The 5th Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival in 2017


No automatic alt text available.

This year the event is on a somewhat smaller scale, but there will be a museum talk on September 3rd (in Japanese only) and the lantern walk will be held on November 18th.

For more details in Japanese see the Bakumatsu Festival website:

If you don’t speak Japanese you can still enjoy the lantern walk so come along and enjoy the tour!





The 4th Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival



Commemorating some 150 years since the death of Sakamoto Ryoma, the signing of the Satsuma-Choshu Alliance, the ending of the Bakufu government and the beginning of the Meiji era, a huge shift in Japan’s historical narrative, this year the Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival, now in its fourth year, will host a number of events lasting about a month long. In previous years, there has always been one big event held outside the Kyoto City Hall, but this year instead, there will be several individual events spread out from late-October to late-November. Every year the event is organised by the Kyoto Ryoma Society (Kyoto Ryoma-kai) and this year too that organisation will be at the helm. The following is a list of some of the things that will be going on:


1. “Bakumatsu History Talk Show” featuring authors from the Kyoto Ryoma Society newsletter.

A keynote lecture and panel discussion will be held. *Please note that this event will be held in Japanese only. No interpretation services will be provided*.

Themes: One hundred and fifty years since the war between the Bakufu government and the Choshu domain, and the Satsuma-Choshu Alliance

Date & Time: October 29th, 2016, 14:00~17:00
Venue: Ryoshinkan building, Doshisha University
Karasuma-Imadegawa, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto (close to Exit 1 of Imadegawa Station on the subway Karasuma Line)

Fees: 2,000 yen for Kyoto Ryoma Society and members,
3,000 yen for non-society members

In cooperation with the Bocho (Yamaguchi Prefecture) Historical Society


2. A Tour of the Kyoto National Museum “Sakamoto Ryoma Exhibition”

In cooperation with the Osaka Ryoma Society

Date & Time: October 30th, 2016, meet at Keihan Nanajo Station at 14:00
Fees: 3,000 yen for non-society members
2,000 yen for Kyoto and Osaka Ryoma Society members

Tour Route: Shichijo Shinchi (former location of Kyoto’s “yuukaku” brothel area), Hoko-ji Temple, site of the former retirement home of Kawaraya Gorobei (where a number of men from Tosa hid in exile), Chishaku-in temple, Myoho-in temple, Kyoto National Museum tour of the Sakamoto Ryoma exhibition led by museum curator, Miyakawa Teiichi (guided talks given in Japanese only).



3. The 23rd Annual Sakamoto Ryoma Lantern Parade Walk

Date & Time: Saturday, 19th November, 2016; meet at the Kamogawa River Sanjo Bridge riverbank area. Applications to join the parade will begin at 15:30. The parade will set off from Sanjo Bridge riverbank at 16:30; please be on time if you wish to join.
Fees: 3,000 yen for non-society members
Free for Kyoto Ryoma Society members


4. Additional Event: Saturday Lecture at the Kyoto National Museum

Museum curator, Miyakawa Teiichi and chairman of the Kyoto Ryoma Society, Akao Hiroaki will talk about “Hayashi Ichiroemon and Sakamoto Ryoma” 

Venue: Lecture theatre of the Heisei Chishinkan Building within the Kyoto National Museum

Date & Time: 26th November, 2016, 1:30pm-3:00pm, seats are available for 200 people.

It is free to hear the talk but a museum entrance fee will be required.
Numbered tickets will be distributed on a first come, first served basis at the ground floor of the Heisei Chishinkan building from 12pm. Come early to ensure your place.

