Enjoying Golden Week in and around Fukushima

Enjoying Golden Week in and around Fukushima

 

Are you ready?

In just a few short weeks you will be experiencing (again, for our veteran JETs) the joy that is one of the few times a year almost every single person in Japan is on vacation due to a long holiday known as Golden Week (May 4th-6th). With a few well-placed paid leave days (nenkyuu), however, you can extend your vacation even longer!

If you haven’t already booked your hotels, train or bus tickets to wherever you think you can hide from the crowds (you can’t), you may be out of luck. Golden Week is one of the busiest times of the year. Last year I found myself standing on a 4 hours bullet train ride because I hadn’t reserved my seat in advance. If you think you can bypass the crowded public transportation by taking your car, the traffic on the roads are generally even worse. If you haven’t already made plans for Golden Week… stop reading and go book it now. If you have decided to save some money and enjoy a few free days in our beautiful prefecture but aren’t sure what to do, keep reading.

Here are just a few ideas of the many things you can do in Fukushima during Golden Week:

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Yonezawa Uesugi Matsuri Festival in Yamagata Prefecture

kenshin festivalThis is a three day festival held in Yonezawa in Yamagata prefecture (oh come on, its not that far away…). Lots of fun activities throughout the three days, but the main event falls on the last day. The last day is highlighted by a procession of shrines, floats and a 1,000 samurai parading down the streets from 9:30 to 12:30. It ends with a reenactment battle on the riverside from around 2 to 3:30 in the afternoon.

Date: April 29th – May 3rd, Opening ceremony starts at 9:30am

 Website (English)

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Superlative Craftsmanship from Meiji Japan @ Koriyama City Museum of Art

art museum

Most crafts from this period were created for export, but this gallery provides a unique opportunity to see this collection of art!

Date: April 21st – June 14th (9:30am – 5:00pm) Closed on Mondays except for May 4th.

Address: 130-2,Oyaji, Aza, Yasuhara-machi, Koriyama-city, Fukushima Pref 963-0666, Japan

Price: 1,000 yen for adults

 Website (English) 

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Flower Aquarium Golden Week Event (Iwaki)

aquariumAlthough you can visit this aquarium anytime during the year, they have a few special exhibits opening for Golden Week! Including jellyfish, plants and fish!

Date: April 25th – May 6th

 

Address: Onahama Pier 2, 50, Tatsumi-cho, Onahama, Iwaki-shi, Fukushima 971-8101 Japan

Price: 1,600 yen for adults

Business hours: 9:00 am – 5:30 am (open until 7:00 pm from May 3rd – 6th), last admission is one hour before closing

Website (English) 

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Spa Resort Hawaiians, Iwaki

HawaiiansI imagine this place will be pretty busy during Golden Week, but it looks like it’s worth it. If you like theme parks revolving around water, this is your place. They have four theme parks – the Water Park (includes water slides!), Spring Park (They have a giant communal spa where you can wear your bathing suit, or gender separated baths to enjoy nothing between your skin and the water), Spa Garden Pareo (More outdoor spa baths separated by color and theme), Edo-Jowa Yoichi (The worlds largest open-air bath. No more explanation needed) and ViR Port (a large swimming pool used for exercises, exercise studios and a beauty salon).

Address: 50, Warabidaira, Fujiwaramachi,
Joban, Iwaki-shi,
Fukushima, 972-8326, Japan

Price: 3,240 for adults

Business Hours: 9:30am – 10:15pm, open every day

Website (English)  (Unfortunately the information is pretty limited)

Website (Japanese) 

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Tsurugajo Castle Illumination, Aizuwakamatsu

tsurugajoIf you happen to be around Aizuwakamatsu city visiting the castle, hot springs and the gravesites of young warriors, stick around until sunset! The cherry blossoms as well as the entire castle will be lit up after dark until 9:30pm every night until May 6th. Oh, did I mention that it’s free?

 

Date: April 10th to May 6th

Address: 1-1, Otemachi, Aizuwakamatsu-shi, Fukushima

Price: FREEEEEEEEEEE

Time: After dark until 9:30pm (8:30pm after the cherry blossoms have finished blooming)

Website (Japanese)

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 Skiing / Snowboarding

I hope you didn’t pack up your snowboard and skis yet. Ski season is still lingering, so why not put in another run down the slopes? Here are a few ski slopes that are still open.

