Tea ceremony and Silver pavillion on a beautiful autumn day

As I wrote before, a typical tea room is in the garden, and stepping stones lead you to the room, which consists of a few tatami mats. Its window-like square door is very small. Of course, it has a reason why it is so small. Actually I hit my head against the upper frame of the door when I got out of the room. It seems too small for me... probably...

Entoku-in temple we visited on that day serves tea for tea ceremony in the typical tea room in the garden. It is a simplified ceremony, but you can enjoy it at ease.
The experience of having traditional tea in the traditional room counts so much. In this temple, tea was brought by a woman from out of the room. In the traditional way, of course tea is made in front of you and the way of making tea has a rule to be followed. But with just 500 yen for tea, I think it sufficient to have a slight touch of Japanese culture.
I told them how to have the served tea. The girls seemed to have a little knowledge of tea ceremony, and fully enjoyed it. After having tea, the host came and explained to us the meaning of hanging scroll, and of the flowers in the alcove, which made us feel the season we were in.

On the way to Yasaka shrine, I usually take a course walking along Sanneizaka and Nineizaka to Nenenomichi and Ishibekoji. This part has an old Japanese atmosphere and these streets have tiny shops and restaurants on the road sides. Just walking is much fun. Among them, especially for young girls, Totoro of Miyazaki animations draws their attention. In the shop, there are a lot of goods of Miyazaki animation films' characters, though they are a bit expensive for me...

The last leg of our tour was Ginkakuji temple, or Silver Pavillion. It was in late afternoon that we visited there. The sunlight shone directly to the leaves as if it were a spot light.

That was the most beautiful scene of this temple I have ever seen. I recommend you to visit in late afternoon on an autumn sunny day.

The conbination of green of the pine trees and red or yellow of the Japanese maple leaves made a beautiful contrast.

Date ; November 18th

Tourist/ girls from Singapore and a French couple from Singapore

Tour : Fushimi Inari, Kiyomizu temple, Sanneizaka Nineizaka, Entokuin temple( tea ceremony), Ishibekoji, (Okonomiyaki), Nishiki food market, Silver pavillion

Shaven Bonito and sea weeds, autumn leaves

As this was the first time for them to visit Kyoto, I made a typical tour plan. The tour date was Novemeber 1oth, when leaves started to change their color. This time , I was a guide of a family from Malaysia. I found she took a photo of red or orange leaves in every place. I was wondering why she stopped so often because autumn leaves can be seen every place. Some of them are so beautiful but others are just show us their beauty alone. She said that was the first time to see the colored leaves. Yes, I understand why. They came from the country with a warm climate.

Thank you for reading my blog. When I asked them what they wanted to have for lunch, they said "OKONOMIYAKI" That's because of this blog. I took them to the OKONOMIYAKI restaurant near Nishiki Market.

Then we enjoyed Nishiki food market. Look at the price of Matsutake mashroom. Yes, that was the highest price I have seen in my life. It is said that Matsutake produced in Kyoto has a high quality with a nice matsutake smell. Even after it is cooked, we can still enjoy its smell along with its light resilient texture. Anyway, the price was surprising. ...

Asian people sometimes know very much about Japanese food. They are not an exception. She said the price of sheven bonito was cheaper than that sold in her country. She bought sea weeds and shaven bonito there.

A baby boy was so cute. I sometimes played with him during the tour. Just before I had to say good bye to them, he called me antie! That's the way they call a woman. Still now, when he sees me in the photos, he calls me "Antie" , of course, which pleases me a lot.

Date : Nov. 10th
Tourist : a family from Malaysia
Tour : Fushimi Inari shrine, Kiyomizu temple, ( OKONOMIYAKI )Nishiki food market, Golden Pavillion ( later they visited Ryoanji rock garden by themselves)


KENDO - Japanese fencing style

Are you interested in martial arts or Samurai? If so, taking a look at Kendo practice may be interesting. Butokuden is the traditional training center. Sometimes, high-ranked kendoists practice there in the DOJO or training hall.

When we stood in front of the door, I felt intense atmosphere. One of them walked to us and talked to me with a smile. He explained a little about them . Most of the kendoists we saw on the day were high-ranked. Especially three of them are ranked in the 8th grade. He said just 1% of 7th grade applicants can pass the so-called promoted test.

Actually the opponent of the 8th grade kendoist could not move due to his strong consentration giving no chance for attack. It was very impressing and I just did sit and stare them fogetting time to tick away.

In front of the Kendoists in the picture above is the place for Emperor when he came to see the match. A few decades ago, then Emperor came there and saw the matches held there.

If you have further interest in swords or Samurai, visiting the sword shop near the training center is also fun. You can see a suit of feudal arm and sword guards or dogi ( Aikido or Kendo outfits ) The swords in the picture are the ones for practicing Iaido or sword drawing.

