Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yoji-ya's Cosmetic Product

Yoji-ya is Beauty Products shop in Kyoto, founded in 1904. Among many popular items such as abura-tori-gami (oil blotting facial papers), I want to recommend this product called "Kinuko." It's a body towel/face towel made by silk. Scrub your body and wash your face with this towel (no need to use soap!) and you will be impressed with the results!!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Kyoto Christmas

Christmas tree on the 4th floor of Isetan Department Store

Trees near Kyoto Tower are all decorated with lights

Show window of Daimaru Department Store in Shijo Karasuma

And my "tenugui" with Santa Claus...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Minami-za Theatre

One of Kyoto's landmarks, Minami-za was built in 1615 as a theatre for "Kabuki." Among many performances throughout the year, the December performance is called the all star "Kao-mise" which means "face showing," and is particularly popular.

The huge boards (about 6 feet tall) showing Kabuki actors' names were placed along the wall of the theatre on November 25. Underneath the boards, the colorfully painted bulletins depicting famous scenes from the performance are shown.

Names of sponsors/patrons are written on these boards.

The opening day of the performance is November 30, and you can see many beautifully dressed geisha and maiko girls at the theatre on this special day.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Autumn Momiji @ Kiyomizu Temple

I visited Kiyomizu Temple to enjoy the autumn color of Japanese maples (momiji) yesterday.

The beautiful red foliage is at their best right now and would last for another week or so.

Kiyomizu temple is very famous for this structure where no nail is used at all!

Behind the temple, there is a shrine called "Jishu Jinja" which is famous for matchmaking. There were seven girls with traditional kimonos and many tourists were asking for photos.

The temple is lit up at 6PM.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Flea Market "Kobo-san" @ Toji Temple

I went to the Kyoto's most popular flea market called "Kobo-san" on Saturday, 21st (It's held on the 21st of each month).

Hundreds of venders had set up shops.

It's fun just to see items that you cannot find anywhere else!

Vintage kimonos with beautiful designs!

After a few hours of walking and looking around, I finally got three jeans and a UNIQLO's hoodie. 800 yen in total!!!

There are lots of places to eat and bar stands along the way too. I had oden and Japanese sake (^^)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Autumn's Long Weekend

Beautiful autumn's long weekend in Kyoto!!
Ninen Zaka, just outside of the Kiyomizu Temple, was filled with tourists. The amount of people was overwhelming. Wow!

Ninen Zaka is a very beautiful, sloped stone path in the hills, with many quaint shops in Japanese style buildings who offer traditional items of Japan. It's one of Kyoto's few areas that present a unified wooden cityscape. The path leads you to another beautiful path called "Nene no Michi" and then, Chion-In and Kodaiji Temples.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ramen Noodle @ Aji no Komatsu

"Aji no Komatsu" near Kiyomizu Temple is a family operated restaurant. It's a small restaurant with only a bar style counter inside. The owner's wife always looks cheerful and has a nice smile on her face. She is very cute.

And this is what I ordered (880 yen). It's perfect! I want to have this bowl of ramen at least once a week!

Wednesdays are closed (and sometimes, Tuesdays...)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Enku and Mokujiki

Wooden statues carved by the Buddhist priest Enku (1632-1695) and the Zen priest Mokujiki (1718-1810) are exhibited at the gallery "Eki" on the 7th floor of Isetan Department Store (until November 29).

Unlike traditional sculptors, they sculptured freely, roughly, and unexpectedly by using one piece of scrap wood. Their statues, carved with a single hatchet, may appear unrefined, but the faces of Buddha express affluent emotions. It is very understandable that their statues were children's toys also.

In the meantime, Mokujiki began carving at his age of 62.


Tenugui is a rectangular cotton cloth, used as a towel and/or head-covering, and was one of the most common household items until Western towels were introduced in Japan a few decades ago.

I got this one, produced by the famous tenugui shop "Kamawanu."

Looking for a unique, compact present from Japan? Kamawanu specialises in tenugui, dyed cotton cloths that are surprisingly versatile. These beautifully patterned kerchiefs - motifs take in everything from Mt Fuji to musical notes and skeletons - can be used as decorative art, bath towels, scarves or gift wrap.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Rusk with Kuro-shichimi!

ShinShinDo is Kyoto's famous bakery shop/restaurant, and HaraRyoKaku is another famous spice shop in Kyoto. The "Rusk with Kuro-shichimi" is the collaborated product of these two companies.

Kuro-shichimi means "black seven seasoning" and is made with chili, sansho (Japanese mountain pepper), white sesame, black sesame, poppy seed, hempseed, and green seaweed.

