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It was the summer of 2004 when I finally decided to study the Japanese language in Kyoto. It had been a dream since I was a child to stay in Japan for a period longer than the usual three weeks sightseeing time. My language institute was inside the Kyoto Art and Design school.Our class, consisting of 500 Asian students, 9 crazy Europeans and Americans and myself, were going to try to study Japanese at a very high level.

After the obvious first problem of finding a place to stay (I found a six tatami apartment completely empty with two holes -oshiire-in the wall close to the University), the second was to communicate with my new friends in Japan and my family in Italy. My Japanese was more terrible than it is now, but I decided to go and speak directly with the telephone company, whose advertisements I was seeing every day on my classmates' desks: AU.

When I entered the shop, my first cultural shock was to see that most telephones cost no yen or 1 yen. "This is my fist Japanese souvenir ?omiyage," I thought. Talking to the clerk, I discovered that it was not so easy to have this precious omiyage: I needed a Foreign Residents Registration or a National Health Insurance Certificate. I had neither of them and had to come back in two weeks, after registering at the Sakyo Ward Office. Then I returned to the store and received the telephone that I wanted.It operated in the Japanese language and would help me in learning how to read and write Kanji and Hiragana.

I was pretty astonished by what this little machine could do. Inside it had an English - Japanese dictionary, two forms of Nabi (navigation systems), a bar code reader (the little white & black square you find everywhere from the bus stops to the convenience stores), a radio, the Internet and, the most incredible thing, a remote control for a television. I didn't own a TV and I don't even like watching it, but I thought, "The walls of my apartment are so thin that I can switch off my neighbor's TV if the volume is too high!" If this is what a 1 yen phone can do, imagine what a 5,400 yen phone could do.



The only thing I was asked, in addition to paying my bill every month at a convenience store, was to give the telephone back after six months, the length of the contract. So the search for the souvenir has begun again, and I wondered to myself if in some of the still unknown properties there could be a hidden function for the "Keitai Omiyage Nabi"

-Jose Cuniori

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MIBU Kyogen

MIBU Kyogen

Kyogen and Noh are performing arts from the Kamakura Era.Kyogen is a simplified version of Noh, its stories written as comedy that people enjoyed with the jokes and exaggerated actions of that period.On the other hand, Noh works are serious dramas with singing and dancing. These are often performed together.

We'd like to take this opportunity to introduce Mibu-Kyogen of Mibu Temple.Many visitors come to see it every year.It was started by Engaku-Shonin as a religious pantomime, and later it was staged with Noh and folktales.Finally, it developed into a popular out-door event.A total ofthirty plays are performed in one season.Actors wear masks, and are accompanied by Kandenden music, which is performed with lute, drums, and gong.About 40 performers live in the Kyoto area.Their range of ages is wide, with some performers being elementary school pupils and others being senior citizens.They have about 190 masks that have been made since the Muromachi Era.

In the story called Kanidon, a monkey throws a persimmon fruit to a crab which then dies; its son takes revenge on the monkey with scissors, a chestnut, and a mortar.You will see a great stage set called Kemonodai for tightrope walking and Tobikomi for rushing and sudden disappearing.The stage, Dainenbutsu-do at Kyogen Hall, is a protected national heritage site.

See their lively spring performances, hear Gandenden, and touch traditional art.

Location: Mibu Temple.Dates: April 21 - 29, 13:00 - 17:30, which includes 5 performances.
*Evening performance on the 29th only, 18:00 - 22:00, 6 performances.
Admission: Adults 800 yen, Junior and High school students 600 yen,Elementary school students 400 yen.Tickets at entrance, free seating only.
Access: Take city bus #26 to Mibuderamichi stop, or get off at the Hankyu Kyoto line's Omiya station which is a 10 min walk from Mibu Temple.Please use public transportation.

- Motoyo Yamashita

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A traditional Japanese cooking experience

A traditional Japanese cooking

A traditional Japanese cooking

What better way is there to experience the true flavor of a culture than food? I had the opportunity to cook and taste Japanese Culture at the Kyoto cooking circle.

