News from
July 2006

July 5th
I talk about food too much here? I think food significantly shows a culture of country. Every time I go to a foreign country, Ifm so interested in visiting a local supermarket there.
Today, Ifll tell you a Obanzai (home-cooked Kyoto dishes) restaurant near Heian Jingu. [Daruman] is a place that you canft miss as you go by. The outside is painted bright orange. Inside the design is very traditional and lively. Daruman specializes in vegetarian Kyoto home cooking known as Obanzai. The staff is very friendly in the old way of Japan and ready to help you choose your vegetarian dishes. Obanzai is the name of a wide variety of often home-cooked Kyoto dishes that have been part of daily Kyoto home life. Many of these recipes have handed down from generation to generation. I guess every family should have different recipes. The menu, All-you-can-eat Obanzai (1,450 yen/1,980 yen 11:00-15:00) is very popular, and itfs the best way to try lots of different dishes. It would be interesting to know Kyoto culture in this way.
The website of the restaurant is;http://www..daruman.com

July 13th
I told you itfs probably the best way to look around Kyoto by bicycle on April 25th. I found a bicycle rental shop in the town. The shop, INOUE YA is located on the north side of Takoyakushi Street, east of Shinmachi. Itfs open daily from 10:00 to 17:00. I was amazed at the rental fee. Only 105 yen/hour! Itfs pretty reasonable, isnft it? You can rent and/or return a bicycle at Kansai Inoue Shokai (north side of Rokkaku, east of Muromachi 10:00 ? 19:00) too. The transportation conditions in Kyoto is not really good, (Especially buses!!!!) so I recommend you to have a sightseeing trip by bicycle. (Risa)

July 14th
Itfs been sooooo hot and humid in Kyoto these days. I heard the news saying the temperatures go up to over 35 degrees everywhere in Japan today. Ifm very happy summer is almost here.
Speaking of summer, you know what that brings to mind? For me, Fireworks display is definitely one of them. There are so many fireworks shows in Japan every year, and a lot of people look forward to visiting the events. Here is the list of the fireworks displays in Kansai Area. Donft miss out!!!!.

July 19th
It has constantly been raining almost everywhere in Japan. The rain front has brought record rainfall to some parts of the country. I have also heard about quite a few disasters caused by the torrential rain. Ifm really sorry for the victims. The weather reporter predicts more downpours for the next few days. When can we hear the announcement of the end of rainy season? According to the weather forecast, it will be around July 26th. Older Kyoto people say summer comes after the Gion Festival finishescbut we have to wait for one more week! (Risa)

July 24th
Summer vacation just started. School kids should be really happy. When I was their age, of course, I liked summer vacationcbut I needed to get up before 7am every day. I think it was about for 2 weeks or so. Why was that? It was because of [radio physical exercises]call the kids living in the area had to take part in it. It was like a compulsory activity. I guess every kid at the time had the same experience. [The exercise refers to the warm-up exercises popular all over Japan, along with the music broadcast on public radio early in the morning]. I donft know if the exercise is still so popular among kids nowadays. If yes, I guess they donft want to get up early to attend the activity! (Risa)

July 25th
The next big event in Kyoto is probably Gozan no Okuribi, more commonly known as Daimonji-yaki. It is one of the iconic festivals of Kyoto. It is the culmination of the Obon festival on August 16th. (Obon is a Japanese Buddist holiday to honor the departed spirits of onefs ancestors). Starting at 8pm, five huge bonfire designs in the shape of Chinese characters are lit on the mountains which surrounded Kyoto city. The most famous and the first to be lit is the character DAI, meaning large, on Daimonji-yama mountain. The other four fires are lit at 10-minute intervals, and by 8:30, all the characters can been seen. The best place to see the festival is from the Nakagyo Ward, in the centre of the city. A lot of people also go to the Kamo River between Sanjo and Imadegawa Streets, for a good view of the initial fires. If you are lucky to book a hotel in a city, you might be able to view all the characters from the window!!!!! (Risa)

July 26th
In the news yesterday, Risa talks about the next big event in Kyoto. Well, do you know what the latest big event was? Actually itfs still going on till the end of this month. Yes, Gion Festival. Do we talk too much about it? Oh well. I just wanted to share a beautiful picture from Gion Festival Eve. Our wonderful photographer, Mr. Sugiura sent us this picture of lanterns. Arenft they beautiful??? (Junko)

July 10th
Itfs Tanabata here in Japan today. Tanabata meaning Seven Evenings is a Japanese star festival. The festival is usually held on July 7 or August 7, and celebrates the meeting of Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair). The Milky Way, a river made from stars that crosses the sky, separated these two lovers, and they were allowed to meet only once a year. This special day is the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar.The festival was celebrated in the Kyoto Imperial Palace from the Heian Period (794-1185). The festival spread to the general public by the early Edo period (1603-1867), became mixed with various Obon traditions, and developed into the modern Tanabata festival. In the Edo period, girls wished for better sewing and craftsmanship, and boys wished for better handwriting by writing wishes on strips of paper. In present-day Japan, people generally celebrate this day by writing wishes on tanzaku (small pieces of paper) and hanging them on bamboo, sometimes with other decorations. The bamboo and decorations are often set float on a river or burned after the festival, around midnight or on the next day. This resembles the custom of floating paper ships and candles on rivers during Obon. Many areas in Japan have their own Tanabata customs, which are mostly related to local Obon traditions. Quite a few romantic people want to see the Milky Way on the sky on July 7th. According to the weather report, itfs going to rain today because we are in the middle of rainy season + a typhoon is approaching Japanc(Risa)

July 11th
Gion Matsuri [Gion Festival] will be on this weekend ? check the news on June 26th too -. For 3 consecutive nights before the massive parade on July 17th, the downtown is closed for pedestrian traffic only. The streets are lined with night stalls selling food such as traditional Japanese sweets, taiyaki, takoyaki and many other culinary delights. Boys and girls dress in summer Kimono called Yukata walk around the area, carrying with them traditional paper fans. A half million people visit the festival each night every yearcbut this yearcthe festival is right on the weekendcso, I guess much more people are coming!!!! I will let you know how it goes next week. (Risa)


July 12th
Herefs a picture of one of the floats from Gion Festival. (Itfs not a very clear picture. Sorry!)They are now building up the floats. There are lots of floats houses on Shijo Street. Itfs pretty fun to walk around to see the floats in progress too! You might surprise how big they are just sitting on the side of the street with lots of traffic passing by. By the end of this week, they will be completely ready!!! (Junko)


gbv ACR
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* Tenjinmatsuri Fireworks (July 25th, Osaka)
* Yodogawa Fireworks (August 5th, Osaka)
* Lake Biwa Fireworks (August 8th, Shiga)

* Ujigawa Fireworks (August 10th, Kyoto )cand more. (Risa)