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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shrine Gates Near Shisendo Temple

Near Shisendo詩仙堂の近くの鳥居

On the slope up to Shisendo Temple from Kita Shirakawa Dori street, there is a large torii gate more or less in the middle of the road.

The road bends around the torii and large tree within its grounds.

Farther up, on the right, is Shisendo Temple. The area is dotted with temples and shrines, and makes for a good ride.

A good place to start would be Shugakuin Imperial Villa, for which permission is required to enter. Without it, you will not get in. A trip to the offices of the Imperial Household Agency, in Gosho, are required.

From there. it is a short rural ride to Manshuin, a Tendai sect temple founded in the 8th century. Continuing on, you come to Enkoji, other smaller temples, and then Shisendo itself.

Below left is an old road marker that reads "left for Enkoji Temple."

It is on the narrow street below the entrance to Shisendo Temple.


Enkoji SignCycleKyoto Home Page


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kyoto Online Bicycle Manners Campaign

kyoto-bicycle-manners京都 自転車利用マナー向上戦隊 ほっとかナイス

The great minds at Kyoto City Hall are at it again, this time with a vengeance - and a web site.

In an effort to get the burgeoning cycling population to behave, a new web site has gone live.

A direct transliteration of the site name is "hottoka nice."

The women who appear on the site are suspiciously similar in appearance to the trendy and not very musical girl band AKB48.

Without getting too esoteric, the seven women - "Hottoka Nice" idols - are a manners squad.

In Kansai dialect, "hotte oite" means to leave or discard something. Thus, "hottakanai" would mean "don't throw/leave it." "Hotto ka nice" is a belabored play on words, adding the English "nice" at the end.

And that is what the platoon of mecha kawai (very cute) girls are fighting: bicycles left around the city (and bad jokes).

The site also has information on the basic rules of cycling, where to get off and push a bike, crime prevention, if you are towed, and more.

Good luck to them. Although, cynics that we are, real behavior modification would probably take place if the cops handed out a few tickets - actual fines - now and then.

Still, you never know.


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Friday, July 29, 2011

Bicycling Kodaiji Temple

kodaiji temple自転車で高台寺へ

Kodaiji Temple is one of Kyoto's gems.

It was established in 1606 by Nene, the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The temple was built in memory of Hideyoshi.

Kodaiji sits atop a bluff above the Path of Nene, a lovely street named for the aforementioned Nene, and overlooking central Kyoto.

The whole area is rich in history and perhaps the best preserved section of Kyoto.

A wonderful day would be to ride from central Kyoto, park your bike, and then head first up to Kiyomizu Temple. From there, wander down Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka towards Nene no Michi.

From there it is easy to stroll Ishibei no Koji, the postcard pretty alley that connects to the Path of Nene.

Due south is Gion, due east is Yasaka Shrine and Chionin Temple.


Kodaiji Temple
9:00 to 17:30 (entry until 17:00)
Admission: 600 yen (Kodaiji and Sho Museum)
900 yen (Kodaiji, Sho Museum and Entokuin; 1000 yen from mid December to late March)


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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Makino Shozo Kyoto Film Legend


Makino Shozo is a legend in the history of Japanese film.

Born in 1878, he was a director, producer, and one of the major pioneers of Japanese cinema.

Makino was born in Kyoto and his mother ran a theater, which he often visited and absorbed from an early age.

He is remembered today for directing the 1928 epic "Jitsuroku Chushingura" (True Record of the Forty-seven Ronin).

Makino founded several film companies before dying in 1929.

His legacy is also thanks to his prodigy.

Two of his sons, Sadatsugu Matsuda (1906–2003) and Masahiro Makino (1908–1993), were well known film directors. Yet another son, Mitsuo Makino, was a film producer. Still another, Shinzo Makino, worked as a director.

He is buried at Tojiin Temple, just south of Ritsumeikan University.


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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kyoto Graffiti Shisendo

kyoto graffiti京都落書き詩仙堂

On the narrow hilly streets close to Shisendo Temple are many of the traditional walls that delineate property lines and protect against intruders.

The walls are also divinely beautiful.

The main purpose of the ride was to visit, again, Shisendo.

It was built in 1641 by the poet Ishikawa Jozan (1583-1672), originally as a retreat for hermits.

Another visitor, one Kiyomizu Junji, pulled out his pen knife and signed his name on a nearby wall.


