Friday, December 31, 2010

Events around Nara Park (Jan. 2011)

Enjoy New Year and New Year Events in Nara!

Around Nara Park:

Jan.1 (sat) Hatsumode

The first visit to a shrine/temple in a year is called Hatsumode. Hatusmode is usually done from Jan. 1 to 7. Visit to a famous shrine/temple is very crowded especially from Jan.1 to Jan. 3.

@ Kasuga Grand Shrine

0:00 ~ Gates open with a sound of a drum.

@ Todaiji Temple

0:00 ~ 8:00 The Great Buddha Hall is free of admission. The window on the Great Buddha Hall, through which the Buddha’s face appears, opens.

0:00 ~ Sutra chanting at the February Hall. About 135 stone lanterns are lit to light the way from the Great Buddha Hall to the February Hall.

Jan. 2 (sun) Kofukuji Temple’s monks’ visit to Kasuga Grand Shrine

10:00 ~ Monks at Kofukuji Temple make a New Year’s visit to Kasuga Grand Shrine. Sutras are chanted at the Middle Gate of Kasuga Grand Shrine and at Wakamiya Shrine as an offertory to deities. Monks’ colorful robes are eye-catching.

Jan. 3 (mon) Kagura-hajime-siki in Kasuga Grand Shrine

11:00 ~ Kagura is Shinto’s offertory music and dances. At Kagura-hajime-siki, the first Kagura of a year is offered to deities to pray for a peace of a nation and to wish for a safe offertory of Kagura to deities throughout the year.

Jan. 7 (fri) Syusyo-e in Todaiji Temple

13:00 ~ 14:40 @ the Great Buddha Hall

Syusyo-e is a Buddhist ritual held in the New Year season to pray for a peace and wellness of that year.

Jan. 10 (mon) Ebisu Festival in Kasuga Grand Shrine

9:00 ~ 15:00 @ Sarake Shrine near Wakamiya Shrine

Ebisu Festival on Jan 10 is especially popular in Kansai area. Ebisu is a deity for commerce. On this day, people go to an Ebisu Shrine to get lucky bamboo branches.

Jan. 10 (mon) Bugaku-hajime-siki in Kasuga Grand Shrine

13:00 ~ @ the Garden of Apple

Bugaku is traditional Japanese court music and dances. At Bugaku-hajime-siki, the first Bugaku of a year is offered to deities to wish for a safe offertory of Bugaku to deities throughout the year.

Jan. 10 (mon) Coming of Age Day

Coming of Age Day is a national holiday to welcome youth turning into 20 years old as an adult member of a community. On this day, most municipal governments hold a ceremony, and you’ll see many 20-year-olds dressed up in Kimono to attend the ceremony.

Jan. 15 (sat) New Year Tea Ceremony with XL Size Tea-Cup in Saidaiji Temple

10:00 ~ 15:00 Enjoy tea with your neighbor ... more precisely, with the help of your neighbor. The tea cup used in this tea ceremony is 30cm in diameter! You share the drink with your neighbor too. Drink Fee: 1000yen per person.

Jan. 22 (sat) Mountain-burning event at Mt. Wakakusa

18:00 Fireworks marking the beginning of the event

18:15 Fire up the mountain

A picturesque event of Nara - see the burning red Mt. Wakakusa lighting up under fireworks.

Jan. 23 (sun) Tonndo in Kasuga Grand Shrine

9:00 ~ 15:00 @ Tobihino Field (an open field near the main approach of Kasuga Grand Shrine)

Tonndo concludes New Year’s events. In Tondo, New Year ornaments and old lucky charms, brought to a shrine/temple by visitors during New Year season, are burned up.

Jan. 23 (sun) Cancer Prevention – Bamboo Sake Festival in Daianji Temple

8:00 ~16:00 Daianji Temple is known for cancer prevention. Sasa-zake (Bamboo Sake) offered at this temple is believed to prevent and/or cure people from Cancer. Sake is poured from a bamboo cylinder and drank with a bamboo cup. Sasa-zake 500yen.

Nishinokyo and Horyuji Area:

Jan. 1 (sat) Syusho-e

Syusyo-e is a Buddhist ritual held in the New Year season to pray for a peace and wellness of that year.

