Thursday, December 24, 2015

Hamakawa Shoten “Sake that the locals will drink”

The new Bijofu labels, released in October,
use photographs taken locally.
Bijofu: Out of the Depths
   “Bijofu,” which has won Gold Prize for each of the last 5 years at the Annual Japan Sake Awards, is the most popular brand of sake produced by Hamakawa Shoten, located in Shikoku’s smallest town, Tano, in eastern Kochi. “Bijofu” was first developed by Naoaki Hamakawa, the fifth-generation CEO of the company.

   Hamakawa became CEO at a time when the future of Hamakawa Shoten was in doubt. The company had to sell 70% of its product to larger sake companies in order to make ends meet, but it finally pulled through the rough patch. Around that time, Hamakawa first encountered ginjo (special brew) sake in Tokyo. At the time, ginjo sake was only being made for contests, but more and more voices were calling for this delicious variety of sake to be released for regular sale. Enchanted by ginjo, Hamakawa thought, “I want to make this sake with my own hands!” Following this powerful urge, with no tanks, no technology, and no rice appropriate for ginjo sake production, he began to fumble his way through a field of “no” toward an entirely different kind of sake that his company had ever made before.

Tsukasabotan Brewery “A True Classic”

The 90m long sake storehouse built around 1850.
A Time-Warp Back to the Edo Period
   Walking just a few minutes from the JR Sakawa Station, we noticed a large building with white plaster walls. The sweet, faint aroma of sake drifted over from the open brewery, and it was like we were immersed in the nostalgia of an old film. We were at the Tsukasabotan Brewery, a veteran business founded in 1603. This particular white-walled building is a sake storehouse called “Warehouse No. 1”, and it has around 160 years of history. Chief Brewer Asano said, “Ryoma Sakamoto likely visited this brewery when he left Tosa. Ryoma liked to drink sake.”

Mutemuka “Local Sake with a Twist”

Entrance to the brewery.
They steam chestnuts in the large stoves inside.
Chestnut Shochu for Rural Revitalization
   In the mountainous region of Western Kochi lies the town of Taisho, Shimanto-cho. There can be found a brewery dedicated to local sake since its inception: Mutemuka.

   Mutemuka, which began as a simple sake brewery, started making their signature chestnut shochu “Dabada Hiburi” roughly 30 years ago. They got their start when the mayor of Taisho at the time asked them if they could help revitalize the town by using locally-grown chestnuts. They heeded the call, got a shochu brewing license, and got to work making chestnut shochu. At first they were committed to only using local chestnuts, but their rising sales outpaced local chestnut production, so they currently do not follow that requirement. However, Dabada Hiburi, which is made from over 50% chestnuts, still uses only domestic chestnuts.


Kochi Life Q&A: Important Occasions "I’ve been invited to a wedding…"

   Wedding banquets in Kochi are grand affairs, with long guest lists, lots of alcohol, and classic Kochi-style sawachi ryori (large platters of food). If it’s your first time at a Japanese wedding, you may be surprised to see that the couple changes their outfits several times, and that the bride and groom’s friends put on performances as entertainment.
   As for attire, men should wear a suit, and women, a pretty dress. Women should also wear a bolero or shawl over their shoulders, and take care not to draw attention away from the bride and groom by wearing anything too eye-catching. Avoid wearing white, since it’s the bride’s color.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tosa Masters - Koichiro Nojima (The Landscape Designer from Kochi City)

Nojima designed and created this cluster
of trees and boulders near the Yakushi-do
building of Dainichi-ji temple.
   It’s been 40 years since Koichiro Nojima dove into the world of landscape design after marrying into a landscaping family. Thanks not only to his superior skill, but also to his contributions to the formation of the next generation of landscapers, Nojima was selected in 2012 as Kochi Prefecture’s thirty-ninth “Modern Master.” Along with these accomplishments, Nojima is also one of Kochi’s few professionally qualified tree doctors.
   When he began to learn landscaping, with zero knowledge about the job, the first tool Nojima was allowed to handle was a broom to sweep up the leaves and twigs that had been pruned from the garden plants. While sweeping, he says, he observed the more experienced workers at their tasks, and memorized their pruning methods. Eventually, he began to be allowed to use the big pruning shears to prune things that already had a good shape, such as hedgerows. A few years later, he had improved enough to use the small shears as well.

