Home Blog Page 5

5 Nagashi Somen Spots in Kansai. Enjoy the “Only in Summer” Lunch Style!


Which Japanese noodle recipes do you like the best? Ramen, soba or udon?

How about somen noodle? Maybe the summer Japanese food doesn’t look so exciting, but we highly recommend “Nagashi Somen”! It’s a fun way to eat somen, particularly Japanese style.
The rule of Nagashi Somen is very easy – just grab somen noodles flowing on the water with your chopsticks. Does it sound hard or easy?

This page introduces 5 Nagashi-somen spots in Kansai area. Try the nearest one!

1. Tatsuno, Hyogo pref. (揖保乃糸 資料館 そうめんの里)

540 yen / person in the inner courtyard (usual order style)
430 yen / person outside (self-service style)
Feature: This is a top Japanese somen brand’s museum. Enjoy not only eating, but also learning about the Japanese summer food, somen!
11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the inner courtyard until September 30th
11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. outside until August 31st
Close: Mondays (Tuesday only if the Monday is a national holiday)
Address: 兵庫県たつの市神岡町奥村56番地
Access: 15-minute walk from JR Higashi-Hashisaki station
Contact: 0791-65-9000 (no reservation)
Official HP:

2. Tokura Mountain Path, Hyogo pref. (戸倉峠)

Price: 700 yen / person
Feature: Somen noodles flow in the cold snowmelt from a 1,510m mountain. What a cool lunch time in summer!
Open: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Address: 兵庫県宍粟市波賀町戸倉峠
Access: About one hour along National Route 29 from Yamasaki I.C. (山﨑I.C.)
Contact: 0790-73-0009 (no reservation)
Official HP:

3. Arita, Wakayama pref. (やまめ茶屋 藤滝)

Price: 650 yen / person
Feature: How about enjoying somen noodles surrounded by rich nature in Wakayama? It will provide the best escape from your city life.
Open: 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. every day until September 30th
Address: 和歌山県有田郡広川町上津木875
Access: One-minute drive by car from Hirokawa Minami I.C. (広川南I.C.)
Contact: 0737-67-9515 (no reservation)
Official HP:

4. Nagahama, Shiga pref. (大見いこいの広場)

Price: 500 yen / person
Feature: This is a camping site near Biwako Lake, the biggest lake in Japan. Not only is there nagashi somen, but also BBQ and pizza grill, which you’re sure to enjoy.
Open: until September 30th
Address: 滋賀県長浜市木之本町大見678
Access: 10-minute drive by taxi from JR Kinomoto station.
Contact: 0749-82-2500
Official HP:

5. Sasayama, Hyogo pref. (丹波猪村)

Price: 700 yen / person
Feature: This camping site offers the owner’s unique play equipment and this area’s gourmet food as well.
Open: 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Close: Tuesdays and winter holiday seasons
Address: 兵庫県篠山市後川上1154
Access: Inomura bus station by Hankyu bus via Hankyu Nisseichuo station
Contact: 079-556-2680
Official HP:

Have you already tried Nagashi-somen? We’d really appreciate it if you could share your experience in the comments below!

Isn’t Calligraphy Cool? Gain the Skill at Calligraphy Lessons!


Isn’t learning Japanese calligraphy in Japan very exciting?
Here are 3 calligraphy classes in Osaka and Kobe where you can learn this beautiful art form.
If you are interested in writing kanji in a traditional way, now is the time to try it!

  1. Bokurei Calligraphy School (睦麗書道教室)

Location: Kobe
Lesson: Ink brush and/or pen
Schedule: From 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays
Lesson fee:
6,500 yen / month (ink brush or pen)
7,500 yen / month (both ink brush and pen)
* 3 lessons per month
Trial: 3,000 yen
Notice: No English spoken
Contact: bokurei.syodo@gmail.com
Official HP:

  1. Sei-sho Shohoukai (青霄書法会)

Location: Osaka
Lesson: Ink brush, small ink brush, ballpoint pen


5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Tuesdays
10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesdays
3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Thursdays


10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Tuesdays
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesdays
5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Thursdays
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturdays
10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Sundays

Umeda station:

10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on every Saturday


3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Mondays
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Tuesdays (only small ink brush and ballpoint pen)
18:00 p.m. to 21:00 p.m. on Wednesdays
10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.・1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays
10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sundays (only small ink brush and ballpoint pen)

Lesson fee:
4,970yen / month (2 lessons)
7,130yen / month (4 lessons)
Trial: 3,000 yen
Contact: uehra.0622@gmail.com
Official HP:

  1. Yagyuu Calligraphy School (柳生書道教室)

Location: Osaka
Lesson: Ink brush and/or pen
Schedule: 3:30 p.m. to 6:50 p.m. on Tuesdays, 5:50 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesdays
Lesson fee: 10,000 yen / month
* 3 lessons per month
* They have a video lesson course
Trial: Free
Notice: No English spoken
Contact: info@yagyuchoshun.com
Official HP:

If you’re interested in experiencing Japanese calligraphy, try the lessons above! Now is the time for it?
Or, if you are a kanji lover, check out a Japanese hanko service instead! You can get not only hanko, but also your unique kanji name.

