Impressed from the Beginning

Lisel Bond
from Guatemala

Living in Kyoto since the 7th of January, my most memorable day has been a recent Friday. That day we had taken two class field trips, the first to Kiyomizu-dera and the second to Enryaku-ji. Mostly, I focused my attention on the architecture and their hypnotic way of representing history. On both occasions, I loved thinking that I was sharing space with results of such impressive societal diligence and art.

A particular platform around Kiyomizu-dera impressed me most of all. I stood there, arms resting against the railway, ignoring the camera around my neck, wanting to simply see everything without worrying about angles, or focus, or lighting effects. So many trees crowded the space directly below, and I knew that in spring all of the trees would bloom into the soft-colored, yet dazzling blossoms. Right then I knew I would have to visit several more times.

Licel Bond

Licel Bond

On the way from the temples to the station, we saw an old tree with far-reaching roots and branches. The streets became wider and emptier until we reached Maruyama Park, said to be primarily visited during the spring when the small pond and central tree were most beautiful. Even then, with duller colors, the park still struck me as a place of peace. Perhaps that ideal was somehow magnified with the gentle radiance of sunset at the time.

Afterwards, my friends and I immediately headed to Sanjo. With night falling, crossing a wide bridge, I took out my camera for the last time that day and fi lmed bright-lit stores, streets and milling people. Kyoto was just as amazing from this perspective. Traditional vs. modern, if such terms could be so simply defi ned by locations and surrounding interactions. I captured it all, on camera and in mind.

Yes, life in Kyoto was off to a great start.

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At a Japanese Hair Salon

Feeling a bit nervous, I walked into a hair salon, whose interior decoration was quite flamboyant with a connotation of high cost. Right after entering there, one of the staff greeted me with a warm "welcome" and asked what I would like to do. "A haircut, please", I replied.

Then, though I expected the staff to say "Please wait for a moment", the staff looked through something like a schedule book and transferred me to the reservation desk.

I glanced at the inside and found that almost every seat was occupied by customers. I only made a reservation and went back to home.

Since I had decided to pay a higher price to have a haircut, it would be unwise for me not to be particular about the hair-style. I started to check on the internet about hair-styles. Especially I thought I had better to know many words which people usually use at the hair salons. Meanwhile, I realized my own vocabulary related to that field was terribly poor. By the way, before that I had been to the "1000 yen barber" once or so. It looked or felt just like a fast food restaurant. Just ten minutes after I ordered "Cut off half the length of it", my haircut was done. Disappointingly, every single hair of mine was precisely cut half shorter. However, this time had to be different. I didn't want to cut in such a slipshod way again, so I decided to give myself a lesson about the hair salon terminology of Japanese.

I tried to search, but what I found was just lots of slogans or sentences from adverts written in an over-animated tone. Any sentences just like a Japanese lecture teaching how to order at a hair salon was almost not found. Browsing a plethora of useless information all the way, reserved time had come.

Returning to the hair salon, I could not help feeling strange. I could hardly to say "front hair" or "side hair" in Japanese. Concretely asked about the details of hairstyle, I was distracted, as if all the Japanese words in my mind suddenly disappeared. Perhaps it should to say, because basically I knew no words of Japanese about hairstyle, I just had to keep silent. Though if the staff show me a catalog and let me select I would be grateful, but the staff seemed to be waiting until I spoke. I had no choice but to ask him how cut is good. I do not remember clearly what happened afterwards, but almost I repeated to reply "yes" to his questions "Is this OK?", even if I could not understand them.

Later, an episode crossed my mind. A Martian who can speak English came to visit the Earth and saw many strange things around. A human asked him, "What interesting things have you seen?". The Martian answered "I think it was very interesting someone took a stick from something like a small box and scratched it at the side of the box, then it flamed.". Then I asked to myself "Wasn't my visit to the Japanese hair salon the same as the Martian's visit to the Earth?".

- Wang Yongcheng
- Supported by SUZUKI, Hidetoshi

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Have you ever seen baseball?


The most popular sport in the world is football which is also popular in Japan. However, more popular sport in Japan is baseball. I also play baseball. Baseball is so fun, containing many elements such as hit, throw, run and think strategy. It is also attractive that baseball has no limits of time or score, and easily happen come-from-behind.

To live in Japan, to know about baseball is useful. For example, you can get common subject with Japanese, and baseball terms, such as "girigiri safe" (narrowly safe), "zokuto" (continue to pitch) are used in general. So here I introduce you baseball in Japan.

First of all, there is professional baseball in Japan and 12 teams play games from March to October. Each team has a franchise. In Kansai, Hanshin Tigers and Orix Buffaloes exist. Especially, Hanshin Tigers is very popular.

In spring and summer, "National High School Baseball Tournament" is held. It is played by varsity schools of each prefecture. Many people are pleased or chagrined if hometown varsity win or lose.

Of course, general people also play baseball. In holidays, you can see people playing baseball at many places. And there are many tournaments for such people. In Kyoto city, Kyoto Rubber Baseball Federation is holding tournaments and on Sundays games are played at any grounds in Kyoto.

If you've never seen a baseball game, try to see. About the rules, someone who likes baseball may readily explain.

- by SUZUKI, Hidetoshi

baseball stadium

baseball stadium

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What is an ecolo-taxi?

Do you Kyoto?

