News from
October 2006

October 2nd
Are you interested in the Zen vegetarian cuisine? If yes, I recommend you [Tenryuji]. The cuisine served by the monks at Tenryuji Shingetsu is like Zen philosophy. It satisfies the palate and the soul, and harmonizes the six basic flavours ? bitter, sour, sweet, salty, mild, and spicy. To add to the delight of this place, meals are served facing a huge National Treasure garden designed by Zen genius Muso Kokushi. All the dishes served at Tenryuji shingetsu are strictly vegetarian. The set meal included a soup made of specially prepared soy beans, sesame tofu, and several other delicately prepared dishes. The recommended course, Yuki (Snow), includes soup and five separate dishes, followed with a fruit desert. All this for 3000yen (including garden entrance fee). They also have a Tsuki (Moon 5000yen) and Hana (Flower 7000yen) course. Reservation necessary at 075-882-9725.

October 4th
We usually try to learn the language when we go overseas, donft we? I guess itfs very difficult for you to learn Japanese as our language is very unique. Also, there are hundreds of dialects in Japan, so that makes you harderc The local Kyoto dialect is called Kyo kotoba (Kyoto words). During your stay in Kyoto, it can be fun to use these special words when talking to the local people. They will appreciate your efforts. O-kini (thank you), Kan-nin (sorry), Nanbo? (how much?), Kamahen (no problem) etc etcc these are typical Kyoto dialects. Younger people donft usually use them muchcso, try to find older people and talk to them!!!(Risa)

October 5th
The autumn sightseeing season has already come! As you know, Kyoto is one of the most popular tourist cities in Japan. So, lots of people visit here to enjoy the beautiful autumn leaves. But, sightseeing is thirsty work, huh? There are quite a few nice places for a coffee break. I introduce one of them here today. [Shizuka] hasnft been refurbished since it was opened by a retired Geisha in 1938. Once you enter the cafe, you feel as if you were in 1930sc Shizuka, meaning quiet in Japanese, is named after its founder, the former Geisha. It was bought by the parents of the current owner in 1945. It is a small coffee shop where the owner and waitress chat happily with regulars over a cup of coffee. The prices at the coffee shop are pretty reasonable too. (Coffee ? 350yen, Cheese cake ? 300yen) Sizuka is located on the south side of Imadegawa west of Senbon. How about having a rest after visiting Kitano Tenmangu Shrine? You canft miss the name in large letters across the front!!! (Risa)

October 10th
It was a public holiday here in Japan yesterday. [Health and Sports Day] is held annually on the second Monday in October. It exists to promote sports and an active lifestyle.The first Health and Sports Day was held on October 10, 1966, two years after the 1964 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo. October was chosen for the unusually late Summer Olympics to avoid the Japanese rainy season, and the day continues to be one of the fairest days of the year. It used to be on the 10th of October because it was the day when the 1964 Summer Olympics started. As a result of the Happy Monday Seido implemented in 2000, Health and Sports Day was moved to the second Monday in October. As Health and Sports Day is a day to promote sports and physical and mental health, many schools choose this day to hold their annual sports day. This typically consists of a range of physical events ranging from more traditional track-and-field events such as the 100 metres or 4 x 100 metres relay to more uncommon events such as the tug of war and the Mock Cavalry Battle etcc If you find a man with tanned face in their 30s and 40s, he might have attended his childrenfs sports contest. (Risa)

October 11th
Did you know you could stay in a Buddhist temple? If you read the news on Sep. 28th, you should know that. Temple accommodation is called shukubo. Shukubo accommodation may not be as comfortable or convenient as a large hotel or full-service ryokan, but there are other advantages and features that make a night(s) at a temple a great option. One of the attractions of staying in a temple is the access to the exquisite gardens, buildings and settings. This will be a gateway that leads you to the Zen world. Here are a couple of options in Kyoto to considerc

