Lots of my students/friends coming to Kyoto!

This October and November, lots of my students/friends from all around the world coming to Kyoto.

I’m teaching Japanese online, it’s an amazing and I really like this job, but the most happiest moment is when I have a chance to see my students/frineds in person.

I’m teaching Japanese about four years, and I met more than ten people in person. This month, I have my students/friends visiting from Brazil, NY, and Argentina.
Next month, from SF, and Brazil.

I can’t wait to see them!!

(audio 4) Gender inequality

Gender inequality is one of the topic I always care.
Sadly, among all developed countries, Japan’s gender equality ranking is extremely low.

Online Japanese teacher Akari and Jessica, a theatre actress, who has lived in Japan for more than ten years talking about “Gender inequality” topics, and how we want to take action to change the current situation.


(audio 2) Obon, Japanese seasonal event

In many parts of Japan, Obon takes place around the 15th of August, over a period of several days. There are various regional customs associated with it.
On the first day of Obon, small fires are lit at the entrance to homes. This is done to help the ancestral spirits find their way home.
During the Obon period, there’s a tradition to make “cucumber horses” and “aubergine oxen”. This is based on the desire for the ancestors to come to visit as fast as possible riding on horses, but to leave as slowly as possible ridden on oxen.
A special table is set up for the spirits, and offerings of the spirits as if they were still alive.
On the last day of Obon- August the 16th- fires are lit to send the spirits back to the world of the dead. One of the grandest send-off displays is Kyoto’s Gozan no Okuribi.
The sticks of firewood used for the bonfires are offering on which people have written massages to their ancestors.
Torchbearers climb up the hillsides carrying torches blessed by Buddhist priests, and light one pile of firewood after another.
Here, we see an ideogram on the hillside- bright and magnificent. These bonfires are thought to help guide the spirits back to their world.
These events and practices related to Obon provide a glimpse into the Japanese outlook on life and death, which is based on the notion that people should always give a warm welcome to the spirits of the deceased.

-“Trad Japan”, NHK publisher, 2011 August

Since I luckily lives in Kyoto, we went to see Gozan no Okuribi. It was beautiful.
Now, my friend Jessica and I are talking about Obon and views of life and death.


Hand Braided Japanese Kimono Tie (Obi-jime)

This summer in Kyoto, Japan is super hot and humid.
I really miss NL and PEI, Canada’s summer.

Even this weather, I do have tours sometimes.
In the tour, we go to a food market.
In the market, I found a great second hand kimono store.

Because Kyoto used to be the capital of Japan over 1,000 years, imperial family and all the high position people of the country and their family was living in Kyoto.

Now a days, we wear Kimono only a special occasion, like wedding ceremony, coming of age ceremony, and tea ceremony, so people sell good quality Kimono to a second hand kimono store.

Last time I went to the store with beautiful ladies guests from Saudi Arabia, they bought Obijime (decorative string used to hold a kimono sash in place), then they said they’ll use it for their close for belts, or strings for bags.

I thought it’s a great idea, and I myself bought some and used for my summer dress like this.

It’s so nice to see traditional Japanese closes used for something else.
I thought it’s a great idea to use Obijime for something else, I post them to Esty. I don’t know how it works, but let’s see 😉


Startup Weekend Kyoto 2017

Last weekend, I joined the event “Startup Weekend Kyoto 2017”.
We gathered Friday night, had pitch, made team and start making
new business ideas through Saturday and Sunday, then had presentation on Sunday night.

I joined the event last year for the first time.
One of the reason I’m interested in Startup is because
italki and Verbling, which I registered as an online Japanese teacher are both Startup companies.
Especially italki, I’ve seen the company from the very early stage, I really amaze how fast it growing, and changed peoples life in better ways.

Actually, it changed my life. Online Japanese teaching is now my main job, and I’m feeling “This is the job!” everyday. I really like it.
Through this job I can get to know amazing people across the world.

Online language teacher didn’t exist ten years ago. When I traveled Greece in 2005, I really liked Greece, so that I tried to learn Greek, but I couldn’t find the way to learn. I couldn’t find language school in my town, and couldn’t find good books to learn.
But now, I can learn any languages from my room. That’s really amazing.

So I really appreciate and curious new business model.

If you have chance to come to Kyoto, how about join “Startup Weekend Kyoto”? Next one held in September.

Or if you can stay longer, I highly recommend to join this course,
“Kyoto Startup Summer School 2017”

Kyoto is nice place to visit. There’s lots of places to see.
But if you want to have more deeper experience, I really recommend to attend these kinds of events. You can make local and international friends, you can get new ideas, and you might start new business! 😉

When is the best time to visit Japan?

