A Walk Down Horikawa Street

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Veronika CHELIADINOVA (Russian Federation)

The abundant nature of Horikawa Street

The abundant nature
of Horikawa Street

A little alley next to Horikawa Street

A little alley
next to Horikawa Street

It has been two and a half years since I started my life in Kyoto. During that time, I’ve found so many wonderful places in Kyoto, each one with its own charm. Because it is really difficult to choose just one, I’ll introduce a few of the wonderful places I have found on Horikawa Street.

I really like walking along Horikawa Street. It’s wide and stretches from the northern part of Kamogawa River down to the south side of Kyoto station, making it quite long. The buildings down it are largely constructed in a modern style. The next street over also has many traditional buildings. There is also a small river that flows through a canal along the road which gives off that soothing sound of flowing water. Additionally, when the spring comes, beautiful cherry blossoms bloom all along the street. In spring I practiced Japanese by chatting with an older woman walking along the street. We talked about the colors of the cherry blossoms and their full blooms. In the afternoon, the museums and traditional stores open to tell a story of Kyoto’s history. If you would like to see traditional cloths, silks and other rich fabrics such as Nishiki fabric woven with a raised pattern, the Nishijin Textile Center is the best place for you to go. You can try your hand at exciting crafts like handweaving cloths or making scarves. Sometimes they hold kimono shows. If you really are interested in the clothing from the Heian or Nara Period, I also recommend the Costume Museum located near Nanajo Street on Horikawa Shinhanayacho. The first museum that I went to after coming to Kyoto was the Costume Museum. The museum is a little small, but in it is an atmosphere of days long past. Reproductions of traditional clothing materials and historical paintings are displayed. Additionally, there is an exhibition which depicts the life of nobles during the Heian period held here. There are lovely dolls living in a doll house made after the shindendukuri architecture style for the houses where the Heian Period court nobles lived. It shows nobles playing the card game karuta, noble ladies brushing their beautiful black hair and various other scenes of the ordinary life of a Heian Period noble from that time. It looks so impressive, it makes me want to live like a noble.

The buildings on the main street

The buildings on the main street

The sword shop Kuraya Hashimoto

The sword shop Kuraya Hashimoto

The author on the bridge near Nijo Castle

The author on the bridge
near Nijo Castle

Now to introduce another rare spot of Horkikawa Street. There is a Japanese sword shop called Kuraya Hashimoto near Nijo Castle. They sell real katana (Japanese swords), wakizashi (Japanese short swords) and many more. It is quite surprising just how many kinds of swords they have. It is definitely a fun place for everyone, even for people like me with no connections to Japanese martial arts.

Finally, my favorite thing is Horikawa Street at night. Once the crowds disappear, the atmosphere changes and the street is as empty as an uninhabited island. But it doesn’t feel lonely. There are many lights from windows of people peacefully enjoying their evenings. Horikawa is wide but once you enter the next street over, the alleys intertwine like the threads of fine clothing. I like to get lost in them. I also like to wander around in the maze of small houses. It’s interesting to see the different styles of buildings like the stand alone houses or the semi-detached houses. Some of them were built 100 years ago. There are also newer apartment complexes, but it seems more coordinated than random. I am amazed every time I see the results of people's efforts in planning a city's layout. That’s why I keep walking. Sometimes I pass by temples and small shrines while walking in the alleys and go back to Horikawa Street. If I get bored of going straight, I wander back to the little side streets. Sometimes I walk north, sometimes south, sometimes with friends, sometimes while making new friends. We talk as much as we can during our ichigo-ichie, once-in-a-lifetime encounters. It might sound like I am being carefree, but it is important for me to think at my own pace. This way I spend my life in Kyoto observing and enjoying the cityscape.

How do you spend yours?

translated by TAMURA Kazumi

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New Dolphin Performance at Kyoto Aquarium

Chapter 1 "Friendship"

Chapter 1 Friendship
Chapter 1 Friendship

Chapter 2 "Important things"

Chapter 2 Important things
Chapter 2 Important things

I introduced Kyoto Aquarium in the past issue (August and September 2016*) of "Life in Kyoto", however, because the contents of the dolphin performance have changed since July 21, 2018, I am re-introducing this new performance in this article.