Omuro Kaikan in Ninna-ji Temple
Myoren-ji Temple
Torin-in Temple in Myoshin-ji Temple complex
Wajun Kaikan in Chion-in Temple
Shinnyodo Temple

If you want to know more details about the temples, please let us know. I will give you the detailed information!!! (Risa)

October 13th
Osechi-ryori is traditional Japanese New Yearfs food. Originally, during first three days of the New Year it was a taboo to use a hearth and cook meals, except when cooking Zoni (a soup meal mainly eaten with rice cakes). As women didnft cook in the New Year, osechi was made by New Yearfs Eve. In the earliest days, osechi consisted only of nimono, boiled vegetables with soy sauce and sugar or mirin. Today, osechi may refer to anything prepared specially for the New Year, and some foreign dishes have been adopted as Western-style osechi or as Chinese-style osechi.

October 3rd
When we think of October, I think most Japanese people think of moon viewing. I actually have never really done proper gMoon Viewingh before in my life but I like the idea of admiring the moon. (In Japan, people usually offer sweets, alcohol etc to the moon and view the moon.)The moon viewing day, gChushu no Meigetsuh is usually on August 15th based on lunar-solar calendar which is usually around this time. This year, the moon viewing day is on October 6th! The moon should be either full or close to full and the air is clearest around this time of the year. BUT unfortunately, there is 50 percent chance of rain in Kyoto on the 6th. Well, as long as there is moon you can still party! (Junko)

gbv ACR
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October 16th
How was your weekend? We had lovely autumn weather here in Kyoto. I went to Kurama/Kibune area (the northeastern part of Kyoto city) on Sunday. Actually it was my first time to visit there BY TRAIN, but it was much much nicer than I expected. After I got off the train at Kurama station, I walked up to the Kurama-ji Temple for about 40 minutes. Although the hill was quite steep, I enjoyed the walk very much. I took a little break for lunch, and then I had a chance to listen to one of the monks. It was a really good story. I was on the top of the hill, so I had to walk downcI took the route to Kibune (not back to Kurama) on the way back. It was a typical mountain road, but it was very refreshing to walk in nature. I guess the leaves in the mountain will turn red and yellow in a few weekscso, I want to go back there at the time again! (Risa)


October 17th
One of the attractions in many traditional Japanese gardens and locations is the moss (Koke in Japanese). Saiho-ji Temple located on the west side of Kyoto has 120 kinds of moss, and all of them grow naturally there. The temple is also called [Moss Temple]. If you want to know more details about the temple, please go and check our website;

October 19th
I had a day off the other day. It was such a gorgeous weather that I decided to go to one of my favorite shrines in Kyoto, Kamigamo Shrine. It is located in Kita-ku (North area) by Kamo River. It is such a beautiful shrine with a clear creek running through the shrine compound. Please check the URL below for more details on this shrine:

October 20th
We often use an expression, [Aki no Yonaga], which means [Long autumn night]. Do you have an expression like that too? You know how you realize the sun goes down way too early now and the night is getting longer and longercyes, that is [Aki no Yonaga]! The expression is used like [Get these new books for Aki no Yonaga!!!] or [Rent these newly released DVDfs for Aki no Yonaga!!!]cyes most likely for advertisement. But actually we still have 24 hours a day, and itfs not like we go to bed late nowcso why do they think we suddenly have lots of extra time and are bored? Yes, it gets dark early but it doesnft stop us from having fun, does it? (Junko)

October 23rd
Did you have a good weekend? I went to the oldest cafe [Shinshindo] in Kyoto yesterday. The coffee shop was established in 1930, and it is now managed by the great-grandson of the original owner. It was designed to provide a space in which students and scholars from Kyoto University (only a few seconds away) could meet, talk and study. To this end, the founder, poet Hitoshi Tsuzuki, had the airy interior furnished with large, wooden, picnic tables and benches in the backyard. The tables allowed plenty of space to gather around and talk, spread out work or sleepcActually there were lots of university students (I guess) studying very hard yesterday too. The Shinshindo is located near Hyakumanben intersection in Sakyo-ku. To get there, walk east on the north side of Imadegawa for about a couple of minutes. Ifm pretty sure you can enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere and relax therec (Risa))

