NÄSER, Raphaela (Germany)

NÄSER, Raphaela

NÄSER, Raphaela

A place I came to like very much is Arashiyama, which is located in the western part of Kyoto. Arashiyama is not only good for sightseeing but also for relaxing.

In Arashiyama you can find an old bridge which is called “Moon-crossing Bridge” (Togetsu-kyō). In the seasons of cherry blossoms and colorful autumn leaves, this place is especially beautiful due to its wonderful landscape.

However, in my opinion, Arashiyama’s most impressive sights are Tenryū Temple and it’s garden Sōgenchi-teien. When you go to the northern gate after having enjoyed the old temple and it’s beautiful setting, you will reach the famous bamboo forest. Though you may have a feeling of closeness while walking through the densely growing bamboo, you will feel free at the same time.

Because of its variety of temples and shrines, its beautiful setting and its welcoming atmosphere, Arashiyama is a place I like very much.

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Yōkai in Kyoto -- Yōkai Street at Ichijyo dori

Yōkai Street / enterance

Yōkai Street

Kyoto has famous tourist sites such as shrines, temples, gardens etc, however it is also believed that there are many hidden haunted spots due to its long history. As this month’s Life in Kyoto is released during the season of Summer Kimo dameshi (*1), I visited one of these spots, Yokai Street at Ichijyo dori.

First of all, the link between Ichijyo dori and Yōkai (Japanese monsters / folklore) was derived from its location. Ichijyo dori lies on the northern tip of Heian-Kyo (one of the Japanese former capitals), that is, the border between the internal and external. In Heian-kyo, some also said it was the route between the human world and the non-human world. Rumour has it that on a dark night during Heian period, the old materials and goods dumped by humans transformed into Yōkai (called ‘Kutsumogami’). One after another, a throng of monsters marched into the capital via this Ichijo dori. Moreover, a second-hand market has been held for many years on the 25th day of every month at Kitano Tenmangu Shrin, in the vicinity of Ichijo dori, because apparently the people in the past started reselling their old belongings before they turned into monsters according to “Onmyo (Yin-yang) Yōkai emaki” written by ARAMATA Hiroshi.

“Have you ever seen Yōkai?” “Never, although I often see the people who look like Yōkai,” Mr. Inoue, the head director of Ichijo dori Taishogun Shopping Arcade Promotion Association answered jokingly. “Yōkai are not scary things, but I think they are giving us some message. Through Yōkai, we want people to have a spirit of environmentalism, frugality, and a will to cherish all things,” he said.

On Ichijo dori, monster models are displayed and you can enjoy black Yōkai ramen and black Yōkai croquette etc. The flea market called ‘Mononoke Ichi’ is held 4 to 5 times every year (*the next events will be on 29th July and 20th October - with a spooky monster parade!) and the neighbouring Keifuku train called the Randen, has a special train called “Yōkai train” in the middle of August, discounting the fares for the passengers in Yōkai fancy dress. Have fun and don’t get too sacred!

*1: “Kimo dameshi” is a typical summer game in Japan. In August, when the Obon season is coming, people talk about several mysterious, psychic phenomena and visit spooky places to test their courage.


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Entrance into university in fall

Although there are a few exceptions, the entrance season of Japanese schools is mainly in April. However, The University of Tokyo, which is said to be the top university in Japan, is planning to change the season for new school entrance to fall. It has invited 11 other universities to the discussion and is trying to start together. The main purpose is to make their academic calendars the same as other countries in order to accept international students more easily and make the universities more internationalized, as well as make their Japanese students more enabled to live in a globalized world.

You probably have heard this news several times and know there are pros and cons. Now, let me introduce what the members of Life in Kyoto (LIK) and I think about this issue.

Even if some universities change the season of entrance to fall, the season of entrance for elementary schools, junior high schools, and senior high schools is still set in April with the graduation season in March. It means there is a half-year gap between graduation from senior high school and entrance into university. The University of Tokyo seems to think that students can have a fruitful experience by going abroad or doing volunteer activities during this half year. Concerning this issue, some LIK members think that it is not easy to sustain passion for studying for half a year without going to school, and it may make students anxious about having no position. On the other hand, however, we also think that through such experiences which students haven’t experienced until senior high school, they may be able to make it clear why they study at a university.

Then, how about for companies which employ new graduates of universities? Most Japanese companies have used a system that accepts all of the new graduates at the time they graduate. This fosters a sense of solidarity among new employees. According to an opinion among LIK members, if there are two kinds of graduation seasons, many companies will probably experience hardship because they have to handle the training of new employees more than once. On the other hand, now more companies employ graduates of foreign universities. These companies will probably experience no problems.

Actually, there are various thoughts among the 11 universities mentioned above. One university is going to try to make a system in which the entrance season is still in April but students who enter in fall can also start their study without a problem. Another university thinks they should begin with the improvement of their education and entrance exam themselves earlier rather than the change of the season of the entrance.

Through the argument of this issue, I want to mention this point; the suggestion by University of Tokyo has made the people who work in universities in Japan consider, “What should we do to make our universities be accepted in the global society?”, more than before.

When is the entrance season of universities in your country? Also, let LIK know your thoughts toward this issue. If LIK can hear your voice, we hope to continue this discussion. We look forward to your reply by an email: .