The title of the new dolphin performance is “La・La・ Fin CIRCUS”. It is called “theatrical dolphin performance”, and it is the first production of dolphin performance by Avex Entertainment for domestic aquariums. I actually went to see the performance, and it was such a wonderful show that it made me wanting to see it again and again. Moreover, this show is composed of 4 chapters throughout the year, and Chapter 3 "Promise" is being performed in December and January.

Before the start of the show, the four performers in the circus troupe come out to the audience to excite them with high fives and taking of pictures with them. The actual performance is made up of plays acted out by performers, trainers and dolphins, teaching various behavioral nature of dolphins. Even after the end of the performance, although restricted by time, the performers stay with the audience for several minutes to send them off, all the while taking pictures with them. Since trainers, dolphins and performers who appear on the show differ depending on the day and time, the performance will not be boring even when you’ve seen it over and over.

Please check the special website** of the Kyoto Aquarium for the detailed information of the performance and schedule.

* http://lik.kcif.or.jp/archives/1608/08_2016en.htm#2
** http://www.kyoto-aquarium.com/lalafin/ (Japanese only)

KANAYA Chinami

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Concept of Chado ICHIGO-ICHIE

Remains of Rikyu residence

Remains of Rikyu's residence

One cute morning glory (image)

One cute morning glory (image)

Matcha and sweets

Matcha and sweets

Ichigo-ichie, literally meaning "one time, one meeting", is a con- cept of Chado (Japanese Tea Ceremony) which is often heard in the best of hospitality. It means to treasure every chance encounter for it may never re-occur. We may meet again tomorrow, but today may be the last time. So, I’ll provide the best hospitality for you, because you are a great friend to me.

Here now, I would like to tell of an episode which I hold dear. It’s a story from about 400 years ago. SEN no Rikyu often held tea par- ties welcoming TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi. Toyotomi Hideyoshi was the Tenkabito.* Sen no Rikyu was the most famous of the great tea masters. In the 16th century, morning glory (asagao) was a very rare flower.

When Hideyoshi heard that Rikyu was raising some morning glory, he came over to Rikyu’s mansion in Jyurakudai Castle. He looked for the morning glory in every corner of the garden. But, he couldn’t find any. He was looking very sour as he entered the tea ceremony room. Then, exclaiming "Oho!! Finally found you! ... How surprisingly glorious!!", he was deeply moved by the scene in front of him, of one cute morning glory vivaciously arranged in a bamboo vase hanging on the tokonoma’s (alcove’s) pillar. In truth, Rikyu knew that Hideyoshi was coming, so he carefully got rid of all morning glory in the garden beforehand, and provided a surprise showing just for Hideyoshi. Rikyu loved to bring joy to people.

Finally, I would like to introduce some simple rules when drink- ing matcha green tea. First, enjoy tasting the sweets. Let your tongue take in all their sweetness. Now, how to drink matcha. Hold the bowl with your left hand, turning it with your right hand twice clockwise. Next holding the bowl with both hands, dividing the sips few times, enjoy the taste of matcha slowly. It may taste slightly bitter? .... Just now a chemical reaction has taken place between the sweetness and the bitterness blended together on your tongue!

Thoroughly enjoy your happy time drinking matcha. I was delighted to meet you today. Ichigo-ichie is magical in being hospitable.

* Toyotomi Hideyoshi was called the Tenkabito because he managed to end the civil war which lasted for a long time, and brought the country under his own rule.

YAGI Takashi

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Calm and Elegant Boys Idol Group from Kyoto



So many idol groups are active in Japan. It is said there are several thousands of them, among whom, there are idol groups called "local idols" who are special, depending on where they're from. Kyoto also has several local idols and from among them, we like to introduce KYOTO DANSHI.

KYOTO DANSHI is an all-male idol group formed in 2016. Currently, made up of four members aged from 19 to 22 years old, and as the local idol group in Kyoto. which is the center of traditional Japanese culture, they are developing their own unique world of idol groups based on Kyoto’s concept of harmony Japanese-style. Usually, they perform mainly live, every weekend around the Kansai area. Moreover, their currently released CD made the top of hit charts, attracting attention from all over Japan. This time, we also went to see KYOTO DANSHI live, and before their performance, had interviews with each member of the group.

