Field Trips in Kyoto Prefecture: Nantan City and Kyotamba Town – 京都府へのフィールドトリップ:南丹市と京丹波町

Alice from KPIC here!

It’s been a while! I have been pretty busy this autumn organizing many field trips in Kyoto Prefecture for international residents and students.
Every year we organize field trip programs in various parts of Kyoto Prefecture in a bid to introduce the charms of areas other than Kyoto City to international residents and students.
Some field trips are only one-day excursions, while some include a homestay and last 2 days. There is always a cultural experience activity and other programs that enable participants to interact with the local residents during their stay.



Today I would like to talk about 2 field trips we did in October: one in Nantan City, and another one in Kyotamba Town, both located north of Kyoto City but with very different sceneries and features.


Making uchiwa (paper fan) うちわ作りワークショップ

Making uchiwa (paper fan)

The Field Trip to Nantan took place on October 11th. We had 39 participants from 18 countries and regions join in. Participants were able to try making their own “uchiwa”, a paper fan used in summer to cool one down together with the “yukata”, the summer kimono. They could choose from various patterns and designs and customize their fans with colored papers, paint or stamps.

For lunch, we had “temaki sushi”, hand-rolled sushi. It was the first time for most of the participants to try it and they seemed to have a lot of fun while Japanese people at each table explained and showed them how to do it.

Delicious food 美味しい料理がたくさん!

Delicious food

Taiko performance 太鼓の演奏

Taiko performance

As the weather was great we had also outdoor activities, with one group enjoying a walking tour of natural and historical sites, and another doing some ground golf.
To close the day we had a local taiko drum band, Asyura, play a little concert for us and then letting the participants try to play the drums in rhythm all together as well. Some participants even wanted to join the team afterwards!

Making sushi 手巻き寿司

Making sushi



The whole group 全員

The whole group

The Field Trip to Kyotamba Town took place on October 25th and 26th, for a two-day one night homestay program.

Black beans harvesting experience 黒豆収穫体験

Black beans harvesting experience

This time, 40 people from 16 countries and regions joined. Local farmers welcomed us and showed us how to harvest black beans first.
The Tamba area is indeed famous for its black beans, especially used over New Year for the traditional Japanese meal eaten on January 1st called “osechi ryori”.
The ones we harvested hadn’t turned black yet as you need to leave them to mature a little bit more, but they were nonetheless delicious!

Mochi (rice cake) making お餅つき

Mochi (rice cake) making

For lunch, local residents had prepared a wonderful party with rice cake pounding, a barbecue of deer meat, curry croquettes and of course black beans! A local band even held a little concert while we ate to complete the joyful mood.
We then danced together the local summer dance “Bon Odori”, listened to a taiko drum concert by children and tried playing the drums as well. Farmers then taught us the local dialect. For example, instead of saying “Sayonara” for “goodbye”, you say “Sainara”. Or you say “Yayako” instead of “Akachan” to say baby.

It was then time for the participants to leave with their host families to create unforgettable memories together.

Black beans harvesting experience 黒豆収穫体験

Black beans harvesting experience



Trying taiko drums 太鼓の体験

Trying taiko drums


We met again on Sunday to enjoy a local food festival called “Shoku no Saiten” where you could try various original recipes made with Tamba’s specialties such as fried deer meat, ramen with deer and wild boar meat, wild boar hotdogs, coffee latte made from a chestnut paste etc.
One of the venues was an agricultural high school where you could enjoy charcoal-baked pizza by the students, tea ceremony, butter-making workshop and a vegetables harvest experience among other interesting activities.
It was then time to leave but I’m sure people will be back to visit their host families and enjoy the other hidden gems the area has to offer!

Wild boar hotdogs anyone? 猪のホットドッグはいかが?

Wild boar hotdogs anyone?

Butter making experience バター作り体験

Butter making experience


Through these events I hope international and Japanese residents can create bonds and get to know each other better. It’s always a lot of fun too!


Happy group! 元気な皆さん

Happy group!