This time, I was a guide of a couple from Canada. They showed many interests and I had made a plan for them before their visiting Japan. On the first day, I took them to Arashiyama, Bamboo forest and what they call a small moss garden/ Gioji temple. At night we went to see Kendo practice. It was a long day, and we made the most of the time we had.

The next day another guide helped me for a part of the 2nd day tour. A lady of them got dressed as a Maiko or an apprentice of Geisha and enjoyed tea ceremony in a typical tea room . Later, I took them to Nijo castle and talked about the story of Samurai concerning to this historic castle.

Date : Nov. 4th and 5th
Tourists ; a couple from Canada
Tour ; 1st day =Gioji temple, Bamboo forest, Ninnaji temple, Golden Pavillion, Nishiki food market, Gion, Budoku den ( kendo practice)
2nd day = Kiyomizu temple, Maiko dressing, Entokuin tea ceremony, Sannenzaka Ninenzaka Ishibekoji, Pontocho, (by Ririko) Nijo castle, sword shop ( by Tomoko)


Autumn in Kyoto

The other day, I went to Arashiyama not as a guide, but as a woman who loves taking photos. The leaves in Arashiyama were at their best. Although there are so many people from inside and outside of the country walking everywhere, the vivid and bright colors in the scenery still impressed me so much!


Enjoying Jidai Matsuri(festival)

Jidai matsuri or Jidai festival is annually held on Oct. 22nd. The date of our tour was happenly on the day of 22nd. There is no choice but to go and enjoy the festival, isn't there? Jidai matsuri does not have a long history. Its origin dates back to 1895. Heian shrine was constructed to commemorate Kyoto's 1,100th anniversary as Japan's capital. At the same time, the festival started.
The date of Oct. 22nd is the day when Emperor Kanmu relocated the capital from Nagaoka to Kyoto in 794. The festival's main attraction is the parade of the people dressed in authentic costumes representing in various periods. You can give a glance at characters in Japanese fuedal history.

The 2 kilometer costume procession starts in the afternoon with about 2,000 comstume preformers dressed as a samurai, and common people from the earliest eras to the Meiji era ( which started in 1868). This is one of the three largest festivals in Kyoto.

We started the tour from Fushimi Inari, and visited Kiyomizu temple, along with enjoying walking along the path from the temple to Yasaka shrine. Then we headed for Sanjo street to see the festival.
After that we visited Nijo castle. Walking in the castle and feeling atmosphere of those days after seeing the festival gave us something enough to imagine those days in the castle.

Tour date : Oct. 22nd
Tour : Fushimi Inari, Yasaka Pagoda, Kiyomizu temple,
Sanneizaka Nineizaka, Ishibekoji,
Jidai festival, Nijo castle.
Tourist : a family from Israel


With a photographer

Fushimi Inari shrine, ( Torii tunnel )
This time I was on the tour with a photographer. It was very interesting because I am interested in taking pictures. Though I am just a beginner, it was very happy to see someone who are professhional taking pictures. In each places we spent a comparatively long time getting a good shot. But it was still fun to me.

Fushimi Inari shrine,
Since I usually take tourists from a place to another, I don't pay any attention to taking photos. I just do it for this blog. Though I took a compact digital camera, I fully enjoyed taking pictures with him.

Bamboo forest in Arashiyama

This time, I didn't take a photo of the tourist, because he promised me to send me the one taken with his nice camera. When I get it, I will add it to this blog.

Fushimi Inari Shrine Torii tunnel
< Bamboo forest

Tenryuji temple
Tenryuji temple
Tenryuji temple
Gioji temple

Date : October 13th
Tour ; Fushimi Inari shrine, Tenryuji temple, Bamboo forest, Gioji temple, Rakushisha, Ninnaji temple
Tourist : a man from USA


parfait and conveyer-belt sushi

Touching the food culture of the other countries is a part of fun.
I think the highlight of this tour was conveyer-belt sushi. This time I took a man from America to Kiyomizu temple. Unfortunately that day was the day for school outing. We met elementary school kids everywhere we went.
After walking from Kiyomizu temple to Yasaka shrine, we walked around Gion. Have you ever seen the movie "Memoirs of Geisha"? The story was the one of Gion. I explained the system of so-called Ochaya, Maiko and Geisha in front of the real Ochaya pointing at the wooden name plate of Geisha and Maiko.

Then we went to Kazurasei which sells hair ornament for not only ordinary women but Maiko and Geisha. He chose one as a souvenir for his wife. It was a black one with a white flower. It was very beautiful and probably she will look good with it on and I hope so.

Close to the shop, he found Japanese sweets shop. He got interested in the parfait served there.
He decided to have pre-lunch. He had chesnuts parfait, and I had maccha parfait.
We really enjoyed them and headed for Nishiki food market.
Then we had .... soy-milk doughnuts. Yummmy! He said we didn't necessarily have lunch around noon, and we put it off later.

