Ancient city with natural beauty

from China

Since the Heian period, Kyoto, the city that is gifted with natural beauty, has been the center of the culture of Japan. Kyoto is such a city that it is called the spiritual home of Japanese people. As a foreigner studying in Kyoto, I appreciate its natural beauty, which is famous for its mountains and rivers.

Many tourists pay a visit to Kyoto every year. Many people believe that temples like Kiyomizu or Kinkakuji are the most famous sightseeing area, however, in my view, the most attractive scenery is the seasons' scenery of Kamo River, which lies in Kyoto. The limpid water of Kamogawa River and its surrounding mountains make the culture of Kyoto become one of a kind in the world, which is quite amazing. Along the river, there are many people who like to take their time leisurely just to enjoy their life, while many kids like playing in the water, in other words to say, people in Kyoto enjoy the beautiful seasonal changes of Kamogawa River so much. Honestly to say, I am among those guys.

Kamo River

In spring, Kamo River could even be taken as the river of Sakura. The riverside road is fringed by different kinds of Sakura, as if it is embellished by white silk. When you observe the Sakura in full bloom, you can feel the power of life. No matter how small a flower is, it tries to show its beauty to the world. When it comes to summer, there are some seasonal events along the Kamo River which let people enjoy the cool of a summer evening. Especially during the traditional festival—the Bon holidays, the Gozan-okuribi can also be seen from the river. You can see a lot of people dressed up in Yukata during that period, which could be a great chance to approach to the traditional Japanese culture.

In autumn, the riverside is covered in red. Decorated by maple leaves, the Kamo River is such a amazing feast to eyes, or even to say spectacular, while it is beyond the words. Kamo River continues to flow without freezing in winter. There were so many times which was quite chilling while I was on my way to school, however, when I was waiting for the signal near the Kamogawa River, I cannot even feel the cold, maybe I gain my strength from the power of Kamo River.

The stores along the riverside is a great choice for the people who wandering around along the Kamo River. Even just trying to find a shop you like would be an amusement. Sometimes just take a walk along the riverside would make you feel relax. By listening to the sound of flowing river, I can feel, all the more, profundity of history. Thus, we enjoy our life in Kyoto blessed with beautiful water, green and soil which Kyoto people have been nurturing with much love.

How lucky we are to have Kyoto in Japan!

How lucky we are to have Kamo River in Kyoto!

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Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine

Kitano Tenmangu price list

When it comes to November, fall deepens and the splendid brocade-like scenery, which is woven by the leaves from red to yellow, turns out very beautiful; however, for all overseas students still preparing for the exams, it is also a nerve-wracking period, isn't it? After the “Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU)”, which is held twice a year is over, no matter how nervous you are while waiting for the result, you soon have to make preparations for the upcoming entrance exams and interviews for university. Although I can understand how it feels when we want to play and have fun but just cannot. I still would like to introduce you to a place for relaxation, where I believe you will enjoy yourself at Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine. The person worshiped there as a god is named Sugawara no Michizane. He was a scholar and politician of the Heian Period. Because at a young age he started to show prominent talents for literature, he is regarded as “Master of Literature, Founder of Nature Poetry”. Therefore, the main divine merit of Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine has become learning and study.

Turn history aside, let's move to the main theme. One of the reasons for Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine's popularity as a spot for school excursions lies in the “special praying for university admission and diligence” service. That is a kind of praying which is set for students in hopes of passing an exam, getting enrolled in university or achieving goals in studies. There are two types of praying service, Type One and Type Two, and the prices are 5,000 yen and 4,000 yen respectively. Both include things removed from the altar such as Kangaku-mamori (a lucky charm for diligence), Kangaku-fuda (an amulet for diligence), Kigan-ema (a votive picture tablet for praying), Hissho-hachimaki (a headband for victory), plum tea and a set of pencils. The difference of 1,000 yen depends only on whether you pay to enter the inner shrine or not. Perhaps it sounds astonishingly expensive; however, considering that from the day of application to the end of March, every morning the people in the shrine pray that our wishes will be fulfilled, we can hardly deny it is worth how much it should. Of course, apart from the set menu, thea la carte menu is also offered. Kangaku-mamori or Kangaku-fuda are 600 yen each. Kigan-ema is 400 yen. And there is also eto1-mamori (300 yen), which is quite special. What year in Chinese astrology were you born in? How about buying one for your friends or yourself during your visit there? By the way, among overseas students spread some anecdotes that some of them received the praying from Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine and even got enrolled in the Tokyo University.

