Season of cherry blossoms

Zhuang Jie Chun

In April, the color of cherry blossoms began to cover whole the city. In Japan, April is the start of the new academic year; it starts with the blooming of the cherry blossoms. The blossoms of this season are the second ones for me in Japan. I still remember when I first saw the fantastic cherry blossoms here, which I had only seen in movies and animation. I saw them at the Sakura Matsuri (cherry blossoms festival) in Hirano Shrine, which is famous for its cherry blossoms. I was intoxicated by the dazzling Senbon Zakura (a thousand of cherry trees) spread out in front of me. Norito (ritual Shinto prayer) was being recited by an oracle for some time and it felt like I had heard it in a dream. I also heard a performance of Gagaku (traditional Japanese music) and saw a dance which was dedicated to the shrine's god. It was then that I fully realized that I was in Kyoto. Unfortunately, I did not have a camera with me at that time, so I only could see the festival with my own eyes and try to memorize all of the scenes as a memory. Because of that day, I came to live near the Hirano Shrine when I came to Japan again.

Kyoto Cherry Blossoms

Zhuang is on left

Since it was little colder than usual this year, the cherry blossoms bloomed a week later than usual. I wanted to go to the Sakura Matsuri before but had no time, so I went following week. It was cloudy for two days before I went, but it finally cleared up. This time, leaves were coming out among the blossoms, so the trees were not only pink but also green. Since light green leaves could be seen among the white or pale pink blossoms, the trees were even more beautiful. As I visited on a weekday, there were not that many visitors, so I could see the trees in an relaxed atmosphere. It is said that there are 50 kinds of cherry blossoms in Hirano Shrine. Among them, the most impressive ones for me were “Kocho (butterfly)” and “Nezame (waking up)”. “Kocho” are the blossoms which have big, slightly red petals. They are funny because they look like a crowd of flying butterflies when they are swung by a wind. “Nezame” have single, small, white petals. Their pretty appearance reminds me of "Nakano-kimi", the heroine of “Nezame Monogatari” (*1) (story in waking up) – they look very charming.

The cherry blossoms in Hirano Shrine are said to continue blooming until May. However, since they began blooming in March, some of them had already dropped down by the time I visited. They piled the fallen petals together and it was just like a cherry-color road. It was very regrettable to have to tread on them. However, I realized that they will go back to the earth, thereby giving nutrition to the cherry blossom trees, which will then help the blossoms come out next year. It didn't seem so bad then. This spring, there were many occurrences, including one of deep sadness. However, I believe when we overcome the now, a new spring will come, and new cherry blossoms will bloom again as well.

*1 Nezame Monogatari: A story of dynasty written in the late Heian-jidai (Heian period, BC794-1192). The strong theory says that the author of the story is SUGAWARA-no Takasue no musume (daughter of SUGAWARA-no Takasue).

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Delicious Water of Kyoto

The year is already halfway through and it is currently the rainy season. But soon the relentless glare of the summer sun will return once again. In the blistering heat of summer we have been experiencing over the last several years, it is easy for many to feel faint just by walking few blocks. More than any season of the year, keeping hydrated is incredibly important. I usually bring a bottle of homemade frozen barley tea, but finish it in no time. Invariably, I end up looking for a convenience store, vending machine or coffee shop, craving another cold drink. However, one day last summer, I tried something new. Having heard a rumor of its tasty spring water, my friend and I went to a shrine deep in a small, forest-like wood.

Nashinoki Shrine

Nashinoki Shrine

The shrine is called Nashinoki-jinja and is known for its spring water, called “Some-no-i”, which is one of the three legendary springs of Kyoto. In Kanji, “i” means a well and “some” means to dye. This well is said to have once been used to dye cloth for the imperial family around the ninth century, thus giving the spring its name. The other two legendary springs are “Same-ga-i” and “Agata-no-i,” but “Some-no-i” is the only one that still provides drinking water. The day we visited, nearly ten people were lined up to try this precious water.

map to Nashinoki Shrine

Map to Nashinoki Shrine [enlarge]

When I finally got to drink it, I thought it was the most delicious water that I had ever tasted. It was icy, fresh, smooth and even subtly sweet. Some people were carrying big bottles to bring the water home. Indeed, if you make coffee or cook rice with this water, it will add some special flavor to them. Next time you feel parched, take a trip to this legendary spring, preferably with an empty bottle.


