Kamogawa River is intimate with daily life.

I came back to Kyoto again this past April to study language and to stay here for six months.

The reason why I chose Kyoto again is..?

Two years ago, when I came to Kyoto to study Japanese for the first time, I found that the city totally fit my character. Although it is common to say that Italian or Latin people are lively and talkative, I'm a mild and calm type of person who loves nature. So I feel I fit into the rhythm of the city.

I think all of you have noticed that you can find bicycles everywhere in Kyoto. 

This is because the city is so compact that you can go anywhere by bicycle, and this creates a very relaxed rhythm. Then another one of the characteristic things about Kyoto is the Kamogawa River. This river has always been a close part of the people's everyday lives and that might also make the atmosphere relaxed and comfortable. For example, if you can see people jogging or families having picnics on the weekend by the riverside, you feel peaceful, don't you?

Meanwhile, when I visited Tokyo during the summer holidays, people seemed to think only about  themselves and didn't speak to others. I didn't see many people smiling. While it is true that there are plenty of fun places in Tokyo, for the kind of person who likes a quiet life and needs human relationships, Kyoto might be more suitable.

NEGRI, Elena

NEGRI, Elena

In addition, Kyoto is very international and there are many language schools so you can easily get to know more foreigners than Japanese. As they are also the kind of people who are interested in Kyoto, I guess it is not difficult to make good friends with each other and to share common interests. In my case, I was able to make many Asian friends.  Thanks to them, I had the chance to experience a level of Asian culture which I could have never been exposed to while living in Europe. For example, they told me about their impressions of European people, they made good Asian food for me, etc.

Is it possible to find this kind of place in Italy?

After having all of these wonderful experiences, the fact that I have to go back to Italy quite soon makes me very sad. But when I imagine myself coming back to Kyoto again, and being able to enjoy Kyoto's atmosphere, I feel better immediately.

- NEGRI, Elena


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Life as a Vegetarian in Kyoto

Before I came to Japan I heard that life here as a vegetarian can be very difficult, especially without your own kitchen. While I cannot say it has always been easy, I have been pleasantly surprised by the variety of vegetarian options available at many of the restaurants I have eaten at so far. From Mos Burger to more traditional, upscale Japanese restaurants, there is often at least one option for vegetarian customers. Even if a restaurant does not appear to have anything vegetarian on its menu, I have found that some chefs are receptive to requests for dishes containing no meat. Perhaps Kyoto, famous for its vegetables (kyo-yasai) and traditional Buddhist vegetarian cuisine (shojin-ryori), is particularly well oriented towards a vegetarian clientele.

Kyoto also has a nice selection of restaurants aimed specifically at vegetarians and vegans (unlike vegetarians, vegans abstain from all animal-derived foods, including dairy products). I am lucky that there is one such vegetarian café only minutes away from the Kyoto University campus, where I am currently studying. Called “Café Proverbs: [15: 17],” this wonderful restaurant offers a wide variety of meatless cuisine, from salads and sandwiches to curry and more traditional Japanese foods. As for my visit, I ordered the "mabodofu", a Chinese-inspired dish consisting of cubes of tofu in a savory sauce. Under new management since February 2008, Café Proverbs was born from a relationship with a café similarly geared towards vegetarians located in Tokyo, the "Kick Back Café". I am determined to try everything on the menu, so I am sure they will be seeing a lot of me. Café Proverbs is a delicious option for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Although reasons for becoming a vegetarian vary from person to person, recently growing awareness of healthy lifestyle choices has made vegetarianism a practical option for many people. Even for the avid meat lover, an occasional vegetarian meal will certainly not only be healthy, but will possibly even lead to a whole new way of thinking about food. Please help support your local vegetarian and vegan establishments and try something unusual once in a while.

Map of CAFÉ PROVERBS [15:17]

Map of CAFÉ PROVERBS [15:17]

CAFÉ PROVERBS [15:17]
Domus Hyakumanben 3F, 28-20 Tanakamonzen-cho, Sakyo-ku Kyoto 606-8225 Japan TEL&FAX 075-707-6856
E-mail info@proverbs1517.com

- LEFFERTS, Carolyn

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Let's go to HATSUMODE

On Jan. 1st, all of Japan is filled with a sense of celebration. Japan's New Year celebration may not be common to Westerners.

While you are in Japan, you should definitely enjoy it. There are a lot of shrines and temples in Kyoto, so the most important event is hatsumode*1. For everyone who will experience their first New Year's and who haven't experienced hatsumode, let's go Hatsumode.

WHEN

You can go Hatsumode every day in January. However, Jan. 1st, and especially soon after is the best time to go.