Tosa Masters - Shinichiro Tani (The Porcelain Craftsman from Kochi City)

The clay passes through the waterway from right to left,
where it is deposited.
   Shinichiro Tani began his porcelain journey when he was 15 years old. At first he wasn't satisfied with his works, so he would remake items over and over to practice. About four years later, he was finally able to sell his first cup. He said he’ll never forget the joy he felt that day. Currently he is carrying on five generations of tradition since the Edo Period at the Tani Porcelain Manufacturers in Kamobe, Kochi City.

Tosa Masters - Takeshi Yoshikawa (The Dyed Goods Craftsman from Konan City)

He says the most difficult brushwork for the face is the nose.
   Around the time of Children’s Day (May 5th), originally a celebration of the birth and growth of boys, large furafu flags decorate Kochi’s skies in addition to the traditional koinobori carp-shaped banners. Takeshi Yoshikawa, a Tosa Master of dyed goods, says that, “One of the draws of furafu is the feeling of bravery one gets when they see a furafu swimming in the sky.”
   Yoshikawa, who makes furafu flags, nobori banners, and tosa-dako kites as a fifth generation owner of his family business Studio Yoshikawa, has been helping make furafu since he was a child. He started with washing furafu (which can take 1 hour per furafu!), and gradually moved on to painting colors. However, his young self didn’t enjoy the intensive labor, and his father explicitly asked him to succeed him in the family business, so he sought employment at a semi-governmental corporation in Kagawa Prefecture after graduating college. Then one day, while visiting home, Yoshikawa saw the happiness of a customer who ordered a furafu, and realized that he wanted to do a job where his personal efforts could directly make others happy. That’s when he decided to carry on his family’s craft.

Kochi Life Q&A “Kochi-ke ALL STARS”

Q: I’ve been seeing photos of people with star-shaped pins on their lapels, or people wearing star-shaped rainbow sunglasses. What’s going on there?
A: These goods have become popular thanks to Kochi-ke ALL STARS, the third stage of Kochi Prefecture’s Kochi-ke promotional campaign. This campaign seeks to introduce the charms of Kochi across the nation by highlighting how all members of the Kochi Family, both Kochi residents and people who have some kind of connection with Kochi, are stars in their own unique ways. People can apply to be recognized as a Star based on their hobbies or the things they like. For example, you could be the “star at living a carefree life in Kochi’s natural world.” To apply, search for 高知家 (Kochi-ke), find the Kochi-ke website, and go to the page called 高知家のスターに応募 (“apply to be a Kochi-ke Star”). From there, you can upload a photo of yourself, and overlay the image of the star-shaped sunglasses on your face so it looks like you’re wearing them. Finally, add a sentence or two explaining what kind of star you are, and you’re done!

   Once you become a Star, you’ll be registered in the Kochi-ke website’s Star Reference Guide, and you may have the chance to take part in Kochi PR videos, even sharing the stage with a famous actress from Kochi! It’s not just something fun to do for yourself, but something that could help all of Japan learn more about the charms of Kochi. The subject matter of this “Star Debut Project” changes every month, so it's always fresh and fun. Recommend your favorite stars, apply to become a star yourself, and help us revitalize Kochi!!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Let's Enjoy Kochi Sushi and Party Culture!

Learn about Kochi Sushi (making Kokera Sushi)
Learn about Kochi Drinking Culture (Hashiken, chopstick game and Shibaten Dance)
Date: Sunday, Oct. 25
Time: 13:00 - 16:00
Place: CUL - PORT
Check-in starts at 12:30 at the Cooking Room on the 10th floor.
Fee: 1,000 yen (Student: 500 yen)  
English, Korean and Chinese interpretation will be available!
You can apply on the SGG homepage or Facebook.
Due Date: Thursday, Oct. 15
Organized by Kochi SGG Club 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Kochi's Official Tourism Information Website Opens

    “VISIT KOCHI JAPAN,” an official website introducing information on tourism in Kochi Prefecture, is open now (Sep. 7). Of all regions on Shikoku Island situated in southwestern Japan, Kochi is the largest prefecture abundant in the blessings of nature.
   The website provides useful information to people who are considering traveling to Kochi and those currently visiting the prefecture.
   View more...

