Monday, June 24, 2019

Tasty / Happy / Fun Susaki ~Morning” at a Café~

Me and Shinjo-kun
Kochi City Hall CIR Marisa
   Susaki is famous for Shinjo-kun, but I heard that this city has an interesting tradition, so I went to Susaki City with staff members from KIA to learn more about it!
Getting to know “Morning” culture
   It is said that on the ocean side of Susaki, after fishermen came back from sea, “eating breakfast at a café” later became known as “Morning” and spread from there. We immediately picked up a “Morning”/lunch guide map at JR Susaki Station. There were many cafes offering “Morning” all day, and it was very hard to decide on one as they all looked delicious.
Susaki seaside, baby sardines on drying racks

Reflect on yourself through an hour of Zen meditation in the morning

Temple gate of Gokokuji
Going through the temple gates
   In this edition, CIR Naomi and KIA staff visited Gokokuji Temple in Iguchicho, Kochi City. It was still dark at 5:50 am, and a dim light was coming from within the temple gates. We went through, and the wooden building and plants, still wet with dew, looked beautiful. We could see the figure of the abbott through a small window, and with the scent of incense wafting from the entrance, it felt like we had entered a scene from a Ghibli movie!
   The inside of the temple gave one a feeling of traditional Japan; the interior was simple and the moss-covered garden emanated an atmosphere of calmness. The abbott told us that he gets up at 2:30 am every morning and cleans the building, as well as incorporating Zen meditation into his daily practices—an ideology passed down from previous generations.

Kochi Lifestyle Q&A: Q. Are there consultation services for foreigners for various fields? A. Yes, there are such places below!

Kochi Consultation Center for Foreign Residents
   This center opened as a new organization under KIA at the end of May 2019! It assists foreign residents in Kochi by listening and advising them with regards to their daily life, and helping them out with their troubles. It is equipped with telephone interpreting and translation applications, so feel free to contact the center in your own native language.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Let’s make a “Ryoma Passport” and travel around Kochi!

   The Ryoma Passport is an item which gets you special perks simply by showing it at various tourist facilities, hot springs, road stations, and restaurants serving local dishes. Might as well use it if you’re
living in Kochi! You’ll be surprised at how many places there are near to you where you can use it. In this issue, KIA staff and CIRs will show you some of the ways to use the Ryoma Passport.
The flag
How to get a Ryoma Passport
1. First, get the pamphlet for the Ryoma Passport at various places like the Kochi Station Tourist Information Center, and cut out the registration postcard on the back. (We also have the pamphlets at KIA.)
2. Collect three kinds of stamps on the postcard at applicable facilities. For example, ①Enter the main keep of Kochi Castle→②Spend at least 500yen on food or goods at Hirome Market→③Visit The Museum of Art, Kochi. You will already have three stamps this way.
3. Next, if you go to the Kochi Travel Plaza in front of JR Kochi Station, you can exchange the postcard for a “Blue Passport” on the same day.
* You can also mail the registration form. Once you collect the necessary stamps for the “Blue Passport”, you can trade it in for a “Red Passport”. There are five levels (Blue→Red→Bronze→Silver→Gold).

Having fun in Nankoku City with the Ryoma Passport!

Kochi City CIR Marisa

   The cold weather has all but disappeared, and spring, the season where Japan’s beautiful cherry blossoms start to bloom, has begun. As it gets warmer it becomes a waste to spend your days curled up at home, so why not head out and use your Ryoma Passport! You can use it as if you were playing a gamecollecting stamps, and moving up levels.
We used our Ryoma Passports to try Shamo chicken in Nankoku!
Shamo nanban ricebowl
   Gomen Machi in Nankoku City is famous for its shamo cuisine, and the chickens raised there are called “Gomen Kenka Shamo”. It is said to have been a favorite dish of Sakamoto Ryoma. Furthermore, these “Gomen Kenka Shamo” are rare in Japan due to being purebred, the same as when they were once eaten by Sakamoto Ryoma. Shamo is known for its firm meat and chewy texture.
   In Nankoku City, approximately 20 restaurants located around the JR Gomen Station area provide shamo cuisine, and of these, 15 accept the Ryoma Passport. When we investigated, the standard shamo dish was “nabe” (hotpot), however we found you could eat a whole range of shamo-based foods in the area, including “shamo teppan-yaki” (shamo cooked on a hotplate), “shamo koumi-age” (shamo that is deep-fried after being seasoned with herbs or spices) and shamo pizza. We were surprised that there was such a mix of shamo dishes available!

Let’s enjoy Akaoka with our Ryoma Passports!

