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News from November 2005

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November 6th
There is a traditional festival for fire at KibuneShrine today. The festival is called "Ohitaki Sai" (Holy firebuilding festival) or "Momiji Matsuri" (Maple leaves festival). Alsoa festival for water is held on June 30th at this shrine. Both the festivalsare believed to get rid of sins by the power of water or fire. (Junko)

November 7th
There is a big fire festival called "Hitakisai" (Fire buildingfestival) at Hushimi Inari shrine tomorrow (November 8th). It is to thankfor the harvest. They build three big fires and send the god who broughtthe harvest back to the mountain. (Junko)

November 8th
A doll exhibithion is held at Hokyoji temple till the end of this month.You can see some of the dolls that belonged to imperial family members.This temple is known as "Ningyo no tera", meaning a temple ofdolls because of the doll exhibitions that are held in the spring and inthe autumn. (Junko)

November 9th
This is today's Kyoto. Very sunny and beautiful.!

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I took the picture just around the corner from our office on the way to work. Autumn is a great season in Kyoto. The leaves are amazingly beautiful and the food!!!

This restaurant/bar is very close from our office, built in a Kyoto's traditionalold building. Inside the bar is modern-Japanese styled with chairs andtables. The food and drinks were absolutely delicious and fairly reasonable...(Idon't really know how much it was since my wonderful boss paid!!! Thankyou!) I highly recommend this restaurant for nice relaxing evening. (Junko)

November 10th
It is again very nice and warm (highest temperature of 20 degrees Celsius)in Kyoto today. Here's a picture of Rokkakudo-temple near our office. (Junko)

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[Rokkaku] means hexagon in Japanese. Yes, thistemple is hexagonal.
Although it is surrounded by tall buildings, once I am in the temple compoundI feel so peaceful...and also it's interesting to see a beautiful templein the middle of office buildings.
Rokkaku-do is known as [Kyoto's bellybutton] as it is located almost rightin the middle of Kyoto city. This cute nickname is one of the reasons whyI like this place! (Junko)

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November 11th
Our boss has a great photographer friend whocontributed some of his wonderful pictures to our website. (My favorite pictureis the Maiko picture on the home page of our site.)
He took some beautiful pictures of Geiko and Maiko from this annual showcalled [Gion Odori] or Gion

dancing. Gion is one of the five Kagai in Kyoto. (What's Kagai? Please read [About Kyoto] page.) This show is held in the beginning of November every year. Here is one of the pictures Mr. Sugiura took. Aren't they pretty? (Junko)

November 12th
People around me started to talk a lot about going to see autumn leavesthese days, so... I went to do that on Saturday. It was still a bit tooearly since we are having a very warm autumn this year. We went to Philosopher’swalk first. Here’s a picture from there. This tree was especially redand beautiful.

Imagine many trees together turn their colors like this! It

was such a relaxing evening…walking and having a meaningful conversationwith my friends about how to cook turkey for Thanksgiving in Japan withouta big oven. (Junko)

November 15th
After a walk on Philosopher’s walk on Saturday, we wentto Kiyomizu-dera temple to see the autumn leaves at night. They light up lots oftemples at night this season. Most temples look very different at night compare to day-time. Kiyomizuis, in my opinion, very nice at night. When you are on the huge verandal

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Lots of Japanese people get a big appetite in the autumn. So...we, the stuff at Kyoto GuestHouses went out for a drink 2 nights ago.

ooking down, it makes you feel like you are falling down.
I also feel very much different when I pray at temples or shrines at night.There’s something about temples and shrines at night time. Please tryit when you get a chance. (Junko)

November 16th
There have been so many cops around this area these days since the presidentof the United States is here in Kyoto now. President Bush and our primeminister, Koizumi are holding a summit meeting in the Guest House in Kyototoday. The Guest House is located in Kyoto Gyoen, the park including theOld Imperial Palace. It’s only a station away from our office. (Interestedin the park??? Please read Kyoto Gyoen page in [Find Ryokan and HistoricSites] section.)
As I am writing this, I can hear lots of noise outside of our office, helicopters(probably TV stations) and demonstration cars going around. It is veryunusual...not like the quiet, calm Kyoto. (Junko)

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November 17th
Many tourists from overseas are interested in meeting Geisha and Maikobut many places that have Geisha and Maiko performances turn away first-timers.Even if you can get into those places somehow, their performances costyou a lot…so is it really difficult to meet them without spending lotsof money? Nope.

There is a place you can go to meet Maiko! It costs only 4,800 yen/personand you can get; traditional Japanese green tea with sweet, Maiko danceperformance, photo opportunity with Maiko (with your camera). 
Isn’t it amazing? If you are interested in this,please contact us! (Junko)

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November 18th
It’s getting really cold in Kyoto. Today’s highest temperature is 13degrees Celsius...well it is cold for me. Finally it feels like winteris here. Here’s a picture from a shopping mall in our neighborhood. Theyput up Christmas trees a while ago. Most of the department stores and shoppingmalls have their Christmas decorations up already.

Some of my friends from North America werecomplaining the other day saying putting up Christmas decorations too earlymakes them feel like they are losing time. They said [Even Thanksgiving is nothere yet!]…which is very true but we do not celebrate Thanksgiving here.Halloween is becoming more common though…so right after Halloween decoration isback in the storage, they put out Christmas decoration. I guess it DOES soundlike we are skipping November! (Junko)

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November 21st
It’s a beautiful day today in Kyoto. We call a day like this [Aki-bare]in Japanese. [Aki] means autumn and [bare or hare] means clear weather.There isn’t a single cloud in the sky. The air is clear and refreshing...andchilly.

