Kyoto International Conference Center

GARCÍA, Sergio
Mexico

GARCÍA, Sergio

GARCÍA, Sergio

It was almost 15 years ago that Kyoto City witnessed in December 1997, during a United Nations Conference, the adoption of a singular international agreement for combating global warming: the Kyoto Protocol.

I decided to come to this historical, traditional and international city to improve my Japanese and to learn about daily life in Japan. Curiously, my arrival at the Kyoto International Conference Center was unexpected and may just be destiny.

It was my second day in Kyoto. On that Friday morning it was raining, so I decided to buy the ichi nichi kippu -One Day Pass- for going to kokoka -Kyoto International Community House- located near Keage station. The previous day, I walked there to participate in a Japanese class in the Volunteer’s Room. This time, as luck would have it, I confused the Kokusai Koryu Kaikan –kokoka– with Kokusai Kaikan –Kyoto International Conference Center–.

GARCÍA, Sergio

As soon as I got off of the subway I realized something was wrong. Almost everyone except me was wearing a suit, and I noticed posters from several international events and conferences in the Kokusai Kaikan station. Last but not least, I noticed I forgot my umbrella in the train. I had two options: worry about myself more than I was at that moment or forget my mistake(s) and go sightseeing... at least I had the One Day Pass.

I chose the second option and after asking where exactly I was, my uncertainty turned into happiness. It was the same place where the Kyoto Protocol was born on December 11, 1997. The environment around the Kyoto International Conference Center was so quiet and impressive! Perhaps because of that quiet and impressive environment, in 1997 the United Nations member states of the 3rd Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP3) decided, as an expression of gratitude to the government of Japan and the host city, to name the new international agreement the “Kyoto Protocol” to encourage the world’s people to choose action over inaction.

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Uchiwa, flat fans

uchiwa

uchiwa

Uchiwa have flat frameworks of thinly split, spread-out bamboo, to which paper is glued and a handle is attached. Recently, some uchiwa frames and handles have been made of plastic.

In the hot summer, fanning oneself creates a nice breeze and brings refreshment. Wearing a yukata, (an informal cotton kimono) and using an uchiwa is a common Japanese summer activity.

Businesses frequently use uchiwa for advertising, printing the company/product name on the paper sides, and giving them away, so you can get them easily.

In recent years, uchiwa are not used as much because of the rising popularity of electric fans and air conditioners; however, uchiwa are useful in saving electricity, and their merits are once again being recognized.

This year, why don’t we all use uchiwa and try to enjoy the summer?

FUJITA Risa

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His aim is for human happiness
   One man’s challenge to human regenerative medicine

OSAFUNE Kenji

He graduated from the School of Medicine, Kyoto University, in 1996. After residency training in Japan, he entered Graduate School at Tokyo University and joined the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Harvard University. In 2010, he came to CiRA as an associate professor.

iPS (induced Pluripotent Stem) cells can reproduce infinitely and can transform themselves into a wide variety of cells found in the human body. These cells are said to be “universal”, so the world has many expectations from them.

OSAFUNE Kenji, an associate professor at the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), Kyoto University, focuses on the regeneration of human kidney, pancreas, and liver cells from iPS cells, for use in organ transplants, and for the development of new drugs.

He first felt his dream when he was a teenager, flying on a jet plane. However, after reflectively thinking about the fundamental needs of human beings, he enrolled in the School of Medicine, Kyoto University. At the University, he had interest in kidneys, which are irreparable once they fail; he has engaged in research on kidneys for 12 years. He has already succeeded in preparing cells that can replace kidney cells; his world-leading research results will be published soon.

When he was enrolled at Harvard University, his colleagues there influenced him. “They were fearlessly positive and proactive. They have confidence in their research, and gladly announce their results”, he said.

He says that he likes and enjoys research, and he tells his students to swiftly find what they are interested in and dedicate themselves to it. He seems to be a pioneer who can build from nothing, but is also a person who loves to be deeply moved by the spirit of things, the scenery unseen and foods that he experiences.

