Happy Hinamatsuri for all the girls in the world!!! Hinamatsuri is a festival for girls only. (Haha to boys!) For more information, see the entry on February 22nd. Who likes chocolate? Well, I went to a convenience store near our office during my lunch break to get some dessert and I found something interesting! Here’s the picture of it.
Kyoto Higashiyama Hana Touro 2006 is starting on March 11th and goes till 21st. About 2400 pathway lamps line the walking route that connects to the Higashiyama foothills from Shoren-in in the north and continues through Maruyama Park and Yasaka Shrine 4.6 kilometers into the south, ending at Kiyomizu Temple Higashiyama is a retro-flavored area, and it is very popular among tourists all year round. But, I recommend you to visit this event and enjoy the fantastic scenery. The lamps at night create a magical atmosphere throughout the area. There are so many nice little shops and restaurants on you way, so you can rest your tired legs from a long walk. The air on a spring evening might be a bit chilly but…it will refresh you up! Let’s go!!!!!!!!!! (Risa)
We had a beautiful day today here in Kyoto. The highest temperature was 12 degrees Celsius!!! It’s getting warmer and warmer and I am getting happier and happier.
We added 2 great ryokan on our website!!! Please check them out! One is [Yuzuya Ryokan] in southeast area. This is a very hip ryokan these days. They were on some TV shows and ever since then, it is getting really hard to make a booking for Yuzuya…but we will try our best for you if you want to stay there!
The other one ryokan is [Kikokuso]. This ryokan has a good reputation on their hospitality! Everyone who stayed there loves the owner couple. For more information, please see their individual pages!!! They both are really beautiful! (Junko)
Cherry blossoms [Sakura] are called the symbol of Japanese culture, right? They have been celebrated and composed in a lot of Waka poems for centuries. There are soooooooo many varieties of Sakura trees in Japan, but our most beloved one is Somei Yoshino which account for 90% of all species of Japanese cherry blossoms. It is said that they bloom and fall (or we sometimes say they scatter) within a week. We enjoy the beauty of the flowers, and feel sorry for them to fall. We go to parks, temples and shrines with families and friends to see cherry blossoms at the time. It is also a good chance to get together and relax on a spring day. When is the best time to see them? The forecast for cherry blossom flowering was announced by Japan Meteorological Agency on March 1. According to the announcement, they start to bloom in Kyoto on March 28. There are thousands of beautiful Sakura spots in Kyoto…so don’t miss it! (RIsa)
How was your weekend? We had a beautiful day in Kyoto on Saturday. It was very warm, just like a spring day and I thought winter was truly over! BUT of course it wasn’t that easy. It snowed today in the morning! This is how Kyoto looked today….cold. (I know, all you can see is the brown building across from us…but I needed the brown back ground to show you the snow.)
Do you want to try the thrilling boat trip? This is the 400th year this boat trip has been taking place at the HozuRiver. This 16km trip which lasts about two hours is an exciting ride through one of the most beautiful scenic spots of Kyoto. As the boat dodges giant rocks and swirls through rapids, no motor roads can be seen and no sign of town life, only the breaking beauty of nature in pristine condition.
As I promised in the March 13th entry, I got information on an even!
Look at the picture. Aren’t they cool?
It’s raining really hard right now. I can’t even see the mountains through the window in the office as I usually can. I hope the Plum blossoms are hanging on their branches…
Here’s the news of the day. We added two new ryokan on our site. They are called [Ishicho Syogikuen] and [Oyado Ishicho]. As you can probably guess, they are sisiter ryokans, located in the central area, pretty close to the Imperial Palace. They have lots of unique accommodation plans so if you are interested in unique experiences, please check them out! (Junko)
Did you have a lovely weekend? We had gloomy winter days…it was snowing lightly on Sunday!
Junko and I went to Kyoto Higashiyama Hana Touro 2006 after work on Friday. Although it was a bit chilly night, there were so many people on the streets. The temples, shrines and even trees etc looked beautiful lit by lots of lanterns. There were various types of lanterns (size, shape and color etc) but we especially liked the bamboo lanterns placed in the tiny stream.
We thought the candlelight is much better than the artificial light I guess the longstanding tradition perfectly fits for the Kyoto’s cityscape. The photos show you how the Hana Touro event is like… Do you feel like coming to Kyoto now????? (Risa)
We had a National Holiday yesterday in Japan. It was Spring Equinox Day. It was supposed to be warm and sunny but it was pretty cloudy…wasn’t much of a spring-like weather!
