Like living in an oven

TEI Keibun from Taiwan

Eight months have passed since I came to Japan to study. I came here in spring during the full blossom of the cherry trees. These beautiful scenes of Kyoto impressed me so much that I can always recollect them. At that time I really felt happy to live in a city unlike any other in Japan. But as summer brought rising temperatures, my passion for Kyoto gradually faded away. Every day it was burning hot and unbearable, like living in an oven. Although I came from a hotter land, the unexpected heat in Kyoto surprised me. In those days, I wished I had chosen Hokkaido.

TEI Keibun

TEI Keibun

Now in November it seems cool after the rapid drop of summer heat. I live in Yamashina ward in Kyoto. Every day I have to go across mountains to my college. Pedaling my bicycle, I view the mountains and the town of Kyoto. In spring, you see a live Kyoto where many tourists admire the cherry blossom. In summer, you feel the scorching Kyoto in which one doesn't like to stay outside for even a minute. In autumn, you enjoy a picturesque Kyoto of full green mountains slowly turning orange, red, and brown. It was really fantastic just to see that landscape.

One day, an idea occurred to me as I was pedaling my bicycle and looking around. 'Yes,' I thought. 'This is the beauty of Kyoto in which four seasons are clearly separated.' I had been living in a country which has a spring-like climate throughout the year before I came to Japan this year. So the hot Kyoto surprised even me who must be accustomed to summer heat. In autumn I was moved by the beauty of Kyoto. Indeed I've got a good point there. Sure enough, I am happy to have come to Kyoto.

Now winter is around the corner. What scenery does Kyoto show us in winter? I look for signs while pedaling my bicycle.

(written in November, 2009)

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Hints for finding a room in Kyoto

The ancient capital of Kyoto has four definite seasons. Many temples, shrines, traditional crafts, and annual festivals take root in daily life at the city. It seems enjoyable for foreign students, including you, to be able to study at Kyoto. And so they have to find a room first.

Student Exchange Divisions of universities and colleges, and international centers help foreign students look for rooms. Kyoto International Community House (KoKoKa) and Kyoto Prefectural International Center inform you about rooms.

When you find a room next, you must pay attention to a complicated custom which is possibly unique to real-estate agencies in Japan.

(1) rent
(2) common-area or service charge
(3) security deposit
(4) key money
(5) commission

Electric, gas, and water bills must be paid as well as (1) rent. (2) A common-area or service charge is the maintenance cost for cleaning an entrance lighting and a corridor, which are in common use. The charge must be paid with a monthly rent. (3) A security deposit is the bond which you deposit as security with a landlord when you sign a contract with him/her.(4) A Key money must be paid as a nominal reward to a landlord. (5) A commission must be commonly paid as the Some hints for finding a room in Kyoto agent charge, which is a month-long rent with the help and support of a real-estate agency. These are usually put down in cash when you sign the contract.

These rooms include (1) a dormitory and a house administered by a university or a college,(2) an apartment house, (3) a rooming house and a room to let, and (4) a condominium building. An apartment house consists of wooden cluster housing. Its entrance is in common use. It contains segmented chambers. The facilities such as a lavatory and a laundry may be shared. A rooming house and a room to let mean a leased room. The facilities such as an entrance are shared with the landlord.

When you sign a contract, your joint surety is needed. If you terminate a contract of the room in the process of the agreement, you must generally give the landlord advance notice of a removal not less than one month beforehand. The contract term is mainly of one year to two years at Kyoto City.

If you would like to run on the contract, the lease agreement must be renewed. You ought to confirm whether the renewal charge is demanded.

- by IKUTA, Minoru
SEKINO, Masako
-translated by WATANABE Takeshi

Housing Search Site
House Navi:

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Kanto Area Style Ohina sama & Odairi sama

Kanto Area Style
Ohina sama & Odairi sama

In Japan, we have festivals that wish for the growth of children. March 3rd is the day of Girls' Festival. (We call Hinamatsuri.) We display Hinadolls to celebrate and wish for girls' healthy lives. Usually, we put them in living room. We also have the Children's Day on May 5th but this festival is mainly a celebration for boys. On this day, many Japanese place a shogun-shaped doll and carp streamer in their yards. Originally, both festivals were held without specificity to boys or girls. However, from the 1600s, ancient Japanese separated the two festivals because they thought that the gorgeous Hinadolls were more appropriate for girls, and the gallant shogun-shaped doll fitting for boys.

We will soon celebrate Girl's Festival, but do you know how is it held? Generally, we eat chirashizushi*1 and clam soup and in Kyoto, drink whitesake.

This sake is usually uncommon but it appears in liquor shops or supermarkets around the time of the Girl's Festival. When my mother was a child, chirashi-zushi and white-sake were served in small ornamental dishes.

In Kyoto, the prince doll is placed on the right side and the princess doll on the left side,but in Kanto area, the dolls are placed in the opposite positions. A long time ago, the dolls were placed in the same position as in Kyoto, throughout the country. When the Emperor Showa ascended the throne in 1926, the Emperor stood on the left side and the Empress stood on the right side, following western style. Tokyo's doll craftsmen designed this enthronement and they decided dolls' arrangements.