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Ski MinowaMinowa Ski Resort – Inawashiro

Date: Until May 6th

Address: 〒969-2751 福島県耶麻郡猪苗代町横向

Yokomukiyamakō Wakamiya, Inawashiro-machi, Yama-gun, Fukushima-ken 969-2751

Business Hours: 9am – 5pm

Website (Japanese)

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grandeco_001Grandeco Resort – Kita Shiobara Village 

Date:  Until May 6th

Address: 日本, 〒969-2701 福島県耶麻郡北塩原村桧原荒砂沢山1082−93

Arasunasawayama Hibara, Kitashiobara-mura, Yama-gun, Fukushima-ken, 969-2701

Hours: 8am – 4:30pm

Website (English)

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nekomaUrabandai Nekoma –Kita Shiobara Village

Date: Until May 6th

Address:  1163 Nakomayama, Hibara, Kitashiobara-Mura, Yama-Gun, Fukushima-Ken

Hours: (weekends and holidays) 7am – 5pm

Website (Japanese)

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None of these events and places tickle your fancy? There are always other things you can do in the third biggest prefecture in Japan.  Anything from BBQ to camping, try to get out of your apartment or house and learn something new about Fukushima!

If you want to make some events on your own, be sure to post it on any (or all) of our Facebook groups for Fukushima. There may be other people who would like to join you as well!

You can always contact me (Sarah Chaney) by email (newseditor@fujet.org) if you need any additional information or require help contacting Japanese establishments. Don’t let the language barrier stop you from exploring!

 

Good luck!

 

Greetings from the 2015 FuJET Council!

Greetings from the 2015 FuJET Council!

PRESIDENT – Michael Hume

imageHello, my name is Michael Hume.  I’m from Portland, Oregon in the U.S.  I live in and work for Aizumisato-machi and I’ve been in Japan for almost 20 months now, this is my second year in the JET program.

I have many hobbies and interests, most of them leaning towards the geeky and nerdy end of the spectrum.  But fear not, I can sport with the best of them, for short bursts.  I love living in Japan, it has been a dream of mine for a long time and finally getting to live it has been a great feeling.  I love so many aspects about it, food, history, culture, natural beauty and on and on and on.

I look forward to serving on the council and have some ideas for trying to enhance everyone’s experience here in Fukushima and Japan.  I will likely be sharing these with you all as we attempt to tackle them.

A Fun Fact:  My middle name is Douglas, but it wasn’t given to me because my parents love the actor Michael Douglas, my dad’s name is Douglas.

A Guilty pleasure:  I like anchovies on my pizza.

 

VICE PRESIDENT – Luke Rehage

11082553_10206438463182293_1438789213373688341_nHi!

My name is Luke Rehage, and I’m a first-year ALT living on the northern coast of Fukushima. I came to Japan about eight months ago from Chicago.

My current town is a small, quiet one called Shinchi, situated between the ocean and the mountains.

After school I like to play guitar and procrastinate making dinner, then maybe read a book or play some video games. I like music, biking, Fukushima, snowboarding, badminton, tennis, Fukushima, reading, my job, Fukushima, lunch, hanging out with you, and Fukushima.

 

WEBMISTRESS –  Kris Mokes

SIMG_1337hall we begin like David Copperfield? ‘I am born…I grew up.’ Or shall we begin when I came to Japan?

I’ve been teaching JHS and ES for the past four year in Aizuwakamatsu. Despite the fact that we regularly get cut off from the rest of humanity every winter, I absolutely love Aizu and Fukushima! This will be my third year on the FuJET council and I will continue to do my best to help everyone in (and out!) of the prefecture as best I can. I’ve got a few things up my sleeve for this coming year so let’s hope the IT deities smile upon us.

A little bit about me… I love art and drawing. I am currently working on a not-so-super-secret-project of making children’s picture books for ESL learners. I’m an avid SCUBA diver– I’ve been diving since I was ten.  Being as far from the ocean as we are here in Aizu is probably the hardest thing about living here. I love all things nerdy: video games, table top gaming, comics, etc. I also have an addiction to UFO catchers, soft toys, and anything Eevee-related. If you have any questions or want to chat about anything FuJET, web-mistress-y, or anything at all, let’s talking!  At the end of the day, I want to make everyone in the prefecture feel like they are a part of a community (especially when we are all so far away from home).  I’m not the winner of FuJET’s ‘Best Mom Away From Home’ Award for nothing~! <3

So, that’s me. Your friendly, neighbourhood Spider-Kris.

 

 TREASURER – Jess Hallams

jess picHello fellow FuJETS!

My name is Jess Hallams, your keeper of the lucky island treasure for 2015!
I am a second-year ALT from Canberra, Australia, working for Namie-machi, currently located in Nihonmatsu City (so basically, I am lost).
I love being outdoors, particularly in the warmer months! I am also a massive foodie and take no shame in planning my weekends/free time around discovering new places to eat. If hiking and eating are your things, please come and find me in nakadori this summer!
I’m also really great at spending money, so rest assured your yen will be safe in the hands of a well experienced professional…

I am very excited to be working with such a great team this year. Looking forward to meeting you all again soon!

