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Japanese Manner 101: How to Enjoy SENTO


SENTO makes Your Trip Special


Sento is a type of Japanese public bath where customers pay for entrance.

Although not all Japanese people go there everyday in the present, it is still popular for people from adults to children. Since all the people have to take their closes off, it is little bit embarrassing for foreign people to try SENTO. Also, it is hard for foreign tourists to understand the manners of SENTO if they just visit one time.

However, if you can just clear these two obstacles, you will have great experience there. You can be really refreshed by being in a huge bathtub! Furthermore, through your experience in SENTO, you can learn true Japanese culture that only Japanse people know.

In this article, we will have a quick lesson of Manners in SENTO. After reading this, let’s step into SENTO in Kyoto.



Manner for SENTO① -entrance-



First, in all SENTO in JAPAN, you have to take off your shoes. Each customer has to keep your own shoes by using shoes box at the entrance.

Attention !  This shoes case is only for  shoes so you don’t have to put your belongings into this box. There is another box where you can keep your stuffs.



At the counter you have to pay for entrance. Almost all SENTO only charges less than 500JPY so it is really good price. However, some SENTO charges extra fee for sauna. If you don’t bring your own towel and shampoo you can buy or rent at this counter. Some SENTO offers free towels and shampoo so you should check if you can get them.



Then go into the bath room but please pay attention to entrance ! Male bath room (often has a blue sign)and Female bath room (often has a  red sign) have different entrances. In most case, SENTO only displays in  Japanese so it is better to  recognize which  them by color.


Manner for SENTO② -locker room-



At the locker room, you have to take off all your clothes. In some SENTO, they have basket instead of locker. In that case, put your wallet, passport, smartphone, watch and other valuable items into special locker.



You can only bring hand towel, body-soap, and shampoo into bath room. Other items, such as bottle water and books are not allowed to bring in. Camera and Video are are also prohibited. Please understand that SENTO is a public space so we have such rule.


Manner for SENTO③ -bath room-


When you take into bathtub, we have couple of manners as follows.

①Please wash your body before taking into bathtub to keep the bathtub clean .

You have to pour hot water on yourself or it is better to wash your body first.

② Don’t steep hand towel in bath tub.

You have to keep your hand towel outside of bathtub.

③Remove moisture on your body before going back to locker.

After taking bath, make sure to remove wetness so that water will not drop on the floor.




Manners in SENTO are not complicated.

Even though we have couple of rules to memorize, they have one idea in common: “Always be careful not to bother people around you.”

These idea and manners are part of Japanese culture.

If only you don’t become shy to be naked, you can have great experience in SENTO.

Have a great time in SENTO !!




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3 Unique Activities you Should Experience in Kyoto



If you have visited Kyoto several times, you may feel bored when you go around temples and shrines.

Everything looks similar and you may get exhausted while you are walking around Kyoto.


If so, why don’t you try something new ?

Sightseeing in Kyoto is not just about visiting historical places. There are also many places where you can experience Japanese culture. These activities are easy to try and not so expensive.

Get some ideas from this article : Tips of traveling in Kyoto.


1. Tea Ceremony Experience

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100

Tea ceremony is one of the best way to know Japanese culture. You can learn about Tea Ceremony and enjoy traditional Japanese green tea Matcha during this unique experience.

It is hold on tatami room and you feel you can totally be relax when you step into the room.

The room is very simple but yet comfortable. Once you see the room, soon you will understand how Japanese people find beauty in simplicity. It’s for sure going to be a great  experience for you.

In most places, you will receive a lecture about tea ceremony. The master of tea ceremony will teach you briefly about Japanese Tea’s history and what Tea Ceremony represents for Japanese people.  Many places  offer lectures in English, so foreign tourists don’t have to worry about the language barrier.

After lecture, you can make your own Matcha using professional tea ceremony instruments.

Without those specific stools, you prepare real Japanese Tea. Why don’t you have a try while you are in Kyoto ?

It only costs 2000~3000JPY and it’s better to make reservation prior you arriving to Japan.

Information : 

Tea Ceremony En (Near Chion-In Temple)

Tea Ceremony Ju-An (Near Kyoto Station)

Tea Ceremony KOTO (Near Kinkaku-ji Temple)

2. Making Okonomiyaki on Teppan


Cooking Japanese food is also a nice activity.

Especially, okonomiyaki is a very unique type of food from the west part of Japan, and it is very fun to make.

It is like a big pancake  which includes cabbage, egg, flour , sliced pork, red ginger and dashi(soup stock from fish) Even though it looks like a pancake, it’s really salty because of the special sauce, the okonomiyaki sauce, on the top of it ! (See picture. It’s dark brown)

The chef will mix all the ingredients and you just have to flip it on the iron plate with a special spatula.

