Kyoto in Pink

Wang Yongzhong
from China

Whether an illusion or not, recently it was not infrequent that I found myself trying to sharpen my sense of smell, looking for some sort of faint and slight aroma as if it were drifting in the air. After spending my spring vacation in China, I came back to Japan and fortunately it was the season of cherry trees in full blossom. Every day when I go to school by bicycle, I come to cross the Koujin-bashi bridge over the Kamo River. Around there stand some cherry trees called Somei-Yoshino. Clusters of cheery blossoms were gathering round at the branch ends. As a rejuvenating breeze blew, the cherry blossoms began to send out their own petals in a flutter. While turning around in the wind, the pink-tinged petals, whose color was almost as pale as zinc white, lightly scratched the clear blue sky and fell tranquilly to the ground. Though it was not really a grand scene like thousands of petals falling like snowflakes, it did somehow relieve my strains and stresses at the beginning of a new semester. Perhaps it is the cherry blossom color reflected into my eyes that also makes my sense of smell try to seek something about cherry blossoms.

cherry trees

One day at a lecture a piece of waka (traditional Japanese poetry) from Goshuishu* was introduced. The poet wrote about the characteristic of the cherry blossom - that it falls immediately after it blooms and he wrote that the wind was to blame. For me, the naughty wind is not annoying at all, but quite the opposite, because the lively lovely petals take the first step of their most beautiful journey the instant they leave with the movement of the wind.

Sometimes I go to Gosho (the Imperial Palace) on a stroll, for it is just about five minutes' walk from my home. Frankly speaking, it is more like a central park. Besides tourists for sure, there are also many Kyotoites taking a walk. The other day it happened to be the general opening period in the spring and eventually I was able to have a glimpse at something that was associated with the term, “imperial”.

One of the things that left an impression was the shodaibu-no-ma (waiting room for all officials). Since those days I am paying special attention to cherry blossoms, I was particularly intrigued by the Sakura-no-ma (cherry blossom room). Some cherry blossom paintings were painted on the sliding doors where the evanescence of short-lived cherry blossoms is prolonged eternally. I even drowned myself in thoughts of how it would be if I were there, and an unconscious desire struck me for such a scene in life where I would be sitting on the tatami, leaving all the interruptions outside, looking absent-mindedly at the paintings while sipping some green tea or tasting some Japanese confectionery. Of course, it was no more than my imagination. However, such thoughts will hardly ever come to my mind unless I am in Kyoto.

* the 81st piece in Goshuishu, an anthology of waka edited in 1086.

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Some tips about the way of garbage sorting

Japan is well known as a recycling-oriented society in the world owing to its garbage classification and recycling system. As a foreigner living in Kyoto, it was quite difficult for me to remember the rules of garbage classifi cation at fi rst. A table is given below based on my experience. It will be easier to classify the garbage if you check it out.

Examples Household garbage Other plastic containers besides packaging PET bottles, cans, bottles Plastic Packaging
Types of garbage Waste, Papers, glasses

household gabage
Toys, buckets, CD, video cases, pen, toothbrush Food and beverage cans, bottles, PET bottles for soy sauce

PET bottles, cans, bins
Bottles with mark pla Containers of salad oil, mayonnaise, and detergent. Styrofoam
Plastic Packaging
The bags you should use bag for haosehold garbage bag for haosehold garbage bag for recyclable  garbage bag for recyclable  garbage

It is easy to make a mistake when it comes to the recycle of “Other plastic containers and packaging”, which means that even though it is plastic, it is not used as containers or packaging. For this reason, it is necessary for you to make sure whether it has the mark of pla (meaning plastic) on it.

pla mark

In my country China, you can get some cash back by recycling the large-size refuse, such as old beds or furniture. However in Japan, the trash disposal is charged. In Kyoto, you can make a phone call to the “recycling centre of large-size refuse of Kyoto” (0120-100-530) or some private companies to recycle it.

Let us observe the rules of waste classifi cation and keep the beauty of Kyoto.

- HAO Shi

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The Bon Dance Festival by Douda Area Residents

Obon festival is the one of the annual summer events in Japan. It is usually held in August and the main day is August 15th. In some regions, it is organized in July.

It is said that, during Obon festival, the ancestors of each family come to the descendants' home and stay there for a while. The living descendants send the souls of the ancestors to the Hereafter, turning on a light to prevent the spirits from getting lost on August 16th. This event is the Okuribi farewell fi re. In particular, the Great Bonfi re Event in Kyoto City, one of these events, is nationally famous.

Bon dances are held at parks and temples during this season.