5 short responses to enrich your day-to-day conversations in Nihongo


Maybe you’ve noticed you need various types of Nihongo short responses for Japanese conversations. In fact, one survey shows Japanese speakers use short responses two times more than English speakers in a conversation.

So, mastering these 5 short responses makes you become a smooth conversationalist even in Japanese. Surprise your friends with a little bit of Kansai -ben (Western Japan dialect) essence!

5 Useful short responses in Nihongo (polite form)

  1. はい “hai”

This should be one of the most common phrases in your Japanese conversation. Like “yes” in English, you can use “hai” anywhere, anytime.

  1. なるほど “naruhodo”

“Naruhodo” is also a very useful phrase. It is “I see” in English. When you understand something, when you learn something, say first, “naruhodo”!

  1. そうですね “sou-desu-ne”

When you agree with what the speaker said, “soudesune” should be the best phrase. It is “indeed” in English. If you can add your opinion after “soudesune”, it’s perfect!

  1. そうなんですね “sou-nan-desu-ne”

When you get surprised or you learn something new, try to use “sounandesune”. It means “oh, really?” in English, but you can use it even when you understand what the speaker said, like “naruhodo”.

Here comes the magical Kansai-ben Japanese phrase!

  1. せやなあ “seyanaa”

This is Kansai area’s dialect. One English word cannot translate “seyanaa” because the meaning depends on the context. “Seyanaa” includes “hai”, “naruhodo”, “soudesune” and more. Notice that it is a very casual phrase. Don’t use it in formal situations.

Hope these short responses enrich conversations with your colleagues or friends. If you think this article is useful for other Japanese learners, don’t hesitate to share it!


Must-see “Bonfire Festival” and “Summer Lights” after Gion festival


Did you enjoy Gion Festival last month?

Eventful Kyoto summer is not over yet.
Come check out the famous bonfire festival and summer lights!

Summer Lights

1. Kodaiji Temple

Schedule: August 1st to 18th, 2018
Open: 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Fee: 600 yen
Official HP: http://www.kodaiji.com/e_index.html

2. Kifune Shrine

Schedule: July 1st to August 15th, 2018
Open: From the sunset to 8:00 p.m.
Fee: Free
Official HP: http://kifunejinja.jp/tanabata2018/index.html

3. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

Schedule: August 4th to 16th, 2018
Open: From the sunset to 9:00 p.m.
Fee: Free
Official HP: http://kitanotenmangu.or.jp/top_en.php

4. Kiyomizudera Temple

Schedule: August 14th to 16th, 2018
Open: 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Fee: 400 yen
Official HP: http://www.kiyomizudera.or.jp/en/

5. Shimogamo Shrine

Schedule: August 17th to September 2nd, 2018
Open: 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Fee: 1,000 yen on weekdays, 1,200yen on weekends
Official HP: https://www.teamlab.art/e/shimogamo-lightfestival2018/

Bonfire Festival

“Gozan no Okuribi”, or “Daimonji” bonfire festival, is a famous summer tradition in Japan. As a religious ritual of the Obon festival on August 16,  five gigantic kanji characters and symbols are written with bonfires on mountains in Kyoto city.

Don’t hesitate to share your memory of summer night on the comment below!

The Best Green Tea Shop after Visiting the World Heritage Site Byodoin


Today, we introduce “Tea shop Kanbayashi” (お茶のかんばやし) in Uji, Kyoto. This shop has a 400-year-history from its establishment and sold the highest quality green teas for us.

Uji is one of the most popular green tea area in Japan. Enjoy the authentic green tea experience here!

Tea ceremony at Tea shop Kanbayashi

You’ll get all about green tea at this tea shop, but especially a tea ceremony would be the highlight. This tea area, Uji has lots of tea shops and even Byodoin temple offers the highest quality green tea. However, a tea ceremony experience with the tea professional must be much different from others! For more detail about the tea ceremony, have a contact at uji@otya.co.jp.

