Sword Dancing at Samurai Kembu Theater on Inside Kyoto

In case you missed it, my article about the Samurai Kembu Theater is now up on Inside Kyoto


Kembu is a Japanese martial art that combines sword play with dance. At the Samurai Kembu Theater in Kyoto you can watch a performance of this traditional dance and enter the world of the samurai warrior. Our flashing blade, Michael Lambe, reports…

Read more here: Sword Dancing in Kyoto at Samurai Kembu Theater

A Night of Japanese Sake and Cuisine in a Kyoto Machiya Townhouse

October 8thAn update on this event from Takara Shuzo: “We regret to inform you that this event is now full. We have received an overwhelming response and wish to sincerely thank everyone who has taken the time to apply. We do currently plan to run this event again in the near future and look forward to welcoming more participants at that time.”

sake night

From Chris Malcolm,

Takara Shuzo, based in Kyoto and one of Japan’s leading sake and shochu producers, is looking for non-Japanese participants for a fun and informative night of Japanese food and sake at the beautifully restored beKyoto machiya and gallery in Kyoto. This cultural event will be hosted in English by international staff from Takara Shuzo, and attendees will have a chance to taste and learn about 9 premium sake, including several daiginjo varieties, while enjoying a full Japanese meal. During dinner, the staff will give a short seminar on sake, Japanese food, and sake pairings. In addition to the meal, participants will receive a bottle of Mio Sparkling Sake at the end in exchange for their cooperation in filling out a couple of short surveys.

Fee: 500 yen. This includes a full meal, and sampling of 9 premium sake.

Time: Friday, Oct 16 from 5:45. The event will end around 8:00pm.

Participants: The event is limited to 15 non-Japanese guests.

Application Method:

・Simply send a message with your name in an Email titled ‘Sake Tasting’ to international@takara.co.jp. If you wish to invite friends, please include their names in the Email as well.
・Application deadline: Oct 14, 2015, 5:00pm.
・All applicants will be notified by email with the result of their application.
・Participants will be determined via their applications on a first come, first serve basis.
・If we have reached capacity at the time of your application, we will add you to a waitlist and contact you if there are any cancellations.


beKyoto Art Gallery and Rental Space: http://www.be-kyoto.jp/access/index.html
〒602-0064 京都市上京区新町通上立売上る 安楽小路町429-1
beKyoto is a 5min walk from Imadegawa subway station exit 2.

Additional event and contact information will be provided to participants through email at the time of confirmation.

machiya venue


・Any information collected via Email from attendees will be used solely for the organization of this event or future editions of the same event for applicants unable to attend due to overcapacity.
・Takara Shuzo does not sell, trade, or rent your personal information to others.
・All guests must be at least 20 years old.
・Given that alcoholic beverages will be served, please do not travel to the event by car, motorcycle or bicycle.

We look forward to seeing you there!”

Maruzen Bookstore on Inside Kyoto

My review of the new Maruzen Bookstore & Cafe is now up on Inside Kyoto

Maruzen Bookstore Returns to Kyoto

After a 10-year interval Kyoto’s best bookstore, Maruzen Books has returned! Our resident bookworm, Michael Lambe, went to take a look at the new premises and see if the new store matches up to its legendary past.

Check out the full story here: Maruzen Bookstore Returns to Kyoto!

Deep Kyoto on CNN Travel

In case you missed it, my recommendations for what to see, do, buy, & eat when in “Japan’s most photogenic city” are now up on the CNN Travel site.

Inside Guide Best of Kyoto

Everyone should visit Kyoto at least once.

It’s Japan’s best preserved ancient city.

Shrines, temples, palaces, gardens … the city is home to thousands of architectural wonders, including 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Geisha and locals wearing traditional kimonos aren’t unusual sights.

But Kyoto is a modern city with a dynamic music and arts scene, lively markets and restaurants serving the best Japanese cuisine.

There’s too much to see on a single visit — so we have whittled down the best of Kyoto.