Homestay & Field Trip in Kyotango 2014: Countryside Experience – ホームステイ&フィールドトリップ in 京丹後2014年:田舎体験

Alice from KPIC! At the beginning of July, I went to Kyotango with international students for a Field Trip and Homestay program.


Buddhist cuisine at Sanyouji temple 三要寺での精進料理

Buddhist cuisine at Sanyouji temple

On July 5th, we escaped the city’s heat together with 33 international students to enjoy Kyotango’s countryside and rich nature. It was a really diverse group with people from 19 countries and regions, and everybody got along really well with new friendships being born from the very start. We had people from America, Australia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, France, Egypt, Argentina, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and India. The world came to Kyotango that weekend!


Buddhist cuisine at Sanyouji temple 三要寺での精進料理

Buddhist cuisine at Sanyouji temple

We first arrived at Sanyouji temple, where we had Buddhist cuisine (shojin ryori in Japanese). The creativity of every plate, the freshness and variety of flavors on top of the discovery of new ones quickly make you forget it’s vegetarian-only cuisine. Usually you are not supposed to talk when eating or make noise with the plates or chopsticks, but we had a special exemption and were able to happily and noisily enjoy our meals.
The monk then explained the life at the temple, and showed us how they use a wooden board with a hammer to mark the hours and call for prayer.
Participants then met their host families and enjoyed the rest of the day and the next morning with them. We heard they went to many places with them and some had barbecue parties with their neighbors so I guess everyone had a good time!

Wooden board used to mark the hours 木の板で時間を知らせる

Wooden board used to mark the hours


Nagashi somen with handmade bamboo chopsticks and bowls 竹細工で作った竹のお箸と茶碗で流しそうめん

Nagashi somen with handmade bamboo chopsticks and bowls

The next day, we gathered at Minka-en, a place with three traditional thatched houses in the middle of green fields, to have an exchange party with everybody (more than 100 people!). We visited the houses with an expert who explained how they are made and how age makes such houses better. We then made our own bamboo chopsticks that we used to eat flowing somen noodles. In the end we also had a watermelon splitting contest that everybody enjoyed a lot. A lot of new experiences!
When it was time to leave, many participants and host families were crying while saying goodbye. I hope the bonds created on this trip will last for a lifetime and that the participants will be back to enjoy Kyoto Prefecture’s countryside charms again! I will certainly be!

Watermelon splitting スイカ割り

Watermelon splitting


Kyotango is the best! 京丹後が最高!

Kyotango is the best!

Homestay & Field Trip in Seika ー ホームステイ&フィールドトリップin精華町

Alice from KPIC! The weather is finally getting warmer and the cherry trees are in full bloom! Today I would like to talk about the homestay and field trip program in Seika Town.


Strawberry picking イチゴ狩り

Strawberry picking

On March 15th and 16th, I went together with 19 participants to Seika to enjoy strawberry picking, world cooking and homestay with a Japanese family.

This time we had people from the USA, Mexico, Finland, the Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Korea, Vietnam and China. A world trip without leaving Japan!

Seika’s strawberries are famous all over the prefecture for their size and wonderful taste. We had 30min to pick and eat as many as we could so everybody’s bowls were soon full of tasty strawberries! The local farmers were really sweet, explaining how to pick the strawberries without damaging the plants, how they produced them etc.



Then it was back to the community center for a world cooking session!

Guacamole from Mexico メキシコよりのグアカモレ

Guacamole from Mexico

The interesting part of that program is that some participants teach the other participants how to cook famous dishes from their country. Everybody got together to create various flavors to enjoy for lunch. And varied it was! We enjoyed spicy soup and fried chicken, coca cola chicken and fried tomato and eggs from China, Guacamole from Mexico, chicken curry from Sri Lanka, Tinola from the Philippines and Pad Thai from Thailand.


Pad Thai  パッタイ

Pad Thai


After lunch, we had a short talk about disaster preparedness and participants could take home some disaster goods.
All the host families then arrived and participants left for their homes to spend the evening and the next day.
It was a lot of fun to be able to enjoy a world tour from Seika Town on that day!