He got another souvenir for his wife, which is a Japanese fan. The shop at Nishiki market sells hand-painted fans. He chose a fan painted Japanese maple leaves. The red leaves were vivid on the black cloth of the fan.

After visiting Nijo castle, we went to where he wanted to go. That is a conveyer-belt sushi restaurant. He had never seen one during his stay in Japan before we met. That was his first experience. I told him how the system worked. He seemed to really enjoyed it.

That was the cheapest sushi he had ever had, and he said he didn't tell the difference between the ones he had before and the ones we had at that time.

After visiting Golden Pavillion, where we met a lot of kids, we finised the tour.

Date : Oct. 5th
Tour ; Kiyomizu temple, Sanneizaka Ninenzaka, Yasaka shrine, Gion ( Hanami koji), Kazurasei ( hair ornament shop), Koishi, ( Sweets shop ), Nishiki food market, Nijo castle, Conveyer-belt sushi restaurant, Kinkakuji temple ( Golden Pavillion)

Tourist ; a man from America

A shrine was busy carrying out wedding rites

Japanese people usually set the day for the ceremonies or rites according to the recurring sequence of six days in the Chinese calender known as "Rokuyo." For example, there are certain days the funeals or wedding ceremonies should not be held. On the other hand, there are days good for wedding ceremonies. "Taian day" is the lucky day. and we avoid having events on "Butsumetu day" which is accosiated with Buddha's death.
October 2nd was Saturday and "Tomobiki day", good day for wedding.

When we were in Heian shrine, we saw 2 couples having a wedding ceremony. The bride was in the traditinal bride costume. She wore a white cloth headdress and a white coat.
I was a guide of honeymooners, we talked about the wedding ceremony and the way of wedding party for a while.
More and more Japanese young couples tend to have a wedding ceremony in the western style. When I saw the brides in Heian shrine, I realized how nice the tradition was and how beautiful the traditional costume was, not to mention the bride.

That was the last day in Kyoto for them. I took them the most of the places they wanted to visit in their list.
We went to Bamboo forest, Kenninji temple, Ginkakuji temple phylosophy path and Nanzenji temple along with Heian shrine.
Kenninji temple is not so popular among foreign tourists. However, this is the oldest zen temple. We can sit down on the tatami mats and see the moss covered garden. In addition, we can walk a part of the garden and take a look inside of the typical tea room. The painting on the ceiling of the hall was fantastic and impressive. I think it worth seeing.

I hope the tour with me will be one of the nice memories of their honeymoon trip.

Date : Oct. 2nd
Tourists : a couple from Italy

Tour : Bamboo forest, Kenninji temple, Ginakuji temple
Phylosophy path, Heian shrine, Nanzenji temple


Byodoin, Ujigami shrine, tea room

If you have one more day for sightseeing in Kyoto, visiting Uji is one of the choices left. Open your purse, do you have 10-yen coin in it? Please look at the back side of the coin. You will see Byodoin temple on it.
Byodoin temple is very old and it was not renovated. The buidling itself is very old and not gorgeous. However, in the old days, it was painted with colorful paint, mainly red. The people in those days believed the paradise in Pureland was in the west. When you stand in front of the pond, you will see the main hall called phoenix hall in the west. They wanted to make something like the paradise in pureland there, and it was what they thought Paradise. The face of the buddha image in the hall can be seen through the round window. As you see, the architecture represents a phoenix with its wings spread.
The images and the pictures which used to be in the hall are exhibited in Byodoin museum in the precinct along the original colored main hall using computer graphics. Those are very impressive and worth seeing. They make us feel something. I can imagine how beautiful they were and how the hall stood there.

A little walk along the path between the temple and the river brings you to the city information center. There you can enjoy Tea ceremony at Taiho-an tea room. (500yen)

If you have a little more time, how about visiting another world heritage site, Ujigami shrine?
This shrine has the oldest shirine building in Japan. It is not so showy. But please imagine this building has been there down the old ages. It has never been changed, just standing there. You will surely understand why this shrine was resistered as a world heritage site.

Uji is one of the major tea producers. There are many tea shops selling various kinds of tea. The oldest tea shop gives a service of making tea. ( Kanbayashi tea shop, and Fukujuen)

Transportation ; Uji station ( JR Nara line) 10min. walk. Uji station ( Keihan line ) 5 min. walk

Byodoin ; ( Admission 600 yen, The main hall 300 yen)
Temple 8:30 AM - 5;15 PM
Museum 9AM - 4;45PM
The main hall 9:10 - 4:10

Ujigami shrine : no admission

Taiho-an tea room : open Jan. 10th - Dec. 20th 10AM - 4PM 500 yen