Kamo River and the People of Kyoto

LELLEY, Daniel

Kamo river in Kyoto

Kamo River in Kyoto

With spring on the horizon, blooming flowers and visiting tourists multiply in step with one another. In concurrence with the many historical and popular sites in the city, Kyoto's Kamo River too will see its fair share of visitors, especially now that the cherry blossoms have come to flower.

Throughout this past winter, however, I've noticed that the Kamo River plays a role in the life and culture of Kyoto's residents well outside of hanami (flowering watching) season. I've never seen the riverbanks empty; people jog, cycle, spend time with loved ones, practice sport, walk their dogs, etcetera, along the Kamo throughout the entire year. Stretching from north of the city to well south of Kyoto Station, its banks act as an extra sidewalk through central Kyoto, one that doubles as a park. After shopping on Kawaramachi or exploring about Gion, I've come to enjoy finding a bench, taking out a snack, and watching people enjoy taking their day at a leisurely pace; it makes a clear contrast with the busy streets running alongside it.

During my time in Kyoto I've also come to learn that, like most sites in the old capital, the Kamo River has its own fair share of history. Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine, both directly associated with the river, were built more than 1000 years ago. The bridge at Shijo has a statue in honor of Izumo no Okuni, the inventor of the traditional performing art known as kabuki . It was at the Kamo River that she held her performances in the seventeenth century. At Gojo Bridge, a short walk further south can be found a statue commemorating MINAMOTONO Yoshitsune and MUSASHIBO Benkei, famous figures from the Japanese classic Tale of the Heike (*1). According to legend, Yoshitsune defeated Benkei in combat and won his loyalty on Gojo Bridge.

I think the Kamo River deserves a visit as much as any other site from Kyoto's past. The next time you need to head from one bustling center of the city to another, consider making a brief detour along the riverbanks.

*1 Tale of the Heike : Military epic written about Heike's (TAIRA Family) glory and downfall

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Do you take your packed lunch or eat out?

Where and how do you have lunch? Students may often go to their cafeteria. Sometimes you may also buy a packed lunch from a lunch provider or have bread or sandwiches from a convenience store.

Lunch Box banner

Home made Lunch Box Banner

Around my office, several stores sell packed lunches only at lunch time, from 11:30 to 12:30.

For example, a handmade lunch a cigar store sells at its store front costs 390 yen including a Japanese soup or a dried seasoning for sprinkling over rice. Because some people bring rice with them, a side dish can be bought for 300 yen. When it is past 12:00 they are sold out. A restaurant which elegant customers visit in the evening sells 500 yen lunches of different kinds each day. Here also there is always a line.

Packed lunches are bought and eaten in dining rooms or at the work place, or in parks too. These instant lunch providers are popular among salaried workers and office ladies who don't like to prepare the lunch by themselves but prefer more inexpensive lunches to restaurants.

At lunch time you should try one if you find a banner or a poster reading "Hand made packed lunch" as in the picture. I hope you can come across an inexpensive and good tasting packed lunch.

- SEKINO, Masako
- translated by KOMATSU, Takehisa

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A Lunch of Japanese Food


Okazu : side dishes
(a)Pickled plums
(c)Chirashizushi Kit
(d)fried bean curds

30 years ago, Japan did not have the custom of buying lunch at convenience stores. Instead, we brought lunch in boxes. At that time, we used to eat rice more than sandwiches.
(Right picture) In side dishes (Okazu), we prepared salmon, omelets, and leftovers from last night's supper. Pickled plums (a) and the dried bonito were mixed with rice and rolled with seaweed (b).

As an amateur cook, I would like to introduce a menu that can be easily prepared using foods sold in a supermarket.

Lunch Box

Obento : Lunch Box

left picture - Obento(1): Inarizushi/Sushi rolled with fried bean curds: Chirashizushi kit (c) mixed with rice and and put in seasoned fried bean curds (d).

left picture - Obento(2): Sekihan/Steamed rice with red beans (e): Cooked glutinous rice with boiled red beans. Omelet and squid tempura (frozen food) are added to the side dish and decorated with pickled plums and sesame.

Those dishes are used on congratulatory occasions or birthdays. In the old days, lunch boxes were made of metal, but now you can buy many different kinds for 100 yen. For example, the box in the photo was also two for 100 yen. Many different scissors are used to cut seaweed in various shapes, and a variety of models for rice balls are available, too. You can express your feelings with the design of your lunch box. This spring, why not make yourself a delicious and original box lunch?


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Prepare for disaster on a routine basis

Let's get "Earthquake / Emergency Action Manual" and the "pamphlet about Earthquake and Fire" at kokoka.

Regional Evacuation Sites are posted on the "Guide To Kyoto Map". (400 yen for a map)
Kyoto has very few disasters. But if you are prepared, you don't have to worry.