Kitano Tenmangu

The “Admission Praying Course” is the best choice if you are preparing for big exams. If not, the “Architecture Appreciation Course” is still a good choice. And the shrine is open to general visits for free. After we pass through the southern torii, walk along the curved front approach, and then head for inside still more, we arrive at the Sanko-mon Gate. There are gorgeous sculpture decorations of kirin (camelopard) and the like. In fact, the Sankomon Gate is also known as the mysterious “Sankomon without Star”. In other words, instead of the sun, the moon and the stars, which should have been sculpted, the sun, the moon and the crescent have been sculpted. Let's look at the sculpture carefully and try to find them out! Going through the gate, we will be facing the national treasure—the main shrine. It is viewed as a building typical of the architecture of the Momoyama Period. We can see the grandeur and beauty of the Momoyama architecture from the red-painted latticework of the facade, golden lanterns, golden patterns on the eaves, brilliant sculptures and so on. And on top of the brown hiwada2-thatched roof lie some patina green bigridges, which are linking the outer shrine and the inner shrine together. The roof shape has a lot of variations and when we look down at it from up in the air, we will see the green big ridges form a katakana “エ”. It can be interesting to take a walk around the shrine while imagining the shape of the roof.

In fall, many events are held in Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine such as the Yoko-matsuri and the Koyo-en. For more information about the events or the access, please visit the homepage:

*1 Here eto refers to the twelve animals in the zodiac of Chinese astrology such as mouse and tiger.
*2.the bark of a Japanese cypress

- WANG Yongcheng

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Origami for College Students in Kyoto

Nessie and morning glory

Look at the photo on the right. Those are morning glory and Nessie made of paper. It is made by only folding a sheet of paper. Origami is a traditional handicraft of Japan that anyone can learn to do. A student group, “Origami for College Students in Kyoto” is introducing the technique of creating models using sheets of paper that is origami.

Mainly the students of Doshisha and Ritsumeikan Universities, about 50 students belong to the Origami for College Students in Kyoto. There are also foreign students. And, they are holding various events to introduce the attractions of origami.

morning glory

This time, “Origami Class in Summer Holiday” was held. I and a Taiwanese student, Lin Yiqi joined this event and its preparation. Lin Yiqi told me his impressions about the event.

“I made a morning glory and Nessie at the preparation. The folding processes to make them were so interesting. Although they were not so difficult, each completed piece had individuality. The next day, I went to the event with my friend and made a morning glory and Nessie again. Then I also learned how to make a heart. The event was really enjoyable. After making a heart, I found a four-leaf clover on the desk, and I was surprised to notice that it was made by combining four hearts. I suppose origami has many possibilities.”

The pieces we made this time were so simple, but some kinds of origami pieces are very complex and it takes one hour to make them. In addition, I heard there is a “Nippon Origami Association” and the license of “origami instructor”. I was surprised at the popularity of origami.

Origami for College Students in Kyoto will exhibit at the Kyoto City International Communication House Open Day on November 3. Why don't you visit World Culture Workshop which will be held at kokoka 3rd floor on Open Day to learn about this easy traditional Japanese handicraft!

Origami for College Students in Kyoto

- SUZUKI Hidetoshi
- cooperated by LIN Yiqi

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Maple tree? Red leaves? Momiji ?

It is often expressed that "autumn is the red leaves' season". How would you read this kanji letter, 紅葉?

According to Kojien (Japanese dictionary that is often used in Japan), if you read this as “koyo”, it means that leaves change their color into red or yellow in the autumn, or those leaves themselves. This is a phenomenon that occurs with increasing of the anthocyan in vacuole of each cell and decompose the chlorophyll. “Koyo” is also written as 黄葉. With this writing, it means that the color of the leaves change into yellow. They are both generally called “momiji”. Maple trees and lacquer trees are well known as “koyo” trees.

Maple is also called “momiji”. In this case, momiji may be the generic name of “koyo” among many kinds of trees. Talking about the origin of Japanese naming of maple “kaede”, it came from "kaerude" because a maple leaf resembles to a hand (Te in Japanese) of frog (Kaeru in Japanese).

