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Greg Koch (Hands On Kyoto)
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Adventures in Tokyo...

I'd heard about this place "Golden Gai"
a kind of back alley street area, full of local bars, usually big enough to only seat max 10 people.

I was surprised to see some of them openly welcoming foreigners, while others didn't mince words about their preference to keep the locals in and foreigners out.

If you're going to go, I'd highly recommend going with someone who speaks Japanese as they can help you find the right bar and communicate with locals.

Otherwise, you'll probably find yourself being kicked out of the locals only bars or stuck with only foreigners.

#tokyo #tokyoadventures #goldengai #shinjyuku #handsonkyoto www.handsonkyoto.com
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16/07/2018
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Transitioning from the floods of last week to the scorching mid-thirties today, I thought I'd go check out the float assembly for the upcoming saki matsuri on July 17, of course later on in the day to avoid the sweltering heat.

I happened to catch a glimpse of volunteers attaching the wheels to famed Kikusui hoko. As you see in the pictures, the wheels are taller than the average grown man and if that doesn't impress, the float is actually assembled with no nails, only ancient rope tying techniques to bind beams and other cross sections.

Incredibly, Kikusui hoko is one of the few floats that has a pole located in the middle to stabilize the other beams but when it reaches the roof, it turns into a bamboo pole stretching about 20 m into the air.

Kikusui actually means chrysanthemum water and coincides with a Chinese legend
about a young boy, deep in the mountains of China who finds eternal youth by drinking form mysterious chrysanthemum flowers. Kikusui symbolizes this wish for eternal youth and longevity.

先週の災害から今日の焦熱のような日に変わりましたがもうすぐ先祭巡行になり、組み立てるのをみに行きました!

菊水鉾を通った時にちょうど大きな輪を付けるのを見つけて良かったです。それと皆んなさんも知っていると思いますが釘一本も使わず、伝統的な紐の結び方を使って鉾を組み立てるのです。

宵山に向けて、祇園祭を楽しましょう!

#kyoto #kyotojapan #festival #traditionalfestival #gion #gionfestival #gionfestival2018 #floats #京都#祇園祭 #山鉾巡行 #山鉾紐#菊水鉾#山鉾建て #handsonkyoto www.handsonkyoto.com
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11/07/2018
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The recent flooding gave me pause, are we really as secure as we think we are?

The general message is modern technology and science protects us and has improved our daily lives, however as the recent floods have demonstrated, mother nature humbles us with a typhoon here or earthquake there, reminding us we aren't as in control as we would like to think.

Most times our lives are smooth sailing but it's how we manage the bumps in the road that seem to become determining factors. Experiencing the clear water is nice but every now and then, the muddy waters are also important, if not to bring us back to reality. #handsonkyoto
www.handsonkyoto.com
#kyoto #kyotojapan #japan #kamoriver
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The ancients built Kyoto in its current spot to protect it from the natural calamities of typhoons, earthquakes etc. but over the millenia flooding has wreaked havok. In my 14 years in Kyoto, I've never seen it this bad. Relentless rain over past three days...

桓武天皇らが平安京を作ったとき、災害を守るため、現在の場所を選んだわけですけど1200年超える京都は長年をわったり、洪水にやられました。

今年、僕が京都に来て14年になりますけど今年は洪水で一番大変です。この3日間、断続的に雨が降っています。。。

#kyoto #kyotojapan #flood #rain #typhoon #japan #京都#日本 #洪水#雨#大雨 #台風#handsonkyoto www.handsonkyoto.com
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07/07/2018
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I posted a video the other day but here's the new Digital art Museum in Tokyo in pictures. I found out teamLab (event producers) is going to hold a Light Festival at Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto from Aug. 17-Sept. 2 in the majestic Tadasu no Mori forest.

この頃、東京の新しいデジタルミュージアムについてビデオをアップしていたけどこのポストは写真です。そして、京都の下鴨神社、糺の森でteamLabが8月17日〜9月2日まで光の祭というイベントを行うことと知りました。

#japan #kyoto #kyotojapan #tokyo #teamlab #shrines #kyotoevents #digitalartmuseum #digitalart #shimogamoshrine #日本#京都#東京#神社#下鴨神社#handsonkyoto #いんすたばえ www.handsonkyoto.com
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05/07/2018
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We're in the rainy season here in Japan and Kyoto has a plethora of shrines and temples with hydrangea flowers in bloom at the moment.

I visited Fujinomori shrine the other day, catching a glimpse of some hydrangea flowers a few other aspects unique to the shrine.

You may have heard of Shinto and Buddhism being the main religions of Japan but it's difficult to clearly differentiate one from the other. Many aspects of eachother have actually blended together.

Nonetheless, I've noticed the underlying attraction to both is superstition. Even in our modern day and age of medicine, science & tech, people still make prayers and offerings at temples and shrines all over Japan.

