The Lucky Island November 2015 Events

61st Annual Chrysanthemum Doll Exhibition
Date: Saturday, October 10th – Monday, November 23rd
Area: Nihonmatsu
Time: 9am – 4pm
Price: 700 yen for adults
Address: On the castle grounds of Kasumigajo
〒964-0904 福島県二本松市郭内4丁目
4 Chome Kakunai Nihonmatsu-shi, Fukushima-ken 964-0904
Details: View dolls, decorations and displays made from Chrysanthemums. If you haven’t had the chance to visit this beautiful city, this is a great chance!
Japanese Website: http://www.nihonmatsu-kanko.jp/kikuningyo.html

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Tsurugajo Autumn Leaves Illumination
Date: Friday Octuber 23rd – Sunday November 15th
Area: Aizuwakamatsu
Time: Sunset – 9pm
Address: 福島県会津若松市追手町1-1
1-1 Otemachi, Aizuwakamatsu-shi, Fukushima-ken 965-0873
Details: Enjoy the castle lit up in the evening at the castle – Tsurugajo – in Aizu. It is gorgeous with fall colors, which you can view at the end of October. Even after the leaves fall, come walk through the peaceful castle grounds in the evening!
Japanese website: http://www.aizukanko.com/event/103/

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Chainsaw Art Festival
Date: Saturday October 31st – Sunday November 1st
Area: Furudono Town in Ishikawa
Time: Saturday, 9am – 3pm; Sunday, 10am – 3pm
Address: Hiradate Taguchi, Furudono-machi, Ishikawa-gun, Fukushima-ken 963-8306
Details: Have you ever wanted to see statues carved from chainsaws? How about a carving show by a world champion? This event takes place at Ofukuro Eki and takes place at the same time as their Ofukuro festival where you can eat as much konyaku as you can possibly want for 2,000 yen. This includes an introduction to konyaku recipes, and pork soup. They are also selling other food as well. The main event – the chainsaw art – takes place over 2 days. The first day is an art display by anyone who signs up, including some art which will be for sale. On the second day there will be multiple shows by a world champion of chainsaw art. Over the course of both days there are workshops running from 10am to 3pm.
Japanese flyer: http://www.town.furudono.fukushima.jp/file/9492/20151014163304.pdf

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Autumn Leaves Illumination in Iwaki
Date: Saturday, November 7th – Sunday, November 15th
Area: Iwaki
Time: 5:30pm – 8pm
Address: 〒973-8405 Fukushima-ken, Iwaki-shi, Uchigōshiramizumachi, Hirohata−221 国宝白水阿弥陀堂
Details: Located in Shiramizuamida-do Temple, food stalls will also be set up during the illumination. The entire illumination in the park is powered by solar. Why not enjoy this environment-friendly event, stopping by some food stalls for a snack? It sounds like a pretty relaxed way to spend an evening!
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/lightup.amidado

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Aizuwakamatsu Local Food Fair
Date: Saturday, November 7th – Sunday, November 8th
Area: Aizuwakamatsu City
Time: 10am – 3pm
Address: 14-51 Jotomachi, Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture 965-0807
Details: “Local production for local consumption” is the motto for this fair. Come visit the gym on Tsurugajo castle grounds where locally grown products will be sold. They are healthy, fresh and delicious! There will also be dishes available made from this locally grown produce.
Japanese website: http://www.aizukanko.com/event/530/

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Hayama Shrine Autumn Festival
Date: Saturday, November 7th – Sunday, November 8th
Area: Date City
Time: Unspecified
Address: Takahata Ryōzenmachi Nakagawa, Date-shi, Fukushima-ken 960-0805
Details: This is an annual event in Date city where each of the seven regions decorates a float with flowers and parade them around the town. There will also be taiko and lots of festivals during this two-day event.
Japanese website: http://www.date-shi.jp/cat47/yanagawa/post-424.html

