March - January, 2012


Can you believe March is nearly over? I canftc We are moving to a new apartment next month, so we are busy shopping and packing c I thought we didnft have much stuff in our room, but actually we doc I donft enjoy packing, but I am looking forward to a new life there. (Risa)


I am going to have a week off in the first week of April. I decided to go to Guam for 4 days. Seriously, I need to get out from cold and need a nice sunshine!!! It will be my first time to visit there, but I have a friend who goes there every year. Ifm going to meet her this Saturday and get some information over there. Ifll tell you how it was after I get back from vacation.(Saori)


I went for coffee with a friend last night. Shefs been suffering from nausea and dizziness for more than a month. She goes to a clinic to take an injection every week, but her condition is still the same. If she could remove stress from her life, that would be the best treatmentcbut, we know itfs almost impossible. Spring will come soon, so I hope shefll feel better and lighter gradually. (Risa)


I start to see more tourists around in Kyoto recently. It is still little early for cherryblossom but you still can see ume, Japanese apricot is blooming. Usually they bloom in middle February or middle March. From the cold this year, the season becomes little late. If you are lucky, you might be able to see ume and cherryblosoom in the same time!!! (Saori)


According to the news I saw two nights ago, the cherry blossoms have started to bloom in Kochi Prefecture in Shikoku. I had a chance to talk to a ryokan owner, and he said they are less busy than usual in late March this year because the cherry blossoms are late bloomingc The tourists coming to Kyoto check the forecast regularly and book their accommodations in order not to miss the best moment. We had a warm day in Kyoto yesterday, but itfs pretty cold again todayc I canft wait for spring to come! (Risa)


I went to Indian restaurant with my mum yesterday. We had a big salad, tandoori chicken and vegetable curry. We went there with empty stomach so we had more than we should eat. The food there seems less spicy for Japanese. I ordered middle spicy but it wasnft hot for me. I love spicy food so it was little disappointed for me. Except that part, the food there was awesome! I am sure I go back to the restaurant again and try the food with extra spicy. Maybe try Indian food when you want to eat something not Japanese? (Saori)


I went out and saw the cherry flower buds have finally started to swell, so I think the blossoms will be out soon. I still wear a down jacket, but maybe itfs time to stop wearing it and prepare for spring. There are lots of fun events coming up in spring, so donft forget to check them before you come to Kyoto! (Risa)


Have you ever heard about Japanese High School Baseball Tournaments? There are the tournaments twice in a year, in spring and summer. It is one of the goals to play at the tournament for High School baseball teams and they practice hard for the plays. Especially, the summer ones are filled with feverish excitement every year. Anyway, the spring one will start from March 21st and 32 teams from every part of Japan play in 12 days. Which team teams will win this spring? (Saori)


I stopped going to yoga a few months ago, and I feel I am out of shape due to lack of exercise these days. I easily catch a cold (how many times did I catch a cold this winter?) and get a canker sorec Itfll get warmer soon (I hope), so I will try to go for a walk a lot. (Risa)


It passed 1 year from the big earthquake last year. There were a lot of ceremonies for praying, charities and reminding and special TV shows. The time is so fast and we cannot believe it has already passed a year. Their life there goes better little by little, but never be enough better. I hope it becomes much more better than now and becomes best soon. (Saori)


The hay fever season has started again this yearcand, I already have typical symptoms like itchy eyes and sneezing, etc. According to the Ministry of the Environment, the amount of pollen in the air this spring is likely to be less than usual, but I wonder how long it will lastc I liked spring the best when I was a child, but I like autumn better nowc (Risa)


It was very warm yesterday. I even felt spring is almost therec..but it got little cold again. From the weather forecast, it gets cold in this a couple days. Ifm so looking forward that it gets warm and nice sunny days. ( Saori )


After our wedding, wefve started looking for an apartment to move tocbut, itfs not been as easy as we thoughtc I am going to a real-estate agency after work tonight, so keep your fingers crossed! (Risa)


I came back from Alaska last Saturday. Still itfs not warm even itfs already March but I donft feel that cold. Probably I was trained by Alaskan freezing cold. Only I feel colder here is when Ifm inside. It is rare Japanese houses are all hearted so the inside is colder. I think thatfs why we have hot tables and we often eat hot pot in winter. Anyway, Ifm back to Japan and itfs still hard to feel spring here. (Saori)


