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AJET News & Events, Arts & Culture, Lifestyle, Community

OCTOBER 2015

shinzo abe’s speech: finding balance unisex autumn essentials ghost stories to keep an ear out for sonic boom: the sounds of summer SONIC uncover okonomiyaki secrets The Japanese Lifestyle & Culture Magazine Written by the International Community in Japan


CREDITS & CONTENTS Head Editor

Graphic Design & Layout

Corporate Advertising

Rajeev Rahela

Patrick Finn

Jared Oliva

Section Editors

Assistant Designers

Public Relations

Alexandra Brueckner Hiroshi Fukushima Elena Galindo Erica Grainger Leah Gray Rayna Healy Cameron Joe Pia Peterson Margaret Pickard Mira Richard-Fioramore Timothy Saar Jennifer Sanchez Becca Simas Joyce Wan Sabrina Zirakzadeh

Mathew Cartwright Hannah Killoh Amy Koller

Jasmin Lau

Cover Photo Rachel Arredondo

TABLE OF CONTENTS Photo Rachel Arredondo

Additional Photos Rachel Arredondo Siobhan Bell Alexandra Brueckner Alan Curr Sterling Diesel Elena Galindo Erica Grainger Miki Hayayama Rayna Healy Kimberly Hughes Daniel Kenney Megan Korling Rachel Paterson Margaret Pickard Pixabay Rajeev Rahela Jesse Ramnanansingh Mira Richard-Fioramore Michele Richardson Paul Sheen Wikicommons

SOCIAL MEDIA Keith Lawton

Copyediting Thea Felmore Liam Nolan

Contributors Siobhan Bell Susan Bhagan Alan Curr Miki Hayayama Kimberly Hughes Daniel Kenney Carson McBain Rachel Paterson Michele Richardson Paul Sheen

This magazine contains original photos used with permission, as well as free-use images. All included photos are property of the author unless otherwise specified. If you are the owner of an image featured in this publication believed to be used without permission, please contact the Head of Graphic Design and Layout, Patrick Finn, at patrick.finn@ajet.net. This edition, and all past editions of AJET Connect, can be found online at AJET.net here. Read Connect online and follow us on ISSUU.

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Letter from the Editor

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News & Events Event Calendar

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In the News

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Prime Minister Abe’s WWII Speech

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Arts & Culture Autumn Osusume

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Hoichi the Earless

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The Sounds of Summer Sonic

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Lifestyle Vegetable of the Month

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Halloween Pumpkin Pie

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The Secret to Okonomiyaki

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Breakfast of Champions, Tsukiji-Style

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Escape From the Mainland

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Community Kakeroma Sea Kayak Marathon

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The Land of the Rising Bat

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International Queer Women’s Community 42 Contributing to Connect

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Hello! Welcome to the October issue of Connect! The changes in the seasons are happening, and we are being greeted by new hues throughout the land! Living in the countryside myself, there’s nothing more I love then watching the hills that surround me in burning shades of reds and yellows. How was your Silver Week spent? I hope filled with adventure! Tell us all about it right here. I’m glad to see that more and more people are engaging with us on our social media platforms, and we love hearing from you. So keep those posts coming in! With Halloween ‘round the corner, we’d love to hear what you have planned. Winter is on the way for some of us here in the mountains, and seemingly not at all for others down in the south. Either way, make the most of Autumn’s delights; pumpkin recipes to make the most of the harvest season; some essentials to keep you feeling and looking your best; and ghost stories to cuddle up to one another and tell. Our team has worked themselves down to ensure you some great content this month, so please share it with all your loved ones! For those of you who have just arrived, or have done so in the last few months, welcome to Japan, I hope you’re settling well and please make the most of your time here. You can keep up to date with our events calendar! Have a great month ahead, and let all the pumpkin-eating begin!

Rajeev Rahela Head Editor 2nd-year Gifu ALT

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PHOTO SUBMISSIONS interested in submitting a cover photo for the next issue? CLICK here for more information and to submit your photos!

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NEWS & EVENTS NEWS EDITOR connect.news@ajet.net Margaret Pickard Going to Korea to eat delicious food. And forget how cold it’s starting to get in Hokkaido. EVENTS EDITOR connect.events@ajet.net Jennifer Sanchez From the Blue Forest to the Big City! Rachel Arredondo

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News & Events Event Calendar

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In the News

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Prime Minister Abe’s WWII Speech

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EVENTS CALENDAR OCTOBER - NOVEMBER

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Block 2 Block 5 Block 3

Block 6 Block 9

Block 4

Block 10 Block 7 Block 8 Block 11

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What’s a block? Click here!


1 10th Anniversary Sapporo International Film Festival 7-12 October 2015 Check website for a full list of venues in Sapporo, Hokkaido Website Takko Beef Festival 3-4 October 2015 Soyumura 229 Ski Land, Kawadainokami-66-39, Takko, Sannohe-gun, Aomori Website Kirintanpo Matsuri 10-12 October 2015 Odate Jukai Dome,1-1 Kamino Tokadai, Odate, Akita Website Hiwatarisai 15 October 2015 Ontakesan Mitaka Shinmeisha, Iwate Website

OCTOBER 2015

2 Michinoku Yosakoi Matsuri 10-11 October 2015 Sendai Shimin Hiroba, Sendai City, Miyagi Website Hanagasa Odori Every Saturday until 31 October 2015 Ginzan Hot Springs, Obanazawa-shi, Yamagata Website Ishikawa Town Music Festival 24 October 2015 1-2 Sekine, Ishikawamachi, Fukushima Website

3 Tsuchiura All Japan Fireworks Competition 03 October 2015 Sakuragawa Hotori, 13 Sanoko, Tsuchiura-shi, Ibaraki Website Shuki Taisai Grand Autumn Festival 16-17 October 2015 2301 Sannai, Nikko-shi, Tochigi Website Tokorozawa Festival 2015 10-11 October 2015 1-14-5 Kusunokidai, Tokorozawa-shi, Saitama Website

