Wagashi making ( candy making)

Have you ever seen the beauty of Japanese wagashi or Japanese confection? It is just a sweet thing but it has something more than that. It is mainly made from beans and sugar. However you can see something with which you can feel a season, such as cool stream in summer, an orange persimmon in fall and so on. It requires a special skill to make.
However you can take a look of this traditional skill and experience it.

Some wagashi shop give a service of candy making class.Unfortunately, most of them require us to make a resercation a week in advance. For foreign tourists, it is a little difficult to make a decision to have the service unless you are much interested in candy making.

I found a wagashi shop which accept the request to have a class on the day, and not so far from the center of the city.

Yoshihiro is the one which gives a class of candy making. Of course you have to call them before visiting to make a reservation ,even if it is on the very day. However, it makes us feel much easier to make a tour plan.
I used this class when the plan to go to Monkey park was rained out. Though the time to start the class has been changed due to a school trip schedule which were going to have the class on the same day. Thanks to this change, we had a class with Japanese school kids. It also made us have more fun.

To make a real wagashi requires a very delicate work. Making a flower shape, making each petal, and making gradation changing from one color to another are difficult for us but much fun.

After the class we enjoy maccha tea ( tea for tea ceremony) and wagashi made in this shop.( not your making ). And then we take a look at the professional technique.
Of course you can take what you made and enjoy it later.

If you have a little time to have this experience, why don't you try it?
It costs 1800 yen including tea and another wagashi served after class.
Sorry that this service is given only Japanese, so you need an assist of English speaking guide or person.

This is a certificate for finishing the candy making class. ( for your memory)

Shop name : Yoshihiro

Place * 5 min walk from Nijo JR station

Time : depending on the day. Please ask when you make a reservation

Cost : 1800 yen ( 500 yen for an attendant, with tea and wagashi)


Tea Ceremony

There are various kinds of service giving tourists chances to experience Japanese culture or traditional events. Tea ceremony is one of them. Attending an authentic tea ceremony is the one not to be missed. In addition to drinking tea itself, it has spiritual and artistic aspects. The ceremony has many procedures to follow, which leads to harmonious relationship between hosts and guests.
Its origin dates back to Muromachi period. And then, Sen Rikyu(1522-1591), a great tea teacher, completed the style of what we know as Tea ceremony today. He introduced Zen spirit into the tea ceremony and made it so-called Wabi-cha. which is based on simplicity and calmness.

Formal tea rooms are basically in Japanese gardens. Stepping stones lead you to the room. In front of the room, there are somtimes waiting chairs and a water basin.
What you see when you visit an authentic tea room is a window-like square door. It has a reason why it is made in such a small size. Of course I will explain it to you during our tour!

A tea room consists of 4.5 or fewer tatami mats . It is made very simply and please feel its simplicity. Make yourself calm and enjoy the tea and its spirits. I will be with you and help you enjoy one of our culture.

Before having tea, we are served a sweet cake which shows you its season. The cakes vary in each season. By having what is sweet, the sweetness will make a good harmony with the bitterness of tea in your mouth. After your having sweets, a host makes tea for you. The front of the tea cup is set toward the guest. The guest( you) lifts the tea cup and turn a little around on the palm so that you can avoid drinking tea from the front in order not to stain.
In days of old, there were no air-conditioned rooms. People in those days made every effort to feel themselves cooler. A visual factor plays an important role. Seeing picture of a hanging roll and arranged flowers in the aclove is one of the way enjoying the tea ceremony, too

Why don't you try to have this authentic experience? I will assist you!

photo of stepping stones : Zuiho-in ( Daitokuji temple)
Tea room : Koto-in ( Daitokuji temple)
Tea ceremony : Taiho an ( Uji city)


The tour not spending so much!

Because the tour I was supposed to be a guide was canceled due to the change of the tour schedule, I accepted another guide request at the last moment. That was this tour.

Without so much time to talk about the tour plan, we met at the hotel lobby. That was their second day. The day before, they took a back-street tour using a rental bike. As they didn't go to some MUST-SEEs, I decided to see some. However, when we were at the ticket counter of Sanjusangendo temple, one of them asked me if they had to pay admissons at every temple. Admissions are required in visiting most of the famous temples and shrines. The answer was "Yes".Sometimes it is about 500 yen , sometimes 300 yen or so. Of course they said they were pleased to pay if it is worth seeing. However, whether it is worth seeing or not is up to you, isn't it? I thought about a little while, and remade the tour plan.

First we visited Kiyomizu temple. This temple is the most famous and popular among tourists. Of course it is worth seeing though there are always so many visitors. In addition, the admission is just 300 yen. They seemed to really enjoy the temple itself, archtecture, the view of Kyoto, a story about this temple and so on. In the precinct, there is another shrine, Jishu Shrine. The god of this shrine is said to bring good luck to those who seeking love. When we went up the steps in the small shrine, we saw a pair of stones called love stones. If you walk one stone to the other with your eyes closed, your love will end up successfully.
One of us challenged this and she made it with some advice. In that case, her love will be achieved with some advice. I wish her luck!!

