Backpackers Hostel "J-Hoppers" & "Hana Hostel"

Enjoy international exchange!!

We J-Hoppers Hostels are always happy to welcome Japanese customers with open arms as well as foreigners customers. Please enjoy international exchange!!

Enjoy international exchange!!

We J-Hoppers Hostels are always happy to welcome Japanese customers with open arms as well as foreigners customers. Please enjoy international exchange!!

Enjoy international exchange!!

We J-Hoppers Hostels are always happy to welcome Japanese customers with open arms as well as foreigners customers. Please enjoy international exchange!!

Enjoy international exchange!!

We J-Hoppers Hostels are always happy to welcome Japanese customers with open arms as well as foreigners customers. Please enjoy international exchange!!

Enjoy international exchange!!

We J-Hoppers Hostels are always happy to welcome Japanese customers with open arms as well as foreigners customers. Please enjoy international exchange!!

Sayonara Hiroshima

My last post from J-Hoppers Hiroshima !
Yes, I'm going back home to Kyoto. Quite strange to say that for a foreigner actually but ... If you're looking for the french guy of J-Hoppers you will now have to book at J-Hoppers Osaka. I will join Yamaguchi San and Manabe San to prepare you a new wonderfull place to stay and discover the marvels of Kinki area (^_^)
What about my year in Chugoku area ? I've seen of course a lot of places and tried various foods or matsuri, among them here comes my ranking (highly subjective and controversial :-) ).
1) Miyajima Island. Number one of course ! I went there almost once per month !!! What did attract me there ? The famous Tori in the sea, one of the three most beautiful places of Japan. Don't think only about going to see it at low tide, it's also fun to reach it by foot at low tide. And do you what you'll find at its foot ? eh eh secret ... The Itsukushima shrine in front of the Tori. This one must be seen at high tide when it appears floating on the sea. Lot of matsuri here, check for that. Especially the waterscreen spectacle and the huge firework in august. Then the Daishouin, a really wonderfull temple atop the old village. Another secret ? Look for the little stairways that lead under the main hall of the temple ... and try to reach the end before being scared ! If you're a 'buddah in love' you won't have any difficulties. In the old village there is also a traditional artcraft museum which is quite interesting for such a little place. And the Miyajima aquarium has a wide range of funny fishes, and pinguin you can even play with or turtles you can feed. Except the village you can climb up the mountain either by foot, there is several course well indicated, count around 2h to get up and 1h and half to get down, either by ropeway, very impressive ! At the top you may see monkeys even if I've always missed them ... And finally on the opposite side of the island there are wonderfull beaches but you will need to rent a bike and merit them with few kilometers on a steeply road.
2 ) The Peace Museum and the Peace Park monuments. Of course too, unmissable. Emotionally very strong but you HAVE TO go there to spread the Peace culture all over the world.
3) Mitakidera temple. My favourite temple in the Hiroshima area.
4) Okonomiyaki. The delicious "japanese pizza" ! Egg, bacon, lot of vegetables, noodles (soba power ! forget udon ! :-) ), various topping, ... I will never be able to defend the Osaka okonomiyaki, the Hiroshima one is just so good !
5) Peace Festival. So sad but so important. Please go to hear the testimonies of A-Bomb survivors and transmmit what you've heard. The lanterns on the river at night, the Peace Declaration in the morning, ...
6) The Fuchu City Camping Ground in the Mikumari Gorge Forest. It's just so near from the main station, you have no reason to miss it if you're looking for some hiking in nature around Hiroshima. For example climb the Takao mountain and enjoy the wonderfull view on Hiroshima and the islands.
7) The Food Festival. So many good things to eat in this wonderfull festival in the Chuo Park. It introduces the local food and of course you can try a lot for free ! Go there with empty stomach is a better option ... ;-)
8) Shukkeien garden. The most beautifull garden of Hiroshima.Very unexpensive.
9) Hiroshima Insectarium. Quite uneasy access (look for a bus from the bus center) but the insectarium is quite wide and the butterfly room so romantic ... More over it's inside a huge park with several activities organized in summer.
10) Asa zoological park. Well organized, lots of animals and smart installation that let you get really near from almost all of the animal.
11) The chococro of St Marc Cafe. Well what ? Not Japanese culture, not specific to Hiroshima, ... ? Yes ! But anyway that's here in Hiroshima that I've discovered the top of the top of the croissant banana ! :-) I assume entirely what I'm writing :-)))
12) Sandankyo. A very entertaining hiking course in the mountain at west of Hiroshima. Not so easy to access but rewardable. The main spot of the area is said to be the three waterfalls. Personnally I had much more pleasure in walking the course than looking at these waterfalls.
13) Prefectural Art Museum. Allways a lot of interesting exhibitions...
14) Ujina Island. The easiest place to go to the beach in Hiroshima in summer. Perfect for a picnic too in case you don't feel like swimming in the Seto island sea.
15) Look at cherry blossom (Hanami) in the Peace Park at night. It's full of people eating on the ground under the pure white flowers ...
16) Garasu no Sato, the glass village. A glass factory that opens its door to everyone. You can even blow your own glass cup !!!
17) Fude no Sato, the village of the calligraphy brush. Here this is a brush that you can create yourself under the command of a real master. After you can see what you will be able to do of it ... after some years of training !
18) Gokoku shrine. The main shrine of Hiroshima, near the castle. Several matsuri here of course. I particularly enjoyed the one in January when they burn the past year omamori ...
19) Hiroshima castle. Surely not the most beautifull in Japan, but you still can enjoy viewing Hiroshima from the top of the castle, wear a real samurai armor, or learn some secrets about the construction of such a building.
20) Hondori. If you want to make some shopping you will find it here for sure.
21) Peace Museum Library. At the opposite end of the building. It's free of course and a good place to have a rest, read the english newspaper or even go on internet.
22) Veloce cafe. Chococro has a concurrent : chocoroyaru ! The cheapest coffee in Hiroshima and a wonderfull big chocolate bread full of butter !!!
23) Molly Malones irish pub. Well it's true I'm definitely not a 'party boy' but I went to this pub twice and I had good time there so ...
24) Shimanamikaidou. A road crossing the inland sea by jumping from islands to islands with 7 huge bridges. Do it by bike is a big challenge (80km) but you're so happy when you did it.
25) Hiroshima Children Science Museum. Dedicated to children of course, but you may still have some part of childhood inside you. And there is a small planetarium on the last floor.
26) Yuhua garden. Another garden in Hiroshima. A chinese style garden that suffers from poor maintenance. Go there to appreciate the differences of style.