Night Fox Festival 11 October 2015 Kitsune Hiroba in Tochigahara Shrine, Tochigaharaurushijima, Takayanagi machi, Kashiwazaki City Website

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4 NTT Triathlon Japan Cup 11 October 2015 Daiba Station, Tokyo Website The 17th Fujisawa citizen Festival Shonandai Fantasia 2015 24-25 October 2015 East Exit Shonandai Station, Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa Website 2015 Fuji Kawaguchi-ko (Lake) Autumn Leaves Festival 31 October 2015 - 23 November 2015 The center of Fujikawaguchiko Town’s Kawaguchi area, Yamanashi Website

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Fukui Cosmos Festival 11 October 2015 Miyanoshita public hall, Egamicho, Fukui-shi, Fukui Website

Shiga Festival of Food 10-11 October 2015 2-40 Hamamachi, Otsu-shi, Shiga Website

Takayama Matsuri 9-10 October 2015 78 Sakura-machi, Takayama-shi, Gifu Website

Kurama no Hi Matsuri 22 October 2015 1073 Kurama-Honmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto Website Hyogo Food Festival 24-25 October 2015 877-1 Tamaki, Wadayamacho, Asago City Website Nada no Kenka Matsuri 14-15 October 2015 Shirahama-cho Ko, Himejishi, Hyogo 399 Shirahama-cho Ko, Himeji City, Hyogo Website


7 Ueno Tenjin Shrine Festival 23-25 October 2016 Around Ueno Tenjingu Shrine, Misuji-machi, Igashi, Mie Prefecture Website Tengu Festival 15-16 October 2015 Saiko-ji Temple, 2-5-27, Minoo, Minoo-shi, Osaka Website Outdoor Yoga Festa 24-25 October 2015 1 Chome Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka Website Shika-no-Tsunokiri 10-12 October 2015 Roku-en (deer enclosure) near Kasuga Taisha, Nara Pref. Website

8 Niihama Taiko Festival 16-18 October 2015 Yamane Park, Niihama, Ehime Pref. Website

9 Burger Festa 11-12 October 2015 1484-1 Kugo Hoki-cho, Saihaku-gun, Tottori Website 10th Okayama Ramen Exposition 2015 3-4 October 2015 Ouchida, Kita-ku Okayamashi, Okayama Website Saijo Sake Matsuri 10-11 October 2015 Saijo, Higashi-hiroshima, Hiroshima Website Iwakuni Matsuri 17-18 October 2015 1 Chome−1−33 Minamiiwakunimachi, Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Website

Itakiso-jinja Shrine Festival 15 October 2015 Itakiso Shrine, Wakayamashi, Wakayama Website

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Hakata Okunchi Festival 23-24 October 2015 Kushida Shrine, Hakata-shi, Fukuoka Website

28th National Yatsushiro Fireworks Show 17 October 2015 Ryokuchi , Do-machi, Kumagawa, Yatsushiro-shi, Kumamoto Website

Saga International Festa Month 3 October 2015 Saga-shoko building, Saga City Website Nagasaki Kunchi Festival 7-9 October 2015 Suwa Shrine, Kaminishiyama-machi, Nagasaki Website Beppu Dance Festa 2015 25 October 2015 Beppu Park, Beppu-shi, Oita Website

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19th Nobeoka Tenkaichi Noh 10 October 2015 131-5 Higashi Honkouji, Nobeoka-shi, Miyazaki Website National Cultural Festival 31 October 2015 to 15 November 2015 All municipalities, Kagoshima Pref. Website Nagasaki Kunchi Festival 7-9 October 2015 18-15 Kaminishiyamamachi, Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki Website


IN THE NEWS OCTOBER August 21 A man is arrested in the murders of a 13-year old girl and 12-year old boy in Osaka. The man, Koji Yamada, previously served a 12-year sentence for robbery and confinement of seven young victims and was just released last fall. 13-year old Natsumi Hirata was found August 13, her body wrapped in duct tape and covered in over 30 stab wounds. Police found the body of 12-year old Ryoto Hoshino a few days later in a nearby mountainous area after following the suspect’s silver van. The two middle school students vanished after wandering the streets of Osaka late at night on August 12. (Source) (Source)

September 1 Tokyo finally buckles to mounting criticism of its proposed 2020 Olympics logo and announces it will begin the search again for a new marker. Designer Kenjiro Sano faced scrutiny after the logo was found to bear a striking resemblance to a Belgian theater logo, both of which are stylized T’s. Sano was found to have plagiarized his designs for tote bags for beverage-giant Suntory, a discovery which may have pushed Tokyo to end its attempts to defend the Olympic logo. (Source)

September 2 Netflix comes to Asia as the California-based company makes its popular video-streaming service available in Japan. Newcomers on the island country are treated to a one-month free trial before picking a service plan, offered at

the same price as in the US. Netflix aims to lure Japanese customers with an impressive selection of Japanese movies, anime, and dramas, which represent 40 percent of its offered content (up from the usual 20 percent locally-produced media is limited to). (Source)

September 10 Record-setting rainfall across Tochigi, Miyagi, and Ibaraki prefectures leads to 3 deaths, dozens of missing, and forces residents of Joso, a city just north of Tokyo, to evacuate. More than 550 mm of rain fell in a 24-hour period on Wednesday, swelling the Kinugawa River to the point of running over its banks and reaching residences up to 5 miles away. The Self-Defense Force has been relentlessly running rescue operations, plucking stranded residents from roofs as flood waters surge. (Source) (Source)

