A CIR from Kyoto’s Coast!海の京都の国際交流員が参上!

Get to know Jeremy Hebert, one of three of the Coordinators for International Relations for Kyotango City, by reading his newly posted introduction in the Kyotango tab above or by following this link!


School visit and Panel Discussion about Love and Marriage in Kyotango – 京丹後市での高校訪問と恋愛・結婚観のパネルディスカッション

Mineyama High School Visit – 峰山高校訪問

Alice from KPIC!

In February I had the opportunity to visit Kyotango in the North of Kyoto Prefecture twice for events linked to international exchange and multiculturalism.


I first went to Mineyama High School as part of an international exchange event held every year. It was my first time visiting this school and after a few email exchanges with the students beforehand I was really eager to meet them all.
4 Kyoto Prefecture Friendship Ambassadors went with me, originally from Hungary, Indonesia, Ukraine and Thailand so we were representing 5 countries in total.


We first met with all the 1st year students (more than 200!) in the school gymnasium for a brief introduction of our native countries.
We had only 5 minutes for this introduction, so I introduced basic facts about France and spoke about French overseas departments and French-speaking countries. I also showed various pictures about French tourist places, natural landscapes, cuisine and cultural events.


Mineyama HSWe then split into classes for further exchange. When I entered the class, all the students welcomed me with perfect French, which almost brought tears to my eyes. I really felt welcomed.

Students first introduced the Tango area to me, with its legends, food and local speech. They put a lot of humor into their speeches and it was really a lot of fun.

I then spoke in more details about France, such as immigrants, high school life, culture and a bit of French language. Exchange afterwards was really meaningful as well, with students asking questions such as “what cultural aspect of France are you proud of?”, “what do you think Japan needs in this globalized world?” and “what is your motto in life?” for example.



I love exchanging with students because they are the ones building tomorrow’s society and having such discussions about different cultural backgrounds and habits is really important for both sides.
I hope I can visit again!


Panel discussion about love and marriage –

2 weeks later I took part in a panel discussion about love and marriage in Kyotango, together with two Japanese, a Colombian lady and a Polish man.

Panel tangoWe were first asked to talk about marriage and love values in our respective countries.
I spoke about the various kinds of unions existing in France first. Indeed, on top of traditional marriage, we also have “PACS”, which is a simpler form of marriage that can easily be concluded and dissolved. Originally created for same-sex couples, it is nowadays very popular with young couples looking for stability but still wishing to keep a certain degree of independence through marriage.
Same-sex marriage was also legalized in France in May 2013 so I talked about the background before the law was passed and the different viewpoints about this topic in France.


I then briefly introduced common views about love and marriage in France. Preserving one’s independence within the couple is really important. Therefore, both people tend to work and housewives are quite rare. Keeping love going on and still being lovers after years have passed and children get into the equation is equally important.
For French couples, preserving a good balance between work, love and parenthood is at the center of a happy relationship.


Panel TangoThe other panelists then introduced how love is viewed in their native countries.
I discovered together with the other participants that divorce is almost unheard of in Colombia because of the very strong Catholic values, and that family is all important and usually placed above private couple matters in Poland.


We then had a discussion with all the panelists, with Japanese people talking about their thoughts on love in Colombia, Poland and France, and answering questions about what Japanese men and women look for in a relationship, as well as the changes currently occurring in Japanese society on this level.

The Colombian and Polish panelists then talked about how they met their spouses, both of them being married to a Japanese person and living in Japan.



The Polish person talked about how he tries to spend as much time as possible with his family and stressed the importance of creating quality time together. To him, it was hard to understand how most Japanese fathers are still mostly absent from their homes.

The Colombian lady told us how she wished that Japanese people spoke more openly about their feelings, especially to their partner. Indeed, and especially in the case of international marriage, no understanding can be reached without proper communication.



The panelists and organizers パネリストと主催者

The panelists and organizers

In spite of the differences in marriage and values surrounding love in our respective countries, the three of us agreed on one point: we do not understand “konkatsu”, the Japanese practice of going to special meetings or events with the aim of marrying somebody met there. For us, thoughts of marriage occur after meeting someone one loves and after spending a few years dating him / her. But the purpose of “konkatsu” turns this whole logical concept around: one meets someone because they want to get married. It sounds like getting married for the sake of getting married and not because you want to spend your life with that particular person.


I realized that no matter how long you have lived in a country and how well integrated you are, some fundamental values do not change. However, this should not be the cause for cultural clashes but rather raise interesting discussions enriching one’s view on the world. For successful cultural integration in a foreign country, holding onto one’s fundamental values while understanding different ones and adapting, up to a certain extent, is necessary. Achieving such a balance can be challenging but very rewarding.