A bientot, Pascal!!

Pascal is a french guy that you could meet at the reception of J-hoppers Hiroshima.
And he is leaving to Osaka J-hoppers soon ;-(
(Actually he seemed to be very excited about it!)

So, yesterday we had a farewell party for him!
We had a pot (nabe) with all guests who were staying on the night.
Nabe is a common dish in Japan in winter. Eating from one pot makes for closer relationships.
Anyway, if you are wondering what Nabe is, please refer the link:

I remember the first day that I met him here in Hiroshima...
Of course, he was able to speak in Japanese but not as good as he speaks it now, so that we had to speak in English sometimes.
But now, there is almost no problem to communicate in Japanese with him!
I can easily imagine how he made efforts to fit in the new culture and language. I think it doesn't matter if he likes it or not. You have to be tough.
And there are lots of differences between speaking Japanese in the daily life and using it in work.
I couldn't do it if I were in France!!!

Hum...I just wanted to say,
I am impressed with his efforts.

Merci et a bientot, Pascal!!

Bonne chance!

Red,Yellow sometimes Green

Hi!! I went to Nanzenji Temple the other day. I hadn't beed to this temple for 7 or 8 years... I was so amazed to see beautiful coloured trees there!! The leaves are not only red but also you can see yellow or sometimes green leaves in a tree.
I couldn't stop saying 'WOW!' The colours are vivid and just impressive.

I also walked through Philosopher's Path. I really enjoyed walking along a canal seeing red-yellow-green trees. I didn't think anything about philosophy..I was eating sweet potatoes I bought on the way to the Path.... Anyway, it's not too late to visit Kyoto to see these amazing places and to enjoy the autumn atmosphere yet!!!

Bonsai Lesson

Have you ever heard of Bonsai ?
Bonsai is the art of aesthetic miniaturization of trees by growing them in containers.....(Wikipedia)

I bought 2 pine trees and pots at Toji Temple Flea Market to make bonsai with a friend of mine who is an Italian guy. It was for the first time to him make a bonsai. He likes growing plants and flowers and has a strong interest in bonsai.

