Sanpo is Japanese for a ‘walk,’ and it’s a popular pastime here. From the bureaucratic samurai of the Tokugawa period who would wander among the cherry trees and write poetry, to modern office workers trying to keep fit, walking is still a much appreciated activity in Japan.
Japan is also a land with a rising elderly population. It has one of the longest life expectancies in the world. As communities and towns have ever older populations it is also becoming ever more important to promote fitness in populations that will strain public health services ever more if not kept healthy. One way municipalities can do this is by hosting events such at the one Kumejima Town hosts every January.
The 久米島のんびりウオーク or Kumejima’s Leisure Walk is a two-day yearly event, part of the larger Okinawa Marching league. Participants come from all over Japan. As a resident of Kume Island I attended this event first in 2011.
The first day offered 32km, 16km, and 5km courses and the second day offered 20km, 10km, and 5km courses. One participant was a 86-year-old who planned on completing the full 32km course!
Both days featured different courses through the island. Participants entered with a nominal fee, and were provided maps and completion certificates. Along the way stickers were awarded at checkpoints, and food stations were set up where walkers could rest and eat.
I did the 16km walk on the first day of the event. Walkers stretched together and announcements were made. As with many events there was an MC tapped for the event who extolled everyone to do a good job. The 32km group did the same about half an hour before, so everyone in the 16km group set off together.
Each group set off to the sound of a taiko drum performance. All along the way were supportive Japanese Flags with messages urging the participants on. These helped guide the walkers through the more remote areas. There were also tea and water stations along the way, with great views and interesting conversations.
One lady I talked to came all the way from Yokohama to participate. She said it was a great way to see more of Japan, while keeping in shape. She talked to me because her children live in the states and wanted to know why I was there. ^_^ All in all, it was a great morning/afternoon spent among Kumejima’s beautiful walkways. Do you want to visit new places and keep in shape? Let’s Walking!
Your first question is probably a lot like mine when I got my placement in Kitadaito. Where?
A lot of us on the JET programme end up in interesting locations that we’ve never heard of before. My first JET posting was on a small island, 320km east of the Okinawan mainland with a population of 550 people. I spent three years on Kitadaito and loved every(well pretty much) minute. A lot of what I learned there inspired my first two books Samurai Awakening and Revenge of the Akuma Clan. During my time on the island, I made a video for an event on the mainland.
The video was my first ever and I used school equipment which, combined with my limited experience produced a so-so video. I went back with a bit more practice and re-did the video, upgrading the quality where I could and adding new material from a visit last year. I hope you enjoy this digital look at Kitadaito Island.
Originally posted to the Pacific Northwest JETAA Facebook group by Sabrina Holliday Carlin:
“For the JET who has everything…$40 at Snapdoodle Toys in Kenmore!”"
Thanks to JET alum James Kent for sharing this posting. Posted by Kay Monroe (Miyazaki-shi, 1995 -97). Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.
Position: International Marketing Coordinator
Posted by: Kyoto Convention Bureau
Location: Kyoto, JP
Start Date: N/A
Are you an expert in international marketing? Do you have a passion for Kyoto? Do you have a proven record of growing global networks?
Kyoto Convention Bureau is recruiting an International Marketing Coordinator to strengthen Kyoto’s position as destination of choice for global meetings, conferences, incentive travel and like business events. This person will be responsible for creating promotional materials & professional bids; conducting sales presentations & promotional seminars; representing Kyoto at trade shows; growing global sales & marketing networks; and much, much more.
The ideal candidate will be looking to further their career in marketing, will be a native English speaker with business level or above competency in Japanese. You should have an interest in meetings/conventions/business events coupled with a passion for Kyoto. Competency with Windows, Excel, Word, PowerPoint and email is essential. A valid visa allowing work in Japan is required.
Interested candidates are invited to send a full resume / CV in English and “rirekisho” in Japanese with photograph to the address in the linked PDF.
Deadline for applications is Sunday 14th April 2013.
Please see the linked pdf for a full overview of the job, conditions, and contact details for enquiries.
Thanks to JET alum Matthew Eccles who works for the company. Posted by Kay Monroe (Miyazaki-shi, 1995 -97). Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.
Position: Travel Consultant
Posted by: InsideJapan Tours
Location: Boulder, CO
Start Date: N/A
InsideJapan Tours is a young and dynamic travel company. Formed in the UK, we also have an office in Japan and in 2010 opened our first US Branch in Boulder, Colorado. We are now looking for a fourth person to join this pioneering office and form part of the integral team.
This position presents the perfect opportunity for a former JET to begin a career in the travel industry and use their knowledge and love of Japan. Boulder and the surrounding area is a fantastic place in which to live and work, and the Pearl Street location couldn’t be better!
