News from
November 2006

November 1st
Itfs November now and itfs still pretty warm here in Kyoto. The average temperature of November in Kyoto was about 14 degrees centigrade last year. But todayfs highest temperature is about 20 degrees and lowest is about 12 degrees. This is a lot warmer than usual. You can still walk around with your T-shirt easily during the daytime when the sun is out. I am loving this warm autumn weathercbut the thing iscthe leaves might change their colors pretty late this year. I have seen some trees around here whose leaves are changing colors gradually already but the best season could be a bit later than usual. I canft wait for the burning red everywhere in Kyoto. Oh if you are already in Kyoto now you should go to the imperial palace before the 5th. Itfs open to the public from today till the 5th. You donft even need a reservation. They open the palace for public only twice a year! So donft miss it! (Junko)
November 6th
Did you have a good weekend? I had a day off the other day. I drove up to the north of Kyoto Prefecture and visited a famous tourist spot [Amanohashidate]. It is well known as one of Japanfs three scenic views. As you can see the photo below, a thin strip of land connects twp opposing sides of Miyazu Bay. This sand bar is about 3.5 kilometres long and covered with about 7000 pine trees. I looked around the area by a rental bicycle.

November 10th
The weather in Kyoto has been very weird. It was sooooooo cold especially on Tuesday this week. When I left the office, I felt the chilly air and thought winter finally camec Lots of people were wearing winter clothes and hurrying home. But, itfs really warm today. According to the weather forecast, the temperature is going up to 23 degrees in Kyoto. As I am very sensitive to the cold weather, the news made me so happy this morning! One bad thing iscthis warm weather doesnft help the leaves change the colours!!!!!(Risa)

November 2nd
I was looking at this Kyotofs local website which has a lot of information such as newly opened restaurants, events etc. And the top banner ad now says [Restaurants for BOUNENKAI]. BOUNENKAI is one of the words you start hearing A LOT in Japan about now till the end of the year. [BOUNEN] means [to forget the year] and [KAI] means gatherings or parties. BOUNENKAI is an end-of-the-year-party where you try to forget the whole year! I donft know what we want to forget about because I personally donft want to forget my yearcbut anyway, I love BOUNENKAI. BOUNENKAI parties are usually not for families (there maybe some families that have BOUNENKAIcyou never know.), they are usually for co-workers and friends. I think it was originally for work or work related groups and thatfs why they want to forget lots of troubles and difficulties they went through together during the year by drinking heavily. But we usually start BOUNENKAI-ing when we are in school. School kids shouldnft have had that many troubles and difficulties they went through together but they just want to party. So many bars/restaurants start advertising for BOUNENKAI around this time of the year and people start booking tables, rooms or a whole bar/restaurant for it. Some people have their BOUNENKAI pretty early like early December most likely because they couldnft book a place at the end of the year (Too slow). So we will be seeing lots and lots of drunk and happy people on the street soon! (And Karaoke places will be really tough to get in because of their after-parties!!! I should go singing before the season!) (Junko)

gbv ACR
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November 14th
My friends from Nara came to Kyoto to go hiking in Daigo area yesterday. Daigo is located in southeast area. Itfs quite easy to get there by subway. Anyway, my friends went there to visit the oldest surviving wooden structure in Kyoto. Itfs a five story pagoda at Daigoji temple. It was built in 952. The construction of the temple itself started in 874 but all the other buildings except for the pagoda was destroyed during several wars in the history. You think itfs impressively old, donft you? Well, it is amazing that a building that is over 1000 years old is still surviving today. But if you like old structures, there is gTHEh oldest surviving wooden structure in the world not too far from here. It is Horyuji temple in Nara. The temple was founded in 607 by Prince Shotokucso it is about 350 years older than the five story pagoda in Daigoji temple!!! Doesnft it make you want to go to those places and touch the buildings when you hear how old they are? (Junko)
*Both the temples are registered as world heritage sites.