First, we mixed up 2 kinds of sands which are appropriate to for the pine tree, and then cut off excess roots (Do not cut off the main root. It'll be a fatal mistake). It'll be finished if you put the tree proper place in the pot.

Please ask me if you have an interest in Bonsai. Although I only know very basic things about it.....

Iwakuni besides bridge

Iwakuni is a small pretty castle town in east Yamaguchi Pref. Kintaikyo Bridge, one of the most famous wooden bridges in Japan is the highlight for the city sightseeing, but there are some more sights to see there.

1 The old town

The Old town are very well maintained and you can feel the atmosphere of Edo period. Some samurai houses are preserved and you can see inside the houses. The museum of the Iwakuni Lord are also in the old town and you can see some antique documents, art objects and weapons.

2 Iwakuni Castle

The castle on the top of the mountain can be seen from the old town. You can access the castle by cable car. Actually the castle is not the original one but rebuilt in Showa period.

3 Sakura tunnel (Cherry blossoms)

Iwakuni is known as a great sight of Cherry blossoms. Especially, the cherry trees on the road along the river make a beautiful sakura tunnel of 500 meters. If you visit Iwakuni in April, don’t miss it !

4 Momijidani Park

A former temple became the park with a lot of Momiji trees. The leaves turn beautiful red and yellow in Autumn. This is the photo of the entrance of the park I took 2 days ago.

5 Very rare White Snakes

There is a small museum in the old town and you can see them. The snakes is designated as a Natural Monument.

From Hiroshima city to there, please take JR to Iwakuni Station (45 min, 740 yen) and take a bus (20 min, 240 yen).

Hiroshima Illumination

Last Monday while coming back late at the hostel after playing igo I've seen the illuminations on the Peace Boulevard. Some of them are really impressive and they run on both sides of the boulevard from the Peace Park to the downtown.
It's light up from 17:00 to 23:00 and will illuminate the city until the 3rd of January. Of Course it's free !

So fiercily brave the cold and enjoy this faery. You will feel like it's allready Christmas !

Flea Market in Kyoto

There are some big flea markets in Kyoto, such as Kobo-san, Tenjin-san. Tomorrow, on the 21st November, there's Kobo-san Flea Market at Toji Temple. Toji Temple is close to J-Hoppers Kyoto. This flea market is held on the 21st of every month because the famous monk called Kobo Taishi died on the 21st. It had been held only one time a year, the 21st March for respecting Kobo Taichi, however, it's been held on the 21st, every month since 1239.
At this flea market, you'll see many street shops of food, bonsai, antiques, kimono and the things you've never seen!! If you look for cheap and nice kimono at second hand, this market is one of the best places for it. Also, if you'd like to find some unique souvenirs for your friends, please visit there!! Some shops start to be opened from 5:oo in the morning! I guess the best time to visit there is around 10:00.
It will be held Shimai Kobo (the last Kobo for this year) on the 21st December, so...please come visit us and Kobo-san!!

Kyoto Apartment

Please allow me to introduce our long term stay accommodation "Kyoto Apartment". We have been welcoming many tenants since Kyoto Apartment 1 started in May 2005.

And in this November, we made a success of new apartment, Kyoto Apartment 4. To tell the truth, the next one Kyoto Apartment 5 is coming to open soon though.

Dear guests who visit Japan, why don't you stay at Kyoto Apartment as your sightseeing bases ? It's very easy to go both Western Japan, Fukuoka and Hiroshima, and Eastern Japan, Takayama or Ise. The minimum stay is 2 weeks. All rooms and apartments are fully furnished. Rental procedure is simple. Feel free to e-mail us if you have an interest. Have a look the website first, please.

Let's try NATTO!

How are you?

What do you often have for breakfast in your country?
A couple of days ago,one of the staff at J-hoppers made Japanese breakfast for the guests (TARRO and PAUL)who had stayed here for about 1month as a present on their last of staying.

In Japan,we often have NATTO for breakfast .The picture on the right is the man who is having NATTO with keen relish.

Have you ever heard of NATTO?
NATTO is a very healthy food。Soy beans ,which NATTO is made of ,contain many kinds of nutrients,such as protein.
The only trouble is that NATTO smells very strong.I think It smells like a dust cloth......:(

However the Japanese have been eating NATTO since ancient times.
I grew up eating NATTO,so I like it.But If I were a person who has never eaten it before,I would say ‘I can't stand the smell of NATTO!!’
Anyway you should try NATTO If you come to Japan.If you feel it tastes good,You maybe Japanese !!