Toshodaiji Temple

0:00 ~ (also on Jan.3, 18:00 ~)

@Yakushiji Temple

0:00 ~

(2:00 ~ Beginning of YearSsermon; 9:00 ~ till Jan. 3 New Year Sutra Copying Session; 13:30 ~ till Jan.3 New Year’s Sermon)

Jan. 1 (sat) ~ Jan. 3 (mon) Worship of a Buddha’s Relic in Horyuji Temple

13:00 ~ @ Shari-den Hall (near the Hall of Dream)

In this ritual one very legendary relic is worshiped. Prince Shotoku, the father of Japanese Buddhism, has many legends. When he was 2, he said a prayer and a Buddha’s relic appeared on his palm. On these days, you can see this legendary relic. Also hidden pictures depicting Prince Shotoku’s life are open to the public.

Jan. 8 (sat) Reading of the Great Prajna Sutra in Yakushiji Temple

11:00 ~ Reading of the Great Prajna Sutra is held every month on 8th day. The main object of worship in Yakushiji Temple is Yakushi (Medicine) Buddha. 8th day is a day for Yakushi Buddha in Yakushiji Temple.

Jan. 15 (sat) Reading of the Great Prajna Sutra in Toshodaiji Temple

The Great Prajna Sutra consists of 600 volumes. All 600 volumes will be read.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Events around Nara Park (Dec. 2010)

Here is a short list of events around Nara Park. Enjoy December in Nara!

Around Nara Park:

Dec. 5 (sun) Nara Marathon 2010

8:30-15:00 @Nara-city

During marathon hours some bus lines, including the ones that goes to Todaiji Temple, may be cancelled or change their routes. Keep in mind about traffic irregularities, if you are coming on this day.

Dec. 14 (tue) Butsumyo-e in Todaiji Temple

8:30-12:00 @ Nigatsudo Hall

Monks recite the names of Buddhist deities to repent all sins of that year. Cannot see the ritual itself, but can listen to the chanting.

Dec. 15 (wed) – Dec. 18 (sat) Kasuga Wakamiya Onmatsuri

@Kasuga Grand Shrine and other places

This is a festival held since 1136. The deity of Wakamiya shirne makes his once a year trip to his vacation house near the city centre. Foods and dances are offered to the deity. On Dec. 17, there is a very good chance to see various Japanese traditional performing arts.

Dec. 16 (thu) Special viewing of 3 National Treasure Statues in Todaiji Temple

1) 10:00-16:00 @Kaisando Hall, Portrait Statue of Roben, free

On this day a commemoration ceremony for Roben, the first Chief Abbot of Todaiji Temple, is held. After the ceremony a statue of Roben is out for the public viewing. National Treasure. Usually not open to the public.

2) 8:00-16:30 @Sangatsudo Hall, Shukongo-jin Statue, 500yen

Shukongo-jin is a deva protecting Buddhism. National Treasure. Usually not open to the public.

3)11:00-16:00 @Shunjo-do, Portrait Statue of Chogen, 500yen

Chogen is a monk who made a great contribution to Todaiji Temple. National Treasure. Usually not open to the public.

Dec. 31 (fri) Ooharaeshiki in Kasuga Grand Shrine

15:00~ @ Haraedo Shrine near the second torii gate

A purification ceremony. Purifies body and soul to welcome a new year in a fresh state.

Dec. 31 (fri) Joyanokane

Joyanokane is the bell that rings out the old year. The bells are struck on the New Year’s Eve at many temples throughout the country.

24:00~ @Todaiji Temple

Fisrt 800 people on a line can ring a bell. A numbered ticket is handed out near the belfry from around 23:00. Stay in the line, until you ring the bell. If you leave the line, you cannot strike the bell even if you have a ticket.

The bell of Todaiji Temple weights 26tons. You ring out the bell with a group of 8 people!

23:30~ @Kofukuji Temple

Fisrt 200 people can ring a bell. A numbered ticket is handed out from 23:00.