Kochi Prefecture CIR Valerie Teo
   We’re off to Akaoka Station! Akaoka used to be called Konan’s “Commercial Town”, and nostalgic scenery can still be seen in its streets even now. Following on from a discovery in Nankoku City, this time we will be exploring Akaoka in search of eateries and facilities that display the Ryoma Passport banner.
Tosawo Shoten Chirimen Chuunichi Soba
  First, with our eyes on the “Chirimen Chuunichi Soba”, we headed to “Tosawo Shoten”. After a five minutes’ walk from the station, we spotted the banner!! “Tosawo Shoten” was written on the outer walls of the store in huge letters.
   Upon passing through the entrance, many fresh foods were laid out before our eyes, and to our left were tour pamphlets of the region.
   The eatery was located at the end of the room. Their menu had many food items—in addition to what we were intending to eat—that looked particularly delicious. We decided to go with the garlic-chive filled gyozas in addition to our chirimen chuunichi soba. The soba is made from a collaboration between Japanese style local chirimen fish soup stock, and Chinese noodles. Small fish, spring onion, fishcake, fried fishcake, shredded kombu made up the ingredients. It usually goes for 600 yen, but we got it at 550 yen thanks to the Ryoma Passport!

Kochi Lifestyle Q&A : The theme this time is HAY FEVER!!!

   Sakura (cherry blossoms) is synonymous with spring in Japan. The Sakura around Kochi Castle are indeed beautiful. In the spring, the plants are freed from the cold winter and all blossom at once.
Q : My friend is in his 5th year in Japan and all of a sudden has developed hay fever. What’s going on? I’m worried the same might happen to me.
① What are some symptoms of hay fever?
② I don’t have any symptoms now, but I’m very worried about what will happen from here on out. Is there anything I can do to keep the symptoms away?
③ If I do develop hay fever, what should I do?

Friday, March 1, 2019

Japanese Cultural Experience Japanese archery

   Kochi Castle Museum of History will provide opportunities for foreigners to experience traditional Japanese culture. This year we will introduce Kyudo (Japanese archery), one of Japanese military art. In addition to learning about the history about Japanese archery, and try drawing the bow themselves. With explanations in English, even beginners will easily understand. Please come and experience the wonderful aspect Japanese art through Japanese archery.
 March 16 (Sat), 2019  2:00~4:00 p.m.
 Kochi Prefectural Kyudo (12-1 Takasone, Kochi-city)

 First 20 arrivals


How to apply
 Send a post card, or a fax, or a mail, or call us with your name, address, telephonenumber.
 We’ll send you a ticket.

 Kochi Prefectural Kochi Castle Museum of History 
 2-7-5 Ote-suji, Kochi-city 780-0842
 Phone 088-871-1600/Fax 088-871-1619
 e-mail address:

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Let’s Learn about Kochi’s Forestry Industry

In the dark forest which blocks out the sun’s light
   For this issue we went to the Hokigamine Forest Park in Kami City, which was established in 1978, and consists of 102 hectors of mountain maintained by the Prefectural Government. Our guide was Shinji Hirako, the chairman of HIRAKO Lab. He left his work in the mass media six years ago, spurred on by his interest of “What can I do to protect the forest?” and is now involved in work including public awareness and forest environment education to “Protect and have others learn about the forest”.
   We asked about the current situation of Kochi’s mountains; “man-made forests are known by this term because they are formed by planting trees by hand, and mountains like this makeup 27% of the national land area. In Kochi, Japanese Cedar and Japanese Cypress makeup over 60% of Kochi’s forests.”
   In regards to man-made forests, he said “After the Second World War, the trees in these man-made forests were planted as a national policy. However the trees couldn’t be used for timber for buildings until 40-50 years had passed, which meant that reconstruction after the war was carried out using cheap timber from abroad. As a result of the free movement of imported timber, the demand for overseas timber greatly increased, causing prices in timber from Japan to slump. Many forest workers who owned mountain forests had to abandon them due to reasons including not being able to make a profit despite cutting down their trees, and not having a successor. This had a devastating effect on the economics of the Japanese forestry industry.”

Cycling Around the Mountain Villages

   Domestic woodland areas are located near to settlements, and thus indicate a deep connection to the humans around them. These communities would open up areas of the original woodland, which was formally used for firewood and the gathering of edible wild plants, and gradually changed it so that it became easier for people to use, such as through the replanting of trees to replace those cut for use in everyday life. The land around the domestic woodland areas is maintained, and used for rice fields, other crops and irrigation. As a result, insects and small animals gather, and an ecosystem is created that is shared with the community.
Small road bordered by trees
Bicycles rented? Check. Let’s go!

