news

June - April, 2011

2011-06-30

minazuki

I canft believe itfs the end of June already! Half a year has passed, and today is the day we eat [MINAZUKI] (see above picture) here in Kyoto to wash away our sins of the past six months and pray for good health for the rest of the year. You can get the sweets at every supermarket or department store in Kyoto today, so donft miss it if you are interested. (Risa)

2011-06-29

The temperature went up to 36.1 degrees (97 degrees F) in Kyoto today! I brought my lunch from home today, so I didnft go out during lunch break, but I can imagine how hot it is outsidec Itfs still June, right? If you are planning to come to Kyoto in summer, donft forget about proper hydration and adequate rest during your sightseeing & shopping during the day! (Risa)

2011-06-28

The Japan Meteorological Agency announced the end of the rainy season in Southern Kyushu today. It was 22 days earlier than last year, so that means we will have a longer summer this year. Rainy weather or scorching hot weather – I canft decide which is betterc (Risa)

2011-06-27

How was your weekend? I am sorry I completely forgot to post the news on Fridayc My friend and I went for a drive to Shiga and had a relaxing day on Saturday. Itfs far from the beach from Kyoto, but I am glad we are close enough to the Lake Biwa. (Risa)

2011-06-23

The 3rd [Ninja Test] was run by Koka Tourist Association last Sunday and 97 people took the test. The test includes not only paper test but also skill test such as throwing ninja stars and wearing ninja outfit, etc. 33 people passed the beginnerfs test and 12 people passed the intermediate. The test is getting popular and the applicants have increased every year. If you are interested in Ninja, why donft you visit this place; (http://www.kouka-ninjya.com/)? One of my co-workers went there last year and enjoyed it. (Risa)

2011-06-22

mimurotoji mimurotoji mimurotoji mimurotoji mimurotoji mimurotoji mimurotoji

My aunt went to Uji with her high school friends and visited Mimuroto-ji Temple last Sunday. The temple is famous for hydrangeas, so lots of people visit there in this season. Emperor Konin founded a temple called Omuroto-ji to enshrine a Buddhist image of Senju-Kannon in 770 and the name of the temple was changed to the present name later. I visited the temple in early July a few years ago, but it was a bit too late for the hydrangeas, so go there now if you are interested! (Risa)

2011-06-21

There are non-smoking areas in Kyoto downtown, and you will be fined 1000 yen if you smoke in the areas. According to Kyoto City, they will add Kiyomizu/Gion and Kyoto Station vicinities to the list of non-smoking areas from next February. There will be smoking sections in non-smoking areas, so please check in advance and be careful not to be punished! (Risa)

2011-06-20

ANANAS

How was your weekend? My mother and I took a baking class and made [Ananas-Kasesanhetorte] (pineapple cheese cake in English) yesterday. It was fun, but the result was not as beautiful as the others because I am not good at delicate workc Will I make it again? Probably notc The taste was fantastic though!

My father joined us after the baking class and we went to see the movie [Rail Truck] in a small theater. It was released in 2009, but I didnft know the title even until yesterday. It was not a happy happy story, but it was well worth seeing. I recommend you to see it if you have a chance. Here is the URL; http://www.torocco-movie.com/english.html (Risa)

2011-06-17

The Japanese government confirmed that they will establish diplomatic relations with the Cook Island after a meeting with the prime minister, Henry Puna yesterday. The Cook Islands has a close connection with New Zealand, so itfs a very popular holiday destination for New Zealanders. I also went and stayed there for a couple of weeks while I was studying in New Zealand and had great memories there. Itfs a lovely tropical island with a lot of nature and I would love to visit there some day again. (Risa)

2011-06-16

ISHIKAWA

One of my co-workers went to Ishikawa Prefecture with her husband last weekend. They went to Chirihama Nagisa Driveway (see the picture above) on Saturday. This famous beach Driveway runs from Imahama Beach to Hakui-gunfs Chirihama beach. Itfs made of tightly compacted fine sand and 8km long. Itfs the only one beach drive way in Japan, so donft forget to visit there if you have a chance to go to Ishikawa. (Risa)