Other area:

Dec. 8 (wed) Ominugui in Horyuji Temple

10:00~ @ Golden Hall, Lecture Hall and the Hall of Dream

Cleaning of Buddhist statues before a new year

Dec 15 (wed) Ominugui in Toshodaiji Temple

9:00~ @ Golden Hall

Cleaning of Buddhist statues before a new year

Dec. 29 (wed) Ominugui in Yakushiji Temple

13:00~ @ Golden Hall and other halls

Cleaning of Buddhist statues before a new year

In the morning mochi (sticky rice cake) for a new year is made. Hot water used to pound mochi is reused to clean statues.

Dec. 31 (fri) All-night-long Sutra Copying in Yakushiji Temple

20:00~ @Sutra Copying Hall, 2000yen~

A peaceful way to end/start a year

Dec. 31 (fri) Joyanokane

Joyanokane is the bell that rings out the old year. The bells are struck on the New Year’s Eve at many temples throughout the country.

23:45~ @Saidaiji Temple

Everyone who wishes to ring a bell can do so.

23:30~ @Toshodaiji Temple

Fisrt 108 people can ring a bell. A numbered ticket is handed out at the entrance from 23:00.

23:30~ @Yakushiji Temple

Everyone who wishes to ring a bell can do so. A numbered ticket is handed out at Higashisobo (east monk’s dormitory) from 23:00. You ring a bell with a group of 5 people. Early strikers may receive mochi, sticky rice cakes.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Crepe myrtle

What kinds of flowers do you think when hearing the word of mid summer?
Morning glory and sunflower are very popular in Japan.

The blossoms of this photo are crepe myrtle.
They are at their best in the garden of New Public Hall near Todaiji Temple.
This tree is called "sarusuberi" in Japanese.
It means that even monkey("saru" ) may slip from ("suberu") the tree due to its slippery surface of the trunk.
You can enjoy white or light purple blossoms as well as vivid pink ones for about 100 days.

They look very cute.
No wonder the language of flowers is eloquence and amiability!


Monday, August 9, 2010

the Bon fire

Kyoto's Gion festival marks the start of summer (especially for people in Kyoto). With Bon fire, people feel the end of summer is approaching.

During Bon (usually in mid Aug.), ancestors have a summer visit to this world, and with Bon fire we send off our ancestors to the other world.

In Nara, this Bon fire is lit on Aug. 15 at Mt. Takamado. 108 fire beds are lined in the shape of "大(dai)" - a Kanji character that symbolizes "universe." You can observe this Bon fire from mostly anywhere in Nara Park.

Date: Aug. 15
20:00~ light up at Mt. Takamado
20:00~ concert by Nara city firefighters musical band at Tobihino in Nara Park

Also on this day!
19:00~22:00 about 2500 lanterns light up Great Buddha Hall at Todaiji Temple
* free admission to Great Buddha Hall during light up

Also on Aug. 15&14!
19:00~21:30 more than 2000 lanterns light up the precinct of Kasuga Grand Shire

Before going to these traditions, get to know the city and roads while the sun is up -by joining morning Nara Walk tours!


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Toilet for samurai?!

This is a sign found at a public lavatory in Kyoto indicating men's room.

As you can see the man in the picture is dressed in Kimono...looking a bit like Samurai... Well, no worry, you don't need to be a samurai to use a public lavatory in Kyoto, but in Nara there is an interesting rule to use a public lavatory. Which is you need to be a human! Public lavatories around Nara Park have a gate to prevent deer coming inside and eat toilet papers.

When you have a chance to use one in Nara, please remember to close the gate, or you might be sharing your very private time with deer...


P.S. For your interest, the public lavatory with samurai sign is located near Sanjusangendo Temple.

Friday, May 21, 2010

How to guard the Heijo Palace

Heijo Palace was the palace existed 1300 years ago in Nara. It was a place where Royal family lived and also where the government offices were. And sure there were guards to protect the palace.

Now these guards are back in Heijo Palace Site wearing traditional guard costumes. Everyday in the morning and at the end of the day, guards open and close the main gate into the palace, Suzaku Gate.

I had a chance to video their performance to close the gate. You can hear the voice explaining the performance in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean in the video. Enjoy the video, or better yet come to Nara to enjoy live show. You can watch this performance everyday till Nov 7, 2010 in Heijo Palace Site in Nara.