October 24th
Lots of my foreign friends say we have too many national holidays in Japan. Well, we do have lots of national holidays because otherwise people just keep working without any breaks! They also say most Japanese people donft know what the holidays are for. Most of my foreign friends in Japan are English conversation teachers, so they often ask their students about national holidays and [according to them] the Japanese students usually donft know what the national holidays are for. I am one of them. I donft know what national holidays are for. All I know is when a date printed in red during weekday on a calendar is coming us soon, I donft have to work. Woohoo!!! But I did my research this time. We have a national holiday coming up in 10 days [Nov. 3rd] and itfs a Culture Day. We are supposed to do something cultural, I guesscbut who cares! We do whatever makes us happy! Oh and I can tell some Japanese people DO know what our national holidays are for. I did a test with my co-workers and they both knew all the national holidays! They are pretty smart. (Junko)

October 25th
Machiya or merchant townhouses are somewhat unique to Kyoto. They are generally narrow at the front and extend way back from the street. Thatfs because taxes were based on the width of the property in the Edo period (1600-1867). We see lots of machiya around our office too. I will introduce one thing about the merchant townhouses today.

October 26th
HMany people think Thanksgiving celebration is for North American countries only, and I have been one of them up until this morning. Well, I just found out that some shrines celebrate Thanksgiving here in Japan too! One of the biggest Thanksgiving celebrations in Japan is going to be held on November 8th at Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine. They build a huge bonfire and burn straw and thank the gods for the harvest. They also burn over 100,000 sticks with wishes written by people all over Japan and pray so all those wishes come true. There are some other similar Thanksgiving celebrations in Kyoto in November, for example there is one on the 7th at Kifune shrine, on the 14th at Imahie Jingu shrine. If you are American or Canadian and you would like to celebrate Thanksgiving in a different way for a changecwhich I doubt because most of you love the food, right?...or if you are neither American or Canadian and never celebrated Thanksgiving, I recommend you to visit one of those shrines here in Kyoto! BUT remember there wonft be any turkey there! (Junko)

October 29th
Have you ever heard of New Seven Wonders? Itfs a proposed revision of the Seven Wonders of the World. In early 2006, NWOC, a Swiss based for-profit corporation released a list of 200 existing monuments chosen from a pool of World Heritage Sites. The list was narrowed to 21 sites. The final list is planned to be announced on July 7th, 2007, in Lisbon, Portugal.

The 21 finalists for the New Seven Wonders of the World, listed alphabetically, are:

- Acropolis of Athens, Athens, Greece - Alhambra, Granada, Spain - Angkor Wat temple, Angkor, Cambodia - Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico - Christ the Redeemer statue, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Colosseum, Rome, Italy - Easter Island statues, Chile - Eiffel Tower, Paris, France - Great Wall of China, China - Hagia Sophia mosque, Istanbul, Turkey - Kyomizu Temple, Kyoto, Japan - Kremlin / St. Basil's Cathedral, Moscow, Russia - Machu Picchu, Peru - Neuschwanstein Castle, Fussen, Germany - Petra ancient city, Jordan - Pyramids of Giza, Egypt - Statue of Liberty, New York, United States - Stonehenge, Amesbury, United Kingdom - Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia - Taj Mahal, Agra, India - Timbuktu, Mali - Petronas Twin Towers, Malaysia

Please note that Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto is one of them! I hope it will be chosen as New Seven Wonders!!!! (Risa)