Have you ever seen a taxi with a small windmill on its roof, instead of a pilot lamp, driving through the streets of Kyoto? I had seen them a few times and had always wondered what they actually were. These taxis with windmills are in fact called ecolo-taxis. The electricity generated through wind power is used to charge customers' cell phones. As the birthplace of the Kyoto Protocol, Kyoto City has been the forerunner in environmentally friendly projects, such as strict categorisation of garbage and recycling policies. Even companies are trying to come up with unique ideas, like the ecolo-taxis, to protect the environment.

The phrase 'Do you Kyoto?' apparently means 'Are you being environmentally friendly?' Global warming is a serious problem that we should all be concerned about. We should keep 'Do you Kyoto?' in mind and cherish each and every act towards a better environment.

- by SEKINO Masako
- translated by SHIRASAKI Mari

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Rediscovering Japanese

On January 30th, "Rediscovering Japanese", the lecture presentation of Kyoto City International Foundation's 20th anniversary, was held. The lecturer was Ms. Sei. She was the producer and instructor of the TV Japanese lesson called "Shin-Nihongo de kurasou", which means "New 'Let's live in Japanese'" in Japan. NHK Educational TV broadcast the TV lesson from 2004 to 2006. Ms. Sei was a Japanese instructor of the United States Department of State Foreign Service Institute Japanese Language and Area Training Center.

Ms. Sei articulated the actual conditions of Japanese Language and Japanese society in the presentation. For example, approximately 80% of people who learn Japanese overseas are Asian. It is especially said that young people in Asian nations are interested in Japanese through Japanese subcultures such as those based on animations and video games. However, Japanese shyness and unenthusiastic Japanese-language overseas education by the Japanese government prevent this language from becoming used worldwide at present. Likewise, Japanese virtue, such as respecting others and attaching weight to concord with others, hardly comes through.

Ms. Sei insisted that the Japanese need the "internationalization at home" to share their virtues with peoples in other countries. In practice, this includes understanding the difference between Japanese lifestyle and that of other countries. For example, people from other countries would be able to see the daily lifestyle in Japan, including the use of a Japanese-style toilet.

Finally, Ms. Sei concluded the presentation with the phrase "It is good that each person differs from each other." I will deepen friendships with not only Japanese people but also people from other countries, bearing that phrase in mind.

-by WATANABE, Takeshi

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Orientation for Foreigners

If you started to live in Kyoto from this spring, welcome to Kyoto!

In the orientation, we will give you some useful information about living in Kyoto. We will also have a party which anyone can participate. Why don't you come to the Kyoto International Community House (kokoka),and make a lot of friends?

*The presentation will be in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and English.

Orientation for Foreigners

Orientation for Foreigners

Date&Time : 2010/04/18 (Sun) 2:00pm~5:30pm
Place : Kyoto International Community House (kokoka)
Application: Please visit our website (, and see the orientation page by seeing the 'News', and apply using the orientation page.

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

When : April 25th (SUN), May 16th (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

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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. Masanari Okamoto, who comes to the library often. They introduces their recommended newspaper and a book. You can read them at the library!



This newspaper, which is published in Britain brings the bright future.
It makes you feel great and get rid of stress. It is rare to meet their intelligences in Japan.

Are you terribly distressed!? They receive your spiritual illusion. It works for diversion, and suggest solutions and directions for you.

Their opinions are "Encouraging and delightful", and will broaden your knowledge. Touch the centre of vogue with kind and honest expression.

Let's assimilate the international information.

- MINATO, Masayuki

A Flat Truth of Japanese People

A Flat Truth of Japanese People

Written by Jonathan Rice, Sahoko Kaji, Noriko Hama
Translated by Hiroaki Kobayashi
Published by Macmillan Languagehouse

Following things are said in this book as the inclination or stereotypes of Japanese people.

* They are likely to distinguish the relationships with 'outsiders and insiders'.
* They precede to 'sense' other people's feelings.
* They try to learn well about foreign countries, but they have strong feelings that foreign people do not understand Japan and Japanese.
* They are really sensitive about how they are seen by other people.

This book is a theory of Japanese people and society for foreign people, and it refers to the character of Japanese people with containing humor, sarcastic, and exaggeration. (I guess some of them above are not true anymore.) This is one of the series which are written about people in major countries such as Russian, Chinese, Spanish, and so on. The series have over 20 books. This series are written for overcoming the fear of foreign people, and it is quite easy to read for your free time.

I asked myself "Why am I interested in books like this?" I guess that is because I am a typical marginal person and Japanese, who can only identify myself as Japanese through the comparison with others. (I believe that you would understand what I mean if you read "The Theory Of Marginal Japanese", written by Tatsuru Uchida. The book is one of the best selling books in Japan.)

I hope to affirm myself -or Japanese peopleas such.

- OKAMOTO Masanari
- translated by INOUE Ayaka

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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:

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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
6 min walk from T09 Keage Station, Subway Tozai-line
Hours : 09:00-21:00
Closed : Monday (Open on Manday and closed on Tuesday, when Monday is National Holiday.)

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

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IKUTA Minoru / ITOU Hidetoshi / WANG Yongcheng / KAWAMOTO Eri / KOMATSU Takehisa / SHIMADA Emi / JIANG Yan / SEKINO Masako / BOND Lisel / MATSUYAMA Tomoko / YAMASHITA Motoyo / WATANABE Takeshi

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