It’s really exciting to flip okonomiyaki. Kyoto has many okonomiyaki restaurants so it’s not difficult to find one !

Let’s make your lunch or dinner time special.

3. Sitting in Zen meditation


Participating in Zen meditation session is also very interesting and can make you feel more Japanese than other people.

In Kyoto, some temples have Zen meditation sessions for public every weekends. It is open for public so tourists are welcomed to take part of the session.

Although you have to go to temple early in the morning, your mind and heart will be very clear. During zen meditation session, you will sit on the floor about one hour and try not think about anything. Through this practice,  you can forget your stress and pressure of your busy life. Nowadays, meditation is seen as a very convient way to release your stress during your everyday life. By coming to one of those session, you can learn how to meditate and how to use it for your own life.

English Zen Meditation Shunkoin Temple (Check the Calendar before coming to the temple)


As you see, there are many things to do other than visiting temples and shrines.

Of course, it’s nice to mix temple visiting and those activities.

If you stay in Kyoto several days,  why don’t you try one of it?


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Rickshaw Experience in Kyoto

you have travelled all over the world, you may have tried the pulled rickshaw  even in other Asian countries.

In these Asian countries, rickshaw is a way of transportation for people who live there.

On the other hand,  Japanese people don’t take a pulled rickshaw  for daily use because we have bus and train everywhere.

However, the word “Rickshaw” comes from Japanese word “Rikisha” so Rickshaw is a still part of Japanese culture.


Even today, we shall hop on to one Rickshaw in several spots located.

Kyoto has two places where we can experience Japanese rickshaw.

One is in Arashiyama and the other is in Higashiyama.

In this article, I will introduce tips to enjoy Japanese Rickshaw experience in Kyoto.


Reservation is not required

You don’t have to make special request to experience Rickshaw.
If you walk through the bamboo path in Arashiyama or the Nene street near Kodaiji temple in Higashiyama area, Rikishawa-puller-man will come talking to you.
You can check price and courses with him and if you like it, the tour starts from there.

Normally, it costs 2000~3000yen per person including a guide who will introduce every places you are visiting.


1. Enjoy Rickshaw with Kimono in Higashiyama

If you try Rickshaw in Higashiyama area, I recommend you to rent Kimono before taking a rikishaw.

In Higashiyama, there are many rental Kimono shops so you can easily experience Japanese traditional costume.

If you ride a Rickshaw while wearing Kimono, you will feel as if you are a Japanese noble lady.


2. Be relaxed at Arashiyama    

Rickshaw experience in Arashiyama is especially fun during summer time.

If you get around temples and shrines in Arashiyama, you will get easily tired because you have to walk long distances between each touristic spots. 

Instead of taking taxi, rickshaw is going to be a great choice.

Going through bamboo path makes you feel refreshed and serene.


Like these, rickshaw experience in Kyoto is really cool !
If you want to have a special and unique experience, try the rickshaw !!

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TOP5 Kobe Beef Restaurants in Kyoto

Many tourists from foreign countries often request “Kobe Beef” for dinner but it’s not easy to find Kobe Beef restaurant in Kyoto because there is only a few.

This article will suggest you top5 Kobe Beef restaurants in Kyoto.

It is better to check out restaurants before you visit Kyoto and make a reservation!

If it is hard, ask the hotel clerk to make a call on your behalf.



1. Itoh Dinning

It’s in Gion-Shirakawa, north part of Gion.

The store locates right next to stream and it is a Japanese style traditional building so you can enjoy modern and creative Kobe Beef cuisines in a good atmosphere.


via: http://tabelog.com/kyoto/A2601/A260301/26007526/


itoh dininng

via: http://tabelog.com/kyoto/A2601/A260301/26007526/


Phone: 050-5868-4970

Access: Short walk from Yasaka shrine

Business Time: 12:00-14:00, 17:00-22:20



2. Steak Kobe Misono

This is a Kobe beef restaurant with finely selected beef.

It has its unique standard of beef and it only offers A4 or A5 ranked beef.

If you want to eat highest grade Kobe beef,  try this restaurant!



via: http://tabelog.com/kyoto/A2601/A260201/26005296/


Phone: 075-255-2981

Access: 5 minutes walk from Hankyu “Kawaramachi” station, Subway “Kyotoshiyakushomae” station

Business Time: 11:30-15:00, 17:00-21:00



3. Kyoto Hotel Okura Tokiwa

This is a Teppanyaki restaurant in hotel.