Please check the official website of the Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival for further details (in Japanese only):

Dreamton – a British Village in Kyoto


imageTwenty weeks in to what has been quite a rough pregnancy so far, the other day my husband and I decided to go on a little day out in Kyoto. I understand why they refer to “confinement” during pregnancy because I’ve hardly been over the doorstep all summer, so this little outing was a particular treat. And what a treat indeed! Despite living in Kyoto prefecture for ten years, I don’t recall ever having had an opportunity to visit the city of Kameoka. Now, thanks to my time in Nagoya and having learned to drive at last (although hubby is doing most of the driving recently as it’s become increasingly difficult for me with my growing tummy), I have a car and that gives me more of a chance to explore outside of Kyoto city. So yesterday we went to Kameoka. The reason: I had heard of a little place called Dreamton, a British village in the heart of Kyoto countryside. Curiosity sufficiently piqued, I decided I had to go and explore.


Dreamton is one of the most intriguing places I’ve been to in Japan. I’ve been to places like Meiji-mura in Gifu, which is home to several important historical buildings from the Meiji era, and I’ve visited some of Japan’s other themed visitor facilities, of which there are plenty. The former British consulate building in Hakodate, which is now a wonderful museum, does a fabulous afternoon tea set and I have fond memories of my visit there. The Glover Gardens complex in Nagasaki, another historical remnant of British settlement in Japan is also an incredible place that allows visitors to get a sense of what life was like for British settlers in Japan in those early days of contact. Dreamton, however, is not like these places of historical interest at all. Dreamton is the complete creation of a Japanese Anglophile, and it is this point that makes it so fascinating. According to the staff there, it was established 5-6 years ago. The buildings are made to look like very old buildings that you would find in a typical village somewhere in the UK, and it comes across as very authentic-looking indeed.


The Pont Oak tearoom and restaurant

Dreamton reminded me of myself as a teenager and the passion I developed for Japan, albeit on a much, much grander and larger scale. As a teenager, I once transformed my bedroom into my image of a Japanese home. It had hand-made, makeshift tatami mats and sliding doors. It was decorated with pictures of Ukiyo-e woodblock prints. I had tea ceremony utensils, chopsticks and rice bowls, and I slept on a kind of makeshift futon. I was very proud of my creation and I loved it! However, it was naturally quite different to the real thing. Dreamton is impressively authentic looking. Upon entering the grounds, it feels just like you’ve stepped into a small English village. It was the small details that stood out the most to give it it’s authentic feel. As I entered the first small shop to go through into the main complex, the tinkling sound of the old bell on the top corner of the door to let the shop keeper know that a customer had arrived felt so familiar. I was greeted by an elderly gentleman dressed in a white shirt, dark trousers and a waistcoat wearing glasses and an old top hat with slightly frayed edges. The sight of him and the surroundings of British antiques and other goods for sale really made me feel like I’d travelled instantaneously to a British countryside shop. But more than the sights, it was the smell; it even smelled like a small country shop somewhere in England. The feeling of the rough stone floor under my feet too, gave me that sense that I was no longer in Japan.

Below is a picture of the entrance to the shop where you place your order for the restaurant in advance:


The entrance to the first shop. You can order your meal and purchase gifts like soap, fridge magnets, teas, shortbread biscuits and sweets. They also do take outs of cake!


A plate of fish ‘n’ chips with mushy peas! Yummy goodness for 1,900 yen.

Despite the slight difficulty in access, the place being deep in the mountains of Kameoka, it was quite crowded with visitors. We spotted number plates from Kyoto, Osaka and even Fukui in the car park. We had a 10-15 minute wait before we could be seated in the restaurant for lunch and it was late too; we didn’t get there until 3pm in the afternoon. Many of the other customers were there for the cream tea set (1,250 yen) or the afternoon tea set (2,100 yen), but my husband and I had not had time for lunch yet so we tried the fish and chips (1,900 yen per meal), which also comes with a cup of tea. I was very pleasantly surprised when my plate arrived and on it I saw mushy peas! I think it was my first time to eat mushy peas in Japan, and very tasty they were too. The chips were like regular fries you can get in many places in Japan, but the fish was very  good, very like you would get in a chip shop in the UK. It was delicious. And the tea! I enjoyed that so much I had to order another pot. One small cup was just not enough. The food was very filling and I struggled to eat all of it, which felt authentic too. It’s not often that I can eat a whole portion of fish and chips by myself in the UK. Even the utensils were authentic. We were given proper old-school style fish knives with the curved tip at the end and a cream-coloured handle. These were Sheffield-made knives. The lady who served us our meal was dressed like a maid. She looked like she had come straight from the set of filming in the Downton Abbey series. All of the staff had fabulous costumes and the service was truly wonderful. The staff took time to kindly make sure we were comfortable, answer our questions, and even give us a bit of background information on the place.