Japanese plum, Ume blossoms have finally started to bloom just recently. They usually start blooming in the middle of February, but it was late due to the cold weather this year. According to Meteorological Agency, they will be in full bloom in a few weeks or so. Kitano Tenmangu or Kyoto Imperial Palace are famous for the Ume blossoms in Kyoto, so why donft you go there if you get a chance? Hope you wiil have a nice weekend. (Risa)


I canft believe February is already overc I think it was the busiest month in my life and I was completely exhausted, but I am finally recovering nowc The cherry blossoms will start to bloom in a month or so (later than usual due to the cold weather), and some of the ryokans/hotels are already booked out in early April, but please contact us if you are interested in booking a ryokan. The availabilities change every day. (Risa)


I had a thai food for lunch and korean food for dinner. I was eating frozen food or junk food pretty much every day so today was the best food day of fairbanks days!!! We had a korean BBQ, hot pot and pancake. Bosses drunk 4 beers and we had a good dinner time :) I'll leave Alaska in 3 days.... I'll miss here. ( Saori )


How was your weekend? My mother and I took the last baking lesson before our teacher leaves for Germany for a couple of years or even longer yesterday. It was just a simple cake, but I realized how bad I am at decorating a cake beautifullyc I was going to take a photo and show you, but I decided not to because it was just terrible. The taste was good, so I will enjoy it at home. (Risa)


How was your weekend? I was sick in bed on Saturday (yes, again!) and it was already 4:30pm when I woke up. I still cough a lot, but I believe itfs getting betterc I didnft go out on Saturday, but we had snow in Kyoto from the previous night. I saw Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) dusted with snow on TV, and it was quite beautiful. It was pity my friends from New Zealand missed it! Hope you had a nice weekend. (Risa)


I had an amazing experience today!!! I got on Arctic Circle flight and went to coldfoot. It was only an hour flight from fairbanks but the view from the fight was awesome. Everything is white and I could see snowed mountains and iced river. Coldfoot is a little town and the population in winter is only 14 people. In the summer, it gets little more and about 40 people live there. The view there is also awesome. It was my best day so far here in Alaska. (Saori)


Ifve caught a cold againc My family and relative had a cold around the wedding, so I think I got it from themc A bad cold and flu are going around, but I am glad my NZ friends were ok. They are leaving for New Zealand today, and I hope they had a great time here in Japan. (Risa)


We had a wedding in Fukuoka on Saturday and came back to Kyoto yesterday. We submitted a notification of marriage to city hall back in July, and we were preparing for the wedding for 6 months or so. There were quite a few troubles and problems during the preparation, but it was a nice wedding as a result. I am very relieved itfs over now. I would like to say thank you to the guests who came to our wedding again. (Risa)


I saw Moose near the hotel I stay at today!!!!I kept hearing you can see Moosess on the way to northern lights lodge where in the far away from downtown. But I was not expected you can see them in the downtown area. I saw a mum moose and a kid moose. They are like fat deers. A typical moose is around 350kg and it can eat up to 30k per a day. Can you believe it?


Itfs been nearly a week since my NZ friends arrived in Japan, and they are enjoying their stay so far. My parents drove them to Shiga Prefecture on Tuesday, and they took a lesson of making Japanese sweets there. Today, my uncle and aunt are showing them around Kyoto. They took them to Kinkakuji in the morning, and I think they are attending the tea ceremony lesson now. Ifll ask them how it was when I meet them tonight. (Risa)


I went to the chena hot springs. Yes, there is hot springs in Alaska. The hot springs with a lot of snow is very atmosphere and pretty. The temperature was not bad and it was only –20C to –25C. So you could enjoy feeling nice warm hot springs. There is one thing that Japanese feel weird about the hot springs in foreign countries...... that is you have to get in with swimming suits on. Probably many people from outside of Japan think the Japanese way is weird. Every strange people get in hot springs with all naked. Both feel weird in both way. That is for sure. When in Rome, do as Romans do, right? Anyway, we could see nice northern lights and our customers enjoyed the day very much. We are happy for that. ( Saori )


Three of my friends arrived from New Zealand on Friday, and my parents and I took them to Yamashiro Onsen (hot spring) for the weekend. The train was delayed due to snow a bit, but we had lots of fun there. My friends ate anything and didnft mind being naked in the public bath, so it was very easy to travel with them. We stayed at a very traditional ryokan called [SHIROGANEYA], and I think it was a good experience for them, too. If you have a chance, I recommend you to stay at the ryokan in your future. Here is more information; (Risa)


