Kyoto Interview Series  
     In August of 2003, the Halal Foods Shop "Dolphin" opened in the Tanaka area of Sakyo Ward. Halal literally means "permitted by god", and indicates specially prepared foods that are eaten by people of the Muslim faith. This month we interviewed Dolphin's Iranian founder, Mohammad Touraj Khoshnejad.
  Q:How old are you now, and how big is your family?
  A:I'm thirty two years old, and I have a four year old daughter with my Japanese wife.
  Q: When and why did you come to Japan for the first time?
  A: I came to Japan with ten other Iranians when I was 21 years old (12 years ago) to work at an construction company in Gunma Prefecture. I worked constructing plastic greenhouses for horticultural use. At that time I didn't speak any Japanese, I was just working hard to earn money.
  Q: When did you come to Kyoto?
  A: I lived in Gunma for nine months, and then came to Kyoto. I worked at a poultry shop for two weeks before finding a job at a meat shop. At that point, I was able to speak Japanese a little better.
  Q: You are the owner of this shop, correct?
  A: That's right.
  Q: What are the hours?
  A: I open the shop from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. After that, I deliver orders until 11:00 pm.
  Q: Why is the shop operated so late in the evening?
  A: I work at another meat shop from seven in the morning until six at night. I open my own shop after finishing work.
  Q: Do you know of any other Halal shops in Japan?
  A: There are a few shops in Osaka and Kobe, as well as others in Nagoya and Tokyo. But generally speaking, the numbers are few.
  Q: Can you explain to us what Halal foods are?
  A: Halal foods are permitted foods determined by the tenets of Islam. We may only eat animals that have been slaughtered by having their throats cut. Pork is a forbidden meat, and we may only eat fish that have scales, therefore fish like unagi (eel) are off-limits.
  Q: Where do you obtain your Halal meat?
  A: Lamb and beef is imported from Brazil or Austrailia. As long as the butcher prepares the meat according to the Islamic custom, it does not matter whether or not the butcher himself is Muslim, so the meat can be prepared there and then shipped to Japan. Even in Iran, we had the same system of importing meat. Other than meat, I import canned goods and processed foods from Islamic countries.
  Q: Are most of your customers Muslim?
  A: Yes. There are many Universities in Sakyo Ward, so a lot of Muslim exchange students come in. I would say these exchange students make up the bulk of my customers.
  Q: Are there many Iranians living in Kyoto?
  A: There are about thirty of us. Of course, they frequently come into to my shop, and sometimes we get together to eat Persian food.
  Q: Do you have customers who are not Muslim?
  A: We do, but they tend to be fewer in number. I would love it if more of these people came in. Muslim people can't eat the food that is sold in general supermarkets, but most people can eat Halal food, whether they are Muslim or not. It's the same kind of meat that you eat everyday. I welcome new customers to come in and give Halal food a try!
  Q: Do you run the shop by yourself?
  A: I am the sole owner of the shop, but my wife comes in two or three times a week to help out. I am very thankful that my wife is willing to prepare my meals and wait until I come home since I work from early in the morning until late at night.
  Q: How did you obtain your own Halal food before opening this shop?
  A: Because I worked at a meat shop, I had connections that allowed me to obtain Halal meat. Other people would order the meat from Tokyo, but it was necessary to buy a large quantity in bulk from the distributor. Therefore, I decided to open a Halal meat shop in Kyoto, so that customers would be able to buy only the amount they needed for themselves.
  Q: What did you do before coming to Japan?
  A: I was a Karate Instructor in Teheran. It was through Karate that I developed an interest in Japan. At the time, I thought that all Japanese people did Karate.
  Q: Do you still do Karate now that you've come to Japan?
  A: Yes. I've participated in Karate competitions in Japan.
  Q: Your Japanese ability is excellent. How did you go about learning Japanese?
  A: I picked it up naturally. I can read hiragana and katakana, as well as the kanji that are necessary for my job. When there's something I don't understand, I ask my wife or friends. Because we speak Japanese at home, my daughter's Japanese ability is better than her Persian. We plan to enroll her at a regular Japanese school.
  Q: Do you plan to stay in Kyoto in the future?
  A: Yes. If something happened that I was unable to live in Japan I would return to Iran if necessary. My life would be easier in Iran, but my wife would have difficulty living there, I think. Therefore, I would do everything within my power to stay in Japan.
  Q: Has there been anything you've found unpleasant about living in Kyoto?
  A: Not at all. My wife, friends and coworkers have always been extremely helpful.
  Q: Do you have difficulty finding the time to do your prayers?
  A: It's fine. My coworkers understand my situation and will cover for me while I do my prayers.
