Hanukkah Event ハヌカのイベント

Hi everyone! This is Steven, the CIR in Seika. I’d like to tell everyone about a foreign culture-related event I put on recently.


Did you know that many Jewish people do not celebrate Christmas? As a Jewish person, I grew up celebrating a different holiday called Hanukkah. Hanukkah comes at a slightly different time every year because it is pegged to the Hebrew calendar, but it is always around the same time as Christmas. However, Hanukkah has its own special customs that are unrelated to Christmas. On Sunday, December 9th, I had the opportunity to teach 17 children and their parents about Hanukkah at the Mukunoki Center in Seika.


First, the event opened with the story of Hanukkah. Hanukkah is a holiday which celebrates two miracles. The first was that the ancient Jews successfully rebelled against their Greek oppressors despite a vastly smaller army. The second was that when the Jews built a new temple and rededicated it, their menorah (nine-branched candelabrum) burned for a whole eight days, even though there was only enough oil for one day. For this reason, Hanukkah is celebrated over an eight-day period.



Frying latkes 揚げたラトケ

After that, we moved onto the activities section of the event. First up was cooking latkes, traditional Jewish potato pancakes which are often eaten on Hanukkah. By the end, everyone was getting good at flipping them over, and I’d say they came out pretty well!



Making a pop-up card 飛び出すカード作り

Next came the crafts. First, everyone made pop-up cards and decorated them with various Hanukkah-related images, such as menorahs. Then they all learned how to make paper dreidels, or special tops that children play with on Hanukkah.


The final part of the event was candle-lighting. Participants got to try their hand at lighting candles. Some of the children were nervous at dealing with fire, but in the end they did a magnificent job of lighting the candles. Afterwards, everyone stood and enjoyed the tradition that has given Hanukkah the nickname of “Festival of Lights.”



Lit candles ともした明かり

It was great getting to teach everyone about my culture and have fun in the process. Looking forward to next time!


Field Trip to Nantan: taking in the autumn scenery  フィールドトリップin南丹:秋の風景を満喫しよう

Hi! It’s Alice, the CIR at Kyoto Prefectural International Center. Autumn has finally come and gone, and with it the “koyo” frenzy, or red maple leaves viewing. Did you enjoy it?


DSC05741On October 27th, KPIC staff and 45 international students took the bus for a one-day trip to Miyama village in the Nantan area, to meet the local citizens and enjoy the beautiful natural landscapes. This time we had participants from 11 countries and regions ranging from Asia, America, India and Europe.

Ready to explore the village見学を楽しみにしている留学生達

Ready to explore the village


Miyama village is also known as “Kayabuki no Sato”, or “thatched houses village”. A lot of these old traditional Japanese houses remain there, and we started the visit from there. Including Nantan citizens, our group consisted of more than a hundred people, so we had to form smaller groups to walk within the village. My group had the chance to have one of the persons in charge of the preservation and renovation of the village as a guide, so we learned everything about the history and architecture of the houses. For example, in spite of the very particular roof, rain does not get inside and air circulation is very good so that everything stays fresh and in good condition.

Miyama's thatched houses village美山のかやぶきの里

Miyama’s thatched houses village



Thatched Houseかやぶきの家屋

Thatched House

However, it was something else that the guide said that surprised me the most. He said that nowadays, people do not know how to build their houses, because there is too much light in them. Indeed, the low roof of the thatched houses let just a small amount of light in, making the inside darker and cozy. He said that people need just the right amount of light to be at ease and for their mind to be able to rest and find the right pace; with too much light our brains are constantly stimulated and therefore can never rest, but it’s just a sad consequence of our modern busy lives.
There really was an historic atmosphere to the village, and with the oldest house being 200 years old, there was a lot to learn during this visit.

Thick roofかやぶきの屋根

Thick roof



Handmade lunch by Nantan citizens南丹の住民手作りの昼食

Handmade lunch by Nantan citizens

Each group then started to walk towards a barbecue camp site near the river to meet the local Nantan citizens and enjoy handmade yakisoba and onigiri, as well as Miyama apples. One of the participants from China had brought a traditional Chinese flute, so we were lucky to hear a special performance from him! It was really different from all the other kind of flutes I had heard until now.


Yakisoba - 焼きそば

Yakisoba – 焼きそば

Souvenir bookmark記念ブックマーク

Souvenir bookmark

After lunch, it was time to make a bookmark as a souvenir. We gathered autumn leaves, plants and flowers from the forest nearby, decorated the bookmarks with stamps, ribbons and whatever we wanted to write on them, before putting everything under a laminator to finalize our masterpieces. One participant was really good at braiding ribbons, and people even lined up to get their bookmark done! Others were playing in the forest with Japanese children that had come with their parents, climbing to a small hut on top of the trees. It was really nice to see everybody chatting together and making friends, especially given that most of the participants didn’t know each other at the beginning of the day.

Souvenir bookmarks記念ブックマーク

Souvenir bookmarks


After a short drop by the nearby souvenir shop, we got back on the bus to Kyoto. It was a really nice, sunny day to have fun in the beautiful autumn scenery of Miyama, and I hope the participants and Nantan citizens will treasure the memories and relationships that were born on that day!


Group picture集合写真

Group picture