Tag Archives: Japanese culture

An Afternoon Tsukimi Walk

(This article was created in September 2020 before VSP took a hiatus.)

Last September 2020, I joined an afternoon Tsukimi Tour, one of the interesting tours by Nara Prefecture International Exchange Saloon. are Japanese cultural festivals belonging to Tsukimi (月見, “moon viewing”) honor the mid-autumn Moon. However, this tour is a bit different than the others as it involved several tours of different places in the afternoon, capped off by the Moon Viewing in the evening.

We first met as a group in Kintetsu Nara Station together with our tour guides.

The tour had several locations: a choice between Irie Taikichi Museum and Shin-yakushiji, Yugayama Enchi, and Ukimido Pavilion.

Our tour guides for the day discussing where the tour spots are.

As the start of the tour, our group was split into two as we were given a choice of which places we wanted to go: either the Irie Taikichi Museum or Shin-yakushiji. The group I joined in was more interested in photography so we chose the Irie Taikichi Musuem. Unfortunately, taking photos inside the museum was not allowed.

The only thing you can take a photo of inside the museum 🙁

The museum was built to honor Irie Taikichi’s work in photography, where majority of which are landscape photography that captures the beauty of Nara. Before he died, he donated his works to the Nara Prefecture Government which consists of around 80, 000 photos.

We regrouped with the others and went to the last spot of Yugayama-enchi, a garden with a bamboo grove and the nearby Ukimido in Sagi-ike, the pond where people can enjoy moon viewing at night.

My friend doing the influencer style “look up” pose!
The view on Ukimido Hall is perfect for Moon Viewing late at night

However, the weather was a bit cloudy and did not cooperate. Still, we did not let this be a letdown so my friends and I who joined the tour decided to cap it off at Monks on the Moon for a western burger experience!

Ultimately, I found the trip fun and spontaneous. It was far from what I expected but I definitely enjoyed the experience and learned so much more about Nara. Being a student in NAIST is not just all work; there are a variety of adventures one can pursue and the community around the university has these opportunities for students to participate in.

International Students Tour: An Excursion in Tawaramoto Town

In a recent tour led by the Nara Prefecture International Exchange Salon, twelve international students joined other universities located in the Nara Prefecture. The tour is based in Tawaramoto (田原本町), a town blessed with great history and rich natural environment, including Karako-Kagi archaeological site (唐古・鍵 総合サイト) and Momotaro’s birthplace (桃太郎生誕の地).

Continue reading International Students Tour: An Excursion in Tawaramoto Town

A Trip Back to Ancient Japan: Tamba Sasayama International Students Excursion

Old and new NAIST international students were in for a treat as the International Student Affairs brought them to Tamba-Sasayama, an old castle town located in the heart of Hyogo, on May 12, 2019. A group of 41 eager students, from all three divisions of NAIST, joins us today! The event opens with soba-making lessons, followed by a refreshing afternoon walk around the garden, all conveniently located at Eitakuji.

We tried our hand at soba-making at Eitakuji Soba Dojo, under the guidance of a master soba maker. We were taught that traditional soba-making follows a rigorous procedure, which can be categorized into three major steps: (1) dough-making (水回し, mizumawashi), (2) flattening (丸出し, marudashi), and (3) cutting (切り, kiri).

Step 1: mizumawashi — thoroughly mixing buckwheat flour and water to make a dough.
Step 2: marudashi — rolling out the dough to make a large thin sheet.
Step 3: kiri – cutting the sheet evenly into thin soba noodles.

As a reward for our hard work, for making fresh soba from scratch–a hearty soba and tempura lunch!

Students enjoying the soba that they have just made themselves, along with some tempura and rice.

After lunch time, the group then went to the Sasayama Castle Great Lecture Hall (篠山城大書院), which is said to be comparable to Kyoto’s Nijo castle in terms of architecture. It was built on the orders of the 16th century shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. Inside the structure are replicas of samurai armor, which are said to weigh around ten kilos each. Although this already sounds heavy, the original ones used in the ancient times are believed to be twice or thrice this weight.

Samurai armor replicas displayed in the Sasayama Castle Oshoin.

Following this is a stroll around the Aoyama Historical Village. Housed in this area is the Tamba Sasayama Dekansho Museum, where students got to enjoy a VR experience featuring a dance to the “Tamba Sasayama Dekansho Song – The Memory of One’s Home Sung with Folk Song,” which became a heritage of Japan in April 2015.

An attendee tests out the VR experience at the museum.

The last stop was the Samurai Residence Anma Family Historical Archive Hall, where the participants took a glimpse of a samurai’s humble abode. Descendants of the samurai are said to still reside in some of the houses within the vicinity.

An old samurai head gear displayed at the Samurai Residence Anma Family Historical Archive Hall.

To cap off the informative and enjoyable excursion, the students enjoyed some ice cream made from the popular Tamba Sasayama black soybeans.

Tamba Sasayama black soybean ice cream being enjoyed by the students.

This excursion is one of the many activities organized by the International Student Affairs for the NAIST international students. Such activities are aimed towards promoting camaraderie among international students while deepening their knowledge of the Japanese culture. Come join us next time!