If you go south a little from Marutamachi Street along the Kamo River, you will fi nd Kyoto City Douda Senior High School of Arts, which is located along the river. Therefore, you can have a nice view of Mt. Daimonji. The "Bon dance festival by Douda area residents” is organized at the schoolyard on August 15th and 16th every year. Many people turn out for the festival to view the Great Bonfi re Event and to enjoy the Bon dance on the second day.

Anyone can attend the event. I recommend the festival as the one of enjoyable summer events in Kyoto.

The nearest bus stop: Get off at “Kawaramachi Marutamachi”, the bus stop of Kyoto City Bus.

- SEKINO, Masako
- translated by WATANABE, Takeshi

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A transportation monster tamed

When you are a newcomer to Kyoto, often the first thing you do is plan your sightseeing tour. There is no other place in Japan where you can admire so many cultural and historical spots. However, even though you can always rely on your two feet, it is more convenient to use means of transportation.

As a foreigner I thought there is nothing easier to take the first train from my little Uji to get to Kyoto. A surprise came when I realized that actually there were two train stations close to my dorm, both with trains painted green and bound for Kyoto. First I thought it's probably the same line with two different platforms. The shock came out when I tried both of them and at each time I went to a different part of Kyoto.

at a ticket gate of railway station

at a ticket gate of railway station

First thing to learn is that there is more than one railway company, and often different railways go parallel to each other until they suddenly fork in two different directions. To this whole maze you need to add subway lines which often share stations with railway companies and buses which make the whole situation more confusing. Once I knew all that I realized that although English is often used in public transportation, sometimes (because of lack of space) only Chinese characters are used. Intimidated by all the obstacles I came across I decided to tame this communication monster. My golden rule was baby steps. I studied connections carefully comparing the kanji from my notebook to what I saw on the board. I also bought a book with kanji for everyday use to extend my knowledge so such Chinese characters as 停(stop) or 線(line) looked more friendly. After some time I travelled freely. I realized that the transportation in Kyoto is really a blessing and virtually you can get anywhere in the city by choosing the correct line. And if you still feel helpless in all that mess just ask somebody on the street. Locals are always eager to come to your aid.

- CZAPSKI, Michal

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Food poisoning

There are several causes of food poisoning. During this rainy season they are mostly bacteria. Let's try to avoid campylobacter or salmonella. So, the following three suggestions are recommendable.

Raw seafood or meat should be eaten very soon after being prepared, or heated (75℃ 1min. will kill bacteria)

(1) Cooking utensils (kitchen knife, cutting board etc.) should be washed and well dried.
(2) Don't overestimate the fridge (at -15℃ , bacteria stop increasing but never die out)
(3) Ethyl alcohol has sterilizing power at 70%. But my favorite beer and Japanese sake don't have enough effect on bacteria. So sorry!!

Poison is also kept in plants and animals. Why was poison created in this world? Safety is essential for living things to survive. Plants avoid being eaten by animals. Likewise, small animals avoid attacks from larger enemies. Thus, living things make various efforts to survive. Keeping poison seems to be one of the survival tools. Globefish killed many gourmets with its tetrodotoxin, affecting the nervous system and paralyzing respiratory muscles. However no beetles suffer from the tetrodotoxin. That's because most of toxins have an effect on those who are advanced in evolution but have no effect on those less developed bodies. So, toxin may be a weapon given to those who are behind in evolution. Nowadays respirators can rescue many of those got poisoned by globefish. However please take care.

A short story:
Two snakes are walking in the field. One talks to the other.
“Are we poisonous?”
“Yes, we are.”
“Are we really poisonous?”
“Sure. In fact, we are one of the most poisonous snakes in the world. Why do you ask?”
“Well... I just bit my tongue.”

- KOMATSU, Takehisa

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Recently seen signboards in front of temples

“The 800 Year Memorial of Honen”
“The 750 Year Memorial of Shinran”

These two signboards show the memorial events of two Buddhist priests who were very important in Japanese history. Missing the past year of their death, it starts at the end of March next year. Both of them learned from Chinese charismatic Buddhist priests, Shandao, with books, and established an easy gateway to Buddhism. Of course today on demand, their concepts still attract people as important roles and index. I often visit these temples, Nishi Hongwanji, Chion-in and Kurodani Konkai Komyo-ji. I then absorb knowledge that I wish I had known when I was younger.

Now on holidays, you may encounter many memorial-related events at the temples. No matter if you understand Japanese or not, it is possible to experience the mood of calming down. In the past, Japanese temples were the place for cultural exchange, to share and spread the knowledge. Take a look at cultural accumulations through the temples. It will lead your mind calm down in the hasty life. Quietly close up the past experiences, create better tomorrow, and drown wide variety of potential uses.

