Monday, December 25, 2017

Off to Tosa Yamada to find out more about Tosa Blades

The first step in making a sickle:
wedge steel in between the iron, melt
it in a forge that is of 1000 degrees
Celsius, and hit it with a hammer.
   There are many different kinds of blacksmith shops in Kochi, producing anything from sickles and saws to knives and axes. Various essential tools supporting Kochi’s forestry industry have been made by these blacksmiths, and Tosa-hamono (lit. “Tosa Blades”) is famous for these tools.
   Our destination today was a blacksmith shop just a few minutes by car from the Tosa Hamono Exchange Center in Kochi Prefecture’s Kami-shi Tosayamada-cho, past the expansive greenhouses growing spring onions and chives. There, Mr. Satoshi Yamashita, a craftsman well-versed in the traditional art of Tosa Uchi-hamono, was in the process of making a sickle.

Information gathered at the Kochi Prefecture Coral Association

   Have you ever heard of a coral wedding anniversary? It’s the 35th anniversary of a wedding. Why not gift a coral product to your parents on the day? People may think of accessories and jewelry when coral products are mentioned, but they are actually used in various ways depending on application and through blending Japanese and Western influences, such as good luck charms, ornaments, tea caddies used for tea ceremonies, incense burners, Buddha statues, and picture frames. What makes coral attractive is that it lives in the deep sea and grows slowly, with some varieties taking up to 50 years to grow one centimeter, and it is also beloved because of its rarity. Additionally, because of the fact that coral grows by absorbing free-swimming coral larvae, it can be said that it is a natural work of art. There are no two identical corals as they are made within the natural cycle.

Painting the healing powers of coral raised in Kochi’s nature: Japanese painter, Akemi Ochi

Ms. Ochi and Cho CIR
  I can’t believe there are ways to use coral other than for accessories. That surprise was our first impression. “I’m painting pictures by borrowing power from coral. It’s because Kochi’s beautiful ocean exists. The color and texture of coral contains healing properties for people,” says Ms. Ochi. Ms. Ochi’s works involve various materials such as silver leaf and vivid colors, and they all come together beautifully. Ground coral provides a refreshing warm hue on top. This is a traditional technique used in Japanese paintings, and although it is common to use ground natural minerals as painting material, Ms. Ochi uses materials homemade from refined Kochi coral instead of store-bought materials. This is all pasted on with a glue called “nikawa”. The lumpy texture of actual coral has a spatial effect, and makes the entire art piece stand out. In addition to this, it is said that the color of coral does not fade much over the years. The contrast with materials such as silver leaf, which changes color over time, is beautiful because of this.

Kochi Lifestyle Q&A : What are the traffic rules for bicycles?

   It has now been 2 years since I came to Japan. One area where I felt the cultural difference was with “bicycles”. (I come from South Korea). I saw people of all ages and genders riding bicycles in their daily lives, and felt that Japan was like a kingdom of bicycles. Furthermore, by riding a bicycle in my everyday life, I understood that there were many rules regarding their use. Therefore, this time I would like to introduce the rules for cycling in Japan- the kingdom of bicycles- for those like me who may not have normally cycled back in their home country, or for those for whom the rules differ to those in their culture.

   Firstly, the main premise of these rules is that bicycles are the same as cars. For those of you who ride bicycles, please don’t forget that a bicycle is a type of vehicle, and thus always be careful to give pedestrians the right of way when you cycle!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Do you know about Halal food? The Availability of Halal Food in Kochi

   At a grilled meat restaurant a Japanese man is talking with a Muslim woman. The man notices a dubious expression on the woman’s face as he fries pork on the shared grill. “Muslims don’t eat pork, right? I’m frying beef and chicken too so you don’t need to eat it” he says, gesturing to the meat aside from the pork. Do you know why the Muslim lady felt uncomfortable? The lady felt uncomfortable because she was reluctant to eat meat that has been fried on the same grill as pork, which in Islam is considered unclean.
Marisa from Indonesia,
Kochi City CIR
Rising Awareness of Halal Food
   In recent years the number of visitors and students from Islamic countries coming to Japan has increased, and with the expansion of exportation to areas with high Muslim populations, awareness of Halal food has grown. In Kochi Prefecture as well there are Muslim students and residents, however we have heard that it is very difficult for them to find Halal food, which they can eat without worry.

   In this issue, KIA staff and the CIRs went to a restaurant offering Halal food in Kochi City, as well as a business that wishes to see the expansion of businesses getting certified in Halal and exporting overseas. This time city hall CIR and practicing Muslim Marisa, was also included in the reporting team. Please have a read through of our up to date information on Halal food in Kochi Prefecture!

