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News from
January 2006

January 4th
A HAPPY NEW YEAR! It was our first day of work this year today. We have a new staff working with us now. She must be really tired today, working in a new environment after the New Year holiday. Poor her!!! But she did a great job on her first day. Look how hard she is working!

We hope 2006 will be a wonderful year for everyonecespecially for those who read this news everydaycor often enough. (Junko)

January 5h
During the holidays, I saw lots of fireworks for the New Yearfs Day in many different countries on TV. We donft have fireworks for the New Yearfs Day very often here but it is a big thing to go to Hatsumode on the first few days of the New Year in Japan. Hatsumode is the first visit to a shrine to pray for the first time of the year. Lots of people pray for the health and happiness of their family for the year. Students who are up to entrance exams for schools and colleges pray to pass the exams. Kyoto gets tons of people coming for Hatsumode as there are lots of big shrines here. I was one of them this year. Me and my family went to Yasaka shrine on the second of January. It was pretty crowded but wasnft as bad as I thought. I think the first pray of the year has a good chance to come true. I bet many Japanese people feel the same way and thatfs why we go to Hatsumode. If you never tried it, why donft you try and see if it comes true!

January 6th
Itfs been freezing cold for a couple days in Kyoto. I canft believe we have a lot of snowy days this year.

This is the first time I write the news here. I am a new staff introduced in the news on January 1st (Look at the photo of me!). I was born and brought up in Kyotocwhich means I am quite familiar with the culture and the history etc. I am willing to help you have awesome experiences and get fantastic memories in Kyoto. Looking forward to meeting you all. Thanks. (Risa)

January 10th
A huge cold wave hit Japan this weekend again. According to the news, so many people have been suffering from the inconveniences because of the snow. We had a little snow in Kyoto on Saturday, too. I went shopping in the snow. In Japan, a big shopping sale starts after New Year (You have a Christmas shopping sale, right?). Most shops sell a so-called [FUKU(=fortune)BUKURO(bag)] on the first day of the sale. We donft know what is/are inside before we open it. It is a bit scary, but lots of people look forward to buying fukubukuro every year. It is one of the big events for them at the New Year. Although there were less people than I expected on Saturday, the shops were still crowded with girls especially. I did good shopping though. (Risa)

January 11th
It was not too cold today for some reasoncor maybe itfs only me who felt that way. I canft wait for the warm spring! If it takes any longer for the spring to come, then this is what happens to people.

This picture was borrowed from one of the new ryokans on our site, Hanaikada. Thank you, Hanaikada-san! Yes, this is the news of the day. There are some new ryokans on our site now. Hanaikada, Rankyokan and Seryo. The first two are in Arashiyama (west) and Seryo is in Ohara (northeast). Please check them out. They are all

really nice and they all have great hot spring baths or ONSEN. I would love to stay in all of them. If you are frozen like the picture, these are the ryokans to stay!!! (Junko)

January 12th
As we often mention in our website, Kyoto is famous for traditional Japanese food. One of them is [YUBA]. You might have never heard of the wordcbut you know Tofu and tonyu (soymilk) donft you? Yuba is made from tonyu (soymilk) which is produced in the process of making tofu. A thin film-like substance appears on the surface of tonyu (soymilk) as it boils. It is so-called yuba. When I walked around our office today, I found a very old Yuba factory (they sell the products there too). Kyoto City has certified it as a historic building. They started the business in 1716cwow it is nearly 300 years old! It is said that Yasunari Kawabata who got the Novel Prize in Literature visited there and tasted the Yuba. There are thousands of ways of cooking yuba i.e. tempura


and sashimi even. If you have a chance to try yuba, donft miss it!!!!! - There are lots of good yuba restaurants in Kyoto, so please ask us if you are interested. (Risa)

January 13th
I am just curious about a small thing. Everytime I go to McDonaldfs, I wonder how different the menu is from the other countriesf. When I visited New Zealand a couple of years ago, I ate a Kiwi Burger. Do you guess what it is like? It has New Zealandersf favourite food - beetroot, fried egg, a huge beef pate, tomato sauce and mayonnaise etc - between the buns. In Japan, we also have unique

burgers on the menu at McDonaldfs i.e. Teriyaki Burger and Shrimp Burger etc. One of our staff tried the shrimp burger for her lunch today. I will ask her if it was good. Do you have any unique burgers or side dishes on the menu in your country? If yes, let us know!!!!!!!!!! (Risa)

It was all right but not my favorite. (Junko)

January 16th
Itfs been pretty warm since last Friday. I canft wait that spring comescI know cold winter is coming back soon. When I was out yesterday, I passed a flower shop. They were selling ume (Japanese apricot) sprays. It is said that the ume is the first tree to flower in spring. Itfs not yet that we see the ume blossoms in full bloom here, but I hope itfs soon. (Risa)

It was very warm in Nara during the weekend too. I went to climb Wakakusa mountain in Nara park with my friends on Sunday. Wakakusa is more like a hill but if you take the back road, it takes over 1 hour to get to the top. Lots of tourists just take the front way, which is really easy and takes only 20min but I recommend the back way to the top and front way to come down. That way, you donft have to pay the entrance fee either and you get to see both sides of the mountain (or the hill). Nara is only 50 min away from Kyoto and there are lots to see there too. If you have any questions about Nara, please ask me! (Junko)

