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For the new departure of Life In Kyoto

eMaiko robo, Miyabi-chanf and her dogeMarof

eMaiko robo, Miyabi-chanf and her dogeMarof

Life In Kyoto, a publication which provides information and news to foreign residents in Kyoto, is back again after a six month hiatus.

We, the new staff members of Life In Kyoto, will continue to introduce a REAL Kyoto to foreigners here to study, work, and live, with useful information for daily life, as well as columns to understand more about Kyoto and Japan.

Watch for regular issues navigated by our mascots, Robo-Maiko, Miyabi-chan and her dog Maro. We hope you enjoy the new eLife In Kyotof!

- the editors of Life In Kyoto

*Life In Kyoto is distributed free of charge at universities, Japanese Language schools, foreign student dormitories, and restaurants throughout Kyoto City. It is published every other month (on even months) both in English and Japanese.

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Hinamatsuri on March 3rd

Hina Dolls

Hina Dolls

ôLet us light the lanterns
ôLet us decorate with peach blossoms
ôLet us listen to five court musicians playing flutes and drums.
ôToday is a joyous day, Hinamatsuri

Hinamatsuri is a special festival for girls.
Families with a girl display beautiful Japanese dolls, as you can see in this picture. This song shows how it is like to decorate the display.
When I was little, I used to visit friends, and was fascinated by the dolls. Each home has its original display with different sizes and shapes. They were so expensive and fragile, so we were often scolded by adults when we touched them too much!
My interest, however, soon moved on to ghina arareh from the dolls. It is a special snack eaten on this day.

Japan has a various kinds of annual events in each season, and among other things, Hinamatsuri is one of the oldest festivals with 1,000 year history.
It is said that this festival originated in an event to wish for childrenfs health and safety, and in a kind of dolls game, which was popular among ladies in court.
The dolls are put away soon after the festival, because it is said that a daughterfs marriage will be delayed if you leave them out for a long time.

There are many Hinamatsuri events held in Kyoto. I would like to recommend that you visit Hokyoji temple, known as gDolls Templeh. You can enjoy glamorous festival with Hinamatsuri dolls on every March 1st. You can reach the temple by city bus at Horikawa teranouchi bus stop. Other popular events are held in Shimogamo shrine and Kamigamo shirine.


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Here comes the spring, the moving season. Before you start to look for a new roomc

Here is useful information, especially for students.

First of all, there are four options you can take to ask for support.

1. Co-op store or Student Office at your university or college.

  • Kyoto City International Foundation
  • Real estate agency

I would like to recommend that you use public organizations or universities, because they provide not only the information of rooms, but also advice for apartment hunting.

Next, you should note the following points regarding the cost.

  • Shikikin (Security deposit)

Repair cost is deducted form this deposit, and the rest is refunded when you leave the apartment.To get as much amount as possible, keep your room clean, and do not make any holes on the wall or the floor!Some apartments have a system called Shikibiki: The deducted amount is fixed at the beginning.For example, in case Shikikin is 200,000 yen and Shikibiki is 120,000 yen, 80,000 yen is refunded when you leave.(The amount can become less depending on the room condition.)

  • Reikin (Key money)

Please note this money is not reimbursed.

3.Koshinryo (Renewal charge)

This is charged every time when you renew a contract.Do not forget to confirm the period of your contract. If the period is short, you often have to pay.

  • Tesuryo (Commission fee)

This fee is charged when you use real estate agency to make a contract.

Each of Shikikin, Reikin, and Koshinryo is generally equivalent to twice or three months rent.However, the price varies according to accommodations, and you can find some apartments you do not need any Shikikinn or Reikin.Tesuryo is approximately equivalent to half to one month rent if you use a real estate.Universities or co-op stores may have discount.

To find a good accommodation, it is essential to collect information effectively.I would like to recommend students to visit a student office at your university first.I hope you will find an accommodation that will suit you.

- TAUE Tomoya

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My Favorite Kyoto

This corner is prepared for the series of readersf messages with the theme above.
The editor waits for the residents of Kyoto to join here by sending any message so that we can introduce it in this L.I.K.

