Category Archives: Exchange Program

kelseydo Gion Matsuri

Last week I got a chance to visit Kyoto’s biggest and oldest festival, Gion Matsuri! It is a month long event but the most popular evenings are the nights of the 15th, 16th and the day of the 17th for the parade.

This is the only event where I felt like as a foreigner I was encouraged to wear the Yukata, the light-knit cotton/linen robe that is more casual than the Kimono. It was really fun to wear out on the town. I felt like I was wearing my bathrobe outside. My friend Chika told me that a long time ago the Yukata was only for use in the home for bathing so I was right to feel this way!

Beautiful Bow

Beautiful Bow

Getting dolled up

Getting dolled up

Yukata on!

Yukata on!

Luckily we had Yuko-san to help us get our Yukatas on properly and to tie the Obi into a perfect bow!

Alex wearing my 'drinking jacket'

Alex wearing my ‘drinking jacket’

Daniel showing off the artwork on his Happi

Daniel showing off the artwork on his Happi

Alex, Haruna & I

Alex, Haruna & I

Daniel and Haruna

Daniel and Haruna

Waiting for the Randen

Waiting for the Randen

Escalator shot

Escalator shot

Faces on the subway

Faces on the subway

It was really busy once we got downtown! There were people everywhere. Apparently tens-of-thousands of people go each night. All the main streets were closed down and there were a lot of food stalls, souvenir shops and the parade floats were all lit up with music playing.

Megumi & I at Shijo Karasuma

Megumi & I at Shijo Karasuma

Food stalls

Food stalls

Dessert!

Dessert!

Marcus enjoying some snacks

Marcus enjoying some snacks

Haruna digging in- not too sure what this is called but it's an egg with sauces on a giant squid cracker

Haruna digging in- not too sure what this is called but it’s an egg with sauces on a giant squid cracker

As usual, the food was one of the main events for us- we had to try everything!

Streetside bar

Streetside bar

A lot of people were enjoying their beer in the street, there were even little cocktail shops set up on the side of the street like this.

We were lucky enough to get up close and personal to a few of the parade floats.

Lanterns

Lanterns

More Lanterns

More Lanterns

Giant float including full size tree

Giant float including full size tree

photo 1

Marcus and Daniel enjoying the view from a float- the ladies weren't allowed on this one

Marcus and Daniel enjoying the view from a float- the ladies weren’t allowed on this one

photo 4We got to take a tour of this one while they were playing drums and singing inside of it but of course- no photos!

And then more food…we were on a mission for frozen bananas! It was a very hot and humid night.

Candy apple

Candy apple

Takoyaki- fried octopus balls (Mom's favorite!)

Takoyaki- fried octopus balls (Mom’s favorite!)

Lanterns everywhere!

Lanterns everywhere!

We found the mysterious frozen banana!

We found the mysterious frozen banana!

Banana Kanpai!

Banana Kanpai!

Beth loves waffles...on a stick!

Beth loves waffles…on a stick!

This guy...

This guy…

The gang!

The gang!

All in all it was an amazing night! I wish I could have gone again but unfortunately it was right in the middle of all my final exams for school.

Gion Matsuri can’t be missed!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

kelseydo Guerilla Rain

Guerilla rain is a sudden downpour of rain, especially in a narrow zone in an urban area. Lately, we’ve been having a lot of Guerilla rain! It is really surprising and intense sometimes. This one only lasted about 10 minutes.

Guerilla Rain!

Guerilla Rain!

After the storm

After the storm

I didn’t get a chance to take a photo before when it was sunny because it happened so fast!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

kelseydo Nikujaga with Megumi-chan

This is the meat-and-potato stew of Japanese comfort food. We had quite a thunderstorm today so it was nice to have some mid-summer stew.

My friend Megumi came over to show me how to make Nikujaga, a very simple and delicious dish. Megumi is coming to visit me in Canada in about a month so I decided to show her pictures of wildlife in Canada: Moose, Grizzlies, Killer Whales, Cougars; just to scare the crap out of her before she comes! Of course I doubt we will get to see any of those animals. Hopefully Killer Whales! The rest I am happy to see in photos rather than real life. Anyways, Nikujaga.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Chef Megumi

Chef Megumi

All you need to make the dish is a little oil, dashi, soy sauce, sugar, salt, carrots, potatoes and pork. We also needed a little sake but I didn’t have any open bottles: if you can believe it. I’ve seen other recipes that call for green beans, shitake mushrooms and use beef instead of pork as well.

Fry up the meat with a little oil

Fry up the meat with a little oil

Add the veggies

Add the veggies

Add the seasoning: dashi, soy sauce, salt, sugar and sake

Add water, then seasoning: dashi, soy sauce, salt, sugar and sake

Cover the cooking meat and veggies with baking paper to seal in the steam and to ensure uniform cooking and flavour

Cover the cooking meat and veggies with baking paper to seal in the steam and to ensure uniform cooking and flavour

Ta-da! Nikujaga….

