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Archive for the ‘Kyoto’ Category

The Kyoto Transportation Bureau is casting a wide net with their efforts to increase the usage of the subway. According to their website, the Transportation Bureau is trying to increase the number of city subway passengers to 50,000 people.(1) For example, by producing pocket-sized city bus and subway time schedules, which you can download here (pdfs are at the bottom of the page) and pocket walking maps of the city, the Bureau can help students and people intimidated by the transit system by giving them a convenient guide to getting around.

I covered another campaign in my last post: stairway calorie-counter setsuden ads in the Kyoto subway, which, along with the maps and guides, are brought to you by the Kyoto City “Team to Increase the Number of Young Professional Customers” (若手職員増客チーム) Moé Moé Challenge Section (燃え燃えチャレンジ班).

The Moé Moé Challenge Section’s job is “to create public advertisements to get people fired up about the subway.”(2) As I dug deeper in researching this article, I discovered the calorie counter I had discussed in my last post is also the product of the Moé Moé Challenge Section. In a 18 May proposal, the section writes,

In response to the perceived notion that “the subway platforms are far away” and “it takes too much time,” we will attempt to improve the image of using the stairs as something you can do for your health. In encouraging people to use the stairs, we will attempt to  lessen the congestion on the elevators and escalators as well as promoting a more eco-friendly subway.(3)

If burning calories isn’t inspiring you to be more eco-friendly, the Section has also created an “original character” who adorns a poster at the bottom of the stairs.

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The buzzword in Japan this summer is 節電 (setsuden), or conserving electricity.* For my readers back at home, this is chiefly because, as Alice Gordenker so succinctly put it in her “So What the Heck is That?” column in The Japan Times,

a huge earthquake and tsunami hit northern Japan on March 11, knocking out roughly a quarter of the electricity-generating capacity for the power companies that serve 53 million people in Tokyo, the Kanto plain and Tohoku. In the wake of the disaster there’s been a massive effort to reduce demand for electricity to levels that can be met. The alternative is scheduled rolling blackouts, or worse, sudden widespread blackouts from which it’s difficult to restore power. (“Setsuden,” 17 March 2011.)

I am fortunate to live in a relatively cooler part of the country and far from the affected zone, but while our energy consumption might not directly affect how much energy is getting out to Tokyo and the East, we are also being encouraged to setsuden. There’s been talk of deactivating some of our nuclear power plants, but there’s also a collective feeling that we should seriously reevaluate our energy consumption in general.

It’s hard to discuss setsuden without mentioning the  spirit of 我慢 (gaman), a term which means patience, perservance, and endurance and often has an undertone of sacrifice; colloquially, the phrase can mean “deal with it” or “buck up.”  (more…)

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While I dislike reading reviews of shows and exhibits that have ended or are nearly over (“Hey! I could have gone to see that!”), a comment on my articles about The Rose of Versailles reminded me that I never did end up posting about my adventures at the Kyoto International Manga Museum‘s two-part exhibit on The Rose of Versailles.

Image from the Kyoto International Manga Museum

 

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I’m actually shocked it took me this long to get to Nijô Castle. When I travel to Kyoto, I’m perpetually hanging out near Sanjô/Kawaramachi/Teramachi, but when my parents came to visit, we had dinner plans in Osaka and no plans for the morning. Normally I take my new-to-Kansai friends to geek out in DenDen Town or enjoy the onsen of Spa World, but my parents, being neither into the anthropology of otaku culture nor “public bathing,” merited going out of my standard destinations. Nijô Castle (Nijôjô) was close to where we were staying in Kyoto, so we decided to head there.

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Part 4: A French Cafe in Kyoto

Located in the winding back alleys of Anedaitouchou 姉大東町 near Kyoto City Hall 京都市役所前, Cafe Kocsi カフェ・コチis a French-style restaurant and bakery. The menu is is French and Japanese, which, as I’ve stated in prior entries, really helps because I don’t speak French. Nestled between well stocked bookshelves and seated on a leather couch, I had my first coucous since moving to Japan, while my friends had sandwiches on ciabatta. Yes, ciabatta.

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Part Three: Yuba and Tofu in Kyoto

Japan takes its local specialties, particularly food, very seriously. Whenever I go on a trip, I get asked if I tried whatever that region’s famous cuisine is. Osaka is famous for okonomiyaki お好み焼き and takoyaki たこ焼き (not really high cuisine, but food that reminds me of my time there); Fukui is famous for crab; northern Ishikawa, oysters, 鰤 buri (yellowtail), and isaza; Kumamoto, horse-meat-sashimi; and Hakata and Sapporo, local-style ramen, just to name a few. Kyoto’s specialty is tofu.

After visiting the 北野天満宮 Kitano Tenmanguu (Shrine) for the monthly flea market on the 25th, we stopped in a Toyouke Chaya to try yuba 湯葉. Yuba is thin strips formed from the product that is skimmed off the top of the liquid during the production of tofu 豆腐. And while that sounds gross to the uninitiated American, trust me, it’s delicious.

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Part One: Brazilian Pastels in Kyoto

About two weeks ago, I went on a week-long trip around the Kansai region. My traveling companion and I went to Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, and Hikone. One of the best parts of the trip, other than the company and experiencing urban Kansai, was the food. I have a wonderful friend in Kyoto who recommended all of these places to me.

While the food in the inaka is very fresh, we lack a lot of “ethnic” food restaurants, probably because there are fewer foreign residents here than in the cities. To be fair, my town has a lot of Japanese-style Chinese restaurants, at least one Korean restaurant, and one nice fusion bakery. When my friend mentioned to us that there was Brazilian food to be had in Kyoto, I was very excited to try something that I can’t get in my small town and I rarely get to eat in the US.

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