Friday, July 29, 2011

Commencement and farewell party with host families!

Official commencement was held this morning and every student received the Certificate of Merit from Kyoto International Academy as well as his/her schooling grade.

The schooling grade will be converted into the academic grade for COD summer study abroad program language grade soon.

After the commencement, there was a farewell party with teachers and host families on which every student read his/her thank you letter to each host family as well as final class performance and "watermelon breaking (すいかわり)”

We will be on our way to Chicago after the final weekend fun!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

City Zoo and then Walking on Fire!

At the almost end of the program now, we visited Kyoto City Zoo which is under renovation and has changed a lot since last visit. Luckily we had a chance to see "feeding" of Lions, Jaguar, Tiger, Hippo, Monkeys!

Heavy rain shower attacked us right before leaving the zoo but soon stopped and we were saved!

Tonight (7/28) was the only day of the year for Tanukidani Fudo-in Hiwatari (Walking on Fire) Festival. Our program never had a chance to get to this Festival because we usually finished the program by then!

Most students had a chance to walk on fire with assistance of monks! The head monk, Ryokai-san, is GTS' senior member of college days!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Everyone must visit where GTS actually came from!

Everyone had to take the final exam for their class and GTS will assign the grade based on the report from their performance as well as daily activity behavior.

In the afternoon, we visited Kamigamo Shrine which is located where GTS originally came from as GTS was graduated from Kamigamo Elementary school! We walked through little alleys that GTS still remember from 40 years ago!

We enjoyed having a little fun at the play ground where GTS had fun 4 decades ago!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sushi, Incense and Japanese SAKE!

Today was the day when everyone had to participate in making their own Sushi roll! GTS also enjoyed their masterpiece, too. After making their stomach full with their own Sushi and Soup, we visited Shoyeido, Japan's most famous incense factory headquarters in Kyoto, to see the process of their production line! Their US headquarters is located in Boulder, Colorado!

Some got their souvenirs and then went to Horino Sake Museum where you can see old Japanese Kyoto Style of house as well as Japanese Sake history, taste and certainly souvenir shopping!

Wow! Few more days to finish up the program!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tenjin Festival Fireworks Sparked!

Every 25th of the month has a flea market in Tenmangu right in front of Kyoto International Academy. And the July 25th is the only day of the year when Osaka Tenjin Festival is in progress.

Many floats are in the river from which people on ships waved us! Students enjoyed a lot with some vendor (屋台) food and drink!

Fireworks were right in front of us and everyone got great feeling of Japan's Summer Festival!

Tomorrow, students will make Sushi in school!!!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

We made our own CUP NOODLE!

Under the very nice breezing weather, we visited to Ramen Museum in Osaka where everyone can produce his/her own Cup Noodle!

Noodle cup is designed very unique and I feel like tasting each one of them!

Instant Ramen Museum must be the place to visit every summer!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bamboo Walk and Tenryu-ji in exceptionally cool wind

After the typhoon passed, it was exceptionally cool windy day today and we could enjoy nice breeze in the Tenryu-ji temple complex tatami mat room and bamboo walk afterwords.

Upon climbing up a small hill, more pleasant wind with excellent valley view were waiting for us!

Hope this weather continues tomorrow! Probably not, I guess.

I heard the terrible heat wave is attacking our home town, Chicago-land area!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The typhoon avoided Kyoto and HEAT came back!

The Typhoon #6 turn to west before attacking Kyoto and left. Maybe it was afraid of GTS and our members here! As a result, we did have strong wind but not much rain. As soon as it passed, the HEAT came back and now it is very hot and humid!!!

We visited Heian Jingu Shrine and its gorgeous garden which is the largest garden in Kyoto. After the shrine, we went to Kyoto Handicraft Center where everyone should finish souvenir shopping.

Some went to several martial arts equipment shops as well! Oh, well GTS' mom got hospitalized today so now he is busier! Hope she will be released from the hospital in a few days!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Typhoon No.6 is directly attacking us!

After the festival, typhoon No.6 is now viciously attacking western Japan and it is really influencing us as well though not much rain here but very strong wind!

We visited Daikaku-ji temple in the windy weather and most students practiced Buddhist scripture calligraphy writing to show our courtesy.

This is the second rainy day during the program and actual typhoon will approach us tomorrow! The school? Of course, no closure at all. Only two weeks left!!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

GION Festival Parade was gorgeous in heated weather!

Students are supposed to get together in front of Kyoto City Hall at 10 am when the first float (Naginata-boko) will turn the intersection. Only three students made it on time to observe together.

I hope everyone somehow had a chance to see them from somewhere. GTS too those who made it to one of the largest shopping mall to enjoy air conditioned afternoon!

Some are planning to go to Universal Studio of Japan or Kaiyukan (Japan's largest aquarium in Osaka tomorrow!

Me? Lake Biwa!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Phoenix Pavilion and Gion Night!

Under 100F humid sunshine day, we visited to Phoenix Pavilion (平等院鳳凰堂) where we could see how Pureland (浄土) might be!

By the time we got to the Kyoto central area, the pedestrian heaven (歩行者天国) is about to be ready for Gion Night.

A group of students got a 3D Harry Potter newest movie on the first night! Hope everyone enjoys the movie!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Brewery gave us some cool feeling!

