With a group from Italy

After meeting at the Astro Boy in front of JR Kyoto Station, we started the tour. In the morning, the bus going to Golden Pavillion from the station is usually very crowded. Avoiding being packed by so many commuters, first we headed for Nijo castle.

After looking around the inside of the building, Ninomaru, we enjoyed walking in the garden. At that time, some people, including a member of our group, got into under the porch. They were looking above.... I mean they were looking at the underside of the floor. I was wondering what they were looking at.
He said that they just wanted to know how the floor squeaks. Now I understand why they did so. But that was the first time I had ever seen someone doing so. They were interested in so-called nightingale floor.

After visiting Golden Pavillion, we went Ryoanji rock garden. It was a beautiful day. Sand in the garden reflected the sunshine and looked whiter. I have been there so many times, but I really felt it beautiful.

Later, we took a walk in the precinct. The cherry blossoms were still blooming, They showed us the last beauty. When the breeze touched the blossoms, petals were falling off the tree and fluttering down in the air. It was like a snowfall. The ground had something like pink carpet on.

After OKONOMIYAKI lunch, we visited Silver Pavillion. There, we enjoyed some different aspects of the garden. In addition to the Sand garden, when we enter the garden, the small pond came into our sight. When we walked up the hill, we could see the Pavillion down there. It was the same one, but looks a little different.

Green moss covered the ground. It was so vivid to my eyes. This season shows us so fresh green of the leaves and moss in the garden.

On the way to the nearest bus stop, one of us bought a pair of lacquer ware. He explained to me that he would use them for pasta at home.

After visiting Nishiki Food Market, I said good-by to them, wondering whether they got something at a 100 yen shop near their accomodation.


Young tourists with a lot of interest and energy

They showed great interest in everything they saw and what they saw seems to have impressed them a lot. As I had visited their blog talking about their trip before, and it has some pictures, I could easily recognize them when we met.
After meeting, we headed for Fushimi Inari shrine as they requested. Laura's sister was to arrive in Kyoto later, so we had to be back to their accomodation by 11AM. When we came out of the shrine, we had a little more time. I suggested our dropping in at another temple, Tofukuji temple.

It is located between Fushimi Inari and JR Kyoto station and their list of the places to visit in Kyoto didin't include a zen temple which features Rock and sand garden( a dry landscape garden) I wanted them to see one of them.

Thanks to rigid time schedule of JR line, we could be back to Kyoto Station on time. After her sister joining our tour, we visited Sanjusangendo temple and Kiyomizu temple.
( Before visiting Kiyomizu temple, we had OKONOMIYAKI lunch at the restaurant near the bus stop, GOJOZAKA)

In Kiyomizu temple, there is another shrine, JISHU shrine.This shrines' god is said to bring good luck for those seeking love. A man or woman may ask the god for help to find a partner, or a couple may wish for a long-lasting, successful relationship.
There are two stones in the shrine. if you are successful in walking from one stone to another with your eyes closed, you will achieve the goal of love.
Laura walked successfully from one to another!!! She is the first woman to have made it that I have ever seen !! Great!!

Though we were to visit Nijo Castle later, we enjoyed so much Sanneizaka and Nineizaka that we couldn't have enough time to visit the castle. So instead, we visited Nishiki Food Market.
They tried some food such as a little octopus, rice cakes, and sweests and they fully enjoyed them in a sense.

As I had a job later, I had to say good-by to them.

I had much fun to be with them. They were/are fully enjoying their trip!!


Home cooking 1

Spring is the season in which a new sprout starts its upward journey above ground. Bamboos are no exceptions. We enjoy eating bamboo shoots at home as well as in the restaurants serving Japanese cuisine.

One of the most popular cookings is the one with WAKAME seaweed, called WAKATAKE-NI .
The other day I cooked it at home. I'll show you part of it.

First, we cut off the tip of it, then, parboil it with rice bran for more than one hour.

After cooling it, we take off the bark, and cut as you like.

Boil again with soup(made of water and shaven dried bonito), soy-source, sake, sugar and a little salt.
Here it is!

