Happy in Kyoto

Look what I found! And nicely timed with the sakura too – what could be happier than that? There’s some neat skipping here. Watch and enjoy!

Cherry Blossoms at Hirano Shrine

Last weekend we visited Hirano Shrine, famous for it’s cherry blossoms.

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They have a lot of yatai food stalls set up there for the cherry blossom festival.

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And above them all and around them a gorgeous cloud of pink and white cherry blossom.

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“As court nobles donated cherry trees handed down in each family from ancient times, there are approximately 400 cherry trees of about 50 kinds.”

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“Early-opening flowers come into bloom in the middle of March while those blooming latest are at their best around April 20. Therefore people can enjoy cherry blossoms for about a month at this shrine.”

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It’s not always easy to get that perfect shot…

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But I think these aren’t bad.

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Hirano Shrine is located just a little further north from Kitano-Tenmangu on Nishioji Street. Here is a MAP.

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Spring Antiquarian Book Fair at Miyako Messe

I must admit I am a fan of the artwork on Kyoto’s Antiquarian Book Fair flyers, but with this most recent and most glorious depiction of Meiji Era Okazaki, local illustrator Nakagawa Non has excelled herself!

Meiji OkazakiThis is the 32nd Spring book fair! Though the majority of the books available (about 500,000 in all) are Japanese, there are always some English books available, as well as art books and ukiyo-e prints etc. You can read about last summer’s book fair here.
Date: May 1st – 5th 2014
Location: The first floor of Miyako Messe in Okazaki (京都市勧業館「みやこめっせ」1F第二展示場). Miyako Messe is a stone’s throw away from Heian Jingu. Here is a MAP.
Address: 〒606-8343 京都市左京区岡崎成勝寺町9-1
Business Hours:10~16:45 (Closing at 16:00 on the final day)

This is one of three annual used book fairs held in Kyoto. The other book fairs for 2014 are scheduled as follows:
August 11 – 16 Summer Antiquarian Book Fair
October 30 – November 3 – Autumn Antiquarian Book Fair
For further details in Japanese please refer to: http://koshoken.seesaa.net/

Tadg’s is back!

Tadg and Mika McLoughlin are opening a new establishment “Tadg’s Gastro Pub” on the site of the former Merry Island restaurant this Friday. Here’s the good word from the man himself via his blog:

Dear Friends,

We have moved and are just a three-minute walk north of or original site at the Empire building. Go up Kiyamachi, cross Oike, it’s right on the right (east) side. It is the same location as the former Merry Island restaurant. We officially open from 5pm this Friday 11th April. We have changed the name to “Tadg’s Gastro Pub”. We are starting off with 5 taps featuring the best selection of Japanese craft beers, We will be stocking 10L kegs, the smaller kegs will ensure we will always have a quick turn over, therefore a greater selection of the best craft beers in Japan in stock. We will be adding on more taps and will also have a great bottled beer selection to complement our taps.

Our food menu, will have some of our favourites as well as some new additions.

It will take a little while to streamline, our goal will be seasonal, healthy, delicious.

…We are now open for lunch running the current Merry Island menu after Golden we will be introducing a completely new menu. More information anon.

As with all new businesses it will take us a little time to familiarise ourselves with our new surroundings. We will endeavour to make it as smooth as possible, so we thank you in advance for your patience if there are any hiccups.

We look forward to seeing you.

Tadg & Mika

New Address: 1F 498 Kamikoriki-cho, Nakagyo-ku, 604-0923 Kyoto, Japan

Tel: 075-213-0214075-213-0214

And here is a MAP.

For menu details and other information please refer to Tadg’s blog.

Ten Years in Kyoto

Ten years ago this morning I rolled into Kyoto in a removal van after an all night drive from Tokyo. The cherry blossom was blooming then too. Many thanks to my JET sempai, Duncan Flett, who helped me to find a new place to live and who handed me the key to my new apartment on my arrival in the early hours of the morning. He also handed me a banana – rather kindly thinking I might be hungry after my trip. I will never forget that banana! Many thanks also to Mario Leto who did the driving that night! I have never regretted moving to this wonderful city.