September 11 Japan’s health ministry reports the number of Japanese centenarians has topped 60,000, a new record for the rapidly aging country. Predating this announcement, the government announced in August plans to nix its annual program of presenting silver sake cups valued at 80,000 yen each to new centenarians due to expenses after 2014 saw 30,000 people turn a century old. Currently, over a quarter of Japan’s population is 65 years old or older, and that figure is expected to exceed 33% by 2035. (Source) (Source) Sterling Diesel

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PRIME MINSTER ABE’S WWII SPEECH DID IT DO ENOUGH? MARGARET PICKARD (HOKKAIDO)

Prime Minister (PM) Shinzo Abe’s speech writers had their hands full when it came to writing the Japanese leader’s August 14th speech. His words, marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender officially ending WWII, had to accomplish two seemingly contradictory tasks: please his nationalist supporters who have had enough of apologies while placating those in China and South Korea who expected new ones. The tone Abe’s speech struck played down the middle as much as it possibly could. Abe acknowledged the suffering of “comfort women” (many of whom were Korean) but stopped short of acknowledging the Japanese government’s role in forcing them into the front-line military brothels (1). The Prime Minister repeated the words “aggression” and “colonial rule” used in Former PM Murayama’s landmark address on the 50th anniversary, but declined to add any further apologies himself (1). But, while expressing his “utmost grief” for the atrocities of the war and his respect for the tolerance the world has shown a post-war Japan, he added a new line absent from previous speeches. Noting now that over 80 percent of the population was born after the war, the somber-looking leader urged that future generations should not be “predestined to apologize” (2). Sources (1) Abe Stops Short of New Apology (2) Transcript of Abe’s Speech Margaret Pickard, Wikicommons

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BELOW: A family prays at the Cornerstone of Peace in Okinawa. The memorial, erected on the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII, is inscribed with the names of all those who died during battles on Okinawa during the war, regardless of nationality.


Reactions from the JET Community Connect Magazine reached out and asked readers for their reactions to PM Shinzo Abe’s August 15th speech. Below are the responses from five readers. What is your opinion of PM Abe’s August 15th speech on the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender? It was a nice speech but it’s just a collection of words if there are no actions to back it up. Vicky (Hokkaido)

I feel that PM Abe’s speech meets the sentiments of not only Japanese people, but of people worldwide whose countries have committed regrettable acts during war time. I feel these things should not be forgotten, but we cannot continue to blame an entire country of people for something that happened in the past. Madison (Hokkaido)

I have mixed feelings. I appreciate the expression of grief expressed over the events of WWII. As an American living in Japan, I understand that it can sometimes be uncomfortable or stressful to be consistently confronted with acts of history in which you, personally, had no involvement, but that for others, you represent as a citizen of the country involved. As much as I sometimes feel that I do not want to be held responsible for brutal acts of war such as the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I do acknowledge that they happened. If my apologizing can heal wounds as opposed to deepen rifts, I am happy to do that. Anonymous (Yamagata)

I think it was well-worded. Anonymous (Toyama)

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE SPEECH?

I think it was interesting to say the least. Abe is receiving a lot of back lash with claims that it was not sincere and that he did not truly admit and apologize for Japan’s actions in the Pacific War. He was expected to follow the 60 year anniversary speech, but did not. However, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing... I do have issues with the fact that Abe, and therefore Japan as a whole, is not coming to terms with and openly admitting their horrible actions in the war. Specifically involving comfort women. It appears that they are trying to avoid any conflict and move on… besides the 1995 speech, Japan has not truly admitted or apologized for their actions in the Pacific War. Maybe that is why the international community is so tough on Japan. It is something that has been constantly avoided. Anonymous (Hokkaido)

Do you agree with Abe that future generations should not be obligated to apologize? I agree, but in order for that to be possible there needs to be a sincere apology now along with appropriate action and movement for it to be believable. Teach the unbiased history in Japanese textbooks, start to mend the relationships with our Asian neighbors and rethink the idea of rearmament. Vicky (Hokkaido)

I completely agree with PM Abe. I feel that his statement applies to all countries, and not just Japan. It does not make sense to hold a whole country and all its people accountable for something that happened before their time. Even then, it is wrong to hold people accountable for something they personally did not do. Whether or not the person was alive during the time, I do not think they should apologize unless they directly committed the act and feel remorse for doing so. Madison (Hokkaido)

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We cannot forget as a culture the atrocities committed by previous generations, to forget history is to be doomed to repeat the mistakes of those who have gone before us. While I understand that it can be uncomfortable or unsavory to apologize for something that you do not personally feel involved in, taking responsibility for the negative parts of one’s culture as well as the positive is crucial to maintaining a healthy balance, both within that culture and in the world. If I as an American am occasionally asked to apologize for the actions of my country in WWII, in the name of moving forward I’m happy to do that without argument. I would expect the same from Japan and any other country. To refuse to apologize is not helpful to the healing process. Anonymous (Yamagata)

Yes. The alternative holds the entire country to a standard of nothing more than playing out their predecessors’ apologies. This will lead to the significance of the more relevant (ie. those closer to the time) apologies being diluted over the course of coming generations. Apologies are in order, but from those responsible for their actions

Yes, I do. But it’s difficult. War is war. Every country makes stupid and awful decisions for selfish reasons during war. But do we still ask the German government to make an apology every 10 years for its atrocities on the Jewish population? When in the last 20 years or so has the United States been forced to make a formal apology to Japan for its nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? …So then why is Japan the only one faced to make such an action on a constant basis? …It has been 70 years since the end of the war. And while there are still people who are alive who personally experienced such atrocities, they are being replaced by a new generation…While apologizing and making amends is important, constantly holding such grudges and requests, especially for future generations, continues to generate animosity between people of different countries and even people within the same country. Anonymous (Hokkaido)

Anonymous (Toyama)

But, while expressing his “utmost grief” for the atrocities of the war and his respect for the tolerance the world has shown a post-war Japan, he added a new line absent from previous speeches. Noting now that over 80 percent of the population was born after the war, the somber-looking leader urged that future generations should not be “pre-destined to apologize” (2). HAVe your own opinion? Share it with us on Twitter.