A word from Steven (CIR in Seika)
スティーブンからの一言 (精華町の国際交流員)

It was a great time getting to make friends (and eat food!) from all over the world. Seika is a small, humble town, but it has a lot of charm, and I am glad that many people got to see that. Also, it was nice having a detailed talk about what to do in case of a natural disaster, since experts say that a large earthquake could strike at any time. I personally feel underprepared for such a disaster, and I am sure I am not alone. I look forward to studying more about disaster preparedness.


Seika 2014

One Day Trip in Kameoka(ワンデートリップ in 亀岡)

Eric from Kameoka! 亀岡市のエリックです。

Kameoka FTOne Day Trip in Kameoka is a day trip program held every year organized by the Kameoka International Exchange Association and Kyoto Prefecture International Center. International and Japanese participants spend the morning exploring Kameoka, and in the afternoon the international participants visit their host families to enjoy various activities together. You can think of it as a homestay without staying the night.

It was a big group! 参加者が多かったです!

It was a big group!

This year, we had a total of 18 international participants from 13 different countries: Korea, Mongolia, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Swedem, India, Australia, Egypt, Thailand, Russia, America, England and 16 host families. We also received cooperation from The Kyoto Crocul Group, Kameoka Municipal Museum of Culture and Oomoto.

Taking a stroll among Kameoka's castle ruins 亀山城の跡を見学する

Taking a stroll among Kameoka’s castle ruins

After a very detailed explanation about Kameoka’s history at the Kameoka Municipal Museum of Culture, we went out to explore the old castle town before it started raining. Due to the rain we headed to Oomoto, which is located at the Kameyama Castle ruins. After an explanation of Oomoto, we went out to see the castle ruins. The autumn leaves could still be seen and was very beautiful.

Meeting with the host families ホストファミリーとの対面

Meeting with the host families

This time we had more than the expected number of participants, both international students and residents and host families. They had a great time talking and learning about each other and I’m sure they all enjoyed the event.

Day trip and Homestay in Kameoka –Making Japanese soba- 亀岡探訪ツアー&ホームステイ ~そば打ち体験~

On the 12th and 13th of October, exchange students and foreigner residents from Kyoto Prefecture participated in a day trip and homestay event organized by the Kameoka International Exchange Association..

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Participants from China, Taiwan, Georgia, and Tonga met at Kameoka Station at 10AM and then headed to Inukanno in Nishibetsuin-cho to try out making soba noodles. This venue located up in the hills between Kameoka and Osaka has been introduced on national television and has had an increase of visitors since.

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The group used a roller and a special knife to make their soba noodles. The soba noodles that they made were then cooked and ready to be served. The noodles that our group made ended up being fatter than our ordinary soba noodles but the taste was close to perfect. It seemed like everyone enjoyed their first experience of making soba noodles.

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From the afternoon, the group travelled to Galleria Kameoka to join in a tea ceremony activities organized by Kyoto Gakuen University’s Tea Ceremony Club. There were some who have done it before and there were also first timers. They learnt about tea ceremony and many were amazed at the practice.
午後からは、ガレリアかめおかで京都学園大学 茶道部のお手前を披露してもらい茶道体験をした。初めて体験する人もおり、作法に戸惑いながらも茶道を学びました。

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After their tea ceremony experience, the group met their host families. They introduced themselves to each other and spent the night with them.

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At their homestays, the exchange students participated in sport events and local festivals and spent time playing their host families children.We received feedback from the exchange students such as, “I was glad that I could learn about Japanese culture” and “I want to do a longer homestay”.

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We received feedback from the exchange students such as, “I was glad that I could learn about Japanese culture” and “I want to do a longer homestay”.We also received many positive feedbacks from the host families such as “It was a good experience to learn about other countries and hear stories about life in Japan”, and “I want to apply again for this program”.

We hope the participants enjoyed their time and were able to teach a little bit about Japanese culture.