Of course, there’re plenty types of green tea in this shop. From tea leaves to the equipment, you can get anything about green tea! The friendly staffs answer to your questions for the best Japanese tea experience.

Furthermore, you have a special offer by Tea shop Kanbayashi. When you buy something here, you get a chance to see how our green tea is made. A brief guide about the green tea and process would be the unforgettable memory.

When visiting Byodoin, Kanbayashi is the must spot

The World Heritage Site “Byodoin” is a 5-minute-walk distance from Tea shop Kanbayashi.
Check the basic information below.

Address: 宇治市宇治蓮華28平等院通り中央
Open: 9:00am to 5:00pm (holiday)
Email: uji@otya.co.jp
Official page: http://otya.co.jp/ (only in Japanese)

One Idea for Evereyone Who Wants a Special “Made in Japan” Product


Most products are not so exciting even if they have tradition or history. They are mass-produced products, after all!

This is how your “made in Japan” product becomes much more fun.

Mine has my name!

When a product shows your name in kanji, it looks much more special, doesn’t it? The chouchin lantern shop “Hara-koushu” offers a reasonable chouchin lantern, “Bespoke Chouchin”. They let you print your name (your friend’s, your partner’s name or your favorite words) in kanji, hiragana, or katakana characters on the lantern’s surface. If you want, English is also ok.

There are various sizes of chouchin lanterns, so you’ll definitely find one you want to display. They say it takes only 15 minutes to add your name on a chouchin lantern. Check the spec list at the bottom of this page.

Order at a reliable shop

Do you care about the quality of the products? Don’t worry!
The shop, Hara-Koushu, is more than 100 years old. They handle traditional Japanese products like the chouchin lanterns and Japanese dolls.

They hope not only Japanese people, but also non-Japanese people enjoy having a chouchin lantern with their favorite pattern.

It is located near Akihabara, the central Japanese pop culture area. How about enjoying the different cultural atmosphere of Japan?

Where do we usually see chouchin lanterns?

Do you remember seeing lots of chouchin lantern lines outside in summer season? For instance, in shopping malls, streets, parks or at summer festivals. It is said that chouchin lanterns have 500 years of history. The upper class initially used them as flashlights or indoor lighting and this spread to commoners.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get your own chocin lantern with your name on?
For more details, contact Hara-Koushu (info@hara-koushu.com).

And check a Japanese hanko service as well if you are a kanji lover!

Spec list

①Small size (2,800yen)
outer dimensions:width 6 × height 24(cm)
the package size:width 23 × length 8 × height 7(cm)

②Medium size (3,500yen)
outer dimensions:width 8 × height 28(cm)
the package size:width 16.5 × length 9.5 × height 8.5(cm)

③Large size (5,500yen)
outer dimensions:width 17 × height 38(cm)
the package size:width 23 × length 19 × height 8.5(cm)

Basic info.

Address: 東京都台東区柳橋1-4-2
Open: 9:00am to 6:00pm
Access: 2-minute-walk from JR Asakusabashi station, 1-minute walk from Metropolitan subway Asakusabashi station or 3-minute walk from JR Bakurocho station
Official Facebook: facebook.com/hara.koushu
Contact: info@hara-koushu.com

Kodaiji temple, where you can enjoy Zen atmosphere in the central Kyoto


Kodaiji temple was built in 1606 by Nene who mourned her husband, the famous ruler of the era Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Kodaiji has various beautiful landscape. You should put it on your itinerary when you are in central Kyoto.

Just sitting by the Zen garden is relaxing enough

The view of “Hashin-tei” zen garden and a weeping cherry tree is one of the main attractions and it’s breathtaking during Spring season when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

The ruler of the era Hideyoshi Toyotomi passionately supported the advancement of the traditional Japanese culture such as tea ceremonies, “Makie” lacquer art, and Noh pray in the 16th century. It’s no wonder that the memorial temple, Kodaiji became a perfect place  to experience traditional Japanese cultural, tea ceremony and zen meditation, in a quiet setting. Unfortunately, the service is conducted only in Japanese. You need to bring someone who speaks Japanese as well as to make a reservation via FAX at 075-561-7387 (local number) in advance. Feel free to reach out to us for more information or assistance if you are interested.

Special Light-up events

There are special light-up events in spring, summer, and fall at Kodaiji. The garden in the nighttime is changed to fantastic scenery.

Light-up at Garyochi pond

Find your best angle while visiting the large property

Kodaiji has the large site, so it’s not difficult for visitors to find a spot to take a break. Especially, the temple grounds around two ponds are designated as National Historic Scenic Gardens. Enjoy the garden to find the best place to capture those memories with your camera.

