Oct 16

By Suzanne Bhagan (Tottori-ken, 2014-2015) 

Suzanne is a freelance writer originally from Trinidad and Tobago. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or on her blog.

Hey JETs, past and present! October’s not even over yet and there’s still a lot going on! Read on to find out how you can get in on all the action!

Are you ready for a Halloween-themed pub quiz?

 

Journey to the end of the night

When: 21 October

Where: Toyama Park (West), Children’s Square, Tokyo

Join in a massive (and free!) game of tag that spans six parks and about 9 km across the city!

 

Hocus Pocus Pub Quiz Night

When: 21 October

Where: Tajima, Hyogo Prefecture

If you like answering Halloween-inspired trivia questions, drinking, and just plain having fun, this one’s for you!

 

Get your kit on!

Fukui FA Cup

When: 21 October

Where: Fukui Prefecture

Block 5, get ready for the biggest and best co-ed 5-a-side football tournament this side of Japan. No team required!

 

Space World Trip

When: 21 October

Where: Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture

Think fast! All JETs are welcome to visit Kyushu’s famous theme park that’s closing at the end of the year.

 

Space World

Mount Ishizuchi Hike

When: 21 October

Where: Ehime Prefecture

Hike up the highest mountain peak (1982 m) in western Japan with Ehime AJET!

 

Halloween Costume Contest

When: 22 October

Where: Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture

Get in on the Halloween action early with a costume contest and pumpkin weight guessing contest at the Ryujin Taisai Festival!

 

Explore Toyama city and help a worthy cause!

AJET Charity Toyama Scavenger Hunt

When: 22 October

Where: Toyama-shi, Toyama Prefecture

Explore the city, make new friends, and raise money for a good cause! Proceeds will go to the Bridge For Smile charity.

 

Outdoor Climbing Day at Zakkokutani

When: 22 October

Where: Toyama Prefecture

Beginner and experienced climbers, grab your harnesses and let’s go outside!


Sep 25

JET Prefecture Round up! 09.25.17

By Suzanne Bhagan (Tottori Prefecture, 2014-2015)

Suzanne is a freelance writer originally from Trinidad and Tobago. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Konnichiwa past and present JETs! This autumn’s already steaming up with a host of events to keep you occupied. Here are some highlights you shouldn’t miss!

sumo

Bull sumo wrestling

Bull Sumo Wrestling in Ojiya

When: 1 October

Where: Ojiya, Niigata Prefecture

Forget human sumo wrestlers! Head to Tsunotsuki or bull versus bull wrestling in Ojiya to see which beast comes out on top!

 

mountain

Mount Daisen

Tottori AJET Daisen hike

When: 30 September

Where: Saihaku, Tottori Prefecture

It’s already fall so you know what time that is: time to tackle Daisensan, the tallest mountain in the Chugoku region!

 

bonfire

Bonfire

Block 4 Welcome Party: Odo Beach Bonfire

When: 29 September

Where: Itoman, Okinawa Prefecture

Calling all Block 4 peeps! Bring some booze and marshmallows and get to know one another!

 

Kamasube! Masaka Rhythm 2017

When: 30 September

Where: Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture

Cozy up with live music from over 20 local artists and groups and nosh some tasty food at this music festival.

 

float

Nebuta parade

Goto Island Festival

When: 29 September – 1 October

Where: Fukue, Nagasaki Prefecture

Head to one of the main Goto islands for Nebuta parades, fireworks, dances, and a whole lotta fun!

 

Kanda Float Festival

When: 24 September – 1 October

Where: Miyako, Fukuoka Prefecture

Join in one of Kyushu’s three major float festivals that’s famous for its “fighting floats” where competing floats hit one other!

 


May 26

Japan Local: Omagari All-Japan National Fireworks Competition 2016

Mel T (Aomori-ken, 2007-2012) is a Canadian living and working in Towada City, Aomori. For more information about events, sightseeing, restaurants, etc. in Towada City, and around Aomori Prefecture & Japan, visit her blog at http://towada-city.blogspot.com.

90th Anniversary All-Japan National Fireworks Competition 2016Every August, fireworks masters from across Japan compete in an impressive music and pyrotechnics show at the All-Japan National Fireworks Competition (Omagari Fireworks) along the Omono River in Daisen City, Akita Prefecture. This year marks the 90th anniversary of the event. Click HERE to read MORE.


May 26

Japan Local: Tohoku Rokkon (Six Souls) Festival

Mel T (Aomori-ken, 2007-2012) is a Canadian living and working in Towada City, Aomori. For more information about events, sightseeing, restaurants, etc. in Towada City, and around Aomori Prefecture & Japan, visit her blog at http://towada-city.blogspot.com.

Tohoku Rokkon Six Souls Festival 2016The Tohoku Rokkon (“Six Souls”) Festival is a two-day event where you can see six major Tohoku area summer festivals (one from each prefecture) all in one place!