You can enjoy Kobe beef with beautiful scenery of Kyoto.

It also offers fresh seafoods and seasonal vegetables.

If you prefer having large variety of grilled foods, try this restaurant !

Tokiwa view

via: http://tabelog.com/kyoto/A2601/A260202/26001495/


Phone: 075-254-2356

Access: Short walk from Subway “Kyotoshiyakushomae” Station

Business Time: 11:30-14:30, 17:30-21:00



4. Shabu-ZEN Kyoto Gion Branch

This restaurant offers Kobe Beef in Shabushabu style.

Shabushabu is a sliced beef in hot soup.

We add sugar, soy sauce, Japanese sake and rice vinegar as seasonings and are cooked along with some fresh vegetables.

Shabushabu warms you up in cold winter. If you visit Kyoto during winter, definitely try this Shabushabu at Shabuzen.


via: http://tabelog.com/kyoto/A2601/A260301/26002709/


Phone: 075-541-5421

Access: Short walk from Yasaka-jinja Shrine

Business Time: 16:00-23:00



5. Nikuno-Takumi Miyoshi

This is a steak restaurant in Gion. It offers Kaiseki cuisine including Kobe Beef.

As you can see from the outside appearance, it possesses a tranquil ambience.

The skilled chef brings out the rich taste of each ingredients used .

If you wish to spend a luxurious time, please visit Nikuno-Takumi Miyoshi in Gion.



via: http://tabelog.com/kyoto/A2601/A260301/26002222/


Miyoshivia: http://tabelog.com/kyoto/A2601/A260301/26002222/


Phone: 075-561-2508

Access: Short walk from Yasaka-jinjiya shrine

Business Time: 18:00-23:00

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The World's Hottest Spice is actually in KYOTO


“The Spiciest food in the world is actually in Kyoto”


When you think of spicy food, you will come up with “Green Chili” or “Red Chili” . However, the world spiciest food is actually “Maiko-Han HeHe” in Kyoto.

It’s a blend of Japanese spices but it’s extraordinary spicy .

For those who love spicy food, it’s worth trying but for those who don’t like spicy food, it’s not too much to say it’s “dangerous”.

One day , I wondered how spicy it is so I tried it.


The Shop is in Nishiki Market


You can get this spice “Maiko-han-hehe” in Sannenzaka, Arishiyama and Nishiki market.

This time, I tried the one in Nishiki market. It locates middle of market so you can easily find the store. At the store, you can try various kinds of Japanese spices for free.

After tasting, you can choose and mix your favorite spices and make your own original spice.


Maiko-han He-He


The spiciest one in this shop is “Maiko Han He-He”.

It is made of Japanese Habanero pepper and It’s really really spicy. If you can’t handle spicy foods, you shouldn’t try it because you may have stomachache with this spice.

The red can only has 10 grams of Maiko Han HeHe but just a spoonful of it is enough to enjoy it. It fits all kinds of Japanese foods such as Udon noodle, Rice bowl or hot pot.


The spiciest food I have ever eaten

Ichimi on noodle

Normally, we only put a tea spoon of “Maiko Han HeHe”on udon noodle but I wondered “How spicy it’s gonna be if I get a lot ?” so I sprinkled whole can of “Maiko Han HeHe”.

In my life, I haven’t had such a spicy food. It is more than just spicy but it makes me sick.

I managed to finish Udon with Maiko Han HeHe but soon after this challenge, I get stomachache.

The lesson of this challenge was, “Just a teaspoon of Maiko Han HeHe is enough, if you get more,  you will be sick “

If you want to check if it is true, check out my video on the top of this page!

More Details

<< Ochanoko Saisai >>




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Kyoto where “Memories of a Geisha” was filmed


Memories of a Geisha

If you are a big fan of Japanese culture, you might have seen the movie “Memories of Geisha ” before. It was released in 2005, was nominated for 6 Academy awards and won 3titles: Best Cinematography, Best Costume and Best Art Direction.

“Memories of Geisha” tells a story of a girl Chiyo, who is sold by her family  to an Okiya, Geisha house.  This movie is about her struggle as a Geisha and it attracts

Some scenes were filmed in Kyoto so if you really like this movie, Kyoto is  worth visiting to experience location of filming. If you haven’t seen this movie, you should take time to watch this movie. Your trip in Kyoto will be more fun and exciting!

In this article, I will introduce you 4 important locations where the movie was filmed.


Fushimiinari Shrine

Fushimiinari shrine

When Chiyo decided to become a Geisha, she ran through thousand gates in Fushimi Inari Shrine. This Red Ogange gates called Torii continues over 4kilo meters with more than one thousand gates.  Running though these gates is one of the most impressive scene so you can’t miss this experience.

