Yamashina Sosui (Canal)


Since coming to Japan, I lived near Yamashina Sosui (Canal) for 9 years.

When I started to live there, the most surprising thing was that I could see mountains in all directions from Yamashina. Because my home town is on the largest plain in China, “Northeast China Plain”, I have few chances to see mountains since I was a child, so life in Yamashina was very fresh for me. However, when I go out from Yamashina, I have to go up and down hills or through a tunnel. Thus, at the beginning, I thought that as if the mountains were obstacles. But after I found the beauty of the Sosui along the mountains, all of the scenery of mountains became my favorite one.

Yamashina Sosui

Yamashina Sosui

Yamashina Sosui is one of the sightseeing spots in Kyoto. The water from Biwako (Lake Biwa) in Shiga Prefecture goes through the Sosui, which is a deep canal having the shape of V and going gently along the mountains, to Kyoto City. Besides the Sosui, there is a side walk and forested with many trees on both side.

As one of the big pleasures, I willingly walk along the Sosui when I have the time. I also become refreshed, being presented with the forest. I feel briskness on my face. In such a feeling, I believe that the air was diffused from the plants. My nose catches the scent of leaves, and my ears catch the chatter of water. Sometimes I also hear the pretty voice of birds, I calm down, then my body completely adjusts to this circumstance, which lets me forget tiredness; it enchants me. I even forget the direction to walk. All people who are enjoying sports or sightseeing walk beside me with pleasant and kind face. Here is a very peaceful and safe atmosphere. Everyone who comes here must forget the busyness and stress in urban life, and become gentle. I think it is the mysterious power that nature has. From my experience that I was heeled, I would like to show my gratitude toward the people who had respect for nature and protected the environment.

Yamashina Sosui is strange and mysterious for me. In spring, it is covered with cherry blossoms. They look like a sea of flowers and it looks as if all trees were cherry trees. In autumn, the red autumn leaves spread everywhere. They seem to spread to the sky and there looks as if all trees have autumn leaves. I heard that they planted cherry trees and maple trees alternately, but I don’t recognize the difference between them at least when I see. Also, in many of sightseeing spots in Kyoto, both scenery in spring and autumn are popular. This clever design demonstrates the sensitivity and imagination of Japanese at the most. Thanks to this great consideration, mountains seem mysterious as if someone had bewitched them.

Yamashina Sosui shows beautiful and vivid scenery of mountains and trees, and they are already a part of my life. Yamashina Sosui is the most favorite scenery of Kyoto for me.

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Health Festival

Health Festival

Health Festival(menber of CHARM)

On November 26, 2011 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., “Health Festival” will be held at Fushimi Youth Action Center, which is located on the fourth floor of Fushimi Ward General Office. This festival is co-organized by an NPO CHARM and Kyoto City Youth Service Foundation. Moreover Kyoto City Fushimi Health Center, Kyoto City International Foundation, and Kyoto Prefectural International Center play a supportive role in the event.

The principal aim of this festival is to provide support for foreign residents to obtain information about their health and how to gain access to medical care and welfare in a language they can understand, and to take medical advice. During the event, useful information for staying healthy is offered in many languages. In particular, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)-related prevention and testing pamphlets are provided in different languages. Interpretation service is available for foreign residents who wanted to consult about their health condition and general matters including, status of residence, labor and employment issues, social security, government offices procedures, etc. Participants to this event can also avail of free STI and chest x-ray testing offered by the Fushimi Health Center.

In addition, healthy foods from different countries are also sold at the cafeteria.

Unfortunately, only a few foreign residents know about this festival, though it is important for them. Therefore, I hope that after reading this article, foreign residents would visit this year’s “Health Fiesta.”

CHRM web-site : http://www.charmjapan.com/index_e.html


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A Primeval Forest in a Botanical Garden

Nakaragi Forest

Forest of Nakaragi

Nakaragi Shrine

Nakaragi Shrine

A primeval forest is a forest that has many 200 to 1000-year-old trees and a mature ecosystem. Do you know that there is one in the Kyoto Botanical Garden?

The primeval forest is called “Forest of Nakaragi”. The word “Nakaragi” is derived from the term “Nagare-gi (“Ryu-boku” in the Chinese-derived reading)”, which means “driftwood” in Japanese. The word “Nagare-gi” is said to be derived from a legend that after a flood in Kamo River drowned out a shrine located at Nishi-gamo in the past and the scrap wood drifted to the land now called “Nakaragi”, another shrine was built out of the waste wood. Ame-no-Futodamano-Mikoto is one of the Shinto deities which lives in the shrine and has been worshipped. This shrine is Nakaragi Shrine, which is the one of the subordinate shrines located outside of Kamigamo Shrine. This deity is the guardian of silk growers, silk textile, the dyeing industry and the garden.