Click to read the rest of: Inside Guide: Best of Kyoto

I had to put this piece together in a bit of a hurry last July, so it was a HUGE help that Jeffrey Friedl, Travis Seifman, and Mario Cacciottolo let me use some of their photos. By way of thanks, I encourage you all to visit their websites:

Jeffrey Friedl’s blog: http://regex.info/blog/
Mario Cacciottolo’s photography: http://travellinglensman.com/
Travis Seifman’s “musings on the arts of Japan and beyond”: https://chaari.wordpress.com/

Thanks also are due to Chris Rowthorn who put CNN in touch with me in the first place.

Zenbu Zen Winter Tour of Kyoto January 2016 with Food Writer Jane Lawson

zenbu zenIn December 2010, food writer and photographer Jane Lawson, escaped her overworked and stressed out life as a publisher and ran away to her dream city: Kyoto. Here she spent five months exploring Kyoto culture, particularly Kyoto food culture, and wrote a book to record that exploration. Zenbu Zen is part memoir, part cookbook, and part pictorial tribute to the city she loves: a beautiful book to look at and an excellent primer for the study of Japanese cuisine. But the story doesn’t end there, for Jane has continued her love affair with this city and each year hosts expert culinary and cultural tours of the ancient capital. Here’s Jane to tell us more…

Thinking about travelling to Kyoto but don’t want to do it on your own? Do you lean towards an intimate, connected travel experience over larger in-personal group travel? If so, this in-depth Kyoto tour hosted by food and travel writer Jane Lawson, author of Zenbu Zen – Finding Food, Culture and Balance in Kyoto has just 4 spots ( of 8) left!

ZENBU ZENzenbu 3

Winter Cuisine & Culture Tour of Kyoto

12 days/11 nights

9 -20 January 2016

AUD $10, 199 p/p or $9799 p/p twin share

(maximum of 8 places available)


Jane says, “We’ll spend our days soaking in the serene atmosphere of Kyoto, the country’s cultural and historical heart, returning each night to the luxurious Kyoto Hyatt Regency Hotel – an appropriate base for witnessing the best of this city’s omotenashi (hospitality).

zenbu tour

This is an in-depth experience for like-minded folk who appreciate the finer things in life – great food, sake and laughter. Meet creative and talented locals, visit quiet temples, shrines and gardens. Shop for artisan ceramics, antiques or stunning contemporary home-wares. Float around galleries and museums. Sample your way through this spectacular cuisine in some of Jane’s favourite restaurants and take time out to relax or explore on your own. We’ll also day trip to wonderful Kanazawa, the ancient city of Nara and vibrant Osaka.’

zenbu 2

Blissful Kyoto, encircled by snow-capped mountains is the perfect place to relax and recharge for those who appreciate aesthetics, culture and peace. Magical vistas, alpine air, seasonal delicacies and the opportunity to wander minus the crowds of spring and autumn. Experience the beauty in simplicity and be nurtured and inspired by this mystical city of layered textures.”

zenbu 4

Click the link for more details!


All images courtesy of Jane Lawson.

NUIT BLANCHE 2015 -KYOTO OPENING PERFORMANCE « Langage, texture et mouvement »

From Marguerite Paget

NUIT BLANCHE 2015 -KYOTO OPENING PERFORMANCE « Langage, texture et mouvement »


October 3rd 2015
Kyoto International Manga Museum – 19:00
UrBANGUILD Open 20:00 – Starts 20:30


«Langage, Texture et Mouvement» is a unique mix-media live performance which gathers classical conductor, composer and percussionist YANNICK PAGET, filmmaker and visual artist ALEXANDRE MAUBERT (Villa Kujoyama 2012), painter DAIJIRO HAMA and electro artist YOHEI YAMAKADO for a special artistic collaboration. Staged in front of Kyoto International Manga Museum (October 3rd, 19:00), the performance will launch the 5th edition of the Contemporary Art Festival : Nuit Blanche Kyoto which 2015 theme is « Fashion x Contemporary Art ».