Meet Kyoto’s ghosts?

Kodaiji temple holds a summer special exhibition called “The illustrated Night Parade of One Hundred Demons” until August 31. This is based on the spirit world, combining Kyoto’s natural environment in the Heian period. You can see Japanese style ghosts in the art scrolls at this exhibition. Let’s see if the Japanese ghosts are scary, or just adorable to you…

Meet Kyoto’s hero and heroine

The temple was established by a noble woman Nene, in memory of her husband Hideyoshi.
He was samurai lord and the second person who unified this nation in the 16th century. You can see the wooden statues of them at the mausoleum “Otamaya.”

Otamaya mausoleum

When you feel like enjoying the quiet zen atmosphere in rather crowded Higashiyama area, in the central Kyoto, Kodaiji is a perfect option.

Kodaiji, like many other temples in Kyoto, has a stamp called Goshuin which is exclusive to visitors of the temple. It’s an evidence of the visit similar to passport stamps. You may get a chance to chat with a monk while he/she is writing the Japanese calligraphy style Kanji and put the stamp on it.

If you feel like Japanese sweets on top of it, drop by at Kagizen Yoshifusa on the way back to get some rest.

Basic info.

Address: 京都市東山区高台寺下河原町526番地
Open: 09:00 a.m. to 05:30 p.m. (Admission closed at 05:00 p.m.)
Entrance fee: 600 yen/adult
Event schedule: The illustrated Night Parade of One Hundred Demons until August 31st
Official page: http://www.kodaiji.com/e_index.html

A Must Japanese Sweet after Visiting Kodaiji Temple in Kyoto


Today, we introduce a Japanese sweets shop and cafe “Kagizen Yoshifusa”. It started around 300 years ago at Gion, the geisha district in Kyoto. They have three shops in the center of Kyoto city, but you’ll enjoy any shop!

The must summer sweet, Kagizen Yoshifusa’s kuzukiri

Especially you have to try at Kagizen Yoshifusa is “Kuzukiri”. This traditional Japanese sweet is so popular in summer thanks to its cold and smooth taste.

You have the chance to try it at the stores at Gion, near Kodaiji temple or near Kenninji temple. When you get tired, when you search a map, when you want a special Japanese sweets, enjoy Japanese style cafe anytime!

You can enjoy their sweets as the souvenir, too. If you like them, don’t forget to take the memory and taste at Kagizen Yoshifusa to your friend.

When visiting Kodaiji temple, Kagizen Yoshifusa is the must spot

A popular zen temple Kodaiji” is close to one of Kagizen Yoshifusa shops. After a minor climbing at Kodaiji temple, get relaxed with a delicious Japanese sweets there!

Check the other basic information below.

  1. Kodaiji shop

Address: 京都市東山区下河原通高台寺表門前上る
Open: 10:00am to 6:00pm (Closed on every Wednesday)

  1. Gion shop

Address: 京都市東山区祇園町北側264番地
Open: 09:00am to 6:00pm for shop
09:30am to 06:00pm for cafe (Closed on every Monday)


Address: 京都市東山区祇園町南側570-210
Open: 11:00am to 6:00pm (Closed on every Monday)
Official page: http://www.kagizen.co.jp/en/

Three basic information of Japanese hanko, when, why and the history


We often hear in Japan, “Do you have your hanko?”, “Please stamp your hanko here” and “Please bring your hanko with you”. However, those who do not know about hanko, are strangers to the concept, who must have thought, “When do we need a hanko?” and “Why is it important?”

The following page will show you 5 typical situations where we will use a hanko, three reasons why we use a hanko and the history of hanko.


When do we use a hanko in Japan?

Why do we use a hanko?

The history of hanko

5 daily situations we use hanko in Japan

  1. Marriage

To prove that the application is submitted by the identical pair.

  1. Moving

To make, or sign for a new contract. We usually make a new contract with water, gas and electricity suppliers when we move home.

  1. Driver’s license

To prove the person who applies and updates is identified with the person that is mentioned in the license card.

  1. Credit card, Insurance

To prove the application and contract is correctly done, and is identical to the applicant.

  1. Home, Car

To prove the identity of the person who has agreed to the conduct in the expensive contract.

Back to the purchase page

Three reasons why we use hanko

  1. To show the confidentiality

Hanko sometimes functions as an ID card. You get permission to a certain document and entrance.

  1. To show the integrity

Stamping a hanko means the composer(s) of the document admits the contents are complete and have no errors.

