Mysterious Mt. Kurama

Robert Hovis
from U.S.A.

Kyoto is a city famous for its sobering temples and dignified shrines.Many tourists and Japanese alike, walk through these ancient paths and hallways with Zen like quietness. One can often see heads bowing up and down to long lists of facts and dates, shoguns and eras, in quiet appreciation and reverence.

While tip toeing through these incredibly historic and amazing sites, is a magical experience within itself. Some also look to connect to the slightly more primitive side of human culture.

In late October in the enchanting forests of Kyoto, a festival of a slightly higher volume takes place. A festival of fire. In late October of every year at the base of the holy, Mt.Kurama the Hi-Masturi is celebrated and attracts people from all over the world. In honor of the Yuki-Shrine, a procession with torches are led by a powerful Taiko drum, to the gate of the Shrine where individual fires are amassed into one. Witnessing the sparks from this fire dance up to meet the night sky and it's stars, is truly a mystical experience. This festival has been held since the year 940 and there is sense that not much has changed since the first fires were lit. This festival goes deep into the night, finishing at around 2 am.

Robert Harvis

Robert Hovis

Mt. Kurama is also the origin of Reiki, a style of spiritual healing. In 1922 Mikao Usui developed this technique after 3 weeks of fasting and meditation on this mountain. The native land of Sojobo, a mythological king of spirits called Tengu, who has taught swordsmanship to one of Japan's most powerful leader, Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune is here as well. Along with an impressive temple at the top of the mountain providing entrancing glimpses of the forest below.

Mt. Kurama is truly a mystic and unique aspect to Kyoto and well worth the train ride out of the city and into the less ordinary.

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Incense (Koh)

There are many fragrances, or kaori, in nature that we sense unconsciously, such as that of flowers through the four seasons, water, sun, rain, and air. They have a mysterious power, and you could say that kaori provides a kind of healing. It is said that kaori was brought to Japan from Baekje(*1) by Ganjin, a Buddhist monk, as an element of Buddhist ceremonies. According to the Nihon Shoki(*2), an aromatic wood washed ashore on Awajishima Island at the end of the 6th century. An islander burned the wood and noticed that it smelled sweet, so it was given as an offering to the Court. During the Heian period, incense was kneaded into complex mixtures with spices and enjoyed as Takimono, an essential item for the nobility. In the Kamakura period, samurai used the fragrance of agarwood to calm their minds and focus their attention when going into battle.

Kumikoh, the blending together of different incense woods, is today the main form of Koudou, which is to incense what tea ceremony is to tea.

There are several kinds of incense:
1. The types that are burned directly (stick incense, coil incense, cone incense).
2. The types that emit fragrance at room temperature (traditional sachets, pomanders). This type does not use fire.
3. The types that are burned indirectly (aromatic wood, kneaded incense, molded incense).
4. The special types (religious incense, body powder, incense powder, granulated incense.

There are two ways to enjoy the fragrance of aromatic wood. Monkoh is to enjoy sophisticated of fragrance of agarwood in a censer held in the hand. The method known as Soradaki in which the aroma is simply allowed to waft through the air. For Soradaki, stick incense, aromatic wood, kneaded incense, and molded incense are used, as well as other types. Monkoh uses a small piece of agarwood placed held in an upright position by a censer, and in this way its fragrance can be enjoyed. It is a very luxurious experience.

For beginners, traditional sachets or pomanders are good. There are various kinds of spices such as Sandalwood, Clove, Cinnamon in traditional sachets. These sachets can add fragrance to clothing, so many people put them in pockets or a chest to enjoy their scent. A pomander can simply be hung on a pillar or a wall and allowed to emit a scent.

The most common material for incense is aromatic wood. Amongst the aromatic woods is very precious agarwood, which will produce various fragrances despite it being the same type of wood. We are continually enchanted by its fragrance.

The main aromatic woods are:
1. Agarwood - due to various external factors, resins congeal in parts of the tree and cause the tree to die. This process, however, makes the wood desirable for use as incense.
2. Kyara - although produced by almost the same process as agarwood, differences in its fragrance and oils make it very special.
3. Sandalwood - a popular wood for use as incense, which is grown in India, Indonesia etc.


*1 Baekje : A country which was exsisted in South-West part of Korean Peninsula in 4th through 6th century.
*2 Nihon Shoki : A book of clasical Japanese history which had been written in 720.