Enjoy this homemade cooking! This tastes really good because............. I cooked it!!


Nishiki Food Market

If you are interested in taking a quick glance at Japanese food culture, why don't you visit NISHIKI FOOD MARKET?

It's a 390 meter-long archaded street. 130 shops are along the narrow street, one block north of the main street, SHIJO street. You will reach Nishiki Tenmanguu shrine at the east end.
Walking along the street, you can hear cheerful voice, "IRASSAI MASE!!" calling you!

Most of these shops open around 9 AM and close around 5PM. They sell a wide variety of food, such as dried goods, sweets, pickles, eels, fish, processed egg, rice, noodles, rice cakes, beans, chestnuts, tofu, meat, chiken and fish paste as well as kitchen knives and flowers.

The end of the year is the busiest day here. People in and around Kyoto come to get some food necessary to prepare for New Year's feast.

Just taking a look at each shop is, needless to say, interesting. But some of them allow you to try their food, and to take pictures though some don't let you do it.

Oh, one thing I have to say! There are no rest rooms here. So, please do your business before visiting here!

Some shops are closed on Wednesday or Sunday.

Nearest bus stop / Shijo Takakura ( from Shijo karasuma, or Shijo kawaramachi, 5 min. walk)


Tofukuji temple

TOFUKUJI is one of the five great Zen temples in Kyoto. In 1280,ENKI, a monk who had studied in China, was appointed as the first monk of the temple. The name, TOFUKUJI, was named after "TO" of TODAIJI temple in Nara and "FUKU" of Kofukuji temple in Nara.
The Sanmon, the main gate, is the oldest of all the Zen temples existing in Japan.

In HOJO, which has four gardens; the garden of the south, the north, the east, and the west, you can see a rock and sand garden, the one with a good conbination of moss and sand, the one with a checkered pattern of moss and stones.

What I recommend is the view from TSUTEN bridge. I like the one in late April and early May. Fresh green of many Japanese maple leaves covering over the valley will impress you deeply. Of course, in Autumn, it is so beautiful with colored leaves. However, it has become so famous that countless people flock to this temple to see this beautiful scene, resulting in the temple with a rush of people.

Tofukuji temple
admission adult 400 yen
the nearest station : JR Tofukuji or Tofukuji ( Keihan line )
Tofukuji ( city bus)

10min.walk from each station.


a tour guide of Honeymoon!

Yes! This time I got the honor of being a guide of honeymoon! It was a great pleasure to have a chance to be their guide.

After picking them up, we went to Arashiyama area. First we visited Tenryuji temple. It is one of the greatest zen temples in Kyoto. We enjoyed many cherry blossoms over the path in the garden. When we were about to leave the temple from the exit at the back of the temple, we found cute good luck charms with a shape of miniature school bags. It was very cute. They seemed to like it, but they thought they could find them somewwhere else.
Unfortunately we could not find the same kind of charms in other places.

If you find it and like it in Tenryuji, do not hesitate to have one!

Later we enjoyed walking along the path in Bamboo forest and headed for Ryoanji rock garden. Around the pond in the precinct, we enjoyed full of cherry blossoms again.

Usually, a rock and sand garden doesn't come with flowers or blossoms. It is said that if there are some flowers in Japanese garden, your attention will be paid only to the flowers and you will sometimes forget seeing the garden as a whole or will not try to feel something gotten by viewing the garden with your mind calm.

However, only this season gives you the garden with cherry blossoms trailing down from the tree behind the wall.
Then we visited Golden Pavillion and had OKONOMIYAKI.

They are looking for obi fabrics. They said that everybody had said they were able to find obi fabrics anywhere you went, and that was not true. They were anxious to have one. So I took them to NISHIJIN TEXILE center.

Here you can see hand weaving and, of course, can buy some silk fabrics for kimono and obi. Luckily they found what they like, which made me happy, too.

After visiting Nijo castle, the tour ended.

They promised to send a picture of cusions they are going to make with the fabric after their returning home. I am really looking forward to seeing it!

With a family from Australia

It was a tour amid a high season of cherry viewing. We took a family from Australia to Daigoji temple which is very famous for cherry blossoms.