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Studying with the University of Birmingham The University of Birmingham’s Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics has received national recognition for its excellence in research and teaching. The programmes have been running for nearly twenty years and during this time we have built up an excellent reputation. n Our expert staff will be available to support

you throughout your studies n We run Summer Schools every year in Japan,

MA Applied Linguistics This programme is for: n Those who are interested in the application of language research to language pedagogy n Teachers of English wishing to upgrade their professional standing The programme covers a range of topics, including: corpus linguistics; sociolinguistics; lexis; functional grammar; spoken and written discourse; multi-modal communication. You also have the option to study some of the topics associated with the MA in TESOL. MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) This programme is for: n Practising teachers of English as a second or foreign language The programme encourages you to use the concepts and theories that you encounter during your course of study in your own classroom. It covers a range of topics including: language teaching methodology; second language acquisition; syllabus and materials; pedagogic grammar; ELT management; sociolinguistics; lexis; teaching young learners; testing; classroom research and research methods.

Korea and here in Birmingham n You will have your own personal tutor to help

you through the programme n All your learning materials are online n You will have access to the University’s

extensive online library Our distance learning Masters programmes are designed to allow you to develop personally and professionally at your own pace. We offer a choice of start dates, so you can begin your studies at a time that suits – February, April, July or October. As the assessment is identical to the campusbased programmes, it is possible to choose to complete part of the programme on campus at the University of Birmingham.

For more information contact one of our local representatives: Japan: Andy Lawson – a.lawson.1@bham.ac.uk Korea: Joanne McCuaig – j.mccuaig@bham.ac.uk Switzerland: Suzanne Oswald – s.oswald@bham.ac.uk UK and rest of world: Beverley Stubbs – b.stubbs.1@bham.ac.uk

www.birmingham.ac.uk/pg-elal OCTOBER 2015

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ARTS & CULTURE CULTURE EDITORS connect.culture@ajet.net Rayna Healy I managed to get stung by a jellyfish AND build a shelf using a Japanese instruction manual this month. Bring it on. Joyce Wan FASHION EDITORS connect.fashion@ajet.net Elena Galindo Currently very happily sandwiched between Silver Week and Fashion Week, while dreaming of cashmere. Erica Grainger Who, What, Wear? Off to Tokyo Fashion Week in October with Elena and packing’s a minefield of decisions! ENTERTAINMENT EDITORS connect.entertainment@ajet.net Timothy Saar Oh, you need a quote? Sorry, one sec’. Need to watch the Bloodborne DLC trailer...one more time... Sabrina Zirakzadeh A haiku for the season: Autumn has arrived. Four shows in as many weeks… Who needs money, right? Rachel Arredondo

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OCTOBER 2015

Autumn Osusume

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Hoichi the Earless

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The Sounds of Summer Sonic

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AUTUMN OSUSUME The changing seasons mean it’s time for many of us to rev up our beauty regime—a daunting task in a country with such an incredibly vast and varied beauty market. Here, JETs and non-JETs alike recommend their favorite beauty products for autumn. All of the recommended products, or osusume, can be found in Japan, so why not try some out for yourself?

hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Shu Uemura Dualfit Pressed Powder BB Mineral Guard Filter Maybelline ¥1400 “It gives great overall coverage while evening out any redness or blemishes without feeling like there’s too much on your face.” Michele Richardson Shizuoka

enlighten us with your osusume wisdom

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Shu Uemura ¥3200 “This powder gives a light pearly glow to skin. I use it as a top coat when wearing foundation and it helps protect me from the winter dry air and disguises humidityinduced shine in summer.” Siobhan Bell Tokyo @mirukut Instagram and Twitter

Bioré body wash Bioré ¥700 “I like Bioré because it’s gentle on your skin, keeps it soft and makes you feel fresh.” Paul Sheen Ibaraki


lip balm for everyone!

Setcure Hair Cream Lebel ¥1500 “A fantastic creamy lotion with Beeswax and Camellia Oil that nourishes your hair and protects it from humidity and Japanese seasonal changes.” Erica Grainger Fukushima

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YAY??!?

Gold Eye Shadow Liz Lisa ¥1800 “The gold shimmer is beautiful and stays evenly across the whole eyelid for up to 3 days. Even surviving the shower and without retreating into the eyelid crease.”

Blistex Medlip Blistex ¥500 “A unisex miracle balm for dry lips! Available at your local pharmacy.” Erica Grainger Fukushima

Rachel Paterson Okayama

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Infurabon 化粧水 (keshousui) toner and 乳液 (nyuueki) emulsion SANA ¥600-800 each “Don’t let the cooler air dry out your skin! Apply this SANA toner with a cotton pad and follow with a dab of the emulsion for longlasting moisture that will leave your skin feeling refreshed.” Elena Galindo Shizuoka

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Stay-On Balm Rouge

Elegance Face Powder La Poudre Haute Nuance ¥15000 “The best face powder ever!” Miki Hayayama Tokyo

share your favorite products with us!