November 15th
I went hiking to Kurama & Kifune with friends last Sunday. We took the train from Demachiyanagi station to Kurama station. After we got off the train, we took the most popular way from the Kurama station to Kuramaji-temple. I canft remember how long it tookcbut maybe 40 min or less. We had a little lest at the temple, and then we headed to Kifune. It is really a nice hiking trail in beautiful nature. We also visited the famous Kifune Shrine after we got off the Kurama Mountain. (If you want to know more about the shrine, please visit our website http://kyotoguesthouses.com/sitedyn.php?SITE_ID=23) We took the train from Kibuneguchi station (not Kurama station) on our way back to the town.

November 16th
Today is a special day for me personally. This is my last day at work. I just want to thank all the customers in the past. We started this website about a year ago and it has been very successful thanks to you all. We have had a lot of nice and friendly customers and I want to thank all of them but especially to Mrs. S from Toronto, Canada. She was so happy with our service that she offered to help us adverting in her country. She asked us to send her some brochures which we didnft have at the timecso I immediately designed and made brochures with my friends help (thanks for your help, Greg) and sent it to her. Thank you so much Mrs. S! I appreciate your help, but what I appreciate more are your e-mails telling me how you liked our service and your message to me that you left at the ryokan you stayed at.
I would like to thank Ian, our website designer again for making this beautiful website. He is one of my closest friends and a very talented website designer. I feel very lucky to have these wonderful people around me to help us. Anyway, of course Kyoto Guesthoses will stay on business so please keep on enjoying the news here and if you ever come to Kyoto, please let Kyoto Guesthouses help you! Thank you very much! Bye-bye! (Junko)

November 17th
We have never had a day where we didnft hear his name [Daisuke Matsuzaka] in the sports news for weeks. He is a Japanese right-handed pitcher who plays for the Seibu Lions in Japanfs pacific League. He became a national hero when he was a high school student. His performance garnered the attention of a great many scouts, but he was taken by the Seibu Lions with the first pick of 1998 draft. He has played a very active part for the team for 8 years. On October 24th, Scott Boras was announced as Matsuzakafs agent to represent him in any contract dealings in the American Major Leagues. On November 2nd, he was officially granted permission by the Lions to pursue a career in Major League Baseball via the posting system. On November 14th, it was announced that the Boston Red Sox had won the bidding rights to Matsukaza with a bid of $51.1 million. (It really is big money, isnft it?) Through the posting system, Boston outbid the other teams including the Texas Rangers, the New York Mets, and the New York Yankees. I hope Matsuzaka will sign a contract with the Boston with no problem and he will do well in the Major League too!!!! (Risa)

November 21st
I visited Tofuku-ji temple with one of my close friends on Sunday. It took 19 years (1236 ? 1255) to build the temple on the instructions of Kujo Michiie, the great statesman of Kamakura period. Its name, Tofuku-ji is a combination of one character from the names of temples in Nara Prefecture. The original building was burned but it was rebuilt in 15th century according to the original plans. It flourished as one of the Five Great Temples in Kyoto at the time. Even now, the temple attracts sooooooooooo many people from all over the worldcespecially in this season. Its tinted autumn leaves are really famousclots of people say the leaves at the temple much redder than the others. It will take a little more while before we can see the famous burning red leavescbut we enjoyed the changing colours of autumn leaves so much! I took some photos in the raincbut they donft look really nicecso I decided not to put them herecsorry! (Risa)

November 22nd
Christmas comes along in a month or soc Yesterday, I saw the news that Christmas markets are now being held in the cities throughout Europe. Are you already busy preparing for Christmas presents for your family and friends? I just remembered I stayed up late and wrapped so many presents every night when I was in New Zealand in the Christmas season. I know Christmas is a very important event for you in many countries in the world, and you will have a long holiday during that time. Are you looking forward to it? I bet you are!!! The downtown Kyoto is getting christmasyc I will take the photo of town and put it here soon! (Risa)