The forest occupies the north half of the Kyoto Botanical garden. The maple leaves that have turned red can be enjoyed in the forest during autumn. This forest is also the one of the little-known good spots for viewing maple leaves in Kyoto.

Why not visit the Forest of Nakaragi in this autumn?


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The Fire Festival of Kurama

On the 22nd of October, the Jidaimatsuri Festival during the day and the night time Fire Festival of Kurama will be held. This is one of the three unique festivals of Kyoto (*1), the festival at the Yuki Shrine in the village of Kurama.

The shrine members take torches and go in procession from a bonfire to the main gate of the shrine. Around 6:00pm, the torches that are assembled at each home are ignited. At first, children carry the small torches and then the adults with much bigger torches come from the village. At around 8:00pm, the big torches are stacked in front of the main gate and are burned together under the stone steps. Then, the miniature shrine is taken down from the main shrine.

The approach to the shrine is a very steep slope, and young women using tow ropes and control this miniature shrine’s speed. It is said that women who tow this miniature shrine will have an easy delivery in childbirth.

When the miniature shrine has been down, young men wearing loincloths take up a “Katsugibou” (wooden poles) to carry on their shoulders the miniature shrine.

The location of the Fire Festival is very narrow, so people cannot watch this festival standing still. Especially in front of the main gate, it is impossible to stand still. On this day, the trafic control is done. And of course bicycles are not allowed to enter this village.

By 4:00 pm, you should be on the train (if there are many riders, it will stop to sell tickets). You’ll want to get back to the station quickly after the torche burning climax is finished. Eiden’s Kurama line consists of only two trains. Although they will operate special extra trains for that day, please plan on long lines waiting to ride a train, as long as one and a half hours.

IKUTA Minoru

*1 three unique festivals of Kyoto:
(1) The Yasurai Festival of Imamiya
  -- On April's 2nd Sunday. @ Imamiya Shrine
(2) The Ushimatsuri of Uzumasa
  -- On October 10th @ Koryuji Temple
(3) The Fire Festival of Kurama
  -- On October 22nd @ Yuki Shrine

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Life in Japan from the view of a foreigner
  ~ Experiences from Jonas Joerin ~

We would like to introduce how foreigners who live in Japan feel about Japanese society in everyday life. This time we interviewed Jonas Joerin (age 26) from Switzerland, who has been living in Japan for about 3 years and is pursuing a PhD at Kyoto University as follows:

One positive aspect of living in Japan as a foreigner is that Japan is truly one of the safest countries in the world. Whenever you get in contact with a person employed in the service sector, such as from a bank, ticket office or restaurant, you will undoubtedly get at least a satisfying treatment and usually an exceptional one. Even if your language abilities are limited you do not have to worry that someone will take advantage of you. For example, you can be sure that a hand-written bill in a restaurant indicating only one number is the correct price of your consumption. As a result of this deeply rooted honest behaviour in all Japanese people, life is made simple for a foreigner.

Respect is another attribute of Japanese society which is again unique and would surely have a positive impacts on any foreigner. Learning to respect other people in a Japanese style is definitely a task which would enrich any foreigner’s character. A simple example would be: a train or bus ride is always comfortable since people only speak in low voices and turn their mobile phones to silent mode.

On the other hand, for foreigners who grew up in a society where debate is a fundamental part of any kind of conversation with another person, and an eloquent ability to communicate with someone else is regarded as a positive aspect of one’s character, the occasional heated discussion is somehow a missing element in life in Japan. It seems that there is a general rule to avoid conflict with others. Some people may wonder why this issue bother foreigners. The reason is that it also has consequences for us.

Foreigners need to obey to the hierarchical rules set by the elderly Japanese whenever they take a position in a Japanese company or educational institution. This means that your age and the number of years you have worked for the organization determines how much responsibility you are given. This fact is in stark contrast to the working environment that exist in Europe and most Western countries. To conclude, the absence of the performance principle hinders foreigners from continuing to live in Japan. In this context, the term efficiency is another negative attribute of the daily life experienced in Japan. The lack of critical opinion among most Japanese combined with the immense power of elderly Japanese men results in people being exploited at their work places. Many of my Japanese friends tell me that a working day starting from 9am and ending at midnight is normal. I must stress that putting the work as a top priority in someone’s life may not be negative per se, but not having a social life cannot be endured by most foreigners.

My wish is that the positive attributes of the Japanese are preserved and the challenging ones are modified and streamlined to become compatible in a global society. Therefore, the debate must start among Japanese people on whether they want to continue with their lifestyle or not. Whenever it becomes more socially attractive, more foreigners will decide to prolong their stay in this otherwise beautiful and peaceful country.

