Ariel Hudnall

Kitano Tenman-Gu

Kitano Tenman-Gu

Since arriving in Kyoto, I have been able to experience and visit many culturally and historically significant places of Japan, but of all the places I have gone to, the one that I have consistently returned to is Kitano Tenman-Gu, a large shrine in Kamigyo Ward.

Kitano-Tenman-Gu has an interesting history. It enshrines Sugawara Michizane, who was favored in the late 800s by Emperor Uda for his great knowledge and learning. However, Michizane was exiled from court due to slander, and in 903, he died in exile.

Following his death, severe earthquakes and thunderstorms hit Japan. Rumors started that it was the wrath of Michizane. Kitano shrine was built in order to appease him. Michizane was deified under the name Tenjin as the God of Thunder and Fire. By the Middle Ages, however, Tenjin had become the guardian of calligraphy and poetry. He is even considered one of the three great waka deities. Nowadays, he is worshipped as the God of Learning and Examinations. You will frequently see school children there praying for good test scores.

The shrine itself is absolutely gorgeous. Entry into the main shrine is free, and upon entering the grounds, there is a covered well, which is allegedly the same well used to draw the water for the Kitano Ocha-no-Yu, a famous tea ceremony Sen no Rikyu (the father of the Way of Tea in Japan) attended.

There are statues of oxen lined up on the path leading to the main gate, a token of the shrine’s former days, when oxen were sacrificed in Tenjin’s name. After the well and the oxen, all visitors must pass under the Romon Gate, a two storied gate protected by two wooden Zuishin statues. Zuishin statues are warrior god-guardians and are often sculpted to be holding bows and arrows. The two statues at Kitano Tenman-gu are called Kadomori-no-Kami, gods who guard over shrine gates.



Kitano Tenman-Gu is a very lively shrine. On the 25th of every month, a gigantic flea market is held, and throughout the year, there are many special festivals. In February, the shrine opens it plum tree garden, a national treasure, for the Plum Festival, and in October, it holds Zuiki Matsuri, a harvest festival. Sometimes, you can catch glimpses of the Maiko-san in neighboring streets. When it snows, the shrine becomes a pure white wonderland, and due to its obscure history, the shrine is less crowded than others, allowing it to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace.

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♪ Come to a charity concert ♪

Charity concerts to support the victims of Great East Japan Earthquake through art and culture are being held at Kyoto International Community House (kokoka). On May 14th, Japanese and Indian classical music concerts were held.

Before the concert, I interviewed Ms. Olena from Ukraine, planner of the concerts and Mr. Yoshida, a shakuhachi (bamboo flute) player.

Olena was first inspired to have concerts while working at a reception. She planned them with her friend and called artists. Mr. Yoshida usually plays on live stages. He said, with enthusiasm, "I want to express the power to live through music.” He believes that to keep playing, rather than refraining from live concerts, will cheer up people. His repertoire contains handed down music from Fukushima prefecture.

Indian classical music
guitar and shakuhachi

In the evening many people came. The first part of the concert was Indian classical music. I imagined Buddha was listening to music, dozing and sleeping there. Because of the pleasant sound, some people fell asleep. It was a kind of music which was played in a yoga class. Part two was unique. Shakuhachi was played solo and with guitar. It was the first time I’ve listened to live shakuhachi music. He played his original music on the theme Kumano Kodo (from Wakayama prefecture) and music from Tohoku as solo. The next part was performed with rock guitar. I felt a fusion between Kimono and jeans.

The concert was a success. The staff, performers and the supporting audience enjoyed it. Cheering came from familiar places and a small things. Despite this time of suffering, it leads you towards good things. The power of culture is amazing. You can also support it. Please come at least once.

Aug. 10th (Wed)
6:45 pm
Event Hall Fun! Beautiful! Mexican Piano Music!
- Earthquake Reconstruction musical soiree -
Aug 12th (Fri)
7:00 pm
Event Hall Charity Concert by BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB
Sep.19th (Mon, Holiday)
2:00 pm
Special Conference Room Charity vaudeville by HOTOKU
Sep. 25th (Sun)
10:00 am
House-front garden Music concert (guitar and vocals)
Never forget 3.11 - Feel love TOHOKU and Eastern Japan -
Sep. 28th (Wed)
6:30 pm
Special Conference Room Shakuhachi and Vocal
Oct. 2nd (Sun)
6:00 pm
Special Conference Room kokoka volunteer project Jazz, erh hu, belly dance


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Add Some Relish to Food, and Get Rid of Summer Lethargy

hiyayakko and somen noodle

hiyayakko and somen noodle

You may feel like to eat chilled dishes you have such as hiyayakko(*1), somen noodles(*2) or zarusoba noodles(*3) in summer. Relish, which is added to these foods, has properties that prevent food poisoning by bactericidal action and support the digestive function which tends to be weakened by having too many cold drinks. Relish also gives a unique flavor, texture and color to the dishes it is added to, making them more tasty and attractive to the eye. Therefore, it stimulates our diminished appetite during hot weather.