After visiting the temple, of course we enjoyed shopping along Sannneizaka, Ninaizaka walking through Ishibe kouji. These streets have not only so many souvenir shops but also very Kyoto atmosphere!
And then, as they sampled some food walking along the street, and were not so hungry, we visited Chion-in temple next to Maruyama park before lunch.

Buddhism in Japan has about 20 sects. Jodo-shu is one of them. Chion-in is the head temple of Jodo-shu. Since it was amid Obon period in buddhism, from the main hall, we could hear the monks chanting a Buddhist sutra. In this temple, we can enter the main hall, and sit there. We could see and listen to a Buddhist sutra there, where we were actually in solemn air.

Then we went to Nishiki food market. They difinitely enjoy seeing and sampling food. One of them are eager to get one sushi bowl for making sushi rice. We went to the nearest department store, but it was very expensive, because I got one at the supermarket in a lower price. However, visiting here cost us a little.... One of them are interested in tea ceremony, but not want to pay so much, I recommended to go to Uji to have a tea ceremony. As they have JR pass, to get to Uji is free of charge and we had only to pay 500 yen.
Unfortunately, the spending time at the department store forced us to give up visiting there. The tea ceremony service ends at 4 PM, and we got to Kyoto Station at 3:45. We didn't have enough time to be in time. We changed the direction and went to Fushimi.

They didin't think to pay some to see inside the sake museum, instead we just walking along the canal seeing some sake storehose and visit a room exhibiting something related to sake-making. This place is run by a sake brewery company. Just walking is fully enjoyable. Due to extraordinary hot weather, we gave up going on the tour.
Our expenses of this day are, bus-pass 500yen, admission 300yen, lunch. That's all!

Tourists : two people from Australia

Tour : Kiyomizu temple, Jishu shrine, Sanneizaka Nineizaka, Ishibe kouji, Yasaka shrine, Chion-in temple, Nishiki Food Market,
Okonomiyaki lunch, Daimaru departmanet store, walking along Fushimi canal seeing storehouse of sake brewery, a littel museum of sake


the perpetrator of the incident was a deer...

I took tourists from Florida to Nara. It was a one-day tour to Nara and Uji.

After meeting at JR staion in Kyoto, we took a rapid train to Nara. At first, we visited Kasuga shrine. This shrine has a lot of lanterns made of metals or stones. Walking along the path to the shrine with lanterns on both sides is very impressive.

Here and there, you can run across deer, most of which are very quiet and seem to be relaxed.

The path from the shrine to Nigatu-do hall is very peaceful. I like this path. On the way to the hall, there is a very cute cafe serving Japanese sweets.

The floor of Nigatsu-do hall is high, and we could command the view of Nara. Nigatsu means February, and "dou" means a hall. In every February in the lunar calender, a big Buddhism rite took place in this hall called "OMIZUTORI"
Omizutori ,which means taking sacred water, has been held as an annual rite for about 1450 years without stopping. As we see on the TV news, Big torches are carried up to Nigatsu-do hall at night.

And then we walked to the main hall of Todaiji temple.
After getting out of the gate, they bought some deer crackers to feed deer. At that time, the incident happened! a greedy deer came to a woman of our tour, and ask her to give him? some crackers( maybe ). She didn't notice him(?) and then, he pulled her clothes very strongly.. took her clothes,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, a bit, mmm a little more ,,,, anyway the incident was over with her scream.

It would be an unforgettable memory for them in a good? or bad ?way.

We came back to Uji, and enjoyed the museum in the temple. And we visited the oldest tea shop in Uji. Happenly, the shop owner showed us around in the shop. It was very impressive.
I got to know that we can have a tea (for tea-ceremony)-making here. Some foreign students work at this shop, too. The youngest girl of our group made friends with a shop clerk and promised to get contact with each other through facebook!

tourists : a family from Haiti ( Florida)

Tour : Kasuga shrine, Nigatsu-do hall, Todaiji temple, Byodoin temple, Kanbayashi tea shop


Flea market.

We have two famous flea markets held in temples. One is called "KOBO-SAN" on 21st every month. The other is called "TENJIN-SAN" on 25th every month.

The tour was on the 21st, and they wanted me to take them there. When we met, we made a plan according to their request. The first leg of the tour was Fushimi Inari. They were interested in Torii tunnel. A guardian dog of a shrine is usually something like a dog or a lion. However, in front of Fushimi Inari shrine, there are a pair of foxes. They are FOXes! not dogs.

When we visit shrines, we write down our wishes on the blank side of an ema and hang it in a shrine, where it will stay until the end of the year. An ema is a wooden plaque. Usually a horse is painted on it. However, in this shrine, the shape of ema is a face of a fox.
A boy of our party was urged to write his wish on it, and he wrote "Perfect grades".

We tried OMOKARU stone, too. At that time, he wished "Perfect grades" again and he felt it very light. Maybe his wish will come true.
He said he had imagined it very very heavy, so when he lifted it, it was not as heavy as he had imagined. This idea may lead his perfect grades! He is very smart! Surely, he will get perfect grades after coming back home!