Miyajima Autumn

As of Nov 16, Autumn leaves in Miyajima Island are something like the photos. Momiji trees around the entrance of the park have turned red or yellow but it is not for the whole park. Maybe we have to wait one more week for the peak.

Other popular places for autumn leaves near J-Hoppers Hiroshima hostel are Mitaki-dera Temple and Fudoin Temple

Kyoto Sweet

Do you know something about Yatsuhashi?? Yatsuhashi is a kind of Japanese confectionary and it's a very popular souvenir of Kyoto. It's made from rice flour (Jyoshinko), sugar and cinnamon. There are two types of Yatsuhashi, one is baked and another one is raw. Baked one is really crunky. Raw yatsuhashi (It's called Nama yatsuhashi) has a soft texture and there's almost all the time sweet bean paste in it. Recently, there are many many kinds of flavour of raw Yatsuhashi, for example, Japanese chestnut taste, Sweet potate taste for autumn.
There are many shops that sell Yatsuhashi on the way to Kiyomizudera temple, so please try some and buy them if you like it!! You'll like them after two or three Yatsuhashi!!

Omiki お神酒

I was on duty in this morning.
I heard sound of a distant Japanese drum...
When I opened the door, 2 little girls were standing with Sake.
The sake is called "Omiki", it's from local shinto shrine festival to pray the prosperous business!

I was asked by them to drink Sake early in the morning!! HAHAHA

Why did they serve Sake???

It is said that, first of all, you can share the same thing (sake) with shinto gods, and second, to get drunk from it a little. This way you can feel the gods closer.

I get drunk very easily so I was a little tipsy from the morning! ;-)

Kouyou in Kyoto

It's getting cold these days. Signs of autumn and winter can be seen at here and there. Cold air in the morning, people in coats. (I'm always surprised when I see some guests in T-shirts only come to J-Hoppers though)

This coldness means that it's the busiest season for Kyoto. Yes, it's time for the season of autumn leaves. Someone who came J-Hoppers Kyoto said " I'm looking forward to seeing autumn leaves. I had come Kyoto last year but it was too early to see all leaves changed colors." I answered " I'm sorry but the autumn tints has just started a few days ago, so it's early for the tip-top."

I took a picture on the 9th near Heian Jingu Shrine. As you see, some leaves have not turned its colours yet. It's very difficult to say exactly the best time to see the autumn leaves. Everything is up to the weather, and the world has been experiencing abnormal weather. Please feel free to ask at the reception when and where is the best time or place to see the autumn leaves. Or there is a web page that gives information of the autumn tints , it's in Japanese though.

Let's go to IZAKAYA!

Hi! How are you?

A couple of days ago I went to Izakaya with a friend .Have you ever heard of Izakaya?

It is a Japanese styled restaurant or bar,and are plentiful around Japan. I personally really enjoy my work,however when I feel stressed ,I often go to one to release my daily anxiety.
While there ,we ate a few interesting dishes,as well as drank a lot of sake!The picture on the right is Jidori-no-Amiyaki(grilled chiken).
I think if you ever go to an Izakaya,you would enjoy the many types of sake they have to offer.

My favorite types of sake is called Umeshu,which is a fruity types of sake.
I had 4 or 5 with some ice,I think I got a little drunk!
In Japan ,when someone has had too much to drunk , we call them "yopparai".

while there ,we also tried the tempura Ice cream .The outer part was warm and crunch while the inside was cold .The desert was about 400yen ,and was very delicious!
If you find this on the menu at Izakaya ,I recommend you buy it!

Another entertaining place near J-Hoppers Osaka

In the japanese traditional games there is one I particularly enjoy to play. It is called Go (Igo in japanese). This is a reflexion game which exists since several centuries. The rules are actually extremely easy to learn. Even very young child can enjoy the game. But becoming a strong player is incredibly difficult. Nowadays it's mainly played in Japan, China, Corea and Taiwan, but more and more people enjoy it in Europe and America and (rare) professional players appeared outside Asia.

The goal of the game is to share a board in two areas by aligning stones one by one to draw borders. The winner is the one who have the biggest area surrounded by his stones. This is a positive way of thinking compare to games like chess : you start from a clean board to construct territory instead of starting with a board filled with chess pieces and looking for killing them. Further more it requires intuition and not only calculation power has the board is so big that even current computers still aren't able to compute enough far away to be sure to win. There is also a psychologic dimension in this game. There is a saying about igo : "common people play cards, kings play chess, gods play igo"...