To celebrate, here are two of my favorite Kyoto views, photographed today.

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The view from Gojo bridge this morning – a short walk from where I live now.

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And the view from the Imadegawa bridge at Demachiyanagi this evening. When I first moved to Kyoto I passed this view every day on my way to and from Japanese language school. After living and working in Shinjuku, this view of mountains, rivers and sky was really special. I think this is still my favorite area in Kyoto.

Saganoyu Cafe

saga no yuIf you’re in the Saga area, the cafe Saganoyu is a pleasant spot for lunch or a cup of coffee. Originally built as a public bathhouse in 1923, the building has been thoroughly renovated and was reopened as a cafe in 2006. You can still see the original tiling on the floors and the faucets along the walls. Continue reading

The Ryōzen Kannon, Kyoto, 1958

…suppose there are immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of living beings who are undergoing various trials and suffering. If they hear of this Bodhisattva Perceiver of the Word’s Sounds and single-mindedly call his name, then at once he will perceive the sound of their voices and they will all gain deliverance from their trials. If someone, holding fast to the name of bodhisattva perceiver of the world’s sounds, should enter a great fire, the fire could not burn him. This would come about because of this bodhisattva’s authority and supernatural power. If one were washed away by a great flood and call upon his name, one would immediately find himself in a shallow place… – from the Lotus Sutra Chapter 25 translated by Burton Watson

Buddhist goddess of Mercy Statue in Kyoto, Japan on May 11, 1958, after the unveiling of a memorial to Allied dead of World War II on June 8.

“Some 50 colorfully-garbed Buddhist monks march from the Buddhist goddess of Mercy Statue in Kyoto, Japan on May 11, 1958, after the unveiling of a memorial to Allied dead of World War II on June 8. A white marble tablet, honoring more than 48,000 soldiers who died fighting against Japan, was uncovered in base of the 80-foot-high statue. The Buddha is dedicated to the more than one million Japanese who perished in the war.” (AP Photo)

I found the picture above in a collection of fascinating photographs showing life in 1950s Japan at The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2014/03/japan-in-the-1950s/100697/ It seemed like a timely discovery. Continue reading

Hanezu Odori – Dance performance at Kyoto’s Zuishin-in Temple

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From the Japan Times,

Girls in pale pink traditional costumes will dance and sing in a “Hanezu Odori” performance at Zuishin-in Temple in Kyoto on March 30.

The performance will be held three or four times during the day. The temple is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, and admission will be ¥1,000.

The temple is a five-minute walk from Ono Station on the Tozai Line.

For more info please, visit kanko.city.kyoto.lg (in Japanese) or 075-571-0025075-571-0025.

See also: Zuishin-in ~ A Refuge in Ono

150 Years of Red Cross Action - Exhibition at Kyoto University Museum

Just one week left to catch this exhibition at Kyoto University Museum:

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Putting Humanity First in Conflict

“In 1863, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was founded to save wounded on battlefield. This then gave birth to the International Movement of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent. In 1864, the First Geneva Convention was drafted, which later developed into four conventions as World War II showed the disastrous consequences to civilians without such protection. Nowadays, the Geneva Conventions are the only truly universal treaty, which every state on earth has signed. Continue reading

58th Grand Antique Fair in Kyoto

From the Japan Times,

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The 58th Grand Antique Fair in Kyoto will run from March 28 to 30, with more than 350 shops from all over Japan displaying and selling their wares.

Admission is free. The market will open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. except on March 30, when it will close at 4 p.m.

The fair takes place in Kyoto Pulse Plaza, and a free shuttle bus will be provided from Takeda Station on the Kintetsu Kyoto Line and the Karasuma Line. Here is a MAP.

For further information, check www.kottouichi.jp/kyoto.htm (in Japanese) or call 077-522-2307077-522-2307.