At first view, it seems like the same all over the country, but when we realize the difference, we see the deep history.

- by KAWAMOTO, Eri

*1 chirashi-zushi : It is a kind of sushi, vinegared rice topped with fish, vegetables and egg.

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Herbivorous man

I prefer eating dessert to drinking alcohol, even in the Japanese style pub. My friends sometimes ask me, "Are you a herbivorous man?"

What is a "herbivorous man"?

It is one of buzzwords in Japan. In general, they are kind, soft, and family-minded. They are often interested in art, computers and cooking rather than earning money. On the other hand, they seem to be sensitive, delicate and passive, especially in their love. A "herbivorous man" often hesitates to tell a woman that he loves her, because he doesn't want to break a friendship.

Herbivorous men may be vulnerable. But, they are not completely weak men. Some men like to help and support people through volunteer activities. Some men make promises with co-workers and customers in their work. Some men continue to pursue his dreams or purpose. They usually put their importance on cooperation with their family, fellows and society.

"Herbivorous men are weak." This view is too simplistic. Do you think that it is important to watch them from various viewpoints and to recognize the diversity of men nowadays?

-by Masahiro Mikoda

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Essentials of Japanese Cooking

I only half believed Shizuo Tsuji, who titled his book, Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art. Tsujisensei claims that Japanese cooking has but two key ingredients: "a rather delicate stock (dashi) made from konbu (giant kelp) and flakes of dried bonito, and shoyu, Japanese soy sauce."

James M. Michel

Yet anyone who has attempted a cultural cuisine different from their own has rammed into a recipe with sixteen ingredients, of which only seven are familiar. The brave ones write down the unknown ingredients and go to the store only to find, two years later, the bottle of oyster sauce in the cupboard, never again used. When given the choice between a recipe and a technique, I prefer the latter, avoiding dependency on bizarre ingredients. For Japanese cooking you need konbu, bonito flakes, soy sauce, mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine), sake, rice vinegar, and short-grained rice. These ingredients along with what you usually buy at the market can make for countless variants of Japanese dishes.

Let's begin with one of the easiest, a teriyaki sauce. Combine equal parts of sake, mirin, and soy sauce in a pot. Heat until boiling, add sugar to taste. Pour the sauce over grilled or pan-fried vegetables, meat, or tofu.

The longer you cook teriyaki sauce, the more it will thicken. If you are anxious for it to thicken, pour a ladleful of hot sauce into a bowl, mix with some starch or flour, stir until dissolved, then return it to the pan. In certain recipes, you may find unknown ingredients in a teriyaki sauce. But why begin with a daunting task if it will slow you down? Begin with what you know: carrot, broccoli, onion, chicken. These ingredients, I assure you, will make a perfectly Japanese dish when mixed with the simple teriyaki sauce and placed over or beside a bed of hot, fluffy rice.

-by James M. Michel

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Kyoto Housing Fair for Internatioanl Students

Housing Fair

Houing Fair

DATE : February 6th, Saturday, 2010,
13:00 - 16:30
PLACE : Kyoto International Community House (kokoka)

At Kyoto Housing Fair for International Students there will be cheap and good-quality demised premises introduced.

We are holding this fair with the aim of interaction among international students, Japanese students, landlords and school officials. Please come!


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

When : February 14th (SUN), March 7th (SUN) 10:00am - 4:00pm
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 2:00pm - 4:30pm
Please come directly to the Kyoto International Community House. ( KoKoKa )


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Library Letter - Kyoto International community House library

Kyoto International Community House Library (kokoka)

【OPEN TIME】9:30am ~ 8:30pm

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 and Ms. Michiyo Nagao, who comes to the library often. They introduce their recommended magazine and a book. You can read at the library!

"Yazhou Zhoukan The International Chinese Newsweekly"

This economic magazine published in Hong Kong carries the detailed stories of the world economy.

It investigates and analyzes the world economy closely as if it contained all the business magazines in the world. It is straight-laced but not outspoken.

Its comments and opinions, which are rewarding and faithful, cut off dooms and allow us to come closer to good relations. Reliable expertise seeks to protect the reader from hoaxes.

It also reports articles about events in Japan. It reveres a revelation with five senses. The comments which grasp affairs provide us with useful information.

It gives us the "prescription" on human ethology and tells us its view as the "compass", which always leads to an attempt to discover new things by studying the past through the scrutiny of the old.

- MINATO, Masayuki
- Translated by WATANABE, Takeshi

"My Cat Copies Only Me" (Korean picture book)

There was a female cat in my home from the days of my earliest recollection. She was a common and black-and-white cat. However, I naturally had a feeling that she was the one of our family rather than a pet for me.

This Korean picture book illustrates that a calico cat visits a shy girl one day. The cat not only follows her but imitates everything she does. The girl goes to the outside world with the cat like a cat girl (?).

I do not understand Korean. However, I feel the sympathy that the cat is a common calico one. When I was also a child, I lived with the black-and-white cat. I sometimes sense that I perhaps got the characteristics of cat such as walking with silent steps. But I am envious of the characteristics such as good reflexes and freewheelingness. No one copy them.

- Michiyo Nagao
- Translated by WATANABE, Takeshi

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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:

* Medical Handbook:

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

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.

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.


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

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