27 Monguchi-machi, Ichijoji, Sakyo-ku,
Tel: 075 781 2954
Admission: 500 yen for adults

For those taking public transportation, get off at Ichijoji Station on the Eiden Railways. Walk east toward the hills in the distance (Mt. Hiei). Cross Shirakawa Dori (street) and continue straight. Walk up the slope. On your right you will come to the gate of Shisendo. Another option is to take the number #5 bus from Kyoto Station and get off at the Ichijoji-sagarimatsu-cho bus stop.

For those cycling, it is about 10 minutes from the Silver Pavilion and the Philosopher's Walk.

Shisendo Temple, Kyoto©

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cycling Shibuya?

shibuya, tokyo, street東京渋谷で自転車を乗る?

From a Kyoto perspective what is striking about this photo of Shibuya - Tokyo's uber fashion mecca - is not the buildings. Plenty of those in Kyoto.

It is not the crowds. Kyoto's 1.5 million people can jostle with the best of them, and population density in the ancient capital is heavy because of narrow streets.

And it is not the tacky signs and general delicious messiness of the streetscape. Kyoto has both in spades.

It is, rather, the absence of bicycles.

The picture was, full disclosure, taken almost three years ago on a Sunday morning stroll not far from Shibuya Station.

Things may have changed.

However, there is not even a bike parked in front of one of the shops.

Is there any comparable area of Kyoto without one single bike?


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Monday, July 25, 2011

Hiking Kiyotaki River Kyoto

Kiyotaki River京都清滝川をハイキング

In western Kyoto many hiking courses await.

The Takao area in particular is rich in options.

A fifteen minute bus ride - or 30 minutes on a bike - from Ninnaji Temple is the entrance to several trails.

Jingoji Temple is close, as are Mount Atago and the crystal clear waters of the Kiyotaki River.

To get oriented, go to the Takao bus stop.

It is possible to ride either the JR bus from Kyoto Station for Keihokucho or Kyoto City bus #8 to Takao. The Takao bus stop is about 15 minutes beyond Ninnaji Temple.

At that point, it is a 5-10 minute walk down to the river.

Jingogi is a climb up stone steps. For the Kiyotaki River, which is below to the left, just follow it.

Along Kiyotaki River©

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gion Matsuri Float

Yoiyama Kyoto 2011祇園祭山鉾

The large floats that form the center piece of Kyoto's Gion Matsuri (Festival) are seen here.

Above right is a shot taken the night before, at the city's Yoiyama Festival.

On that night, the floats are put out on display around the center of the city.

They are festooned with lanterns and a sight to behold.

Revelers can walk right up to the floats, examine the tapestries, wood work, and take photos.

The following morning, July 17, the same floats are pulled around a pre-set route.

Crowds line the sidewalks so getting within range of the floats is close to impossible.


Gion Festival

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Puri Kura Photo Booth Aeon Mall Kyoto

Puri Kura Photo Booth in Kyoto京都のプリクラ

One of Japan's many contributions to modern life is the photo booth known as "purikura" in Japanese.

For the uninitiated, purikura means both the photo sticker booth itself and or the photo from said booth.

And they are marvels of technology.

Atlus and Sega invented the machines, and the first machines appeared in 1995.

For several hundred yen, you can have a series of photos taken that can then be digitally edited - drawn on, stickers placed on, etc. - prior to printing.

At the Aeon Mall, just south of Kyoto Station, the third floor has a food court and a large arcade full of games and many purikura machines.

The woman having her photo taken was with her daughter, who can be seen peeking up into the slot whence the printed photos will appear.


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Friday, July 22, 2011

Kobe Ijinkan

Kobe Ijinkan自転車で神戸異人館

Kobe is a 50-minute ride away on JR's Super Express from Kyoto Station.

However, it is a world away.

Kyoto, though cluttered and messy, makes an effort to retain much of its cultural patrimony. Tourism depends on it.

Kobe in contrast is a port city, and has always been more open to new ideas, new people, and new things than almost any other Japanese city.

In addition to US Air Force bombing during World War II, a horrific earthquake in January 1996 leveled much of what remained of the pre-War architecture of the city.

About the only part of the city that retains a pre-War vibe is the Kitano-cho area.

This is an area close to the base of Rokko Mountain where many foreign merchants and diplomats settled settled and lived at the end of 19th century.

Today, more than 12 of the former mansions - called Ijinkan (literally, "outside person house") - still exist and are open to the public as museums.

Admission fees range between 300 to 500 yen.

The area is ideal for strolling; cycling is possible but it will involve a climb at the end.