I went outside of the office to take a picture of a shrine. It took meless than 3 minutes since it’s just around the corner. This shrine iscalled Gosho Hachiman-gu. It was built in 1352 as a tutelary shrine forShogun Ashikaga Takauji’s mansion. It was moved to this location (rightaround the corner from here!) during the Pacific War to evacuate. Thisshrine is famous as guardian gods for easy delivery

and infants.
This is why Kyoto is a great place to be in. You find a shrine which isn’tin major guide books, and then find out how old it is or the history behindit. (Junko)

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November 22nd
Yesterday, our web designer/my awesome friend Iancame to our office. Here’s Ian, the one on the left. I was going to take a picture yesterday when he washere but I forgot to do that. So I just put this picture which I had on mycell-phone. (The one on the right is his brother, Julian. Hi, Julian!) Thank you very much for making this beautifulwebsite, Ian!!! And thank you very much for reading this, Ian’s mom!!!

Today, my boss came back from lunch and told methat they are shooting a TV show or something just in the neighborhood. So Iwent outside and took a picture of the TV crew.
Since Kyoto has such a unique atmosphere with old buildings and historicalspots, they often shoot TV shows and movies here. But I thought it wouldstill be

exciting to find out which celebrity is there…only I didn’t get to see any. The old house in which they were shooting it was covered with a black cloth…that made me want to peek inside even more!!! (Junko)

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November 24th
Happy Thanksgiving Day!!! (to American people!) We don’t celebrate ThanksgivingDay in Japan but one of my best friends threw a party yesterday. It wasLabor Thanksgiving Day yesterday in Japan so I guess that party workedout for me too. Usually we don’t have any parties for Labor Thanksgivingday. Not having to work is probably good enough for us (well, most of us...Iam sorry for those who had to work).

My boss came back from his lunch and brought sometreat today (Thank you, boss!!!). Here’s the picture of the treat.
Those balls are made of some kind of paste…we are guessing it was fishpaste. They were so good. My boss got them in Nishiki-ichiba, the old popularfood market in the center of Kyoto. I highly recommend this market fora stroll! You might find lots of interesting food like the balls. (Junko)

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November 25th
I enjoy looking at buildings especially in Kyoto. There are many old, traditionalJapanese style buildings of course…but there are lots of modern cool buildingstoo. I love the mixture of the old and new. 

This is a picture of Kyoto Cultural Museum in our neighborhood. It certainlyis not very [Kyoto] if you think of Kyoto as just old, traditional Japanese-styledcity…but it is not necessarily non-Kyoto. What I mean is I think thismuseum is pretty Kyoto-ish as well as old traditional buildings. Anyway,this building is very pretty now at night when they light it up. They also

have good exhibitions of Kyoto’s culture, arts, movies etc. all the time. The special exhibition at the moment is [The Great Heritage of Silk Road]. It is until the 4th of December. (Junko)

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November 28th
It is really warm today in Kyoto. The highest temperature is supposed tobe 18 degrees Celsius! Unbelievably warm for this time of the year. I don’tremember November being this warm before...or maybe I just have a bad memory.It rarely snows before Christmas though. It is nice to have snow for theChristmas season but as

long as they have lots of lights up I am happy! (Here’s a picture of some trees with blue and white lights. They just started to light them up last week.)

I know it gets really cold in January and February around here. Kyoto especially gets cold compare to the other prefectures in Kansai region (seven prefectures in the middle of the main land including Kyoto) because of the geographical reason. Kyoto is a basin, or a flat landscape surrounded by mountains. People often say [Kyoto is really hot in the summer and really cold in the winter]. Yes that’s true and I love it!! Ahh…except when it’s really cold. (Junko)

November 29th
It seems like the best time for the autumn leavesis finally here! I haven’t had a chance to go to those famous Momiji (Japanesemaple leaves) spots yet but I see trees with burning red leaves here and there.It must be really nice to go to those places with hundreds of Momiji treesgathered together.
One of my favorite friends sent me an e-mail afterchecking out this website. Thanks Jeff! It was really nice to get somereactions to our work. Even if you are not one of my friends, please write andlet me know what you think of the site, what you want to know about Kyoto, whatsort of information would be helpful for tourists, questions about Kyoto,or…anything!!! Thank you! (Junko)

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November 30th
You know how Starbucks are everywhere in the world. Kyoto is not the exception.You find Starbucks in convenient locations. I love Starbucks and all theother coffee shops like that. It’s nice to relax there. BUT!!!...thereis a very popular and well known coffee shop in Kyoto. It’s in many guidebooks on Kyoto too.

Inoda Coffee was established in 1940. Here are some pictures of the head shop. There always are many people drinking or buying coffee in the shop. The interesting thing is that they used to just put sugar and milk in your coffee whether you like it or not. (Of course you could always ask not to.) It was a kind of like their tradition…but as time goes by and maybe because more people now prefers their coffee black than before, the waiters ask you if they could

put some sugar and milk in the coffee. When I was asked that question at Inoda Coffee, I said “yes please” wondering how much sugar and milk they would put in. It was kind of exciting to wait for my coffee just to see how sweet and milky my coffee would be…well, it was perfect! Not too sweet or milky, but sweet and milky enough. (Junko)