No matter how different our values are, we are all human and all want to experience beautiful love. Fear of cultural differences should not prevent us to build relationships with somebody we like. In the end, we regret the things we didn’t do and not the ones we did, so go on and open your heart next time you meet that special someone!


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!

French sweets cooking class in Kyotango – フランスのお菓子 料理教室in京丹後

KyotangoHi! This is Alice from KPIC. The cherry blossoms have ended and spring is finally here!
On March 16th, I did a French cooking class in Kyotango City. This time, it was a dessert cooking class in the afternoon where we cooked 3 sweets: chocolate mousse, yoghurt cake and crepes.


Egg whites are ready! 白身を泡立てました!

Egg whites are ready!

We first started with the mousse as it needs to be refrigerated 3 hours or more before actually turning into a mousse. The sweet smell of chocolate started to float around the room as participants melted the chocolate and got started. The hardest part when doing a mousse is to get the right consistency. To do so, you have to beat the egg whites until they get thicker and they shouldn’t fall even if you turn the bowl over. It was funny to watch everybody do so and be excited when the whites stayed at the bottom!

Once the mousse was ready, we put it into cups and in the refrigerator.



Chocolate mousse! チョコレートムース

Chocolate mousse!

Explaining the yoghurt cake ヨーグルトケーキの作り方を説明する

Explaining the yoghurt cake

The yoghurt cake is a really popular and easy to do French cake. Basically, you use one yoghurt’s carton to measure all the other ingredients, put everything together, mix, add the flavor or fruits you like and bake. In France, even 3 year old children can bake this cake, so it’s really popular for picnics, parties and rainy Sundays.


Yoghurt cake! ヨーグルトケーキ出来上がり!

Yoghurt cake!

For the crepes, I always use my grandmother’s recipe which is… to put orange peel into the batter! It’s always a success even if it’s quite bothersome to grate a whole orange.

How to add the orange peel into the batter 生地にオレンジの皮を入れる

How to add the orange peel into the batter

To make good crepes you have to make sure that everything is well blended without lumps, add a few drops of vanilla essence and sugar until you cannot feel the taste of flour anymore and the batter itself tastes sweet. Use only one ladleful of batter in a heated fry pan, spread it using round movements, cook until both sides are colored and you have a wonderful French crepe! As in Japan, we put fruits, whipped cream, jam, honey, chocolate inside the crepes but the most common way of eating them is with either sugar or Nutella.

Spread the batter in the fry pan フライパンで生地を広げる

Spread the batter in the fry pan



Time to eat! 食事タイム!

Time to eat!

It was quite tight to make 3 desserts in 2h30 but we managed to finish everything on time and eat all together, although the mousse was better after leaving it a whole night in the fridge!

I really like Kyotango with its pretty beach, delicious food, onsens and warm people! Especially their accent! I hope I will have other occasions in the future to take the Kyotango people to France for a few hours!



Chocolate mousse, crepes and yoghurt cake. チョコレートムース、クレープとヨーグルトケーキ

Chocolate mousse, crepes and yoghurt cake.

Let me know if you want the recipes!


Mark goes to Kyotango! マークは京丹後に行ってきました~

Hello everyone, it’s Mark from Kyoto Prefecture’s International Affairs Division. I’d like to write a short something about a recent field trip on which I went!


On Saturday the 20th October, I was asked by my office to help out on a field trip that Kyoto Prefecture was jointly organising, in cooperation with Kyotango City and their international exchange association. As the field trip was for Kyoto’s Sangyo University exchange students, they asked me to come along to help with things like translating and interpreting.


It was a really early start on Saturday morning, getting picked up by the bus from the Prefectural Office at around 8am, to start the long drive up to Kyotango. The atmosphere on the bus was an odd mix of sleepiness and excitement for the weekend ahead. After a brief stop on the way, we eventually arrived in Kyotango around 11:30am, and after a few opening and welcoming words, we got straight to work on producing handkerchiefs. We were given paints and stencils, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, despite a couple of the students not perhaps getting the end result they were hoping for! I was very proud of my 95/100 score given to me by one of the ladies teaching us.


Afterwards, everyone was very hungry, and so we had lunch nearby. We were taught how to make bara-zushi, and everyone made their own, piled high with rice, fish, and egg. We were also served local bonito and soup, for a typical Kyotango meal.


The next part of our busy schedule took us to the centre built to protect and promote the Kotohiki-hama beach. This beach is special because its sand is so clean, that it makes a sound, somewhat like the koto, when you walk on it. After an explanation and a chance to make decorative candles with the sand, we all had a chance to go down to the beach and experience the beach and the stunning view of the sea for ourselves.


