New Angles

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Daniel Settelen (USA)

Daniel Settelen

From the exciting nightlife around Sanjo to the serenity of one of the sixteen hundred temples, Kyoto offers something for everyone, especially an amateur photographer such as myself. With each new season, Kyoto brings something new to the table. Summer brings festivals such as the Gion Matsuri and Daimonji —- crowds of people packed together wearing traditional Japanese clothes, giant floats pulled down narrow streets, food stalls emitting the delicious aroma of yakisoba and offering refreshing and sweet shaved ice. It’s a time where tradition, humanity and heat collide and descend on a historical location or street creating a photographic buffet. However my favorite season, autumn, brings a break from the relentless waves of heat and sweat, and a whole new scene comes to life.

A popular autumn activity is koyo, autumn color viewing. Throughout the city you can join the masses to visit temples such as Kiyomizudera and Kodaiji, and enjoy night time illuminations. Instead of yukata and yakisoba, the crisp air welcomes warm tea and more layers. However, if you are tired of the crowds and looking for a more nature induced experience, I’d recommend a hike up Mt. Hiei. Diverging from the most popular paths can sometimes bring more beauty and a richer experience since the expectations aren’t as laid out from station poster pictures and various advertisements. However, since I came to Kansai four years ago, Mt. Hiei seems to have become more and more popular every autumn.

Mt. Hiei

Mt. Hiei

Mt. Hiei sits on the border of Kyoto and Shiga prefectures, and is home to a famous temple called Enryakuji with a rich history and tales of legendary warrior monks. Enryakuji is the main attraction for many to the mountain. The hiking trail can be accessed in Kyoto from Shugakuin Station, which is about 15 minutes from the trailhead. There is also the option of taking a cable car to the top. Personally, I enjoy the hike. Hiking up to the top in November provides fantastic views of Kyoto City as well as stunning reds and oranges from the Japanese maple trees.

One thing which has always drawn me to Kyoto has been the thousands of famous old places one can visit. However, Kyoto has a lot of interesting and somewhat overlooked old places as well. Once in a while, leaving the travel guide and expectations at home before setting out to explore can be a pleasant surprise, although you may stumble across places with very little historical significance. Instead of a well-known old temple you may happen across a small neglected shrine being reclaimed by nature or an abandoned ski resort, such as the one on Mt. Hiei. I guarantee you won’t find the once “Mt. Hiei Artificial Ski Area” in any upto-date travel brochure because it’s been closed since 2002. It’s not advised to enter the run-down building, but peeking into the gloomy windows reveals a scene that is frozen in time.

Mt. Hiei Artificial Ski Area

Mt. Hiei Artificial Ski Area

It’s overlooked places and moments that drive me to improve my photography techniques. I aspire to take unique photos rather than technically perfect photos. ‘Perfect’ photos are easily seen on station walls and train advertisements. If I can capture a moment in time from a new perspective, and present it to someone who becomes curious or inspired, for me that’s the perfect photo. Kyoto is a unique place to find such a variety of modern, traditional, inspirational and sometimes forgotten spaces and scenes. This is my favorite thing about Kyoto, and hope others can have a chance to approach the city and surrounding areas at a few new angles and discover something unexpected.

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kokoka Information Service Corner

If you have any problems in your daily life, for example: finding a house or a job in Kyoto, learning Japanese or changing your resident status, it is recommended you visit the Information Corner on the first floor of kokoka Kyoto International Community House. The volunteer staff at the Information Corner is always ready to provide information or introduce you to public or private support resources or consultation centers. At the corner, information and counseling are free of charge and available in English and Japanese. Tourist information including city maps, bus route guides etc., and the handbook “Easy Living in Kyoto” (in English, Chinese, Korean and Spanish) and the “Emergency Manual” are also provided free of charge.

kokoka information corner kokoka information corner

Kokoka Information Service Corner

Moreover, in March of this year, the kokoka Information Service Corner was certified as an official “Tourist Information” resource by the Japan National Tourism Organization. So, a variety of tourist information is available such as events in Kyoto, access to major sightseeing spots, and details on various discount tickets. Please introduce and recommend the kokoka Information Service and Tourist Information Corner to your friends who visit Kyoto.


