Discovering Another “Kyoto” in the Northern Mountains

For some, the excitement of Kyoto resides in the bustling downtown shopping district of Shijo-Kawaramachi, the intermingling of traditional and modern cultures, or the quiet serenity of one of the city’s many zen gardens. While I always feel truly blessed to be surrounded by such timeless treasures, my heart lies in a small town nestled in the northern mountains of the city – Ohara.

The first time I visited Ohara with my husband was in the summer of last year. We made our way to the area behind the Ohara bus stop, down some steps and over a small bridge, toward Jakkoin Temple. Not only did the green mountains and meandering streams provide an idyllic backdrop to the traditional houses and narrow lanes, but we also spotted many oniyama, or the largest dragonfly in Japan. We passed by a couple of small tea rooms and an old house that was converted into a shop for hand-dyed fabrics. I even frolicked in a small playground and observed tiny green frogs sunning themselves on the sliding board.

I visited Ohara for the second time on a snowy day in January, for the weekly morning market (asaichi). This market takes place every Sunday from 6:30am-10:30am, in an open wooden building towards the entrance to the town (located close to “Nomura Wakare” bus stop). I suspected that going to the market would be a good chance to interact with the locals. It was undoubtedly a cultural experience. The area was bustling with mainly middle-aged people and very lively senior citizens wearing heavy coats and winter boots. Fires had been made in barrels at either end for everyone to stand around, warm themselves and chat.

Octopus dumplings (takoyaki) and hot miso soup with pork and vegetables (tonjiru) could be eaten on the spot. Natural detergents and soaps, rice condiments (tsukudani), homemade cakes and bread, homemade bean cakes (manju) and Ohara vegetables (including the biggest carrot I ever saw) were sold, although due to the cold weather there weren’t so many vegetables. The tsukudani vendor insisted that I taste his creations, although I felt a little guilty not buying anything from him. I did, however, purchase the enormous carrot and homemade bean cakes, which tasted completely different than store-bought ones. Apparently the woman who sold them to us had stayed up all night making them. Something that really surprised me was the sale of unusual meats, including deer, wild boar and bear meat. A very small plastic box held one 50,000 yen bear gallbladder!! I heard that there is a traditional belief that eating bear liver can cure any stomach ailment. Interesting, although I’m not sure I’d try!

ヨゼ クニオリ

Karen Lee Tawarayama

My husband and I stayed at the market for as long as possible, even after clean-up began. We watched boxes being reloaded and put onto the backs of small white pickup trucks, tables being folded, and latecomers eating some last-minute samples. As we were walking down the main street, away from the market, a car horn beeped gently. The tsukudani vendor gave us a huge, friendly smile and waved his hand as he drove past. What a beautiful gesture! We hadn’t even bought anything from him. This represents the real “Japanese heart” to me. I’ll be back in Ohara again.

For more information: only)

- Karen Lee Tawarayama


Begin your new life in Kyoto!!

Begin your new life in Kyoto!!

In April, Japan is in a season of beautiful cherry trees. It is a season when new life begins.

When you start your new life, you need to prepare many things, don’t you? Let’s imagine what you need!!

Could you think of any? I imagined some foods because I’m always hungry.

You can’t do well on an empty stomach!!




Convenience store

Seven Eleven / Family Mart / Lawson

Almost all of the shops are opened for 24 hours, and there are many


Fresco / Jusco / Izumiya / 99 yen shop

They offer fresh foods at low prices. At 99 yen shops you can buy food for less than 100 yen.

I mported foods


There are foods from every corner of the world. Jupiter is at a convenient location in the shopping mall under Kyoto station.

Did you eat enough? Well... what do you need next? Perhaps you have to buy clothes, bedclothes, appliances and furniture. If you cook, you should also get kitchenware. Where can you get them? I’ll introduce some nice stores.

Kitchenware / Bathe clothes / Makeup / Medicine / Home Improvement





Many kinds and at a low price

Furniture and Appliances


Neat furniture. If you buy a lot of furniture at the same time in this season, you might be able to get a discount.


Matsumoto Kiyoshi / Sugi Pharmacy / Kokumin

Not only can you purchase medicine but you can also get cosmetics at discounted prices.

Home Improvement center


When you’ d like to make something, this shop is helpful.

As you get used to your new life, you would want to buy more and more things. Clothes, commodities, things for hobbies... don’t you think you want them at lower price? I recommend you to go to secondhand shops. There, you can purchase many things for your life at lower prices. There are specialty stores for secondhand clothes. Those are called ‘Hurugi-ya’ You can have fun exploring them. Find out a good bargain!!

Secondhand shops




All Kinds

Recycle Service Himawari

Tel: 075-411-8528

Abundant choices of things


and Others


Tel: 075-701-0034

Shopop staff can go to your house to take any items you might want to sell.

Clothes and

General Goods


Tel: 075-711-2949

Fashionable items


Cycleshop Eirin

Tel: 075-752-0292

Only secondhand bicycles are available.

My next recommendation is a flea market. Aren’t you keeping something you won’t use anymore? At flea markets you can set up your own space and then try to sell your things. Many people there open their own shop, so you can go to the markets to buy goods. There are clothes, tableware, bags, toys, CDs and more. You might be able to buy those things at a cheaper price when you negotiate with the people at the shops. Also you can talk with a lot of people, and there are a lot of bargains, so flea markets must be exciting for you!!

Why don’t you go!?

Flea markets


Place/How to Get There

Rokuson-san Omoshiro Market

* 15 minutes on foot from Kyoto station JR line

* 15 minutes on foot from Toji station Kintetsu line

* 5 minutes on foot from Minamimon-mae bus stop(south gate)

or Toji-higashimon-mae bus stop (east gate)

28th of every month / 11:00am – 6pm

* can be cancelled due to rain

Toyokuni Shrine Omoshiro Market

* Head north from Kyoto Higashiyama Shichijo Yamato-Oji

* 10 minutes on foot from Shichijo station Keihan line.

