa)


My holiday destination is finally decided. My mother and I are going to Okinawa in the middle of this month. Actually, we wanted to go to Taiwan but all the flights were booked out and we couldnft get on the waiting lists either. We went to Okinawa a couple of times before, so we are still thinking about where to go and what to do and see. We are going to stay at a hotel [The Atta Terrace Club Towers] ( on this trip. I will post the newsletter after the trip, so donft miss it! (Risa)


It was a public holiday called [Culture Day] here in Japan yesterday. According to the news I watched a few days ago, we havenft had any rain on Nov. 3rd for 7 years in Kyotocand, it was sunny and beautiful yesterday too! My friend and I both had a holiday, and we went cycling around Kyoto downtown. Coffee, window-shopping, snack & coffee stop again, and then dinner at Yakitori (skewered grilled chicken) restaurant. We had a very nice holiday in the middle of week. (Risa)


My friend and I went to Hikone, Shiga Prefecture on Saturday. As I wrote last Friday, we were going to climb Mt. Miwa but it was cancelled because of typhoon. Hikoke lies on the Nakasendo, which was one of the most important trading routes during the Edo period, and is home to two former post stations, Toriimoto-juku and Takamiya-juku. Hikonefs most famous tourist spot is Hikone Castle (completed in 1622), I think. When the Meiji period began in 1868, many castles were scheduled to be dismantled but it wasnft at the request of the emperor himself, touring the area. Today it remains one of the oldest original-construction castles in Japan. Itfs not so far from Kyoto (only 45 minutes by train), so you can go there easily while you are in Kyoto. We saw quite a few tourists from overseas there and they seemed to have a good time. (Risa)


How was your weekend?

Are you planning to come and see autumn colors in Kyoto this year? Here is the list of the popular places for autumn leaves at night.

[Zuishin-in] 18:00-20:30 from Nov. 13th to 28th

[Kiyomizu-dera] 18:30-21:30 from Nov. 17th to Dec. 12th

[Kodai-ji] After sunset to 21:30 from Oct. 22nd to Dec. 5th

[Eikan-do] 17:30 to 21:00 from Nov. 6th to 30th

[Tohuku-ji] After sunset to 20:30 from Nov. 12th to Dec. 5th

[Mansyu-in] 17:00-21:00 from Nov. 1st to 30th

[Daikaku-ji] 17:30 -20:00 from Nov. 12th to Dec. 5th


There are many more temples and shrines famous for autumn leaves, so please feel free to ask us if you get any questions. (Risa)


Itfs sunny here today, but a big typhoon is on its way to Kansai area now. My friend and I were planning to climb Mt. Miwa in Nara Prefecture tomorrow, but it was cancelled. Wefre thinking about other plans, but we are really stuck! (Risa)


Our president is now in Kyoto and we went to lunch together today. We went to [Toh-Lee] at Kyoto Hotel Okura and had a Chinese buffet meal there. You can order whatever you like on the menu (there were about 50 kinds of dishes) within a set time of 90 minutes. Itfs only available at lunch time and costs 4,042yen including tax and service fee. You may think itfs expensive, but itfs worth it. Thank you for the delicious lunch, Mr. Morozumi! Here is the information of the restaurant: (Risa)


Winter came all of a sudden and it snowed in Hokkaido from late last night until early this morning. Itfs not as cold as Hokkaido, but the temperature fell below about 8 degrees C(46 degrees F) here in Kyoto and I turned on the heater this morning. I donft like the cold weathercbut as temperatures drop, the leaves start to change colors to red or yellow. I canft wait for the foliage season to come! (Risa)


When I walked past Kyoto International Manga Museum on Sunday, there were quite a few foreigners in front of the building. I checked out the official website and knew Yanase Takashi Exhibition is held now. He is a well-known manga artist and especially famous for his character [Anpanman]. Itfs one of the most popular cartoon series and everybody knows it even if you are not a big fan of cartoon. I am not sure how famous it is in your country, but if you are interested in the exhibition, here is the detailed information; (Risa)