Here’s a piece of information you might be interested in. Nijo-jo castle will be lit up from March 24th till April 16th. I bet it will be really beautiful especially when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. As it was mentioned in March 10th entry, the cherry blossoms are expected to star blooming March 28th this year. Please check out Nijo-jo official website for the beautiful pictures of Sakura [cherry blossoms] and the castle at night.
They are pretty amazing, eh? (Junko)
6pm ? 9pm (Monday ? Thursday) 6m - 9:30pm (Friday ? Sunday)
Notice: If you go into the castle before 6pm, you will have to re-enter for the night opening time, which means you have to pay the admission fee twice. Please be careful unless you really want to see the castle day and night.
Admission fee: 400 yen/adult. If you go there wearing KIMONO, the admission is free!
Note: Some parts of the castle compound, such as Ninomaru Goten are closed at night. If you have some particular parts you want to see, please e-mail us!
Hay fever season has finally started…I have heard you don’t have hay fever in western countries. Is that right? If yes, lucky you!!!!!! Every time we watch the weather forecast at this time of year, the reporter talks about the pollen dispersal. Quite a lot of people suddenly developed hay fever last spring because we had a quite warm winter. I did too…
According to the newspapers and magazines, the hay fever remedies are flying out of the drug stores/pharmacies like crazy. The pharmaceutical companies release the new drugs for hay fever every year + the sufferers try various kinds of ways to relieve the allergic symptoms as much as possible. The market is pretty big and potential, right? I haven’t seen any people wearing masks on streets, but we will see a throng of sufferers everywhere soon. I guess the sight is one of Japan institutions at this time…(Risa)
It’s “Naked KitKat”!!! They took the outside chocolate off KitKat!!! Can you believe that? I wonder Nestle is selling this all over the world or just Japan…Let us know. Was it good? Yes, of course! Just like KitKat…with a bit less chocolate. (Junko)
How was your weekend? I had a busy but nice weekend.
St. Valentine’s Day in Japan is a day when women give boxes of chocolate to men ? Read back the news on February 8. Do you know what March 14 is for? We call the day [White Day]. While St. Valentine’s Day was an imported event from western countries, White Day was purely a Japanese creation. But, I have heard the White Day is celebrated in Korea and Taiwan, too. On White Day, the men who received chocolate on St. Valentine’s Day return the favour and give gifts to women. What’s the origin of White Day? There are many theories, but I will tell you the most accepted one; a marshmallow maker started marketing to men that they should pay back the women who gave them chocolate or other gifts with marshmallows. The day was originally called [Marshmallow Day]. Soon after, chocolate companies started realizing they could also capitalize on the day and marketing white chocolate. So, people started to call the day White Day. Now, men give not only marshmallow or white chocolate but also other gifts i.e. jewelry, bouquet flowers etc. According to the survey by a department store in Tokyo, the gift which makes women happiest is flowers with a greeting card. Wow…poor Japanese men...they have to spend lots of money if they get boxes of chocolate on St. Valentine’s Day. Do you still think they are lucky?????? (Risa)
I had a great weekend too! We had a beautiful weather on the weekend! It was warm and sunny both on Saturday and Sunday.
Anyway, I want to thank my great friend, Emma for letting us know they don’t have Naked KitKat in England and they wouldn’t sell too many of them even if they try because it makes no sense to get rid of something really good…THE COATING CHOCOLATE!!! Well, at least Naked KitKat seems to get some attention, right?