A fifteen-minute walk from Sannomiya Station.


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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tiny Foldable Bicycle in Cocon Karasuma

Tiny Bicycle Kyoto京都古今にある折りたたみ自転車

Just south of Shijo - Karasuma is the sleek urban mall with the clunky name Cocon Karasuma.

"Cocon" is a direct transliteration of 古今. The first kanji means "old," the second "now."

The mall consists of several floors of shops and galleries, bars and restaurants. On the third floor is the Kyoto Cinema, which shows arty films from around the world.

In the back of the first floor, a foldable bike was strategically placed in the ACTUS store's show window.

We are not sure if it was for sale or merely decorative.


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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cycling Daruma Temple Kyoto

Daruma Temple自転車で達磨寺(だるま寺)へ

Horinji Temple is full of daruma.

It is neither famous nor outrageously lovely like so many of its Kyoto brethren.

However, it is a quirky place worth a visit.

It is locally known as "Daruma Temple" because of the 8,000 daruma dolls in the temple.

Daruma are round figures that are modeled after the founder of zen Buddhism.

They are also used as symbols for luck and grit. When someone opens a store or restaurant, or a politician wins an election, one eye will be painted in. The other is left blank to be painted in later once the goal has been attained.


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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Japanese Women Bird's Nest Hair Style

Incredible Japanese Hair宵山の類は友を呼ぶ

What more can be said?

These two beauties were spotted just north of Shijo on the side street that runs to the west of Daimaru Department Store.

They were out in their finest yukata on the night of the Yoiyama Festival.

Bird's of a feather.


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Monday, July 18, 2011

Yoiyama Sights

Japanese Legs宵山の名勝

Ah, the delights of summer.

Fan tucked in the obi, young women (and men) in yukata robes strolled the streets of Kyoto on July 16.

This is of course the night of Kyoto's - Japan's - largest street party, which is known as Yoiyama.

On that night, 450,000 people showed up, mostly in yukata, to enjoy the sights and sounds and taste of a mid-summer.

Dress ranges from elaborate yukata, no doubt done up by a professional, to short short shorts and light tops.

In between were many less fancy yukata and, for men, jinbei.

Jinbei is a type of summer pajamas.

The bottom are cotton shorts with a draw string that reach to about 5-10 cm above the knee.

The top is also made of light cotton and has strings on the inside. It crosses the chest, leaving a "V" shape below the neck.

Many men topped this look off with a straw hat, which are no longer the reserve of old men and hipsters.

Because of the ongoing energy crisis in Japan, old style straw hats, hand held fans, and other "Showa" era accoutrements are making a comeback.

One look that is definitely not retro is the bird's nest hair style.

This was big a few year's back, and thankfully has lost its luster.

Several woman though were spotted sporting the look. And that will be tomorrow's offering.

Stay tuned.


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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Conveyor Belt Sushi Kyoto

Kaiten Sushi, Kyoto回転寿司京都

Conveyor belt sushi is big.

In Japanese it is known as Kaiten-sushi, and there are plenty of restaurants in Kyoto.

Simply put, it is a sushi restaurant in which the plates loaded with sushi are placed on a rotating conveyor belt.

The belt winds through the restaurant moving past every table and counter seat.

When the plates go by, customers grab them.

The bill is based on the number and type of plates piled up on your table.

This popular restaurant is located between Ritsumeikan University and the Golden Pavilion.

Kaiten Sushi, Kyoto©

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Kyoto Yoiyama Festival

yoiyama gion kyoto宵山

July 16th is the best night of the year in Kyoto.

On that night, 12 hours before the Gion Festival parade, Kyotoites turn out in the thousands - actually, hundreds of thousands - in their cotton summer  yukata to stroll and drink beer and eat squid on a stick and stare at women (and men) and look up close at the massive Gion floats that will be pulled around for the masses the next morning.

The streets of downtown Kyoto are closed to cars from 6 pm, and a huge street party ensues.

The floats are on display in the streets in the neighborhood northwest of Shijo-Karasuma.

Young and old come in groups, on a date, with grandmom. And nearly everyone comes decked out in a beautiful yukata. It is indeed a moveable feast.

Moreover, people who live in this part of downtown display their heirlooms: byobu, kimono, armor, textiles, decorative folding fans, etc.


From Kyoto Station, take the Karasuma Subway Line two stops north to Shijo Karasuma Station (which is also on the Hankyu Line for Osaka).

For cyclists, park on Oike and walk south.