It was the starting day of Yukon Quest race, a dog sled race. Approximation miles are 100 miles and it is from Fairbanks, Alaska to Whitehorse, Canada. 24 mushers are resistered and they are from US, Canda, Russia, Norway etc. Even a Japanese lady is resistered. I hope everyone finish the race safety and they have their best run. (Saori)


February 3rd is Setsubun in Japan. According to the lunar calendar, winter ends on this dayc The solar calendar was adopted during the Meiji Period in Japan, so itfs still very cold around Setsubun now. On the day of Setsubun, people open the doors of their house and drive the demons out of their homes and gardens by throwing handfuls of beans and shouting [Bad Luck out! Good Luck in!] Eating rolled-sushi is also a popular custom, and you can get them at any supermarkets and convenience stores, etc. on the day. I am going out on Friday, so I will throw beans and eat the rolled sushi tomorrow night instead! (Risa)


We started to have customers from Japan so now we started to getting busy. In Fairbanks, it is colder than usual. The coldest temperature I saw is -43F but on the news it was reported it went down to -50F. There is a big temperature board near University of Alaska Fairbanks. We went to see the temperture there to take picture of how cold it is. Even local people were there and taking picture. There were even young people wearing bellying suits on and taking picturesc. Unfortunately, I canft share the photo though.. Ifm sorry I missed it. I hope it gets little bit warmer. At least it back to usual temerture. ( Saori )


How was your weekend? I went to Fukuoka to discuss the final arrangements for the wedding next month. Saturday was really busy during the day, but my mother and I went to a Mexican restaurant [Elborracho] for dinner. It was the first time for us to go there, but it was a good choice. If you are sick of Japanese food and looking for something different in Fukuoka, here is the restaurant information; (Risa)


Hello everyone from ALASKA. I arrived here on 24th and it passed already 3 days. I went to snow-shoe hiking and aurora viewing. All the activities come with cold first but they were still nice experience. The cold here is okay than I expected but the cold when I was waiting the aurora viewing. The cold almost killed me....From tomorrow, we have big groups from Japan so I will busy with office work. Alright, hi from Alasaka. I will update again soon.


We got a mail from Saori, and she arrived Alaska safely. According to our co-worker in Fairbanks, it was minus 30 degrees even during the daytime today. Japan was also hit by a cold wave, and we had heavy snowfall in the last couple of days. As it seems like itfs going to be very cold again next week, I have to email my friends to bring very warm clothes. They are arriving on Friday next week, and I am very looking forward to seeing them! (Risa)


I leave to Alaska today for a business trip. Ifm excited and also Ifm little nervous. It is my very first time to go to the freezing cold and snowing hard place. I canft imagine how it will be likec I try to see and feel much and learn a lot from the work experience there. I update how itfs like there. (Saori)


apple pie

How was your weekend? My mother and I took a baking lesson yesterday and made an apple pie from scratch. It was the first time for me to make piecrust, and it was much harder than I expected. Our teacher learned the recipe from a German baker, so we used bread flour instead of cake flour. Because of that, the dough was a bit chewier, and I liked the texture very much. I donft know if Ifll make it again or notcbut, I would like my mother to make it again and give it to mec! (Risa)


It is Friday today!!! How are you going to spend your friday night and weekend? Going to have a drink? Spending relaxing time? Hanging out with your friends? Ifm going to yoga to have a relax time for the night and I preparing for a business trip on weekend. Have a good Friday night and weekend ;) (Saori)


We will hold a wedding next month, but my grandmother canft attend because itfs held in Fukuoka (about 3 hours away from Kyoto), so she took us for dinner last night. My parents and uncle & aunt also joined us, and we went to a Japanese restaurant, [Sangencha] in Gion area and enjoyed the dinner all together.


Kombu (kelp) Marinated flounder and vinegared radish and carrot. It was nice as a starter.


Clear soup of clam. Itfs a traditional dish for New Years, but I think it was my favorite.


Sashimi – prawns, trevally, and flounder. There were three kinds of dipping sauce, and I liked eating them with a salt and wasabi the best.


Marinated Tuna Sushi. It was really delicious.


Steamed sticky rice with salmon roe.


Grilled Spanish mackerel and boiled black beans. We usually eat the black beans at New Years.


Steamed soft roe, boiled octopus, and some vegetable dishes. The octopus was so tender that my grandmother also could eat it. She said she ate octopus after many years!


Tofu and Tempura (abalone and maitake mushrooms) with a clear coup.


Sea cucumber with grated turnip.