It was created to encourage the revival of the Tohoku area after the Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami of 2011. This year marks the sixth and final year of the event. It will be held in Aomori City from June 25-26, 2016.

Click HERE to read MORE.


Jan 24

Winter Rice Field Art

Mel T (Aomori-ken, 2007-2012) is a Canadian living and working in Towada City, Aomori. For more information about events, sightseeing, restaurants, etc. in Towada City, and around Aomori Prefecture & Japan, visit her blog at http://towada-city.blogspot.com.

Inakadate Winter Rice Field Art flyer

Inakadate Village (Aomori Prefecture), the pioneer of rice field art, will be holding a Winter Rice Field Art event this February 2016 in collaboration with internationally renowned snow artist Simon Beck, who creates geometrical artworks by walking across/around fields of snow in snow shoes.  He has traveled all over the world creating snow art works, but this will be his first work in Japan.

Click HERE to read MORE.


Aug 25

Japan Local: B-1 Grand Prix in Towada

Mel T (Aomori-ken, 2007-2012) is a Canadian living and working in Towada City, Aomori. For more information about events, sightseeing, restaurants, etc. in Towada City, and around Aomori Prefecture & Japan, visit her blog at http://towada-city.blogspot.com.

B-1 Grand Prix in Towada Flyer Interested in trying out local “soul foods” from all over Japan?

Then the 10th B-1 Grand Prix in Towada is the event for you!

From October 3rd-4th, 2015, sixty-two groups from across Japan will gather in Towada (Aomori Prefecture) to promote their respective cities and local “soul foods”. Enjoy soba, udon, ramen, rice bowls, curry, fried foods, grilled meats, and various other dishes originating from Hokkaido to Kyushuu and vote for your favourite group. At the end of the second day, the most popular group–as selected by attendees–will be awarded the Gold Grand Prix Prize (symbolized by giant golden chopsticks :P).

Often misunderstood as standing for “B-grade” (“B級” B-kyuu in Japanese), the “B” in “B-1” actually stands for “brand.” The goal of the B-1 Grand Prix is to revitalize cities and towns through the promotion of their respective local brands. Apart from serving delicious food, participating groups also try to demonstrate their own unique brand of hospitality through performances, etc. This is why attendees of the B-1 Grand Prix are encouraged to vote for their favourite group and not just the best dish.

So if you want to get a taste of many different cities from around Japan, come to Towada for the B-1 Grand Prix.

十和田に愛に行こう!Towada ni ai ni ikou! Come to love Towada!

Official Website (Japanese): http://b-1towada.com/

Click HERE to learn MORE (English)


May 25

Japan Local: Inakadate Rice Field Art

Mel T (Aomori-ken, 2007-2012) is a Canadian living and working in Towada City, Aomori. For more information about events, sightseeing, restaurants, etc. in Towada City, and around Aomori Prefecture & Japan, visit her blog at http://towada-city.blogspot.com.

Hagoromo Legend

2014 Inakadate Rice Field Art

Inakadate Village (Aomori Prefecture) has a long history relating to rice. The site of an ancient rice field dating back to the mid-Yayoi Period (300 B.C.~300 A.D.), the Tareyanagi Iseki was discovered in Inakadate in 1981. This was a significant find as until its discovery, it had been believed that rice fields were not cultivated in Tohoku during the Yayoi Period. The Tareyanagi Iseki was designated a National Historic Site on April 11, 2000.

To celebrate and promote its history of rice production, Inakadate began offering rice planting experience tours. In order to make the experience more interesting, they decided to use different coloured rices to draw a picture of Mt. Iwaki with the words 弥生の里いなかだて (Yayoi no sato Inakadate) meaning “Yayoi Village Inakadate.” This was the humble beginning of rice field art–although at the time it was not referred to as “art” but simply as “rice characters” (稲文字 ine moji).

Since its beginnings as “rice characters,” the drastic improvement in technological and artistic levels have made Inakadate’s rice art an increasingly popular site for both domestic and international tourists. It has proved so popular that in 2012, a second rice field art site was started at the Michi no Eki (Roadside Station) Inakadate “Yayoi no Sato.”

The theme for 2015’s rice field art is “Gone with the Wind” for the main site and “Star Wars” for the second site (Michi no Eki Inakadate “Yayoi no Sato”).

Click HERE to read MORE


Sep 25

Posted by Benjamin Martin, a JET from 2008-2013 in Okinawa, publisher of the blog MoreThingsJapanese.com and author of the award-winning YA fantasy series Samurai Awakening (Tuttle).

IMG_0710Yes. This past week on Kume Island, children were sent screaming as a single wild lion went rampaging through a peaceful neighborhood. Well, it was mostly peaceful. Since it was the full moon and August 15th of the Kyureki calendar, there were also a bunch of people around banging gongs and playing music. There were also some creepy Hacaburo running around egging the lion on. Warned in advance that something might be going on, I showed up with some local friends just after sunset with my camera ready. What I saw shocked me, and soon my former students were running for cover… behind me.