Eventually we headed over to the hostel on the coast, where we all kicked off our shoes and had a rest from the busy day. Before the fantastic dinner, we were visited and given a few short words from the vice-governor of Kyoto Prefecture, the mayor of Kyotango, and the head of the local international exchange association. We were also very happy to receive a few bottles of local sake for everyone (over 20, of course) to sample. The rest of the night was spent relaxing in the hot springs of the hostel, and getting to know each other over some of the delicious sake.


The next day was another early rise, and after a traditional breakfast, with some of us feeling a little more fragile than others, we headed out early for the second day of a busy schedule. Visiting the local Eco-energy plant, we got to see Kyotango’s environmentally friendly power plant in action, before heading out to the local fair. There we were able to sample plenty of delicious local food, see various performances on stage, and for some of the group, dabble in some bargain shopping!


After a sleepy journey back through a traffic jam, everyone made it back safely. I hope everyone had a good time, as I enjoyed myself a lot! It was a really great chance to, not only see part of Kyoto Prefecture that’s so different from the City itself, but to meet other exchange students and people my own age. I hope we all keep in touch and go on another field trip again soon!




Homestay and Field Trip in Kyotango 京丹後のホームステイとフィールドトリップ

Lunch at Sankaikan

On July 7th, 34 international students of Kyoto Prefecture boarded the bus for a 2 day field trip and homestay in Kyotango, in Northern Kyoto Prefecture. Having the opportunity to escape the heat and humidity of Kyoto City’s summer, everybody was really excited during the 3 hour-long trip, and participants became closer really quickly, forming friendships that I hope will last very long.
Many corners of the world were represented in this event; indeed people came from various countries and regions such as Djibouti, Tonga, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Sweden, Australia, Germany and Egypt. 14 countries in total!

After having lunch at Sankaikan, we headed towards the Kinoshita Sake Brewery for a visit of their facilities and a sake tasting tour.

Kinoshita Sake Brewery

On top of being located in a beautiful environment, surrounded by mountains and nature, Kinoshita Sake Brewery has another particularity: they have Japan’s only foreign-born Toji (master brewer and managing director), Philip Harper, born in Britain. As he is a very busy man, we weren’t able to meet him during the tour, but we got the CEO of the brewery to show us around and explain the brewing process of sake. At the end of the tour, we got to taste 2 different sakes. The second one was brewed by Philip Harper and was really refined and sweet; no wonder it has even won prizes!
Some of the participants were adventurous enough to taste the sake ice cream made at the factory, some of them not even knowing it was made from alcohol. But apparently it was good and had a very special flavor, so I guess it was a nice experience for them.

Kinoshita Sake Brewery

木下酒造は綺麗な山や自然に囲まれるだけではなく、日本唯一の外国人の杜氏、Philip Harper氏がそこで勤めています。彼はとても忙しかったので残念ながら会うことができませんでした。木下酒造の社長に見学させてもらい、日本酒の作り方を説明していただきました。見学後、日本酒の二つの種類を試飲できました。二番目はPhilip Harper氏が作られて、受賞したこともある日本酒でしたので、とても上品で甘いお酒でした。

After the Sake Brewery tour, we went to meet the host families where everybody introduced themselves, before going home with them for the rest of the day. When we asked later, we found out that some of them went all the way to Amano Hashidate, one of Japan’s three most scenic views. I wished I could have gone too! Some had cooking or BBQ parties, tea ceremony experience etc… Overall, everybody had a very nice time experiencing life with a Japanese family and playing with the kids.

Pounding rice

We gathered again on the second day for a “mochi-making (rice cake) exchange party”. Participants first had to pound the rice with wooden mallets (kine) in a traditional mortar (usu). They had to work in pairs to alternate the work, one pounding and the other turning and wetting the rice cake, being careful to keep a steady rhythm or they might accidentally injure one another with the heavy kine.
They then formed round shapes with the sticky mass of pounded rice and made their own rice cakes, chose the flavor they wanted to eat, between soy sauce, soybean flour (kinako) and red bean paste (anko).
For many, it was their first time making mochi and they really seemed to enjoy the party.

Shaping the rice cake


It was then time for goodbye…. After a lot of pictures, tears, smiles, hugs and promises to meet again, we got back on the bus to return to Kyoto City.

Participants’ voices:
“Having the opportunity to share a Japanese family’s everyday life was a great experience. Even if it was short, I made lifelong memories. It was the best!”
“Everything was so much fun, especially the time spent with my host family. Visiting the sake brewery and making mochi were very Japanese-like experiences and great fun!”