Friday, April 23, 2010

The 1300th year

This year marks the 1300th year of Nara becoming the capital of Japan. Nara is celebrating this occasion. The main venue, Heijo Palace Site, opens tomorrow on April 24 and will be opened till Nov 7, 2010. Here is a little review of what you can experience at the site.

・Reconstructed palace buildings - Suzaku Gate, Imperial Audience Hall, East Palace Garden
*East Palace Garden is said to be the origin of Japanese Garden.

・Reconstructed Japanese diplomatic ship.
*Can broad the ship.

TO DO:*Most attractions are free for foreigners with a presentation of passports.
・Dress in Tnnpyo-style clothing - dresses Japanese wore before Kimono.

・Get a guide and walk around - there will be English speaking volunteer guides (limited in number). Also self-guiding system using iPod (for rent) is organized to walk on your own. Or better book a Nara Walk guide!
*Heijo Palace Site is registered as a World Heritage Site, but the heritage is under the ground. A guide is recommended to understand and appreciate the place. The site is about 130ha. Be ready to walk.
*self-guiding system using iPod is available in English, French, Chinese and Korean.

・East Nara cuisine - there will be food courts and souvenir shops selling Nara's tastes.

・Free shuttle buses running between JR Nara Station/ Kintetsu Yamato Saidaiji Station and the Heijo Palace Site.
・The palace site is about 15min walk form Kintetsu Yamato Saidaiji Station (second stop form Kintetsu Nara Station).


Some of Nara Walk member are working as a staff at the information centre of the Heijo Palace Site. Hope we have a chance to see you at the palace site!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Buddha!

April 8th is the birthday of Siddhartha Gautama. Commonly known as the Buddha, he is the founder of Buddhism. Nara's Todaiji Temple, Kofukuji Temple and many more temples across Japan will be holding a ceremony to celebrate his birthday. In some temples you can take a part in the celebration by pouring sweet tea over a baby Buddha statue. (Why people are pouring sweet tea? - Join our tour and ask our guide!)

Todaiji Temple (The Great Buddha Hall)
・Ceremony: 8:00~ 9:00
・Pouring sweet tea: 8:00 ~ 15:00  *Times are approx. only.

Kofukuji Temple (Nanendo Hall)
・Sweet tea is served to visitors.

Todaiji Temple and Kofukuji Temple are part of our daily tour destinations.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Wisdom Of Old And New From China

Expo 2010 Shanghai starts on May 1. The theme is "Better City, Better Life." While you are to see the latest developments in Shanghai, in Nara you can learn about the wisdom brought from China to Japan long time ago. Nara National Museum is holding an exhibition. The title is "Imperial Envoys to Tang China: Early Japanese Encounters with Continental Culture".

About 1300 years ago, Japan sent first imperial envoys to Tang and brought back advanced knowledge and culture to Japan. In this exhibition, you will be able to see cultural connection between China and Japan, and how Japan absorbed and developed continental culture into its own with 261 exhibits (42 National Treasures).

Duration: 2010. 4. 3 ~ 2010. 6. 20
closed on Mondays (except for May 3)
Hours: 9:30 ~ 17:00 (Fridays ~19:00 from April 30)
Admission Fee: Adults 1400yen, High School/University Students 1000yen, Elementary/Junior High School Students 500yen

*22nd of every Month is a married couple day. A married couple visiting the museum on this day get half price off from their admission fee.
*Advanced tickets are 200yen off from the regular admission fee. Sold at major Kintetsu and JR train stations.

* * * * *
More Info~: If you enjoy this exhibition, you might as well enjoy Toshodaiji Temple and Yakushiji Temple in Nara. These two temples will show you more of the historical connection between Tang China and Japan of 1300 years ago. (We have a tour going to these two temples!:Half-day Nishinokyo Tour.)


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Buddha is enjoying cheery blossoms.

Great Buddha in Todaiji Temple is now enjoying cherry blossoms. There are cherry trees planted around the lawn in front of the Great Buddha Hall. Visit Nara in spring and enjoy the picturesque view of the Great Buddha Hall over blooming cherry trees.