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Spelunking at Ryugado!

Off we go!
   Departing from downtown Kochi City and jostling around in a Tosaden Bus for about 85 minutes, we finally arrived at Ryugado Cave in Kami City. Ryugado is counted among Japan’s Three Largest Limestone Caves. It was also designated as a National Natural Treasure and Historic Landmark in 1934.

A Day with Monet

The first water lilies of summer are in full bloom!
Don’t miss the blue lilies!
  Oscar-Claude Monet—a man who has gone down in art history as one of the founders of Impressionism and whose art has been associated with light, beautiful landscapes, and water lilies. Monet’s original lilies can be found in the Monet Garden in Giverny, France, but the only other official Monet Garden in the world is in Kochi Prefecture’s very own Kitagawa Village. In this article we’ll take you through the garden docents’ recommended course for maximum enjoyment!

Kayaking in the Shimanto River!

We tried paddling against the current! It was fun!
   What’s an activity perfect for Kochi’s hot, hot summer? Kayaking, of course! For this article, we went to the Shimanto River Station Canoe House in the Nishitosa area of Shimanto City and tried our hand at kayaking. (Note: “canoe” or “kanuu” refers to canoes and kayaks in Japanese.) Kayaking may seem daunting to some, but according to the Canoe House manager, 70% of their customers are beginners, and it’s easier than riding a bike.

Kochi Life Q&A: Yukata

Q: What is the kimono-like clothing that I see lots of people wearing when I go to a summer festival?
A:That is called a cotton-weave yukata. Originally, yukatas were used in summertime as bathrobes and pajamas, but today they are frequently worn at summer festivals and fireworks events.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Artist in Residence2015 & Performance-Papermoon Puppet Theatre ‘HIDE and SEEK’-

'Center stage 2012', photo by Iwan Effendi
   Iwan Effendi (Artistic Director) and Maria Tri Sulistyani (Director) from Papermoon Puppet Theatre in Indonesia will have a residency in Museum for a month to make a creation and present a new performance. It will be 'community project' that the visitors including child can attend workshops, and the artists make a new piece with the local artists.
   Open studio: 22nd Jul (Wed) to 13th Aug (Fri)
   Workshop: 25th Jul (Sat) to 31st Jul (Mon)
   Performance: 14th and 15th Aug (Sat)
   Venue: Gallery 4, The Museum of Art, Kochi

Saturday, May 23, 2015


UNESCO World Heritage HIMEJI Castle
Presented by:
   Nankoku City International Association, NIA

   June 7th (Sun.)

   HIMEJI Castle (Some parts of the costructon is designated as a national treasure)                       
   Hito to Mirai Boosai Center (The museum of protection against disasters)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Join Us for Japanese Study!

We (Nankoku City International Association, NIA for short) have 2 classes a beginner level and an intermediate level.

The class details are as follows;
NIHONGO-KYOOSHITSU・にほんごきょうしつ(Intermediate class)
  Term 2015-5-13~2016-2-21 Every Wednesday (without only the last class)
  Time 19:00~21:00
  Place Nisshoo Fukushi Kooryuu Center (Nankoku city Tamura 2207)
  Fee  100yen per class.
 This class will also support you to prepare for the JLPT exam.(JLPT N2~N1)
  Term 2015-5-13~2016-2-21 Every Wednesday (without only the last class)
  Time 19:00~21:00
  Place Nisshoo Fukushi Kooryuu Center (Nankoku city Tamura 2207)
  Fee  100yen per class.
 This class places great importance on speaking. There are many Japanese volunteers who will help you progress in Japanese by having conversations in each class.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Eat Local

Fresh vegetables sold in an outdoor
What is the “Eat Local” movement?
   Until recently, people have only eaten food that was located close to them. But in our current day and age, it’s very easy to buy food products that were produced from unknown sources in faraway countries. This may be convenient for consumers, but it can lead to safety concerns about unknown food sources and the weakening of local economies due to low sales of local products. That’s where chisanchisho comes in.

