Surreal samurai art exhibition mixes the historical with the bizarre

The Asahi Beer Oyamazaki Villa Museum of Art is located in Yamazaki, a place of historical significance in Japan since medieval times when it served as a field of battle for Toyotomi Hideyoshi to avenge the betrayal and murder of his lord Oda Nobuaga. The museum is currently hosting an exhibition that pays homage to the samurai of those ancient times, in a very modern and surreal fashion.

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Special subway cars in Kyoto are perfect for travelling anime fans

Kyoto is best known as a bastion of Japan’s traditional past, where the visual and performing arts developed during the feudal era still command the highest respect. Japan’s former capital is also making a bid to become a center for modern popular culture as well, though. 2006 saw the opening of the Kyoto International Manga Museum, and the city also plays host to the annual Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair.

Kyoto’s love for anime is truly a two-way street, as the city serves as the setting for numerous animated series. Apparently the relationship between anime and Kyoto has progressed to a point where the two feel comfortable with an overt display of public affection, in the form of a special subway train plastered with anime graphics.

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10 of the best gift shops in Kyoto

There are thousands of interesting shops selling traditional goods in Kyoto. But now there are a few that are standing head and shoulders above the rest, offering unique goods that even Japanese customers can’t wait to get their hands on. By combining traditional techniques with modern, contemporary designs, these businesses represent the best of the changing face of Kyoto, a vibrant city in the traditional capital.

In this article, we take a look at ten unique stores and their adorable products. The only trouble will be deciding what to buy!

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12 of the best places in Kyoto to enjoy the autumn colors

September has finally arrived, bringing with it…well, not cooler temperatures, but promises of cooler temperatures. Maybe. Sometime soon, we’re sure it’ll cool down and we’ll all stop going from dry to drenched in sweat two seconds after stepping outside.

September also, obviously, means the approach of autumn–that glorious time of year when all the leaves explode into yellow and red hues. Though many think of sakura blossoms when they think of Japan’s beautiful trees, the country is no less proud of its fall colors. And Kyoto boasts more than a few excellent destinations for autumnal sightseeing. Here are 12 of Kyoto’s best places to enjoy the fall leaves!

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New discovery at Kyoto’s Nijo Castle baffles and inspires us

Though we usually think of history as being something static and forever unchanging, the constant flow of new information has an interesting effect on how we view the past. A recent discovery at Nijo Castle, the palace fortress which once belonged to the Tokugawa shoguns in Kyoto, has presented us with a new, confusing mystery.

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Cosplayers invade the Kyoto subway system to promote upcoming event!

The Kyoto subway was swarmed by mobs of cosplayers last weekend, alarming some commuters and intriguing others. Though Japan may be thought of as the “land of cosplay,” it’s actually extremely rare to see this many layers (shortening of “cosplayers”) out and about in public. Cosplay is all well and good at certain events, but a major no-no in areas where it can cause trouble for the uninitiated.

So what were all these guys (yes, mainly guys) doing on the subway? Why, promoting the upcoming Kyoto Manga Anime Festival and it’s connected cosplay event, GO-TAN! of course!

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It’s a burger! It’s a pizza! It’s Megaburgerpizza!

Ever have trouble deciding whether you want to have a burger or pizza? Kyoto pizza parlor Pizza Little Party is hoping you choose to have both with their Megaburgerpizza. They’re also apparently tired of being called “little” as this beast weighs in at approximately 1.2kg (2.65lbs).

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Enjoy Kyoto (Part 3) — The ultimate breakfast? Try $45 rice porridge at a 400-year-old restaurant

In the first two articles of our three-part series on interesting ways to enjoy Kyoto based on my recent visit to the popular tourist city, I have already written about an attractive place to stay and a fascinating historic site to visit. In the third and final article of the series, I thought I would introduce a restaurant where you can have a truly unique dining experience, because of course, no trip to Kyoto would be complete without tasting the numerous culinary delights the city has to offer. The restaurant I visited was Hyotei, a famous establishment with a long history that specializes in Japanese kaiseki cuisine.  And what is so unique about dining there? Well, for starters, you can have a breakfast rice porridge dish (asagayu) that costs 4,500 yen (US$45)!

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Enjoy Kyoto (Part 2) — Take a tour of Sumiya, the only remaining ageya building in Japan

In Part One of our series of articles on some original ways to enjoy the ancient city of Kyoto, I described what it was like to stay in a restored traditional machiya house during my recent trip to the city. Now, in the second article of the series, I’d like to introduce a tourist spot I visited which may not be at the top of people’s list of places to visit in Kyoto but nonetheless is both historically and architecturally interesting. The building, known as Sumiya, is literally one of a kind, as it is the only “ageya-style” structure that remains in Japan today. So, let’s take a look at this unique ageya building with a fascinating history over three-and-a-half centuries old.

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Enjoy Kyoto (Part 1) — Stay in a restored traditional machiya house!

The ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan for foreign and Japanese travelers alike, and with good reason — there’s a whole lot to see, feel and eat in this beautiful, historic city. Yes, Kyoto is a city that definitely provides a feast for the senses. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to visit the city recently, and while you’re sure to find an abundance of tourist information on Kyoto from numerous sources in a multitude of languages, I thought I’d share some interesting aspects of the city I experienced during my trip that may not necessarily be part of a typical visit to Kyoto. Here’s the first article in our three-part series on some new and original ways to enjoy this picturesque city that is full of magnificent temples, gardens, works of art and, of course, exquisite foods.

But first things first. Once you have your plane and train tickets to Kyoto booked, you’ll need to think about where you will be staying. Now, I’m sure there are plenty of accommodation options in Kyoto, but if you’re tired of staying in a regular hotel, why not try staying in a restored old machiya house that combines history and function?