Also, apply for Multilingual Useful Information Site. When disasters occur, we will send out necessary information. http://www.kcif.or.jp/MMD/accept_mails

Earthquake / Emergency Action Manual (left)
Guide to Kyoto Map (right)

Earthquake & Fire Guide map in Kyoto

Let's work altogether for revival of North East Japan.

kokoka is accepting donations for the victims of Tohoku Earthquake.
◆ There is a Donation Box at Kyoto International Community House "kokoka"
◆Cash registered mail to: 〒606-8536 (no need to write the address) Kyoto City International Foundation "Donation for the victim of the Tohoku Earthquake"
◆Direct deposit : Kyoto Chuo Shinyo Kinko, Okazaki branch, account 0198143
ざいだんほうじんきょうとしこくさいこうりゅうきょうかい 財団法人京都市国際交流協会

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When I think of Japan, one of the first things that comes to mind is technology. Before ever leaving America, the spread of popular electronics with names like Sony and Toshiba made clear Japan's technological prowess.

Whether it's enjoying a plate of takoyaki prepared by a vending machine or receiving bidet service from a mechanized toilet, Japan has “technologized” seemingly every aspect of life. My first trip to Japan four years ago felt more like a trip into the future. When I came to Kyoto this January, I expected the Japanese to have brought their innovative technology and electronics to the college campus, as well.

On an American college campus, no matter where you go—the library, the dining hall, the dorms, the classroom—you find students hunched over the glowing screens of their laptops. The laptop has become an essential component of the university student's life, the new notebook, textbook, and daily planner, and he is seldom without it.

In Japan, however, I've been hard-pressed to find a student using laptop anywhere. Having been here for over two months, I've stumbled upon the occasional laptop user, but the majority of Japanese students prefer books, notes, and pens. It seems that universities are one of the few places left behind by Japan's technological bullet train.


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Free Counseling Day for Non-Japanese Residents

We had a lot of visitors for “Free Counseling Day for Non-Japanese Residents” here at the Kyoto City International Community House on Sunday, February 20th 2011. This event is held four times a year; February, June, September and December. Anyone who is concerned with legal, visa, tax, insurance, pension and mental issues can come and get advice from specialists in each field, such as lawyers, administrative consultants and mental counselors.

Interpretation is available in English, Chinese, Korean, French and Spanish. Even if you can't speak Japanese, you don't have to be anxious. Any personal information, including your name and details of consultations, is assured to be kept confidential. You don't need any fee.

Councelling day

counselling day

Here are some examples of recent and frequent of inquiries.

◆Legal: Problems with residence or landlords, cases of injury in traffic accidents, divorces with Japanese spouses.
◆Visa: Applications for working, entrepreneur, re-entry visa or permanent residency.
◆Tax/insurance/pension: Deduction from salary (Am I paying too much? Is there a refund if I go home?)

Having similar problems? No matter what kind of problem you have, don't be worried alone, please come to this event.

The next Counseling Day will be held on Sunday, June 4th 2011. Please make a reservation for consultation. We also have a free legal and visa counseling service for non-Japanese residents every 1st and 3rd Sunday afternoon at our community house. Reservations are required. Please contact us at the phone 075-752-3511


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Listening to Incense

Western-style aromatherapy using essential oils has spread widely throughout Japan. However, in addition to 'Sado' (tea ceremony) and 'Kado' (flower arrangement), we have our own culture to enjoy incense called 'Kodo' that has been practiced since the Muromachi era (A.D.1392 to 1573) and Kyoto is the place of its establishment and development. Enjoying incense can be a good way to manage stress and indulge in a little luxury.

censer for kodo

censer for kodo

Rather than saying one “smells” incense, in 'Kodo' we use the verb “listen” to describe the physical sensation of enjoying incense. It means to focus one's mind towards the incense in a quiet atmosphere. 'Monk' is the art of listening to incense that rises up from a small piece of fragrant wood burned in a special censor. Those who practice Monko do so following a specific code of manners, and often they will participate in a challenge to distinguish among the many different scents called Kumiko. There are a number of different 'Kumiko' games, which vary according to the season and occasion. Each variety has a different name, such as 'Genjiko' and 'Keibako'.

Jinko (*1) is the fragrant wood generally used in Kodo, however the particular scent of the incense varies from tree to tree. To classify incense, we use a system called 'Rikkoku Gomi' (*2). At the store listed below, you can try listening to incense. As spring approaches, why not familiarize yourself with Kodo?

The incense store

◆ Yamada-matsu co., LTD.
Address: Shimodachiuri-agaru (street north), at Muromachi-dori (street) http://www.yamadamatsu.co.jp/

*1 Jinko : A type of fragrant wood found in Southeast Asia
*2 Rikkoku Gomi :
'Rikkoku' ('Kyara', 'Rakoku', 'Manaban', 'Manaka', 'Sumondara', 'Sasora') originally represented the countries of origin of the fragrant wood, but today it represents the characteristics of incense.
'Gomi' is a way of expression that likens incense to the five tastes: san (sour), kan (sweet), shin (spicy), kan (salty) and ku (bitter) .

