Kyoto Botanical Gardens

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CHA Eunjung (Korea)

CHA Eunjung

I (left) and my friend

The first autumn I spent in Kyoto after arriving in June was amazing. Thanks to a special Japanese friend, I was able to try wearing a kimono. Wearing a kimono of shades that matched the changing colors of the leaves was an impressive experience for me as a foreigner.

To avoid the crowds gathering to see the autumn foliage in Kyoto, I visited the Kyoto Botanical Gardens along Kitayama-Dori (street). It was a good choice because the scenery, which was stained with the colors of Autumn, was even more fantastic than I had imagined it would be. I could also relax at the Graden , as there were less crowds and a peaceful atmosphere.

I found the most incredible spot in the garden, from where I could see the surrounding scenery reflected in the surface of the pond. The shutter of my camera opened and closed many times as I tried to preserve the view, knowing that the power of words was not enough to express what my eyes could see. After the hot summer in Kyoto, it was refreshing to experience the bracing autumnal atmosphere.

It really was good to come to Kyoto.

Translated by FURUTA, Tomiyoshi

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Preparing for disaster in Kyoto

Almost two years have passed since the Great Tohoku Earthquake; the aftermath is still ongoing. Including this unprecedentedly devastating disaster, Japan has suffered natural disasters many times. Kyoto was no exception and will be no exception in the future. But in ordinary times it is difficult to think of disasters before knowing how any preparations ought to be carried out. How can we prepare? To obtain some ideas about this, I interviewed Mr. Miyamoto and Mr. Yoneda, from Kyoto City Disaster Prevention and Crisis Management Office.

The two gentlemen advised the following three important preparation points: 1) Gather information about your appropriate evacuation actions (such as learning the location of where the nearest evacuation shelter is going to be set up, and also where you can get essential information even during a disaster). 2) Prepare special food and adequate clothing for evacuation and living for awhile in an evacuation shelter. 3) Keep very good communication with your neighbors. Of these three statements, you may think it odd for the third one to be an important part for disaster preparation. However, they both put vital importance on it.

After the Tohoku Earthquake, it became apparent for every municipality to know about how far and how quick municipalities can provide disaster-relief work to their citizens. This aid may be limited, so we citizens must prepare by ourselves if we want to survive. With this issue in mind, Kyoto City Disaster Prevention and Crisis Management Office has published various disaster preparedness manuals, including one for running a community-based evacuation shelter. This will insure that communities can survive during the first few days in case the municipality cannot itself provide immediate aid.

However, it may be difficult to discuss out of the blue how to run a community-based evacuation shelter before establishing a good relationship with your neighbors. So Mr. Miyamoto and Mr. Yoneda suggested doing little by little whatever you can to survive and help your neighbors to survive. For example: prepare ahead of time, even right now what items you absolutely need; greet your neighbors frequently and have some small talks. They also put what they feel is important into practice in their local communities, such as taking part in neighborhood meetings, participating in garbage cleaning with their neighbors, and so on.

Earthquake/Emergency Action Manual

KCIF also provides an Earthquake/Emergency Action Manual (pocket size) in five languages. It will come in handy for your preparations.

After the interview, when I talked with my own family, we discussed a little about our first moves in case of a disaster. While our talk went into some detail, I pondered how I can cooperate more fully with my family and our neighbors to survive. I think we all must do this. To help ourselves and others to survive a disaster is the most humane action we can take.

SUZUKI Shoichiro

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The Takano River

The Takano River
women and child

The Takano River is the beautiful river which collects water from the mountains Hieizan and Kitayama, and flows to the south along the Saba Road(*1) and the Kawabata-dori Street, joining the Kamo River at Demachiyanagi in Sakyou-ku. The area near the river upstream of the confluence is known as Yase Ohara, and the downstream area is known as Shimogamo.

The history of Shimogamo area is old as well as rich and, above all, the foundation of the Shimogamo-jinnjya Shrine goes back to the oldest days of the temples and shrines in Kyoto. Lots of tourists from the whole country gather in the area for festivals, such as the Aoi Matsuri Festival(*2) and the Yabusame(*3). Eels were once to be seen in the river migrating up from the Osaka Bay and up through the Yodo River, but they cannot be seen anymore because of the environmental changes, brought about by recent construction works for maintaining the river, and today only carp can be seen to swim. The waterbirds, such as herons and ducks, can be seen seemingly catching loach, insect, algae, etc.

