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Idutsu-yu is a traditional Kyoto public bath (sento) south west of the Imperial Palace (Gosho).
Idutsu-yu has nice tile work of a church in the European Alps which marks it out among other sento in Kyoto. Another nice touch is the original Showa Period advertising on the washing space mirrors, which date back to when the public bath opened back in 1950.
Idutsu-yu is one of many fine public baths in Kyoto which include Sakura-yu, Higashiyama-yu at the Hyakumanben intersection near Kyoto University, Funaoka Onsen and Daikoku-yu in Shugakuin. There is another well-known Daikoku-yu in the Gion district.
Tel: 075 231 6273; 3pm-12am; closed Thursday
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Best seen from the viewing platform on the pine-covered, 60m tall Kotohiki Hill, Zenigata Sunae is built in the shape of a traditional Japanese coin.
The sand sculpture is 90 meters north to south, 120 meters west to east and 345 meters in circumference.
It was built in 1633 in honor of a visit by Ikoma Takatoshi (1611-1659), the daimyo (feudal lord) of Sanuki (Takamatsu) and the man who began the construction of the beautiful Ritsurin Park in Takamatsu city on Shikoku.
The sand sculpture is repaired twice a year in the spring and autumn.
Zenigata Sunae is illuminated over the New Year holidays. Local folklore has it that anyone who views the sculpture will lead a life without financial worry.
The Okazaki Hanabi Festival took place on August 5 in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture this year. Joel Hadley Jr came to watch and this is what he saw.
This was the 69th time the festival was held and it being August the weather is always very hot and humid. It is now traditional for young people, especially, to attend these mid-summer festivals in colorful yukata toting uchiwa flat fans.
The main fireworks display lasts from 6.50pm-9pm and includes an Edo Period boat on the river launching some of the fireworks. Firework manufacturers compete each year to see who produces the best show.
Okazaki is the birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu and it was during his time in Japan that fireworks were first introduced to Japan by Chinese pyrotechnicians brought over to Japan by British merchant John Saris.
Around a hundred food stalls, lit by lanterns at night, serve food to the thousands of spectators who attend the festival from all over Aichi Prefecture.
The festival takes place along the river in Okazaki and in the grounds of Okazaki Park, which surrounds the castle. The nearest stations to Okazaki Park are either Higashi Okazaki or Okazaki Station on the Meitetsu Line from Meitetsu Nagoya Station.
You can see more of Joel’s take on Japan on his YouTube channel.
Now nearly 100 years old, Sakura-yu public bath in downtown Kyoto, is a trip back in time. Though situated close to Kyoto’s busiest shopping street, Kawaramachi, Sakura-yu is set on a peaceful side street, populated by a few trendy cafes and eateries.
Established in 1919 way back in the Taisho Period, Sakura-yu is a preserved period piece of a sento with some lovely touches, from the weathered wooden shoe lockers at the entrance to the tiled baths themselves inside.
The changing area has an ancient set of scales and a recently added fish tank. There are soft drinks and beer available to quench your thirst after a long, hot soak.
Kyoto Imperial Palace (Gosho) is just to the west and the Kamogawa to the east.
Sakura-yu Facebook page
Tel: 075 231 0391
Hours: 4.30pm-midnight; closed Monday
There is room for one car in the car park.
The nearest station to Sakura-yu is Jingu-Marutamachi on the Keihan Line or take one of numerous city buses to the corner of Marutamachi and Kawaramachi. These include: #3, #4, #10, #17, #37, #59, #65, #93, #202, #204, #205.
There is another sento called Sakura-yu down on Gojo Mibugawa.
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Foster parenting in Japan remains rare. Compared to other developed countries, Japanese children without parents must depend on public facilities to a much higher degree.
In 2010, the percentage of children placed in foster care in various countries in noted below.
Hong Kong (79.8%)
Canada, British Columbia (63.6%)
South Korea (43.6%)
That means that 88% of Japanese children without parents live in government facilities.
Source: Huff Post Japan