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Kurama onsen

Kurama onsen

Kurama onsen

Winter season is coming. Taking into account the relatively colder weather in Kyoto as in the old saying gKyo no sokobieh, why donft you go to an onsen ? natural hot springs? Taking a bath in a spectacular atmosphere surely makes you feel less tired, relaxed.

In Kyoto, Kurama onsen is one of the most accessible hot springs. About 30 minutes ride on the Eizan railway from Demachi-yanagi station takes you to Kurama area, where you appreciate refreshed air in the mountain. From the Kurama station, you can get in a courtesy bus for free or walk for 10 minutes along the Kurama River to reach the hot spring. So it takes less than one hour from the center of Kyoto city, which is one of the pros of drawing people who visit here after a dayfs work.

An outdoor bath, Horoku Yu, can be used with 1,100 yen per person. Donft forget to bring your towel. You can enjoy the natural hot sulfur spring with approaching scenery of the mountains with Japanese cedars rising side by side in front of your eyes. In autumn, you can enjoy the excellent contrast of red leaves such as maple tree and ginkgo tree with evergreen kitayama cedars, and in winter, the tranquil view of powder snow on the cedars. In this way, you can spend luxurious time taking a bath with seasonal changes in the scenery.

soujyou ga tani

soujyou ga tani

When time permits, you should visit Kurama temple. Passing through Nio mon (the main gate), it is about one kilometer to reach Hondo Kondo (the main building) by going up a long slope. Tsuzura ori (along the slope) is cited in a famous classical essay gMakura no soushih, written by Seisho nagon, as one of the examples which seems closer but is far indeed. So it might be tough hiking, but a beautiful view of Mt. Hiei will be waiting for you. Going further toward Oku no in, there is a soujyou ga tani, where Ushiwakamaru (childhood name of Yoshitsune) was said to practice with tengu. Walking through the kinone michi, you are sure to be in awe of nature.

- IMAHARA Hiroaki

Kurama Spa Hourokuyu
Address: Kurama-honmachi 520, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 601-1111
Access: Eizan Electric Railway Kurama line from Demachi-yanagi st. to Kurama st.
Tel: 075-741-2131, URL:
Open from 10:00 ~ 21:00 (Outdoor pool is closed at 20:00 in winter), seven days a week

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How to Use a Discount-ticket Shop
`Many a little makes a miracle.`

There are a lot of ways to save your money. Do you know a gdiscount-ticket shop?h Making use of the shop is one of the good ways.

The shop has many kinds of discount-tickets such as tickets for the JR and private railways, airplane tickets, concert tickets, book coupons, phone cards, gift coupons, QUO cards, beer gift coupons and so on. You can get a ticket at 95~98 % of the price. In particular when you go on a trip, you will find it economical to buy tickets at a discount-ticket shop. When you buy a bullet train ticket to Tokyo from Kyoto, for example, you can save about 700 yen.

You can also change yens for dollars, won, euros, and yuans and vice versa. When changing money at the shop you often save a part of the service charge. In addition, you can sell needless tickets and coupons to the shop. You should make good use of a discount-ticket shop. You may save a lot of money. It is important to check the exchange rate by Internet because it varies from one shop to another.

- TANIO Misa

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Flavor of winter Kyoto

As the New Year approaches, people in Kyoto are excited in anticipation of eating gKaburah (a kind of turnip), a typical winter vegetable that becomes more and more delicious as the days get colder. Often enough, the delicate and elegant flavor of gKaburah, when served as tsukemono (Е), or pickles, which are sometimes in the form of Senmaizukei疇, meaning thousand sliced pickles) or as a hot dish, appeal to onefs taste buds. Especially popular among the younger generation are the white, crunchy, and somehow sweet gSenmaizukeh.The well-fermented gSugukihi_s), with its acidic flavor is made from a different kind of turnip and particularly beloved among the elder people.

Among Kyotofs traditional vegetables, which have recently become more popular, in a sense as fashionable, gKaburah and gKamonasuh (eggplant) have been cultivated mainly in Kamigamo area.Most famous is the white root of gShogoin Kaburah, that is sometimes as large as a manfs head.

