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.

Barbecuing along the Niyodo River

Kochi Prefectural CIR Han Jeonggyu
One way to enjoy summer
   One of the best ways to spend your summer is enjoying a barbecue! There are many popular places to barbecue in Kochi, such as Yasea Park (Yasu, Konan-shi), Yutorisuto Park Otoyo (Otoyo-cho), and the Shimanto River area, but this time we went to the Niyodo River area which is easily accessible from Kochi City. “Hakawa Park” (located on Route 33 near Niyodogawabashi) is one place where you can barbecue along the Niyodo River. It is a convenient location, located 10 minutes walking distance from JR “Hakawa Station” and 20 minutes from “Ino” tram stop, and also has a parking area right in front of the park. Entrance is also free.
Barbecue: The meat shop did everything
for us, including delivering it to us and
picking it up afterwards.

Smartphone Applications ②

   The world has become a convenient place. One can get a lot done just by using smartphone applications. Today, I will be introducing three applications that are useful even for people who have just arrived in Japan☆
• Japan Travel - Route, Map, JR (by Navitime Japan)
   This app does more than just telling you where to get on and off public transportation. It is a guide book in itself, with articles on the local region’s food, nature, culture, shopping, and more. You can also search for places using only their phone numbers! The most impressive thing about this app is how you can search for Free Wi-Fi, Information Centers, ATMs and more, even offline!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Fishing in Kochi

Kochi City CIR, TJ Yanagitsuru
   Fishing in Kochi probably conjures images of Ipponzuri-fishing for Katsuo, but did you know you can enjoy a vast array of other different types of fishing in Kochi?

   The Kuroshio sea current flows off of the Tosa coast, and many different types of fish inhabit the beautiful oceans. Kochi’s long coastline extends 713 kilometers from east to west, and in addition to the 88 fishing ports which dot the coastline, there are jetties, beaches, searocks, and anchored fishing rafts, resulting in innumerable places you can fish from. Anglers from outside of the prefecture make the long trek to Kochi, in order to enjoy this perfect fishing environment.
The boat we went on, the Roman 3-go.

Let’s go to Kochi City Central Wholesale Market!

By Kencho CIR, Teo Valerie
We went to find out about the market!
   The market was opened in 1930 and is the second oldest market in Japan. Fish caught in Kochi and foods from across the country are brought here, and make their way to the dinner tables of Kochi’s residents.
The most commonly caught fish in Kochi isn’t actually bonito!
   If you walk towards the ocean-facing side of the market, you can see where the unloading of fishing boats takes place. I’m sure many of you would think that because this is Kochi, the most common fish caught here would be bonito. However Kochi is not the number one prefecture in terms of catching bonito- it is just number one in terms of their consumption. The bonito eaten in Kochi primarily comes from Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Chiba Prefecture. So what is the most common fish handled at this market? The answer is tuna and alfonsino. Incredibly, approx. 290 tons of tuna and approx. 200 tons of alfonsino are handled here every year, with other main types of fish including bonito, common dolphinfish, blue mackerel and the Japanese amberjack.

Going to the Open Market Day!

By Kochi City CIR Xu Lin
   On the first Saturday of each month an “open market day” is held at Kochi City Central Wholesale Market. March 3, marked its 99th time and I went to have a look around with the staff from KIA.
Bidding for tuna at the fresh fish auction.

Smartphone Applications

   The world has become a convenient place. One can get a lot done just by using smartphone applications. Today, I will be introducing 3 applications that are useful even for people who have just arrived in Japan☆
VoiceTra (Voice Translator) (by NICT) and Google Translate
   Both applications provide impressive interpretations when given sentences of reasonable lengths.
Japan Life Guide (by CLAIR)
   Information on 17 topics of life in Japan written in an easy to understand way in 14 languages! The app will also notify users when an earthquake over seismic intensity of 5 occurs in Japan. It is probably not an app that you will use daily, but it will sure come in handy if you need an encyclopedia of sorts!
Requesting for redelivery on LINE for Kuroneko Yamato
   If you need a redelivery for Kuroneko Yamato, doing it using LINE is the easiest way! All you have to do is to add the Yamato account as a friend and register yourself as a Kuroneko member for free. You will then be able to receive notifications on the estimated date of arrival, and for failed deliveries. You can also request for redeliveries or change the date of delivery before it even happens. Although this service is only provided in Japanese, other than the initial set-up, the usage of this application should only require basic Japanese.