The picture above is the Middle Gate in front of the Great Buddha Hall. You can see a little bit of the bloom from outside of the gate, too.


Cherry blossom is blooming!

This is a picture of a shrine known for its 100 years old cherry tree. During a cherry blossom season, we try to make a small detour during our Daily Standard Nara Park and Daily Morning Todaiji tour to incorporate a seasonal touch to our tours. The shrine in the picture is one of our favourite spots for cherry blossom viewing - you'll know where it is during our tour!

(The picture is taken on March 27)


Friday, March 19, 2010

How Does JR Nara Station Look Like Now?

Pictures from JR Nara Station. As the station is under renovation, some of the pictures may be outdated in the near future.
(Click the pictures to enlarge.)

New ticket gates. This is the only ticket gates location now. If you need to go to a washroom, go to the one inside the station. There is a public washroom outside the station too, but is not as nice as the one inside.

On your right side is ticket machines and a ticket office.

On your left side you can find TIC (one with red sign, blue one is a office for a local bus company).

Walk straight (but remember to check our tours first!) to go to stairs leading to East Gate.
Head to East Gate for sightseeing spots such as Todaiji Temple and Nara Park. Bus stops to these sightseeing spots are also on East Gate side.

At the foot of the stairs, lockers are located. The Japanese sign ”コインロッカー” means lockers.

By the way, if reading signs and explanations or figuring out where abouts sounds tiresome, just remember there is a walking tour you can join. Starting from JR Nara station or picking you up at your requested place, you can have a relaxing enjoyable day with a Nara Walk guide!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

JR Nara Station: New Ticket Gates Location

JR Nara Station opened its new ticket gates on March 13. There used to be central ticket gates and western ticket gates, but now there is only one location by the second floor.

See the Nara Station map below. (Click to enlarge. Lockers, WC, TIC etc. also indicated.)

As ticket gates moved, we also moved our meeting point for our daily tours - Daily Nara Park Standard Tour & Daily Morning Todaiji. As indicated in the map above, we will be waiting for you near TIC and/or JR ticket office. (We are still trying to figure out where would be a best meeting place near new ticket gates. We might also be by East Gate. )

TIC is on the same floor as the ticket gates. Look for red sign, you will find TIC. Look for a white flag, you will find us!


Be A World Champion in Nara!!

We've seen the great games of the Olympics and the Paralympics, and now it's your turn to be a gold medalist. How? Just come to Nara, and throw a deer cracker!

On March 20, 18th annual Deer Cracker Throwing Contest will be held in Wakakusa-yama Hill, Nara. As this is the unique event held only in Nara, the winner of this contest is a world champion! The winner will be awarded with a special prize - a very unique trophy - too special some of you might not like to have it! (Hint: it's something related to deer.) Come and find it out what it is.

Date: March 20, 2010
*held next day if weather is bad

Entry for the contest:
Registration starts from 9:30~
*only first 1000 people can enter
The game begins 10:00, ends 15:00

Fee: 300yen

Place: Wakakusa-yama Hill

Wakakusayama is a hill between Todaiji Temple and Kasuga Grand Shrine. We will pass by the contest if you take our Standard Nara Park Tour.

A smaller Deer Cracker Throwing event will be held on March 21 & 22, too. Same place, from 13:00~, for first 500 people who registered, entry fee 300 yen & 150 yen to enter Wakakusayama Hill.

The "world" record is 59.20m by a 16 years old boy from Hiroshima. Can you beat him?


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pied Piper in Nara ?

A staff member of Nara Deer Protection is playing Beethoven's Symphony No.6 "Pastorale" on horn at a gently rolling field in Kasuga Grand Shrine. Do Nara deer love Beethoven's symphony? No, the deer are being drawn by something else.

During the winter season, there is no grass and less natural food. He is blowing a horn to let the deer know that breakfast is ready. More than one hundred deer are running to the horn from every direction to get acorns.

No more acorns, so the deer start going home.

This "Gathering of the Deer" is a very popular tourist attraction in winter.
Don't miss this magnificent sight of gathering of the deer when you visit Nara next winter!


Friday, March 5, 2010

Japanese Apricot blossoms in Nara Park

Ume(Japanese apricot) are still in full bloom in the Nara Park. Or it is passing the best time to view Ume blossoms.