WHERE

Yasaka shrine, Chion-in temple, Kiyomizu temple and so on… There are a lot of great temples and shrines for HATSUMODE. When you see so many people visiting those temples and shrines, you can feel a sense of New Year celebration. If you want to go to hatsumode at a comparably quiet place, Shimogamo shrine is recommended. There are smaller shrines for the 12 eto animals*2. Why don't you go and pray at the shrine of the cow, which is next year's ETO animal?

WHO

Of course, yourself. As many as 2.7 million people visit Fushimi-inari shrine on the first 3 days of Jan; it's the shrine in Kyoto that the most people visit one shrine.

WHAT

In most cases, people pray to the God of the shrines for happiness and the health of their relatives or for a big crop.

WHY

The origin of hatsumode is said ehomairi*3, which is what people visit some places at each year's lucky direction. This idea of ehomairi has gradually been lost and people now visit famous temples and shrines.

HOW

First, prepare osaisen*4, and drop it into the osaisen box*5. The price of osaisen is generally 5 yen because the Japanese word for 5 yen (goen) is similar to the word for good relation (goen). We have a set for praying and it is called ni-rei-ni-hakushu-ichi-rei*6. Bow twice, clap your hands twice, pray to God and bow once.

*1 "Hatsu" means the beginning of the year, and "mode" means go to shrines and temples to pray.
*2 There are 12 eto animals in Japan. They are 12 holy animals similar to the zodiac, and each year has each eto animals.
*3 'Eho' means lucky direction, "mairi" means go to shrines and temples to pray, like "mode".
*4 "Osaisen" is the money, we offer to God for our pray.
*5 Osaisen box is the box placed in front of main shrine house.
*6 "Ni-rei" means bowing (rei) twice (ni), "Ni-hakushu" means clapping hands (hakushu) twice. "Ichi-rei" means bowing once (ichi).

- YATAGAWA, Tatsuya

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A short story as a volunteer

After work, I am a Japanese teacher at the evening of Tuesday.

After work, I am a Japanese teacher
at the evening of Tuesday.

Voluntary - what does it mean? "Extraordinary things they do, so extraordinary people they are," was my vague image of volunteers and I couldn't expect to be like them whatsoever. But time changes many things, and now I am volunteering as a Japanese class tutor, a member of Life in Kyoto, and a Host family. What was the trigger?

For a long time, I have been eager to speak English and the enthusiasm is still in me. First of all I tried an English school because it seemed the easiest way to master it. But, a wall prevented me ‑‑‑ Fees. It would be not cheap. I thought and thought and thought to find better way. With the dark clouds getting full in my mind, fortunately, my mom gave me a light - "How about you become a Japanese class tutor for non-Japanese speakers in KCIF?" My brain became clear. "Mom, nice idea. That can be another nice way to talk with English speakers. And also without any payment for it."

Since then, a year has passed, doing volunteer work has let me know about 2 facts: there are more things I was taught than I taught, and in fact, there's no need to hesitate to join.

Loads of awareness, the happiness of seeing smiles. Voluntary means that for me. If some of you readers are interested in our volunteer work, whatever the reason is, let's get it started in KCIF. Precious, and stunning time is coming to you!

Notice: Volunteer orientation for fiscal year 2009 Feb 11th, Mar 7th, 2009,
check on the WEB site of KCIF.

- OKUNO, Kazuko
- translated by FURUTA, Yuuki

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Yutanpo

Yutanpo

Yutanpo

Kyoto is well known for its "SOKOBIE" in the winter, which means "bone-chilling cold". Air-conditioners and electric blankets are some of the items that are commonly used to provide warmth for spending time more comfortably in winter. Microwave hot water bottles, which can be heated in a microwave oven, are also used for the same purpose and are in the spotlight recently because of their inexpensive and safety. These are often now covered in fabric with many novel designs, such as heart-shapes and stuffed animal bags. If you go to a drug store, you can find the style you like.

- MATSUYAMA, Tomoko


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 My experience in Ethiopia

Invited by a Muslim family at night of Ramadan

Invited by a Muslim family at night of Ramadan

I went to Ethiopia this summer for an United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) internship. What comes to mind when you hear Ethiopia? Rastafarians? Coffee? Poverty? After my five-week stay there, great smiles on people's faces first come to my mind. People enjoy communicating with others during coffee ceremonies which last for two hours. I had the impression that Ethiopian people were very close to each other. Social security needs improving, yet people are happy and enjoy their lives. I think that the feeling of being connected to and supported by others, is essential for one's happiness.

- TAJIKA, Eiko


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Notice Board

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

When: December.7 (Sun), January.18 (Sun), 10AM-4PM
Where: On the corner of Kawaramachi Dori and Oikeseihoku, in front of City Hall

Check @http://www.plusone.ne.jp/freema1.htm for the future schedule.
Sponsor: Plus One Network Tel: 075-229-7713

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