This temple was founded in the 16th century, but what makes the temple much more famous is so many cherry trees. When we got there, on entering the gate, a lot of cherry blossoms welcomed us!

As this temple is so large, we just saw the garden of Sanpo-in. This garden was basically designed by the then ruler Hideyoshi. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to take pictures of the garden.

After visiting the temple, we visited Nanzenji temple and walked along the phylosophy path.

This season and autunm are the best for taking a walk. We fully enjoyed cherry blossoms along the path along with shopping!
The family I showed around was very nice. I had a nice time with them on the tour.


Cherry blossoms in Daigoji temple

One of the temples famous for cherry blossoms is Daigoji temple. It is a Shingon buddhist temple which was founded in Heian Period (874).More than anything else, what made it very famous is cherry blossoms!

Hideyoshi, who gained the position of the power in the 16th century, ordered to transplant about 700 cherry trees from neighbor land due to the pomp and splendor tea ceremony. Thanks to Hideyoshi, now we can enjoyed the beautiful sight with a lot of cherry blossoms, here in spring!


How about walking along the path in Bamboo forest?

Bamboo forest consisting of bamboos standing straight. They make comfortable sounds like zawawa,zawawa when breeze blowing through the forest.

How about walking here slowly, listening to such soothing sounds? How about feeling the sounds of welcome breeze?

They will surely reflesh you and relieve your fatigue in your mind caused by everyday life.

Bamboo forest the nearest station JR Sanin line Saga station 13 min. walk
Randen line Arashiyama 5 min. walk
Hankyu line Arashiyama 10 min, walk


seeking cherry blossoms with American couple.

We were heading for cherry season!

The couple from USA had some Japanese friends, and had some pieces of advice over the trip to Japan. Before our meeting, they requested some places to visit.
So, I made a plan according to their request.

The first place we visited was of course Hirano Shrine.

However, the day before, an unexpected thing happened!!! That was......snowing!
Of course it was unusual!
After cherry blossoms began to bloom, we had snow! My expectation that blossoms in Hirano shrine would be fully blooming was easily betrayed! (>.<) But we still enjoyed about 50% cherry blooming.

Later we visited Golden Pavillion and Ryoanji rock garden. Cherry blossoms in the both temples are more blooming than the week before! Especially the ones along the pond of Ryoanji were very beautiful.

In front of Golden pavillion, we found an OKONOMIYAKI restaurant. OKONOMIYAKI is something like a pan-cake. But its taste is quite different. Some times it is called Japanese Pizza, which is, strictly speaking, not correct.

It is made of cabegge, egg, wheat flour and some other ingredients. We eat with special source and some other things( shaven bonito and NORI seaweed)
First we mix all and put on the pan. Wait for three minutes. How do we know three minutes? In this restaurant, a sandglass for three minutes is on the table for you!

And turn it over and wait for another three minutes! And again turn it over, and put source on it and wait! Here it is!

why don't you try it? At this restaurant, you cook by yourselves. It is also fun! If you fail to turn it over, that's OK! The taste is same, just the shape is a little......mmm.(^-^;

The first day ended after visiting Kotoin,Nijo castle and Nishiki Food Market .

The second day course was Sanjusangendo Hall, Kiyomizu temple, walking along Sanneizaka and Nineizaka to Yasaka shrine.
Then I took them to Old Imperial Palace because they had a reservation. After giving some advice for the tour after the tour of Old Imperial Palace, I said good bye to them.

I hope they enjoyed the tour of Old Imperial Palace and the one after that!!


The tour under the rain with a family from Canada

Recently we have had rainy days....

Despite the rainy weather, we enjoyed the scenery in Kyoto.
After picking them up, we headed for Hirano Shrine. This shrine is popular in the cherry season because it has many different kinds of cherry trees in the precinct.

At that time it was too early for fully blooming, but still we could see some trees with beautiful blossoms.
This family are very fond of flowers. They seemed to enjoy them.

Then we headed for Golden Pavillion and Ryoanji rock garden. We could see some cherry blossoms again in both temples.