Kochi has one too! Halal Restaurant Eating worry-free at Bali Jasmine

Marisa, Kochi City CIR

Fashionable interior with Bali
   If you go along the street in Yanagimachi, north of Obiyamachi, you will see a green sign on the second floor of the Shiroki building with “Bali Jasmine” written in large letters. This restaurant which opened in September 2016, is open for lunch and dinner every day except Thursday. Its draws are Indonesian and Indian cooking, and bringing authentic taste to Kochi is the goal of Yuni, the owner of this shop.

   The interior is outfitted with Bali decorations, and it feels like you aren’t in Japan once you step inside. In addition to Indonesian classics such as nasi goreng and mie goreng, you can also eat Indian food such as naan and curry at this restaurant. There are no pork items on the Indonesian menu, but there are some on the Indian menu. Yuni is Muslim, and all the chicken and beef used in this restaurant is Halal. In accordance with Islamic teachings Indian menu items containing pork and Halal items are prepared using different cookware, and the cooking space is separated as well. For Muslims, eating at restaurants like this gives us peace of mind, and we can enjoy our meals without any worries.

A product that people all around the world can eat with peace of mind : Kochi Ice (Halal Certification received in 2013)

   Kochi Ice is an ice cream maker which manufactures products that showcase the ingredients’ quality and the fact that it is made in  Kochi. President Hamamachi has made it his mission to make both the customers and supplying farmers happy, as well as bringing out the best of ice cream along with the Kochi ingredients.

   This time, KIA staff and Kochi City CIR Marisa visited and interviewed Kochi Ice Headquarters, which is surrounded in nature and located next to the pristine Niyodo River in Ino Town.
What made you decide to get Halal certification?
   We got it in order to have more people all around the world enjoy our Kochi-born products with peace of mind. In 2013, we were the first in Shikoku to receive certification from the Nippon Asia Halal Association. Our chance came in Malaysia, when we went to a business expo and we began to study Halal. Currently we export to Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Dubai, and we exhibit at food fairs held in Islamic regions. Lately, we have begun to wholesale to stores within Japan which use Halal items for business purposes.

Place / restaurant where Halal food is available in the prefecture

(researched by KIA, as of 2017)

Halal food section at Gyoumu Supermarket
   Takasu branch: 2-6-60 Takasu, Kochi City TEL: 088-878-0230
   Minami Kawazoe branch: 9-1 Minami kawazoe Kochi City
   TEL: 088-880-5566
Kochi University, Asakura Campus, Students Cafeteria
   Tandori chicken, chicken curry etc.
   ※ Halal dishes are not served every day, so check the date with the university in advance.
Bali Jasmin Café (Tosayamada branch)
   1106-1 Sano, Tosayamada-cho Kami-city TEL: 0887-52-9110
   Shop holiday: Thursday
   Open hours: Lunch (11:00-15:00)

Kochi Lifestyle Q&A : Bug Prevention

   Lots of bugs seem to appear in houses here in Kochi…please tell me how to prevent them from getting in!!
Q: Mosquitoes
A: Mosquitoes can become the carriers of infections so it is important to take precautions against them. Mosquito coils (katori-senko) have been used in Japan for many years and their nostalgic scent is associated with summer. There are other products, such as ones that omit electromagnetic waves which mosquitoes dislike, and make it difficult for them to go near them, and insect prevention sheets, which you hang out on the balcony, are also effective. All of these are possible to obtain at a home center or supermarket.

   Furthermore, if water gathers close to your balcony or porch (genkan) frequently clean it up to make it harder for mosquitoes to breed there.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

English Rakugo recital in Kochi by Kimochi

   Do you know Rakugo? It is a traditional Japanese entertainment. It is a combination of storytelling and seated comedy.Kimochi Honno, an English Rakugo Performer, will have a Rakugo Performance in English in Kochi! Soon, you can fully understand the experience of Rakugo.
   Saturday 22nd Jul.2017
   Open 9:30 Start 10:00 am (~11:30)
Ticket fee:
   Kochi-shi Obiyamachi 2-2-14 OKAMURA Obiyamachi BLDG. 5F
   ※Upstairs of the Starbucks Coffee
   ※50meters from the Hirome Market
   Additionally, we are going to have a lunch session with him at a restaurant after the recital. Why don't you come and meet him? If you come, please let me know in advance. Lunch will cost around 1,000 yen.
   Please call me or send me a short message, how many tickets you need, are you coming to the lunch, in advance to reserve your seats.
   And also keep this leaflet by your camera. Please get in touch with me again if you need to cancel your tickets.
   090-7783-3911 Hashimoto

