On July 6, I and a mixed bunch of Fuku people went to Iizaka on a World Cafe Tour. The World Cafe is an event that was originally started by Fukushima CIR Kevin Hsieh, and this was the last one he organised before finishing up on JET. The event is all about promoting international exchange, and people of different ages and nationalities, from 6 to 76, from Japan to China to Canada, can join and have a great time.
Iizaka is a town on the outskirts of Fukushima City, and it is famous Japan-wide for its onsen and history. Going there very much resembles going back in time.
We started out by meeting at Fukushima Station then taking the train out to Iizaka. We were greeted by a number of people who had volunteered to be our guides for the day, and they showed us around and explained the significance of the things we saw. We visited a shrine dedicated to battle and an old estate. We exchanged our shoes for geta (Japanese clogs) (this was free – you just left your shows behind then went and got them later) and enjoyed the experience of walking around in them. They were surprisingly comfortable and I decided I wanted a pair.
The day was very warm so we were all relieved to then move to an indoor and air-conditioned venue, where we enjoyed onigiri and gyoza for lunch. After lunch, we made uchiwa fans in groups. This was followed by a Jeopardy-style quiz. The questions related to five of the countries represented by people present at the cafe. This quiz really got going as the groups competed against each other. The quiz was followed by a game of charades, at the end of which my team won, despite efforts to stop us by organisers and the other teams alike!
I knew that this event would be fun, but it really exceeded my expectations. I had a blast! I hope that the new CIR in Fukushima City continues the World Cafe, and if they do, make sure you all sign up and give it a go!