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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Kibune Restaurants & Ryokan

貴船

Kibune, just a bit north of Kyoto city, is one of Kyoto's most popular summer destinations for a number of reasons. It's cool and green, and home to a number of amazing traditional inns that have over-the-river dining platforms.

Kibune Restaurants & Ryokan


But Kibune has changed over the years with the opening of some new Western-style establishments. All three establishments Kibune Gallery, Kibune Kurabu and Sagenta are owned by one of the village's oldest families. The first place you come to is Kibune Gallery (on the left side, near the start of the village): a café and art gallery that has a fine selection of excellent ceramics, and other attractive handicraft creations. If you are looking for something original and handmade to take home, then this place is well worth visiting.

Up the road, on the same side as the gallery, is the glass-fronted, all-wooden table and chair refreshment oasis of Kibune Club (貴船倶楽部 www.ugenta.co.jp/kifuneclub.html), where you can relax over traditional Japanese desserts, Western treats, coffee, tea, wine or beer. Open daily, 11:00-18:00.

Finally at the end of the village, on the other side of the street, is the exquisite and relaxing world of Ugenta 右源太 and Sagenta 左源太.

Kibune Restaurants & Ryokan, Kyoto.


Ugenta is an upmarket ryokan with only two rooms, one in traditional Japanese style, the other more modern and Western in feel.

Sagenta is a Japanese restaurant serving nagashi somen in summer, a local delicacy where noodles are transported to your table in a bamboo pipe of cold water. Built close to the rushing waters of the Kibune River, other recommended menu items include ayu sweetfish from the river and delicious seasonal vegetables.

To get to Kibune, either take a taxi (about ¥3,500 from downtown Kyoto; a real luxurious deal for two or three people) or take the Kurama line Eizan train from Demachiyanagi to Kibune (25 minutes) and walk up the river into the village (about 30 minutes).

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Japan News This Week 25 June 2017

今週の日本

Japan News.
Japan Says Deadly Ship Collision Happened Earlier Than Reported
New York Times

Ireland score seven tries in thumping 50-22 win over Japan
BBC

Kake scandal continues to plague Abe administration with discovery of new doc
The Mainichi

Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market to finally move home, says governor
Guardian

End Game for Japan’s Construction State - The Linear (Maglev) Shinkansen and Abenomics
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

2017 World Press Freedom Index (#1 is the most free press)

1) Norway
2) Sweden
3) Finland
4) Denmark
5 Netherlands
6) Costa Rica
7) Switzerland
8) Jamaica
9) Belgium
10) Iceland

40) United Kingdom

43) USA

63) South Korea

72) Japan

Sources: Reporters Without Borders

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Minshuku Urashima Muroto Kochi

Minshuku Urashima is a traditional minshuku located on the coast in Muroto City on the Muroto Peninsula.

Minshuku Urashima Muroto Kochi.


Minshuku Urashima is very popular with those walking the Shikoku Pilgrimage as it is situated at the base of the mountain on which temple 26, Kongochoji is located and just a few kilometers north of temple 25 Shinsoji.

Minshuku Urashima is also conveniently located for anyone wanting to explore the UNESCO registered Global Geo Park of Cape Muroto.

They have 8 rooms in traditional tatami style, with shared bathrooms and toilets. Meals are served in the ground floor cafe which is open all day. The food includes lots of very fresh seafood.

Minshuku Urashima Muroto Kochi.


When I stayed there, the skipjack season had begun so as well as skipjack sashima I was served a massive skipjack steak. The owners are very friendly and helpful. They even ferried my heavy backpack up the coast to my next hotel so I could walk the day with no luggage.

Prices are very reasonable. I paid 6,000 yen for a single room with two meals.

Minshuku Urashima
Ko 1901-4, Moto
Muroto-shi
Kochi 781-7107
Tel: 0887 23 1105

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Wharf Cafe Nieche

小さな宿 Nieche

Wharf Cafe Nieche just a couple of minutes from Taiji Station is a friendly and economical guest house in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture.

Wharf Cafe Nieche Taiji

The rooms are fairly basic, but comfortable tatami and futon squares and there is very little noise at night, guaranteeing a peaceful sleep.
Bathrooms are communal.