◊ Access to Nashinoki-jinja
Take Kyoto City Bus (No.3, 4, 17, 37, 59 or 205) and get off at Furitsu-idai-byoin-mae. It is about a 3 minutes walk from the bus stop to the shrine.
◊ For more information:

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There is fountain spot named “Fuji-no-mizu” at Fujinomori Shrine, in Fushimi. Fujinomori Shrine was founded before the beginning of Heian-Kyo (the former capital of Japan in Kyoto) in 794, and is said to contain the spirits for games and study.

map to Fujinomori Shrine

map to Fujinomori Shrine [enlarge]

“Fuji-no-mizu” means “no other water tastes as good as the water here” (“不二(Fuji)” means “no other”). Right next to the fountain, there is a bulletin board, which introduces “Mizu-rokkun” (six instructions on water). Instructions for the “Mizu-rokkun” are as follows – Water is Precious, Water is Beautiful, Water is Pure, Water is Strong, Water is Fearful, and Water is Deep.

The water always comes out, and there are ladles for drawing it out.

Fujinomori Shrine: 5 minutes walk from Sumizome Station, Keihan Line or Fujinomori Station, JR (Japan Railways).

- NAGATAKE, Yoshinobu

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My ecology in summer

How to save water



If you twist the faucet, cold and hot water comes out. That is no wonder in our life. For washing, using showers and drinking water, are you not extravagant with water and electricity? I am not saying to spare water bills! Why don't we start thinking about ecology?

I use a portable, lightweight, soft washtub. For knit clothes and small units washing, I use the remaining water from the bathtub. Reusing the warm water saves fresh water. Hand washing will also be a light workout. Also, if you leave the water in a washtub, while the temperature is 20℃, water temperature goes up to 30℃. After getting sweat by a bike ride, I use it for washing my face or warming up my foot. Without using the shower, you can make hot water with solar heat.

We're in a environment which we can get anything. We're easy to forget that resources are for us to forget that resources are for us to protect. Saving means eliminating waste. Let's spend the water preciously just like we spend the money.


Come up with an idea for “Use electric power for a great number of people!”

By coordinating saving energy a comfortable human life is attainable. In Japan, many people have found new lifestyle by overcoming crisis such as CO2 and sharply increasing the commodity price of things like crude oil. There is a phenomena at the library which synchronizes easily applicable and better motives, such as “I want to use electric power for a great number of people” and “I just want to read books”. Having this gate way allows many people to have chances for encountering and communicating together. Therefore, by becoming intimate with books holding an awareness of consciousness and through mutually provoking one another, they were also able to deepen the profundity of their culture. If they could also naturally polish themselves, evolve qualities and build up their own potential.

Kyoto International Community House comes to mind, as if you notice the installments that foreigners can also use, you also involuntarily have the expectation that you will approach the lucky person. We aim for the cultivation of sensitivity, good mental balance, and maintaining clear viewpoints and mental attitudes. The key words here are practical good use, keeping motivated while consciously using that interest, and marking the direction for a better tomorrow. Pray for good luck, fortune, and the swift luck!

- MINATO, Masayuki

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Pocket Lamp Saves Electricity?

Pocket Lamp
Pocket Lamp

Pocket Lamp

The Tohoku earthquake happened in March. It taught us the importance of electric power and I realized how am I wasting electricity in my daily life, so I learned a lot.

As it gets warmer and warmer towards summer, we will start using air conditioners, but it needs a lot of electricity. Because we want to save power and keep down our electric bills, we use the electricity as little as possible in our daily life. There are already some methods we use to reserve power: for example, presetting the temperature of the air conditioner to 28˚C and practicing “Cool Biz”.But isn't there another means to save the electricity without such a burden?

Right now I'm using this kind of card type pocket lamp. It is the same size as a credit card and only 3mm in thickness. When lamp head is raised, a gentle light is shot automatically. I can bring it in my wallet or my pocket and when I want a little light, it is very convenient. I put this lamp near my bed and use it as an emergency light or enjoy it as a type of interior design. It is an LED light, and the “fire” is not like a candle's, so it is safe, and it has a very bright light, as well as a beautiful color. There are various colors for this card so it might be nice for collecting them as you can enjoy a lot of different colors of light.

When you need a little light, it is very helpful. How about trying to save electricity with a small light?

This is not sold in Kansai. Therefore, We can get it only by internet.
Check here. →

- KUSUDA, Ayano

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Beer tastes its best during this season. It is particularly exceptional when you are thirsty. For the sake of that wonderful taste, I do exercises and take baths.

Almost 5,000 years ago, beer was already being brewed in Mesopotamia. In ancient Egypt, beer was served to the people engaged in building the Pyramids. Nowadays, there are various kinds of beer in many countries. A commonly drunk beer in Japan is Pilsner beer (a bottom-fermented, light colored lager), While Ireland enjoys Stout beer (a top-fermented, dark lager). Each land has its own beer, so each beer can be most appreciated in the climate of its homeland.