  1. To show the identity

Stamping a hanko also means the document has the identified by the user who is the owner of the hanko, and that he or she accepts total responsibility.

The above two, of one of the theories, but we hear that using a hanko in Japan has the certain responsibility of the hanko owner.

The Shogunate’s hanko 150-year ago

The recent news says the Shogunate’s hanko was found. It is has been stated that it is 150-years old. This discovery is big news because it shows that the national leader at this time also used and had his own hanko to prove his will and validity.

Yes, a hanko has important meanings (even if you cannot understand them)! A document that has been marked by a hanko becomes the only one, and is absolute in the world with the stamp of your hanko.

Back to the purchase page

The history of hanko

It is said that people started to use hanko about 4 thousand years ago in the Mesopotamian civilization era. The shape of hanko at that time was not as we see today. People rolled the cylinder-shaped hanko to stamps.

Hanko came over to Japan via China through the Silk Road around 2000 years ago. The golden hanko which was presented by China’s emperor to the Japanese female emperor had a historically important meaning, so it is so famous among Japanese people. We can see the real one at the museum in Fukuoka prefecture today.

At first, only authorities were allowed to have hankos. They used their own hankos to show the document’s legitimacy or prove their admission. A recent news article said the 150-year-old Japanese Shogun’s hanko was found. Professors think it was used for foreign issues and the Shogun stamped his own hanko as the representative of Japan.

Even ordinary people started to use hanko from around 400 years ago.

So, for many years now, people have used Japanese hanko to show the document’s legitimacy and prove the document’s integrity. Do you want your own proof? Why don’t you check out our products!


Ivories, buffalo’s horn, and woods were the main materials of hanko at one time. However, especially ivories were stopped as hanko materials, and other new materials like plastic and titanium are used now instead.

Byodoin, Enjoy matcha at the World Heritage Site!


Today we introduce Byodoin temple in Kyoto. It was registered as the World Heritage Site 1994 and has been tea town Uji’s pride.

Monsho, the Head Priest, and Saki, the temple’s staff guide you!

The Phoenix Hall, “a theme park 1000 years ago”

Phoenix Hall, one of the most famous Japanese architecture is so to speak “a theme park 1000 years ago”, according to Saki. What she means is that whole the Byodoin is the “real paradise” which was originally described on Buddhist sutra. It is only for showing its overwhelming silhouette and has no practical function. So, it needs the special maintenance once about 50 years.

Phoenix Hall keeps its beauty for a thousand years thanks to the maintenance, and 10-yen coin has an illustration of the Phoenix Hall. Also, the phoenix statue on top of the roof is illustrated on ten thousand-yen bill.

The Japanese garden with seasonal flowers

Byodoin temple has its unique flower, “Byodoin lotus” in summer. Actually, Byodoin’s garden has each seasonal attraction and holds light-up events in spring and fall. Both the cherry blossoms and fall leaves give us the breathtaking scenery.

Wisteria in Byodoin ©Byodoin temple

Monsho loves the wisteria season from the end of April to the beginning of May, though. He says “the silhouette of the Phoenix hall over the purple curtain is magnificent”!

Place where the first Harakiri was done?

You can find the fan shaped field at the corner of the garden. We hear that it is where the first Harakiri was taken place by a famous samurai.

The official cafe, the richest location to enjoy matcha

“Sabou Toka”, the Byodoin’s official cafe waits for your visit after sightseeing. Uji city where  Byodoin is located is one of the most famous matcha areas and they offer the highest quality one to you. How about enjoying the green tea time in the World Heritage Site?

Which statues do you like the best?

Before visiting the cafe, you’ll enter Byodoin Museum. The highlight would be the original phoenix statues about 1000 years ago. They are the national treasures. Bodhisattva statues playing instruments are also very popular among tourists.

The Phoenix hall, Japanese garden and the richest tea time at the cafe give you an unforgettable World Heritage Site memory. When you visit Kyoto, add Byodoin temple to your list!


This is the Goshuin seal given only at the temple.
If you’re a kanji lover, this Japanese hanko service should be perfect!

Basic info.

Address: 京都府宇治市宇治蓮華116
Open: 08:30am to 05:30pm
(Some facilities have different schedules. For more details, enter the official page.)
Entrance fee: 600yen/adult
Event schedule: Special Light-up on November 17th, 18th, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 30th, 31st, December 1st, 2nd  from 06:00pm to 08:30pm (Admission closed 08:15pm)
Event entrance fee: 600yen/adult
Official page: https://www.byodoin.or.jp/en/