We have enough time untill the next year. I recommend you some good books at kokoka (Kokusai Kouryu Kaikan) library. The books of Ryunosuke Koike“Chinmoku Nyumon: Silence is the Best Scheme” and “Mou Okoranai: No more Angry”. He is the genious man “the one in 100 years”. If you have any interests, Buddhist priests are always willing to talk with you. You can see signboards at Jodo-shu party (Honen) and Jodo-Shinsyu party (Shinran) temples.

- MINATO, Masayuki

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kokoka news  * * *  kokusai koryu kaikan news

Renewal of Kyoto International Students Information Site!

There are many useful points on daily life and programs to discover the charm of Kyoto. Also, with “kokoka Ryugakusei Net”, we introduce the opportunity which let you can take advantage of your abilities. International Students cannot miss it!

Kyoto City International Foundation Volunteer Orientation

Why not build Kyoto City as the city which anyone feels comfortable to live in. We introduce our volunteer activities of Kyoto City International Foundation.

DATE:July 25th, Sunday, 2:00pm - 3:30pm
PLACE:kokoka (Kyoto International Community House) 3F Seminar Room

Barrier-Free World wide picture book exhibition

We will introduce multi-lingual picture books, which have overcome the language barrier, picture books which you can enjoy without language, Braille books, sign language books, fabric picture books etc... About 100 books will be introduced.

DATE:July 21st, Wednesday - 25th, Sunday, 11:00am - 5:30pm
PLACE:kokoka (Kyoto International Community House) 2F Sister City Corner

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

When : June 13th (SUN), July 11th (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 (kokoka) Library

Recommended Book

Sakamoto Ryoma in English

Sakamoto Ryoma in English

Two Volumes
Written by Romulus Hillsborough
Translated by Masaki Emi
Published from Japan Times

Ryoma is in the news! Every one is talking of Ryoma. But who is he?

Sakamoto Ryoma was active in the last days of Tokugawa Shogunate.

This year he is featured as a hero in the main T.V. drama on NHK.

So he is the center of public attention. In this book Ryoma's story is concisely written in English and Japanese. It is easy to read and this book comes with a CD in English. I do hope you can read it!

- Translated by KOMATSU, Takehisa

Latest news

New books arrived in April.
“ZEN YOGA”,“MICHELIN in Kyoto Osaka 2010”,“Lonely planet Hiking in Japan”, etc.
They are on reserve in front of the book counter. They are not lent out.

The following books are also available.

Books for foreigners to help their daily life in Japan.

Learn Japanese, law, visas, Japanese culture, sight seeing in Kyoto, newspapers of the world.

Books for Japanese to know foreign countries.

Travel overseas, Long stay, Study abroad, Working holiday, Volunteering.

[Hours] 9:30am ~ 8:30pm
[TEL] 075-752-1187
[FAX] 075-752-3510

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Japanese & Foreign Culture Program by voluntary groups.
Let's expand friendship. Reservation is Not required.

Schedule Course Name Contents Time Material Cost
1st and 3rd Sutarday Indian Yoga Yoga for Beginners 10:00 - 12:00 300 yen / time
Weave the Heart Handmade Cloth Sandals 12:30 - 14:30 300 yen / time
We can t'ai chi chuan T'ai chi chuan for Beginners 15:00 - 17:00 300 yen / time
2nd and 4th Sutarday Calligraphy Kana & Kanji Class 10:00 - 12:00 300 yen / time
NAMASTE INDIA Introduction of Indian Culture 12:30 - 14:30 300 yen / time
笑笑(らふらふ) Club English Rakugo 15:00 - 17:00 Free (copy fee +)

Five 笑笑(らふらふ) Club Members Presented English Rakugo (comic storytelling)

English Rakugo was presened at Seiganji-temple in Nakagyo-ward on April 29th afternoon. The event was planned by Kyoto Guide Club, the volunteer group of Kyoto City International Foundation. Five 笑笑 (らふらふ) club members presented Rakugo. Audience enjyoed their English Rakugo with laughter. In the begining, what was Rakugo was explained. Even beginners enjoyed . At very end, audience were on stage and even learned to present Rakugo. We hope Rukugo funs will increase.

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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

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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
6 min walk from T09 Keage Station, Subway Tozai-line
Hours : 09:00-21:00
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* Member
IKUTA Minoru / ITOU Hidetoshi / WANG Yongcheng / OKUMURA Junko / HAO Shi / KAWAMOTO Eri / KOMATSU Takehisa / SUZUKI Hidetoshi / JIANG Yan / SEKINO Masako/ CZAPSKI Michal / HAGIHARA Yasue / MATSUYAMA Tomoko / MINATO Masayuki / YAMASHITA Motoyo / WATANABE Takeshi

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