He continues to engage in his research, with the same passion which started as a teenager on a plane.

KISHIDA Aya

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The Tiny Hydroelectric Plant at Arashiyama

The Togetsu-kyo Bridge

The Togetsu-kyo Bridge

The Togetsu-kyo Bridge across the Katsura River is just one of the tourist attractions in Arashiyama. Did you know that there is a small hydroelectric plant near this bridge? It is the Kyoto Arashiyama Hoshokai (Kyoto Arashiyama Conservation Association) hydroelectric power plant.

Kyoto Arashiyama Hoshokai hydroelectric power plant

This plant was constructed to supply the electricity needs for walkway lights on the bridge, and was completed on December 8, 2005. This is the first power plant constructed on one of the Class A rivers (*1) in Japan. This plant uses water power, one of the renewable energies that is part of global environmental protection.

Kyoto Arashiyama Hoshokai hydroelectric power plant

Kyoto Arashiyama Hoshokai
hydroelectric power plant

The bridge was not equipped with any lights prior to December, 2005. No lights had been used, as there was concern they might detract from the scenic landscape around Arashiyama, although the Association had hoped to install them to improve bridge pedestrian safety. However, through the cooperation and support of organizations such as the Ministries of Land, Infrastructure, Transport & Tourism and Economy, Trade & Industry, Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto City, and the Kansai Electric Power Co., the result was the construction and installation of the plant and walkway lights.

Now, these lights are known not only as simply sidewalk illumination but also as a symbol of global warming prevention.

*1 Class A river : Designated by government decree as significant to the river systems in national land conservation and to the national economy of Japan.

Kyoto Arashiyama Hoshokai
(Kyoto Arashiyama Conservation Association)
http://www.arashiyamahoshokai.com/akari.html

WATANABE Takeshi

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Reading the book "Kyoto Rules" (!?)

There is a saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Needless to say, Kyoto also has its locally specific common sense and customs, which are often helpful if we know them. Learning from this, I, who have just moved to Kyoto, tried reading the book called “Kyoto Rules (*1).”

“Kyoto Rules” introduces the customs that cannot be found in other prefectures. For instance, generally when people in Japan hear the word ‘Minazuki (水無月)’, they imagine June of the lunar calendar, however Kyoto people think of the Japanese confectionery which people eat on the 30th of June in order to ward off evil. Also, as the story goes, when you visit a house in Kyoto and if you are asked ‘So, would you like to eat Bubuzuke (rice in hot green tea)?’ it means ‘Please go home now’. However, this one seems to be an urban myth, but it still hints at Kyoto-style consideration (or manners), that is, Kyoto people often regard expressing things directly as being rude, but still seek to clearly convey their intentions. On the other hand, it seems that Kyoto also has a culture of saying things in an “ikezu (*2)” way as expression of affection.

In fact, I asked some Kyoto people, ‘What do you imagine when you hear the word Minazuki?,’ and they said they imagined the Japanese confectionery. What is more, the Kyoto people I know enjoy using ikezu skilfully (be careful because saying things in an ikezu way can be understood only among Kyoto people, or by very good friends!). Although everyone’s taste differs, it might be enjoyable to try reading “Kyoto Rules” together with your Kyoto friends or acquaintances, and compare their behaviours with what is written in this book.

*1 City Life Study Project (2011) “Kyoto Rules (京都ルール),” Chukei Shuppan Co., Ltd
*2 “Ikezu” is a word in the Kansai dialect meaning : “spiteful or ill-natured.”

FRENCH Kaori

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Minazuki - cool sweets of the summer -

minazuki

minazuki

On June 30th, Nagoshi-no-harae (also called Minazuki-no-harae), a Shinto ritual of purification, is conducted at shrines all over Japan. Since the Nara Era (*1), through this ritual, the sins accumulated or the misfortunes of the past six months are purified by Shinto priests, thereby assuring good health for the next six months. The ritual for the other six months of the year, called Toshikoshi-no-harae, is conducted at Shrines on December 31st.