   Most parts of the cycling course had wide roads, with only one portion that had ups and downs, so even cycling beginners like us were able to handle it. One of the benefits to cycling is how we could cycle at our own pace while looking at the thinly covered mountains of red leaves and wild plants along the roadside. It was also fun to strike up a conversation with people we met while cycling.♪
  We rented bicycles with gears from “Muranoeki Hidaka”; a place that houses a cafe, fresh vegetables brought there directly by farmers, and a tourist information spot. Once we did the safety check of seeing if the brakes were working and whether the saddle was at a comfortable height, it was time to depart! This cycling course around the villages is a 15km “Satoyama Course” with its start and end point being “Muranoeki Hidaka”.

Kochi Lifestyle Q&A : Winter in Kochi is colder than you’d expect. Other than turning on the heater, what are some ways to keep warm?

   Kochi is called “Tropical Tosa” but can be surprisingly cold in the winter. The temperature can fall below 0℃ in January and February.
   Here are some tips from the KIA staff members in order to stay warm this winter.
○ Yutampo (hot water bottle)
   Add hot water to a container meant to be used as a hot water bottle, and put it under the blankets to warm them up before sleeping, or place it on your back or on your knees to keep warm. Metal hot water bottles were common in the past, but now there are bottles made from soft resin, which can be purchased for around ¥1000.
They stay warm for longer than you might expect, so please avoid moderate-temperature burns by putting on a cover.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Kusunose Kita - the “minken baasan”- pioneer of the women’s suffrage movement -

Kusunose Kita (1836-1920)
   Kusunose Kita was born in September 1836 in modern-day Kochi City. She married at the age of 21, however her husband died of an illness when she was 38 years old, and she remained single thereon after. They didn’t have or adopt any children, and so she looked after her home as the registered head of the household.

   When the new Meiji era began, heads of households who had paid taxes were given the right to vote for district assembly members, however this right was not extended to women. Not satisfied at being refused a vote, Kita decided to stop paying taxes. After three months of not paying she received a letter from the prefectural government demanding her payment. She replied “it is strange that despite paying taxes, I do not have the right to vote because I am a woman. Rights and responsibilities should work together, and so if I don’t have the right to vote then I won’t pay my taxes”. She submitted the letter to the prefectural government and requested a response.

Let’s hear from the head proprietress at Hamachou, one of Kochi’s traditional restaurants! What exactly is a “hachikin”?

Head Proprietess Kayo of
  After I began working as a proprietress, I started hearing “what is a hachikin?” from customers coming from outside of the prefecture. When I searched through write-ups, I found the word being described as a woman who only thinks about 80% of her actions before acting, and is able to handle four men at a time. This is where the “hachi” (meaning eight) of “hachikin” (literally meaning eight testicles) comes from. Kochi women will say what they feel whenever they want, without listening until the end. A hachikin acts fast, is strong, works hard, and is very clear on their likes and dislikes. This is also a reason for Kochi’s high divorce rate, says Head Proprietress Kayo. The women of Kochi will do their best for their men, but if they feel that it is not going to work out, they are also quick to take action - which means getting a divorce. However, they do not request for settlement money, and even if they do, it is a small, insignificant amount. It seems as if it works out to something like, “I will work and raise my children, so you too live a good life”. Although these characteristics of being forward-looking, strong, independent, and full of confidence are connected to divorce, it is said that just like how Japanese ladies are seen as well-mannered, this confidence that Kochi women have is naturally picked up from a young age.

Introducing some useful things during a disaster!

   I’m sure the July 2018 heavy rain disaster in Western Japan which killed over 200 people is still fresh in peoples’ minds. Here, we would like to introduce some useful tools to protect yourself with during natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods.
1. Disaster information apps available in multiple languages
①Safety tips
An information app for use during disasters supervised by the Japan Tourism Agency, geared towards foreign travelers.
Languages: Japanese, English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Korean. It provides push notifications of Earthquake Early Warnings, Tsunami Warnings, Weather Warnings and Eruption Notices issued in Japan. In addition, there is an action flowchart showing evacuation actions to be taken in the light of surrounding circumstances and a communication card for obtaining information from the people around, along with useful links that provide information in times of disaster.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Rediscovering the charms of the Niyodo River! Shown to us by Mr. Yamaoka, an Ino Town Tourism Association volunteer

Kochi City Hall CIR Marisa

How to make the most of summertime nature, the Kochi way!
   Like last year, summer has come early to Kochi! Unlike my home country of Indonesia, Japan has four seasons, and the celebration of these seasons is an integral part of Japanese culture, with different things to look forward to as each one approaches. The ideal way to spend one’s summer is relaxing by the sea. However the situation is slightly different in Kochi, which is full of rich and beautiful nature. Of course relaxing by the sea here is equally as enjoyable as relaxing by the river, and in Ino Town there is the famous "Niyodo Blue" at the upper reaches of the Niyodo River, which of course is a beautiful attraction. But this time I would like to tell you about a different aspect of the river’s charm.
Receiving an explanation about the Niyodo River from our guide Mr. Yamaoka.