   Chisanchisho, literally meaning “local production for local consumption,” was started to protect local economies and give consumers peace of mind knowing that their food is fresh, delicious, and comes from a trusted source. In this issue, we’ll refer to chisanchisho as “Eat Local.” Since its inception, the Eat Local movement has also proven to benefit health by providing in-season, high-nutrient produce, benefit community building by creating relationships between producers and consumers, preserve local scenery and food traditions, and even help the environment by reducing fuel emissions caused by transporting goods. The same logic for Eat Local is now even being applied to other industries, such as automobiles and craft goods.

Delicious Seasonal Foods! A Visit to Road Station Nankoku Café Resto Furari

Entrance to Café Resto Furari.
   Near the Nankoku Interchange can be found the Road Station Nankoku Café Resto Furari, home of a popular Morning Buffet where you can eat tons of fresh vegetables. Furari is registered in “Yasai de Genki-ten PLUS,” a list of shops that provide menu options that prioritize using Kochi local produce.

How to Get Involved with Eat Local

   We introduced a restaurant from Yasai de Genki-ten PLUS in the article above, but here are four more ways to get involved with Eat Local!
● Locally Grown Sections—check out the locally grown section of your supermarket, and read food labels.
   There is a section at most supermarkets called the “直販コーナー”(chokuhan kōnā) where locally grown produce is sold. You can read the where the produce was grown and the farmer’s name by looking at the sticker on the bag.
Outdoor Markets—Did you know that there is an outdoor market like Sunday Market every day?
   There are outdoor markets in Kochi City every day of the week except for Monday. The details for the markets other than the famous Sunday Market (loc. Otesuji) are written below.
   Tuesday Market (Kamimachi 4 cho-me & 5 cho-me), Wednesday Market (Hyakkokucho 3 cho-me), Thursday Market (Honmachi 5 cho-me), Friday Market (Atagomachi 1 cho-me), Saturday Market (Ike Park)
● Local Marketplaces—find and use local markets at “Road Stations
   There are “Road Stations” (michi no eki) along highways with large parking lots, restrooms, restaurants, and local goods shops. They also sell local produce, so visit them when out on a drive!
● Creating Culture—speak face to face with farmers and spread the word!
   When you talk face to face with the people who grow your food, you learn new things and gain a deeper understanding of food and your region. And by talking to your friends about your experiences,
you can contribute to the spread of Eat Local culture!

Kochi Life Q&A “Souvenirs from Kochi”

Q:I’m visiting my home country soon. What are some Kochimade products that I can bring as gifts?
A:In Japan, the word omiyage (souvenir) is usually associated with foods, but this is not always the case in other countries. Fortunately, Kochi is home to several traditional industries which make products suitable for gifts.

GENKI Seinenkai Tosaben Musical 2015 “The Wizard of Tosa”

A scene of the Tosaben Musical 2014
 - Hogwarts Tosa Style School of Witchcraft
and Wizardry

   Would you like to add a little “GENKI” to your life? Announcing the annual Tosaben Musical!

   This year’s title is Tosa no Mahotsukai, “The Wizard of Tosa.” It introduces “The Wizard of Oz,” which is not very well known by Japanese people, in Tosa-style. Tamaki, a high school girl from Tokyo, moves to live with her aunt in Kochi, but she misses her friends in Tokyo and just can’t get used to life in Kochi. One day, Tamaki is swept away by a typhoon and lands in a fantasy land called “Tosa.” In this mysterious land, populated by Yuzu people, Washi people, living scarecrows and more, Tamaki must find her way home while learning to speak Tosaben, making new friends, and having a great adventure.

   Admission to the Tosaben Musical is free, but donations are encouraged. The funds collected will be given as a scholarship to a Kochi high school or college student who is planning to study abroad. Thank you for your generosity.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Join the Multilingual Disaster Mitigation Project in Kochi!

   We are developing a multi-language mitigation communication tool that can be widely used from everyday information exchange to when a disaster occurs.
   We really appreciate your participation and feel free to let us know your opinion for improvement.