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Head patrol officer goes on a molesting spree, ‘Just couldn’t forget the soft, tender feeling’ of a woman

Last month a man was caught red-handed groping an innocent office lady on a train in Kyoto, in violation of the region’s laws against causing public disturbances. The man was put under immediate arrest, and while this admittedly unfortunate event may seem a bit too tame to be newsworthy, the offender was none other than the head patrol officer of Osaka’s police force! Apparently, this groping incident was far from the first for this once-respected officer.

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The top 10 sightseeing spots in Kyoto Prefecture

With more than a thousand unique temples and countless sites of natural beauty, planning a short trip to Kyoto can be no easy task. Thankfully, there’s a Japanese travel website that’s made things easy with a top ten list of unmissable places in the region. If you’re looking for a way to escape the information overload and simply visit the best that Kyoto Prefecture has to offer, then this list–complied by native Japanese no less–might just be the list for you.

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The restaurant that powered the team behind one of Nintendo’s biggest hits

Kyoto has a long-standing reputation as a center of traditional culture, justified by its numerous significant temples and shrines, not to mention the artwork they house and their surrounding gardens. However, the city is also home to a site of great importance to modern pop culture: the headquarters of video game maker Nintendo, responsible for many of the titles that shaped modern gaming.

There’s a saying in Japan, though, that you can’t win a battle on an empty stomach, and that goes for designing great games, too. We recently visited the restaurant that powered the development team of one of Nintendo’s biggest hits ever.

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Get paid 10 bucks an hour to sit and take naps at Kyoto pickle shop

Nestled in the mountains of Sakyo, Kyoto lies Yasehieizan-guchi Station. Expect for the autumn when tourists from neighboring cities flock to see the changing foliage, it’s an almost eerily quiet corner of Japan.

Rumor has it that a small shop selling pickled eggplant is offering a rare part-time employment opportunity.  For a wage of 1,000 yen (US$10) or more, they will pay someone to do nothing but sit around. Hours are flexible and benefits include arranged transportation to and from the jobsite along with naps.

Mr. Sato headed for the hills of Kyoto to verify this job and possibly consider a change in occupation himself. What he found, however, was the sad but touching truth behind the Mata Tora pickle shop and their weird job offer.

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Kyoto Aquarium serving up cute breads…and tadpole soup?

Kyoto may be well-known for its traditional buildings and breathtaking temples, but there’s also a different side to the city; one that’s totally modern and cute! Kyoto Aquarium is giving us a peek into the cute innovations going on in the city with an adorable range of sweet breads, available exclusively from their on-site cafes. This month, they’re paying homage to the frogs of Kyoto and the world with a new exhibit and some very unique additions to the menu.

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“So a Muslim, a Christian and a Buddhist enter a marathon race” is not the start of bad joke: Kyoto marathon to feature interfaith teams

The city of Kyoto is considering including a special interfaith relay race segment to the third annual Kyoto marathon to take place in February 2014.

Kyoto dispatched a city worker to observe the June 2012 interfaith race at the Luxembourg Marathon that saw 50 participants from 11 countries and seven religions taking part. That race garnered plenty of media attention with its high profile runners and sponsors that included the Dalai Lama and the world’s oldest marathon runner, 101-year-old English Sikh, Fauja Singh. The Japan Buddhist Federation is also expressing interest in an interfaith race at next year’s Kyoto marathon.

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Cute Kyoto! We Taste Hidden Delights From a Traditional Sweet House in Pontocho

Pontocho is one of Kyoto’s most beautiful geisha districts. With traditional tea houses, restaurants and bars all crowded together along atmospheric, stone-paved narrow lanes, this area breathes the air of an old, timeless Kyoto. Within its maze of weaving, intersecting alleyways, there are plenty of secrets to discover and hidden areas to explore. Walking through Pontocho, you might notice one of its many mysteries: the area is dotted with Japanese paper lanterns, all bearing the mark of the chidori, the plover bird. They’re incredibly beautiful, but why would a cute chidori design come to be on such traditional products?

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Japanese Permanent Resident Status to be Awarded to Overseas Students? A New Appeal by the Mayor of Kyoto

On April 10, the mayor of Kyoto Keiji Yamada made public his intentions to appeal to the government to award overseas students who graduate from Kyoto University with the right to permanent residence. It is a proposal entitled ‘Kyoto University Special Ward’ and also incorporates other supportive measures for foreign students. With a decrease in student intake within Japan in recent years, it is hoped that by providing incentives for academically skilled overseas students, Kyoto will not only be able to compete with other cities like Tokyo but will also be able to add a new lease of life to its cultural city.

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Minecraft User Decides to Make Kinkakuji, Eventually Creates the Entire City of Kyoto

Oh, Minecraft.  You masterful time-suck!  How is it that I can spend thirty hours of my life playing you, but only land up with a shanty of a shack and a tunnel that continues into the ground because I got bored and decided to pickax it up (at least I found diamonds!).

For those of you unfamiliar with the game, Minecraft is basically the game that never ends (yes it goes on and on, my friend).  It’s an open world game with no specific goals and players are free to build and create anything they want by breaking and replacing blocks of different materials (dirt, stone, wood, etc) that can be found all over the virtually endless map.  It’s surprisingly addicting.

You do not “win” Minecraft. You either 1) play until you’ve exhausted all of your creativity and fall on the floor in a crumbled heap after realizing how much time you’ve wasted (like me) or 2) build an incredibly elaborate, visually stunning block world that is the envy of the poor suckers who landed in category 1.

A user who goes by the name, Gawara, has earned his rightful spot amongst the envied Minecrafters in category 2 by recreating the entire city of Kyoto out of Minecraft blocks.

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