Little mountain climbing yesterday gave us sweat by walking but brewery trip today us different kind of sweat! Fortunately we had a chance to grab a bite before getting on the shuttle to the brewery where everyone was in a position to taste some best SUNTORY beer.

Well, some had to take a soft drink but......

Tonight is the first night pedestrian heaven in the central Kyoto continuing next couple of nights!

Hope all students could enjoy some festival atmosphere!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cooling down on top of Mt. Kurama with s little happening!

There was a good choice to go up to Kurama-dera on top of Mt. Kurama to cool down though climbing up stares and hills! On the way over Mt. Kurama to get to Kibune, one student fell and sprained the foot. Several kind students one after another carrying the student down to the mountain, which took a while and skipped to go to Kifune Shrine as a result.

Temperature is really challenging us but tomorrow Brewery tour will entertain us in one way or another!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

From Eikando to Nanzenji and GTS' mom!

GTS visited all the classes in the morning to see how well/bad each student behave in class! Afternoon excursion began walking up to Nyakuoji Shrine (若王子神社) to Eikando (永観堂), Nanzenji (南禅寺) then Lake Biwa Canal Museum (琵琶湖疎水記念館).

While walking to the bus stop from Nanzenji, GTS group had a chance to meet GTS' mom in front of GTS condo!

"Did your mom allow you to stay there?" GTS: "No, I allow my mom to stay at my condo." hahahaha.

A sign of little came but no significant rain came yet!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Surrounded by Monkeys under almost 100F!

Real Kyoto summer seemed to began with almost 100F humid weather. Kyoto Gion Festival is now under way with a climax of the Parade this coming Sunday. Gion Festival is one of three most famous and largest festivals in Japan.

Our afternoon trip was to climb up Mt. Iwata where monkeys (Nihon-zaru) enjoy living. We were in a cage to feed some apple pieces to monkeys!

Many baby monkeys were very cute and every student had fun with them!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Most hot and humid day so far!

35 degree Celsius (95F) with high humidity requires us to enter an air conditioned place every often regardless of how much Japanese government is asking people to save electricity!

I took a couple of students to a bookstore, a comic store, a 100-yen shop, a used book store and finally Kyoto International Manga Museum

Hope their humid weekend day was somewhat cool!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Most humid day attacked us to get to Osaka Castle!

On the contrary to the rainy yucky weather yesterday, it was really hot and humid and the entire city is like a sauna! Yet, we were managed to get to Osaka Castle where we lost one student and 3 conscientious kind students of mine tried to look for him while others were heading back to Kyoto!

Life is tough and I was confident in everyone would get back to Kyoto safely yet I was impressed some strong 'friendship/comrade-ship' among students and I am very proud of them!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

First Rainy day!! to the Castle!

Today is the first real rainy day which requires an umbrella! July 7th is the Milky Way Festival Day (たなばた) on which every student wrote down his/her wish on a paper slip to decorate the Bamboo branches!

After the lunch, we dropped by at the Nishijin Textile Center where we enjoyed some shopping and Kimono show. A few blocks south of the Textile Center is the Seimei Shrine which is famous for Japanese Traditional Exorcism in 11th century.

Rain continued to follow us to the Nijo Castle!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

1001 Kannon Statues welcomed us!

Students enjoyed learning traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony this morning instructed by one of their teachers. Besides teaching Japanese to our students, she teaches Tea Ceremony to native Japanese people. She performed really professionally and GTS was, indeed, very impressed and felt very lucky to have her there!

After the long walk to the mountain top of Fushimi Grand Shrine yesterday, we had a little resting excursion to Renge Oin (蓮華王院) known as Sanjusangen-do (三十三間堂) and 1001 Senju Kannon (千手観音菩薩) statues welcomed everyone this afternoon.

We have not seen significant rain yet and rain seems to come tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fushimi Grand Shrine through Tofukuji without rain!

Though it was rather heavy rain last night, no rain and UV sunshine gave us a hard time to climb up the path surrounded by thousands of Torii Gate to the top of the mountain from which we could enjoy nice view of Kyoto from the south.

From the top of the mountain we went down to the opposite side of the mountain foot from which we walk through the narrow mountain road to get to Tofuku-ji temple!

Another rain-less day was ended!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Still No Rain! Meiji Confectionery Factory was fun!

Though the weather forecast told possible rain and we did have a little rain which did not require an umbrella. For the first time in the summer program's 13 years history, we visited Meiji Confectionery Factory (明治製菓) and enjoyed free snack and observation tour.

Famous snack, Kinoko no Mori (Mushroom shaped chocolate snack) and Karl (Corn puff without using any oil) were interestingly produced on the conveyors!

According to the weather forecast, it would be raining tomorrow. Is it true? We will find out tomorrow, I guess.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Great Buddha welcomed us in slight rain!

This morning began with a little rain so I finally felt that we are, indeed, in the rainy season. Despite the fact that I prepared my umbrella, I ended up with not using it!

The fake rainy day with nice breeze led us to the GREAT BUDDHA Image in Todai-ji temple, then February Hall from which you can see the entire Nara area, Tamukeyama Hachimangu, Wakakusa mountain, Kasuga Grand Shrine, and Sarusawa Pond!

We walked quite a bit but everyone had still more energy than needed!