The breakfasts were wonderful, served either western or Japanese style. There's Wifi and the young-at-heart owner will run you down to nearby Shippo restaurant if you have no other arrangements for dinner.

Wharf Cafe Nieche Taiji.

Nieche has a few, fairly old bicycles that are free to take around town. The nearest convenience store is a 20-25 minute hike away from the center of Taiji.

Wharf Cafe Nieche Taiji

Wharf Cafe Nieche is definitely recommended if you are looking for budget accommodation in the Japanese countryside with a relaxed atmosphere and a wonderful start to your day with fresh local produce for breakfast.

You can book online through the link below but telephoning might be easier even if you don't speak Japanese.

Shippo Restaurant, Taiji.

Wharf Cafe Nieche
Ichiya, 43-1
Nachikatsuura-cho
Higashimuro-gun
Wakayama 649-5141
Tel: 0735 57 0470

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kurotani Washi

黒谷和紙

Kurotani is well-known for its wagami ('rice' paper) production. Appreciation for this lifetime-absorbing craft has led to the paper art of Kurotani being designated an Important Cultural Property of Kyoto.

Kurotani Washi.


The history of Kurotani village traces back eight centuries to a warrior of the Taira Clan who, having failed at battle, saw it as his duty to leave an art form for following generations. A communal determination to stay with the traditional techniques employed from the start have led to paper of consistent quality, and to world-wide fame.

Wagami, or washi, is made from the Paper Mulberry tree of the Mulberry Bush family, characterized by its durable, fibrous quality. The delicate beauty of each sheet is apparent, and kept in good condition this kind of paper lasts literally a millenium or more - a stunning technical achievement for the craftspeople of the Heian era.

In the centre of Kurotani the Wagami Exhibition Hall provides paper information (mainly in Japanese). It also offers also a tour of neighborhood homes and workshops, where the paper making process can be viewed. Visitors have the opportunity to produce paper themselves and to purchase products made from washi such as wallets, name card holders, greetings cards, notebooks and zabuton cushions.

Kurotani Washi Kaikan
3 Higashidani, Kurotani-cho
Ayabe City
Kyoto 623-0108
Tel: 0773 44 0213
Monday-Friday 9am-4.30pm closed weekends and national holidays.

Take the JR Sanin Main Line from Kyoto Station to Ayabe Station (70 minutes by limited express) and exit the station from the south exit. The  Kurotani Washi Kaikan is two minute’s walk from the Kurotani Wash Kaikan Mae stop on the Aya Bus Kurotani Line.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Mimurotoji Temple Uji

三室戸寺

In the wide garden of Mimurotoji Temple in Uji there are 30 different kinds of hydrangea some of which seem to have the shape of a heart. June and early July is the perfect time to see these beautiful flowers in bloom.

Known also as the "flower temple," Mimurotoji Temple also draws visitors to its cherry blossoms in spring, azaleas in May and lotus flowers in July and August.

Mimurotoji Temple, Uji, Kyoto.

Mimurotoji Temple's buildings include a three story, vermilion pagoda and the Main Hall, built in the early 19th century and containing an image of a thousand-armed Kannon.

To get to Mimurotoji Temple from Kyoto, take the Keihan Line from Sanjo Keihan Station or Demachiyanagi (change at Chushojima) or the JR Nara Line to Uji.

Mimurotoji Temple Uji, Kyoto.


From Uji Station and Keihan Uji Station the number #43 bus runs hourly to the temple. The nearest station is Keihan Mimuroto Station from where the temple is a 15 minute walk.

Mimuroto Temple
Shigatani, 21,Todo
Uji, Kyoto Prefecture 611-0013
Tel: (0774) 21 2067
Admission: 500 yen
Hours: 9am-4.30pm (closed December 29-31)

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Japanese News This Week 18 June 2017

今週の日本

Japan News.
Japan Arrests Longest-Sought Fugitive After Nearly 46 Years
New York Times

'Conspiracy' law enacted to punish planning of crimes
The Mainichi

Japan to launch self-navigating cargo ships 'by 2025'
BBC

Japan accused of eroding press freedom by UN special rapporteur
Guardian

End Game for Japan’s Construction State - The Linear (Maglev) Shinkansen and Abenomics
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

June 20 is World Refugee Day. There are an estimated 65 million refugees worldwide.

