Ain’t No River Wide Enough: The Tanabata Festival of Japan

Summer festival season in Ishikawa has kicked off with Noto’s famed Abare Matsuri, and the JLPT summer date has – for better or for worse – come and gone. Give yourself a little break tonight and go star-gazing with that special someone! Why, you ask? Because today is Tanabata! Continue reading

Ishikawa’s Shunran-no-Sato finalist for BBC World Challenge

All across rural Japan, many young Japanese are leaving their hometowns to pursue life in the more metropolitan areas. This has left the older farming generations wondering how to get young people to return to the farm. Up in the Noto Peninsula, Shunran-no-Sato (春蘭の里) has found a way to get younger people to return to the farms via eco-tourism. This endeavor has made them a finalist for the BBC World Challenge Project.

Villagers converted their own homes into guesthouses for travelers who come to the village to take part in traditional agricultural activities. Each guesthouse offers different activities from fishing to picking wild vegetables in the mountains to jam making. The owners and other people in the town act as guides for the guests and help younger generations return to their agricultural roots.

Click HERE to vote for the project. Voting is open until Nov. 11.

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Now in English: Hotel Bookings on Jalan is, by far, my favorite place to book hotels. The site has a lot of great deals and has very detailed information on the hotels: closest train station, amenities, services, photographs, maps, and what meals are included.  Plus, you can search by what kind of accommodations you want: ryokan, business hotel, single, double, Japanese-style room, and so on. Until recently, Jalan was Japanese-only, but they have opened an English version of the website.

The English site features all the details of the Japanese one, and the interface is the mostly the same but has the international traveler’s’ needs in mind.

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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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60th Annual Tonami Tulip Fair となみチューリップフェア

Celebrate Tonami City’s 60th anniversary of the sister-city relationship with Lisse, The Netherlands! This year’s tulip fair in the neighboring prefecture of Tonami will feature 1 million tulips in 500 varieties; flower displays incude water displays and Dutch-style displays. There’s a variety of hands-on activities, performances, and events, so head down to Tonami during Golden Week to check it out!

Friday, April 22 – Thursday, 5 May (includes Golden Week holidays)
8:30 – 17:30 (last entry at 17:00)


Special events:
4/23 (Sat.): Chiba Hana concert (13:00~)
4/26 (Tues): Sawamura Ikki concert (13:00~)
5/2 (Mon): Tulip Concert: with acapella group Q.T. Honey (13:00, 14:30)
5/3 (Tues): Tulip Choral Festival with HoneyGrace (10:00, 13:00)

Advance tickets:
Adults: 900 yen; Children: 200 yen; Senior citizens (65+): 700 yen
Available at Ticket Pia (P-code: 987-073), Circle K, Sunkus, 7-11, Lawson, Poplar, and Family Mart (starting 2/1)

Same-day tickets:
Adults: 1000 yen; Children: 300 yen; Senior citizens (65+): 800 yen (children who are not yet in elementary school are free). Children are free on Children’s Day (5/5)


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How to Wash Woolens in Japan

Living with no central heating in one of the rainiest prefectures in Japan has convinced me that wool (uuru, ウール; ke, 毛) is perhaps the most amazing fabric on earth. It keeps you warm even when it’s wet and dries quickly. If you’re like me and didn’t own a lot of woolens or wool blends prior to moving to Japan, proper care and washing of woolens might be new to you.

First, keep all your dirty woolens in the same laundry basket—this will prevent mix-ups and snagging on zippers, etc.

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A Warning about Unreliable News, or Why Your Parents Are Scared

A word from your editor:

My father sent me this CNN article about how the Japanese people appear to be completely calm in the face of this tragedy. The current media brouhaha back home took me on a trip down memory lane, back to my Advanced Placement European History class in high school. On the AP test, which many American high school students take to qualify for college credits, there is an essay called the DBQ, or the document-based question, where the student is presented with a number of quotes, statistics, or testimony from a variety of sources and asked to write his/her analysis of the situation based on the sources.  This exercise teaches students to critically examine the reliability of sources and the way information is framed.

With this in mind, the US media, as well as the media of many other Western nations, is sensationalizing the situation (whether on purpose or not) by presenting the news in two ways.

1. Conflating affected areas with the whole of Japan.

2. Lumping together information in confusing, awkward ways.

How can you sort out the news?

1. Use reliable news sources. (Edit: A better example of an unreliable source than the Shibuya Eggman Incident is an unfounded Internet rumor that Snopes has thankfully put to rest.) A good, reliable source for your loved ones at home regarding the status of JETs is National AJET, which also has an extensive list of recommended news resources across the globe.

2. Read carefully. Headlines often present the situation as “in Japan,” whereas the article will more specifically say “in Sendai,” “in Miyagi,” “in Fukushima.” For example,  Kyung Lah (CNN) writes in “Amid Disaster, Japan’s Societal Mores Remain Strong,” “Food and water are both scarce. Electricity in the tsunami zone is nearly nonexistent. Survivors have lacked information about their missing loved ones.”

Food and water are scarce in Miyagi and other areas affected by the earthquakes and tsunami. Lah isn’t obfuscating information, but you really have to keep reading beyond that first sentence to understand that the article refers to the hardest hit areas, not to the whole of the nation.

Or, from Reuter’s “SNAPSHOT: Japan’s Nuclear Crisis”–the article has solid information about Fukushima‘s nuclear issues and what is being done to fix the reactors, but the headline may sound like all of Japan is having a crisis. Don’t just read the headlines–read the whole article!

3. Track down the source. Regarding the evacuations  and the flooding of the Tokyo immigration office with expats seeking re-entry permits (see The Japan Times and Japan Today), many news sources have cited a “US Government suggestion” to evacuate Japan.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time digging last night and was able to trace the suggestion back to a press release of the Nuclear Regulation Commission. Regarding evacuations: the US government is recommending that people within 80 km (50 miles) of the Fukushima reactors evacuate the area. (See NRC: Doc. 11-050.)

The government is also offering support to Americans working at all of the government sites (embassies, etc.) in Japan who wish to  evacuate voluntarily. (Embassy of the US in Japan, Tokyo Press Release.) Three things are lumped into this release: the Fukushima evacuations from the areas near the nuclear plants; the government’s offer to evacuate government employees and their families who wish to leave; and the work to evacuate people living in the areas hit by the earthquake and tsunami (Tohoku region), many of whom have lost homes and property or are experiencing shortages of fuel and heat (CNN).

Please be a voice of reason in a time of crisis. You need to take a stand and provide your loved ones with accurate information. Do not panic. Do not spread rumors or sensationalized information. Always cite your sources. Other than donating our money and time to relief efforts, the best thing we can do right now is disseminate information from reliable sources.

Leah Zoller is a second-year CIR in Anamizu and the editor of this blog. To Mr. Nick Douglass of Anderson High School and any teacher who has ever prepped students for the DBQ: Thank you.