2011-06-15

The Japan Toy Association announced the winners of the Japan Toy Awards yesterday. The awards were established to encourage the development of high-quality toys in 2008. I saw the prize list of this year and I was very surprised that they are so different from the ones I had when I was a childc I still prefer wooden toys, but I understand little kids are attracted to those award-winning toys. If you are interested in toys or looking for souvenirs for your kids, nephews, and nieces, etc, why donft you go to a toy shop in Japan?(Risa)

2011-06-14

After my friend and I went down the Daimonji-yama, we decided to go to a café [MOAN] which we always wanted to go for lunch. Itfs been very popular although itfs located in a remote area (on a top of Mt. Yoshida). There is no air conditioner at the café, but itfs very cool inside and you can enjoy the view of Kyoto City from the window. Itfs not easy to find, but itfs a place worth visiting. Here is the URL (Japanese only); http://www.mo-an.com/index.html (Risa)

2011-06-13

How was your weekend? I was planning to climb Daimonji-yama with my friend on Sunday, but the weather forecast said it was going to rain when I checked the news on Saturdayc My friend and I 99.9% gave up and started to think about the other plans, but a miracle happened: The sky cleared up on Saturday and no rain was forecast for Sunday. We decided to leave early in the morning and climb the mountain on Saturday night, and we did as we planned. It was a pleasant hike and we would like to do it again in autumn. (Risa)

2011-06-10

stamps

If you are a Japanese cartoon lover and like The Rose of Versailles also known as Lady Oscar or La Rose de Versailles, you can get a sheet of stamps above (800yen for 10 stamps). Japan Post started selling it today and the service will end as soon as the present stock has run out. If you are interested and have family and friends in Japan, ask them to get it now! (Risa)

2011-06-09

atago atago atago

My friend sent me the pictures of the hike on Saturday. It looks very steep, doesnft it? I was looking forward to the hike to Daimonji-yama this Sunday, but itfs going to rain this weekendc (Risa)

2011-06-08

A dozen thoughts have crowded my mind these daysc I try to forget about them even for a while, but I canftc I go to do yoga to calm myself down every day if I donft have other plans and I think that helps a lot. I canft get away from the issues, so I should face and solve them by myself (I think I sometimes ask for help though..). Please keep your fingers crossed for me! (Risa)

2011-06-07

My friend and I are going to climb Daimonji-yama (Mt. Daimonji) this weekend. The mountain is a great place for a memorable and not too challenging hike, and it offers the most expansive view of the Kyoto City. The hike up the mountain takes about 40 minutes and can be accomplished by most anyone. My friend is planning to climb Mt. Fuji this summer, so she should start to get regular exercises and get fit by then! (Risa)

2011-06-06

How was your weekend? My friend and I climbed Mt. Atago on Saturday. It is 924 mountain located in the northwestern part of Kyoto City. We met at 9:45am at Kyoto Station and headed to Kiyotaki by bus. It was nearly 11:30 when we arrived at the start of the trail and began to climb on our own pace. I like walking at a quick pace, so I got to the top of the mountain by 13:00 and waited for my friend to come. She arrived about 30 minutes late and we had lunch together. The mountain has been worshipped as the home of a fire god, so we bought talismans against fire at the shrine on the top and went down the mountain. It was so refreshing and nice to walk in the woods and I loved it. I am planning to climb the mountain with other friends later this month again and I am very looking forward to it! (Risa)

2011-06-03

One of my co-workers went to Moriyama City, Shiga to see fireflies last night. The season has just started and lots of people visit there and enjoy the fantastic beauty of the insects. There are a few sports (Ohara, Philosopherfs Path, Shimogamo Shrine, Kibune, etc) in Kyoto, too, so why donft you go there if you are interested? Hope you have a wonderful weekend! (Risa)

2011-06-02

I wrote that I made [Umeshu] last week, and I am going to make it again today. I bought plums, sugar, and a container yesterday, but I couldnft decide what kind of liquor I would usec I am going to a liquor shop during lunch break and will let you know what Ifve decided later.