« Langage, texture et mouvement » : an artistic encounter
Initiated by Yannick Paget this group performance explores fashion, as an art of
appearance that connects or disconnects us, forms communities or leads to rejection. Appearance draws a limit between our interior & our exterior. It creates frontiers, materialized by the textile. Like interlaced fabric, this musical live performance explores physicality; turning fabric into human tissue through the collaboration and encounter of artists coming from different countries, raised in entirely different artistic universe, from classical music to electro or improvisation and using different mediums (video, music, painting, dance…).


While Alexandre Maubert’s vidéos with Daijiro Hama’s painting and the dancers, Kyoko Nomura (Monochrome Circus), Asuka Ueki, Eri Chian, Caitlin Coker and Mina Yoshida will be projected on the wall of the Kyoto International Manga
Museum, conductor and composer Yannick Paget will perform together with the electro artist Yohei Yamakado, playing percussion live (some made out of textile), and conducting the musicians scattered throughout the venue.


Following the Manga Museum performance the artists will continue the experiment at UrBANGUILD inviting the public to join them for a night of hybrid performance, connecting music, contemporary dance, live painting and video.


About Nuit Blanche Kyoto
Every autumn, Paris stages a one-night arts festival called Nuit Blanche (“White Night”) celebrating contemporary art. During this night, museums, private and public art galleries and other cultural institutions are open and free of charge, turning the centre of the city itself into a de facto art gallery and providing space for art installations, performances (music, film, dance, performance art), themed social gatherings, and other activities. For the 5th time, Kyoto, sister city of Paris, holds the companion event “Nuit Blanche Kyoto” in various spots around the city welcoming the public to enjoy both Japanese and French contemporary artworks for free and lighting up Kyoto’s night in a wide range of events including performances, exhibitions and projection mapping on building exteriors.


In 2015 Nuit Blanche Kyoto presents : « Fashion x Contemporary Art » a promising wide-ranging program :
Paris and Kyoto: both cities have long good tradition of art and craft. Moreover both cities have developed a strong culture of fashion. Nuit Blanche Kyoto 2015 is considering the possibility of cultural exchange through a passage of fashion. We are somehow connected to fashion even when we are unconscious. It’s an everyday tool, a business and a medium of expression. We are contemplating how fashion and art are related from now on. In 21st. century, how do the two cities create in those fields? Nuit Blanche Kyoto 2015 introduces some remarkable works by artists, craftsman and designers under the theme of New Creation in Kyoto. We explores the new relations between art and fashion. We care for tradition but we need to find a way to reinvent it.
Advisors: Hiroshi Ashida (Seika University), Makoto Ishizeki (Kyoto Costume
Institute), Hiroshi Narumi (Kyoto Joshi University)
More information : http://www.nuitblanche.jp/en/

Venues : Kyoto International Manga Museum – 19:00
Karasuma-Oike, Nagakyo-ku. TEL/ 075-254-7414
URBANGUILD – Open 20:00 – Starts 20:30
Nakagyō-ku Kiyamachi dori, Sanjō Sagaru New Kyoto Building 3F
TEL/FAX 075-212-1125
Press Contact : Marguerite Paget / mgtpaget@gmail.com / Mob : 090 6556 1974

What is “Deep Kyoto”? ~ Some thoughts from Lonny Chick

In recent months the Deep Kyoto Group on Facebook has really taken on a life of its own, with members sharing events, photos, info, opinions and even fun little quizzes! It really does feel like it has naturally grown into a vibrant community and a center of friendly discussion. One of our frequent contributors is Lonny Chick, who is perhaps better known on Twitter and Flickr as Rekishi no Tabi, and his photographs and posts on historical matters are always fascinating. A recent discussion about the kind of content we would like to see more of in our group, inspired Lonny to write a wonderful meditation on what “deep Kyoto” means to him personally. It was so beautifully written and so full of heartfelt love for this city that I thought it deserved a wider audience, and I am very glad to say he has given me permission to reproduce it here.

