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!!

Sakura by night

The cherry blossom is commonly celebrated by eating and drinking under the trees while enjoying the return of warmness. But even busy people can enjoy them by going at evening to one of the numerous lightups organized at this season. The whiteness of the 'sakura' even get stronger on a dark blue background !

I went recently to enjoy the light up of the Nijo castle and Gion in Kyoto. The second one has ended yet but the first one will last until April 17th, from 18:00 to 21:30. 400 yen per person but free if you come wearing a japanese kimono !

There is a lot of small events organized too and I could enjoy a concert of taiko and one of koto (picture above). Zenzai (sweet soup of beans and mochi), dango (caramelized pasted rice), amazake (sweet sake), ... are here to help you to fight the coldness of night.

Right after the lightup of Gion starts in the same area the one of Kiyomizudera temple. Actually the gate of this temple was already magnificently illuminated during the lightup of Gion. From March 29th to April 10th (18:30-21:30) the whole temple will be enlighted.

If you're looking for others places where to enjoy cherry blossom at night or beautiful enlighted monuments in Kyoto I would recommend you to follow this link :


Tomorrow is my last day here. I'm leaving for Italy to live. I met so many nice people here and I had a lot of interesting conversation with them. I'll never ever forget my days here!! Thank you to all of them and hopefully see you again somewhere in the world. Maybe in Italy?


It is well known that Japanese people are crazy about Sakura (cherry blossoms).

As for myself, I can't wait to have "Hanami" (cherry blossom viewing: while you are viewing sakura, you enjoy eating lunch box and drinking sake!)with my friends.

I think forecasts of cherry blossom flowering time is represented of the craziness of Japanese people!
The Japan Meteorological Agency gives it annually. Seeing the forecast, people start planing about when to go for Hanami.

Also, in this season you will see blue rugs under trees. No one is there but it may be even surrounding by ropes. It's called "Bashotori" which is for saving a better spot for Hanami before other people take it!!! How funny is that!

According to the forecast, Sakura has just started its flowering from today in Hiroshima!
Peace park is one of the famous place for Hanami. Enjoy!


Yesterday, I checked the homepage of Kyoto Imperial Palace and I found an article that said some cherry blossoms started to bloom!! I was so happy to know it!! One type of cherry blossoms called Itozakura is mainly blooming especially around Konoeike Pond in the Imperial Palace. To visit inside the Palace, you need to make a reservation at the office there at least 30 min before English tours start (there are two times a day, ~10:00, ~14:00). However, to see these cherry blossoms, you can just pop in the Palace. I used to go there to eat lunch box when I was university student.
Also, when I was going to home yesterday, I saw beautiful cherry blossoms at the date of a primary school near J-Hoppers. It was amazing!! Sakura, cherry blossoms in Japanese, at night is absolutely special and beyond words!!

I'm glad to be here in Kyoto and to be able to enjoy spring!

Momo before Sakura

Can you distingish between
Sakura (cherry blossoms) and Momo (Peach blossoms) ?

We will get beautiful and short-lived sakura blossoms soon.

We can enjoy something else before that
I introduced Ume (plum ) blossoms some days ago.
Another pretty one is Momo (peach) blossoms.

This morning I found some momo trees with a lot of lily blossoms on the way to the hostel.

The color is vibrant pink and it is a little similar to cherry blossoms.
It comes from China originally.
In Japan, you can see the blossoms in late March to Early April.

There is an old saying that momo trees have power to exorcize evil spirits and give people immaturity. So if you see momo somewhere, please stay there for some while and sense the aura.

Momo trees in Umekoji Park
(15 minutes from J-Hoppers Hostel by bike)

Mibu-Yashiki Monthly House

Mibu-Yashiki Monthly Guesthouse
The exterior appeerance from the back

MIBU YASHIKI monthly Guesthouse is almost ready to welcome new tenants.

As I wrote something about it last month, the guesthouse is also our family’s private house.

The house has 5 bedrooms, 2 common rooms and 3 gardens. We have renovated the house partially and maintained the garden and the garden trees. Also, we have installed a very fast optical fiber internet line and we can access the internet anywhere in the house.

One of the guestroom

The house is modern Japanese style and actually it is in a very convenient area (please see the embedded Google Map below)

We are now looking for new tenants.

We have just uploaded the brief website.

Mibu-Yashiki Monthly guesthouse website :

Please check it out for the details.

.Actually, Mibu Yashiki is a good deal for middle/long termers, I think.
There are 3 guestrooms available now. Please contact us if you are interested in.

Tsuboniwa Garden



It has passed 3months since we had a third boy last year.
My family performed a ceremony "Okuizome" the other day.
Okuizome means “first meal” and in Japan it is a tradition performed
100 days after your baby is born.

Offcourse 100 day-old babies don’t eat anything.
So, we can not actually feed them. We just pretend to feed them with
praying that he could eat foods whole life long.
We Japanese eat a sea bream grilled with salt when we celabrate anything.

He is already more than 6 kilogram! He doubled size of wight.
To be honest, we don't want him to eat TOO much because we will have difficulty to maintain our own household with three boys. (~~)

Another Ume Blossoms

The temperature in Kyoto is getting higher and higher. I don't need thick jackets and sweaters any longer, and put them into boxes in the closet till November *v* .

Aki introduced Kitano Tenmangu Shrine the last week and I tell you the other Ume Blossoms viewing place. At this place you can look at Ume Blossoms without a fee. It's Kyoto Gyoen (National Garden). I went there on 16th Sunday, and Umes are 30% blooming. I think the best time is the next week and weekend.