I am back at the office. Rum or gincI couldnft make up my mind for a while, but I finally bought a big bottle of rum. I think I will continue to make it every year until someone stops me! (Risa)

2011-06-01

I wrote that the number of people getting married is increasing after the earthquake yesterday, but the number of people getting divorced is also increasing according to the TV news my co-worker watched last night. Married couples realize just how much their values differ when they talk about the disaster and the associated problems, etc. and they tend to decide to divorcec I donft know how long it will take for our country to retrieve the former state, but I hope it wonft take too long. (Risa)

2011-05-31

I read the news that the number of people getting married has been increasing since the earthquake happened in March. People have started to seek a bond with someone after they spent restless days alone and decided to get married with their partner. Thanks to that, the wedding industry is booming despite the prolong recession. According to the article I read, the number of people who sign up at a marriage agency is rapidly increasing, too. I wonder how long this current trend will continuec (Risa)

2011-05-30

BAKING BAKING

How was your weekend? My mother and I took a baking lesson and made [Birnen-Tortchen] (Pear Tart in English) yesterday. The process was easy and the taste was very nice, so I would like to make it at home again. One of the students lives in Nara, but she comes to Kyoto (it takes about 2 hours door-to-door) and takes the lesson every month because she likes cakes at the pastry shop. She says she goes over the lesson and bakes bread/cakes we learn in class at home. What a diligent student she is! We will make unbaked cheese cake next month, and I am very looking forward to it! (Risa)

2011-05-27

skytree

My co-worker is in Tokyo on business now and sent a picture of TOKYO SKY TREE he took yesterday. The height now is 634 meters and the tallest broadcasting tower in the world. The public opening will be in spring next year, but itfs already a popular tourist spot.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the rainy season has set in here in Kansai, too. It usually starts around July 10th, so itfs more than 10 days earlier! We donft know when it ends, but it will last for 2 months or soc Hope you will have a happy weekend! (Risa)

2011-05-26

UMESHU

I went straight home after work and made [Umeshu] last night. Umeshu is a liqueur made by soaking Ume (Japanese plums) in alcohol and rock sugar. It has a sweet, sour taste, and an alcohol content of 10-15%. I wanted to make it last year, but I missed the chancecso, I was waiting for the ume season to come this year. As you can see the picture above, I made two different kinds of umeshu. I used Shochu (distilled spirit native to Japan) and brandy which my late grandfather bought or was given some decades ago. They will be ready for drinking in a couple of months, but itfs best to let it mature at least 1 year. Well, I should be patientc (Risa)

2011-05-25

Itfs been 2 weeks since my brother moved to Kagoshima Prefecture in Kyushu. He has already started a job and is getting accustomed to his new life there. According to him, even public baths in the town are natural hot springs, so he sometimes goes there for relaxing. Lucky him! He mentioned the differences in food and cuisine culture in Kyushu, too. The most characteristic difference is soy sauce. The soy sauce in Kyushu is much sweeter than the one we have in Kyoto. Also, there are various seafood he had never seen and he can get them at very reasonable prices. I love food, so I would love to visit there while hefs there. (Risa)

2011-05-24

Itfs cleared up after we had 2 rainy days, but it will rain from tomorrow again and we wonft see the blue sky for a week or so according to the forecast. The rainy season has started in Southern Kyushu since yesterday, so it will soon here in Kansai, too. I understand rain is needed for the crops, but I donft want rain every dayc (Risa)

2011-05-23

How was your weekend? We had a hot and muggy day on Saturday and it was like a typical Kyoto summerfs day. Itfs still May, so I want to enjoy pleasant (cooler and drier) weather a little longer.