*          *           *

What is “Deep Kyoto”? What does it mean to you?

I don’t mean this in terms of the Facebook Group, which is a stellar community and I do truly enjoy the posts, but what is “deep Kyoto”?

I ask myself this question a lot, as Kyoto is a very special place that resonates deep in me. It is a destination that allows me to forget the burdens of work and daily life and all the associated stress that really sometimes drags me down both mentally and physically. It is in Kyoto that I can find an inner peace, refresh myself and find the resolve to re-don my samurai salaryman armor to fight in the workplace trenches another day.

So what then is my “Deep Kyoto”? I think the best way to answer that is with a list. In no particular order, here is a portion of that list.

A Quiet Sunday in Kyoto by Lonny Chick

A Quiet Sunday in Kyoto © Lonny Chick – Click to view original.

1. It’s the feeling of joy to see the owners and senior staff of one of my favorite obanzai restaurants, who go out of their way to make me and my wife feel special. It is all about the omotenashi (hospitality) and the relationship that has developed over a decade with these people. It is the fact that the okami-san eagerly WANTS to talk about Japanese history and traditional culture with me. It’s the special sake that they bring out for me to sample. It is the box of chirimenjako or special Kyoto pickles that the okami-san presses into our hands to take back to Tokyo. It’s the master preparing extra special goodies for us, unsolicited. Again, Kyoto-style omotenashi really goes a long way with me.

2. It is the taste of botan nabe (wild boar hot pot) cooked in an iribancha tea-based broth on a cold winter’s night. It’s pure Kyoto and pure delight!

3. It is the smile of recognition and greeting one gets when seeing a geiko or maiko on the street who actually remembers you.

4. It is the sound of a shamisen accompanied by a singer emitting from the open second story machiya window on a hot and sultry summer’s night.

5. It’s running into Kyotoite friends on the street at night by pure chance who are on their way to a bar and drag you along, only to find out you will be drinking with a stunning geiko.

6. It is the sound of “kon-chiki-chin” music of the Gion Matsuri during Yoi-yoiyama up through the big parade every July 17. It just helps set the mood.

7. It is the feeling of being revitalized while walking through the Kibune Shrine complex, especially after a rainfall, or during a light drizzle. Water and the dragon god go hand in hand.

8. It is the feeling of deep relaxation and satisfaction one gets when sitting on the veranda at Entokuin or Eikandō, nearly all alone and undisturbed, staring out into the garden and thinking of absolutely nothing for about an hour.

9. It’s the subtle smile and sideways glance one gets from a favorite Buddhist statue.

10. It’s the conversation one has about “what constitutes the best cup of tea” with an accomplished tea master while sipping whisky in a small Gion bar run by a charming semi-retired geiko, who also has a treasure chest full of great stories.

11. It is being told by the owner of an ancient restaurant to wait until all the dinner customers are gone so you can have nearly a free reign to go and photograph just about every nook and cranny of the historic building.

12. It’s being told by the owner of a restaurant, which you are visiting for the first time, to wait until the last lunch customer is gone so he can show you how hamo is prepared.

13. It is just browsing in an antique store and talking to the owner about the history of a piece when he suddenly invites you to an impromptu tea ceremony in his shop using 15th century utensils.

Akai-san Prepares a Bowl of Matcha © Lonny Chick. Click for original image, and story!

Akai-san Prepares a Bowl of Matcha © Lonny Chick. Click for original image, and story!

14. It is the wonderful old architecture that co-exists with some interesting new structures.

15. It is a stroll down Kiyamachi at night, holding hands with your loved one, admiring the sakura and soaking up the history of the area.

16. It is stopping to dally around the Tatsumibashi bridge and shrine around midnight, while on the way back to your hotel, just to admire a sudden snowfall and watch the area slowly get blanketed in white.