You can enjoy beautiful Ume blossoms around here.

As Ume are the first trees of the year to bloom, they are considered as the first sign of the end of winter. Also Ume are loved as one of three lucky trees along with pine trees and bamboo trees.

After Ume blossoms are over, soon news people will start reporting on the cherry blossom front.


cUte InK BrUsh ArT

Ink and Brush - Nara is known for making high quality sumi ink and brushes. When I think of sumi ink or brushes, I usually think of serious calligraphy or sumi-e paintings. But there are cute ones too...

In a small gallery located within a Japanese traditional snack shop Zeitaku Mame Honpo(ぜいたく豆本舗), an exhibition is held. What you can find are arts and crafts of cozy taste calligraphy and cute paintings with traditional Japanese motifs.

For example, a cat with both hands up mean "Come fortune, Come customers."
The calligraphy above them very well says "Welcome" (yokoso in Japanese)!

You can also find hand inscribed stamps. All the exhibits are for sale. Enjoy art, find out about Japanese tradition or reward yourself with unique souvenir.

This particular exhibition is only for three days. From March 5, 2010 ~ March 7, 2010 (11:00am~5:00pm). Held by Muujyu(夢有樹 web site in Jpn only).

Zeitaku Mame Honpo, where the gallery is, is located on the Sanjo Street across a burger shop, Mos Burger. This gallery hosts a crafts exhibition through out the year. The duration is usually only a few days long. If you like crafts, this could be the place to meet the local artists.

Nara Walk welcomes customers~


Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Hina Doll Festival was held on March 3rd.

On March 3rd, families with daughters celebrate the Hina Doll Festival praying their good health and happiness. Parents display a set of Hina dolls dressed in gorgeous traditional court costumes on a tiered stand. The dolls represent Emperor, Empress, court ladies, two ministers and court musicians.

These Emperor and Empress are about 130 years old.

Look at her beautiful crown and elaborately embroidered kimono dresses.

Even they have a court lady who takes care of their pet, a Chinese dog.

As soon as the Hina Doll Festival is over, parents stow the set of dolls away in a closet. Because there is a superstition that if the parents delay to do so, the chances of their daughters’ marriage also will be delayed.

I had a beautiful set of Hina dolls which my parents bought for me when I was born. But during the move, my Empress was accidentally broken. I thought they finished their rolls and took them to a temple. After a memorial service, they burnt my dolls and buried dolls’ ashes beneath a stone monument. Hina dolls are so special that we don’t treat them as things.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Season 2010

The new season for Nara Walk will begin soon! From March 1st, we are back in JR Nara Station to welcome you with our daily walking tours.

What's New for 2010?
1.More Daily Walking Tours You Can Join Without Reservation!

If you have limited time in Nara and want to find out about Nara, try our new tour "Daily Morning Todaiji".

Daily Morning Todaiji is a daily tour you can join without reservation from March 1st through December 20. Fee is 1,500yen per person. Duration is about 2hours.

For details check our website at NARAWALK (

2.Special Tour to celebrate the 1300th anniversary of Nara becoming the first capital in Japan.

Did you know that the first capital of Japan was set in Nara? This year Nara is celebrating the 1300th anniversary of becoming the capital.

To celebrate this occasion, we are planning a special tour in the area near Nara Palace Site. We are still working on the details, imagining the smiles of our future customers.

The day is getting longer and longer. Plums started to bloom. It's getting nicer and nicer to take a walking tour.


Monday, February 22, 2010

The hell might exist under the sacred ground??

There is a very strange story in Noh Play. The story is titled “The mirror of a field guard – Nomori no Kagami”. A travelling priest encountered an elderly field guard. At night the field guard transformed to a fierce deity with a magic mirror.The mirror reflected everything and showed the traveling priest from the heaven to the hell. When the fierce deity stamped his feet, the ground was split in two. Inside the ground, the path down to the hell appeared. The deity climbed down the path to the hell and disappeared.

Where do you think the story is set? It is set somewhere at Tobihino, along the approach between the first and second Torii gates in Kasuga Grand Shrine. Tobihino is a gently rolling grass land where usually deer are roaming and eating grass. But be careful if you find a strange path in Tobihino! It might be the path leading you to the hell.