Canmake ¥500-600 “This balm serves up some severe moisture and comes in a myriad of subtle work-appropriate colors.” Elena Galindo Shizuoka Siobhan Bell, Elena Galindo, Erica Grainger, Miki Hayayama, Rachel Paterson, Michele Richardson, Paul Sheen


HOICHI THE EARLESS RAYNA HEALY (SHIMANE)

Steps stacked steeply, dimly lit by the glow of candles, lead precariously to a temple overlooking a mountainous valley. The temple was overf lowing with people, sitting on their knees beneath ornate golden dragons, handpainted ceilings, and large scrolls with a big, confusedlooking man painted onto them. I took my seat feeling like the man on the scrolls, confused and a little on edge about what the corners of the temple hid. A ghost story was being told tonight. This would be my first encounter with the rare, evil ghosts that roam Japan. As someone who is a grade-A scaredy cat, I was fighting the temptation to run back down the steps—which likely would have led to a mountainside tumble. I sat cross legged as the lights dimmed and a priest, behind a white sheet,

began chanting an ominous prelude to the ghost story “Mimi-Nashi-Hoichi” or Hoichi the Earless. To read the full story, click here. Candles were lit in bamboo rods, which cast long shadows across the room. The chanting stopped and the trio performing the ghost story emerged from behind the white sheet. Three beautiful, young women took their places onstageone in front of an electronic piano doing sound effects, one behind a microphone in charge of music, and the final with a white book bound in Japanese paper, poised to tell the story. A relic of a projector sat proudly on a wooden stand. It displayed an image of a choppy sea floating with fiery orbs onto a large white sheet. The projector used old slides with antiquated paintings to

depict the ghost story. The storytellers sat eerily in the shadows behind the colorful light. Hoichi, our protagonist, was a blind minstrel who was exceptionally talented at performing the story of the Hieke people and their untimely death. Poor because of his unlucrative profession, he lived with a priest in a temple. One night, a samurai swooped onto the scene with a thunderous yell. As he called to Hoichi, the presentday temple echoed with ghostly yelps and the heavy clatter of samurai footprints thanks to the piano. Hoichi was ushered to the house of the samurai’s master, where a large audience listened to his performance. It generated a frenzied, grief-stricken response. Preternatural yelps bounced around the temple walls,

preparing for the performance

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off the golden dragons and audience members, putting the listener in the shoes of the blind protagonist, unaware of who his mysterious audience was. As a non-Japanese speaker, the confusion of Hoichi resonated strongly with me. I was relying only on the deft intonations of the performers to discern the intentions of each character. I was hooked on each indistinguishable word, focusing on the auditory mood and deft paintings projected on the white sheet to determine the plot’s meaning. Hoichi’s audience insisted that he continue to return and perform the grim saga. On the second night, though, the priest noticed Hoichi’s absence and became worried. So the next night, he sent two men to trail the minstrel. They found Hoichi playing his biwa in the rainy graveyard of the Hieke people, with orbs of fire representing devilish souls all around him. They extricated Hoichi, dragging him back to the priest. The priest wrote sacred texts all over Hoichi’s body to render him invisible to the ghosts who would undoubtedly harm him. Hoichi’s invisibility would be compromised if he moved or made any noise. He sat quite still on his veranda when the Samurai came to gather him on the fourth night. But the samurai could not find him. Unfortunately, no holy text had been written upon Hoichi’s ears by some oversight. The samurai came across the ears floating in the night. He tore them off, while poor Hoichi sat, as still 24

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and silent as possible. The ears were delivered to the Hieke master along with the message that Hoichi could no longer play because his biwa because all that was left of him was a pair of ears. A final slide appeared showing Hoichi with a bandaged head in the lap of the priest who saved him. Hoichi, although still healing, was on the precipice of fame due to his otherworldly musical and oratorical talent. The story ended with the happy proclamation that Hoichi would become a cherished minstrel across all of Japan. The lights came on in the temple and the trio of performers took a bow, looking much less ghostly under the florescent lights and entirely too chic to be performing such an ominous story. A question and answer portion began and the cheerful disposition of the three was in sharp contrast to their haunting story. With the help of a translator, I spoke with the main storyteller after the show. A long time lover of ghost stories by Lafcadio Hearn, she particularly treasures Hoichi’s legend. She figures that if it struck a chord with Hearn, it must be a story that’s meaning can transcend cultural boundaries. As was heard in their performance, the auditory aspect of the story was extremely important, even more acute through the blind protagonist. Hearing, she explained, is an important part of the Japanese identity. Being Japanese means the common soundtrack of bamboo swaying in the wind

and overwhelming choruses of locusts in summer time. These sounds shape Japanese individuals, every year and moment, as they experience the world around them. Because of that, she explained, sounds shape the collective Japanese identity down to the tiniest details of daily life. Hearn, a foreigner, seemed to really grasp the importance of the sense of hearing in Japan and through his transcription, was able to transmit it to the rest of the world. It was Hearn’s translation that inspired her to perform the story using such a stimulating auditory experience. The legend, part otherworldly, part history, and deeply cultural, was the perfect ghost story, even for the less courageous of hearts. It was a moving experience that was sharply unexpected and full of dichotomy. There was a temple as ancient as the mountains within which young, beautiful women, performed a haunting story. An old projector paired with an electronic piano helped transport each member of the audience into the rainy graveyard with Hoichi. These contrasts added to the unpredictable nature of the ghost story.