This rusk will be a good snack for beer.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Seasonal Gift of Kyoto

On the right hand side of the Santei (or San-Nen) Zaka road before Kiyomizu Temple, there is a Kyoto's famous spice shop called "Shichimi-ya Honpo," where the store has been operating for over 350 years.

And this original potato chips (155 yen) with red pepper and sansho (Japanese mountain pepper) flavour are their seasonal item and extremely popular. They were already sold out this afternoon.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Maeda Cafe's Hayashi Rice

Maeda Cafe's Higashiyama Branch opened this summer. I tried their famous Hayashi Rice (800 yen), with potato salad (150 yen). And of course, the coffee (250 yen) at the end!! I was very satisfied.

Hayashi rice is a Japanese version of beef stew, by the way.

Autumn Color and Night Exhibition

In November, some of Kyoto's famous temples and shrines hold night exhibition. They usually close the gate around 4PM but during this time, they open until 9~10PM.

Kiyomizu Temple: November 12 ~ December 6
Koudai-ji Temple: Currently open ~ December 6
Chion-in Temple: Currently open ~ November 29
Seiren-in Temple: Currently open ~ December 14

Otayasu Curry Restaurant

I had lunch at the "Otayasu" curry restaurant near Yasaka Shrine in Gion. Their most popular menu is vegetable curry, and the one I ordered was "Nama Yuba" curry.

Yuba is a skin that is skimmed off from the surface of heated soy milk. There are dried type and fresh type, and a fresh one is called "nama" yuba. The crunchy bits of deep fried flour dough called "tenkasu" are served to sprinkle on the curry, which give a wonderful accent in taste.

You can choose white sticky rice, zakkoku-mai (mixed grains), or noodle to go with your curry. Price is also very reasonable (about 1,000 yen).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

25 Bodhisattva Prayer Ritual at Sokujo-In Temple

I didn't know about this annual event (held on the 3rd Sunday of October) until recently.

It's a dramatized event of Buddhism; Amitabha descends to this world accompanied by 25 bodhisattvas, led by the Kannon Bodhisattva and Jizo Bodhisattva, to save the worshippers and lead them to the Paradise.

The main hall of the temple represents the Paradise, while the Jizo Hall represents this world. In this moving ritual, the 25 bodhisattvas walk quietly over the bridge between these two realms.

In the meantime, the length of the bridge is about 50 meters long, and the 25 bodhisattvas with gorgeous brocade costumes and masks are children. The event lasted about 1 + 1/2 hours.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Flea Market Information

There are many famous flea markets in Kyoto such as Kobo-san at Toji Temple, Tenjin-san at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Tezukuri-ichi at Chion Temple, and so on. And I recently found out that there is a new addition. It's called Reizan Kannon flea market, and is located near Kodai-ji Temple in Gion. They hold the market on the 3rd of every month.

Season of "Sanma" fish

Sanma is a pacific saury/mackerel pike and a seasonal fish. It seems we are getting a good haul of sanma this year. I chose sanma for my lunch plate at Komachi Restaurant. It's a self-service restaurant and you can make your own plate. One of my favorite places!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Soholm Cafe @ Cocon Karasuma

I had lunch at Soholm Cafe (Cocon Karasuma 2F).

Lunch menu changes everyday, and today's menu was pasta with mushroom & tomato sauce (990 yen). They will give a large serving for those who think the portion is a bit too small, and it's free of charge!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Yasaka Kohshindo and Kon-nyaku

Yasaka Kohshindo in Gion is famous for three wise monkeys of "see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil."

At this place, all night prayer is held 6 times a year (about every 60 days) and they serve kon-nyaku to visitors. It is said that if you face to the North and eat konnyaku quietly without saying anything, you can receive merits/benefits. Upcoming "all night prayer" is scheduled on September 12, which is tomorrow.

Konnyaku is a Japanese traditional jelly-like food made of konnyaku potato.

Event Information: Sake Fair

Cocon Karasuma in Shijo Karasuma is holding Fushimi Sake Fair until October 31. They set Sake Bar at the fair, where sake tasting (3 types) is popular (500 yen). Please enjoy Kyoto's Sake with sakana (=accompaniment to alcohol) that the Bar offers (approx. 500 yen per plate).

Friday, August 07, 2009


This crane says "I'm acrophobic."

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Hello Kitty's Amulet

Shin-Kyogoku area was a land of temples in the 16th century, and now is the place for young crowds in Kyoto. In this busy shopping district, the very famous Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine is situated and you can get this Hello Kitty Amulet.

Kitty is holding a Koi fish (= carp). The word "love" is also pronounced KOI in Japanese. Therefore, the amulet is for the success of love!