NAGATAKE, Yoshinobu

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The Sanjo Bridge


UTAGAWA Hiroshige “Keishi”

Though the origin of the Sanjo Bridge over the Kamo River is not clear, it was reconstructed by TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi in the 16th century. The Sanjo Bridge which UTAGAWA Hiroshige painted was one time the eastern gateway to Kyoto. In the past, a guard was posted at one end of the bridge. Following is a joke from those days.


At one time, suicide jumpers were leaping from the bridge every night. So the guard was scolded for missing them. One night, seeing a man leaning out over the bridge railing, the guard rushed toward him. Barely holding on to him, the guard yelled.

“You must be the guy who jumps into the river every night !!”

Sanjo Bridge

The Sanjo Bridge

KOMATSU, Takehisa

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Let’s Play at the Kid’s Club!


To boys and girls whose parents who are from abroad

If you feel a little dull, how about playing with the volunteer staff?
 Activities include playing jump rope, doing origami, flying kites, and making shaved ice! Of course you can eat it too!!
 Please enjoy and have fun with us .

To Mothers and Fathers who are from abroad

At the Kid’s Club, through play and learning, children with diverse backgrounds (5-12 years of age) become familiar with volunteer staff who can act as advisers and provide support.
 “Diverse background” means “customs” that are different. We as the volunteer staff understand these children face difficulty at school and in general society in Japan.
 By playing and having fun with us, we would like to help children feel they can be themselves. So please feel free to visit us in the volunteer room.


  • Activity Days: The 1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month, 15:30- 17:00
  • Activity Place: Kyoto International Community House 3rd Floor Volunteer Room (We also hold activities outside.)
  • Please come visit us directly. We do not mind legal guardians accompanying their children.
  • Target Group: Children aged 5-12 years old with a foreign background.
    (Children whose parents who are from abroad)

Please visit us soon!

Kid’s Club Staff : NITABARU, Yasuhito
translated by : ROSENSTEIN, Hannah

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Kyoto Guide Club

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 September as follows:

September 9th, Sun. ‒ B.B.Q.

Please look for details on the website of Kyoto City International Foundation.

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kokoka news * * kokusai koryu kaikan news

Kyoto City Comprehensive Disaster Drill

Why don't you participate in the drill in order to prepare for disaster.

  • ◆Date: September 1, 2012 (Sat), from 9:30 to 12:00 NOON
  • ◆Venue: Iwakura East Park (Address: Chuzaichi-cho, Iwakura, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto)
  • ◆Meeting Time and Place:
       ①In front of the ticket gate at "Iwakura" Eizan Railway Station at 9:30 AM
     or ②In front of the ticket gate at "Kokusaikaikan" Kyoto Subway Station at 9:30 AM
  • ◆Participation Fee: Free (We pay for your transportation expenses)
  • ◆Eligibility: Foreign residents or descendents of foreign nationals living in Sakyo-ku or its neighboring area.
  • ◆Application: Give us a call, fax or E-mail and let us know below, please.
     1. Name, 2.Address, 3. Telephone, 4. Language, 5. E-mail,
     6. Transportation Expense, 7. Which meeting place you will start from
  • ◆Remarks:
     The drill will be cancelled in case of rain. Dress casually and bring your own drinks, please.
  • ◆TEL:075-752-3511
  • ◆FAX:075-752-3510
  • ◆

Free Counseling Day for Non-Japanese Residents

Looking for legal, visa, tax, insurance or pension advice? Or, do you have a need for mental counseling? We have experts and multi lingual interpreters to help you at the free counseling day. Please register ahead of time.

  • ◆Time: Sunday September, 16th 1:00 - 5:00 PM
  • ◆Venue: Kyoto International Community House 3F Meeting / Counseling Room
  • ◆Registration: Please call 075-752-3511

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

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Library Letter - Kyoto International community House Library

kokoka recommends this book

“Basics to Japanese Cuisine with English Translation: JAPANESE RECIPES 60”

Japanese Recipies 60

Edited and published by Ikeda Books in 2003

It seems that hot and humid days will keep continuing, don’t you think?

How does everyone feel about summer in Japan? It is said that because Kyoto is especially humid in the summer, the weather feels hotter. Please take good careof your health in this hot weather.

In this issue, we would like to introduce a book featuring how to make Japanese food. Along with classic Japanese recipes such as onigiri,beef donburi, yellowtail teriyaki, chawanmushi,vinegared foods, and so on, this book introduces commonly made home-style recipes. While experiencing a lack of appetite due to summer lethargy, making somen noodles or hiyayakko is the best! This book explanes about Japanese food ingredients, seasonings and cookwear, so you may be able to use what you may have been preciously thinking,“what is this?”.

Please enjoy the summer in Japan without being overcome by the heat.

bento, vegan restaurant

For those who want to learn how to make a bento, a book called “Bento for Foreigners” is useful.

Additionally, for those who are looking for vegetarian or vegan restaurants, “Japan Vegan Restaurant Pocketguide”may also be helpful. Of course, many restaurants in Kyoto are listed in this book!

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Volanteer member of this issue

Editors of paper edition

IKUTA Minoru / KOMATSU Takehisa / JANSMA Karl / SUZUKI Hidetoshi / SEKINO Masako / TAKII Tomoko / NAGATAKE Yoshinobu / HIGASHIDA Miyuu / FUKUSHIMA Asuka / FRENCH Kaori / MINATO Masayuki / YAMASHITA Motoyo / ROSENSTEIN Hannah / WATANABE Takeshi

Designer of WEB edition

SUZUKI Hidetoshi

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