Friday, June 23, 2017

Shikoku Kochi, Bakumatsu Restoration Exhibition

   March 4, 2017, saw the opening of a grand event involving the whole of Kochi Prefecture; “Shikoku Kochi, Bakumatsu Restoration Exhibition”. Many of you may have seen flags and fliers in various places across the prefecture, but did you know about the restoration exhibition? We really wanted the foreign community to hear about this event as well, so we decided to take it up as our topic for this issue.
Q1. What is this event about?
   Going back to the time of the Bakumatsu, the end of Edo Period (the latter half of the 19th century) many of the famous historical figures that emerged and who are still talked about today, came from the Tosa Domain (Kochi Prefecture), including Sakamoto Ryoma, Nakaoka Shintaro and Iwasaki Yataro. The exhibition “Shikoku Kochi, Bakumatsu Restoration Exhibition” helps people learn about Tosa’s wonderful food, nature, climate and culture which are connected to the era that these great figures nurtured.
Q2. Where and when is it being held?
   The first installment is from March 4, 2017 to March 31, 2018, and the second is scheduled to be held for a year starting April 1, 2018. There are two main venues; “Kochi Castle Museum of History” and “Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum (at present, with the renewal of the current building and the construction of the new building, the grand opening is scheduled for spring of 2018 in time for the second installment)” and the sub-venue is “Kochi Tabi Hiroba”. Additionally, exhibitions of valuable historical materials are being held in 20 other local venues such as historical and cultural facilities related to the warriors of the Bakumatsu Restoration.
   This time the CIRs and KIA staff went and visited “Kochi Castle Museum of History” and the places connected to “Iwasaki Yataro” and “Nakaoka Shintaro” who were alive during the Bakumatsu era.

Kochi Castle Museum of History

You can see a sweeping view of Kochi Castle from the 3rd floor lobby
   This museum opened this March, coinciding with the start of the Shikoku Kochi, Bakumatsu Restoration Exhibition. Surely many people have noticed the uniquely designed building located at the foot of Kochi Castle. There are many set ups that will let children and adults learn about Kochi’s history and culture through the exhibit items! Special exhibit items of the Bakumatsu Restoration Exhibition and planned exhibitions are also on display.

The ambition of Iwasaki Yataro, the unprecedented eccentric of Tosa

   Iwasaki Yataro was born in Aki City, Inokuchi. He was one of the most prominent businessmen of  he end of the Edo Period and built the foundation for the Mitsubishi Group. It is said that in 1854, in order to let Yataro go study in Edo, his parents raised the necessary funds by selling a mountain that had been passed down for generations. It’s a very brave act even in this day and age, and it became clear why Yataro had developed such a bold personality. In 1855, Yataro returned home because his father had unfortunately gotten hurt. When he went to the magistrate’s office to lodge a complaint against the village headman who had injured his father, he drew graffiti on the walls and was thrown into jail. His experience in jail stirred up his rebellious spirit (perhaps he was hot blooded by nature), and he changed course from studying to be a Confucian scholar. This event made him decide to go into business for the Tosa domain and for the country. Additionally, it is said that he met a merchant and was able to learn sales tactics. This is a perfect example of the saying from the classic Chinese text Tao Te Ching, “Disaster is that upon which good fortune depends, and good fortune is that in which disaster lurks.” After this, Yataro enrolled in Yoshida Toyo※’s Shaolin cram school, became friends with Goto Shojiro※, and was mentored by Yoshida Toyo as he began his new life in business.

Nakaoka Shintaro- an ally of Sakamoto Ryoma

   Sakamoto Ryoma※’s ally Nakaoka Shintaro※ was also one of the heroes of the Bakumatsu who drove the era forward. The Nakaoka Shintaro Museum is surrounded by green mountains and is an ideal location for getting a feel for Shintaro’s way of life. Taking a bus along the mountain roads, there is a sense of calmness as if you’ve gone back in time.

Foreigners working hard in Kochi

   Introducing two of the ※trainees working in agriculture from the Northern Philippine Province of  Benguet, with which Kochi Prefecture has a sister city relationship.
(※ The system of taking on trainees, for which the period of training is a maximum of 3 years, aims to transfer skills, techniques and knowledge to developing countries, and to cooperate with their economic development. As of April 2016, approximately 920 trainees are contributing to industry (agriculture, fishing, industrial production, food manufacture etc.) within the prefecture and learning techniques on a daily basis.)
Q:What’s your daily life like?
A:“I work on a farm in Susaki City, cultivating, harvesting and packaging Chinese chives. I live in a dormitory and my friends and I often take it in turns to cook for each other. On my days off the other trainees, farmers and I plan events, such as holding traditional dances.”