In Kyoto, [Noryo Yuka] has started since May 1st. It is a dining terrace to enjoy lunch and dinner (lunch is only available in May and September) over the Kamo River. The wooden floors, connected with restaurants, are built over the river from Nijo-dori Street to Gojo-dori Street and you can enjoy various cuisine such as Japanese, French, Italian, and Thai, etc. on the deck. It is definitely one of the must-to-do things in summer, so add it to your itinerary for your trip to Kyoto! (Risa)

2011-05-20

McDonald

Every company makes a business effort to improve their sales and profits, right? One of my friends works for a food company and always thinks how they can make their products more attractive to general consumers. My co-worker went to McDonaldfs for lunch and brought back a glass (photo above). If you buy gLL value seth, you can get a glass now. There are green, gray, and dark blue though you canft choose the color. The colors will change to light blue, clear, and pink from early June, but the sales campaign will end once the stock has run out. Why donft you go to McDonaldfs and get the glass? It will be a memory of your trip to Japan.(Risa)

2011-05-19

I read a report about the world population and life expectancy by United Nations and I was quite surprised about it. About 7 billion people live on the earth now, but the number will increase to 10 billion by 2083. On the other hand, the population of Japan will decrease to 90 million people due to the declining birthrate, etc. What surprised me most was the rise in life expectancy. The average life-span of Japanese men is 80 and of Japanese women is 86 at present, but it will increase to 89 and 96 by 2100. Can you believe that? (Risa)

2011-05-18

The worldfs leading online travel agency, Expedia Inc unveiled [Expedia Insiderfs Select 2011] earlier this month and Hotel Monterey Kyoto won the 5th place among more than 1,300,000 hotels. It is a global program that identifies the top hotels based on quality and value, rather than pure luxury. The ranking is determined primarily by Expedia customer reviews. Every year more than 500,000 reviews are submitted, verified and analyzed to collect the Insiderfs Select list. The 2011fs list highlights true quality and value in the hotel industry with a remarkable cross-section of properties in different regions, representing various accommodation types and star rating categories. I have never stayed at Hotel Monterey Kyoto, but I am proud it was chosen as a Kyoto citizen. If you are interested in the result, here is the URL; http://www.expedia.com/daily/promos/hotel/InsidersSelect/Insider.aspx (Risa)

2011-05-17

My friend and I went to Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture on Saturday and found a nice café [R Café] on our way. Itfs located right in front of the lake and you can get a great view. If the weather is ok, you can enjoy your meals and drinks on the terrace or even on the beach. We just had a coffee on Saturday, but we would love to visit there and stay longer next time. Kyoto is far from the ocean, so I believe the café will be my favorite. Here is the URL (Japanese only); http://www.carmel.jp/r-cafe/ (Risa)

2011-05-16

How was your weekend? We had nice weather during the weekend and Aoi Festival was held yesterday. Here are the pictures of the parade. Enjoy. (Risa)