In order to make gSenmaizukeh, you take a large peeled root of gShogoin Kaburah and slice it up thinly. And then press the slices with salt under the weight of heavy stones and add Kombu (z), rice wine vinegar, mirin and koji. The slightly fermented product has mild flavors of acidity and sweetness but still retains the original texture of gKaburah.

As a hot dish of gKaburah, gKaburamushih (steamed Kabura) may be the most unique. Peeled root of gShogoin Kaburah is grated and put over small pieces of fish or chicken, gKamabokoh, gNamafuh, ginko nut etc. in a bowl and then steamed. A well-reduced sauce is poured over it and it is served hot.

Why donft you come here and enjoy the taste of delicious gtsukemonoh?

-FUJII Tatsuzo
-translated by Jamie RAVETZ & NARITA Saburo

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Hatsumoude ? New years in Japan

gHatsuh means first in Japanese.Hatsumoude means the years first visit to a shrine or a temple.

1.Yasaka shrine ? Crowded with visitors especially during hatsumoude around inside of the shrine on to Shijo-dori. A lot of famous temples such as Kiyomizu and Chion-in are nearby so that you can visit them at the same time. If you plan hatsumoude on Ohmisoka (at the end of the last year), donft miss a chance to experience okera-mairi, where people can see and bring sacred fire to their home for cooking purpose.

2.Fushimi Inari taisha ? One of the most famous shrines in the Kansai district, which drew approximately 2.69 million visitors in 2006 during Sanganichi (January 1st~3rd). The famous Senbon-torii (a thousand of gates forming a line) is like a bright red tunnel that is so impressive that visitors are sure to feel sacred atmosphere.

3.Kamigamo shrine ? Famous for being registered as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site. There is a special event on January 7th called Hakuba-souranshinji*, where we can enjoy a ravishing look at a shinme (white horse for god).

*Based on the imperial ceremony originated from the fable; if we see a white horse at the beginnig of the year, we can free ourselves of evil spirits.

- ITOU Hidetoshi
-translated by IMAHARA Hiroaki

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Kyoto Expert Certification
Formally known as Kyoto Tourism and Culture Examination.

Kyoto Expert Certification tests one's knowledge concerning Kyoto's history and culture.The test is offered in three levels, level 1 being the highest.There are no restrictions concerning the nationality of examinees, although the test is offered only in Japanese.Also, there is a fee to register for the examination.If you're interested in Kyoto, why don't you test your knowledge of the city's heritage?Those who pass might know even more than Kyoto natives!

"Kyoto Tourism and History Examination" and "Kyoto Expert Certification" are registered trademarks of the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Kyoto Tourism and Culture Examination is sponsored by the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry.More information is available at:

-translated by Chris SCHIMOLER

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Series: My favorite Kyoto

The Skill and Spirit of the Craftsman - A Report from Nishijin's Fabric Workshops


To report on this 12th Annual Nishijin Yume Matsuri, we've sent Ms.Chen, a native of China, because of her interest in traditional Japanese culture.It's usually difficult to get a behind-the-scenes look at what happens at this event, held this year from October 20th to the 22nd.But, she was able to see its inner workings first hand--the workshops, the galleries, and the artisans who, with their refined skills, bring this neighborhood to life.



Weaving in the Nishijin tradition requires more than 20 steps to progress from dyed threads to the finished product.Each of the steps is put in the care of individual craftsmen who specialize in it.In order to be carried out properly, each step requires skill and experience.

After the weaver prepares the desired pattern, the materials are slowly worked until fabric featuring a vibrant design is completed. Many variations can be seen in Nishijin weaving; amongst them are patterns that resemble the texture of velvet, designs that one might see on a kimono or in a tapestry, as well as others like tsumugi and karaori.The process for creating each type is unique and it must be carried out exactly in order for the work to be completed properly.



After completing the report, we were interested to know what she thought about Nishijin's weaving heritage.She said, "Attending this festival was fun and educational!Chatting with these artisans who are carrying on Japan's traditional crafts is something that I'll always remember.Using the loom was fun, too!I was saddened to hear, though, that there are few young craftspeople today who are continuing the tradition.I think both Japanese and foreigners alike should learn more about Nishijin's traditonal weaving."

So, what did you think of this report on Nishijin's weavers?What do you think of this traditional craft that they continue to practice?

-ITOU Hidetoshi
-translated by Chris SCHIMOLER

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