The first dish we prepared was Kasu-Jiru, a soup traditionally served during the winter months.One of the key ingredients is sake-lees, a delicious rice malt resulting from sake production. Other ingredients include salmon, daikon radish, konnyaku, miso and traditional Japanese spices.The soup turned out fantastic, with just a hint of sake it warmed both the body and the heart.

Next we made a salad called Hourensou-no-mizore-ae, the name being a reference to the winter sleet.This salad was composed of spinach, finely ground daikon radish and a unique blend of sugar and salt.The salad was garnished with very thinly cut Yuzu rinds, which gave it a slight citrus finish.Along with these fantastic dishes we made Yaki-onigiri.This hand made snack is also very traditional, and can be found in just about every Japanese home.

Enjoying all the meals together was a lot of fun. Each bite being better than the last.The cooking process itself being nearly as fun as the tastes.Thank you so much to Yoriko Futamata and the cooking staff for this unique experience.

Please apply from web-site 2 days ahead of the next course.

- Robby Hovis&ITOU Hidetoshi 

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The Dankai's generation*"Dankai";
to have a much higher birthrate than previous generations.

The Japanese population grew significantly between 1947 and 1949, and those who were born during those years are called the postwar Baby Boom generation. They are going to be 60 years old this year and will retire from their work, which starts this spring. They have to think how they are going to spend their, what we call, second life (life after retirement). Some people consider extending their retirement age or getting a new job. This is called the "2007 issue".

This issue is now capturing much of the attention of the Japanese society.

-translated by Toni Vaquer


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Series: My favorite Kyoto

at the front of Kinkaku-j

at the front of Kinkaku-ji

I have chosen Kinkaku-ji as My Favourite Kyoto, not only for its magnitude and beauty, but also the experience that occurred when I visited this amazing temple.

While struggling to locate the temple in an unfamiliar city, I was warmly assisted by two kind Japanese women who invited me to join them in their tour of the beautiful temple grounds.Not only did I have their guidance and company, they also translated all the signs and information boards.This amazing translation was achieved through mime, gesture, my 4 words of Japanese and their 20 words of English, an electronic translator and a lot of laughter.

Listed on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1994, Kinkaku-ji dates back to 1397 when it was constructed as part of a new residence for the retired shogun, Yoshimitsu. In accordance with his will, the Shogun regidence was converted into a Zen temple in 1408.Kinkaku-ji is the only original site left, and the garden has remained the same for hundreds of years, allowing people for centuries to enjoy its splendor.

For me, the afternoon spent at Kinkaku-ji not only filled me with the awe and beauty of a magnificent site, but illustrated the magnanimous generosity and hospitality of the Japanese people.My escorts were clearly proud of their heritage and I thank them for their kindness in sharing their time with me.

-byIngelin Froiland

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Event Information

Hiranojinjya Sakura Concert

Appreciate music at the Cherry Garden of the deities
Date: From March 25th, Sunday to April 22nd, Sunday, 2007
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM and 7 PM
Place:Hiranojinjya Shrine (5 minutes walk from City Buss No.205,204 and 50 Kinugasakoumae)
Contents: Open -air concert at Cherry Garden. Play Harps, Strings, Koto, etc. Every day change the instruments.
Fee: FreeReference website

KCIF Volunteer Orientation 2007

Date: April 21st, Sat / May 12th, Sat at 2 PM- 3:30PM
Place:Kyoto International Community House (6 minutes walk from Subway Tozai line Keage Station)
Contents:We welcome volunteers who can join the activities for international exchange and supporting the foreign residents.

Why not introduce your homeland country culture or draw up the multilingual information magazine!?

*Fee: Free (no need to apply. Please come directly) Contact to KCIF: TEL 075-752-3511

If you don't need it give it to someone who does! Kyoto City Hall Flea Market

When: April 29 (Sun)・May 13 (Sun) 10AM-4PM Where: On the corner of Kawaramachi Dori and Oikeseihoku ・In front of City Hall
Check for the future schedule.
Sponsor: Plus One NetworkTel: 075-229-7713

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Designed by Yukie Mizoi (HP Volunteer)