 

 VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR – Reyes Mendoza

rps20150416_090009Hello everyone,

My name is Reyes Mendoza, I am a first year JET (or is it second year JET already… hmm not sure) in Izumizaki-mura. Izumizaki is a small village located in Kennan, the south-central region of Fukushima. It’s a five minute drive form Shirakawa.

I am originally from Los Angeles, California and this is my first time in Japan. Some of my hobbies include photography, videogames, basketball, and dancing! If you ever want to learn how to dance to Spanish music then I’m your guy! My interest in joining the FuJET council lies in my desire to give back to the Fukushima community. As the new Volunteer Coordinator, my goal is contribute to the community that has so graciously opened its doors for me. Come and join me, together we can do our part for Fukushima.

 

NEWS EDITOR – Sarah Chaney

10302644_10152483465728140_5945755294998669723_nWhat’s up, Fukushima!

My name is Sarah Chaney and I hail from the sunny state of California in America (fun fact, my hometown is called “Sunnyvale”). I’m currently flying through my first year of JET, but this is my fifth time in Japan.

I worked with the English conversation school, AEON, last year and I studied abroad in Sapporo during college for six months in addition to a total of 4 months of vacation across Japan.

I currently reside in Aizuwakamatsu but take every opportunity I can to travel out to other nearby areas. I love anything outdoorsy – sports, hiking, horseback riding and so on.

This year I will be your news editor, and I am absolutely looking forward to it! I may be pestering you to help write an article for the website so it does not become a personal blog about Aizuwakamatsu and my adventures (as awesome as they are). If you have anything you want to write about, please contact me! よろしく!

 

April 2015 The Lucky Island Events

April 2015 The Lucky Island Events

Date: Sat. April 4th – Sun. June 28th (Sat. & Sun. weekly event)
Area: Aizu Wakamatsu
Name: Aizu Juuraku (会津十楽)
Time: 10am – 4pm

Address:
Tsurugajo Castle grounds

Details:
This weekly event pulls you back into Japan like it was 400 years ago. You can try food, crafts, and experience culture from hundreds of years ago!

Contact:
Samurai City Project Committee: 0242-39-6539
Japanese website: http://aizu-jyuraku.jp/blog/432


 

Date: Thurs. April 9th – Thurs. June 25th (weekly event)
Area: Aizu Wakamatsu
Name: Spring 2015 Japanese Classes
Time: 6:30pm – 8pm

Address:
Aizu Keikodo, 3rd floor (會津稽古堂)
3-50 Sakaemachi Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture 965-0871
(会津若松市栄町3番50号)
Details:
The AWIA would like to present the 2015 spring semester of our Japanese classes! Whether you’d like to study Japanese for your daily life here in Aizu, or are looking to challenge the JLPT, the AWIA is here to help. Each class is divided into small groups, according to level and language goals. For participants interested in joining for the first time, a Japanese language level assessment is provided before classes begin. Come kick-start your Japanese with the AWIA!
Price: AWIA members: 4,000 yen; Non-members: 6,000 yen (12 classes total)
Contact:
Margaret Price (mail@awia.jp)
*Please apply by April 9th*


Date: Fri. April 10th – Thurs. June 26th (weekly event)
Area: Aizu Wakamatsu
Name: Spring 2015 Japanese Classes
Time: 10am – 11:30am

Address:
Aizu Keikodo, 3rd floor

Details:
The AWIA would like to present the 2015 spring semester of our Japanese classes! Whether you’d like to study Japanese for your daily life here in Aizu, or are looking to challenge the JLPT, the AWIA is here to help. Each class is divided into small groups, according to level and language goals. For participants interested in joining for the first time, a Japanese language level assessment is provided before classes begin. Come kick-start your Japanese with the AWIA!
Price: AWIA members: 4,000 yen; Non-members: 6,000 yen (12 classes total)
Contact:
Margaret Price (mail@awia.jp)
*Please apply by April 9*


Date: Fri. April 10th – Wed. May 6th
Area: Aizu Wakamatsu
Name: Tsurugajo Illumination
Time: Sundown to 9:30pm (8:30pm after the cherry blossoms have bloomed)

Address:
Tsurugajo Castle (鶴ケ城)
1-1 Otemachi, Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture 965-0873
(〒965-0873 会津若松市追手町1-1)

Details:
Visit Tsurugajo Castle to see nearly 1000 cherry trees lit up against the night sky. Enjoy the lights, stars and beautiful scenery in one of the best large-scale illuminations in Eastern Japan!