Maple trees have sweet sap, which are gathered to boil down to make maple syrup. A red maple leaf is designed on the national flag of Canada. At Korankei valley in Aichi prefecture, “tempura” are made from maple leaves that were pickled in salt for one year. “Tempura of momiji” are fried in Mino, Osaka. Lemon pop, a kind of cooling beverages, are made from maple sap in Chichibu, Saitama. Nikko maple contains many bitter ingredients, which is used as a medicine. Maples have many uses such as food, medicines, building materials and etc.

I suppose that it is quite hard to recognize the difference between “momiji” and “kaede”. Can you tell the difference?

- IKUTA Minoru

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Have Fun at School Festival!

Here comes Gakuensai; a school festival. The universities around Kyoto will be holding the festivals between October and November. School festivals are one of the biggest annual events for Japanese students. Classes are canceled during the festival. Students have many kinds of activities they prepared.

Then, how can we enjoy school festivals? You can find many booths around the campus. Foods are served, such as fried-noodles, fried chicken, and other standard foods for festivals. Major universities generally have more than a hundred booths where you might find unique foods as well as standard ones. Additionally, dances and plays are performed by students and there is also a flea market. Concerts and shows by professional singers and comedians are organized.

Anyone can join school festivals, so they give you an opportunity to enjoy the fall in Kyoto.

Kyoto Sangyo University: Oct. 31st, Sun – Nov. 2nd, Tue
Kyoto University of Foreign Studies: Oct. 31st, Sun – Nov. 2nd, Tue
Ryukoku University (Fukakusa Campus): Nov. 5th, Fri – Nov. 7th, Sun
Ritsumeikan University (Kinugasa Campus): Nov. 13th, Sat – Nov. 14th, Sun
Kyoto University: Nov. 20th, Sat – Nov. 23rd, Tue
Doshisha University (Imadegawa Campus): Nov. 26th, Fri – Nov. 28th, Sun

More Universities in Kyoto are planning to hold school festivals as well as Universities above.

- By Okumura, Junko

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The Kyoto Kimono Passport

Explore the autumn in Kyoto with Kimono

Autumn has come, turning Kyoto into a place of incomparable beauty. However,the kimono, a kind of traditional Japanese garb, is nearly as exquisite. Have you ever worn kimono? Starting October 1, the Kyoto Kimono Passport, a free annual booklet will be available for a year. Anyone wearing kimono and carrying this passport can receive discounts and complimentary services in temples, shrines, restaurants, hotels, museums and other facilities in Kyoto. Since it also contains information on where to rent and be dressed in kimono, there is no worry for those who don't have their own nor know how to wear one.

Kimono Passport

The Kyoto Kimono passport

In Kyoto, you can enjoy the colorful autumn leaves until the end of November or early December each year. During this season only, many temples and shrines featured in the passport will be lit up and open in the evening. There is a wondrous beauty which cannot be seen in the vividness of the day that you should not miss. And of course it will be even more special if you are wearing kimono there. There is no better way to explore the autumn in Kyoto than with this nifty passport!

The Kyoto Kimono Passport is available in several places including:

The places where you can get Kimono Passport
・Kyoto Tourist Information Center (Kyoto Station Building F2)
・Mielparque Kyoto (Right beside the Kyoto Station Building)
・Kyoto Kimono Station (Kyoto Industrial Center F1)
・Nishijin Textile Industrial Center
・Or in the kimono section of department stores in Kyoto

For more information, please visit

- Hagihara, Yasue

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kokoka news  * * *  kokusai koryu kaikan news

Kyoto International Community House OPEN DAY 2010
  ~ Let's connect with the world from kokoka ~

Let's enjoy the various countries' dances and music, and also can eat foods from the world. You can buy stuff at the flea market, experience ZaZen in English, and sushi-roll making.

Why don't you get the chance to connect with the "world" in kokoka, Kyoto International Community House.

DATE:November 3rd, Wed/Holiday 11:00am ~ 4:00pm
PLACE:Kyoto International Community House (kokoka)

☆Let's Zazen in English (prior reservation required)☆

"Zazen" has the appearance of what is normally called meditation. Za-Zen is sitting Zen - one aspect of Zen. Zen is a way of using one's mind and living one's life, and doing this with other people. To study the self is ZaZen.