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Come to OPEN DAY !

On November 3, we will celebrate the 10th Open Day event at kokoka Kyoto International Community House. Open Day is well-attended every year as a time of exchange between Japanese and foreign residents.

global stage

People are drawn to Open Day by the wide variety of foods, performances and activities. Walking around the festival is like experiencing the entire world. Food stands selling cuisine from different countries are lined up, and the smell of delicious food drifts around the plaza. From Japanese baked sweet potatoes to luxurious French food, you will be at a loss as to what to eat first. On the round stage outside, performances are held all day long. In the lobby, entertainers from different countries perform music and dance. Both performers and spectators get more enthusiastic and have a lot of fun.

Open Day Stage

The events organized by the volunteer groups are varied; the flea market is one of the most popular events. Foreigners new to Japan can take advantage of good deals at the flea market. It’s also possible to try on traditional clothes from various countries, try some crafts, enjoy chatting with people learning Japanese, and do many other things not usually possible in everyday life.

food stand

The “Life In Kyoto” volunteer group will present an event called “Let’s play Karuta”. This is a traditional Japanese poetry game which can be enjoyed by everyone. Even if you don’t speak Japanese or are studying Japanese now, please come, as we will offer support for non-Japanese speakers. By playing this karuta game, please experience a new and different part of Japanese culture. Through games, through art, or through food, let’s get to know each other better. There will be more food and entertainment than you can look at, while enjoying the late autumn holiday. Please come by yourself, or with friends and family. For more details, please go to our below website

Open Day QR
Let’s play karuta!
Come to enjoy playing, while learning Japanese language
◆Date: November 3, Sun (Natl. Holiday)
◆Time: 10:00 ~ 16:00
◆Fee: free of charge!
◆Location: kokoka KCIF Study Room 3F


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University Cafeterias in Kyoto

When you think about where to eat in Kyoto, a college cafeteria might be a good option. There are many universities in Kyoto and you can enter most college cafeterias, even if you are not a student. Some dishes are made for foreigners’ tastes or dietary needs. Moreover, the low prices are a very attractive point. In this issue we will introduce you to two universities’ cafeterias.


Kyoto University Cafeteria

Kyoto University North Cafeteria (Yoshida Campus)

Kyoto University North Cafeteria

We heard the rumor that the further north you go, the tastier the foods get in Kyoto University’s longstanding cafeterias, so we went to the North Cafeteria (Hokubu Shokudo). You can find the cafeteria on the North Campus, where the Faculties of Science and Agriculture are located. Japanese, Chinese and Western dishes are served and the menu changes weekly. Some dishes are cooked to order at the cooking counter, where Tenshinhan (a Chinese style dish invented in Japan) is a very popular order.

Kyoto University North Cafeteria plates Kyoto University North Cafeteria plates

The menu has some English and has pictures. We paid about 500 yen for 3 or 4 plates (shown in the photo). Unfortunately, however, the building housing the North Cafeteria, the Hokubu-Seikyo-Kaikan, closed in September for renovations.

On the other hand, on the main campus a café style restaurant called “Camphora”, and an authentic French restaurant, “La Tour”, were opened several years ago. There you can see many of the neighborhood housewives enjoying their lunch time.


Doshisha University Cafeteria

Hamac de Paradis (Kambaikan Build., Muromachi Campus)

Hamac de Paradis

(photo 1) Hamac de Paradis

lunch of Hamac de Paradis

(photo 2) lunch

We chose to visit the college cafeteria, “Hamac de Paradis” (photo 1), located in the Kambaikan Building (completed in 2004) out of the many cafeterias at Doshisha University.