When I see Umes blooming, I feel that the busiest tourist season come. Peoples are walking here and there any time any day and traffic jams are occurred anywhere. And the city is surrounded by red plum petals and pink cherry petals. The most exciting and beautiful season is just around the corner. Why don't you come to Kyoto ?

Kyoto Hanatoro has just started, too.


When you go to a shrine, you will see a pair of stone-curved animals at the front approach. They are called “Komainu”. They are of course imaginary creature but they look like dogs.

Normally one on the right has no corn and opens the mouth. The other one on the left has a corn and shuts the mouth.

There are a variety of different figures in Komainus. Unlike Buddhism temples, there are no statures or sculptures to see in shrines. So it may be interesting to pay attention on Komainus when you visit a Shinto shrine.

The origin seems to be lions, which is the symbol of strength, back to the Ancient Orient time (like Sphinxes?). The idea came to Japan through India and China like other important things were introduced in old times. It came to Japan in late Heian period (the 12th century).

Both of the right one and the left one are the imaginary beasts.

However, while the right one was made up based on lions as written above, the left one was made up based on dogs after it was introduced in Japan. So, the right is lion, the left is dog (Some of the shrine have foxes instead of lions and dogs, though).

Wouldn’t it be a pretty trivia to sound off to your travel mates

I Love MUJI.

Do you know MUJI? It's a Japanese company ( that sells clothes, stationery, food, furniture etc. and their concept is '' good quality things with no name brand''. I do like this MUJI shop and I often go one of their shops in Kyoto. Their products are simple and a bit cheap but fashionable. I found their branches in London and Turin when I was there.

You can buy MUJI products in overseas, however, don't you feel like going to their shop in Kyoto? In Japan, they manage also cafe called 'Meal MUJI' or 'Cafe MUJI' and you can eat cheaply (It depends what and how much you order, though).
Now there's only one MUJI shop in Kyoto and it's in city centre. While you're looking around this shop, you'll be healed by their original music.

MUJI has already become a big name brand (for me)!!

Spring has come!!

Finally, I can feel spring also in Kyoto. It's not cold any longer and I suffer from hey fever a little bit. I waited for spring for ages. It was cold and it did snow this winter.
What do you think first for spring? I think about cherry blossoms!! It's incredibly beautiful and I guess you can never have this experience in any other countries. This year, it's said that they will start to bloom on the 31st March.
My recommendation for cherry blossoms' spot is Heian-jingu shrine. There's a garden and you will definitely amazed by its beauty.
In addition, I found another fantastic place on the Internet. It's called 'Haradani-en'. It's a private garden and and open for only 2 weeks in spring. It costs a bit, 1200 yen but everybody wrote it did worth visiting on the website. The best season would be the middle of April.

You haven't got time to think. All you have to do is booking a place to stay ( J-Hoppers Kyoto is my recommendation). You shouldn't miss this amazing season in Japan.

Tenshinbashisuji Shotengai

"Where can I get Cheap and Nice Japanese souvenirs?"

We're often asked by our guests, and I recommend them to go to "Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping street".
There are many kinds of stores, restaurants there and most of them are cheaper than Kita(North of Osaka city.
We call this Shinsaibashi and Namba area "Minami".) It's also a tourist spot in Osaka, and there are a lot of people include tourists everyday.

However, if you're getting fed up with typical sightseeing, I recommend you to go to "Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping street."
It's the longest shopping street(2.6km) in Japan, and there are about 600 shops.
However, they're not for tourists. There are a lot of local people who look like coming to buy their ingredients for dinner.

I walked whole street the other day after a long time( I used to go there when I was a student), and I took hours!
Used book shops, furniture shops,Japanese candy shops, stationery shops,100 yen shops,music stores, boutiques, beauty salons, drugstore, antique shops, Japanese tea shops,flower shops..Even a gun shop!
Japanese, Itarian,Chinese etc. restaurants, Udon, Soba, Sushi, Cafe, First foods, Okonomiyaki,Crepe etc stalls..
You're never in a trouble when you get hungry, and you can have a massage when you tired.

I promise you'd look and feel normal Japanese life
though there aren't typical souvenirs shop.

Welcome back!!

The day before yesterday, one guests came back to here after one year. The last time, he came here with his friend, but this time, he's with his mother. I've been working here since Oct 2006 and I could see some guests again. It's always so nice to welcome those who stayed here before!! Sometime, I was amazed to see how they've changed from the last time and other times I was relieved to see that they haven't changed at all.
I do appreciate that they chose to stay at J-Hoppers Kyoto again. If you've stayed here before, please come back!! The best and the most beautiful season, spring is coming soon. If you haven't stayed here, please visit us!! J-Hoppers is a great place to meet many interesting people from all over the world.

Ume blossoms and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

Ume blossoms in Kitano Tenmangu Shine, north of Kyoto city
video clip

Sakura is definitely the most famous blossom in Japan.

However, Japanese plum trees (ume trees) bear beautiful blossoms, too.

When it comes to plum blossoms in Kyoto, we cannot talk without Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.

The shrine was built in the 10th century to honor Michizane Sugawara. He is believed to be kind of Genius, many students visit there to make a wish for their admission exams.

About ume (Japanese plum) blossoms

It came to Japan in the 8th century from China.

In Heian period (8the -12th century), ume was more popular than sakura (Japanese cherry blossoms) for blossom viewing (Hanami)

Ume smells sweeter than sakura and it tells of arrival of spring a little before sakura.

I went to the shrine with my family yesterday.

It has blossoms out around half.

I think you will enjoy them at least until the mid march.

I recommend you take Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in you travel schedule.

It takes about 30 minutes from by bus from Kyoto Station. Nice to visit on the way to Kinkakuji Temple or Ryoanji Temple using the 1-day bus pass.