First of all, when asked how members got their chance to join KYOTO DANSHI, it seems it was through auditioning or by scouting for the group. Then, they described their charm and attraction as "not being aggressive but hannari (meaning calm and elegant in Kyoto dialect)." They said they do hannari, the way Kyoto does it. That is why they make songs and costumes the way Kyoto makes them, same for MCing (live chatting) the way Kyoto chats, meaning in a nice, gentle way.

All of them are so gentle and mild in appearance, however they all enthusiastically said, "There are not many male idol groups in Kansai area. We want to be the one on the top", and "Our dream is to be admired by both boys and girls." Their current goal is to expand their activities across Kyoto, such as appearing on TV and radio, and promoting Kyoto's attractions together with the city government. Next March in Kyoto, they want to make their plan for One Man Live performance to succeed.


"KYOTO DANSHI" on stage

We also got a chance to see their live performance after the interview. Most of the audience were young girls, lively waving their light sticks as soon as the performance started. The girls sitting in the front row were standing right at the stage, almost touching the performers. The concert for this day featured set performances with four members grouped in pairs, each having their own theme and songs. The first pair appeared in leather jackets and the second in kimono costumes. How they sang and MC'd were exactly "not being aggressive but hannari", as they said in the interview, and their attraction was evident to all in the audience. Towards the end, four performers sang and danced together, and the entire atmosphere was a total blast.

Why not go and see KYOTO DANSHI live! "We are not really recognized by foreigners at the moment, and it would be so nice if the readers of "Life in Kyoto" get interested in us and actually visit our concert!" said KYOTO DANSHI members. Please check out their website and YouTube channel below for further information, songs and live videos.

KYOTO DANSHI youtube channel

Official website:https://www.kyotodanshi.com/
Official YouTube channel:QR code on the right

SUZUKI Hidetoshi and NISHIMURA Yumi

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kokoka news * * kokusai koryu kaikan news

Santa Claus is coming to kokoka!

A kokoka volunteer group "Hot Chat" will hold a joyful event for kids and their parents.

Santa Claus is coming to kokoka!
  • When: December 22, Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m.
  • Participants: foreigners and Japanese parents raising little children in Kyoto with their kids (children aged from 0 to 5 y.o. and their older siblings)
  • Limit: 25 families, reservation in advance is required. Fee: 200 yen per adult and 0 yen per kid.
  • Place: kokoka, 3F Study Room
  • Apply: http://www.kcif.or.jp/HP/news/top/en/index.html
  • Tel: 075-752-1187

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Library Letter - Kyoto International community House Library

kokoka recommends this book

Bilingual Guide to Japan SAMURAI CASTLE

Samrai Castle

Author:MIURA Masayuki
  English text by Chris Glenn
Publisher:SHOGAKUKAN, 2017

Japanese castles are popular among foreign tourists. This book introduces the history of Japanese castles and how they are built. If you are interested in the Japanese castles featured in this book, why not go visit them all around Japan? It sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

This book has many photos of the castles’ exterior. I think it would be fun just to use this book to compare all of the similarities and differences of these castles.

kokoka has never seen Japanese castles up close. Maybe they are cool!

※ kokoka is Kyoto International Community House mascot.

Traditional Japanese food

Speaking of Japan, do you know the word washoku? It means traditional Japanese food. The book “Wagohan: The ABCs of Japanese Cuisine” (Author: YAMADA Reiko, Publisher: POT PUBULISHING, 2017) introduces many charming main and side dishes of washoku, such as breakfast dishes, popular side dishes, drinks and traditional Japanese sweets. Please visit the library to read this wonderful book.

What kind of washoku do you like? kokoka likes yellowtail teriyaki, braised burdock root and carrot, scattered topping sushi, chilled tofu, Japanese sake, and much more. There are so many delicious washoku dishes out there!

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Volunteer members of this issue

Writers, Editors and Contributors

FUJITA Risa / FURUTA Tomiyoshi / HU Kan Xin /IKUTA Minoru / KANAYA Chinami / Karl JANSMA /Kateryna CHORNOKHVOSTENKO / KOJIMA Mayo/ KOSONO Miki /LIN Hsiu Feng / Nicholas IWAI / SUZUKI Hidetoshi / SUZUKI Shoichiro / TAMURA Kazumi / NAGATA Hikaru/ YAGI Takashi/ YAGI Toshiyuki / YUZAWA Kimio /

Editor of this WEB page

SUZUKI Hidetoshi

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