Homestay in Seika ホームステイin精華町

Hi, everyone! This is Steven from Seika. On Saturday, March 9th, Alice from the Kyoto Prefectural International Center and I attended the 2013 International Exchange Program event in Seika.


Seika FT

The event started off with all participants gathering at the Seika Town Office in the morning. The group included participants from a wide range of countries including China, Germany, Korea, Sweden, Turkey, and Ukraine. All in all, there were 23 participants.


Eating strawberries いちごを食べる参加者

Eating strawberries いちごを食べる参加者

After gathering at the town office, everyone got on a bus and headed to Kawanishi Strawberry Gardens to enjoy strawberry picking, often said to be the most famous attraction in Seika. Navigating the greenhouse where the strawberries were was a little difficult to the narrow pathways, but the strawberries were absolutely delicious. Everyone got to eat as many strawberries as they could pick in 30 minutes. The participants certainly made the most of the time!

Sweet strawberries anyone?甘いいちごはどうですか?

Sweet strawberries anyone?


Afterwards, everyone headed to the Mukunoki Center, where they were joined by the Japanese participants in the program. There, several of the participants volunteered to cook dishes from their respective countries. With the help of other participants, the cooking went smoothly, and before long everyone was enjoying a variety of dishes such as mochi from Japan, scallion pancakes from Korea, egg-tomato stir fry from China, xiaolongbao from Mongolia, and strawberry pancakes from Seika. By the end, everyone was quite full.


Cooking together 一緒に料理をしよう


It was then time for the participants to meet their host families and leave with them to spend the rest of the afternoon and the next day together. Hopefully they enjoyed Seika and the beautiful spring weather we had during this weekend!

Many participants said that getting to try Seika’s sweet strawberries and cooking and eating together with the locals were very good experiences. They were also happy that they got to meet Japanese families and other international students as well.


Ready at last! できあがり!

Ready at last! できあがり!

A Look Around Kameoka 2012 亀岡探訪ツアー2012年

Hi everyone, this is Margaret from Kameoka.

On October 13th and 14th, the Lifelong Learning Foundation, Kameoka held the annual “Look Around Kameoka Tour,” a one night homestay program for study abroad students in Kyoto Prefecture. This year 15 students from 4 different countries came and experienced Kameoka, many for the first time. This tour is a great opportunity for students in Kyoto to get out of the city and experience life in rural Japan.



We met at Kameoka Station and then traveled by bus to the Yume Cosmos Garden in Yoshikawa-cho. Every year this garden is painted with colorful cosmos flowers, and people come from all over Japan just to see them. The garden overflows with more than 8,000,000 flowers of 20 different varieties, all with unique shapes and colors. Each year the city holds a scarecrow contest and different groups create their own scarecrow that visitors can vote on. There is even a special marketplace where different stalls sell homegrown vegetables and famous foods from the Tamba region.


After the garden, we visited the Galleria Kameoka, where we learned how to make makizushi (sushi rolls). There is a restaurant called Shikisai in Kameoka, where a different chef each day uses locally grown vegetables to create healthy lunches. Three of the Shikisai chefs taught us how to make sushi.


First we helped to cool the rice with fans after they added the concoction of sugar, salt, and vinegar to make it sushi rice.


Then we learned how to put the ingredients together to make a sushi roll. They showed us how to properly place the sheet of nori on the maki sudare so it would roll with the grain. Next we spread the right amount of rice onto the sheet of nori and then laid the egg, shiitake mushroom, carrot, and komatsuna on top before rolling it up. It was harder than it looked, but in the end all of the students had made a delicious looking sushi roll. Then the chefs taught us to make temakizushi, which is something you can make by rolling up the ingredients into a cone shape with just your hands.


The most exciting thing for me was watching the students interact with each other. They all come from different countries and different schools, but they are all here studying Japanese so they have that common language that brings them together. It’s quite interesting to stand in a group where the members are from China, Korea, Thailand, and America, but we are all communicating in Japanese because that is our only common language.


After eating, the students met their host families. They spent the night in Kameoka and spent all day on the 14th with their host families. Then, at 5 pm they were dropped off at the train station to return home.