November 24th
Winter is almost herec Whatfs your favourite winter dish? Japanese people like to eat [Nabe] in the cold season. Itfs not easy to explain what it iscbut I will try my best. [Nabe] is one pot dish cooked and kept hot at the dining table by portable stove. The diners can choose the ingredients they like from the pot. When the ingredients are cooked, people pick them up and eat with dipping sauce. I think you know Sukiyaki, right? Thatfs one type of Nabe dishes. Eating together from a shared pot is considered as an important feature of nabe. East Asian people believe that eating from one pot makes a closer relationship. We sometimes use the expression Nabe wo kakomu (sitting around the pot in English), which implies that sharing nabe dish will creat warmer and closer relation between the diners who eat together from the shared pot. There are wide varieties of regional nabe dishes in Japan, which contains regional specialty foods/ingredients such as Salmon in Hokkaido and Tofu in Kyoto. If you have a chance to come to Kyoto in winter, donft forget to eat Yudofu. The pot dish will warm you up. You can feel your body become warm from inside! (Risa)


November 20th
I went to Fushimi Inari Taisha, which is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the spirit Inari, with one of my good friends on Saturday. It is especially famous for the thousands of vermillion torii lining the paths on the hill on which the shrine is located. The torii gates are all donations from individuals, families or companies. The Inari spirits is considered to be the protector of grains, especially rice, and has thus historically been associated with wealth. Company officials often make offerings to Inari shrines in the form of barreles of sake (rice wine) or torii gates. The torii gates are wood, and they are replaced about every 10 years. There is a walking trail behind the main building of shrine. There are ups and downs, but it takes only about 2 hours (even if you walk very slowly) to do the walk. The view of the never-ending torii is amazingcI think it is one of the things you should see in Kyoto!!! (Risa)

November 27th
Did you have a neat weekend? I met a lovely lady, Amy from Seattle, USA on Saturday. We visited [Tenryu-ji] and [Okochi-Sanso] in Arashiyama, and then we headed to Kiyotaki by bus. Why Kitotaki? There is a nice hiking trail from Kiyotaki to Takao along the Tokai Natural Way. After we got off the bus, we started walking along the Kiyotaki River. It was soooooooo refreshing to walk in nature, e.g. the contrast between green and orange, the pure water, fresh forest air, and so on. We were completely fascinated by the beauty of nature. DEATH BY NATURE ? It is indeed an accurate expression Amy told me. We passed by three famous temples, [Jingo-ji], [Saimyo-ji] and [Kozan-ji] along the way. We didnft have time to visit Saimyo-ji, but we did fully enjoy Jinjo-ji and Kozan-ji. UmmcI canft explain how great the temples are in one daycIfve got 4 days left this week, so I will post an article one by one every day. How many temples did we visit? Yes, 4 temples!!! Sounds perfect, doesnft it? (Risa)

November 29th
Actually I didnft know what [Okochi-Sanso] iscI only knew the namec The late Okochi Denjiro, who was a popular movie star, started to build the villa and garden when he was 34. He was attracted to the Mt. Ogura area, where the poet Fujiwara Teika (1162-1241) was living when he edited the famous anthology of Japanese waka poems known as the Hyakunin Isshu. He spent the greater part of his performance fee for the garden until he died at 64. The total area of this site covers about 5 acres. Yes, it is indeed a huge garden. I couldnft believe it was someonefs housec The Okochi Denjiro invited his movie star friends to the villa and entertained the company. After you enjoy the beautiful garden, you will be served Matcha (powdered green tea) and a Japanese cake. I think it is a perfect place to relax your tired body and soul!!! (Risa)

I think itfs the best way to do the sightseeing. If you have time, I recommend you to go up to the mountain by gondola. The sand bar can be viewd from mountains on either side of the bay. Visitors are recommended to view the Amanohashidate, (heaevenfs bridge in English) by turing their back to it, then bending over and looking at it upside down from between their legs. (Risa)