October 6th
Visitors to Kyoto are lucky because the traditional, unpopulated, idyllic Japanese countryside is so close to the city. In fact, you can get to a number of exquisite rural villages in less than an hour. Pack a lunch, bring your camera, and enjoy the wonders of countryside Japan right here in Kyoto! I will tell you a secret place called [Kumogahata]. The village of Kumogahata (meaning Field of Clouds) at the head of the Kamo River was used as an exclusive imperial hunting area until the end of the last century. Today, the area is truly an outstanding example of ancient Japanese village life and the great outdoors. You can get there in roughly 40 minutes from downtown by bus. As the road ends in Kumogahata, it is always peaceful and not crowded. The area is highly recommended for a half day of walking. The best way to see the area is to take the bus to the end and then walk back through each of the three village areas. The bus will pick you up if you flag it. You will never miss the bus as it comes with music playing! Ifm sure you will have a refreshing experience!!! (Risa)

The dishes that make up osechi each have a special meaning celebrating the New Year ? I will explain to you another time! While it was traditionally prepared at home, it is also sold ready-made in specialty stores, grocery stores, and even convenience stores, such as Seven-ElevencWhy am I talking about the New Yearfs food now??? ? The department stores in Japan have already started selling osechi!!! People can pick it up on December 30th or 31st or they can get it delivered to their own home. (Risa)ere is a nip of autumn in the air especially in the morning and evening. I woke up

Recently, moss balls (Koke-dama in Japanese) have become very popular as a way to have moss in your home or garden. The moss balls are especially popular among young people. There is no doubt that they are looking for an oasis in their urban life. The ball is made of peat and bound very tightly with string. Moss has been grown all over the ball, so it is very green and fresh. Like bonsai, which is known all over the world, the moss balls are small and simple. I think it also has a chance to be worldwide and very popular! Donft you think so? (Risa)

Since this shrine is located in north part of Kyoto, close to mountains, it gets colder a bit earlier than the rest of Kyotocwhich means the autumn leaves start turning red earlier up there. I found this tree by the stream which is starting to look pretty autumnish. Herefs the picture. Although I hate to know the summer is over, it gets me excited to know that many temples, shrines and the mountains will be burning red in no time. (Junko)


[Inu yarai] is a bamboo fence that curves outward to the street from the merchant homes. This device served several purposes: 1) it prevented the machiya earthen or wooden wall from becoming dirty from rain splashing up from the road 2) it was meant to stop dogs from peeing on the wall 3) it kept people from leaning against the wall 4) Inu yarai also made it hard for burglars to climb the wall. If you have a chance to come to Kyoto, you will find a lot of interesting features. (Risa)


October 30th
I will introduce a couple of old cafes in the centre of Kyoto entertainment and shopping district. The names of coffee shops are suggestive of the Japanese peoplefs interest in European culture at the time; [Francois] and [Soiree]. When it opened in 1938, Francois aspired regular customers (Lots of them are artists or thinkers) desiring somewhere to engage in intellectual conversation. With its Italian gothic interior, gorgeous red upholstery and classical music playing in the background, Francois today offers the nostalgic feeling. Just up the cherry tree-lined canal from Francois is Soiree. The name is from the French word for evening. The cafe is dimly lit by softly glowing table lamps and pale-blue concealed lighting. The stained glass lampshades and carved wood interior aim to recreate the ambience of a 19th century French cafe. I introduced quite a few coffee shops in the news on the websitec I hoe you enjoy drinking in the history of Kyoto. And if you happen to find any other nice old coffee shops on your trip here, please let me know! (Risa)

October 31st
Happy Halloween!!!! Have you been having a good Halloween week? I know itfs Halloween only today but we usually have parties on the closest Saturday night here. Also some places have Halloween parties a week earlier or later so they can get more peoplecwhich means you can wear your costume and go partying more than once! I donft know how it works in other countries but it's a great idea, isnft it?
When I was little, no one really knew what Halloween was. You never saw any pumpkin or ghost decorations at any stores. I think Halloween got pretty big in the last several years. Lots of kids now know what Halloween is because they learn about it in their English conversation classes. Now we see pumpkins everywhereccafes, book stores, department stores etccbut they usually are fake pumpkins, and they usually are the cute ones. If you want to buy one of those huge orange pumpkins herecit would be SCARY EXPENSIVE! (Junko)