For more information about the company, role, great benefits and to apply, please see our website:
Heather Wilson Tomoyasu (ALT Ibaraki-ken, 2004-06), previously Manager of Public Relations at the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, is now a newly established stay-at-home mom blogging in Brooklyn on her site US-Japan Fam to hopefully compile the ultimate resource for Japanese-American cross cultural families, delving into the matters of raising children bilingually, bi-culturally, and bi-racially in the Big Apple.
Dreamy Destination Wedding: Three years ago I today we tied the knot, got hitched, jumped the broom, or whatever you like to call it! I walked down the virgin road (that’s what they call the aisle in Japan!! HA!!) in Hawaii of all places!! I’d never been there before, but it seemed like the perfect romantic and beautiful halfway meeting ground for our family and friends to join from America and Japan (as well as from Canada, Australia, and England)… <CONTINUE>
Victor-Victoria, or more like Rick-Riku?: Little Kenzo was born with 100% Japanese eyes. No crease or double eyelid or whatever you call it. They were just like daddy’s and gorgeous! Fast forward 2 months and overnight he developed the double lid… in ONE EYE… <CONTINUE>
Comments on entries are always appreciated, and guest bloggers are welcome to use the contact form on the blog site to submit ideas!
Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture is hailed as the most fabulous of Japan’s many castles. It is definitely the largest. I had the opportunity to visit Himeji for a half-day at the start of March in 2013. Himeji Castle is a UNESCO World Hertiage site.
Over the past several years, the main keep of Himeji Castle has been covered by a giant scaffolding that is essentially a building that encircles the high roof. The internal structure has been reinforced to prevent earthquake damage, while the plaster and roofing tiles have been replaced or reworked for water and fire proofing.
The last major restoration of the castle was completed in 1964. This new reconstruction is similar to the first. When I visited the restoration work was nearly complete. I had the opportunity to travel to the top of the scaffolding and view the roof from the outside, a view that will disappear in 2014 as the scaffolding is disassembled and the main keep re-opened. Despite the construction work, I found the grounds beautiful and interesting. Though the inner keep is not accessible, much of the rest of the grounds were, including the West Bailey. It was a great way to spend a few hours strolling through the castle grounds and trying to snap a few photos.
Throughout the grounds there are multilingual plaques describing many aspects of the history and culture of the castle including its reconstruction and maintenance. Many crests of past lords who reigned at the castle, many worked into the roofing tiles. In the Egret’s Eye View, I was even able to observe a live demonstration of the tiling work. I’ve always found Japanese style tile roofs to be interesting, so it was great to see how they and the walls were actually put together.
Himeji Castle is located in Hyo prefecture at 68 hon-machi, Himeji, Hyogo. Hours of operation are 9 am to 4 pm (September through April) and 9 am to 5 pm (May to August). Closed December 29 and 30. The Egrets Eye closes a bit earlier.
For more pictures from Himeji Castle please checkout my post at www.MoreThingsJapanese.com
Posted recently to the JETAA New South Wales Facebook group by Sharon Van Etten. Sugoi, NSW!
Check out these interviews with former JETs on JAMS.TV from the recent Shaberanaito event:
Japan For Me 01: The Tohoku Region: http://www.youtube.com/
Japan For Me 02: Sendai to Kagoshima: http://www.youtube.com/
Japan For Me 03: Powder Snow and Onsen: http://www.youtube.com/
Thanks to everyone who participated.
It is approaching 2 years since the 3.11 disaster and the prefecture has moved forward in many ways, but still faces a number of challenges. Many JETs around the country and JET alumni from all around the world assisted in the immediate recovery of the three prefectures most affected by the disaster, and I know many of you want to help more. Today I am offering a chance to do so and it is as easier as clicking you mouse!
In fact it is, we in Fukushima want your help spreading the word and interest in the prefecture and its strong and “genki” citizens. We want the world to know about a side of Fukushima people in our prefecture all know about, a Fukushima of beauty, of produce, of nature, of fun, of shy but brave and warmhearted people; not just a power plant.
We want people to learn that life continues on here and to set each person a challenge to learn something new about Fukushima. So here is how to help support Fukushima Prefecture, you don’t even have to get up out of your chair or Kotatsu!
Like our Facebook page and read the Japanese or English translations about Fukushima!
Head to the Prefectural YouTube channel and watch short videos about the revitalization from the disaster!
Head to our English blog and read about events, food and life in Fukushima including stories from fellow JETs!
Share these resources with friends and family back home and show that the world is still thinking about and supporting people in Fukushima!
Thank you so much for your time and support! 心より感謝申し上げます。
With its tall mountains and island geography, Japan has areas with heavy rain throughout the year and snowfall in the winter. Over the years, in many areas the snow has been changed from a hardship to benefit. The first place in Japan to create a snow festival is Tokamachi in Niigata prefecture.