Canada, with a population roughly 1/4 of Japan's,  has accepted 40,000 Syrians alone since the fall of November 2015.

Japan however continues to be extremely unwelcoming to refugees.

In 2016, a record 10,901 would be refugees applied for asylum last year in Japan. That was an increase of 3,315 on the previous year. Of the applicants, 28 were accepted. 

Sources: Asahi Shinbun, June 14, page 13

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Japan-China Friendship Garden Gifu

日中友好庭園

The Japan-China Friendship Garden, near the south bank of the Nagara River, just north of Gifu Park (Gifu Koen) in Gifu, was built in 1999 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the friendship partnership between Gifu and Hangzhou.

Japan-China Friendship Garden, Gifu.


The Japan-China Friendship Garden is laid out in classic, Chinese style with a keyhole gate, ornamental ponds, bridges and pavilions.

The central pond is meant to resemble the famous West Lake in Hangzhou, which so inspired ancient Chinese poets.

Japan-China Friendship Garden Gifu.


Japan-China Friendship Garden
390-1 Mitarashi
Gifu 500-8002

The park is free to enter and is a short walk across the road from Gifu Koen. Buses to Gifu Koen leave from bays 12 and 13 at JR Gifu Station and also from outside Meitetsu Gifu Station.

Japan-China Friendship Garden Gifu.


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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Japanese Language: Saying sorry over and over

Remember your first impression of the Japanese, packed in tourist buses and racing through Europe in a cloud of 'Sorry, sorry, so sorry!'?

Now that you've come to Japan, you can observe first-hand the national pastime of making constant apologies for no reason at all. You might find it strange to apologize in situations where fault is not an issue.

Japanese Language: Saying sorry over and over。


Smooth interaction in Japan, however, requires constant affirmation of indebtedness and appreciation of kindness or favors. In this society 'Thanks' is sometimes more conveniently expressed as 'I'm sorry for having troubled you', but the meaning is the same.

Sumimasen ('I'm sorry') is used in every situation imaginable, even in every day greetings and interactions, where it can mean 'Excuse me', 'Thank you', or 'Here you are'. You can use it to get a shop clerk's attention, when passing in front of someone, or when giving thanks for a favor, in which case you would use the past tense, Sumimasen deshita. Another form of apology is gomen nasai.

More informal than Sumimasen, it is used less in business situations and more among friends, when it's sometimes shortened to just Gomen.

When you really have something to be sorry for, then you can use Moshiwake arimasen (or the past tense, Moshiwake arimasen deshita). It means 'There's no excuse for what I did!'

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Japanese Language Of Words and Women

Much has been written in praise of the Kyoto woman: her beauty, her grace, her charming and distinctive speech. Indeed, throughout Japan the Kyoto woman's way of speaking has long been considered the embodiment of femininity.

Japanese Language Of Words and Women.


Today, however, the young Kyoto woman speaks in much the same way as her sisters in the rest of Kansai (the name for the Kobe-Osaka-Kyoto region). The alluring tones of genuine Kyoto dialect are now most likely heard from the lips of aged grandmothers, or in the entertainment districts, where geisha and maiko, many of whom are not native Kyoto-ites, have worked hard to acquire them.

Still, some remnants of old Kyoto speech, used by both men and women, linger on in daily life. A well-known example is oki-ni (pronounced oh-KEE-nee). Used by old and young alike, it is the Kyoto word for 'thank you'. Another example is the way old people often address others as anta-han, anta being a familiar form of the standard anata (you), while han is probably derived from the formal title san. The effect is polite and familiar at the same time. You may also hear an elderly person refer to O-cha ('honorable' tea) as O-bu.

Though true dialect may be disappearing, the Kyoto accent still softens modern-day speech. This can sometimes cause problems for the Kyoto businessman, who, when he ventures to Tokyo, often finds it hard to strike the accepted masculine tone.

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