Among the cities I have lived, Kyoto is definitely my favorite. The city is not very large, but you can experience many aspects of Japanese culture here. You can experience the traditional and peaceful side of Japan. There are many famous temples around Kyoto. I especially like Kiomizudera and the temples around Higashiyama area. That place is traditional, unique and elegant. Walking along the street in that area, it feels like I am walking in a Japanese street hundred years ago. I still remember the time when I visited a temple near Higashiyama at night to see the red leaves. The red leaves were beautiful, but the Japanese garden was more impressive. There was a pond inside the garden which you can see the reflection of trees and lights from the surface of the pond. It looked like I was flying above the trees and the dark sky. The scene was so beautiful that it cannot be explained purely in words.

On the other hand, you can easily access to the modern and exciting side of Japan. Shijo is the shopping center of the city. This shopping center is not as crowd as Osakafs, and interestingly you can see some Jinja (Japanese temple) in between shops. I went to the biggest sales in Japan on January 2nd. Most of the shops were having 30% ? 50% discount. The price is very attractive given the quality and the style of Japanese clothes. The interesting thing is you can buy a Fuku Bukuro (lucky bag) from your favorite shops. To celebrate New Year, shops put different things in a bag and sell it for 5000 yen or 10000 yen each. Usually you donft know what is in the bag, but if you like the shop you will get good bargain and stuffs that suit your taste. This is the coolest shopping day ever in Japan.

-Siu Ha Yipifrom Hong Kongj

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Let's take a look at how to save a few yen when moving homes

@Moving into a new apartment can markedly improve your daily life; let's take a look at how to save a few yen when moving homes.

@A year and a half ago, upon moving into a typically unfurnished apartment--a 1DK with a bathroom light, an entrance light, and a sink--I had to buy furnishings in short order. Although I had never undertaken such an endeavor, I at least had the wisdom to get a list of recycle shops from the city's international center. Truth be told, I did lose 20,000 yen to a nearby, family run shop for a suspiciously Spartan mattress and futon package deal (I had to sleep on something, right?), but after that it was straight to the recycle shops for smart buying. Or so I thought.

When thinking about what you need, you'll also want to consider how long you plan on owning it. If you need furniture and appliances for only a year or two, a recycle shop is almost certainly the way to go. I found it best to check a few shops, and then buy everything I needed, in one purchase (and delivery), from one shop. By doing that, you'll pay for delivery only once, as well as save yourself the trouble of excess backtracking. Naturally, depending on time, convenience, cost, et cetera, you may want to modify this strategy.

Another source of items, possibly better suited for shorter time periods, are the for-sale message boards at local international centers as well as on the Internet (for example, Gaijinpot ( and Kansai Flea Market ( Using any of these services will eliminate the middlemen, but of course those middlemen have delivery trucks--another factor to consider.

While I was fairly fortunate in my recycling shop search--I got a trooper of a microwave that's reheated countless batches of curry, as well as other items that have given good service--I have to wonder what might have been had I bought some new items. A cursory look around any home center or home appliance store will expose you to refrigerators, gas ranges, and washing machines that are impractically large and expensive for a single person who'll be in the country for less than 10 years. However, a closer look at those shops might reveal a few diamonds in the rough, or at least some affordable gear amongst the industrial grade equipment priced like diamonds.

In the Kyoto area, you can look for appliance centers like Midori Denki, Joshin Denki, and Yamada Denki. The best way to find the deals at any of these large shops is to take a look at their current flyer ("chirashi" in Japanese). You can find this with the newspaper on some days of the week, although it's probably best to look at each store's entrance (or just ask at a counter). The flyers are full of pictures, so even if your language abilities aren't so strong, you'll be able to see what's on sale. Have a look at those washing machines and refrigerators; some will be only slightly more expensive than something you might find at a recycle shop, but this stuff is new! Also, you may see something next to the items picture that says 'haitatsu / settingu muryou.' That's delivery and setup FREE. When it comes to the large items, as well as the hard to install units (air conditioners), that's a nice service.

So, when outfitting a bare apartment, ask at your local international center for information about recycle centers. But, don't forget about the larger shops selling new stuff. They might have what you're looking for, shiny and new, at an attractive price.


