Category Archives: Temples and shrines

Experience traditional culture with Japan tent

I’m finally graduating with an MBA from Doshisha University in two weeks from now. As a great way to end my life as a student, I participated in JAPAN TENT. In this program, 300 foreign exchange and research students from 78 different countries around the world are gathering together in Ishikawa Prefecture for a one-week homestay. I was offered a chance to live with two local families in the  remarkable beautiful and culturally rich Ishikawa.

The first three days I stayed at Shun’s house and explored the Noto peninsula, which has excellent seafood and interesting history from the Jomon period. I woke up every morning to the smell of freshly brewed coffee from Shuns own Cafe Urara. The most memorable experience was carrying around a Kiriko or a giant festival lantern  at the Noto Kiriko Festival.

The last three days I stayed with the Kobori family in their huge Japanese house in Nonoichi. It was obvious to me that the Kobori’s represents the stereotypical image of a Japanese family: Grandpa works in the rice field and garden, Grandma stays home and cooks, Father works at a manufacturing company, Mother stays home with the baby and the rest of the kids goes to school. The Kobori family gave me a very warm welcome and showed the Japanese hospitality. In Nonoichi, I tried making magatama (a kind of power stone) and wagashi (Japanese sweets). The last day of the homestay we visited Kenrokuen, a landscape garden said to be one of the three great gardens of Japan.

I will never forget my time in Ishikawa learning of Japans traditional culture. At the last day, I got a notice that I was one of the 10% selected to become ambassadors for the Japan Tent program. Japan Tent is free of charge and all expenses are covered by sponsoring partners and volunteers. I warmly recommend You to apply for the program in 2017 because this is a new way to get introduced to traditional Japanese culture.

Made it to the newspaper

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京都の同支社大学に在学中、石川県のJapan Tentプログラムでの体験は学生生活の中で一番よい思い出になりました。このプログラムは世界中での78の国々の300の留学生を集まりました。綺麗として文化的な石川県にホームステイをしに行きました。石川県で二つの家族に泊まるチャンスがありました。


最後の三日間はホストファミリーである小堀家の大きく、日本的な家に泊まりました。この経験はステレオタイプの日本人家族を表して:お祖父さんは農業、お祖母さんは料理、お父さんは会社で仕事、お母さんは赤ちゃんのお世話、他の3人兄弟は勉強をしていました。 小堀氏は私と初めて会うにもかかわらず、親切で大変あたたかくおもてなししくれてました。 とても素晴らしい家族です。 観光で訪れた野々市市では、勾玉や和菓子を作ったりしました。最後に兼六園を訪れ、その美しさに大変感動しました。

石川県の伝統的な文化を学んだ事は忘れられない特別な良い体験となりました。 帰りの日は、全体の10%からJapan Tentの大使に選ばれました。スポンサーやボランティアの御かげでJapan Tentは無料になっています。心から日本に住んでいる留学生をJapan Tent 2017を進めます。

Top eight places to visit in Kyoto

Here is my list of top eight places to visit in Kyoto. There are all special places that I’m feeling a connection to. From sipping matcha tea to exploring temples and finding hidden waterfalls; Please enjoy this guide.


Kyoto from the sky – Awa Drone

Ever heard of drones? A few weeks ago I met a few friends living in Tokushima in Shikoku. They are very interested in drones and even have a business called Awa Drone!

We spend a whole day touring Kyoto, starting with the ritual throwing of a coin at the first shrine visit of the year(Hatsumoude). We spend the rest of the day exploring Arashiyama and especially the area around Katsuragawa. There I gathered goshuin and we took amazing aerial footage for a video project called “Edge of Kyoto”. The video showing the slow river boat turned out better than expected and the video is a MUST see!

ドローンって聞いたことありますか?数週間前には、四国の徳島に住んでいる友達と会いました。彼らたちはすごくドローンに興味があり、Awa Droneというビジネスを設立しました

一日中に京都を観光し、初詣のために、神社でコインを投げました。その残りの間は御朱印巡りをして、嵐山の辺に行って、特に桂川の方に探りました。そこで、”Edge of Kyoto”というビデオプロジェクトをドローンで空からの撮影しました。そのビデオは桂川と屋形船を現して、思ってたよりいい感じで撮りました。是非ご覧ください!