AOI MATSURI AOI MATSURI AOI MATSURI AOI MATSURI AOI MATSURI AOI MATSURI AOI MATSURI AOI MATSURI AOI MATSURI AOI MATSURI

2011-05-13

DAITOKU-JI DAITOKU-JI DAITOKU-JI DAITOKU-JI

My uncle and aunt went to Daitoku-ji earlier this month and sent me a few pictures. Daitoku-ji was established in 1315 by Shuho Myoco, more generally known as Daito Kokushi, with the sponsorship of the emperors Hanazono and Go-Daigo. During this period Daitoku-ji was ranked equally with Nanzen-ji at the head of the list of Kyoto Five Mountain monasteries, but after the establishment of the Ashikaga shogunate, it removed itself from the system. During the Onin War, many of the buildings were destroyed by fire, but they were rebuilt by the priest Ikkyu Sojun with the support of the merchants of the city of Sakai. After the end of Muromachi period, the temple won the support of the military leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who situated the grave of his predecessor, Oda Nobunaga, on the temple precincts and who also donated land. Daitoku-ji also became a center of cultural activity through its association with the tea masters, Sen no Rikyu and Kobori Enshu. The temple has a classical Zen monastic layout, with a Sanmon (Mountain Gate), Butsuden (Buddha Hall), Hatto (Dharma Hall), and Hojo (Abbotf Quarters), etc. The Hojo is a National Treasure, as is the Karamon (Chiniese Gate), which was moved from Hideyoshifs castle in Fushimi. The Sanmon, Butsuden, and Hatto are all Important Cultural Properties. Daitoku-ji also possesses numberless cultural treasures in the form of landscape gardens, calligraphy, sliding screen paintings, hanging scrolls, tea houses, and many implements associated the tea ceremony. The temple during the season of new green leaves is very beautiful, so donft miss it! (Risa)

2011-05-12

Ifve had heavy stomach feeling for a couple of weeks, so I went to see the doctor and took the test for Helicobacter pylori bacteria last week. According to the Internet, about 60 million people are infected with it in Japan, so I was 99% sure I was one of them. But, I got the test result yesterday and it revealed that I wasnft. This may sound weird, but I wanted the result to be positive. If I know where my stomach problem comes from, I can fix it easilycbut, all I know now is that I have a weak stomach by constitutionc I try not to eat too much and avoid oily food in my diet. (Risa)

2011-05-11

The rainy season hasnft started yet, but itfs been raining these days. Speaking of rain in this season, I think of hydrangeas automatically. There are quite a few popular spots of hydrangeas in Kyoto like Mimuroto-ji, Ohara Sanzen-in, Yoshimine-dera, etc., but I would like to find somewhere secret this year. If I find it, I will tell it to you here. (Risa)

2011-05-10

The Aoi Matsuri or Hollyhock Festival which is one of the three main festivals in Kyoto will be held on May 15th. According to the ancient record, the festival originated during the reign of Emperor Kinmei (539-571). A succession of disastrous rain and wind had ruined the grain crops, and epidemics had spread through the countrycand the emperor asked diviners for a help. The diviners said it was a punishment of the Kamo deities, so the emperor sent his messenger to the shrine to conduct various acts to appease the deities, in prayer for a bountiful harvest. This became an annual festival since then, and about 80,000 people come to see it from all over Japan. It will be postponed if it rains hard, so letfs hope it wonft rain on Sunday! (Risa)

2011-05-09

How was your weekend? We had early summer weather on Saturday and Sunday, and I saw lots of people wearing a half-sleeved shirt in the downtown area. Ifm glad itfs finally getting warmer.

My brother is moving to Kagoshima Prefecture in Kyushu because of his job today, so my family and I went for dinner on Saturday night. We called quite a few restaurants, but they were all booked up. We had no idea where to go, so we searched on the Internet and found a sushi restaurant in Kitayama area. The taste was really good, but the chef was so sullen and unfriendly that we donft know if we would like to go there again or not. If you donft mind it, I believe you can enjoy delicious meal there. If you are interested in the restaurant, please ask us! (Risa)

2011-05-06

We had holidays on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, so I am sorry I didnft post any news during the period. There was an event called [Sakka-Ichi] where potteries displayed and sold their works at the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park in Shiga Prefecture, so my friend and I went there yesterday. We had lunch on the grass in the park as it was sunny and beautiful and then we went shopping at the open booths. I liked a teapot, but it was a bit too expensive for mecI negotiated about the price without expectations and got a 10% reduction. I was happy about that, but it was still a big price, so I have to be careful not to break it! (Risa)