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Machiya renovated a tea house

kojitsukyo kojitsukyo map

Kojitsukyo [enlarge the map]

There is one Machiya on the way to Heian Jingu Shrine from Kyoto International Community House. The name plate "Kojitsu-kyo" is at the entrance. You are guided into the living room where you see the Hakoniwa (miniature garden). You breath in the taste of Kyoto. The owner of the tea house is relaxed with tea. she repaired the vacant house and opened it. I had a cup of Kyo-bancya tea and the small cake that was set for this day. It is inexpensive - just 500 yen! The tea is served in a container of pottery. This tea is smoky and different from green tea. It is even more delicious when drinking from a wonderful teacup and tasting a sweet cake. I had a wonderful rest in the comfortable time and space. I had a really nice day.

small cake and Kyo-bancya tea

set of small cake and Kyo-bancya tea

The owner who has knowledge of the tea ceremony but she does not stick to it. She serves tea in a teacup that she likes. There are different kinds of tea, not only the powdered green tea of the tea ceremony, but also Caay of India and Gancya of China. Gancya is a high-level oolong tea. It is expensive but good if you want to taste slowly in a small cup, little by little in the China style. You then enjoy the cake that is served. You settle down in an old room. I think this kind of luxury will be a good experience for people in Kyoto.


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A cold is caused by several microorganisms. Influenza is a severe cold due to the influenza virus. A virus is tiny, invisible to the naked eye. But can a virus see a man? A virus cannot see a whole man as a man cannot see the whole earth with the naked eye. A virus can only see cells of the human body.

After drifting in from the air, the influenza virus enjoys clinging to the surface of a mucous membrane cell in a human's throat. It tactically invades the cell and multiplies. After destroying the cell, the virus spreads to other cells.

The immune system activates. If the immune system had already recognized the virus, immediate action to intercept and counterattack will cause the virus withdraw. This procedure so far causes no symptoms, so one lacks awareness of the fight in one's body. The immune system conquers viruses everyday. We cannot be too thankful for the immune system. When the immune system recognizes the invading virus for the first time, things get worse. It takes time to prepare effective interception. In the meantime the virus spreads, causing symptoms in the infected.

Coughing and nasal mucus help to remove the virus from the body. A fever of more than 39 degrees Celsius is also to weaken the virus which dislikes heat. Accordingly, the virus snickers when you suppress a cough, nasal mucus, or fever. With rest and proper nutrition, reinforcements will come. Once attacked by a fully equipped self- defense force, the virus will disappear.

To cope with influenza, first keep yourself away from the virus. Warm and moisturize your room to decrease the abundance of viruses in the air. Wash your hands with soap when you return home from a day's events. If infected, stay home to rest and nourish your body. When going out, a mask will help moisturize and warm your throat. A mask also prevents you from spreading the virus when you cough. People with a chronic disease or with a poor immune system should seek a vaccination, and if infection is suspected, see a doctor.

Influenza A(H1N1) seems to have no great difference from seasonal influenza.

For further information, refer to the homepage below

Kyoto city web:

Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare:

- KOMATSU, Takehisa

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Being a volunteer in a foreign land

One of the mottos in which the French Revolution was fought was that of "Liberté, égalité, fraternité". The significance of the three words is clearly understood now for all people since it is one of the legacies of this social-historical movement. For me the French word fraternite carries the meaning of "one common spirit of cordiality to the other". This has relationship with the word volunteer encompass this same spirit. There are activities that one as volunteer can do in a place as Kyoto, it does not matter if you are Japanese or a foreign there are several things you can do and take part. Some of the activities one take part is for example collaborating in the publication of a magazine such as this "Life in Kyoto" which is directed to a non Japanese audience through its publication in several languages.

Either it can be done through editing or writing; sharing one's own experience being living in a foreign land such as Japan. There are other activities such as those ones related to emergency management. The Fireman Department of Kyoto city have several volunteer programs which are directed to those interested in wanting to learn what kind of emergencies you might be facing in times of difficulty. Do you know what to do if a fire breaks out, or if there some one injured who to call? To take part on activities help one to be prepare for an eventuality. At the Kyoto International Community House you can find a shelter simulation activity in case of an earthquake. Well, all of these are opportunities you can be part as volunteers carrying on the same spirit of fraternité that comes through collaborating.

- Jose Vergara Laguna

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LIK Haiku (POEM)

And the garden sleeps --
I rush to the screaming kettle

- James Michel

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

When : December 6th (SUN), January 31st (SUN) 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Where : On the corner of Kawaramachi Dori and Oikeseihoku, in front of City Hall
Organizer:Plus One Network
TEL:075 - 229 - 7713

Kyoto City International Foundation Volunteer Orientation Schedule

February 11th, Thu. Holiday, March 7th Sun, 2010
*Please check the final fixed schedule on the web site of KCIF.