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Kochi Performing Arts Festival2017 Artist in Residence2017&Performance - Papermoon Puppet Theatre 'Translucence'(Indonesia)

'Men of The Sea', by Papermoon Puppet Theatre
   Papermoon Puppet Theatre from Indonesia returns to the Museum of Art, Kochi after the first residency program in 2015. They will create and present a new work incorporating Tosa-original Washi paper in collaboration with Kochi-based local artists. They will entertain you with the hand-made puppets, dance and live music.

Monday, April 17, 2017

“Let’s get to know Japan!” ~Tosa Knife Crafting and Nankoku City Bus Tour~

   On May 27th, The Nankoku City International Association (NIA) is hosting a hands-on Tosa knife crafting workshop, and a bus tour visiting a horticultural park and Kokubunji temple, which is quite lively in the current pilgrimage season.
   Please apply after checking the itinerary and information below. The deadline for applications is May 15th.
   Additionally, participants are limited to persons of foreign nationality (they will have priority) and NIA members.
Event Details

5/27/2017 (Sat.)
Meeting Places and Departure Times:
8:20 at the Nankoku City Office, 8:30 at the Gomen JR station

Ending Location and Time (planned):
14:50 at the Gomen JR station, 15:00 at the Nankoku City Office

Workshop and Tour Locations:
Toyokuni Ltd. in Kameiwa, Nankoku City (knife crafting), Nishijima Horticultural Park, Kokubunji Temple

Participation Fee:
¥4,000 (blade and whetstone included, lunch not included)
Nishijima Horticultural Park. You may bring a lunch or buy one at the park.

Accident insurance coverage (date of birth required)
Number of Participants:

Application & Inquiry:
Ms. Nagano, NIA

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Architecture that co-exists with nature / Architect : Kengo Kuma

   Yusuhara, known as the “Kumo-no-Ue-no-Machi” (lit. “Town above the clouds”), has four buildings designed by world famous architect Kengo Kuma (as of March 2017). The buildings are characteristic in that they are built lavishly with wood from Yusuhara, and they harmonize well with the surrounding nature.

   The reason why Kengo Kuma came to design buildings in Yusuhara lies in Yusuhara-za, the only wooden theater house in Kochi. It is said that he was impressed by the efforts to preserve Yusuhara-za at the time, and he got interested in wooden architecture. He received a request from the town of Yusuhara, and starting with “Kumo-no-Ue-no-Hotel”, he built “Yusuhara Town Hall”, “Machinoeki Yusuhara”, and “Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum”. Also, Yusuhara Town Library and Welfare Facility are in the process of being built now.
Kumo-no-Ue-no-Hotel (Location: Tarogawa 3799-3)
   The rounded roof is constructed in the image of an airplane’s wing, and the design uses the concept of fusing together glass, wood, and water. The restaurant interior is made from wood as well, and it creates a comforting atmosphere. There is a Canadian staff member who can handle your requests in English as well as Japanese.

Makino Museum of Plants & People / Architect: Hiroshi Naito

Under the c-shaped overhang which stretches out gracefully
How Hiroshi Naito came to design the building
   This museum is dedicated to Dr. Tomitaro Makino, the plant scientist from Kochi who is often referred to as the “Father of Japanese Botany”. Located in Godaisan, Kochi City, the museum was built within the Makino Botanical Garden, and it is comprised of a main building and an exhibition hall.

Kochi Station / Architect: Hiroshi Naito

Kochi Station (South exit)
   JR Kochi station looks like an ordinary train station at first glance, but I was surprised to hear that the famous architect Hiroshi Naito designed it. The first thing you see when getting off from the streetcar / tram at Kochi station is the south side of the train station. It is made from v-shaped steel frames. The station is sometimes referred to as “whale dome” because of the way it looks like whale bones.

Kochi Life Q&A : Ohanami

   For Japanese people, Ohanami (lit. flower viewing) is associated with cherry blossoms. Let’s enjoy the Japanese culture of Ohanami this spring!
Q: When did the culture of Ohanami start?
A: The origin of Ohanami is said to have started in the Nara period (710-794 A.D.) when the imperial family went to view the plum blossom which had been introduced from China. In the Heian period (794-1185 A.D.) cherry blossoms started to become more popular than plum blossoms, and many poems about cherry blossoms remain from this era. It seems that as time passed, this custom spread to the warriors and the common people.