  Q: What has been the best thing about your life in Japan?
  A: My wife and family, and success in my work.
  Q: How do you like to spend your spare time?
  A: Martial Arts. I also play Futsal (Five-a-side). The Iranian team is ranked fourth in the Kansai area.
  Q: What are the major differences between Japanese and Iranian people? Is there anything you consider to be strange about Japanese people?
  A: I don't consider Japanese people to be strange. Of course, there are differences based on culture and religion. Japanese people and Iranians simply have different ways of viewing things.
  Q: Do you have any advice for Muslim exchange students living in Kyoto?
  A: Even though you are living in a foreign country, it's important to hold on to your identity. Take pride in your religion and customs instead of being ashamed of them, and work hard at your studies.
  Q: What are your dreams for the future?
  A: I try not to worry about the future. I'm devoting all of my energy to the present. It's important to make a serious effort while you are young.
  Q: Are you glad you came to Japan?
  A: Yes!

   Shortly after this interview took place, a major earthquake ocurred in Iran. More than 40,000 people died as a result. Many historical stone buildings, dating back as far as 3,000 years were destroyed. Many of Mohammad's friends suffered as a result of this earthquake, and we were concerned for his wellbeing in this cold season. When we recently visited Mohamad, we were able to sense the impact of this disaster in a far off country very close at hand. We can only pray for the souls of those departed, and for the futures of those who remain. Contributions can be made to the Iranian earthquake survivor's fund at the Kyoto International Community House.
-Interview by S. Onda and M. Amanuma / Translation by B. Jarvis
   Dolphin Imported and Halal Foods is located at Sakyo-Ku, Tanaka Nishiokubocho 14-1 2F
  (see map below)
  Tel./Fax: 075-703-3562

Kyoto Wagashi Series
February: Goshikimame

  "Fuku wa uchi, oni wa soto!! (Happiness in, Devils out!!)" You may hear people shouting this slogan on Setsubun (節分), a holiday which falls on February 3rd this year (the day before the first day of spring according to the Japanese lunar calendar). Setsubun is a major festival held throughout Japan, which celebrates the coming of spring. During the Edo period, people would throw beans while shouting "Fuku wa uchi, Oni wa soto," to encourage good luck, and this rite has continued to be popular in modern times. Beans are believed to be effective in protecting against evil spirits, so many people will throw beans inside their houses hoping to be protected from bad luck. In Kyoto, you may see the bean-throwing ceremony at Yasaka shrine(八坂神社), Mibu temple(壬生寺), Yoshida shrine (吉田神社), and other temples and shrines. Some shrines will invite celebrities to come throw beans. In Kyoto, you can see maiko san(舞妓さん:trainee geisha) throw beans at Yasaka shrine, which is fun to watch.Most people throw dried soybeans during Setsubun, which are delicious to eat as well as throw. However, there is a more sophisticated type sweet made with beans called goshikimame(五色豆: five colored beans), available year-round, that is this Kyotoite's all-time favorite delicacy!
  Goshikimame is a simple confection made from beans (specifically dried snap peas), that have been coated with colored sugar. Goshikimame are made in five traditional colors that represent the elements of the earth: blue (: trees), red (: fire), yellow (: earth), white (:gold), and black (水:water). This set of colors has been considered auspicious since early times, and was often used in connection with holy events. (However, green dye is used in place of blue, and brown in place of black when you see the actual goshikimame).Despite their simple structure, it takes approximately ten days to make goshikimame. Peas of the correct size and shape are carefully selected and soaked in water for three days. The softened peas are then roasted over a low heat. The candy maker must take care to ensure that the peas don't get burnt. The roasted peas are then left to cool for one day. The roasted peas are once again sorted by hand in order to select the ones with the best size and shape. Although this requires a lot of effort, it must be done with great care, otherwise the goshikimame will not be the same size when the process is completed. Finally, peas are repeatedly dipped in simmering sugar syrup. The peas are coated with sugar five times over the course of five days, and grow as big as 10mm in diameter.Thus, Goshikimame can be considered a simple but very elaborate work of art.
   Goshikimame are not only beautiful and delicious, but also nutritious, since the beans they are made from are a valuable source of protein.
-Nobuyo Kawaguchi
Kansai Onsen Guide 
  There's almost no better way of keeping warm in Winter than taking a hot bath. Since many traditional Machiya-style houses lack proper bathrooms, many neighborhoods in Kyoto have sento, or public bathhouses. For \350 you can dip in a variety of hot and cold baths, and maybe even steam in a sauna. If you'd like to relax in style, head for an onsen, a natural hot springs bath. Onsen tend to be more expensive than sento, but feature natural mineral water which is good for soothing a wide variety of aches and pains. Here are some recommendations for onsen in the Kansai region. -B. Jarvis
  Onsen Etiquette: Things to Know Before You Go

  1. Some onsen will provide soap and towels for free, but in many cases you will need to bring your own, or rent/buy them from the onsen.
