Here are my picks of what's happening this week in the Osaka/Kansai area.
First on June 8th from 6:00-10:00 there is the "One Million People's Candle Night in Osaka 2016 Summer Nishi-Umeda Night". Here, around the Hilton Plaza, shops and buildings will turn off their lights and burn candles for 2 hours to support the reduction of greenhouse gases. There will also be art installations, live music and much more [postponed to June 9th in the case of rain].
Day for the Family
For a nice day out with the family you should head over to ATC on June 10th for the International Rescue Team's Drills & Parades from 10:15am-11:00am. Here your kids can enjoy watching rescue teams from Japan and other Asian countries perform rescuer drills. There will also be a Fire Truck Parade, Fire Drills on Ships, Air Rescue Drills and more. If your kids love rescue vehicles this is the place to go.
Starting June 11th thru to the 26th is Musikfest Nara. This is a great chance to go and enjoy Nara Park, the deer and all the temples while enjoying an array of musical performances, from classical orchestras to popular local bands. For a details schedule check out: naraken.com/musik
Rakugo in English
If you would like to experience some traditional Japanese culture you can enjoy Rakugo in English on June 11th at Fukushi-kaikan [just a 5 minute walls from Dobutsuen-mae subway station] from 2:30pm [¥500 admission fee]. In Raugo, a storyteller will entertain you with funny stories in English. For detailed directions go to: rakutopia.jp/tennojimura-yose
Fireflies and More
If you missed out on the fireflies last week in Osaka you now have another chance. Why not head to Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto and combine culture and nature. Here you'll be able to see an annual Japanese Tea Ceremony, a Japanese court dance and a ceremonial Kimono Demonstration at 6pm. Following that, at 8pm 600 fireflies will be released. But if you can't make it in the evening, from 1pm you can enjoy stalls featuring quality Kyoto goods and amazing food.
While you are up in Kyoto, from now thru the whole summer, you can enjoy the Sagano Romantic Train. This train route (7.3 km) runs from Saga to Kameoka along a gorgeous river gorge and passes through 8 old tunnels; No service on Wed. (except for holidays and tourist season).
Tickets: 620 yen (one way); Access: JR Sagano Line, Saga Arashiyama Stn.; Sagano Kanko Tetsudo: Tel: 075-861-7444; https://www.sagano-kanko.co.jp/
Or if you are not a train person but more a boat person, why not try The Hozugawa Kudari River Run. This goes from Kameoka to Arashiyama, Kyoto (about 16 km in 2 hours) along a stunning river gorge of rapids with wonderful mountain views; Boats depart every hour between 9:00-15:30 (the last boat departs at 15:30). *Operated irregularly on Sat., Sun., National holidays.
Tickets: 4,100 yen; Access: An 8-min. walk from the north exit of JR Sagano Line Kameoka Stn.; Hozugawa Yusen Association: Tel: 0771-22-5846; www.hozugawakudari.jp
And finally if you like boats and sake you must Tour around the Sake Brewery Town Fushimi Jukkoku-bune Boat Ride. Jukkoku-bune is a boat that carried sake, rice and passengers on the Yodo River in the Edo period (1600-1868). The revived boat carries 15 passengers and the tour takes about 55-mins. round trip and runs in the Uji River where willow trees and sake breweries are making a great scenery. These special boats depart from the back of Gekkeikan Okura Memorial Museum to the Fushimi Port Park.
Tickets: 1,200 yen, 600 yen (6-12 years old), 300 yen (5 years and younger); 10:00-16:20; No service on Monday between June and September (available if Monday is a national holiday); Access: Kintetsu Line, Momoyama goryo-mae Stn., or Keihan Line, Chushojima Stn.; Tel: 075-623-1030; kyoto-fushimi-kanko.jp/ship/
And to round out your trip to Kyoto this week check out
Bishamon-do in Kennin-ji Temple: Known as Tora-ichi, this market specializes in handicrafts & arts; 10:00-16:00. This is a great place to pick up a souvenir before heading home.
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Cherry Blossoms + Craft Beer at BEER Komachi = A perfect day out.