The 2014 AJET Primer

The results from the election are in, and it’s time to meet your new 2014 Ishikawa AJET Council!  The newly elected members of the Council are already planning and implementing ideas to make 2014 a great year for us Ishikawa JETS.

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Hokuriku the happiest region in Japan, study finds

The three Hokuriku prefectures took the top three spots in a study by Hosei University in Tokyo trying to pinpoint the happiest prefectures.

Fukui came in first place followed by Toyama and Ishikawa coming in second and third respectively. The study used 40 socioeconomic indicators such as crime rate and welfare services to determine a numerical “happiness scale” which was measured in all the prefectures. One of the things that propelled Fukui to the top spot was its low crime and accident rate as well as an excellent preschool system.

So what’s the unhappiest prefecture in Japan? Osaka! The study cited Osaka’s high crime rate as a main reason it ranked so low on the list. So what do you think Ishikawa dwellers? Are we living in one of the happiest places in Japan?

Read the article (Japanese only)

Master Cooking in Japan with The Ishikawa JET Kitchen

NOTE: As of October 2013, the Ishikawa JET Kitchen Cookbook is temporarily unavailable.  Sorry for the inconvenience!


Are all the new foods you’re finding at the supermarket a bit overwhelming? Have you been wracking your brain trying to convert your favorite chocolate chip recipe to your metric measuring cups? Are you sick of not knowing which flour you need for what kind of cooking?

Cooking in Japan can be a challenge, but now it just got a little bit easier with The Ishikawa JET Kitchen, an interactive digital cookbook from Ishikawa AJET. This cookbook is the brainchild of former Anamizu CIR Leah Zoller. With the help of a dedicated group of recipe contributors and testers, the penultimate cookbook that every JET should own. Whether you’re new to cooking, or a culinary whiz you will benefit from the wide range of traditional Japanese and homegrown recipes from Ishikawa JETs around the world.

Recipes for people with dietary restrictions have been tagged for easy searching – so whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, lactose intolerant, or keep gluten-free you can find what recipe will work for you in no time.

For only ¥1000 you can get over your fear of the supermarket and use your kitchen like a pro. All proceeds from The Ishikawa JET Kitchen will go to Second Harvest charity. If you like the cookbook, make sure to tell your friends, family and coworkers!

To get the Cookbook, please transfer your payment of ¥1000 to the Ishikawa AJET account:
Bank name 北國銀行(ほっこくぎんこう)
Branch name 宇野気支店(うのけしてん)
Acct number 381962
Acct name エージェットイシカワシブ
Please send an email with the subject line “Cookbook Payment” to ishikawaajet[at] with your name as it appears on your bank book. We’ll email your copy of the cookbook once payment is confirmed.

Please not that a direct “buy now” option is no longer available.

Housekeeping in the Heat

Summer brings lots of great things—vacation, festivals and tasty cold foods come to mind—but Ishikawa’s humid heat also brings a number of less exciting things, namely mold, smells and bugs. Here are some quick, cheap tips for keeping your home fresh, relatively dry and bug-free this summer.

Stay Dry, Avoid Mold

Keeping your apartment dry as possible will save you a lot of potential mold-cleaning hassle, and fortunately, Japan has an easy answer to keeping your closets, toilet room and other spaces moisture-free. Head down to your local home goods or grocery store and pick up some desiccant boxes (湿気とり, shikketori). Buy a three-pack for under ¥200, and put them anywhere you want to keep dry. Once you peel off the top, the crystals in the box will soak up moisture and trap it in the bottom. Keep an eye on these, though; you’ll have to replace them relatively often.

If you do find yourself facing a mold infestation despite your best efforts, bleach (漂白剤, hyouhakuzai) is a surefire cleaner. It’s stronger and more effective than other products targeted towards cleaning mold, but make sure you wear gloves and ventilate the area you’re cleaning as well as possible.

Say No to Smells

Even the most diligent cleaner may find that bad smells are difficult to control, especially in summer. No matter how many times you clean the toilet/bathroom/kitchen sink, mysterious odors can permeate the home. In many cases, your garbage can is the culprit. Japanese apartments and homes are difficult to keep cool, which means that your garbage can is likely to be a festering hotbed of things you really don’t want to think about, even if you take your garbage out on a regular basis.