* City bus #206 or 208, get off at Sanjusangendo, head north on foot for 5 minutes.

8th every of month / 10:00am – 3:00pm

* can be cancelled due to rain

Kyoto City Hall

* A few minutes on foot from Kyoto-shiyakusyo-Mae subway Tozai line.

* please confirm the date and details of events after May

April 27th / May 18th/

June 15th / July 13th

Hachiman-san Omoshiro Market

* Gosho Hachiman-Gu

* Oike station subway Tozai and Karasuma lines, exit 3-1, 3 minutes on foot

Every Friday / 11:00am – 6:00pm

If you have troubles about your life, please come to the Kyoto city International Foundation. We offer a lot of city information!! If you want to learn Japanese, go to Japanese classes! Also, there are daily life advisers at the foundation. We are looking forward to seeing you there!!

Flea markets - You need to pay a fee to set up your shop.

-by OKUNO, Kazuko
-translated by TANAKA, Tomoya



Station escalators in Kyoto (2) Queues arising from the public


On station escalators, people stand on the left in Tokyo and on the right in Osaka. However, there is no fixed rule in Kyoto. Yet, even in Kyoto, we notice that people have a tendency to make a queue on either the left or right. Why?


My wife and I performed an experiment at stations in Kyoto: We stood on the right when the queue was on the left; on the left when the queue was on the right. We rode up on the escalator, and then rode down, rode up again, and rode down, ... repeated many times. This is what we found: a person tends to follow a queue formed by more than one person. The left queue shown in Figure (a) tends to turn to the right queue shown in Figure (b) if “two people” come. We made the new queue.

These days, subways and the Keihan and Hankyu lines do not indicate whether the people should stand on the left or on the right side of escalators. There are no signs or announcements telling the rules. This seems to be linked to a consideration for physically disabled persons. For instance, it would be difficult for someone who has lost the use of his/her left hand to stand on the left side of an escalator.

Individuals basically act as they like, and the surrounding people “moderately” adapt themselves to the individuals. Kyoto might be hiding the most advanced way. The flexible way is not a choice between individualism and collectivism, which is governed by rules. However, it is true that the way with no rules works only when individuals use it consciously. I cannot be optimistic that most people have true public awareness. Yet, I hope that “the most advanced” way works, and want to be conscious of it.

-by ISHII, Takugo


MY HASHI(chopsticks) 

Are you good at eating with chopsticks? Is it still difficult for you? The Japanese word maihashi is a combination of the English word my and the Japanese word hashi (chopsticks), to mean a pair of chopsticks that belong to you. These are chopsticks that you take along with you when you go out, and can use to eat a boxed lunch. You can also use the same chopsticks when you eat at a restaurant or cafeteria. People who carry maihashi don’t use disposable wooden chopsticks. While maihashi can be used over and over again, disposable wooden chopsticks are usually thrown out after only one use. This is a waste. People who carry maihashi often do so with the intention of decreasing the number of disposable chopsticks that are used. It is because of this way of thinking that the maihashi trend started.

- by FUJIMURA Eiji
- translated by Karen Lee TAWARAYAMA


One day unlimited ride ticket Let’s get around Kyoto and Kansai district.

Did you know that there is a very reasonable one day unlimited ride ticket when you go to shipping or the sightseeing? With this, you don’t need to buy the ticket all the time. Also it saves your money when you ride the bus many times in a day.

I also use the ticket of the city bus for the meeting of Life In Kyoto.

-by IKUTA, Minoru

City Bus






All Flat Fare Route Payment is ¥220*1

Karasuma Line / Tozai Line

Sales agent

bus driver

Every subway station, subway kiosk

Subway and Keihan

Subway and Kintetsu, Nara bus





Subway Karasuma Line / Tozai Line*2

Keihan Otsu Line:

Misasagi Hamaotsu Sakamoto,


Kyoto Subway:

Karasuma line / Tozai line

Kintetsu: Kyoto Nara Tsutsui

Nara bus (designated point)

Sales agent

Subway kiosk,

Keihan Sanjo Station,

every subway station at Otsu line

(there’s exception)

Every subway station,

subway kiosk







Arashiyama Kitanohakubaicho

Shijo omiya

Demachiyanagi Kurama

Yase hieizanguchi1

Sales agent

Shijo Omiya,

Arashiyama, Katabiranotsuji,

Kitano Hakubaicho Stationr

Demachiyanagi station,

Kurama Station,

Syugakuin Station

JR West


Sales agent: JR Midori no Madoguchi, branches of JTB,

Nippon Travel Agency, Kinki Nihon Tourist, Tokyu Corporation

Yamatoji Line: Nara -> Tenoji
Gakkentoshi Line: Nara -> Osaka
Kobe Line: Osak -> Himeji
Osaka Loop line
Hanwa Line: Tenoji -> Kansai Air Port
Sanin Line: Kyoto Hozukyo
Kyoto Line: Yamashina -> Osaka *3 *4
Nara Line: Kyoto -> Nara Oji

*3 This Pass is valid till 29th of June.
*4 This Pass is valid only for local train, rapid service and special rapid-service trains of JR.
*5 JR West Kansai Odekake Pass (japanese http;// is 2,000 yen.
It is open to everybody. But you have to buy 3 days in advance and fix the date of use.
This pass also include route to Kansai Airport. With this pass, you cannot use Haruka Express.
*6 This ticket is valid for one day.
*7 If you would like to purchace this pass, please do so till 26th of June.