Since Emma wrote me the cute message, I read the entry on the 5th again and that makes me depressed…I am not very happy about my writing skill…At first, I was talking about Hinamatsuri and out of the blue, I started talking about chocolate! Not so good…(Junko)
Well, although we are having crazy weather in the past few days, it will be nice and warm soon and Kyoto’s busy season will start pretty soon. There are lots of events lined up in the spring…starting with Hanatouro (see the entry on March 8th), there will be many events (big or small) going on here and there. We will try to write about as many events as possible and share as much information as possible with you. And because of the beautiful spring weather and the events, it will get very, very, very hard to make hotel/ryokan reservations. So, please DO NOT wait till the last minute and miss all the fun and great experiences in Kyoto. (Junko)
You will definitely enjoy this boat trip if you love nature. You will be so impressed by the prodigious works of nature. Imagine that you feel the spring wind and enjoy cherry blossoms from the boat…beautiful, isn’t it? I very much love the power of nature so I will try it shortly…(Risa)
event is called Seiryu-e. Seiryu means Blue Dragon. They carry a dragon and
walk in and around Kiyomizu temple wishing everyone peace. Why dragon? It’s
from the old myth. The name Kiyomizu [pure water] came from the water fall in
the compound. It is said that a dragon which is an avatar of Kannon [goddess of
mercy] comes down to the water fall for some quick drinks every night. The PURE
WATER must taste really good for the dragon to come down all the way from the
heaven (?) every night, eh? (Junko)
[The event is on for 3 days, March 15th, 16th and 17th. The parade starts at 2pm.]
I will recommend you a nice and cosy restaurant in Sakyo-ku, Kyoto. It’s pretty close to Demachiyanagi station of Keihan line. Its name is [FalafelGarden], and they serve natural and healthy food. It is easy to imagine the specialty of the restaurant, right? Yes, it is ‘falafel’ which is very popular among vegetarians all over the world. There are lots of other vegetarian/vegan dishes such as hummus, eggplant paste, and avocado pita sandwiches etc. If you are a meat eater, don’t worry! There are chicken dishes for you.
Junko and I went to the restaurant and sat at the table in the garden.
I guess it’s a perfect idea to sit there and just relax on a spring/summer
day. There are a couple of tables outside and some more inside. When the
owner couple moved to Kyoto, they renovated the old Kyoto house (about
a 100-year-old house) for the restaurant. So, it still has retro flavour
everywhere. I am sure you have a relaxing time there!
* If you don’t have time to sit at the table, you can take away the food. (Risa)
You know what I miss about living overseas? Well one of the lots of things I miss the big variety of cereal! I love cereal breakfast but our choices are slim pickings here. But our choices that are FAT pickings are…noodles…instant…in cups!! Even in a convenience store, we have so many kinds of noodles! Although I hardly ever eat them since I believe they are really bad for your health, isn’t it always nice to have choices??? (Junko)
What do I miss about living abroad? My answer is THICK-CUT potato chips. I am not a big fan of junk food, but I occasionally feel like having some. In that case, I always chose the thick-cut chips when I was in New Zealand. I don’t know why but I probably like the crisp texture. We can hardly find the hard and crisp chips here in Japan. Why don’t chip companies develop new products and launch them? There are hundreds of chip makers here, so I am sure some of them would like to…don’t you think they can pump up the sales?
It was finally reported that the cherry blossoms in Kyoto started to bloom yesterday. I was walking by Kiyamachi Street in the middle of town this morning, and I noticed the cherry trees in bloom. I was talking about it with my friend the other night. See? I did bet they would start to bloom soon! (Risa)
We are having a crazy weather today. It was snowing till a few hours ago!!! It’s almost April and snowing?! I just can’t believe it. We had lightning and hard rain yesterday too. I feel really sorry for the cherry blossoms that are trying to bloom right now. They need warm weather and no rain to look pretty. But here is a picture of cherry blossoms I took today. They are trying! Well, Risa’s buddy told her that we only talk about cherry blossoms here and it’s getting old but I care so much about them and can’t help it. Sorry for ignoring the
advice! The reason why I care about cherry blossoms so much is because there is a great equation about them in Japan. (Cherry Blossoms + Beer) = Parties…gotta love those flowers, huh? (Junko)
It snowed again last night. I was outside freezing. I just don’t get the weather this year. It seems very springy outside today through the window but it actually is pretty chilly…I am not amazed with this weather at all!!!
Well, even though it’s colder than it should be, it doesn’t stop Kyoto from being the sight-seeing mecca of Japan. There are lots of temples and shrines having light-up events now and here’s one of them…well, actually it’s not either a temple or a shrine.
It’s a tomb called “Shogun-zuka”. You can visit the tomb at night (5pm ? 9:30pm) from April 1st to the 16th. Yes, it is a sight-seeing spot but for locals, Shogun-zuka is more famous for its lookout. The view from the lookout is very pretty and it’s one of the famous dating spots. I bet many locals don’t even know there is a tomb there even though it IS called SHOGUN TOMB (Shogun-zuka). (Junko)