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Taimatsu Akashi Fire Festival
Date: Saturday, November 14th
Area: Sukagawa (Midorigaoka Park)
Time: 1pm – 7:30pm (The main event starts around 6pm)
Address: Atagoyama, Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture 962-086
Details: Fire. Teenage boys scrambling up ladders. Setting giant pillars on fire. Skittering back down the ladders. You – watching a bunch of pillars burn. Ash raining down around you. Your face flushed against the heat. Fire. Laughter. Fire. Crowds. Fire. Pillars on fire. FIRE EVERYWHERE. But seriously – this is a fantastic and unique event in Fukushima Prefecture with lots of history and it is just plain fun to watch. Talk to any of your fellow ALTs about how awesome it is. There is more information about it on the Facebook event, including a post about the history of the festival. See you there!
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1504464419876715/

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Midyear FuJET Beer Hall
Date: Wednesday, November 18th
Area: Fukushima City
Time: 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Price: 3,850 yen
Address: Unnecessary. We will shuttle you from your hotel. What service!
Details: That one time a year where all the JETs in Fukushima are in one place at the same time for our annual conference. What does that mean? Learning, studying and being adults. And, beerhall! Check out the details on the Facebook event. Sign up deadline is November 13th. Everyone is invited, and the price includes two hours of all-you-can-eat and drink at Asahi Beer Garden! There is also a vegetarian menu available.
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1700547820232491/

Update on the 2016 ‘This is Fukushima’ Calendar

Update on the 2016 ‘This is Fukushima’ Calendar

An update from the organisers of the ‘This is Fukushima Calendar’ project and a call for your support!

The 2016 This is Fukushima Calendar

Last year, with the generous support of many past and present residents of Fukushima, we produced 2,000 copies of the 2015 This is Fukushima calendar. They were distributed for free across Japan and several countries internationally. The purpose of the calendar is to show the world that…

“…(Fukushima) is more than a news headline or a power plant that shares its name.”

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The project has been a phenomenal success over the past 3 years, earning mention in both local and national media. We have also received acknowledgement from several notable world figures including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Prime Minister of Canada, the Japanese Ambassador to Canada and former U.S President Jimmy Carter. We hope to repeat that success with the new 2016 version of the calendar.

As usual, our theme is: Interesting People and Places of Fukushima. We will feature images and text about some of Fukushima’s unique locations and festivals, as well as some of the people and organizations that have been making efforts to restore the prefecture in the aftermath of the March 11, 2011 Great Tōhoku Earthquake.

Fundraising efforts to cover printing and distribution costs are currently being coordinated here:

www.gofundme.com/fukushima2016

Anyone who donates \5,000 ($50) or more will have their name printed in the calendar as an honoured supporter. Of course, offline / in-person or anonymous donations are always welcome! 3

*100% of all donated funds are used entirely for the production and distribution costs of the calendar.*

The more we raise; the more we’re able to print each year.

Your support has been critical to the success of the calendar project each year.

With your help, we can do it again this year!

よろしくお願いします!

2015 October Jet Study Tour

2015 October Jet Study Tour

Last year I was excited to receive information about the study tours hosted by Fukushima Prefecture, but ended up not going due to prior plans. This year I was expecting the email. I had barely glanced over the itinerary before I cancelled the plans I had made for that weekend and sent in the application form.

Although the itinerary varies slightly from year to year, the main activities generally remain the same. There are usually two study tours, one in October and one in November which are open to all Fukushima JETs. This year I participated in the October study tour, which fell on a three-day weekend.

Cutting the soba we made from scratch.
Cutting the soba we made from scratch.

It was a busy tour packed with activities, but it was well organized and went smoothly with 13 of us plus 3 organizers. On the first day, we were picked up at either Fukushima or Koriyama station. I was only familiar with a couple of JETs and a few others I had only met once. By the end of the trip, however, we were like family (there is just something about getting naked together in a hot spring that really solidifies the bond…).

Over the course of three days, we participated in fun events such as painting akabekos (the famous red cow of Aizu), touring sake breweries, making handmade soba, and visiting tourist spots. However, the most unique and key point of the tour for me was the “study” part of the study tour. We visited a rice inspection facility in addition to the Agricultural Technology Centre, and learned about alternative energy resources.

Rice waiting to be inspected for radiation.
Rice waiting to be inspected for radiation.