Website:
http://www.aizukanko.com/event/102/


Date: Sat. April 11th – Sun. April 12th
Area: Shirakawa
Name: Shirakawa Dogtooth Violet Festival
Time: Saturday: 10am – 4pm; 2nd Sunday: 10am – 3pm

Address:
Shirakawa Seki no Mori (白河関の森公園)
7-3 Hatajuku, Shirakawa 961-0038, Fukushima Prefecture
(〒961-0038福島県白河市旗宿白河内7−3)

Details:
A festival celebrating Spring and Dogtooth Violets (cherry blossoms aren’t the only celebrated spring flower!). A two day festival with food, stage events, food, a flea market, food and more! (did I mention “food”?)

Contact:
Shirakawa Tourism Association, 0248-22-111
Japanese website: http://www.shirakawa315.com/


Date: Fri. April 24
Area: Aizu Wakamatsu (Iimoriyama)
Name: Byakkotai Memorial Service
Time: Starts at 10:30am

Address:
Mount Iimori / Iimoriyama (飯森山), by the graves
Bentenshita Ikkimachi Yahata Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture 965-0003
965-0003福島県会津若松市一箕町八幡弁天下

Details:
A memorial service for the Byakkotai (White Tiger Brigade), a group of teenage samurai who fought in the Boshin War. During battle, 19 of them committed ritual suicide under the mistaken belief that their lord had been defeated. The memorial service includes a Byakkotai sword dance performed by Aizu High School students.

Contact:
Aizuwakamatsu City Tourism Bureau, 0242-39-1251
Japanese webpage: http://www.aizukanko.com/event/110/


Date: Sat. April 19th – Sun. April 20th
Area: Higashishirakawa (Tanagura)
Name: Jumangoku Tanagura Castle Festival (Cherry Blossom Festival)
Time: Saturday: 10am – 7pm; Sunday 10am – 5pm

Address:
Tanagura Castle (Kamegajo Park) / 棚倉城跡(亀ケ城公園)
Jōseki Tanagura, Tanagura-machi, Higashishirakawa-gun, Fukushima-ken 963-6131
〒963-6131 福島県東白川郡棚倉町大字棚倉字城跡

Details:
A two-day festival with a parade of warriors (Saturday from 11am), stalls selling local goods, and stage events including Yosakoi (incredible Japanese dancing!) and comedians. Not to mention being surrounded by over 500 cherry trees in bloom!

Contact:
Tanagura Tourism Association: 0247-33-7886
Japanese webpage: http://www.town.tanagura.fukushima.jp/view.rbz?cd=282


Date: Sat. April 25th
Area: Aizu Wakamatsu
Name: AWIA Cherry Blossom Potluck Party (100 yen fee)
Time: Noon – 3pm

Address:
Kōtokuji Temple (behind the AWIA)
2-12 Sakae-machi, Aizu Wakamatsu
(会津若松市栄町2-12)
Details:
*Please RSVP by contacting the International Association by Friday, April 24th (mail@awia.jp)
Come eat great food and drink sake under the cherry blossoms at one of Aizu’s most beautiful, and least crowded spots for cherry blossom viewing, Kōtokuji Temple! This is a great chance to make new friends, learn more about the community, and just have fun!
Please bring one dish (main dishes, dessert, anything is fine. Doesn’t have to be handmade). We will provide the non-alcoholic drinks. Those who would like to drink alcoholic drinks are invited to bring them yourself. Also, Please bring your own chopsticks, cups and plates to help make this even environment friendly!

Contact:
Margaret Price (mail@awia.jp)


 

Date: Sat. April 25th
Area: Aizu Wakamatsu
Name: Aizu Sake Tasting
Time: 5pm – 8pm

Address:
Tsurugajo Castle (鶴ヶ城)
1-1 Otemachi Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture 965-0873
会津若松市追手町1-1

Details:
Wet your lips with some local sake and snacks inside Tsurugajo Castle grounds!

Contact:
Sake Brewing Cooperative, 0242-26-1515
Japanese webpage: http://www.tif.ne.jp/jp/event/event_disp.php?id=3128&year=2015&mon=4&day=0&area=4&keyword=


 

Date: Wed. April 29th – Thurs. April 30th
Area: Date
Name: Atago Shrine Annual Festival
Time: from 11am

Address:
Atago Shrine (愛宕神社)
Atagoyama-1 Hakozaki
Date-shi, Fukushima-ken 960-0502
(福島県伊達市箱崎字愛宕山1)

Details:
A two day festival to kick off Golden Week! Dancers will travel around Hakozaki calling upon newly built houses and households with a recently-born child and those in their yakudoshi (‘year of calamity’)

Contact:
Fukugonji Temple, 024-583-4633
Japanese webpage: http://www.rurubu.com/event/detail.aspx?ID=12078