By the end of the night no less than 5 children had been bitten. When asked, parents responded that they were overjoyed. One parent, while holding a screaming infant, smiled widely and talked about how smart he would be while neglecting to stop the lion from continuing its rampage.

For more on this story, visit MoreThingsJapanese.com for pictures and video.


Sep 11

Posted by Benjamin Martin, a JET from 2008-2013 in Okinawa, publisher of the blog MoreThingsJapanese.com and author of the award-winning YA fantasy series Samurai Awakening (Tuttle).

IMG_8043The Ha-ri- races are a yearly event on Kume Island. This year they took place on June 12 at three locations around the island.  This year I stuck to the Maja area where locals and students gathered together for a day of races and fun in the water.

While the races are the primary attraction, there is also generally a ball-toss game for the nursery school children and a tug-of-war.  There are numerous races from both locals and school participants.  At the Maja area, students from the local Nakazato Junior High, Misaki and Nakazato elementary schools, and students from Kumeshima High School all joined together in mixed and separate races.

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IMG_8525This year I broke out my gopro to give you a closer look at participating in the Ha-ri- races.  Thanks to a few friends and students who wore the camera along the way.  Of course with plenty of water a few bucket wars broke out among the high school students, and not all of the boats made it back without a little extra water.  Check out the video and pictures below, then come join us next year for this great event.

For more photos and video from this special event visit MoreThingsJapanese.com


Aug 15

Posted by Benjamin Martin, a JET from 2008-2013 in Okinawa, publisher of the blog MoreThingsJapanese.com and author of the award-winning YA fantasy series Samurai Awakening (Tuttle).

IMG_6904Since the end of the rainy season early this year, the weather on Kume Island has been full of clear sunny days.  While it makes for great sight-seeing and beach-going, it has been a hard year for farmers, with little or no rain to sustain critical crops.  For the first time in 15 years, the island locals returned to their roots, asking for the help of the Chinbei, the name of the high priestess from the old Ryukyu Kingdom to come and pray for rain.

This rare ceremony began early on August 11th.  The Chinbei and other priestesses (noro) met at Chinbei Dunchi on Kume Island.  There, a sacred rock was encircled by rope to signify the presence of a kami.  After offerings of rice, fruit, and sake, the noro poured water onto the rock while the Chinbei and other local representatives prayed.  The Chinbei poured sake from a small cup, repeating the process until she felt the kami was satisfied.

IMG_6662

IMG_6708Afterward, all the attendees were asked to participate in a tug-o-war competition outside the grounds.  In addition to the physical offerings of sake, rice, and fruit, the offering of effort and strength signified by the competition was in offering to local kami. While competing, locals were sprayed and doused with water, and afterward danced in the simulated rain.

IMG_6780From Chinbei Dunchi, the priestesses and local leaders made offerings at two other shrines in the area.  These shrines date back hundreds of years.  One was a natural rock formation where a kami is thought to reside.  The other was hidden away near the airport grounds where a concrete structure enclosed the sacred home of another kami.  At both sites, offerings of rice, sake, fruit and prayers were put forth.

IMG_6856

IMG_6874Immediately after the prayers ended, it began to rain.  A tornado was even spotted, though it did not touch down.  The farmers and local representatives happily returned to Chinebei-dun, the parched ground sated with the first short downpour in a very long time.

For more photos from this special event visit MoreThingsJapanese.com


May 17

Let’s Walking

Posted by Benjamin Martin, a 5th year JET on Kume Island in Okinawa, publisher of the blog MoreThingsJapanese.com and author of the award-winning YA fantasy series Samurai Awakening (Tuttle).

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!

This post originally appeared on MoreThingsJapanese.com. To learn more about Kumejima visit KumeGuide.com.


Aug 7

L.M. Zoller (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11) is the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. A writer and web administrator for The Art of Travel (formerly The Art of Japan: Kanazawa & Discover Kanazawa), ze also writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan, and curates The Rice Cooker Chronicles, a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan.

New Rice Cooker Chronicles submissions always welcome. Just e-mail it to jetwit [at] jetwit.com.

 

The Tanabata Beer Festa Toyama, held the first full weekend of July each year in Toyama City, Toyama, is one of Hokuriku’s only beer festivals. I hopped the train south with a couple of our friends for an afternoon of craft beer. I hadn’t been to a beer festival since I left Michigan three years ago, so I was beyond thrilled.

What does one drink when confronted with 20 breweries’ worth of Japan’s finest craft beer? Make a game plan. When I attended the Michigan Brewers’ Guild Summer Beer Festival, I decided to only drink cherry beers, as those are much harder to get on draft than stouts. This time, after three years of living deprived of regular access to stouts, I circled 5 stouts I’d like to try, got a pizza for lunch, and set to work drinking.

Click HERE for more.


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