Shinto shrines are especially unique. I look at Shinto as a on demand, user-friendly religion. Japanese people can stop by a shrine 24/7, 365 days a year in hopes of getting that blessing from the over 8,000,000 gods.

At fujinomori, I noticed gods of victory and academics were front and centre. The victory god is especially remarkable for its connection to the race horses to help you win at the race track?

These contradictions of a modern Japan trying to negotiate with its past really fascinate me

#kyotojapan #kyoto #shrines #shinto #rainyseason #handsonkyoto #tours #fujinomori www.handsonkyoto.com
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19/06/2018
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During a private back streets tour last week, we came across a traditional style wedding at one of the local shrines. The groom happened to be non-Japanese.

Reading an article about international marriages in Japan, the trend for international marriages reached a peak a few years back and has been falling since.

先週、プライベートツアーの途中、神社で海外の新郎、日本人の新婦との結婚式を見つけました。

因みにこの間、国際結婚についての記事を読んで数年前は国際結婚が最高の記録になたけど最近は下がっている傾向と書いていました。

#kyoto #kyotojapan #backstreets #japan #tours #japanesewedding #shrines #privatetours #walkingtours #京都#日本#裏道 #裏道散歩 #結婚式 #伝統 #神社 www.handsonkyoto.com
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14/06/2018
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There is of course lots to see and do in Kyoto but there are also lots of great day trips you can take as well.

Last week I went to Minoh, a peaceful and picturesque area located a short train ride from Osaka city and about 1.5 hours from Kyoto city. Although it was raining, the rain actually accentuated the beauty of the fresh green maple leaves and created beautiful mists, creating magestic mountain views.

The temple we visited, Katsuoji, presented some spectacular moments. It's been around since the late 8th century and enjoyed a high status from emperors and Samurai a like.

Now-a-days, you'll find daruma dolls all over the grounds. The temple has come to be known as the temple of success or victory and its symbol is the "winning daruma."

Upon entering the temple, the bridge just past the main gate actually has man-made steam coming out from underneath adding a weird but cool effect. There was also chanting being done on a PA system which is really calming as you walk around the grounds.

After the temple, we checked out the hike to Minoh falls and caught a glimpse of some wildlife. There a few cafes and maybe a few surprises like this frog who popped out and scared the heck out of my friend.

京都では観光スポットや体験の多いところですけど日帰りできるところもいっぱいあります。

先週、箕面へ見に行って勝尾寺と箕面の滝をまわりました。その時、雨が降って新録が鮮やかに見えたし、山からも霞が浮かび上がり、神秘的な眺めができました。

勝尾寺ってどういうお寺でしょうか? 皆さんダルマを知っていると思いますけどこちでは勝ちダルマというダルマさんが有名です。どこへ行ってもダルマさんが置いています。境内を歩きながら拡声設備からお坊さんがお経を唱えてくれて心を和められました。

勝尾寺の後、箕面の滝のほう行って途中、カフェなどがあり、突然カエルさんも出ていきて友達をびっくりさせました!

#kyoto #kyotodaytrip #minoh #temples #buddhisttemple #daruma #handsonkyoto #mountains #osaka #京都#京都日帰り #京都日帰り旅行#箕面#お寺 #仏教 #山#大阪 www.handsonkyoto.com
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05/06/2018
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The hydrangea just started to bloom over the past week and indicate to me and other Japanese the rainy season is upon us in Japan.

One of the unique aspects of Japanese culture is its cultivation of a sensitivity to nature and the four seasons.

Similar to language, flowers express meaning and let us know where we are at a certain point in the annual cycle.

この頃、紫陽花の咲くのが始まり、梅雨う入りという合図ですね。日本文化の一つの独特なところは自然と四季の繊細な考え方のではないかと思います。

言語のように花が私達に様々な意味を伝えてもらえますし、年間のいつのシーズンなのかも表現されています。

#kyoto #flowers #hydrangea #rainyseason #japan #tours #handsonkyoto #京都#花 #紫陽花#梅雨 #日本#ツアー www.handsonkyoto.com
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02/06/2018
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I heard about Shunko-in, possibly Kyoto's most well known place for English speakers interested in Zen and meditation practice in Kyoto. Finally checked it out for myself yesterday.

My experience?

Lesson 1: To sit on the floor or a chair?
Lesson 2: Reality vs. Actuality
Lesson 3: Holism vs. Goal-Oriented Approach

Overall, the monk's approach was heavily rooted in an understanding of western philosophy, psychology, cognitive science and host of other disciplines. Although, Zen is a loaded term, he explained one of the important elements is to constantly question our pre-conceived notions. These usually hold the key to our understanding or misunderstanding of ourselves and our relation to the people and world around us.

Finished off the session with lush green tea and a sweet.

#kyotogarden #kyoto #tea #zen #monk #mattcha #greentea #sweets #handsonkyoto #tours #culturalexperience www.handsonkyoto.com
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29/05/2018
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