Near J-Hoppers Osaka you have a wonderfull place to enjoy Igo : the Nihon Ki-in. This is the national federation of game of go. It's located just behind the HEP Five building in front of the shinkansen station, at the 6th floor of the HEP Five Annex Building. Open hours are from 10:00 to 21:30 every day, except on sunday (until 18:30 only). The entrance costs 1200 yen. It's a little bit expensive but you will have a beautifull goban (the igo board) and stones, comfortable chairs and a spacious room to enjoy the game as long as you want. There is also a small shop to buy items related to the game, books to improve your level, or even fan decorated by calligraphy made by the most powerfull players of Japan. If you stay in Osaka for a long time you can even think about taking lesson with a real professional !

I would really enjoy to go there and play a game with you ! :-)

Sandankyo Gorge

I went to Sandankyo with my family and Pascal’s family. Miyoko introduced the tremendous gorge previously. Please see the blog.

As Miyoko mentioned, it is quite tough to walk everywhere. It would take more than 5 hours. There are some dangerous places of the trail which are narrow and slippy. If you get shaky or stumble on the stone in this kind of places, you might tumble into the river 10 meters below. So please be careful.

There are some bus stops in places. It is a good idea you walk up to the end and take a bus back to the starting point (700 yen for one way) if you don’t have enough time or you feel tired.

I myself walked up with my 1-year-old baby on my back for about 4 hours but gave up halfway. However, I enjoyed the trail and the splendid view very much. There are some photos of places that impressed me.

Nidantaki (Twe-step Waterfall) or Sandantaki (Three-step Waterfall) are the 2 most famous waterfalls but this small anonymous waterfall attracted me. The clear mountain water trickles down in the native bush. It looks mystic and I even felt kind of eroticism of nature.

If you visit there, I am sure you will find your only favourite.

Kamo River

Do you know there's a river called Kamogawa in Kyoto city? I started to come to work by bike along the river from the new apartment. During day time, there are many people along the river sides and some of them are practicing the musical insturaments, playing badminton having lunch etc etc. It's so fun to see them and it's enjoyable cycling along the Kamo river because you can feel the breeze (when it's not cold, it's nice!!) and you can see many birds on the river!
In the evening, the view is changed and you will see the many restaurants with many lights especially around Shijyo, Sanjyo area. It's romantic and it's such a Kyoto-like night view.

If you're thinking about doing sightseeign in Kyoto by bike, please follow this river and enjoy cycling in Kyoto!!

The early bird catches a worm.

Byodo-in temple famous as the picture of the back of ten yen coin( I cannot tell which is the head side of ten yen coins).
Two month ago, I went to there. But I couldn’t take wonderful photos.

The Phoenix Hall was repairing.
However, Now is OK !! Please look at this wonderful photo...

To our regret, I took this photo at 4:00p.m.(…it’s too late).
The Phoenix hall is facing east.
The setting sun has kept jet-black…(Maybe I think this is the back side of 10 yen coins)

Please go by all means in the morning if you want to take best shot (of head side ?)!!

KAGURA dance

How are you?

I went to Hiroshima's food festival last weekend with Miyoung (hiroshima staff).
There were about 350 booths with many kinds of food ,as well as agricultural and marine products of Hiroshima.

We had a fun time walking around and watching KAGURA dance there.
I used to watched KAGURA (shinto music and dance numbers) when I was a child.
But It wasn't fun ti do.I was just bored during the KAGURA so I thought this one wouldn't be any different.
but in about 30min. I started to enjoy it.The costumes were brightly colored.Both the costumes as well as dancing were very enjoyable to watch.

You can see KAGURA performance which is a local festival in Japan!

Dome at night

After work last midnight, I walked into the Hiroshima Peace park and took the photo. A-bomb dome is a 10 minute walk from the hostel. The dome shows us another aspect to us at night. It is modestly illuminated and blends in with the surrounding landscape. Some couples are sitting on the benches just in front of the ruin and murmuring something to each other, certainly not about abolition of nuclear weapons. In front of this quietness, it is difficult for me to imagine thousands of people jumped into the river at the end of the hellish heat and despair. The night dome was not scary, not awesome or not touristic. There was loneliness there.