  2. It is important to wash yourself thoroughly with soap and water before entering the baths, in order not to pollute the water that is shared by many people. Most onsen will have shower stations where you can do this.
  3. You can use a small washcloth to cover up with when you exit the baths, wrap your hair in, sit on in the sauna, etc. but you should never put your wash cloth in the onsen water, or dunk your head under the water.
  3. Be careful not to splash your neighbors when you wash your hair and body.
  4. Because the water in the onsen is very hot, be careful not to soak too long or you may feel sick. It helps to bring a bottle of water to re-hydrate yourself, as well as occasionally rinsing with cool water (some onsen will have a cold bath you can soak in after using the sauna).
  5. Dry off using a towel before entering the dressing room.
  6. Deposit any valuables in a locker in the dressing room.
  7. Be aware that some onsen may refuse entrance to customers with tattoos.
-M. Amanuma
 Yurara-No-Yu Super Sento / ゆららの湯
  There is a new kind of public bathhouse called a "Super Sento" that has recently gained popularity amongst people of all ages. A typical "Super Sento" provides many varieties of baths, including open-air rotenburo, jacuzzis and saunas. The admission is usually around \500-\700, not much more expensive than a traditional sento. Typically, "Super Sento" also provide spacious lounge areas with restaurants and parking lots. Therefore, many customers view "Super Sento" as easily accessible, inexpensive leisure facilities where they can refresh themselves and relax over a mug of beer or a light meal. Many of the rotenburo (open-air baths) feature water from natural hot springs, while others use water that has been chemically treated to rival onsen water. Yurara-No-Yu is an excellent "Super Sento" in Nara City, and would be a great way to refresh yourself after spending a day touring Todaiji Temple, the National Museum, and the Nara Deer Park. Keep an eye out for "Super Sento" in Kyoto as well.
  Yurara-No-Yu features a wide variety of baths, including a strong jet bath, a seasonal bath, jacuzzis, a negative ion bath, and even a bath with a (harmless) mild electrical current. There are also three different kinds of saunas, including infrared ray and mist saunas. The outdoor rotenburo onsen contains various mineral elements and is reputed to be effective for soothing fatigue, nerve/ joint/ muscle pains, cuts, burns, poor circulation, chronic skin disease, etc. Soap, shampoo and hair dryers are provided free of charge, and there is a rest area on the second floor where customers can relax free of charge, as well as a beauty salon. Admission is paid at a ticket vending machine near the entrance, where small towels and other amenities can also be purchased. Renting a locker requires a \100 coin, but the money will be returned when you open the locker again. Massage and akasuri body scrubbing are available for an additional fee.
  You can also purchase special discount ticket books (\6,500 for 11 coupons) or pay \200 to become a member which will entitle you to special discounts on admission, towel purchase, and food.
  Open: All year round, 10:00a.m.-2:00a.m.(weekdays), 9:00a.m.-2:00a.m.(weekends & national holidays)
  Admission: \650 (weekdays), \700 (weekends & national holidays), \500 (the 3rd Wed. of the month)
  Access: 14min. by bus from Kintetsu Line Nara Stn.(近鉄奈良駅). Take a bus bound for Koinokubo (恋の窪行き) at the #12 bus stop and get off at Daianji-nishi-nichome (大安寺西ニ丁目). You can't miss the facility. (Please note that only two or three buses run per hour). Spacious free parking is also available.
  Inquiries: 0742-30-1126
  -H. Fukuoka
  Yase Kamaburo Onsen Furusato / 八瀬かまぶろふるさと
  Kamaburo (literally "kiln bath") is a kind of dome-shaped sauna that has a steam bath inside. The legend of kamaburo in Yase dates back nearly 1,300 years when a kamaburo was used to heal the battle wounds of an Imperial Prince. The kamaburo is heated to a lower temperature than a typical sauna. The steam releases the scent of green leaves, while you lie on straw mats that have been placed on the floor of the sauna for a relaxing experience. Kamaburo are believed to help cure stiff shoulders,hangovers, rheumatism and neuralgia.
  Access: This onsen is located at 239 Konoe-cho Yase Sakyo-ku Kyoto. You can take the J.R.Kyoto bus bound for Yase Ohara to the Furusatomae bus stop. The onsen is a two minute walk from there. Parking is available.