Boiled Kyoto vegetables with a thickened crab soup. It was a soft and tender taste, and I liked it.


Rice and Miso Soup. The chief cheffs parents grow the rice in Shiga, and it was sooooooo delicious. We all ate 2-3 bowls of rice!


Orange jelly and strawberries.

sangencha sangencha

We could choose from 2 desserts. The both of them were nice.

We went to the same restaurant about a year ago and liked it very much, so I was glad we could go there again this time. Thank you, Granma! (Risa)


It is on News this last 2 days that the precipitation in this year is very low. There is no rain in 200 areas. I think about when it rained in Kyotocmmm, I donft feel it rained that much. It rained more in Kansai area than Kantou area. According to the record, this year is the second year of low precipitation. Because of it, vegetables donft grow good and the price of vegetables is going high.mmm not nice. (Saori)


Last weekend, I went to Ise Grand Shrine with my family for Hatsumode, the first visit of New Year in Japan. We make wishes for the new year. Ise Grand Shrine is one of the famous shrine for Hatsumode. It was already the second week of the new year, but there were still many people to make wishes. In the Meiji period, people werenft allowed to leave from your town. Therefore, it was allowed to everyone to visit Ise Grand Shrine for Hatsumode. Thatfs why the shrine became very famous and improved as a tourist site. It is effected from the time and modern day, the shrine is one of the most visited shrine. Ise Grand Shrine is in Mie prefecture, but itfs only 2-3 hours train trip from Kyoto. If you are interested in the shrine, check the web site, . (Saori)


How was your weekend? My cold and the pain around nose are finally almost gone, so I went out on Saturday and Sunday. Ifll have a wedding on Feb. 11th, and I am getting busier these daysc I should be careful not to catch a cold again! (Risa)


I kept talking about the weather here so I talk about something else todaycthe story goes back to 4 days ago, but 9th of January is the day for cerebrating to be adults. Itfs called Seizin shiki. 20-years-old guys and girls dress up for the day and gather at your hometown. Girls wear special kimono, called Furisode, therefore you can get more chance to see the traditional clothes everywhere. Last year, we lost many people from the earthquick. Thatfs why the cerebration was little different from usual. We started with praying for people and appreciating for our lives. The day was more deep feeling day. (Saori)


The national university entrance examination will be held this weekend, so the test takers are making their final preparation for the exam now. There is a shrine called [Kitano Tenmangu], where Sugawara Michizane, the God of learning, is enshrined, in Kyoto Nishijin area, and lots of students and their parents visit the shrine during the entrance exam season every year. The shrine is also famous for Japanese cherry blossoms, so if you are interested, why donft you visit there? Here is the details; (Risa)


It is colder in Kyoto today. From the last night weather forecast, it is snowing. It hasnft started snowing yet here, but it starts to get colder and cloudier. Many people recommend cheery blossomfs season to visit Kyoto, but winter can be a good season to visit. The temples covered by snow are one of the best shot! A problem is you need luck to see the temple with snowcc. It doesnft snow that much like before because of global warming (Saori)


I was so sick and experienced racking pain in my head and cheekbone and behind my eyes on Friday nightcand, I went to a clinic on Saturday. I donft know which clinic I should go, so I consulted my doctor and was told to go to see the ENT doctor. According to him, I have inflammation of the sinus due to a bad cold I caught at the end of last yearc I never experienced the severe pain before, so the first 2 days were like a real disasterc I think itfs recovering a little by little, but I am going to see the doctor again after work tonight. The clinic will close at 6:30pm, so I have to hurry! (Risa)


It was very cold in this couple of days. In some part of Kyoto, it even snowed. Compare to last couple of days, itfs warmer and nice sunny day today, but itfs still cold here. I hear you feel winter in Japan colder even you are from up north, because of humidity in Japan. Ifm easier to feel cold so Ifve never felt so. How do you feel cold in Japan? (Saori)


Happy New Year! Our office was closed from Dec. 30th to Jan. 3rd, but I was sick in bed for the first half of the holidayc The cold this winter is very sticky, and it takes ages to recover fullyc Ifm still having a runny nose and coughing especially at night. You should take the precaution of gargling a lot to prevent a cold, but I heard gargling isnft so common in foreign countriesc Is that true? (Risa)


Ifm Saori, a new member of this company. Nice to meet you, everybody. It was my very first day, but I enjoyed the day. For many Japanese, today is also the first day of work from new yearfs vacation. I donft know how many people is exciting to go back to work though. I wish everybody had a good day as well. (Saori)

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