Note: the same festival is actually held three nights running: July 14, 15, and 16. It varies only in scale, with the last night being the biggest.


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Friday, July 15, 2011

Gion Matsuri Festival Route Returns to Original Path

yoiyama gion kyoto祇園の幻山鉾後祭り

Japan's best known festival, Gion Matsuri, will take place on July 17th.

Gion Matsuri actually takes place for the entire month of July, but the date of the parade is always July 17th.

The festival has its origins in the fires, floods, pestilences, and other natural disasters that descended upon Kyoto during the hot summer months.

In 869 C.E., during yet another summer plague, the Emperor Seiwa ordered that all pray to the god of Yasaka Shrine, Susano-no-mikoto. This custom was thereafter repeated every time a plague occurred.

In 970, it was made an annual "festival" - to ward off such illnesses - and has grown and evolved over the centuries.

In 1966, however, the city of Kyoto strong-armed the festival organizers into making the festival more tourist-friendly by forcing the giant floats to follow one pre-set route along which the throngs could better see the festival.

Prior to that point, the festival's giant "hoko" (moving floats pulled by many men) were divided into those that appeared on the 17th, and those that appeared in a "post festival" on the 24th. The latter followed a different route.

This year, after a forty-six year break, the festival is returning to its routes, literally and figuratively, and will have the "post festival" parade on the 24th.

The revived post-festival will run along Sanjo and then south on Teramachi, as it did until 1966.

A Bit of Advice: Go to Yoiyama the Night Before

Gion Festival is better suited to a slower era. Men in white festival clothing pull the floats slowly around Kyoto. Watching from the sidewalks are thousands of pensioners bused in from the provinces. That means the floats will be off in the distance. You will be surrounded by hundreds if not thousands on a sidewalk.

On top of that, it will be 36 degrees (100 fahrenheit) and sunny.

If that is not appealing, don't go. Instead, head out the night before on what is the largest block party in Japan. "Yoiyama" is a giant downtown party from 6 pm until late on the 16th. Streets are closed to traffic, hundreds of thousands come out in their summer yukata robes (see above), and the hoko are on display on side streets.

If you avoid Shijo - which is highly congested until about 11 pm - you will have a fantastic time.

Cyclists should avoid downtown at this time of year, and park north of Oike Dori.


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Thursday, July 14, 2011

French Consulate Kyoto Bastille Day


France's elegant consulate is located across the street from Kyoto University.

The consulate recently relocated from Osaka to Kyoto to better serve the full-time resident, student, and tourist presence in the ancient capital.

Prior to that the facility was part of the Institut Franco-japonais du Kansai. It is possible to take classes of many types here, and there is a cafe. The garden alone is worth a visit.

And to all of our cycling French amis, a happy Bastille Day to one and all!

Tour de France Updates


8 Izumidono-cho
Yoshida, Sakyo-ku
Kyoto 606-830

Tel: 075 761 2165


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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Japanese Woman on Bicycle Kyoto

Kyoto woman cycling京都で自転車乗る京女

At the corner of Kawaramachi - Oike, just across from Kyoto City Hall, a woman sits astride her all-purpose mama-chari bicycle.

And what a montage she has created!

Her dark blue jeans and lime green top make for a delicious contrast with her candy apple red bike.

The bags in her basket - black and green - match the trim of her tires, socks, and shirt.

Her hair clip has the faintest touch of amber, which nestles in the sea of luxuriant black hair.

Moreover, the angle of her legs - a scalene triangle with differing angles - and arms outstretched are begging to be sketched.


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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Daitokuji Temple Wall Bicycles

Daitokuji Temple大徳寺の壁と自転車

Daitokuji Temple is one of the great public spaces in Kyoto. Not overwhelmed by tourists, open 24 hours a day, and wide open - it is an open secret in Kyoto.

On a blistering hot post-rainy season Saturday ride up to Kitayama and beyond, the large trees within the white walls of the temple provided a brief respite from the rays of the sun.

The bikes lined up along the wall seemed to be enjoying the shade, their owners dozing elsewhere.


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Monday, July 11, 2011

Tanabata in Suizenji Shrine


Happy belated Tanabata to lovers everywhere.

The actual date of the festival is July 7th.

"Tanbata" means "evening of the seventh" and is the Japanese star festival.

July 7th is the one night of the year when the stars Vega and Altair "meet" on their annual celestial journey.

According to legend, the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi who are depicted, respectively, by Vega and Altair, are separated by the the Milky Way for 364 days of the year. However, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, the unrequited lovers meet, if ever so briefly.