Besides Japanese standard relishes such as ginger, wasabi(*4) or spring onion, there is also myoga (Zingiber mioga), which is characterized by its fresh aroma and crisp texture; nutritious sesame; okra, Jew’s mallow and natto all protect and strengthen the mucous membrane of the stomach and intestines through a sticky component called mucin; grated radish, perilla and yam that are rich in a digestive enzyme and vitamin C; etc. There is no end to the positive effects of relish.

My favorite combinations is: natto, okra, chopped umeboshi and yam on hiyayakko and steamed chicken fillet and cherry tomato, shredded egg, perilla and ground sesame seeds on somen noodles. Find your own favorite combo and have a tasty and healthy summer!

*1 hiyayakko: cold tofu
*2 somen noodle: thin wheat noodles
*3 zarusoba noodle: cold buckwheat noodles served on a flat tray
*4 wasabi: Japanese horseradish

TAKII Tomoko

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How do you go to KIX?
  -Do you want to go cheaper, faster, or more comfortably?

Kansai International Airport (KIX) must be an important place for foreign residents living in Kyoto. There are several ways to get there. But how do you decide? Do you want to go cheaper, faster, or more comfortably?

If you want to go cheaper, I recommend the ticket named “Kyoto access ticket” (departing from Kyoto) and “KIX access ticket” (departing from KIX). Using either ticket, you will take the Hankyu line, Osaka City subway, and Nankai line. The ticket costs 1,200 yen. And when you use this ticket, the limited express fee for “Nankai Rapi:t” is only 300 yen – the usual price is 500 yen. When you go this way, it takes 97 minutes if you use Rapi:t. If you don’t use Rapi:t, it will take longer.

If you want to go faster, the JR West “Haruka” limited express is better. The journey time is different depending on when you travel: on average, it takes about 80 minutes to get to KIX. The fee is 3,490 yen. Alternatively, you can also take the Kansai Airport Limousine bus. Although it takes a little longer than Haruka, the bus departs from Hachijo-guchi a Kyoto station and takes 85 to 88 minutes. You need 2,500 yen to take the bus.

If you want to go more comfortably, a taxi would be recommended. It comes directly to your home and takes you to the airport with only you in the car. MK Taxi and Yasaka Taxi do it for 3,500 yen. If there isn’t a big traffic jam, it takes about 2 or 2.5 hours to get to KIX.

I have introduced various ways of travelling to the airport. If you want to get more information, please visit the companies’ websites or use other methods: for example, you might find a discount service.

Find the best way for you!

NAGATAKE Yoshinobu

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Jizo-bon: Summer festival of a community



Let me give you a quiz. After the Gozan Okuribi (Bon Fire), we Kyoto residents have an event in each community for children as the last of their summer vacation. What is it?

Actually, this question was given in the Kyoto Kentei (Examination of Kyoto). The answer is “Jizo-bon” If you could answer this question, you are an expert of Kyoto!

In the communities existing in Kyoto for many years, people enshrine stone statues and they are called “Ojizo-san”. Around August 23rd or 24th, people hold a festival called “Jizo-bon” for children around Ojizo-san. They serve snacks or candies to the children, and also have several programs for children, which are Fukubiki (lottery for giving toys or something to children), Kingyo Sukui (scooping goldfish), Suika Wari (cracking watermelon with a long stick while wearing a blindfold), and so on. In the community where I grew up, there were other programs, which were karaoke contest, movie screenings and so on. Movie screenings in particular were very popular among children. To prepare for Jizo-bon, adults in a community make a great effort.

“Chonai-kai”, which is a community organization playing a principal role in preparing for Jizo-bon, has been taking an important role in helping neighbors cooperate with each other. For example, people in this community distribute information through “Kairan-ban” (circulating board). Chonai-kai takes a central role when doing cleaning of the town. Also, Chonai-kai holds some joyful events such as a picnic, etc. When some big events such as a sports day are held, several Chonai-kais cooperate with each other.

Is there a Jizo-bon in the community where you live? If yes, please join it and get in touch with neighbors. Jizo-bon is a joyful event for adults, too.

NAGATAKE Yoshinobu

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  A measure against the summer heat of Japan

There is worry about a lack of electric power this summer because of the Great East Japan Earthquake. And various energy-saving measures are being introduced by TV and newspaper.

So, I installed an Amido in our house as a measure against heat and for energy saving. I put an Amido in the kitchen doorway because it will provide ventilation from the garden for cooling. First I asked a carpenter to install the Amido, but he said there were lots of Amido which could be installed easily in Home-centers(*1) now. I went to the Home-center immediately and I found them! There were 7 or 8 types of Amido and the cost was about 4000 to 13000 yen. I bought a super easy 1kg Amido that included all furnishings for 4000 yen. I used a screwdriver, scissors, cutter, and rasp to install it.

It is a simple net door that fit an aluminum frame in the door. It holds the net like a curtain, and opens and closes like an accordion. I'm not good at DIY (Do It Yourself) but could finish in only 1 hour and it was very easy. It feels good.