Priest, Matsuyama Daiko from Taizo-in, Zen Buddhist temple in Myoshin-ji, will instruct Zazen in English.
Time : 11:00am to 12:00pm (gathering time is at 10:55am)
Place: Seminar Room, 3F, Kyoto International Community House
Application: Required call 075-752-3511 until Oct. 17th(Sun.)
Seating : 25 people

The Film Screenings (all films with English subtitles or English narrations)

The Japan Foundation Kyoto Office will present masterpieces of Japanese animations, dramas and cultural documentaries as follows

Place: Kyoto International Community House Event Hall
Admission: Free
All programs will start at 14:00pm

October 21
Kyoto Imperial Palace, Katsura Imperial Villa, Shugakuin Imperial Villa
(1972 / Totsu Video for all films)
October 22
Tokyo Story (Directed by Yasujiro OZU / 1953 / Shochiku)
October 23
Little Norse Prince Valiant
(Directed by Isao TAKAHATA / Scene design by Hayao MIYAZAKI and others / 1968 / Toei)
November 10
Narrative Picture Scrolls
(Directed by Eiji MURAYAMA / 1974 / Sakura Motion Picture)
Choju, Jinbutsu Giga:Scrolls of Frolicking Animals and People
(1981 / Broadcast Programming Center of Japan)
November 11
Broken Down Film (Directed by Osamu TEZUKA / 1985 / Tezuka Pro.)
Jumping (Directed by Osamu TEZUKA /1984 / Tezuka Pro.)
Pictures at an Exhibition (Directed by Osamu TEZUKA / 1966 / Tezuka Pro.)
November 12
Space Firebird
(Directed by Taku SUGIYAMA / Based on a story by Osamu TEZUKA / 1980 / Toho=Tezuka Pro.)

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

When: October 17th (SUN), November 21st (SUN) 10:00am - 4:00pm
Where : On the corner of Kawaramachi Dori and Oikeseihoku, in front of City Hall
Organizer:Plus One Network Phone:075-229-7713

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Library Letter - Kyoto International community House Library

The Recommended Book

New Japanese-Language Proficiency Test Guide Book
Outline and Question Examples N1・N2・N3 Edition, N4・N5 Edition

Written by The Japan Foundation, Japan Educational Exchanges and Services
Published by Bonjinsha

The Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) is an examination designed for non-native Japanese speakers.Starting in 2010, a newly revised JLPT will be released due to the increase in the number of test-takers and the evolution of the test's purpose.It ranges in level from N5, the easiest, to N1, the most challenging. We now have several copies of these textbooks which cover the newly revised JLPT in the library. They will surely be useful for your Japanese studies!

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.

Kyoto International Community House (kokoka) library

Open Hours: 9:30am ~ 20:30pm
Closed on Mondays & last day of every month
Phone: 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 Saturday Indian Yoga Yoga for Beginners 10:00 - 12:00 300 yen / time
1st and 3rd Saturday Furoshiki Wrapping learn how to use wrapping cloth 12:30 - 14:30 300 yen / time
1st and 3rd Saturday Bojagi & Korean Paper Create small Korean goods 15:00 - 17:00 500 yen / time
2nd and 4th Saturday Calligraphy Kana & Kanji Class 10:00 - 12:00 300 yen / time
2nd and 4th Saturday Paper craft & Origami making small goods and dolls 12:30 - 14:30 300 yen / time
2nd and 4th Saturday 笑笑 (laugh laugh) Club English Rakugo 15:00 - 17:00 Free (except copy fee)

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Notice Board

Useful Guides - You can get at Kokoka (Kyoto International Community House)

"Easy 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 an 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 send us an e-mail:

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
Open Hours : 09:00-21:00
Closed : Monday (Open on Manday and closed on Tuesday, when Monday is National Holiday.)

* International volunteers wanted, 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.

* LIK months
Even month when you can get the latest LIK!
* We update the Chinese, English, Japanese and Spanish version on the net as well.

* Member
IKUTA Minoru / WANG Yongcheng / OKUMURA Junko / HAO Shi / KAWAMOTO Eri / KOMATSU Takehisa / SUZUKI Hidetoshi / JIANG Yan / SEKINO Masako / HAGIHARA Yasue / MINATO Masayuki / YAMASHITA Motoyo / LIANG Jingfen / WATANABE Takeshi

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