What do you think about Jonas’s story? Please share your own experiences, questions, confusions or impressions of your life in Japan. Your experience would be a precious reference to other foreigners in Japan.

Interviewer: NAKANO Kazuyo

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Kyoto Mania Quiz

In this issue, “My favorite Kyoto” introduced “Sosui”. This Sosui was built as a canal and leads water from Biwako (Lake Biwa) in Shiga to Kyoto City.

Beginning at Biwako, the Sosui is divided into two canals, one of which goes north and the other goes south, at Keage. The one to the north goes through Tetsugaku-no michi and the Rakuhoku area. The one to the south goes through three of the four wards listed below. Guess which one Sosui does not go through.

A. Sakyo Ward B. Higashiyama Ward C. Minami Ward D. Fushimi Ward

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 to the quiz in the last issue is D. Enryakuji Temple.
The temples and shrines were built as shown below:

A. Heian Shrine: 1895
B. Kinkakuji Temple: 1397
C: Ginkakuji Temple: 1482
D. Enryakuji Temple: 788


★ Please fill out the following questionnaire.★
1) Which article was the most interesting to 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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kokoka news * * kokusai koryu kaikan news

Information from Kyoto Guide Club
- Tours for foreign residents

Kyoto International Guide Club holds enjoyable tours for foreign students. On November 12th (Sat), we will visit a factory in Uji. The name of the company is Marukyu-Koyamaen, and it manufactures powdered green tea. In October, a barbecue party will be held.

For more information, please visit the Kyoto City International Foundation website.

URL: http://www.kcif.or.jp/en/


Rafurafutei presents a charity performance to support the reconstruction following the Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster. The event is free of charge, but donations are welcome. We hope you can come and enjoy Rafurafutei's English Rakugo.

◆Date: November 27th, Sun 2:00pm to 4:30pm
◆Place: Kyoto International Community House(kokoka) 1F conference room 1
◆TEL: 075-752-3511
◆URL: http://www.kcif.or.jp/jp/jigyo02/cosmos/cosmos-g/cat1055/

Orientation for Foreigners / Party

We will provide information about basic daily needs to the newly arrived foreigners to Kyoto. There will be party to make friends, too. The events are free.

◆Date: October 23rd, Sunday 11:00am to 12:00pm
◆Place: Kyoto International Community House (kokoka) 3rd floor, volunteer room
◆Application: from kokoka web-site
◆TEL: 075-752-3511
◆URL: http://www.kcif.or.jp/jp/jigyo02/ort/

German Eco・Japanese Eco

Peter has come from Germany, which is an environmentally advanced country. He has built a house to spend the summer in Kyoto comfortably. What is Peter's "eco-attitude"? Is there any difference between his and our eco-attitudes? Let's think together with Peter.

◆Date: October 23rd, Sunday 11:00am to 12:00pm
◆Place: Kyoto International Community House (kokoka) 3rd floor, volunteer room
◆Application: Phone or FAX
We'll start accepting application from Oct. 1st.
◆TEL: 075-752-3511
◆FAX: 075-752-3510

kokoka OPEN DAY 2011

There will be many events such as international food stalls, and world music, dance, performances, world culture workshops. We have recognized our nexus with the world. Let's make this an event to rediscover our international connections.

◆Date: November 3rd, Sunday 11:00am to 4:00pm
◆Place: Kyoto International Community House (kokoka)

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: November 3rd (Thu. Holiday), November 23rd (Wed. Holiday) 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

KoKoKa recommends this book

"Discovery Japan"

Discover Japan

Discover Japan

Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd.

An all time favorite travel book publisher, Lonely Planet,has launched another series of “Discover Japan”. All pages are printed in color with beautiful pictures and easy to read maps. In addition, each region is categorized with different colors so that you can easily find what you need. You will also find guides by local experts showing you the hidden beauty of their communities. This informative book will surely help you to plan a better trip. We have around two hundred books by Lonely Planet in our library, including ones translated into Japanese. A further selection of travel books is also available. Please come to our library and take a look.

Frequently Asked Questions by Foreigners

Having problems in your daily life in Japan? You may find some tips to solve them at our panel exhibition, “Frequently Asked Questions by Foreigners”, as a part of the Open Day library event on Thursday November 3rd, (a national holiday). Free booklets will be also available. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Volanteer member of this issue

Editors of paper edition

ARTHUR Derek / IKUTA Minoru / ISAKA Kuniko / KUSUDA Ayano / KOMATSU Takehisa / SUZUKI Hidetoshi / SEKINO Masako / JANSMA Karl / ZHOU Yan / TAKII Tomoko / NAGATAKE Yoshinobu / NAKANO Kazuyo / HAGIHARA Yasue / MINATO Masayuki / YAMASHITA Motoyo / WATANABE Takeshi

Designer of WEB edition

SUZUKI Hidetoshi

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