Leaving the temple, back down the steep, candlelit steps, I debriefed with another ALT. “Did you understand what they said about the dress rehearsal?” She asked. When I assured her that I can’t understand anything that doesn’t involve the word “Oishii,” she explained. The previous night the trio had recorded a video of the dress rehearsal in the temple. When they watched the video, a staunch, ghostly figure was apparent in the film. After some debate, it was decided that it was an old priest from the temple, a man who had built parts of the old projector and who had decorated the temple with his own beautiful scrolls and calligraphy. He had always been a fan of Hoichi’s story and a proactive artist. From the video footage, it seems that he sat in awe, like the rest of us, enjoying the hauntingly beautiful retelling of Hoichi’s story. Hoichi, a fellow orator who loved transmitting old stories through musical performances, was ample inspiration for the three women who were responsible for a captivating performance that night. Luckily for us modern listeners and storytellers, we all managed to keep our ears attached firmly to our heads. Sources (1) Wikipedia (2) The Story of Mimi-NashiHoichi Rayna Healy, Wikicommons

writing holy texts on hoichi

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THE SOUNDS OF SUMMER SONIC DANIEL KENNEY (OKAYAMA) Summer music festivals have a lot to offer. You can pay exorbitant prices for water. You can fight off heat stroke with a jaunty hat or pirateesque bandana. You can see a lot of varying types of skin. Yes, the summer music festival has it all, and when I lived in the U.S., I made it a priority to go to the ones that were kind enough to pass through my hometown. I still make it to one summer music festival a year, and that festival is Summer Sonic, a two-day festival in midAugust that is simultaneously held in Osaka (where I go) and Tokyo. Summer Sonic is at once very similar and vastly different than my experiences back in the States. Read on to find out whether or not it sounds like your particular red SOLO cup of tea.

Basics Summer Sonic tends to pull in big names from varied genres of music. Top 40, R&B, hard rock, alternative, and more are all represented. The acts are dispersed across four different stages: Flower (smallest acts), Sonic (mid-level acts), Mountain (fairly big names), and Ocean (headlining acts and particularly potent flavors of the month). Each stage tends to have a fair mix of genres playing on it as well, especially the Ocean stage. My first year at Summer Sonic had me watching John Legend, The Smashing Pumpkins, Mr. Children, and Muse at the Ocean stage. This year I hit all the stages, seeing Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Mono Eyes, Babymetal. Marilyn Manson, and the Manic

Street Preachers. No matter what you’re into, chances are you’ll find something you like. Atmosphere One of the most important factors in any event is the atmosphere. Previous music festivals I have attended have all been rock-centered, on the west coast of the U.S.A, and on the smaller side. So, I am used to a few things: fierce crowds, aggressive mosh pits, crowd surfing, occasional f lashing, and smuggled beverages. Summer Sonic is a different experience, but not negatively so. Wearing a band’s T-shirt to their show

patrick Finn’s staff pick 水曜日のカンパネラ 水曜 日のカンパネ ラ’s electronic quirky rapping is a breath of fresh air. I highly recommend the PV for 桃太郎. Momotaro on acid.

a rare, subdued kyary

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was not looked down on, and even encouraged. A mosh pit happened, but it involved a bunch of 40-ish Japanese men, everyone was all smiles, and everyone bowed and thanked each other for their time afterward. Marilyn Manson tried to do his shockrock shtick and ended up dancing with a giant panda. I know all that sounds like what an American teenager would say if they were asked what a Japanese concert would be like, but it all happened. I still don’t quite believe it, and I was there!

aggressively wholesome, and without incident. I realize “wholesome” may not be a trait one looks for in a music festival, but it is delightful if you are just there for the music.

In essence, the Summer Sonic crowd is willing to do whatever they believe is required of them, with the energy of a high school pep rally. There wasn’t much crowd surfing or many illicit substances, although a couple of bras were thrown on stage at the request of Marilyn Manson. Alcohol f lowed freely, but nary a fight broke out. Aside from someone screaming, “Kawaii!” when Kyary Pamyu Pamyu wiped some sweat from her face, Summer Sonic has been

Summer Sonic is a marked improvement over that. There were all kinds of drinks available by every stage and a rather large area designated entirely for food and drink. There was the standard summer Japanese festival stuff, as well as Hawaiian BBQ, Indian curry, cheese steaks, and more. It was as pricey as one would expect, but not bad. I downed a cheese steak and some curry and naan this year, and was quite satisfied. I also downed quite a few mojitos,

Concessions I travel light to these shows, so I appreciate good concession stands. Food at most festivals back home tends to be standard carnival stuff: pizza slices here, a hamburger there, some soggy fries to go along with it for an extra two dollars.

marilyn manson and death panda

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which necessitated a 2,000 yen expenditure in water, but it was worth it. Final thoughts “It was worth it,” is how I feel every time I go to Summer Sonic. Being able to connect to people from all walks of life through unlikely shared musical tastes is something I find extremely worthwhile. Being able to do that in an easy-going, energetically courteous atmosphere is a huge bonus. So, as long as I can bear the physical and monetary cost of Summer Sonic, I’ll be making the trip to Osaka every August. I hope the giant panda comes back next year. Martial artist, international gourmand, and published writer, Daniel Kenney is now technically all of those. He also works as a Native English Teacher with the Kurashiki Board of Education in Okayama. You can follow him on Twitter @dklikeweb to see if he can tweet something interesting on a daily basis. Daniel Kenney

the silent disco

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LIFESTYLE FOOD EDITORS connect.food@ajet.net Alexandra Brueckner With every leaf that turns red, my 紅葉-loving heart sings a little more loudly. Mira Richard-Fioramore So excited for Halloween and Thanksgiving this October! How many pumpkin pies shall I make? TRAVEL EDITORS connect.travel@ajet.net Leah Gray I’m going to visit some friends in the Kansai area for Silver Week! Pia Peterson It’s foraging time, yo! Mushrooms and chestnuts and acorns, oh my! Rachel Arredondo

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Lifestyle

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Vegetable of the Month

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Halloween Pumpkin Pie

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The Secret to Okonomiyaki

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Breakfast of Champions, Tsukiji-Style

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Escape From the Mainland

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VEGETABLE OF THE MONTH MIRA RICHARD-FIORAMORE (SAITAMA) Kabocha

Ingredients

The kabocha squash is an Asian winter squash commonly referred to as a Japanese pumpkin. It has an extremely hard skin which is often hard to cut. Japanese people will usually boil the squash to make cutting the skin easier. The average squash weighs 2-3 pounds and tastes like a mix of pumpkin and sweet potato. It’s a very popular ingredient to use in Japan and one can make various dishes with it. As North American pumpkins aren’t normally widely available in Japan, most Japanese desserts will use this kabocha squash as an alternative.