17. It is the old couple who owns a kissaten, set in an old machiya, who invites you to come back tomorrow to just hang out and watch the carrying of the mikoshi (portable shrine) from their place during the Gion Matsuri and to get tested on Kyoto history knowledge via the Kyoto Kentei books.

18. It’s the sound of thundering hooves and the sight of a mounted archer whiz pass you while firing arrows at targets on the grounds of the Shimogamo Shrine during the Aoi Matsuri.

19. It’s just walking up and down the narrow walkway in the Pontochō at dusk, trying to count the number of languages you hear spoken, catching a glimpse of a geiko or maiko, and wondering how the area must have looked during the Bakumatsu period. Pontochō is magical at dusk.

20. It’s the sudden sense of being overcome with awe and wonderment when you are led upstairs to the Sumiya’s second floor to see the beautiful settings where courtesans and geiko mingled with Edo period literati and elites.

This list can go on and on, but this is just a part of my “deep Kyoto”.

Introducing Deep Kyoto’s Photo Tips & Tricks with Javier Montano

Today I am very pleased to welcome a new contributor to Deep Kyoto. Javier Montano is well known locally for his group photo walks as well as his own stunning photography. Here on Deep Kyoto, he will be writing once a month with advice for would be photographers. Take it away, Javier!


Javier Montano

Hi, welcome to Deep Kyoto’s Photo Tips and Tricks. My name is Javier and I will be talking to you about to how to improve your photography. Just because you are not a photographer nor have a “professional” camera doesn’t mean you can’t take pretty pics. Ah photography, such a nice artistic pastime, you know. Nothing serious, or is it? For some of us it’s just a way of keeping a record of how our lives pass, but for others it keeps them awake at night thinking about how to look at the world differently, to create original art, and to show something in a new way. If you are somewhere in the middle, or one of the crazy ones who still think it’s possible to take the perfect photo (like myself), then this post is for you. I’ll be posting a pic periodically and telling some stories about how I made it happen. I hope this will allow your creativity to flow and will help you when it’s you behind the camera.

So let the adventures begin! For starters, I’ll leave you with this photo of beautiful Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺) or Temple of the Silver Pavilion, (click to enlarge) a 10 minute bike ride from my home in Kyoto. Let me know your thoughts. Mata ne… (for more visit my site: www.javiermontano.net or https://www.facebook.com/Daijoubuphotography)

javier montano pic

Kyoto’s 39th Autumn Antiquarian Book Fair 2015


Kyoto’s annual Autumn Antiquarian Book Fair starts Thursday Oct. 30th at Chion-ji Temple – just a stone’s throw away from the Hyakumanben intersection. Though the majority of the books available (about 200,000 in all) are Japanese, there are always some English books available, as well as art books and ukiyo-e prints etc. The grounds of the temple are also a very peaceful and pleasant location in which to browse for bargains.

Dates: Friday October 30 – Tuesday November 3
Location: Chion-ji Temple
Time: 10 am to 5 pm
Access: Chion-ji Temple is on the north side of Imadegawa opposite Kyoto University. It’s a ten minutes walk east of Keihan Demachiyanagi Station, or 3 minutes from the Hyakumanben bus stop. (map)

This is one of three annual used book fairs held in Kyoto, the others being held in spring and summer. I have written about the summer sale here.

Once again the flyer for this event has been designed by the very talented Nakagawa Non. You can view more of her artwork at her site here: http://nonkimegane6-6.com/

antiquarian reverse

Silent Movie Screening at The Toy Film Museum, Kyoto; 12th September 2015

There will be another silent movie screening at the Toy Film Museum on September 12th, with (Japanese) narration from regular 活弁士 (katsubenshi), Kataoka Ichiro. Three films will be shown starring the legendary Matsunosuke Onoe who was Japan’s first big movie star. This particular event is being held to celebrate the 140th anniversary of his birth.

The show starts at 3pm and costs 1700 for entry.