Tokamachi (十日町市) City is located in eastern Niigata prefecture. The names of that area are interesting in that they refer to the days it used to take to travel to them by foot. When we went there from the Echigo-Yuzawa station we passed several towns with these similar names such as Muikamachi (six-day town). The area has many small towns and is primarily full of rice farms. Niigata is famous for the delicious rice that the large amounts of snowfall help create.
This year’s snow festival took place between February 15 and 17th with the main stage events taking place on the 16th at the local Tokamachi Elementary School sports ground. As with all the nearby farms, the fields were topped with over two and a half meters of snow. While the snow is difficult to live with, the locals have found some ingenious ways to not only make it work for them, but to enjoy it as well.
One of the major attractions of the Tokamachi snow festival are the snow sculptures. From small igloos to towering designs the sculptures turn all the excess snow into art. Local artists and teams transform piles of snow into everything from popular manga characters to full size replicas of buildings and ships. These are so popular that they have spread to other snow festivals such as the more famous one in Hokkaido.
Every year the main stage for the event is constructed of snow. This year the design was a towering ship and compass. The portals were lighted and throughout the main event fireworks were lighted around it. It was a surprisingly long and steep walk from the lower town to the event but as guests of the local town government we had great tickets that put me 5 people back from the stage and only three from the walkway.
Originally, the focus of the festival was to highlight the beautiful kimonos created in Niigata. The main event after the opening speeches is still a fashion show of kimonos which are especially striking against the pure white of the snowy stage. Following the show were performances by artists Junichi Inagaki, Becky, and LG Monkees. As well as appearances by the local school children singing along with Tetsu and Tomo who helped to MC.
Despite the cold weather and snow falling throughout much of the show, huge numbers of people came out to see the show and it was well worth a few cold toes. The entire event was well-organized with crowd control built into the area with snow dividers. While we weren’t allowed to take photos or video of the performers, we were allowed to take pictures of the stage and fashion show. We didn’t have time to see every sculpture but I did catch a few on our way out. I hope you enjoy a little look at a wonderful town and event. I’ll share more on the trip soon.
For more photos from the event visit MoreThingsJapanese.com
Thanks to Akita Prefecture for sending out the latest volume of its Akita Global Network Newsletter:
We’ve just published the latest Akita Global Network newsletter,vol.6. You can read here:
Please share it with your family and friends. Have a nice holidays!
Akita Prefectural Government
主事 齋藤 小夜里 Sayori SAITO
I don’t know if the author is a JET alum, but it’s definitely a unique perspective that most JETs will appreciate and could likely write themselves. Thanks to JET alums Carol Elk and Shannon Copp for alerting me to this article via Facebook.
By Charlie Jones
Two years ago, I achieved alpha-geek status among my friends by moving to Japan. Since then, all I’ve been hearing from them is how lucky I am and how they would murder any endangered species still clinging tenaciously to existence in exchange for permission to live in my closet. And I totally get it, because come on, it’s Japan — the wackiest, most interesting place on the planet. Who wouldn’t want to live here?
Well … you might not, actually. Because while there are plenty of great reasons to live in Japan, such as the low crime rate and the amazing public transportation system, there are a few things you should know before you decide to pack up your manga and hop on a jet across the Pacific, wearing rabbit ears and flashing peace signs at everyone who makes eye contact with you. For starters …
#5. Everything is frightfully low-tech
On November 20, 2012 The Emperor of Japan Akihito and Empress Michiko visited Kumejima as part of a four-day visit to Okinawa. Preparations were long in the making, but it was still extraordinary to see the spectacle of a visit lasting less than 5 hours. Luckily, I was asked to help photograph on behalf of Kumejima Town and was able to stand with television and newspaper camera people in designated media areas.
The Emperor and his wife arrived around 10:30 JST on a plane from Okinawa-honto. Since Kume Island has only a small airport, they used a JAL Express plane instead of the usual flying fortress. There they greeted a group of students and dignitaries and then drove to the Deep Sea Water Research Institute to tour its grounds. One of the major reasons for the visit is the proposed OTEC power plant. Along the way Kumejima Townspeople greeted the Emperor by waving Japanese flags (a rarity in Okinawa), shouting “Thank you for coming” and “banzai!” After the tour, the motorcade arrived at the Town Hall just before 13:00 to rest and talk with Mayor Taira. There they discussed Kumejima’s many natural resources such as Kuruma-ebi, Umi-budo, and Deep Sea Water while eating lunch. They talked so much they didn’t have time to finish!
For more on the Emperor’s visit and plenty of pictures visit More Thing Japanese!