From the article above, on the same day, June 30th, the people of Kyoto eat a Japanese sweet called Minazuki which brings to mind the image of ice. It is sweet azuki (red) beans spread over a white jelly-cake which is a steamed mixture of rice powder, powdered kuzu vine and sugar. Why do we eat Minazuki on June 30th? Because, in Kyoto, this is believed to bring us good health for the next six months.

You can get Minazuki not only on June 30th but throughout the summer season at Japanese sweets stores, supermarkets and the Japanese sweets counter of most department stores. I recommend that you have Minazuki with a cup of cool barley tea. Enjoy the summer sweets of Kyoto with your senses of sight and taste!!

SEKINO Masako

*1 the Nara Era : 710AD-784AD. The period when the capital of Japan was located at Heijou-Kyo City in Nara.

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Kyoto Guide Club

The Kyoto Guide Club announces Tours for Foreign Residents

The Kyoto Guide Club is putting on some enjoyable tours for the foreign residents of Kyoto. These tours will be held in July as follows:

Tour the Gion Matsuri (Gion Festival)

Please look for details on the website of Kyoto City International Foundation.
URL : http://www.kcif.or.jp/

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kokoka news * * kokusai koryu kaikan news


Small Workshop for International Understanding
~ How to improve global human resources in China ~

A Kyoto City International Foundation supported staff presents their home country, China. Daily Student life at the best high schools.

◆Time:June 24th, Sun 11:00 am - Noon
◆Place : Kyoto International Community House (kokoka) 3rd Floor Volunteer Room
◆Application: Application : Call or e-mail us at kokoka (Limited to 20 seats)
◆TEL : 075-752-3511
◆E-mail : office@kcif.or.jp

Additional Orientation for Kyoto City International Foundation Volunteers

We are looking for more volunteers to help us make Kyoto a better place for everyone to live. Please join us at the upcoming volunteer orientation to learn more.

◆Time : Saturday, July 28th 2:00 - 4:00 pm
◆Place:Kyoto International Community House (kokoka) 3rd floor, Seminar Room
◆Application : Starts one month prior to the orientation via the kokoka online
 [website] http://www.kcif.or.jp/jp/jigyo02/volunteer/toroku/orientation/
 [registration form] https://business.form-mailer.jp/fms/e98f7d602607

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

When : June 10th (Sunday), July 8th (Sunday) 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

Flea Markets of Japan

Flea Markets of Japan

Writer: Theodore Manning
Publisher: Kodansha International
2003

Are you getting used to the Japanese lifestyle? Are the things you need for your daily life increasing? This book introduces you to flea markets throughout Japan. You can find daily necessities, and you may even find traditional handcrafts from Japan and neighboring countries, antiques and great bargains.

KCIF's “Kyoto City Life Guide 京都市生活ガイド” or the magazine “mr partner” also have information about flea markets. You can refer to them.

Books to see Kyoto from different point of view

If you like to see Kyoto from a different point of view, take a look at “Rules of Kyoto 京都ルール” (real intentions and living information written by Kyoto people), “Of worth in Kyoto ねうちもん京都” (with pleasant pictures so you can read without getting bored), “Get to know Kyoto by visiting temples and shrines 寺社を歩けば京都がわかる” (written in both Japanese and English).

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Volanteer member of this issue

Editors of paper edition

IKUTA Minoru / KISHIDA Aya / KOMATSU Takehisa / JANSMA Karl / SUZUKI Hidetoshi / SEKINO Masako / TAKII Tomoko / NAGATAKE Yoshinobu / HAGIHARA Yasue / FUJITA Risa / FRENCH Kaori / MINATO Masayuki / YAMASHITA Motoyo

Designer of WEB edition

SUZUKI Hidetoshi

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