Itadakimasu!

Itadakimasu!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

kelseydo yakisoba

Yakisoba is a fried noodle dish that is super easy to make, really cheap, nutritious and delicious. Also, the grocery store near my house: Gyomu, practically caters to making this dish with its perfect packaging and  great deals. It’s also something I can easily make once I return home to remind me of Japan! It’s not a very authentic way to make it but it’s still really delicious.

Ingredients

Ingredients

I like to use eggplant, spinach and red pepper to get a lot of colour in the dish since the soba noodles are kind of a dull brown colour. Soba noodles are made of buckwheat, which despite the name, is not made of wheat at all-it is more closely related to sorrel or rhubarb. It’s safe for people to eat who have celiac disease or gluten allergies. 

It comes in these really convenient one portion bags and it is already partially cooked so its ready-to-fry. You can also buy raw soba noodles and boil them for a few minutes before adding them to the mix but they are finicky to get cooked right for this dish. The bags are 15 yen so it’s actually a lot cheaper than buying the raw soba noodles.

Soba

Soba

I fry the chicken first, in sesame oil with some garlic powder and chili powder. Once it’s cooked on all sides I throw in the chopped up vegetables.

Frying up some goods

Frying up some goods

Once the vegetables are almost cooked I add the noodles straight from the bag. The trick is to add two heaping tablespoons of Tonkatsu sauce on top of the noodles before you mix them in so that the noodles don’t stick together too much. You might also want to turn down the heat a bit when you first add the noodles as well. Once the noodles are cooked, only after a few minutes, it’s done! Whew, that was easy.

Add some sesame seeds on top. It tastes good, it’s healthy, and it always makes a dish look pro.

Voila

Voila

This isn’t really the most beautiful looking dish but it really is delicious. AND did I mention cheap?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

kelseydo nagashi somen & thrift shopping

Days like today I stop and think…wow, I am living in Kyoto! I am so lucky! Sometimes I forget. Actually often I forget. Trying to adapt to everyday life in a different country makes you forget how truly wild it is that you are there! But of course there are those moments of clarity. Today was one of those moments!

I started the day with a fun event organized by a tutor association (TISA) at Ritsumeikan. There were about 30 International students and 20 Japanese students participating in the event so I got to speak in English and Japanese which was great. We played a lot of ice-breaking/group-making games and then we enjoyed the main event: eating Nagashi Somen!

Nagashi Somen is an eating style where people catch and eat somen noodles with chopsticks as they run down a bamboo pipe in a stream of water.

Nagashi Somen Line Up!

Nagashi Somen Line Up!

Hard at work, pouring water and adding somen

Hard at work: pouring water and adding Somen

Catching noodles!

Catching noodles!

Good times

After the event, my friend Alex and I went on a mission for coffee. We had a particular cafe in mind: Cafe Kamogawa.

On the road

Alex on the road

Alex found this little gem on a website called Eat Drink Kyoto, that listed Cafe Kamogawa as THE BEST COFFEE in Kyoto so naturally we had to go all the way across town to try it.

Alex enjoying her coffee at Cafe Kamogawa

Alex enjoying her coffee at Cafe Kamogawa

My Iced Cafe Mocha came with a scoop of ice cream: DELIGHT

My Iced Cafe Mocha came with a scoop of ice cream: DELIGHT

Alex hamming it up

Alex hamming it up

Needless to say, the coffee was divine and the dessert was even better. Alex had a slice of lemon cheesecake and I had a piece of soufflé roll cake. I didn’t really need the dessert after I saw that my Iced Cafe Mocha came with a scoop of ice cream- amazing!

Outside of Cafe Kamogawa

Outside of Cafe Kamogawa

There are so many little unique cafes in Kyoto and this experience made me want to try them all! It was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon. Alex is a riot, she is always cracking me up with her funny sayings and ridiculous faces. I might have to pack her up and bring her back to Canada with me in my suitcase!

We stopped at a small recycle shop (thrift store/second hand store) that was loaded with incredibly quirky and unique items.

A highly stylized miniature bow & arrow set

A highly stylized miniature bow & arrow set

I managed to spy a few goodies and took home some loot:

A cool top $4.80

A cool top $4.80

Back side

Back side

A red coin purse with a small pocket inside for loose change $5

A red coin purse with a small pocket inside for loose change $5

Afterwards we rode our bikes home through Myoshinji, a beautiful zen buddhist temple complex near our dorm. It was “magic hour” (as Nick likes to call it) when the sun is setting and the lighting is nice and warm but not too bright.

Shameless bike riding selfie

Shameless bike riding selfie

Alex leading the way

Alex leading the way

I always wish my weekends were just one day longer! Especially the last few weekends because I have had class/work on Saturdays.

I only have 49 days left in Kyoto, guess I had better make the most of it!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,