A feast in Japan often starts with a toast of beer. It is hoped that the toast master can finish his greetings before the bubbles disappear. Beer can be drunk throughout the meal. Please fill the empty glass of your neighbor. It is Japanese custom to fill the glass of others.

I am certain that you are tempted to try beer. You can have a free beer just by visiting the Suntory Kyoto beer factory. You must make an appointment by phone. For further information, please visit Suntory's home page:

- KOMATSU Takehisa

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Kyoto Mania Quiz

Q: The following phrase is a counting song to memorize the order of streets which run horizontally from Marutamachi Dori St. to Gojo Dori St. in the city of Kyoto. Guess what letters should be filled in each blank.
(The Answer will be in the next issue.)


★Please fill out the following questionnaire.★
1) Which article was the most interesting for you in this issue?
2) Please tell us topics you want to be picked up by LIK in the future.
Thank you for your cooperation.

You can get a free original kokoka product by filling out our questionnaire! Ask for it at the kokoka information counter on the 1st Floor.

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Let's work altogether for revival of Eastern Japan

kokoka is accepting donations for the victims of Tohoku Earthquake.

There is a Donation Box at Kyoto International Community House "kokoka"
Other than that,
◆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
財団法人京都市国際交流協会 or 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

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kokoka news * * * kokusai koryu kaikan news

Information from Kyoto Guide Club Tours

Kyoto Guide Club holds enjoyable tours for foreign residents. There will be tours held in June and July as follows.

June 5th (Sun.) 2011 : Hiking to Otokoyama (Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine and Rakugaki Dera)
June 26th (Sun.) 2011 : Experiencing Zazen at Kounji temple
Mid of July 2011 : Gion Matsuri tour
Please check more details from kokoka web-site new informations.

Volunteer Orientation

Would you like to make a contribution to internationalizing the Kyoto City area? Please apply through the kokoka website.

◆DATE: June 12th (Sun.), July 23rd (Sat) 2011 2:00pm - 4:30pm
◆PLACE: Kyoto International Community House. ( KoKoKa ) 3rd Floor Seminar Room
◆ URL:

Mini lecture for global understanding

Let's have better understanding by exploring several cultures of other countries. Please apply through the kokoka website or by telephone.

 June 26th (Sun.) 2011 / 11:00am - 12:00pm [Finland]
 July 24th (Sun.) 2011 / 11:00am - 12:00pm [Ukraine]
◆Place: Kyoto City International Community House(kokoka) 3rd Floor Volunteers' Room
◆Seats are limited to the first 20 applicants
◆Fee: Free
◆Phone: 075-752-3511

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

Where: West North corner of Kawaramachi-Dori(Street) and Oike-Dori (Street) in front of Kyoto City Hall
Organizer: Plus One Network
Phone: 075-229-7713

2011 Kyoto City Hall Flea Market schedule

Number Date In case of rain
155th Sun. June 12th Sat. June 18th
156th Sun. July 24th Sun. July 31st
157th Sun. Sep. 4th Sun. Sep. 11th
158th Sun. Sep. 25th Sun. Oct. 2nd
159th Thu. Nov. 3rd (holiday) Sun. Nov. 13th
160th Wed. Nov. 23rd (holiday) Sat. Nov. 26th
161st Sun. Dec. 4th Sun. Dec. 11th

2012 Kyoto City Hall Flea Market schedule

Number Date In case of rain
162nd Sun. Jan. 22nd Sun. Jan. 29th
163rd Sun. Feb. 19th Sun. Feb. 26th
164th Sun. Mar. 4th Sat. Mar. 24th

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Library Letter - Kyoto International community House Library

The Recommended Book

“China-Japan Exchange, Standard Japanese Text- Comments and Questions Primary Course, New Edition”

Written by Wang Tianjian, Shi Ye
Published by China Astronautic Publishing House 2010

China-Japan Exchange, Standard Japanese Text

A textbook for learning Japanese which was published in China has come!

“Standard Japanese” is well known by Chinese people learning Japanese.“Japanese Proficiency Test N2, N3 Listening” and “Interactive Chinese Conversion”can also help you practice.

Chinese books on history, geography, culture, food, and movies are also available. “Water Margin” and “Journey to the West” are written in English and Chinese.

Books on Chinese "Go", Chinese shadow boxing, and the herbs of Chinese medicine are also in English. Now there is also a DVD on Chinese culture.

For further information, please inquire at library reference room!

Books for Disaster Prevention

Books useful for disaster are available in library reference room

  • “Earthquake Disaster Prevention Manual”
  • “Cooking Techniques for Earthquakes”
  • “Support Map for Returning Home in Times of Emergency”
  • “Survival Lessons for Emergencies”
  • “Disaster Preventive Measures”

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

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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:

Message board:

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