In Japan, the festival became popular in the early Edo period.

In general, the festival is celebrated by writing wishes on colorful pieces of paper attached to a strip of bamboo.

Young girls in the past wished to become more proficient at sewing and craftsmanship, while boys hoped for better handwriting.

This photo was taken at Suizenji Temple, which is in Kumamoto.

Today, typical wishes are for health, academic success, business prospects - and of course love.


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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Jitensha Sign Nishijin Kyoto

Nishijin JItensha Sign「自転車」看板京都

A small mom-and-pop rice shop in Nishijin has a blue sign with white lettering that reads


That of course means "bicycle," but we have no idea why.

The building is old - which in the area is normal - and the sign is of a certain vintage.

However, there was not a bike or tool or pump to be found.

We didn't have time to investigate but the street, Teranouchi Dori, has much to recommend it.

Temples, small shops, old homes abound - so we will get back there and solve the mystery of the blue "jitensha" sign.


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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sakura Bullet Train Shinkansen

Sakura Bullet Trainさくら新幹線

In addition to bicycles, we count among our loves trains.

In general, the slower the better - city trams (or "trolleys," as we called them in our youth in Philadelphia), 1960s era lines to rural cities, etc. - however, the new bullet train from Shin Osaka to Kagoshima is pretty fabulous.

It runs at a crisp 300 km (185 mph) at top speed, but that is old hat in Japan.

What won us over is the design.

From the extended duck-billed platypus like nose to the wood panels throughout the interior, this is a sexy machine.

The cars moreover vary somewhat in design. On our ride south - from Osaka to Kumamoto - we were in reserved car in plush seats that brought to mind Ricardo Montalban. Though the ticket price is no different from the unreserved seats, the level of luxury was akin to a business class airplane seat.

On the way back to Kyoto, we ran up at the last moment and lined up for one the the unreserved cars. It was a bit less divine, but still reeked of plush.

Sakura Bullet Train©

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Suizenji Koen Kumamoto


On the southern island of Kyushu, in the city of Kumamoto, far from the main station, in a drab suburb, is a place well worth visiting.

Suizenji Koen is a Japanese garden that was built by Lord Hosokawa Tadatoshi in the 17th century. (His direct descendant, Hosokawa Morihiro, was the prime minister of Japan from 1993 - 1994).

Construction of the garden began in 1636. It was originally meant to be a tea retreat.

Within the grounds of the park is Izumi Shrine, in which members of the Hosokawa family are enshrined.

There is a also a Noh theater, Nogaku-do.

The park took 80 years to build, and represents the 53 stations along the Tokaido Highway that stretched from Kyoto to Tokyo.

The most obvious design element of the park is the representation of Mount Fuji, pictured above.


A long, long bike ride from Kumamoto Station or Castle, Alternatively, the tram is a 30 minute ride from JR Kumamoto Station. Get off at "Suizenji Koen" tram stop, which is a 5-6 minute walk to the park.


Hours: 7:30 to 18:00 (March to November)
8:30 to 17:00 (December to February)
Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 400 yen


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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cycling Yoshida Shrine Kyoto

Yoshida Shrine京都吉田神社

Yoshida Shrine is located on the edge of the Kyoto University's main campus in the foothills of the mountains east of the city.

Yoshida Shrine was the benefactor of Imperial patronage early on.

Another claim to fame is that Yoshida Kanetomo, the founder of Yoshida Shinto, is buried here.

However, today it is best known for its annual "setsubun" bean throwing ceremony, which signals the end of winter.

On February 3rd, people around Japan scatter soybeans to drive evil spirits out and bring in good luck.

At Yoshida Shrine locals gather and drink and party until the wee hours.

For many it is also a chance to part with unnecessary things, which are tossed into a massive bonfire.


Kyoto city bus No.17, 102 or 203 to the Kyoto University of Agriculture bus stop. By Kyoto city bus No.31, 65, 201 or 206 to the bus stop near the gate of Kyoto University. Or via Keihan train to Demachiyanagi station, and from there walk for about 15 minutes.

For those cycling, Yoshida Shrine is close to the Philosophers Walk.

Open: 9:00 ~ 16:00
Admission Fee: Free


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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cycle Kumamoto Japan

Bike Helmet Kumamoto自転車で熊本を乗る

On a recent trip to Kyushu, we stayed in Kumamoto for twenty-four hours.

In addition to Kumamoto Castle, Suizenji Park, and a few rides on the city's trams, we took in the cycling scene.