• 750g cream cheese • 2 eggs • ¼ kabocha • ¼ cup brown sugar • 1/3 cup sugar • ½ tsp ground cloves • ½ tsp ground cardamom seeds

Gluten-Free, Low-Sugar Kabocha Cheesecake

• 1 tbsp cinnamon • 1 tsp nutmeg

1. Add water to a pot to boil. Cut the kabocha into 4-5 pieces and scoop out the seeds. Place in pot and boil until tender.

6. In a large bowl, add the cream cheese and mix with a hand mixer.

2. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

8. Add all of the spices.

CRUST

9. Add one egg at a time until everything is fully incorporated.

• 2 cups almond meal

3. In a bowl, mix the almond meal, coconut oil, cinnamon, and brown sugar together. 4. Transfer the mixture to a cheesecake mold and smooth it out to make a crust. 5. Take the kabocha pieces and peel off the skin.

So...Full... Can’t Move...

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• 180ml sour cream

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7. Add the sour cream, sugar, and kabocha.

10. Pour the cheese batter into the cake mold. 11. Place in oven and bake for 50 minutes. 12. Allow it to cool for 1-2 hours and then place in the fridge overnight, or for 6 hours.

• ½ tsp ginger powder • ½ tsp salt • 1 tsp vanilla essence

• ½ cup coconut oil • 1 tbsp cinnamon • 2 tbsp brown sugar 13. The cheesecake is ready to eat once set. Mira Richard-Fioramore


HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN PIE MIRA RICHARD-FIORAMORE (SAITAMA) Directions

Ingredients

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. 2. Place the flour and lard into a bowl and start mixing. 3. Add the eggs, vinegar, and salt. Mix again. 4. Place the dough onto a flat surface and start kneading. If the dough is too sticky add some flour. If the dough is too dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time. 5. Knead until smooth, then roll the dough into a circle. 6. Place the dough into a pie mold. 7. Crush the cloves and cardamom with a mortar and pestle and add to a large bowl.

8. Add the sugar, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Mix together. 9. Beat the eggs separately and then stir into the bowl and mix.

• 2 cups pumpkin purée* • 375ml whipping cream • ½ cup brown sugar • 1/3 cup sugar

10. Add the pumpkin purée, and mix.

• ½ tsp salt

11. Add the cream, and mix.

• 1 egg white

12. Pour the mixture into the pie mold and bake in the oven at 180°C for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean. 13. Take it out of the oven and allow to cool. 14. Add whipped cream or ice cream to the top of the pie when serving. Pixabay

• 2 eggs • 2 tsp cinnamon • 1 tsp ginger powder • ¼ tsp nutmeg • ¼ tsp cloves • ¼ tsp cardamom seeds *Pumpkin purée cans are available on Amazon or foreign food stores like Seijo Ishii and Kaldy’s Coffee Farm.

CRUST • 1/3 cup lard • 1 cup flour • 1 tsp salt • 1 tsp white vinegar

youtube tutorial here

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• 1 egg

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THE SECRET TO OKONOMIYAKI MIRA RICHARD-FIORAMORE (SAITAMA) Okonomiyaki is a popular staple food in various parts of Japan, predominantly known to be from the Kansai and the Hiroshima region. Okonomi roughly translates as ‘as you want’ or ‘to one’s own liking’, and yaki means ‘to grill’. It essentially consists of different meats, seafood, and cabbage cooked on a flat grill, coated with okonomiyaki sauce, green onions and various other toppings. The ingredients added to it vary according to restaurant, and the method used to cook it varies according to region. Okonomiyaki was originally created before the war and was a simple dish eaten by the masses, often identified as either 一銭洋食 issen youshoku, 一銭焼き issen yaki, 洋食焼き youshoku yaki, and so on (1). The food supplies were scarce before the war and so the ingredients used were limited, but after the war, the addition of meat, seafood, and other types of vegetables became increasingly popular. Not only did the ingredients change, but the name of the dish also changed from 一銭 洋食 issen youshoku to お好み 焼き okonomiyaki because the people grilled the ingredients they preferred to eat instead of the old set menu (2). There are two distinct styles of okonomiyaki: the Kansai version and the Hiroshima version. The Kansai-style okonomiyaki consists of 32

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mixing the ingredients in a f lour-based batter and cooking it on a hot griddle. Restaurants often let you cook and mix the ingredients yourself, but there are some restaurants that cook it in front of you. The restaurant will show you a menu where you can choose what ingredients you would like in your okonomiyaki, and the waitress will bring you a bowl containing all the ingredients. At the do-it-yourself restaurants, it’s usually your job to mix the ingredients in the bowl, pour the batter over the griddle, and shape it into a circle. The batter usually consists of flour, water, eggs, dashi, grated yam, and diced cabbage. The ingredients added to it can include pork slices, mochi, cheese, shrimp, tenkasu, ginger, and green onions. On the other hand, the Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki consists of layering ingredients separately onto the griddle, adding one ingredient over another to make a layered “pancake”. The Hiroshima version usually includes yakisoba noodles, which the Kansai version usually does not have. The chefs will normally make the okonomiyaki in front of the customers. They first spread a thin layer of batter onto the griddle and add the shredded cabbage and any other toppings you