◯ Access: JR “Inari Station” 5minutes from “Kyoto Station” (140JPY)

◯ Business Hour: morning-evening


Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

bamboo st

When Sayuri, a main character of this movie, attends cherry blossoms ceremony, she passed this street by car. In the movie, it was really cool to pass through this street at night. If you don’t have any plan in the evening, please visit here at night. Take your time and relax in this Bamboo Grove.


◯ Access: JR “Saga Arashiyama Station” 15minutes from “Kyoto Station” (240JPY)

◯ Business Hour: morning-evening


Yoshimine Temple

Yoshimine temple

In the movie, Sayuri has been loving a master “Kaicho” but she hasn’t have chance to tell her love.  She visited this temple for fulfillment of her love. If you want to wish for love fortune, let’s visit this temple as she did in the movie.

◯ Access: JR “Yoshiminedera” 30minutes from JR “Muko Station” by Hankyu bus #66,

◯ Business Hour: 8am-5pm

◯Entrance fee: 500JPY


Heianjingu Shrine


When Sayuri felt sad, she walked the bridge in Heianjingu shrine. This shrine has a huge pond and there is a bridge across this pond. The pond and garden are beautiful and it’s a good place to think of yourself.


◯ Access: JR “Okazakikoen Bijyutsukan Heianjingu Mae” 30minutes from Kyoto Station by bus #5 (230JPY)

◯ Business Hour: 8:30am-5:30pm

◯Entrance fee: 600JPY


“Memories of Geisha” is not just  about Geisha but it’s also a great movie which tells you the beauty of Kyoto.  If you see around Kyoto, you will feel as if you are in the world of movie.


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What is the difference between Geisha and Maiko ?


What would you imagine from the word “Kyoto”?

Most people come up with temples and shrines but some think of “Maiko” and “Geisha”.

Kyoto has 6 Hanamachis (geisha district) including, Gion Kobe, Pontocho and Kamihichiken, so we can hardly discuss charm of Kyoto without Maiko and Geisha.

purple maiko


However, only few people know the difference between Maiko and Geisha. What is the difference between Geisha and Maiko? Learning the difference between these two will be your first step to be an expert of Kyoto.


Maiko is a trainee of Geisha

Maiko is different from Geisha on the point that she is a trainee of Geisha. In other words, Maiko becomes Geisha after training.


To begin with, Geisha belongs to “Yagata”(office for Geishas) and she will be dispatched to traditional restaurants if it is necessary. On the other hand, Maiko just lives in “Okiya” together with other Maikos and she goes to school for Maikos. After Maiko masters traditional dance, shamisen (Japanese traditional instruments), manners and all other important skills, she can be an independent Geisha and start living in Yagata”(office for Geishas).


“Shikomi”, a preliminary step of Maiko

Girls who want to be Geisha have to experience preliminary step before Maiko. That is Shikomi. In order to be a Geisha, first girls have to live in “Okiya” where Maikos live together. Those girls start living in Okiya at the age of 15 and they take care of Maikos. Instead they can learn customs of Hanamachi and its tradition. Girls spend more than 1year for this period but it is crucially important to be a Geisha.




Hairstyle of Geisha and Maiko

Hairstyle is a big deal for girls in all over the world but it is also true for Geisha and Maiko. They have to follow traditional hairstyle but they change it little by little depend on their classes. Basically, Geisha has simpler hairstyle and Maiko has more gorgeous hairstyle. Maiko uses colorful pin and set up her hair gorgeous. However she has to make it simple when she becomes Geisha because she looks more formal with simple hairstyle.


Even if you bump into Geisha or Maiko, now you can now who they are.

But how can we distinguish them?

At the next article, I will teach you a technic to distinguish Geisha from Maiko.



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Run Up the Stairs in Kyoto Station



At Kyoto Station


The Great Staircase in Kyoto Station Kyoto station is a huge station, which is used by more than six hundred thousand people in a day.

It is not just an important place for traffic facility, but it is also a good place for chilling.

If you pass through the main gate, you will see a long stair on your left.

That is the Great Staircase! If you feel tired after your trip in Kyoto, you can take rest here.

Running up the stairs


However, the Great Staircase is more than just a place for relaxing.

Actually, this place is also known for a foot race. Every year, “The Great Staircase Running Up Competition”is held on third Saturday of February.

The participants run up from the bottom to the top and they compete their time with others.

The Record


The record of this competition is 25seconds by a woman.

What do you think of this record? Do you think nobody can’ t break the record?

I don’t think so! The stair is just 75meters long. Not that long!

So I actually tried running up this stair by myself.