I learned a lot about food inspection in Fukushima and the different levels of safety standards set in Japan compared with other countries like the US and the EU. Did you know the radiation safety levels in Japan are set at 100 bq, while the US is 1,000 bq and the EU is 1,200 q? I could consume food 10 containing radiation that is times higher than the safety standard set by Japan and it would still be considered safe in the US and the EU. All the information I have gathered on this trip was mindboggling, informative, and made me more aware of what I consume and how the energy I use is produced.

While visiting tourist spots are fun, you can do that anytime and can be managed even if you don’t speak Japanese. The more academic tours we took were only possible thanks to the hard work of our translator and CIR, William, and the effort put into organizing and booking all these tours for us. It is an opportunity that I wouldn’t have been able to participate in if it wasn’t for this tour.

 

The view outside of our hotel
The view outside of our hotel

As for our lodging, I had a great time with one other JET staying on a farm for a home stay. Every group had their own experience, but in my case we stayed in a storage room that had been remodeled into a beautiful little cabin, complete with a bar and sauna (shipped from Korea!). We really bonded with our host family and I look forward to visiting them again on my own in the future!

The second night we stayed in Higashiyama, a hot spring town in the mountains of Aizuwakamatsu. I have stayed in Higashiyama a few times, and it was great as always. This was the night all the JETs on the trip got to bond as a group rather than the small groups of friends we made with our neighbors on the bus.

If you missed your chance to partake in this unforgettable trip, I highly recommend signing up for next year! The best part? It is completely paid for by Fukushima Prefecture. If you have any questions about the study tour, feel free to contact me!  Don’t let the word “study” scare you out of participating, it is a lot of fun, you can make lots of new friends, and expand your knowledge about important issues not only in the prefecture, but in the rest of the world.

Also be on the lookout for another JET’s experience during the November Study Tour so you can see which experience you prefer for next year!

My painted akabeko!
My painted akabeko!

The Lucky Island October 2015 Events

Iizaka Fighting Festival (Iizaka Kenka Matsuri)

Date: Friday October 2nd – Sunday October 4th

Area: Fukushima City

Time: From 11am on Friday; 8:30am on Saturday; 11am on Sunday

Address: 1, Aza-hachiman, Iizakamachi, Fukushima-city, Fukushima Pref.

Details: This is one of the three major Fighting Festivals in Japan. As the name suggests, the main event of this festival is a fight in which parade floats are slammed into each other in a race to try to get to the main temple first. While it is a three day festival, the main event starts from around 8:30pm on Saturday.

English Blog about this year’s event: http://tadaimajp.com/2015/09/iizaka-kenka-matsuri-3/

Japanese Website: http://hachimanjinja.info/

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Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival

Date: Sunday, October 4th – Tuesday, October 6th

Area: Nihonmatsu

Time: Sunday: 5:50pm – late; Monday: 8:30am – late; Tuesday: 5:40pm – late

Address: Get off at Nihonmatsu station and you will find yourself in the middle of the festival!

Details: Watch one of Japan’s three best lantern festivals, located in our great prefecture of Fukushima! These beautiful lanterns are made by stretching paper over split bamboo. The sheer amount of these lanterns at the festival is not something to miss! This is one of the best festivals in Fukushima, so if you live in the area, I recommend checking it out (Unfortunately it falls on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday this year). The second day is the main part of the festival.

English Article: http://injapan.gaijinpot.com/play/travel/2012/10/03/nihonmatsu-lantern-festival/

Japanese Website: http://www.nihonmatsu-kanko.jp/matsuri.html

Japanese Flyer: http://www.city.nihonmatsu.lg.jp/uploaded/attachment/20059.pdf

 

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Annual Furudono Hachiman Shrine Festival (古殿八幡神社)

Date: Saturday, October 10th – Sunday, October 11th

Area: Kenchuu

Time: Not posted. Sometime in the afternoon.

Address: Furudono-38 Yamakami, Furudono, Ishikawa District, Fukushima Prefecture 963-8302

Furudono Hachiman Shrine – The closest station is Iwakiishikawa Station, BUT you must take a 40-minute bus from there. It is mostly accessible by car.

Details: Watch a traditional festival where riders shoot arrows at targets from galloping horses! This is a two day event, but the main event is held on the second day. It is an event dedicated to the shrine deity that has been practiced for hundreds of years.