We are happy to tell you about Noh Play!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ladies Only

"Ladies Only," the sign says. Where do you think you can find this? The answer is on a train. Trains which run in urban area usually have women-only cars during the rush hour of weekdays. (For some route it's all day except for weekends and holidays.) The rush hours are usually till 9:00 in the morning and 17:00~21:00 in the evening. You can find specific hours for each train company on their sign.

As there are many signs on a platform and a train, it is easy to miss the signs for women-only cars. But if you happen to ride one, you'll notice for sure.

Unlike ladies-only car, our tour welcome both men and women~


Sunday, January 24, 2010

She may be thinking her baby's name・・・・・

She will be a young mother this spring.

After birth, mothers and babies are kept in the Deer Pen in Kasuga Grand Shrine for a while. New-born babies make a debut in the Nara Park late spring or early summer. How cute they are! Come and see them!


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Garden of Painting Japanese Art of the 00s

What do you make of this picture? Is this a drawing of a manga, Japanese animation, character? Or a piece of art?

To find out go to the National Museum of Art in Osaka. The museum is now holding its fifth anniversary exhibition titled "GARDEN OF PAINTING Japanese Art of the 00s"

In the exhibition you will be able to see some 200 recent and new works done by 28 Japanese artists including Atsuchi Tomoko, Goto Yasuka, Kobayashi Takanobu, Kusama Yayoi, Nara Yoshimoto, O JUN and Sakamoto Natsuko.

As those names indicate the exhibition focuses on new figurative paintings by younger generation of Japanese artists.

Whether you like modern art or are interested in Japanese pop culture, this exhibition has something to catch your eye and imagination.

Duration: ~ 2010.4.4
closed on Mondays (except for March 22) and March 23
Hours: 10:00–17:00, Fridays until 19:00
admission until 30 minutes before closing
Admission Fee: Adults 1000yen, University students 400yen

*Children (up to High school students), under 18, people with disability with one attendant are Free (need to prove their age or status)
**advance tickets sold at major train stations of Kintetsu line and other are 200-100yen cheaper.

By the way, while the National Museum of Art, Osaka is celebrating its fifth anniversary year, Nara is also celebrating its 13ooth anniversary year...1300th year of what? Can you guess? You can find it out during our tour.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kimono! Kimono! Kimono!

Even though Kimono, the traditional dress of Japan, is becoming less popular, there is a day when many young women wear Kimono all over Japan.
It is Coming of Age Day! This day is a national holiday, the second Monday of January. Local governments hold large-scale ceremonies for all the young men and women who have turned 20 in the pervious year. Many women wear beautiful Furisode, which is a formal kimono with long sleeves, while majority of men are dressed in suits.
At the age of twenty, the young men and women get the right to vote, smoke and drink. Also they obtain the freedom to marry without their parents’ permission.

At a station
At Kasuga Grand Shrine


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tigers Everywhere

As this year is the year of a tiger, even Starbucks coffee shop is selling a mug with a decoration of a tiger, a stuffed tiger and packed coffee beens with a picture of a tiger.
This custom of twelve zodiac animal signs indicating years was introduced to Japan from China. The twelve animals are; mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep ,monkey, rooster, dog ,and wild boar. It is said that each animal sign determines the character and destiny of a person born in the year.

People who were born in the year of a tiger are supposed to have such personalities; thoughtful, passionate, generous, heroic, challengeable, vigorous, and stimulating, but unpredictable, competitive and short-tempered. Do you know anybody who was born in the year of a tiger? The years of a tiger are following,
2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938, 1926, 1914 ・・・・・

In Japanese there is an interesting expression - “Tora( a tiger) ni naru- become a tiger”. Can you guess what it means? When you get dead drunk, people say you become a tiger. This time of the year, there are a lot of New Year’s parties producing another tigers!

Friday, January 1, 2010


A happy new year to everyone! In Japan, we exchange greeting cards with friends, relatives and colleagues on new year's day. The pictures above are greeting cards from my family. These cards are usually decorated with the zodiac animal of the year. This year it is a tiger!

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