There were various measures in the hot summer to be as cool as possible in the age before electricity (for example, Sudare(*2) and Uchimizu(*3)) but we depend on the air conditioner at the present day. A lot of people are going to try to use original energy saving goods that do not need electricity and turn off their air conditioner this summer. How about visiting the Home-center and finding some energy saving goods, and please be cool this summer, if even just a little.

*1 Home-center: A big store of convenience goods, stationery, gardening goods, house equipment tools and apparatus, and other goods in stock.
*2 sudare : bamboo blind
*3 Uchimizu Sprinking of water in streets and gardens against urban heat island.

Translated by KUSUDA Ayano

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Kyoto Mania Quiz

This time, Kitano Temmangu Shrine was introduced in “My favorite Kyoto”. Kitano Temmangu Shrine was said to be built in 947. Then, which shrine or temple listed below was built before Kitano Temmangu Shrine?

a. Heian Jingu Shrine
b. Kinkaku-ji Temple
c. Ginkaku-ji Temple
d. Enryaku-ji Temple (located on Mt. Hiei)

The Answer will be in the next issue.

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.

The answer of last issue
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.


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kokoka news * * kokusai koryu kaikan news

Kyoto City Comprehensive Disaster Drill

We recommend you to participate in the drill in order to prepare for disaster.

◆DATE : September 3rd, Sat 9:30 to 11:30 am
◆PLACE : Tominokoji ground of Kyoto Imperial Palace (Address: Kyoto Gyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto)
◆Meeting Time and Place : Ticket gate of “Jingu-marutamachi” at Keihan Station at 9:30 am
◆Eligibility : Foreign residents or descendents of foreign nationals living in Kamigyo-ku or its neighboring area.
◆Participation Fee : Free (We pay for your transportation expenses)
Application:apply by e-mail or by phone
◆TEL : 075-752-3511
E-mail :

Counseling Day for foreign residents

Do you have any trouble regarding law, visa, tax, insurance or pension system? Do you have any worries? We will provide free counseling service with specialists in each areas. There are also interpreters. Please make a reservation.

◆DATE : September 17th, Sun 1:00pm to 5:00pm
◆PLACE : Kyoto International Community House (kokoka) 3F Seminar Room
◆TEL : 075-752-3511

Let's take a peek ★ Chinese Economy

Neighboring country, China. Although we think we know about China, what is it like the ordinary life? Rising share value, income difference, inflation, savings-oriented... Mr. Zhang Jian will introduce present China from Economic point of view.

◆DATE : September 25th, Sun 11:00am to 12:00pm
◆PLACE : Kyoto International Community House (kokoka) 3F Volunteer Room
◆Application : apply form kokoka web site or by phone (first 20 applicants)
◆TEL : 075-752-3511
◆E-mail :

Information from Kyoto Guide Club

Kyoto Guide Club will hold a Zazen tour on September 4th (Sun). Participants will try Zazen at Kounji Temple, which is the Center for Zen of Nanzenji Temple. Details will be announced on the website of KCIF later.


Kyoto Guide Club is also planning a tour of visiting a factory in October.

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
When : September 4th (Sun.), September 25th (Sun.) 10:00am - 4:00pm
Organizer:Plus One Network
Where : On the corner of Kawaramachi Dori and Oikeseihoku, in front of City Hall
TEL :075-229-7713

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Library Letter - Kyoto International community House Library

The Recommended Book

『Green Tea Living: a Japan-Inspired Guide to Eco- friendly Habits, Health, and Happiness』

Green Tea Living

Green tea living

Author : Toshimi A. Kayaki
Publisher : Stone Bridge Press,

Due to his American diet, her husband is hospitalized by obesity. On top of that, her family no longer has an income. Facing these difficulties, the author looks back on her life in Japan and returns to a healthy way of living. Tea instead of soda, miso soup for breakfast and tofu or whole rice for staples. This easy-to-understand book practically describes a story of how she learned to live in an eco-friendly way utilizing traditional Japanese common sense. It might also give you an opportunity to realize the importance of family and community. We have also got many selections for Japanese culture such as kimono, karate, law and bushido, all written in English. Find them on the bookshelf next to our library counter.

The Picture Books of the World

From Wednesday, August 3rd to Sunday, 7th, we are having an exhibition, “The Picture Books of the World: Countries of Camels and Deserts (...and More!)” in the Sister City Corner on the second floor. There will be a big collection of picture books written in Arabic! We look forward to seeing you there!

The exhibition is open from 11:00 am to 5:30 pm.

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Volanteer member of this issue

Editors of paper edition

IKUTA Minoru / ISAKA Kuniko / Wang Yongcheng / KUSUDA Ayano / KOMATSU Takehisa / SUZUKI Hidetoshi / SEKINO Masako / TAKII Tomoko / HAGIHARA Yasue / MINATO Masayuki / NAGATAKE Yoshinobu / YAMASHITA Motoyo / WATANABE Takeshi

Designer of WEB edition

SUZUKI Hidetoshi

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