How was your weekend? My one was very hectic but nice as usual. Saturday; morning yoga ->movie, café and dinner with a friend. Sunday; household chores -> yoga (2 lessons!) -> coffee with a friend. I spent a lot of time at the yoga studio this weekend and got refreshed. I was suffering from stiff neck and shoulders last week and half dead with pain, but I am ok now thanks to yoga (I think!). I am sorry this news posting site is like my daily diaryc (Risa)


Jidai Matsuri is being held now. I saw the event staff were preparing chairs, etc on Oike Street on my way to work this morning. If you are already in Kyoto and are interested to see the parade, go to Sanjo Bridge by 13:45! Itfs one the three major festivals in Kyoto, so donft miss it!


The 2011 Michelin Guide for Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe will be released tomorrow and the restaurants with from one to three stars were announced on Tuesday this week. A total of 100 restaurants in Kyoto were given stars (7 restaurants with three stars, 22 restaurants with two stars, and 71 restaurants with one star) and here is the list of 3-star restaurants;


Arashiyama KITCHO



Kikunoi Honten




If you are interested in the above restaurants and planning to visit one of them, I recommend you to make a reservation much in advance.(Risa)


There is [Himure Village] near Himure Hachimangu Shrine in the town. Japanese sweets shop [TANEYA] opened the village in 1999 and you can buy not only Japanese sweets but also cakes and biscuits, etc there now. There are also restaurants and cafes, so you can stop for lunch or coffee if you would like to have a rest.


My uncle and aunt had lunch at Himure Chaya. The restaurant uses fresh local ingredients as much as they can, so itfs worth trying it.


One more thing you shouldnft miss there is freshly-baked Baumkuchen. You can eat or buy it at [CLUB HARIE] café in the village. Apparently, my uncle and aunt ate the other cakes, so I think they must have bought it. (Risa)



The photos above are the merchant old residence and the street [Shinmachi-dori] is designated as a preservation district for groups of traditional buildings.


This building [Hakuunkan] is used as a tourist information center and gallery now, but it was an elementary school built in 1877. The merchants back then collected donations to enhance education for children and built the school.


American architect, William Merrel Vories spent most of his productive life in Omihachiman and designed many buildings there. The above photo was an old post office and it was used until 1960. Itfs also a gallery now.

I will introduce a famous sweets shop in Omihachiman tomorrow. (Risa)



How was your weekend? My uncle and aunt went to Omihachiman City, Shiga Prefecture last Friday and sent me a few pictures. Omihachiman had been a developed commercial town since Toyotomi Hidetsugu built a castle and gathered many merchants in the 16th century. The merchants used riverboats to transport goods/fuel, and you can sail through the canal and see the riverside district of the town now. The town is often used as a film location, so you might be able to see movie crews while you are there. If you are interested, here is the information for the excursion cruises (Japanese only); I will write more about the town tomorrow. (Risa)


Ifve finally started thinking about my holiday planc I will take a few days off from work and go somewhere close but nice next month. Ifve been googling, but anything hits me rightc Any recommendations? (Risa)


My parents visited their friend in Sonobe City (about 1.5 hours north of Kyoto city by car) and harvested vegetables on his farm yesterday. Egg plants, green peppers, kidney beans, black beans, and Satoimo (a kind of viscous potatoes), etc. When they got back home, the car-boot was full of vegetables. I realized we are in the middle of harvest season now! (Risa)



My mother and I took a baking class on Sunday and made [Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte] (Black Forest in English) this time. The lesson started at 10:30 and it took about 2 hours until it was done. There were so many things to do, so we were exhausted after the lesson. But, it was interesting to hear from our teacher about the origin of the name [Black Forest], etc. As we made a whole cake each, we took one of them to grandmotherfs place. There were the other visitors when we got there, so we shared the cake with them. We were pleased they liked it. (Risa)


sessyuan sessyuan

How was your weekend? Yesterday was a public holiday called [National Sports Day], so we had three-day weekend. Saturday, my parents and I went to Miyazu City located in the north of Kyoto Prefecture to eat sushi. The view from the inside the restaurant is awesome, but unfortunately it was raining on Saturday all dayc We enjoyed the sushi lunch to the fullest and headed to our relativefs house in Fukuchiyama City and spent an hour or two there. It was nice to catch up with them even for a short time.If you are interested in the sushi restaurant, here is the information (Japanese only): (Risa)