November 8th
One of the things that Japan gets good reputations for is MANGA or comic books/cartoon. On November 25th, Kyoto International Manga Museum is going to open its doors! They have about 200,000 comic books at the moment and are expecting to have over 300,000 comic books by year 2008. The building used to be an old elementary school which was built about 80 years ago. At first, when I walked by the place with my co-workers, we were kind of shocked that the city (cooperated by an university) was making a Manga museum in Kyoto because it seemed to be unsuitable to this traditional citycbut I think itfs a pretty cool idea now. What do you think? If you are interested in our Manga culture, check out the museum. Itfs located in the middle of the city. Entrance fee is only 500 yen/adult. (Junko)

http://www.kyoto-seika.ac.jp/kyotomm/en/index.html you have a good
November 9th
Japanese people have good talent for finding things KAWAII (Kawaii means cute in Japanese.)...sometimes even weird looking or ugly looking things become KAWAII for us. I was watching TV the other day and found this really KAWAII mascot of Hokkaido! (Hokkaido is the second largest island and the largest prefecture of Japan.) It is called MARIMOKKORI. Herefs a picture.
Marimo is spherical moss that can be found in Hokkaido.
The second half of the name means something that shows in the mascotfs appearance. I will leave it up to your imagination. Some of my friends say Marimokkori is really ugly and gross they seem to be serious when they say that. He became really popular since some Japanese celebrities have key chains or mobile phone accessories. What do you think? Is he cute or disgusting? (Junko)

November 13th
I had the visitors from the United States last week. They could stay in Kyoto only for 1 night, so I took them to the lit-up temple, Kodaiji-temple. We left the ryokan after 9pm and hurried to the temple by taxi. Yes, we got there just before the entrance gate was closed. Once we entered the temple, we didnft have to hurry anymore.

We still had 30 minutes for looking around the temple and the garden. I wished if we could have seen the autumn colours in the garden, but I am very pleased the visitors enjoyed the view so much. As Junko wrote in the news on Nov. 7th, the famous temples in Kyoto are open for night-time visitors during the season. If you are around Kyoto during the season, I strongly recommend you to visit one of them! (Risa)

The light on the train was switched off all of a suddencwhy? The lit-up trees could be seen through the train windows. I thought it was quite beautiful. Although it was rainingcand it was very cold (when I looked at the thermometer, it was only 4 degrees!), I did enjoy the hike so much. The autumn colour season has finally started in the area ? Kurama & Kifune are located in the northern part of Kyoto city, so itfs much colder than the downtown area -. I guess the best time for the autumn colours will come pretty soon! (Risa)

November 28th
As I promised yesterday, I will talk about [Tenryuji] here today. It is located in front of Arashiyama Station of Keifuku Railroad. The temple is the first ranked of the Five Great Zen Temples of Kyoto. It was built by Shogun Takauji Ashikaga in 1339, for the purpose of consoling the soul of Emperor Go-daigo. The garden, designed in the stroll-around style, remains the same form as when it was designed by Muso Soseki in the 14th century. You will notice aristocratic tradition and Zen culture are well blended in the garden. I think we can see the beauty of nature in every season. Of course, we enjoyed the autumn foliage! (Risa)

November 30th
Jingoji-temple (The Temple of Holy Protection) was built by Wake no Kiyomaro in 781. He moved to Kyoto, looking for a true and unsullied Buddhism. And then, he finally found the isolated Takao area. It is said that he spent his last years meditating in the mountain.

The famous Kukai and Saicho also visited the temple for peace and solitude before they built their own mountain temples. The Jingoji is also very famous for the beautiful colored leaves. When we visited there last Saturday, it was at the height of the autumn foliage. Lots of people were enjoying the gorgeous scenery there. I have to mention one more thing before I stop writing the newsc As you can see the photo below, you have to go up steep stairs to get to the temple. (Risa)