The Menu

Here’s a video I found on YouTube showing some of the scenes of Dreamton:

Here’s another YouTube video with commentary in Japanese and an interview with the founder, Haruyama Mayumi aka Marie:

Some more pictures from my own visit:


A view of the garden



Gift shop and antiques shop

The place has a shop where you can buy clothes designed by the founder, particularly dresses in typical British style florals and tartan styles. There is an antiques shop where you can find all kinds of things. I was reminded of some of the things my grandparents used to have their house when they were alive.

Aside from the shops and restaurant/tea room, Dreamton also provides wedding services and you can stay overnight in the Bed and Breakfast hotel.

What a great place to observe the connection between Britain and Japan alive and well. It was really a great day out, and I’m looking forward to going again. I highly recommend it. The website (mostly in Japanese) is here: Do check it out if you get a chance. I’m looking forward to visiting in May when apparently the place is awash with the colours of roses. I was told it was lovely in winter too when there’s snow fall and smoke coming from the chimneys. I can’t wait for my next visit!


2015 Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival


2015 Bakumatsusai Poster

The Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival will be held again this year from September 14th-20th.

There will be a panel display held at ZEST Oike, the underground shopping mall near Oike Station from September 14th-19th.

The main event with stalls and entertainment will be held outside Kyoto City Hall on Saturday, September 19th.

Then on Sunday September 20th from 1pm there will be a talk (in Japanese only) on Bakumatsu History at Doshisha University of which I will again be a participant. I look forward to seeing you there if you can make it!

  • Eleanor

New Book Chapter Announcement


bpix-cover pic

The Japan Society’s series, Britain and Japan: Biographical Portraits, has just been expanded with the publication of Volume IX, and I’m pleased to say that I also have a chapter in there called  Mutô Chôzô (1881-1942), and A Short History of Anglo-Japanese Relations. Sir Hugh Cortazzi has compiled and edited this work published by Renaissance Books. In all, there are 57 chapters describing the men and women who have worked toward U.K.-Japan relations.

Since coming to work at Aichi Prefectural University I have been following up research on this little known character, Mutô Chôzô. There is a fantastic Collection at Nagasaki University’s Economics Library which belonged to him, and many of the sources can be viewed online. Mutô’s work, A Short History of Anglo-Japanese Relations, was first published in 1936 at a time when Anglo-Japanese relations where becoming strained in the build-up to World War Two. Nevertheless, the book was a pioneering little work, and although it is somewhat out of date now, it still has some gems of knowledge as an introductory text on the subject.

Another talk on the Nakai diaries coming up!


Nakai Hiromu's Kokai Shinsetsu

I have very kindly been given another opportunity to talk about translating Nakai Hiromu’s first travel diary, A Travel Sketch of the West – A New Account of Crossing the Seas.

This time the event is organised by JAT (Japan Association of Translators) and SWET (Society of Writers, Editors and Translators) and will be held in Osaka on Sunday, September 21st, 2014.

Please see the website below for details:

I look forward to seeing you there if you can make it!

– Eleanor



IJET 25 Tokyo


I will be giving a talk on the subject of translation entitled, “Translating Japanese History – For Love, Not Money -” in June, later this year.

For details, please see the following IJET website page.

If you are interested in the field of translation, I can highly recommend attending this event.

I wish I could stay for the whole thing, but I will only be able to attend to give my own talk.

I hope to see you there though, if you can make it.