33 is said to be the most critical year for women in Japan, and I am in the middle of it now. I donft know if itfs related to the year or not, but lots of bad news come inc I am so sick of them and I miss happy news! I hope you have a lovely weekend at leastc (Risa)


I went to do yoga after work 3 straight days this week and I might go today, too. I took easier lessons due to conflicting schedule last month, so my muscles are a bit sore now, but actually I like and enjoy the slight pain. If you stay in Kyoto for a longer period and feel like doing yoga, I introduce the yoga studio I go. You can take a lesson (3,000yen per lesson) without any joining fee, etc. (Risa)


One more festival will be held on Oct. 22nd. Itfs one of Kyotofs strange festivals and called [Kurama-no-himatsuri]. The tiny hill village of Kurama, north of Kyoto City, transforms into a sea of fire after dusk. Men wearing loincloth shoulder huge flaming torches, bonfires blaze and mikoshi (portable shrine) are carried wildly up Mt. Murama to Yuki-jinja Shrine. Japanese taiko drums bang out powerful rhythms as young men hoist five-meter-high pine torches onto their shoulders. They then parade through the village streets, showering sparks everywhere. Itfs believed that being touched by a spark is a sign of good luck. Ifve never had the chance to see the festival in the past, but I would love to. Oct. 22nd will be Saturday next year, I may be able to go and see it! (Risa)


One of Kyotofs three great festival [Jidai Matsuri] will be held on Oct. 22nd. It is a festival enjoyed by people of all ages, participating in its historical eenactment parade dressed in authentic costumes representing various periods, and characters in Japanese feudal history. The festival traces its roots with the relocation of the capital to Tokyo in 1868. This involved the relocation of the emperor and his imperial family, the Imperial Palace and thousands of government officials and subjects to the city. Fearing for Kyotofs loss in glory and interest by people, the city government and the Kyoto Prefectural Government commemorated the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Heian-kyo which was the former name of Kyoto. To inaugurate the first celebration in 1895, the city government built the Heian Shrine to enshrine the spirit of Emperor Kanmu who was the founder of Heian-kyo. To add meaning to the festival, it staged a costume procession representing people of each era in Kyoto history. In 1940, the local government decided that on top of honoring Emperor Kanmu, the festival was also to be held in honor of Emperor Komei (1831-1867) for his work in unifying the country, the power of the imperial court and the affirmation of Kyoto as the center of Japan at the decline of the Edo era.

The Jidai Festival begins early morning with the mikoshi (portable shrines) brought out of the Old Imperial Palace for people to pay their respects, each mikoshi represents Emperor Kanmu and Emperor Komei respectively. The costume procession takes off in the afternoon, with approximately 2,000 costume performers dresses as samurai, military figures and common people from the earliest eras to the Meiji era in the 5-hour, 2-km procession route to the Heian Shrine.

If you are around Kyoto on Oct. 22nd, you might see the parade somewhere in Kyoto. (Risa)


How was your weekend? My one was busy as usual and I was knackered last night. Yesterday, my parents and I went for lunch and then went to a café near the lunch place. The café is called [Kyoto Nama Chocolate] and I always wanted to go there since it opened in 2005. The building is more than 100 years old and was refurbished for cafe. Itfs located in a residential area, so I think itfs pretty difficult to find itcbut, here is the information; Of course, their specialty is handmade chocolate, so donft miss it! (Risa)


Sanma (saury) are in season now and definitely one of great autumn flavors, but they are quite expensive because of the poor catch this year. When I went to supermarket at the beginning of the last month, it was 1,000yen (about US$12.00) for one saury!!! The price is finally falling these days, so I think people can afford to buy them now. I ate sashimi of sanma yesterday, and it was very delicious! (Risa)

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