Monday, December 26, 2011

COSTCO in Kyoto

COSTCO Japan Warehouse has opened in Yawata, Kyoto!
Operation time is 10.00am to 8.00pm daily.

Address: 〒614-8294,5 Kinmeidai Kita, Yawata-Shi, Kyoto.
Phone no:  075-971-3700
     Source: COSTCO Japan

If you're taking public transport, the nearest train station is Matsuiyamate Station. Then take either one of Keihan Bus No.16A , 16C, 30 or 620 to Minoyama Syougakkou (美濃山小学校) bus stop. Expect traffic congestion 1.5 to 2km towards the warehouse due to people queuing up for parking.

Membership costs 4200yen yearly. If you're registered as member, your spouse would get a free membership. Members can bring in children and up to 2 guests into the warehouse.

They do sell Japanese groceries like soy sauce and canned goods but most of their stuff are imported and in American portion sizes. We're talking about fruit juice in containers normally used to bottle cooking oil in Asia. And you have to buy them in 2s! And don't get me started on their pastries. They're delicious of course, but they're huge! Based on the expiration date, they only last for a couple of days. We're staying in Japan under a scholarship so we don't have the luxury of having a family size refrigerator. What we did was we went to COSTCO in the morning. Therefore we could have their bread, pizza and pastries for lunch, tea AND dinner. Or we won't have enough space to store all the food at the end of the day.

They also have non-perishables like toys, clothes, electrical items brought in from America. But I seriously didn't expect they would also sell Swarovski pendants there (costs around 6000yen each). If you can't go to the States, I suppose going to COSTCO Japan is enough. I even overheard some Japanese parents looking at the Disney themed children book collection and complained that they're of no use to them since the books are all in English :p

No plastic bag is given. Large reusable COSTCO grocery bag can be purchased at 158yen. Some people just use cardboard boxes available at the warehouse. And do bring enough cash for your purchase since they only accept cash or American Express credit card.

Front view/entrance of COSTCO Kyoto Yawata Warehouse
Inside the warehouse
Customers queuing at the cashier
The 60yen refillable soft drink is a MUST BUY. Where else can you get this kind of bargain :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

TOHO Cinema Mama's Club Theater

This just HAD to be shared!

TOHO Cinema has special screenings for parents with babies/toddlers where the kids can join the parents in the cinema. "Oh, I can't do that. What if my baby makes a fuss and cry during the movie? Then other people in the cinema would hush us and scold us for disturbing them..." you say? Well, that's the whole point of this special service. Parents won't have to worry about their kids making noise during the movie because every other people in the cinema would understand. Plus, they have their own noisy kids to worry about :p

TOHO Cinema would normally do the screening on a weekday, and only once for a particular movie. But hey, it's better than nothing right? Here's the link to TOHO Cinema Mama's Club Theater. And here's the schedule for Kyoto's TOHO Cinema Nijo Mama's Club Theater so you can plan ahead.

Now, if only they would provide child care service for the parents to enjoy the movies by themselves... ;p

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tenugui as decorative wall hangings

I don't really get why traditional Japanese crafts like pottery or kimono costs so much. Honestly, I don't even find them interesting or artistic. However, I loooooove when they merge Japanese art with modern technique or when they draw Japanese patterns on a modern product like those 和風 (wafuu - Japanese style) Disney Japan merchandise.

An example of wafuu Disney merchandise
My current favorite Japanese craft is tenugui. More precisely art tenugui. Tenugui is actually Japanese cotton handkerchief. But its use has evolved to be washcloth, dishcloth, headband, gift wrapper, souvenir and even as decoration.

This Maiko in autumn design is great as a memento of your stay in Japan
Kyoto's famous sites - the Kiyomizu Temple (left) and Toji Temple (right)
This booklet art tenugui has won the 2007 Japanese Good Design Award

I am selling these decorative tenugui here: Beautiful Tenugui Facebook Page
I started the page for Malaysians, hence all the prices are quoted in Ringgit Malaysia. But I can also serve customers from other countries. I've added the International Shop tab at the page and as an introduction, we don't charge for postage.
Do check it out :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Special night light up at Kiyomizu Temple

Kyoto has hundreds of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Excuse my lack of cultural intelligence but personally I think they're all more or less the same in design, landscape, what tourists get to see/do etc. So I make it a point to visit only those that were gazetted as a world heritage site by UNESCO. And at the top of that list is Kiyomizu Temple.

Coming to Kyoto and did not visit Kiyomizu Temple is like going to Mecca and did not visit the Holy Mosque :p The temple is considered one of Japan's national treasure. It was established in year 778, that was even before Kyoto became the capital of Japan .

Visiting the temple during the day is great, but it's even better if you can catch the special night openings. You can check the schedule at their website. We caught the final day for Kiyomizu Temple's 2011 Autumn light up. There were sooooooo many people. The line for tickets goes all the way down, blocking the entrance to the souvenir shops in front of the temple. But as always, the Japanese are very efficient in making sure the queue moves in no time.

There are stairs EVERYWHERE within the temple site since it is located on a hill so baby strollers are not recommended. Strollers are OK to push your baby up the slopes heading towards the entrance but not to bring inside the temple. They do provide a stroller parking area. With the crowd and not enough lighting to see your way, I highly recommend using a baby carrier instead.

View of Kyoto skyline from the temple. On the right is Kyoto Tower.
What's special about autumn in Japan is that you get to see multiple colors of leaves on one tree. They're not just brown... they're red, orange, yellow... nice!
The famous Kiyomizu Stage. Those huge 12-meter high pillars underneath were assembled without using a single nail! Glad I knew that AFTER my visit. There must have been hundreds of people on the stage at the same time that we were on it!
Visiting this pond alone is worth the 400yen you had to pay to get in (200yen for children 6 years and above). The reflection of the red trees and lights and the temple... It was breath taking!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Piccoli Children Library

Piccoli is the children section of Kyoto University of Art and Design library and is located near the front entrance of the university. There's no problem pushing your child in a baby stroller to get there. You can leave the stroller at the library entrance.

Operating Hours
Thursday, Friday, Saturday  10.30am - 6.00pm
Sunday and Public Holiday  10.30am - 5.00pm

Getting there
You can take the City bus No.3, No.5, No.65 or No.204 and get down at Kamihatecho Kyotozokeigeidaimae (right in front of the university).
Nearest train station is Chayama Station on the Eizan Line. Then, a 15 minutes walk from the station to the library.

The library staff are very friendly but I'm not sure whether they can speak English or not. The library dedicated two full book racks to English/Foreign children books and have 17,000 books in total. However, the library has been open since 1978 so expect a lot of old titles in their collection. Members of the public can borrow the library books at no charge. You can borrow a maximum of 5 books within a period of 2 weeks.

Apart from that, the library is very active in hosting children related activities.
  • Book Club: discussing/introducing children picture books (in Japanese), once a month on Thursday, 3.30pm - 4.00pm
  • Children Workshop: making stuff from things found around us, every Saturday 1.30pm - 4.00pm
  • Movie Show: once a month on Sunday or Public Holiday, 10.45am onward
  • Toddlers Club: playing wooden toys and puzzles for children 0-1 year old, twice a month on Friday 10.30am - 12.00pm
  • Computer Projects: learn to design/make things using the computer for elementary school children, reservation needed, every Saturday 11.00am - 11.45am

Their book collection is great but I don't think I'll be bringing my 3 year old toddler there. Not enough entertainment for children that age. Children up to 1.5 years old would be okay.