We had lunch near Daiokuji temple. As it was freezing cold, all of us wanted to have something hot!! Of course we made a decision to have UDON.
We found a nice UDON restaurant, and really enjoyed lunch.

We planned to visit Nishiki food market after visiting Nijo Castle. However, it was very cold on that day, so we had to finish the first day tour.

On the second day, we enjoyed sightseeing in the eastern part of the city.
First we visited Sanjusangendo and Kiyomizu temple and then walked along Sanneizaka Nineizaka.

As they requested ( they wanted to visit a temple without taking off their shoes), we visited Heian Shrine.
It is not so old temple, but it has also a nice large garden and you can enjoy walking around the garden.
This garden is especially beautiful in the cherry season and May ( good for irises)
Though cherry blossoms are not at their best, we could see some cherry blossoms blooming.
After getting out of this temple, they seemed to really like this garden as they said they wanted to return to the garden if they are allowed to enter again with the same admission ticket.

walking tour with Italian men

It was a little earlier to enjoy cherry blossoms. Ririko, a new member of Kyoto Free Guide and I guided two men from Italy and showed around Higashiyama area.

At Sanjusangendo temple we found cherry blossoms blooming a little. Even though, I was very happy to have them see some cherry blossoms. We took a picture with a cherry tree.

At Kiyomizu temple, they bought many charms for their friends as souvenirs. I hope all the charms will bring his friends good luck and safty in their lives.

Then! Next comes time for shopping!!
They enjoyed shopping walking along Sanneizaka and Nineizaka. One of them found nice potteries, hundsome Japanese bags made of Japanese fabrics and fans.
They bought many things saying "Stop shopping!!" (^-^)

After lunch, we visited Ginkakuji temple (Silver Pavillion).
Ririko had to leave the tour due to her job, and the rest of us went on the tour.
We enjoyed walking along the philosophy path.

Though we were a little tired, we went Nanzenji temple. Then I took them to Heian Shrine. In front of the shrine, I had to say good-by to them.

I walked and walked all day.
During lunch time, one of them said he had lost two pounds because he had walked a lot and had been having Japanese food during their stay in Japan.
Walking and Japanese food are probably good for being in good shape.

It was too early for a cherry season, but when we found some cherry blossoms, we ran to them and took photos. Cherry blossoms surely attracts us!

I really hope they enjoyed cherry blossoms in Tokyo which they were scheduled to visit.


Having a Japanese Green tea in a temple( with a man from Spain)

He came to Kyoto by Shinkansen. I picked him up at JR station and started a half day tour.

Along with his request, I chose Golden Pavillion as a place to visit first. Though it began to rain, Golden Pavillion was beautiful and visited by many tourists.
Then we headed for Nijo castle and hurried to Nanzenji temple.

As he wanted to have Japanese tea for tea ceremony, we asked a woman at the entrance to have us have MACCHA(tea for tea ceremony). In Nanzenji temple, you can have MACCHA viewing a garden.

A woman brought us Green tea and Japanese sweets. I explained how to drink and enjoyed Japanese tea.

MACCHA is a little bitter, but before drinking tea, we have Japanese sweets. Sweetness and bitterness work each other in complete harmony.
How about enjoying Japanese MACCHA with your mind calm in the temple?
You can enjoy it for just 500 yen.

He was interested in incense, we headed for Nineizaka to buy some. As it was getting dark when we got out of the shop, the path started being illuminated.

So, we enjoyed the beautiful illuminated pagoda in Yasaka, too.

Though it was a half day tour, we enjoyed a lot.

The Cherry Season has come !!

Cherry blossoms are blooming now. We can enjoy these beautiful blossoms only for a week or so. Of course, they begin to bloom depending on places and weather.
In Kyoto, they are going to fully bloom. Probably, this weekends or next week they are at their best.

Why don't you come and enjoy these beautiful sights?

We, Japanese, really like to enjoy cherry viewing with a lot of Sake, sometimes too much.(^^;> hummm. Here and there at night we have a party or a night picnic.

Be careful for some drunken people under cherry trees in this season!
oh, most of the people there are kind and friendly to you!!!