My favorite way to reduce the smell is to freeze my raw garbage (scraps and peels from cooking and leftovers) in a small plastic bag until garbage day. You can also find deodorant (防臭, boushuu) for your garbage can at home goods and grocery stores. They’ll typically be located near the sponges, dish soap and other kitchen cleaning items, and will have a picture of a garbage can on the packaging.

Don’t forget to keep a box of baking soda—if you can’t find it anywhere else, it’s definitely available at Kaldi Coffee in Kahoku AEON—in your fridge and freezer!

Exterminate Bugs

Check out these posts about dealing with bugs in the home:

Happy summer housekeeping!

Hokuriku Expat Kitchen – An Ishikawa Food Blog

Forgive me for the following lines of shameless self-promotion. I’m a CIR in Tsubata who happens to adore food – its cultural relevance as well as its production and consumption. A few months ago it was getting to the point where it seemed like my Facebook wall was almost nothing but photos of things I had eaten. So I decided to consolidate. I started a blog.

I try to keep my content local when I can, and particularly enjoy trying out mysterious seasonal produce – but I post everything from bento ideas to restaurant reviews, as well as recipes and stories. If you’re a fellow food enthusiast, would like guidance on cooking in Japan, or are just looking for a fun way to experience more of Ishikawa, Hokuriku Expat Kitchen is meant for you.

Look for a weekly update on my culinary adventures every Thursday, here on the Ishikawa JET Blog!

Without further ado, today’s post is a restaurant review.

Unkai (雲海) is an awesome gyoza restaurant in the hills just inland of central Tsubata. It’s a bit of a trek, even with a car, but I promise it’s worth your while. You can sample twelve unusual dumpling varieites (including curry and black sesame) as well as Chinese teas and homemade desserts, served against the backdrop of an elegantly restored 100 year old house. The owner/chef is generous and accomodating, and will gladly design a menu that fits the needs of your party. Vegetarian versions of all of the gyoza are available upon request.

Hours: 10:00 a.m.~7:00 p.m. (Closed Wednesdays) Open by reservation only

Phone Number: (076) 288-0308

Address: 石川県河北郡津幡町字上藤又ト9 (Ishikawa ken, Kahoku gun, Tsubata machi, Kamifujimata To 9)

For more information, see the full review, or visit Unkai’s webpage (Japanese only)

Noto Abare Matsuri 暴れ祭り (Fire and Violence Festival)

Yes, yes, yes, summer festival season is here! This guest post was written last year by Ginny Middleton, a second-year ALT working in the Noto. This festival is one of Noto’s most famous, so if you aren’t taking the July 2011 JLPT (or even if you are), plan to attend!

Noto Abare Matsuri 暴れ祭り(Fire and Violence Festival)

Arguably the best festival in the Noto, Abare Matsuri (the Fire and Violence Festival) will take place from 9 am on the first Friday and Saturday in July every year (1st and 2nd July 2011  same weekend as the JLPT)although most of the best parts are after dark. The festival is held in the rural town of Ushitsu 宇出津 in the northern Noto peninsula and has been running for 350 years!
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Resource: Gourmet Ishikawa

The Ishikawa Prefecture Tourism League seems to be increasing its efforts to court foreign tourists via the creation of  multilingual tourism websites:  Hot-Ishikawa started producing an English-language quarterly tourism e-newsletter (see prior link), through which I found Gourmet Ishikawa, a new multilingual resource for dining in Ishikawa. The site may be viewed in Japanese, English, Korean, or Chinese (traditional or simplified) and has great information on not just restaurants but also Japanese dining etiquette and Ishikawan food culture.

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Ishikawa Art Journal: Call for Submissions!

This guest post is from Creighton Hofeditz, ALT:

Hi everyone,

Over my two years in Ishikawa, I have continually been impressed at the secret reserves of creativity and artistry present in the JET and larger expat community.  Whether from a professional or an amateur background, the level of art I’ve seen from different sources is pretty astounding, and it’s been cool to see the degree to which that artistry has reflected the experience of living in Japan.

Inspired by the tsunami fundraising ideas of a couple other people in the local and national community, I would like to announce that I’m opening submissions for an Ishikawa Art Journal (working title).  The idea is to produce a collection of poems, drawings, essays, paintings, photos, fiction, and whatever else you can come up with that best represents your reaction to and relationship with Japan.  It can be about the Tohoku disaster, but it doesn’t have to be.  The collection will then be put up for sale to ourselves and to any interested friends and family at a reasonable price but one that allows us to donate all proceeds to the relief efforts.

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