Then, the main attraction! A Flea market. Under the extremely hot weather, they surely enjoyed the flea market! Various kinds of goods are sold in this market, such as food, clothes, antiques and plants. We broke up for an hour for shopping, and they enjoyed shopping in each.

After that, we went to Sanjusangendo hall and headed for Nishiki food market.
Yes! They really like shopping, which means......
They spent some time buying sweets such as candies and chocolate for souvenirs. They are from Hawaii. So, they knew very well about Japanese sweets.

When we were in Nijo castle, our enegy was run out. We decided to go back to their hotel, and take a little rest. I said good by at this momont. Later, they went to Arashiyama to enjoy cormorant fishing with another guide.

Tourists : a family from Hawaii and Los Angeles

Tour ; Fushimi Inari shrine, Toji ( flea market ), Sanjusangendo temple, Nishiki food market, Nijo castle.


a man in KAME T-shirt!! ( the tour for Uji )

What's KAME? Kame is a turtle in Japanese. What's Kame T-shirt. It's orange. Do you remember Orange Tshirts with Kanji letter, Kame, on the back ? One more clue! Dragon Ball!

This time, I was a guide of a man from Spain. Before we met on the tour day, I saw him in the Old Imperial Palace. His Kame T shirt was so impressive that I really remember someone in Kame T shirt was taking many pictures during the Palace tour. It was him! It was a little surprising to me. How coincident!
He had been staying in Kyoto for a few days before we met, so he wanted me to take hiim to Uji, Fushimi and Arashiyama( if possible). We visited Byodoin temple. If you wonder what it is like, please look at the back side of 10 yen coin. This is it!
After visiting Byodoin temple, we went to Taiho-an tea house. Here, you can have a tea-ceremony experience with 500 yen, though it costs 2500 yen in the center of the city.

This tea house is run by the munincipal office, so we can have a class in a low price. However, the tea ceremony itself is authentic. A woman serves tea for us in front of us. Before having tea, we are served a sweet cake. Cakes served in the ceremony vary seasonally.

She said that the tea ceremony of the head quater of the school is held in a manner of authentic style. That means they don't have any air conditioning in the real tea ceremony, because in the old time, of course, we didn't have such an appliance. So the people in those days made all kinds of efforts for the guests to make them feel cooler. Visual factors, like a hanging scroll, a flower vase, flowers and the cake itself,are effective. When we see these designs, they show us its coolness.

They put a tea cup in front of a guest. At this time the front of the tea cup is set toward the guest.
But the guest lift the tea cup and turn a little around on the palm so that she can avoid drinking tea from the front in order not to stain there.

We talked with the tea teacher for a while, it was a very nice time. Of course, the place we had tea ceremony was airconditioned! We are people living in the mordern time. I took many pictures with his camera for his memory, which means I didn't take any pictures except one there.......
Then we went to Fushimi Sake museum. and headed for Arashiyama.

We visited Tenryuji temple and enjoyed walking along the bamboo forest. The last leg of our tour was Jojakkoin. Then, the time was up!

We went back to Kyoto Station. On the way back to the statiaon, I asked him what was the most impressive place of the tour. He said it was very difficult to pick out one. At last, he chose Uji as the best place.

Tourist : a man from Spain

Tour : Byodoin temple, Taiho an tea house, Gekkeikan sake museum, Tenryuji temple, Bamboo forest, Jojakkoin


a Typical course of Kyoto tour

As they wanted me to make a tour plan, I took a typical course for a tourist who came here for the first time. I picked out some fomous places among MUST-SEEs.

The first leg of our tour was Sanjusangendo temple. This temple was named after the number of the spaces between the pillars of the main hall. Sanjusan is 33. This hall has 33 spaces between the pillars. In the hall, there are a thousand images of Buddha. It is said that you can find a face you are familiar with, because each of the faces is different.

The second place we visited was Kiyomizu temple, the most famous temple in Kyoto. The hall has 13 meter high balcony which was made without using a nail. As it is very high, when we make a big decision, we say "I will leap off Kiyomizu stage"

After visiting Kiyomizu temple, we enjoy walking along the street called Sanneizaka and Nineizaka to Yasaka shrine. From Gion, we took a bus to Shijo Kawaramachi and went Nishiki Food Market.

Then we had Okonomiyaki Lunchi near the market.

We headed for the historic place, Nijo castle. The most famous thing in Nijo castle is its floor called Nightingale floor. Besides the floor, you can enjoy many other things like art and design of the room. In addition, you can take a glimpse of a part of Japanese history.

We went to Kinkakuji temple and Ryoanji rock garden.

There I explain the main idea of Zen, and about the rock garden.
Kyoto has a lot to see, so just one day is not enough. However, if given just one day, this is one of the courses you can be recommended.

Tourist : a couple from UK

Tour : Sanjusangendo hall, Kiyomizu temple, Nineizaka Sanneizaka, Yasaka shrine, Nishiki food market, Nijo castle, Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillion), Ryoanji rock garden