  Hours: 11:00-17:00 (lunch available until 15:00)
  Inquiries: 075-791-4126 It may be a good idea to call ahead since the onsen does not have a set schedule
  Admission: \1,500 (children \1,000) bath towel rental is \100
-I. Hashimoto
 Kurama Onsen Horokuyu / 鞍馬温泉
  Kurama Onsen is located within a beautiful river ravine and is very quiet and comfortable. The train ride to Kurama Onsen from Demachiyanagi Station (Eizan Line) is a wonderful experience in itself. This is a natural sulfur onsen is known as the "hot spring of health and beauty". There are separate indoor and outdoor hot spring baths for men and women. The water is believed to help heal neuralgia, rheumatism, diabetes, lumbago, etc.
  Access: Kurama Onsen is located at 520 Kurama Honmachi, Sakyo-Ku, Kyoto-Shi. Take the Keihan train or bus 16, 17, 21, 23, 41 or 43 to Demachiyanagi Station, exit 7. Transfer to the Eizan train line and get off at Kurama Station. It costs \410 to ride the train and takes 29 minutes. Once you've arrived at Kurama, you can walk 500 meters down the village road to the onsen, or take a free shuttle bus from the station.
  Admission: One Day Course \2,500 (Children \1,600) 10:00-21:00
  You can use both indoor and outdoor baths and a lounge. Towels and yukata (cotton kimono) can be used free of charge.
  Outdoor Hot Spring Course \1,100 (Child \700) 10:00-21:00 (until 20:00 in winter season). This course allows you to use the outdoor hot spring only and buy a towel for \200 if needed. A locker can be rented for \100.
  The spa can also be rented for enkai parties. Other facilities include a restaurant, tea lounge and gift shop. There are also nearby hiking trails that lead to Kibune Shrine and Kurama Temple.
  Inquiries: 075-741-2131
-H. Chung
 Arima Onsen / 有馬温泉
  Arima Onsen is one of the oldest and most famous hot springs in Japan, dating back to the 7th century. It has two public baths, Kin-No-Yu (金の湯) and Gin-No-Yu (銀の湯). The water is said to help neuralgia, muscle pains, arthralgia, bad circulation, bruises, etc.
  Access: Arima Onsen is located in Arima-cho, Kita-ku, Kobe City神戸市北区有馬町.You can take the Kobe Dentetsu line to Arima Onsen Station or the Rokko Arima Ropeway to Arima-Station.
  Admission: Kin-No-Yu \650 (Children \340), Gin-No-Yu \550 (Children \290)
  Open: Kin-No-Yu 8:00-22:00 Closed on the second and the fourth Tuesday of the month Gin-No-Yu 9:00 -21:00 Closed on the first and the third Tuesday of the month
  Inquiries: Kin-No Yu 078-904-0680/Gin-No-Yu 078-904-0256
  Note: You can get special discount ticket for Arima Onsen between Feb. 18 and March 31 at Hankyu Station service centers. The \2,500 price includes round trip transportation and onsen entrance fees. For further information, call the Hankyu Dentetsu Umeda telephone center in Japanese (06-6373-5290).
-M. Amanuma
 Kyoto Take-No-Sato Onsen / 京都竹の郷温泉
  This onsen features 42.5 degrees celsius weak alkali spring water that gushes out at a rate of 142 liters per minute. This water is effective for soothing neuralgia, muscle pains, arthralgia, bad circulation, etc. The clean, spacious atmosphere of this bath house is very relaxing and homelike. There are ten types of bath including a whirlpool, open air rotenburo, sauna, cold water bath, utaseyu (waterfall), and kisetsuyu (seasonal herb bath). Additional facilities include hotel accomodations, restaurant, tea lounge, and bowling alley (additional charge). There are many natural attractions in the surrounding area, including Chikurin Bamboo Park and Hana-No-Tera temple.
  Access: This onsen is located at Hotel Kyoto Eminence,2-4 Oharano Higashi Sakaidani cho, Nishikyo ku ホテル 京都エミナース 西京区大原野東境谷町2−4, near the Sakaidani Ohashi Bus Stop. You can get there the following ways: 13 minutes by City Bus Nishi 1,2,and 5 from Hankyu Katsura Station (\230), 7 minutes by City Bus Nishi 4 or Yasaka Bus from Hankyu Rakusaiguchi Station(\230), 15 minutes by Yasaka Bus from JR Muko Station(\230)
  Admission: weekdays: \800 (children \500), holidays: \1,000 (children \600). Rental towels are \150. A \200 membership card will entitle you to a special discount.
  Open: 10:30-22:00 (you can enter until 21:30)
  Inquiries: 075-332-5800.
-Y. Matsuda
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