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Library Letter - Kyoto International community House library

Kyoto International Community House Library

【OPEN TIME】9:30am - 8:30pm 【TEL】075-752-1187
【FAX】075-752-3510 【HP】

Closed on following days
2009 Dec. 7(Mon) 14(Mon), 21(Mon), 28(Mon)-Jan.4(Mon)
2010 Jan. 12(Tue), 18(Mon), 25(Mon), 31(Sun)
2010 Feb. 1(Mon), 8(Mon), 15(Mon), 22(Mon), 28(Sun)

We have the books such as...

To know more about world countries - Long stay, studying abroad, working holiday, volunteer, etc..

To know more about Japan or your own country - Books about Japanese culture, Kyoto sightseeing, Newspapers and Magazines from all over the world, study books on Japanese, etc...

We do not have renting services. You can read freely in the library. Videos and DVDs are available to enjoy.

Book introduction

This time, we have comments from Mr. Masayuki Minato who comes to the library often. He introduces his recommended magazines. You can read at the library!


In reality, Americans also having been worried about:
"What should we do for our future?"
With worldwide information and knowledge,
This magazine helps you to open the days ahead. And in there..
- full of processes, programmes,and plans
- introducing the ways with easy-to-understand diagrams
- "hurry with poise", tranquilly
- overcoming the status quo, and providing hints of the fresh start
- suggesting continuousness- focused preakthroughts!
- helps to foresee ideas appearing
- support for putting yesterdays to good use
- helpful to sort out "your thoughts!"
it's a methodological magazine.

From the SEED's site:

We are inspired byt the potential of science to improve the state of the world and we make media and technology to help realize the potential.

- MINATO, Masayuki
- Translated by FURUTA, Yuuki

"Long-stay" Seminar

Today, as a design of living, the people increasingly have become curious about "long-stay trips". This seminar is for those who are interested in "a life abroad after retirement", "how to make a living in the range of pension", or "experiences that one cannot have in common traveling".

The topics in the seminar, will be covered in detail with pictures, is as fllows: basic preparation for long-stay, presentation of the investigatin of the latest tendency, acquaintanceship, special visa, local affairs of medical care, how to deal with troubles, etc.

Date: Jan. 31, 2010 (Sun.) 13:00 - 14:30 (Open at 12:30)
Place: Kyoto International Community House 2F at Library
Lecturer: Longstay foundation division director Ms.Misuzu Yamada
Capacity:30people Reservation required.
Apply to Kyoto International Community House, Library at 075-752-1187 by phone from Dec.1.
(The seminar is done in Japanese.)

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Notice Board

Useful Guides - You can get at KCIF

"Early Living in Kyoto" & "Earthquake / Emergency Action Manual"
- Free multilingual information booklets for foreigners living in Kyoto

Kyoto Life Map "Guide to Kyoto" 400 yen
- A useful map with the index of public institutions, schools, etc. in Kyoto

Useful Links

Message board:

Useful Kyoto Information:

Life in Kyoto is a free newsletter

Life In Kyoto is a free newsletter trying to support residents in Kyoto with providing information. As we always want to know what you want to know through LIK, please tell us at mailbox in the lobby or

Changes on the dates and details of events can happen without notice. Please ask directly.

Publisher : Kyoto City International Foundation ( )
TEL: 075-752-3511 Fax: 075-752-3510 e-mail:
〒606-8536 2-1, Torii-cho, Awataguchi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto Japan
6min walk from T09 Keage Station, Subway Tozai-line
Hours : 9:00-21:00
Closed : Monday (Open on Monday and closed on Tuesday, when Monday is National Holiday.)

International volunteers wanted

If you are interested in writing articles, conducting interviews, translating, proofreading, photographing and accomplishing LIK with us, please don't hesitate to contact the office. Life In Kyoto is put together by various nationalities' philanthropy.

LIK monthes

Even month when you can get the latest LIK!

We update the Chinese, English, Japanese and Spanish version on the net as well.


IKUTA Minoru / HE Fengshen / KAWAMOTO Eri / KOMATSU Takehisa / SHIMADA Emi / SEKINO Masako / CHENG Huiwen / FUJII Tatsuzou / FURUTA Yuuki / VERGARA Jose / HOVIS Robby / MICHEL James / MATSUYAMA Tomoko / YAMASHITA Motoyo / WATANABE Takeshi

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