The Kambaikan Building, about one minute’s walk from the Imadegawa Station of the Subway Karasuma Line, is located west of the Imadegawa Campus and has seven floors; the building looks both historical and tranquil, because it is made of red brick.

When you enter the cafeteria, which faces Karasuma Street, you can hear the background music and feel a sophisticated atmosphere. The prices of lunch (photo 2) and pasta are reasonable, ranging from 500 to 600 yen. The “Yae Lunch”, named after the wife of Mr. Niijima Jo (founder of Doshisha University), is also on the menu.

A French restaurant, “SECOND HOUSE will”, is also open on the 7th floor, where you can see the whole range of the Higashiyama Mountains.

You can enjoy a wide variety of foods in the Kambaikan Building, by yourself, as a couple, or with your family.

FURUTA Tomiyoshi, KAKU Nana, SAWAMURA Kaori

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kokoka news * * kokusai koryu kaikan news

Harassment Awareness Workshop for Foreign Residents

In Japan, harassment happens not only among the Japanese but also among and/or to foreign residents. Among the important points on this issue, we are going to discuss cases where foreign residents are involved in harassment or are harassing others because they are foreigners or they are not familiar with the customs and habits of Japan and the Japanese. In this workshop, you will learn the definition and the current status of harassment in Japan through many case studies, how to prevent it and how to deal with it after it has occurred.


◆Date: October 19 (Sat.) 14:00 ~ 16:00
◆Place: Kyoto Prefectural International Center (Kyoto Sta. Bldg 9F)  
◆Facilitator: OGOSHI Kumiko (Representative Director of Network for Action against Academic Harassment)
◆Speech: Japanese with interpretation in English and Chinese as needed
◆Handouts: Japanese, English and Chinese
◆Participants: up to 40 people, foreign residents and the Japanese who are supporting them
◆Participation Fee: 300 yen (not for profit)
Please apply directly by email to:

kokoka Disaster Drill 2013

Be prepared now for a disaster! How will you protect yourself in case of a disaster such as a major earthquake? Experiencing an actual disaster drill with local residents will give you a good opportunity to prepare. During the drill, you can try survival food, learn how to take care of the injured, and how to fight fires.


★ Participate in this event wearing comfortable clothes and shoes.
◆Date and Time: October 12 (Sat.) 11:00 ~ 16:30
◆Participation fee: free Participants: foreign residents in Kyoto
◆Application: please provide ① your name ② phone number (or e-mail) ③ address ④ preferred language, to kokoka by phone, FAX or e-mail.
(See the contact information on the page 6.)

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Library Letter - Kyoto International community House Library

kokoka recommends this book

“The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches To Go.”

The JUST Bento Cookbook

Written by ITOH Makiko, published by Kodansha International,2010

In Japan, we have a custom of making obento (lunch boxes) for our lunches.We take them with us to school or make them for hanami (flower viewing) parties, and even if there is no event, we make them for when we just go out. When we make obento by ourselves, we can put in it whatever we like to eat; it may be difficult to wait for lunch time to come!

To get started, we recommend that you make one using a recipe from this book. The recipes in this book are not only for Japanese food, but it also includes foreign food recipes.

On November 3rd kokoka will celebrate Open Day

On this day, in the library, there will be some panels called "Some Cheering Words from foreigners in Kyoto". Those Japanese share any worries and be adivised by foreigners. They will make you happy and inspire you! We will also give away advice booklets. Why don't you come visit us in the library.

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Volunteer members of this issue

Editors of paper edition and English proofreading collaborators

AZUMA Keiko / FURUTA Tomiyoshi / IKUTA Minoru / KAKU Nana / Karl JANSMA / Michiru ONIZUKA / Megan ROBERTS / SAWAMURA Kaori / SUZUKI Hidetoshi / SUZUKI Shoichiro / TSUJINO Maiko / YAMASHITA Motoyo / YUZAWA Kimio

Designer of WEB edition

OHYABU Shunichi

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