2011-05-02

How was your weekend? I went to Kobe and stayed at my friendfs place on Friday. My friend booked a nice restaurant (their specialty is steamed vegetables), so we enjoyed talking over dinner. Saturday, we got up early and went hiking to Mt. Futatabi. (Buddhism Great Teacher, Kobo, had climbed the mountain and trained himself before he studied Buddhism in China more than 1200 years ago, and he came back to climb the mountain again. Thatfs why we call the mountain Mt. Futatabi (futatabi means again in English)). It was a moderate hiking course, so we enjoyed walking while talking. We left home at 9am and it was around 1pm when we got back to Sannomiya area. We stopped at a café [Lakshmi] and a cup of tea there relaxed and drained away our fatigue. It is the best season for hiking now, so I would love to go somewhere again before it gets too hot. (Risa)

2011-04-28

I took time off in lieu yesterday and went to see a movie [Hankyu Densya] with my friend. It was published as a book first and then into a movie. I read the novel last year and liked it very much, so I was looking forward to seeing how the movie portrayed the human events in the story. My friend and I both enjoyed the movie and we would like to recommend our friends to see it, too. The Hankyu train runs in Kyoto, Osaka, and Hyogo, so I think they will feel familiar to it and enjoy the story more. If you are interested, here is the official site (Japanese only); http://hankyudensha-movie.com/ (Risa)

2011-04-26

sinnyo-do

My aunt sent me a picture of Shinnyo-do, so I would like to share it with you. It is a Tendai temple established in 984 by a Buddhist monk, Kaisan. The temple was burned down repeatedly and moved to its current location in 1963. Itfs been worshipped by common people (especially women) since the very beginning. I knew itfs famous for their autumn leaves, but I didnft know itfs also beautiful in spring. I would love to go there next spring. (Risa)

2011-04-25

DISNEYLAND

How was your weekend? One of our co-workers held a wedding in Tokyo on Saturday, so we all went there and attended the ceremony. They had their wedding at Disney Ambassador Hotel, so Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse also came to celebrate them. I have never been to Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo DisneySea (that put me in the minority among Japanese), so it was the first time for me to see them live. I realized they are very popular, seeing how the other attendees reacted. The bride and groom looked very happy and I hope that they share a long and happy life together. (Risa)

2011-04-22

konkaikomyo-ji konkaikomyo-ji

I will write about Konkaikomyo-ji, also known as the Kurodani Temple today. It was founded in 1175, and is one of the eight head temples of Jodo sect. The precincts of the Kurodani include the site where HONEN, the founder of the Jodo sect, stayed with his lifelong follower Shinku after leaving the Mt. Hiei in 1175 to proclaim his new teaching. The temple was destroyed was destroyed several times, but was restored each time.

konkaikomyo-ji

The images of Manjusti-bodhisattva and attendants by Unkei are enshrined in the three-storied pagota (see the picture above) was designated to pray for the repose of Tokugawa Hidetada, the second Tokugawa shogunate. The pagoda is designated as an important national cultural property.

The autumn colors at the temple is also beautiful, so how about visiting there in autumn if you are interested? (Risa)

2011-04-21

philosopherfs path philosopherfs path

The pictures were taken at the Philosopherfs Walk. Itfs a pedestrian path that follows a cherry-tree lined canal between Ginkaku-ji and Nanzen-ji. The path is so-named because the famous Japanese philosopher, Nishida Kitaro is thought to have used it for daily meditation. There are many temples and shrines such as Honen-in, Otoyo Shrine and Eikan-do along the path, so itfs always a popular spot for tourists. Itfs been a while since I walked the path, so I would love to go there again soon. (Risa)

2011-04-19

BABE

My mother and I took a baking class on Sunday and we made East German sweets called [Bäbe]. We were going to make [Linzer Torte], but it was changed all of a suddencso, I didnft know what [Bäbe] was like until it was done. We made yeast-leavened dough first, rolled up with filling (raisin, orange peel, and almond, etc), and then baked it. Itfs a bit like bread, so I ate it as breakfast yesterday and today. Our teacher opened a café [Café Muller] at GOETHE INSITITUT VILLA KAMOGAWA, so how about going there if you would love to try German sweets? Here is the official site; www.goethe.de/villa-kamogawa (Risa)