Japanese Website: http://www.town.furudono.fukushima.jp/kanko-dentou-bunka/see/event/hachiman/249

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Yanaizu Akabeko Festival

Date: Saturday, October 10th

Area: Aizu Area

Time: 10am – 8pm

Address: Suwamachi Yanaizu, Yanaizu-machi, Kawanuma-gun, Fukushima-ken 969-7201

Details: Visit the birthplace of the akabeko in Yanaizu by painting akabekos, participating in a log pulling competition, food and crafts. There are shuttle buses available from the station to the venue.

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Fukushima Inari Shrine Harvest Festival

Date: Saturday, October 10th – Monday, October 12th

Area:  Fukushima City

Time: the main festival starts at 10am on Saturday

Address: Exit Fukushima station, east exit. Hard to miss. It is about a 15 minute walk to the temple itself.

Details: Haunted houses. Shooting range games. 250 booths. This big festival in Fukushima is a great way to welcome fall. The highlight of this festival is the parade that starts as dusk settles around 6pm and floats, decked with lanterns, is marched from Fukushima station to the temple in the mountains.

Japanese website: http://www.f-kankou.jp/akimatsuri.htm

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Tanagura Fall Festival

Date: Saturday, October 11th – Sunday, October 12th

Area: Shirakawa

Time: Saturday: 3pm – 9pm; Sunday: 10am – 9pm

Address: Around Kanagura Station

Details: More floats and taiko drums! And judging from pictures I have seen online, the floats are spilling over with young men standing and dangling off the sides.

Website:

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Annual Fall Festival at Tensho Shinmei Shrine

Date: Saturday, October 17th – Sunday, October 18th

Area: Date City (Just Northeast of Fukushima City)

Time: Unknown, but it is a safe bet it is in the afternoon and the evening

Address: Near Hobara Station

Details: There aren’t many details about this festival, but the photos online of the festival are pretty amazing. There will be taiko performances and floats being displayed around the main street.

Japanese Website: Check out the pictures to see what it is like! http://www.date-shi.jp/cat47/hobara/23.html

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Goshikinuma Hike hosted by Aizu JETs

Date: Saturday, October 24th

Area:  Aizu

Time: 10am ~ however long it takes! (A few hours)

Details: Every year the Aizu ASL hosts a Goshikinuma hike, just in time for what the Japanese call “Kouyou,” which refers to the changing color of the leaves in fall. The trees look spectacular during this time, so why not enjoy a lovely hike through several brightly colored lakes? There is also a bus that runs from Inawashiro station to Goshikinuma, as well. If you need a ride, post in the event page – someone can probably assist you!

Facebook Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1639869782958076/

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Motomiya Fall Festival

Date: Friday, October 23rd – Sunday, October 25th

Area:  Fukushima City

Time: Friday: 12pm – 9:30pm; Saturday & Sunday: 8am – 9:30pm

Address: Around Motomiya Station

Details: Name: 150 outdoor food and game stalls, children’s performances, a women only dance performance and much, much more! Come check out this three day event (or two. Or one!)

Japanese Website: http://www.nihon-kankou.or.jp/fukushima/detail/07214ba2212051452

English Website: http://www.goldenjipangu.com/141025motomiya.html

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61st Annual Chrysanthemum Doll Exhibition

Date: Saturday, October 10th – Monday, November 23rd

Area: Nihonmatsu

Time: 9am – 4pm

Price: 700 yen for adults

Address: On the castle grounds of Kasumigajo

〒964-0904 福島県二本松市郭内4丁目

4 Chome Kakunai Nihonmatsu-shi, Fukushima-ken 964-0904

Details: View dolls, decorations and displays made from Chrysanthemums. If you haven’t had the chance to visit this beautiful city, this is a great chance!

Japanese Website: http://www.nihonmatsu-kanko.jp/kikuningyo.html

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Halloween Party at Club #9

Date: Saturday, October 31st

Area: Koriyama

Time: TBA

Price: TBA

Address: Club #9 Ekimae 2-7-15, Koriyama, Fukushima 963-8002

Details: Every year ALTs flock to Club #9 for Halloween. This year, Halloween falls on a weekend! Dress up and enjoy 80’s dance music on the second floor and Club music on the 1st floor!

Facebook Event