Someiyoshinos, a kind of cherry tree, grow along the river bank and provide visual delights for human observers twice each year: once in the end of March with their blossom and again in the middle of November as their leaves change to the reddish hues. In Autumn, we can see maples such as momiji turn into red, far away on the mountains Hieizan and Higashiyama. On the path along the river, which runs between Demachiyanagi and the Kitayama Street, where people can ramble at their leisure and, near by, there are many temples and shrines, as well as many nice shops. The photo shows a view of the Takano River with mount Hieizan in the background and was taken at the Kamo-ohashi Bridge in Demachiyanagi. Where the Kamo River flows through the center of Kyoto is beautiful, but the Takano River is my favorite and I recommend you to ramble.

*1 Saba Road : It is the road to connect Kyoto City with Obama City in Fukui Prefecture and has been used for transferring marine products, such as mackerel which Saba Road was named after.
*2 Aoi Matsuri Festival : which is one of the three big festivals in Kyoto, began approximately one thousand and four hundred years ago and held on May 5th.
*3 Yabusame : which is held on May rd before Aoi Matsuri, is the ritual that shoots arrows to targets.

FURUTA Tomiyoshi

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Give a chocolate, Give a chance

February 14th is Valentine’s Day. On that day in Japan, a woman gives chocolate to a favorite man. In addition, there is “Girichoko,” which is given with gratitude, and “Tomochoko,” which is given to friends. Certainly this year, a lot of chocolate will be given. On Valentine’s Day, what kind of chocolate do you want to give?

Dari K's chocolate

Dari K's chocolate

In Kyoto, Dari K shop in Sanjo-kai shopping arcade offers special chocolate that is different from the ordinary type. I went to interview its owner in order to see the world of these chocolates. They directly import high-quality cacao from the farmers in Sulawesi Island of Indonesia at a fair price, roast it by themselves, and make their chocolate without vegetable oil. The deep aroma and the light aftertaste that are created under these conditions are its unique characteristics.

Aside from being a delicious chocolate, there is also an interesting background story. The international market price of cacao had been rising, and the owner, Mr. Yoshino, who had worked as a financial analyst, questioned the situation where the investors could make profits, but the local makers’ income didn’t increase. So, Mr. Yoshino entered the world of chocolate and abandoned his career. The cacao farmers in Sulawesi Island did not go through the process of fermenting cacao, which is essential to making chocolate, and they had never eaten chocolate. So he studied how to ferment it by himself and taught it to the local farmers. In this way, he is aiming to deliver a stable life through a stable income to the local people through truly fair dealings. In the near future, Mr. Yoshino plans to construct a factory in Indonesia, where he hopes to create the environment in which local people can make chocolate by themselves and do business. Mr. Yoshino said that he hopes the chocolate of Dari K will inspire people to think about the current situation around chocolate.

After the interview to Mr. Yoshino, I went home and told this story to my mother about Dari K’ s chocolate. I became a little happier to see my mother eating the chocolate with relish while interestedly listening to the story of fair trade that was probably unfamiliar to her until then. So I thought, by giving Dari K chocolate to someone, it may result in giving them the chance to feel something. On Valentine’s Day, how about giving Dari K’s chocolate, which offers much more than just a tasty chocolate?

Dari K HP:

Fair trade:
 A movement for improving the lives and supporting the independence of makers and workers in developing countries who are in a weak position, through continuous purchase of raw materials and products at fair prices.


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Rakugo Short Story SUMO

short tail

Sumo is not a sport which puts a lot of stress on winning the match. It is a Japanese Shinto ritual and at the same time, a martial art. On the Dohyo Sumo wrestlers perform based on Shinto ceremony, and accordingly they are required to have dignity as well as Sumo skill.

The Grand Sumo Tournament takes place at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium from 10th of March. The tournament is broadcast on television, but if you attend the event you can enjoy the unique atmosphere for yourself.