2011-04-18

NIJO NIJO NIJO NIJO

How was your weekend? As I promised last Friday, Ifve posted some photos of the illuminated Nijo Castle and cherry blossoms. The light-up event was held from March 25th to April 17th and millions of people visited there during the period. According to the official website of the Nijo Castle, the proceeds and any other money raised from event will be donated to the disaster areas by a huge earthquake happened last month. I hope the money will be used effectively for the affected areas and people. (Risa)

2011-04-15

NIJO NIJO

Ifll write about Nijo Castle today. It was originally built in 1603 as the official Kyoto residence of the first Tokugawa Shogun, Iemitsu, with the addition of some structures transferred from Fushimi Castle (built in Momoyama Period; 1573-1614). In 1867, when Yoshinobu, the fifteenth Tokugawa Shogun returned sovereignty to the Emperor, the castle became the property of the Imperial family. It was donated to Kyoto City in 1989 and designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. It is one of the finest examples of early Edo period and Momoyama culture in Japan, and it attracts millions of people from all over the world.

NIJO CASTLE NIJO CASTLE

.The Ninomaru Palace is shoin-zukuri architectural style, which was favored bythe warrior class in the Edo period. The wall paintings were done by prominent members of the Kano school. Itfs designated as a national treasure.

NIJO CASTLE

.The Ninomaru Garden is also shoin-zukuri style. The original garden is said to have been the creation of Kobori Ensyu, a master garden designer.

NIJO CASTLE

The Seiryu-en Garden was constructed in 1965. The two teahouses and the stones in the garden were brought from the villa of a wealthy merchant back in the Edo period. The teahouses, Koun-tei and Waraku-an are used for receptions for honored guests now.

NIJO CASTLE

.This the view from the castle tower. Itfs beautiful, isnft it?

My uncle and aunt sent a few pictures of illuminated cherry blossoms at the Nijo Castle too, so I will post them on Monday next week. Hope you have a lovely weekend! (Risa)

2011-04-14

My family and I went out for dinner last night. My brother wanted to go to a Japanese restaurant [NAKAHIGASHI], but we thought it was full because itfs a very popular restaurant with two Michelin stars... My mother called without any expectations, but we could get a table upstairs! The restaurant is located near Ginkaku-ji Temple and Philosopherfs Path, and the atmosphere is very beautiful. We enjoyed the full bloomed cherry blossoms in front of the restaurant last night.

NAKAHIGASHI

Smoked firefly squid, Dandelion greens with deer jerky, grilled bamboo shoot, Rolled Egg, Kogomi (one of spring vegetables), and dried Kibinago (slender sprat). I especially liked the smoked squid. The flavor was very rich.

NAKAHIGASHI

Field mustard with mashed tofu sauce. We felt various kinds of flavor in it.

NAKAHIGASHI

White miso soup with rice cake and fresh licorice. It was the first time for me to eat fresh licorice. It was very different to my imagined taste.

NAKAHIGASHI

Char-grilled Iwana (one of salmonid fish). What a fragrant flavor!

NAKAHIGASHI

Carp Sashimi with spring vegetables and flowers. I usually donft like the smell of the fish, but it was very delicious. No smell at all.

NAKAHIGASHI

Clear soup with bamboo shoot and seaweed. It was a simple dish, but it had a very rich flavor.

NAKAHIGASHI

A kind of fermentation food called Narezushi. It was so salty, but it was matched with sweet wine.

NAKAHIGASHI

Bamboo shoot, a sort of field mustard, fried Warabi (one of spring wild vegetables again), and baby Ayu (sweetfish). Very mild taste. (

NAKAHIGASHI

Oyster with green asparagus and morchella in citrus sauce. We were getting full, but I think I liked the dish the best.