January 17th
We received a question from one of our customers. They were wondering if we can help them find a hotel in Osaka. We love to help our customers as much as possible, and since we work really hard :) I think lots of requests are possible. Well, of course there are some things we canft help with but please feel free to ask us! (Junko)

January 18th
We have been getting several link exchange offers. I havenft been able to reply to all of them but I will make some time soon to do that. We would like more and more link exchanges with lots of web site, so if you are interested, please contact us! Only good sites pleasecby good, I mean no dirty stuff. Thank you very much! (Junko)

January 19th
Can anyone tell me how Gmail works??? We have been receiving many e-mails from Gmail accounts but it doesnft show any text on any of the e-mails. I tried several times to reply to those e-mails but they never get deliveredcSo!!! I decided to make my own Gmail account because you must be able to send e-mails between Gmail accounts, right? Well, it wasnft that easy. It seems like Gmail is a mail system that belongs to Google. The tricky part is that not anyone can make a mail account like Hotmail or Yahoo mail! Apparently, you need an invitation code which was sent to you from your friend to open up a mail account. I am very sad that Gmail is not very friendly to uscwell, if anyone could send us an invitation code that would be wonderful! In the meantime, please use e-mail system other than Gmail so that we can reply to you! Thank you!!! (Junko)

January 23th
Did you have a good weekend?

I went to an gASHIYUh place with one of my friends on Saturday. As it was the first time for us to go there, we chose the most basic course, which is only 1,000 yen including sweets and tea ewe can choose our favourite kind from the list i.e. Japanese tea, Chinese tea and herbal tea etcf. Soon after, we felt a beautiful smell from the backcit was ready! As you see the photo, we soaked our feet and legs in the herbal water for 15 minutes or so. The manager explained he mixed about 20 sorts of herbs in the water. That helped us feel warm and so relaxed. I very much recommend you to try it especially on a cold day! (Risa)

January 24th
Do you think of cherry blossoms when you imagine what Japan is like? Good imagination! Cherry blossoms in Japan (or I should say in Kyoto) are amazing. I know itfs a bit too soon to be talking about cherry blossoms but my point is that lots of ryokans and hotels in Kyoto are getting pretty full for the spring season now. It is not too late yet to make reservations BUT if you are planning to visit Kyoto in the spring, please make your move soon!!! By the way, it is still very cold here. It was snowing again today, for just a bit. I canft wait for the nice, mellow, sleepy-in-a-good-way season. (Junko)

January 25th
The owner (cprobably) of the Ashiyu place Risa was talking about on the 23rd entry gave us a feed back about out site. He suggested us to mention in our site that we should be careful when we use the word GEISHA. He suggests us to use the word GEIKO instead since Geiko people prefer to be called that way. We will ask the owner why they prefer that word and inform you when we know, but I just wanted to tell you that if you are very lucky and you see them on the street, please donft shout gGEISHA!!!h It would be wonderful if you can say gExcuse me, Geiko-san. May I take your picture?h I bet you get to see a beautiful smile on their face!!! (Junko)

January 26th
Visiting the local market is one of the popular activities for tourists to find out about a place. Kyoto's Nishiki market, about 400 meters long and about two meters wide, has about 140 shops that sell everything i.e. Kyoto vegetables, tofu, fish and Kyoto sweets etc. You will know what season it is from what is being sold at the shops


while strolling through the market. The market is filled with local people to buy things for dinner on weekdays, and with tourists on weekends. We call the market (Kitchen of the Capital) and we have a saying, (There is no kind of food you canft find at Nishiki). You can see the Kyotofs lifestyle vividly from the aroma of the food, the sings of the shops, and the sounds/voices between the shopkeepers and customers even. Enjoy your shopping at Nishiki market! (Risa)

January 27th
We still get lots of gmails everyday and I still havenft figured out how to read it. I think there is a big chance that most of them are junk mails but I always think gwhat if a few of them are inquiry mailsch Maybe someone needs our help, maybe they want to get some information on KyotocIf you have written us and havenft gotten any replies, that means we canft read your mail, so please use different method of e-mailing!!!

Whatfs up with the Gmail thingy anyway if you canft read them! Someone please tell me!!! (Junko)

January 31st
I am going to Katsura Imperial Villa to post the information on our website tomorrow. It is said that we can see the mixing of Japanese feature and Western feature in the style of architecture. It is a rare thing compared to the other buildings built around the same time. The villa is also famous for the harmony between the architecture and the garden. This is the first time for me to visit there even though I have lived in Kyoto for quite a long time. I will definitely enjoy the visit and put the information and photos on our website as soon as possible. One disappointing thing is that it will rain tomorrow according to the weather report. I should ask the goddess of the Sun for a sunny day???? (Risa)

January 30th
Did you have a lovely weekend? It was like a spring day in Kyoto yesterday. The sky was high and absolutely beautiful. I went Kitayama in the north of Kyoto city with my friend. Because Kitayama is located at the foot of the mountains, the temperature is a bit lower than the downtownfs. We sometimes see the mountains covered with snow. I will recommend you to go to Kitayama if you want to get away from the bustle of the city and relax. How about having a rest at a cafe/restaurant after you visit a botanical garden???
My friend and I had dinner at a Thai restaurant. All the dishes we ordered were delicious. As there are so many fascinating dishes on the menu, we WILL go there again. (Risa)