Beauty of Shirakawago

Do the names Gifu and Kanazawa ring any bells? Or maybe they are a faint memory hidden in the recesses of your mind?  In this blog post I will shed some light on these two culturally rich prefectures in Japan.

Not long ago, I rented a car in Kyoto and explored the area northeast of Kansai.

The first stop was Gujo Hachiman, a small mountain village that takes pride in its water and is famous for its dance festival every summer, the Gujo Odori. It’s said that the dance goes on all night on each of the four consecutive Obon days in mid August. Another funny fact is that Gujo is the place where Japan’s famous food replicas were invented, and are still produced there today.

As the sun began to set, we checked in at the cozy Sakura guest house in Takayama. Before going to sleep, we had a Nightcap at the Red Hill Bar in a hidden place a bit far from the central area! The Morning Market was also decent, but filled with strange and often unnecessary things. The highlight of that excursion was that I was able to finally try goma(sesame seed) flavored ice cream! It was overpriced but delicious.

The second stop was our main destination, the amazing Shirakawago village in Gifu Prefecture. It reminded me of Sweden in many ways, except for all the Japanese people there. There was a fresh mountain river running through the valley by the village. The local village temple had a fire that was perpetually burning downstairs, and even during the hot summer months! I heard that it was to keep insects away.

We spent the last day in Kanazawa, where we stayed at another guest house. The enthusiastic owner there showed us the true meaning of Japanese Omotenashi. The house is called Akatsukiya and is a cultural heritage site. It also has a beautiful garden that can be viewed from the dining area.

The final destination of the trip was Kanazawa’s Myoryuji  (Ninja) temple! In reality, it has nothing to do with Ninjas, but the temple was built by the Maeda lords of feudal Japan and has many deceptive defenses. There were hidden rooms and traps, and scaled a total of seven stories! We first spoke to a rude Japanese woman who gave us misleading information about parking spaces. However, the experience was saved when a guide from the temple came to the rescue!





日没が近づいたとき夕日をせに、私たちは高山にある居心地のいい桜ゲストハウスにチェックいんしました。夕食を食べ、就寝前に中心部から少し離れていて、見つけにくい場所にあるRed Hillというバーで寝酒を飲みました。そしてまたゲストハウスに戻り旅の第一日目を終えました。高山市の朝市はなじみのないものや、観光で来ている私たちには不要なものが売ってあったため、そこでは何も買いませんでした。しかし、その朝、私はついに!高くて美味しい胡麻アイスクリームを食べることができました。





Gathering your red ink seals – goshuincho

Do you remember the joy of collecting Pokemon cards in your childhood? Well today I’m going to talk about something that even adults can collect without embarrassment!

Recently, I discovered a Japanese tradition of collecting red ink seals and beautiful handwritten calligraphy from Japan’s Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines. You collect the vermillion colored stamp of the official seal from the temples and shrines in a book called the goshuincho (御朱印帳), as well as a personally drawn piece of  calligraphy. Each inscription has two parts: the stamp of the seal and the calligraphy of the temple’s/shrine’s name and the date.

Here’s how you can join in on the fun! You can first buy the book at one of the larger temples (for about ¥800-1500). I bought mine at the Itsukushima Jinja shrine in Miyajima in Japan.

So once you have purchased the book (and after you are done touring/praying at the temple/shrine), you can head over to the place with a sign that says 御朱印. This is always written in Japanese, so make sure to write it down!!! The priest will open your book to the next free page and stamp it with the temple’s/shrine’s seal. Then using a brush and some black ink, the priest will calligraph the date, along with the temple’s/shrine’s name. And after paying 300 yen, your book is returned infused with another unforgettable memory of Japan.

I have been collecting goshuin for about two months now, and I still get fascinated every time by the uniqueness of each seal and calligraphy.  I’ve mostly been around Kyoto, as I live here and there’s no shortage of temples here. So the next time you visit a temple or shrine in Japan , why don’t you give goshuin a try?

Gotta Catch ‘Em All!


最近、私は日本の習わしでもある、仏教寺院や神社を巡り美しい手書きの書道と朱印を集めることを発見しました。御朱印帳と呼ばれる本に寺院や神社の朱色の公印、ならびに個々人により描かれる書道を集めます。各御朱印は1、朱色のスタンプ 2、寺/神社の名前・日付の2つのパートからなります。




御朱印 ぜーーーーんぶゲットだぜ