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Hot Word Here we introduce recent words of topic in Japan

WARM BIZ:@gA smart and comfortable business style, that doesnft rely too much on heating equipment.h

This is the campaign to stop global warming that not only the Japanese government, but also Japanese corporations are promoting, to work at the office comfortably without relying too much on the heater in winter. By turning down the heater 1-2 degrees in all of the offices, it is a humongous cut for energy and expenses.
If you wear one more item of clothing, or wear warmer clothes, it is possible to lower 1-2 degrees.
Last summer, the same sort of campaign called COOL BIZ had been carried out. This campaign dictated that it is okay to wear cool clothes and no-necktie at business occasions. It is clear that we cannot ignore environmental issues anymore.

- OKAJIMA Chikako

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Wild Birds of Kamogawa


Black-headed Gull

Kamogawa is the principal river which flows through the center of Kyoto.

Along the banks of the river can be seen people who are fishing, cycling, walking, bird watching, exercising the dog or romancing.

Although it is a wide river it has a relatively low volume of water with islands particularly of tall grass.
Clarity of water enables walkers to see the many fish from the bridges.
Also, a lot of wild birds are observed living on and around Kamogawa.
Herons and egrets are both seen watching for unsuspecting fish to catch while many ducks, including the Spot-billed Ducks, frolic happily with each other.
In the winter time Black-headed Gulls migrate to this river from foreign countries.
Kamogawa warmly invites all visitors to share in its enjoyments, especially that of bird watching.

- Yosuke Suzuki

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Event Information

Kyoto Cooking Circle International Exchange by Japanese Dish Recipe

February gNishiki Market Tour g

Feb. 14th(Tues.)/Feb. 18th (sat.) 11:00-14:00
The same program on both dates.

March gLetfs enjoy Japanese Doll Festival!h

March gLetfs enjoy Japanese Doll Festival!h
Mar. 7th (Tues.)/Mar. 12th(Sun.). 11:00-14:00
The same program on both dates.

Place: Wings Kyoto 2F
Participation Fee: Japanese 1,500 yen / Foreigners 1,000 yen (each day respectively)
Contact:075-712-5680(Ms. TOMIMOTO)

The World Cooking Class

Welcome to Kyoto& Kyotofs Dish for Spring Recipe

Mar. 21st (Tues. National Holiday)
Place: Wings Kyoto 2F
Participation Fee: 300yen
Capacity: Foreigner and Japanese 15(respectively)
Reservation needed
Contact: 075-571-0847(Ms. MURASE)

This class welcomes anyone to join for introducing her or his countryfs home cooking recipe.

International Culture Exchange Volunteers Group

Letfs get together for Kamogawa Club! Kyotofs Miso & Japanese sweets

Feb. 22nd (Wed.) 9:30-1130 Visiting Ishino Miso Company
Mar. 11th(Sat.) 9:45-11:45 Kogetsu (Japanese Sweets Company)
Participation Fee: Foreign Residents or Visitors: Free for the both events
Japanese: Feb.22nd 500yen/ Mar. 11th 1,500yen( Incl. souvenir)

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Notice Board

About event information

@ Dates and details of events may change without notice. Please confirm to the contact number when they are appeared.

A message from the editing staff

Your suggestions are highly valued. If you have any requests or recommendations for our publication, please let us know!

Volunteers wanted!

All the editing and translating work of L.I.K are done by volunteers. We are looking for more volunteers who can interview and write, as well as native speakers who can translate and edit the English.

The Life In Kyoto editing staff welcomes your opinion and requests. E-mail:

Useful LINKs (K.I.C.H.)

*Multilingual information for daily life in Kyoto
  Easy Living In Kyoto
*Medical handbook
*Letfs study Japanese!

*Notice board for information exchange.
  Goods for sale/wanted, language exchange, looking for friends, etcc
  • Multilingual information magazines published by Kyoto City International Foundation are given out free of charge to the foreigners at KICH.
  • Kyoto Life Map eGUIDE TO KYOTOf (400yen) is also published and much loved!
    -Very useful map with the index of main public institutions, schools etcc

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Designed by Yukie Mizoi (HP Volunteer)