Unlike Kyoto, which has a few bike lanes and some bike-related infrastructure, Kumamato appears to have nothing beyond paved roads.

However, population density is much lower than Kyoto. The roads and sidewalks are wide, and the pace of life is much slower.

Cycling is a practical affair, and not rushed.

The shrill ring of bike bells - which in Kyoto means "Get the hell out of my way!" - was rare. After a bit, we realized it was not necessary to constantly check over our shoulder for reckless cyclists on the sidewalk.

A sure sign we were in the country, albeit urban rural, were the standard issue white helmets that young students wore while cycling.

Bike "lanes" were noted with an image pasted on sidewalks.


Cycle Lane KumamotoCycleKyoto Home Page


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kyoto Noho Noh Theatre Anniversary Performance

Kyoto Noh Noho能法劇団30周年記念公演一目瞭然

The Noho Noh Theatre Troupe will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this July with a series of performances in Kyoto.

Noho is a unique mix of Western and traditional theatre that was founded in 1979 by Jonah Salz.

The troupe has performed works by Shakespeare, bilingual kyogen, and Beckett.

Based in Kyoto, Oe has performed in Paris, Avignon, and at the Edinburgh fringe festival.

On July 18th, at the Kyoto Oe Noh Theatre - a short walk east of Kyoto City Hall on Oshikoji Dori - the troupe will put on the following program:

Act Without Words 1 (Beckett)
Rockabye (Beckett)
Improvisation (Palle Dahlstedt)

Photo © Noho


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Monday, July 4, 2011

Tour de France Coverage from Kyoto


For those interested in witty and incisive and offbeat commentary on the Tour de France, search no further.

An anonymous Kyoto writer provides a daily update with brio.

Even for those who find the idea of watching a group of doped up Europeans with a premature case of E.D riding $10,000 dollar bikes for three-weeks around France about as interesting as watching grapes grow - we do not count ourselves among these deluded ignoramuses - this blog may be just the thing.

Strategy, history, rivalry, technology, scandal - it's all here.

Vive le Tour, vive le peloton.


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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art Communication: Visualizing the Human Connection in the Age of Vermeer


Kyoto is welcoming a big-ticket exhibit from Amsterdam.

On loan from the Rijksmuseum, 17th century Dutch paintings will be at the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art from June 25 (Saturday) until October 16 (Sunday).

This was the Dutch Golden Age, and works by masters Johannes Vermeer, Pieter de Hooch, and Gerard ter Borch will be featured.

This the first time that Vermeer's "Woman in Blue Reading a Letter" will be exhibited following its restoration.

Approximately 50 works from Europe and America will be exhibited.

The Museum is in Okazaki section of the city and a short ride from downtown Kyoto.


Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art
Okazaki Park, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8344
Tel. 075 771 4107

Adults: 1500 yen; High School Students: 1,000 yen; Elementary/Junior High School Students: 500 yen


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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Rice Shop North Kyoto

Rice seller near Daitokuji Templeお米屋京都

On a ride from Vivre, a shopping mall in Kitaoji, back home to the Ninnaji Temple area, we passed this festive rice shop outside the walls of Daitokuji Temple.

The bright sheets of heavy paper are noted with details of the various types of rice on sale.

The owner, a friendly woman in her 60s, saw me taking pictures and came out to ask where I was from.

She giggled when I replied with my Kyoto address, but persisted. As soon as I said the US, she was off on a long monologue.

"My daughter has been in LA for years, and she isn't ever coming back. With the economy, the lack of young people, useless politicians, the earthquake in Tohoku - I think everyone should leave! If I were a bit younger, I'd sell off this old place and start anew somewhere else."

Soon another shopkeeper came out and joined in. "My daughter lives in Switzerland. I miss her but doubt she'll ever come back either. What can you do?"

I did my best to encourage the pair that Japan was on its way back and bade them farewell, promising to return when they pressed me to "come back anytime."


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Friday, July 1, 2011

Kyoto Lane

Very narrow lane Kyoto京都路地

Kyoto is full of surprises, even for long-time residents.

This narrow lane, which snakes ever so slightly, is a stone's throw from Shijo - Kawaramachi.

That is the main intersection in downtown Kyoto, and is thronged with people day and night.

However, a several minute walk brings one to this tight alley with bars and restaurants and boutiques.

Arriving early one Sunday morning, we cycled the alley. Slowly.

A few shops were just starting to show life, with one chef arranging his kitchen for the coming day.


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