Stable master : What happened to you today? You pushed the opponent to the edge of the ring. But you fell down.

Sumo wrestler : When I thought I was about to win, your words occurred to me.

Stable master : What kind of words?

Sumo wrestler : “You must conquer yourself !”

KOMATSU Takehisa

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Japanese custom Say "Itadakimasu" to your food

dish and chopstick

In Japan we have a custom of saying “Itadakimasu” before eating, and “Gochisosama” when finishing. When I was young, these greetings were taught to us by our parents and in school. I used those words without understanding the meanings.

The origin of the words is as follows: “Itadaki” of “Itadakimasu” means the top of a mountain. When precious goods were received, we raised them over our head to express appreciation. This comes from words to thank the life for becoming food and the person for cooking. “Chiso” of “Gochisosama” means “run around”. It expresses thanks to the person who was collecting food here and there to treat us.


Unlike the old days when we were engaged earnestly in the search for food, these days we buy food with money. A handmade lunch changed to a paid food service. One day a kid was taught saying “Itadakimasu” before eating in a school. He told this to his mother. She replied “I paid for it, you did not need to say Itadakimasu at all.” At a fast food shop, we forget saying “Itadakimasu” and “Gochisosama” because they serve a meal which suits its price; it is natural to say nothing because the shop is a business.

Nowadays I can eat good food, and I want to continue to appreciate it and express thanks. Words of thanks for a meal regardless of quality of food and amount of money are important. Memorize “Itadakimasu” and “Gochisosama” as words of greetings.


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kokoka news * * kokusai koryu kaikan news

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 February, 17th 1:00 - 5:00 PM
  • ◆Place : kokoka Kyoto International Community House 3F Conference Room / Counseling Room
  • ◆Registration : Please call 075-752-3511

Let us know more about the international communities! Charity Event

Why not interacting more with the foreign residents in Kyoto? There will be an event which participants can vote to the community for the one you want to support.

  • ◆Time : Saturday February, 23rd 1:30 - 4:30pm
  • ◆Place : kokoka Kyoto International Community House, Special Conference Room
  • ◆Registration : apply from kokoka web site

This Spring, kokoka will host you !

kokoka Kyoto International Community House will host you in various ways. There will be light up during the evening. You can enter the Japanese Garden of kokoka, also there will be a world food stalls and special stage performances during the weekends ☆

  • ◆Time : Saturday March, 30th through Sunday April, 21st
  • ◆Place : kokoka Kyoto International Community House

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

  • When : February 19th (Sunday), March 4th (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

『4コママンガでおぼえる日本語 中・上級 ひとつおぼえて たくさんわかる編』
Practical Japanese through Comics
(Learn to recognize groups of words for intermediate and advanced level students)

Practical Japanese through Comics

Published by ask

Just as Japanese people have to work very hard to learn foreign languages, so it must require intensive efforts for students to master the Japanese language.

To help you to learn Japanese words systematically, “Practical Japanese through Comics”puts together derivatives (words having the same origin) and homonyms (words having the same pronunciation but different meanings) for several keywords, which you can learn easily and with fun through four-frame comic strips. The book is most appropriate for students advancing from an elementary to an intermediate competency level, and quickly expands your vocabulary.

Learn versatile and convenient words

Also coming from the same “Practical Japanese through Comics” series, is the book “いろいろ使えることばをおぼえる編 (Learn versatile and convenient words)”, which tells you about many the meanings that a single word or Chinese character can have. A list of vocabulary is also found at the back of the book and “Let’s read” columns are available both in Japanese and English. You should try the book if you want to learn more Japanese!

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Volanteer member of this issue

Editors of paper edition


AZUMA Keiko / IKUTA Minoru / Kiaran GREEN / KOMATSU Takehisa / SAWAMURA Kaori / SUZUKI Shouichiro / SUZUKI Hidetoshi / SEKINO Masako / NAGATAKE Yoshinobu / HIGASHIDA Miyu / FUKUSHIMA Asuka / FUJITA Risa / FURUTA Tomiyoshi / LIANG Shan / YAMASHITA Motoyo

English proofreading collaborator


Designer of WEB edition

SUZUKI Hidetoshi

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