I frequently asked “When is the best time to visit Japan?”. So I’d like to answer the quetion. My opnion is based on my life in Kyoto, so North part of Japan or Southern Islands Okinawa might be different.

◆January: If you come to January 1st-3rd, you can see authentic Japanese culture. Our new year celebration is similar to authentic Christmas celebration in North America. Family gathering, go to shine to wish good luck for the new year.

◆Febuary: Cold, but in Kyoto it snow only a few days. Compare to other season, less domestic tourists. But there’s Chinese New Year holiday, so you might see more Chinese tourists in this month.

◆March: Good season, but after March 20th, Japanese schools ends, so you’ll see more domestic family tourists. At the end of March, Sakura cherry blossom starts blooming. Even you couldn’t see Sakura, cherry blossom, you’ll see Ume, plum flower blooming.

◆April: Around April 1st, Sakura cherry blossom bloom. It last only a week to two weeks. Short life- that is one of the reason why people in Japan love Sakura so much.
(My last post “Why people in Japan love Sakura so much?” https://akarijapanese.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/why-people-in-japan-love-sakura-so-much/)

◆May: Good season. But it’s better to avoide May 2nd-5th. It’s “Golden Week” in Japan. We have a few national holidays in a row, and people travel a lot.

◆June: Early June is ok. But late June, we have “Tsuyu 梅雨” rainy season. Also it’s going to be humid.

◆July: Early July is still rainy season. After rainy season, it’s going to be hot and humid. In Kyoto, we have big traditional festival called “Gion-matsuri” which have 1,110 years history. All days of July, some events related to Gion-matsuri held.
(My last post “Gion Matsuri Festival that has 1,100 years history” https://akarijapanese.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/gion-matsuri-festival-that-has-over-1100-years-history/)

◆August: Hot and humid. In the middle of August we have “Obon” period. People believe our ansester’s spirit come back in this period and spend time with thier original family. So many people go back to their home town, and it’s going to be crowded. Also schools in Japan are holidays in this month, so you’ll see lots of kids.

◆September: It’s a tyhoon season experially Okinawa, and Kyushu, but sometimes main land too.

◆October: Good season.

◆November: It’s getting cold. In Kyoto, you’ll see leaves’ color change beutiful.
And because of that, there is more domestic tourists.

◆December: Cold, but if you don’t mind, you can see Christmas atmospher and traditional Japanese New Year atmospher both.

When I was living Kyoto 2008-2011, I had an impression that only March, April, some festival season in July and August, and October to November are crowded. But recently, after Kyoto selected No. 1 destination on “Travel + Leisure magazine” in 2014 and 2015, almost all the season it’s crowded in  touristic areas, like 清水寺 Kiyomizu-temple, or 金閣寺 Kinkakuji-temple.

But in 2016, Kyoto became No.6 in the award. I personally feel that it is became too crowded in some places. One of the beauty in Kyoto is you can see historical and mordan site, nature and city, silence and lively close each other. But recently it became bit difficult to find places that I can feel peceful silence because of the tourists. For example, “哲学の道 Tetsugaku no michi”, Philosopher’s Path is one of my favorite place. The area has that name because a professor of Kyto university took a walk every day that path to think about Pholosophy. It was quite, peaceful area. But recently I went there, but I feel it’s impossible to think about something seiuos because it’s crouded. If it’s noisy, the place’s charm become less than half.

So I think that Kyoto, we have to think about what kind of tourists we want, and which country to promote. Quality is very important. Do we want bus tour tourists who vist only famous places quick and gone? or indivisual tourists who appreciate our culture, and try to understand and experience it as much as possible?
I often disscuss about this kind of topic with frineds in Kyoto.

How do you spend Christmas Day in Japan? Well, I enjoyed Kyoto authentic seasonal event :)

I wish you Happy Holidays, everyone 🙂
I know it’s a Christmas Day today, and many people in Japan also enjoy Christmas atmosphere in town.

Last year, I wrote: How do you cerebrate Christmas in Japan?
It seems many people are curious about it.

But actually, this year, enjoyed Kyoto authentic seasonal event.
At the Kitano-Tenmangu shrine, on the 25th of each month, there is a street market called “Tenjin-san’s Festival” and there’s lots of antique shops of Kimonos, dishes, kitchen wears, cloths, foods etc.

After I saw lots of stuff, I got this second hand Kimono. They charged me only 1,500yen (about 15 USD) Amazing! I don’t surprise they even add two more zero if it is a new one, or different material, like silk.


If you have chance to come to Kyoto 25th of the month, I highly recommend you to go to the street market 
Kitano-Tenmangu Shine