The hardest challenge ever


Unfortunately, I couldn’t make a new record.

When I run up to the top, I could run in a good speed at the first half.

But the closer I got to the top, the harder it became to keep good speed.

At the very end, I felt like the stair continues forever and I wanted to escape from this hard challenge.

Kyoto station for everybody


If you are an athlete, you should sing up for this competition.

This event will be held on February 15th in 2015.

I hope somebody can break the record instead of me.

Anyway, the great stair is one of fascinating points of Kyoto station.

Even if you are not interested in running up the stair, it’s worth visiting to chat with your friends there.

Have a good time in Kyoto station!


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Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama, little known but great place for kids


What do you expect to do in Arashiyama?

Walking through the beautiful bamboo forest or relaxing by the river?

Arashiyama is more than that, beyond your expectation… There are monkeys in Arashiyama!

Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama is a place that you can play with monkey and enjoy the amazing view.

There are 120 wild Japanese monkeys living, and you can also enjoy great natures and views from the mountain.

In fall season, you can enjoy the beautiful maple leaf tunnels as well!

In addition to the monkeys, there are 100 kinds of wild birds or deers inhabited,

you may be able to see them by chance!



Monkey Park is huge, kids will love it!

In Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama has a LONG playground slide, observation deck and little forests.

Children might get tired of touring around Kyoto because it is just seeing buildings and temples.

For those children, Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama is the best place to spend a day playing with monkeys!

Also for adluts, Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama will show you different image and experience of Kyoto Arashiyama not only historical and traditional Japanese old city but also the city of plenty of nature and animals.

The monkeys at there are wild living but you can still experience feeding them (at designated place) !



Safety Tips You Should Be Know Before You Go:

1. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes

Arashiyama is a mountain so you should better go with old comfortable clothes and walking shoes for climbing and hiking. And since it is a mountain and the road is not well-paved, stroller is not recommended but entering with stroller is accepted.

2 . Do not make an eye-contact with  monkeys

Well It is monkey park but still the monkeys are wild monkeys. Monkeys tend to get angry at you if you try to make an eye-contact with them. Please be careful and do not stare at them.

3. Do not feed the monkeys

You can only feed them certain food at the resting place in the observation deck. You may buy food for monkeys for 100 yen to feed them. You are only allowed to feed the food you bought at the place.


Entrance Fee / Access Information

Official Website: Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwateyama(English)

Entrance Fee: Adlut 550 yen / Child 250 yen

Access by Train: 5 minutes walk from Hankyu Arashiyama Station / 5 minutes walk from  Keifuku (Randen) Arashiyama Station / 15 minutes walk from JR Saga-Arashiyama Station

※ Closer and more convenient from Hankyu Arashiyama or Keifuku Arashiyama stations.

Address: 8, Arashiyama Genroku-cho, Nishikyo-ku Kyoto-shi

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Chilling in Sannenzaka

ifyoufalldown (1)

An Autumn day in Sannenzaka

Hello everybody. I’m Yuta, a member of TRAVEL PAD STAFFS. Autumn has come to Kyoto and it’s getting cooler day by day. Today, I will introduce you guys how to enjoy “Sannenzaka” from the point of view as a student guide who has guided more than 50 tourists from 20 different countries.



1 Take a look at unique stores in Sannenzaka

Sannenzaka has many unique shops. You can see Hyotan (dried gourd), plum sake, tuna restaurant, Ochazuke restaurant (rice with tea poured on it), sweets shop and so on. You won’t be bored no matter how long you stay there.


2 Take a picture with ladies in Maiko costumes

We often see ladies in Maiko costumes when we walk around Sannenzaka. This is because tourists from other parts of Japan rent Maiko costumes and they go outside with that costumes. It’s not that difficult to find them since there are many rental Kimono shops and photo studios. Let’s ask them to take pictures!


3 Don’t miss Ishibekoji

Ishibekoji is one of my favorite places in Kyoto. It locates between Yasaka shrine and Sannenzaka, and you can find this street if you walk to Sannenzaka from Nanoumon gate, Yasakashrine. It has atmosphere of traditional Kyoto with stone pavement and wooden walls. If you walk on this street, you feel as if you are in the past. Try it :)


4 Be careful not to fall down on Sannenzaka

People in Kyoto still believe famous legend about Sannenzaka: If you fall down on Sannenzaka Street, you will die in 3 years. No body knows when and how this legend was made but it’s still famous. Look at this picture! Don’t fall down on Sannenzaka even if it’s a joke. Otherwise you will die like me in the video lol





Did u get ideas of Sannezaka? Have fun time in Sannenzaka!

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