- TAKII, Tomoko

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Silicon Valley in Japan, Kyoto

When the capital moved to Tokyo in 1869, the people of Kyoto felt a sense of extreme crisis. Kyoto, which had been the capital until then, might decline. It was the holding of an Industrial Exhibition (Exposition today) that is thought of as one of the modernization of Kyoto. One who actively took part in this was SHIMADZU Genzo. He successfully flew a balloon in the Sendo Imperial Palace in 1879, and established the Shimadzu Corporation. The company was originally based in the production of Buddhist altar fittings, but it was later able to begin the production of equipment for physics and chemistry education, the foundation of the present corporation. This was the start of what is now called venture business and frontier industry.

Various industries arose in Kyoto as a result of this spirit of development, subtly refined skills, a progressive attitude, and its climate. The traditional industries capable of using the technology required for these industries was in Kyoto. Moreover, Kyoto Prefecture sent students internationally and various technologies were acquired from each visited country. For instance, jacquard and flying shuttle cloth weaving machines were brought back from France and Austria. KAWASHIMA Jinnbei exhibits in the Exposition by making good use of a traditional design sense. Talking of pottery, KIYOMIZU Rokubei manufactured Kyo-yaki using gypsum mold in Yokohama, and Shofu Toki manufactured the glass, and this became the starting point of present ceramic in the end of the Meiji era. KIYOMIZU Rokubei made Kyoto ceramics from a pottery manufacture method using plaster mold from Yokohama, and Matukaze Toki manufactured glass at the end of the Meiji era, which became the starting point of modern ceramics. In regard to Yuzen, silk fabrics produced by means of a copy and paste technique are completed. A screen printing technique was introduced from Germany at the end of the Meiji era. The key industries of modern Kyoto have developed. The crafts industry drew people's attention with the improvement of the designs of excellent painters and workmen and the development of their education. From this excellent enterprises were born, such as: Omron Corp., Wacoal Holdings Corp., Dainippon Screen Mfg. Co., Ltd., Nissha Printing Co., Nichicon Corp., Kyocera Corp., Murata Mfg. Co., Ltd., and Kawashima Selkon. Horiba, Ltd. and Nintendo Co., Ltd., Yoshichu Group, etc. also appeared. The starting point of the excellent enterprises Kyoto boasts is right here.

- IKUTA, Minoru

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kokoka news  * * *  kokusai koryu kaikan news

Orientation for Foreigners

Orientation for foreigners

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.

◆Date&Time: Sunday April 10th 2011 2:00pm~5:30pm
◆Place: Kyoto International Community House (kokoka)
◆Application: Please visit our website below and see the orientation page by seeing the 'News', and apply using the orientation page.
◆Next Time: Sunday October 16th 2011

Easy Japanese

Easy Japanese I

This class is for those studying Japanese for the first time. The goal is basic Japanese language ability. For example, topics may include basic greetings, food, shopping, and many others.

Easy Japanese II

This class is for those that already have the ability to read and write hiragana and katakana. The goal is to develop your knowledge of Japanese expressions further and also help you with your writing.

Fee: 6,000 yen for 12 classes, including teaching materials
Date: April 1st through June 24th, every Friday
Applications: Please fill in the form and turn in at kokoka counter by Saturday April 30th, 2011

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

When: Sunday April 24th, 2011 10:00-16:00 (in case of rain, 29th April national holiday)
When: Thursday May 5th (National Holiday), 2011 10:00-16:00 (in case of rain, Saturday May 14th)
Where: West North corner of Kawaramachi-Dori(Street) and Oike-Dori (Street) in front of Kyoto City Hall
Organizer:Plus One Network
TEL: 075-229-7713
URL: http://www.plusone.ne.jp/fm/fm_shiyakusho1.html

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Library Letter - Kyoto International community House Library

The Recommended Book

“Japanese Identities: Architecture Between Aesthetics and Nature”

Written by Yuichiro Edagawa.

The Complete Guide to Finding a Job in Japan

Spring has come! It is an exciting season. A lot of new things start this season. Don't you feel like going out somewhere? Although there are various guide books, we suggest enjoying Japanese architecture this spring.

Enjoy Japanese style through architecture and feel the power of flowers about to blossom and fresh green leaves. From ancient to modern, famous architecture throughout Japan is introduced in English and Japanese.

The Hokkori Book Café - Our chat event

"Hokkori" means "relaxed" in Japanese. Let's enjoy talking together.

Date: Sunday, April 30th, 2011
Topic: relationship between people to people

The following books are also available - Books are not available for check out

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.

Kokoka (Kyoto International Community House) library

Open Hours: 9:30am ~ 8:30pm
Closed on Mondays & last day of every month
Phone: 075-752-1187
FAX: 075-752-3510
Homepage: http://www.kcif.or.jp

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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

Useful Kyoto Information: http://www.kcif.or.jp/en/benri/

Message board: http://www.kcif.or.jp/msb/

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: office@kcif.or.jp

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: office@kcif.or.jp
〒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 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 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 / OKUMURA Junko / KOMATSU Takehisa / SUZUKI Hidetoshi / SEKINO Masako / TAKII Tomoko / TASCHE Tom / HAGIHARA Yasue / MIKAZUKI Asako / MINATO Masayuki / YAMASHITA Motoyo / LELLEY Daniel / WATANABE Takeshi

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