NAKAHIGASHI

Boiled spring cabbage and a few more kinds of vegetables with a little bit of Sansho (Japanese pepper) oil.

NAKAHIGASHI

According to the head chef, this is the main dish. Even though we were full, we could eat all.

NAKAHIGASHI

Soybean flour sorbet with fresh fruit. Yum.

I could fully enjoy [SPRING] throughout the course of dinner. I would love to go there again in summer or autumn again. (Risa)

2011-04-11

Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto

What do you think the building in the above picture is? Itfs a former Kyoto Prefectural Head Office (used until 1971) and now used as a conference room, etc. It was completed in 1904 and it is the oldest public office in Japan and designated as a national important cultural property. The building is open to the public during the cherry blossom season every year, and my aunt went there last week and sent me the pictures. Very pretty, arenft they? The old governorfs office in the building is open from Monday to Friday through the year, so you can visit there if you are interested. (Risa)

2011-04-08

I got a day off work yesterday and had a restful day. I didnft do anything special in the morning, but my friend and I went to the Imperial Palace to see the cherry blossoms in the late afternoon. We sat under a cherry tree and stayed there with a coffee for a while. There are always many things happening in the world every day, but we just felt happy there. I sometimes go there when I want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city or forget the stress of everyday life. I like the Imperial Palace during the season of new green leaves too, so I will go back there soon again. (Risa)

2011-04-06

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A flower arrangement exhibition was held at a department store [Daimaru] from March 31st to April 5th, and one of my co-workers went to see it on Sunday. The Japanese art of flower arrangement can be traced back to the 6th century when Buddhism was introduced to Japan. The offering of flowers on the altar in honor of Buddha was part of worship. Ikebata also known as Kado (Japanese flower arrangement) evolved from the Buddhist ritual of offering flowers to the spirits of the dead. The first classical style of Ikebana started in the middle of the 15th century, and the first students and teachers of Ikebana were Buddhist priests and members. As time passes, other schools emerged, style changed, and Ikebana became a custom among the Japanese society. It looks easy to arrange flowers, but it is indeed difficult. If you are interest, you can experience it in Kyoto. Please look at this site for the details; http://www.wakjapan.com/individual/plan/flower/ (Risa)

2011-04-05

My mother and I went to Nara to see my grandmother on Saturday. Itfs been about 7 months since she moved to the senior apartment, and I think itfs a very nice placecbut, shefs getting weaker and weaker these days. I didnft notice much, but she sometimes shows symptoms of depression and appears demented according to my motherc I understand shefs anxious about death, etc, but I hope she will enjoy the rest of her life to the fullest. (Risa)

2011-04-04

How was your weekend? I had a very healthy day yesterday. I went to do yoga in the morning and met my brother for lunch in the downtown. We had a lunch at a café [KARIRENGE] – I recommend a lot – and decided to take a walk. We didnft have a specific goal, but we walked through the Imperial Palace and headed to Kitayama area by Kamo River. It was a bit cold and windy, but I think it was the perfect temperature for the walk. We saw various kinds of spring flowers on our way and that was very nice. We felt like a good coffee and some sweets when we arrived at Kitayama, but we didnft think of any good cafes there, so we headed to Okazaki area again. It was almost 5 p.m. when we finally sit in a cozy cafe. After a while, we headed back to the downtown area because my brother left his bike there. I donft know how far we walked, but we walked for 5 hours at least. It was very refreshing to walk in the sunshine, getting the fresh air. (Risa)

2011-04-01

I canft believe itfs already April. How time flies! Three weeks have passed since the earthquake happened on March 11th, but there are still lots of problems that have to be solvedc We donft know how long it will take for our country to recover full functions, but we do hope itfs as quick as possible. Again, I would like to say thank you for all your support from all over the world! Hope you have a lovely weekend. (Risa)

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