chose. They will then flip the whole thing to cook it on the other side. They then cook the yakisoba noodles and place them in a circular shape. They add the cabbage layer over the noodles and cook it a bit longer. The final step is to crack an egg over the griddle and place the entire okonomiyaki over the egg. The end product is then usually topped with a brown sauce, mayonnaise, shredded seaweed, and bonito flakes. While both products fundamentally consist of the same ingredients, the method used to prepare both styles and the way they taste are different. With the Kansai-style okonomiyaki, one can really taste the vegetable “pancake” as all of the ingredients are cooked inside the batter, whereas with the Hiroshima-style, one can taste each layer separately rather than the whole thing mixed together. Each layer really stands out in the Hiroshima-style and some ingredients may overpower some of the other ingredients. If your pallet prefers to eat a combination of flavours in one single bite, then go for the Hiroshimastyle. If your pallet prefers to eat consistent flavours, then go for the Kansai-style. The Okonomi-Village in Hiroshima was originally a large group of okonomiyaki


stalls in one neighborhood that were established after the war. After seeing the lively neighborhood one day, a writer, named Gitami Noru, exclaimed that it really looked like an okonomiyaki village, thus the name お好 み村 Okonomimura (3). In 1963, a 2-storey building was built in order to house all of the okonomiyaki stalls. To this day, it is a popular tourist spot, where people from all over the world come and eat delicious Hiroshimastyle okonomiyaki. Today, the building has 4 floors of okonomiyaki restaurants, each with their own style. Okonomimura is located in the heart of Hiroshima, steps away from the Peace Memorial Park and Hiroshima Castle.

preparing hiroshima okonomiyaki

If you ever feel like experimenting with making some okonomiyaki, here is a list of possible ingredients to put in yours: cabbage, pork slices, shrimp, oyster, squid, octopus, mochi, cheese, pickled ginger, tenkasu, ikaten, bean sprouts, yakisoba, scallop, yam, green onions, carrot, onion. So, which do you prefer, Kansai or Hiroshima style?

simple toppings

Okonomimura 5-13 Shintenchi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima Sources (1) お好み焼きネット (2) お好み焼きネット (3) 元祖広島お好み焼き 「お好み 付け」

watch how to make okonomiyaki here

Mira Richard-Fioramore

green onion and fried egg deluxe

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BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS, TSUKIJI-STYLE

Visit Sushidai! 〒104-0045 Tokyo, Chuo, Tsukiji, 5−2−1, 築地市場内 6号館

ALEXANDRA BRUECKNER (AOMORI)

寿 司 In a land famous for bowls of perfectly chewy udon, giant pots full of comforting nabe, and all the ramen I could ever eat, there still reigns the ultimate king of Japanese food: sushi. Tuna, salmon, scallop, flounder, shrimp, eel, clam, octopus, squid… give it all to me, the bigger the quantity and the fresher the cuts, the better. Of the hundreds of ocean-dwellers that I’ve stuffed into my mouth, one particular meal still sticks out in my mind. Tucked in the back alley of Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji’s fish market lies Sushidai, a tiny, twelve-seat shoebox of a restaurant. Sure, just about any sushi that you get in Japan is bound to be pretty delicious, but Sushidai has made a name for itself as 34

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being one of the best, not just in Tokyo, but in all of Japan. To be clear though, Sushidai is not a breakfast joint for those who like to roll out of bed at 10a.m. and still have time to grab a cup of coffee on the way. Even if you take the very first metro of the morning and rock up to Tsukiji at 5a.m., you’ll still be looking at a two or three hour wait, and that’s if you’re lucky. Go on a weekend, as I did, and that’ll probably be extended to about four or five hours. Bring a book, iPod, or a chatty friend, and keep telling yourself that the wait is worth it. Because it definitely is. The お任せ (chef’s choice, omakase) menu at Sushidai will run you about 4000円, which is an absolute steal for what you get: twelve pieces of

the freshest sushi you could imagine, plus a thirteenth of your choice and a bowl of miso soup. The friendly chefs will even customize the menu a bit to accommodate your taste. As much as I’ve tried, I’ve never gotten a taste for uni, and the chefs were more than willing to swap that out for something I found a little more palatable. So, five hours of waiting and 4000円, all for thirteen pieces of sushi and a bowl of miso soup. Was it worth it? In my book, absolutely! Sushidai’s food hits the best kind of epicurean sweet spot: delicious, gorgeous, and affordable. If you love sushi, you owe it to your stomach to eat at Sushidai. Alexandra Brueckner, Pixabay


ESCAPE FROM THE MAINLAND THE OKI ISLANDS SUZANNE BHAGAN (TOTTORI) If you ask the average Japanese person a question about the Oki Islands, they might say, “Where?” However, the Oki Islands of Shimane prefecture have a lot to offer to anyone who seeks them out. Located only a two-hour ferry ride from Matsue and Sakaiminato, Oki’s four inhabited and 180 uninhabited islands are like no other place on earth, literally. They are so geologically unique that they became a UNESCO supported Geopark in 2013. These islands are filled with a rugged natural beauty, created after years of volcanic activity, erosion and weathering. The four large islands include Dogo and the three Dozen islands: Nishinoshima, Nakanoshima and Chiburijima. The Dozen islands f loat in the Dozen caldera, so the sea surrounding them is invitingly calm. Like the Greek-Irish travel writer, Lafcadio Hearn, who explored Japan in the early 20th century, I was determined to go to Oki, despite threats of an imminent typhoon. The ferry left the harbour OCTOBER 2015

at Shichirui Port under cloudless blue skies, with no typhoon in sight. The Oki Kisen Ferry is an experience in and of itself. One of the staff looked at our tickets and motioned us to look to the right. What we saw shocked us slightly. There were no seats, only large, carpeted sections. Already, many people were sprawled out in the space. In true Japanese fashion, we took off our shoes and sat on the floor. The air inside the cabin smelled of coffee, cola, peanuts, and beer. Some passengers were already asleep, their heads resting on pillows that looked like brown bricks. Children were squealing, shouting, laughing, playing card games, and colouring. The older folk chatted, read, slept or drank beers. Soon, the floor began to rumble and the boat gently rocked to and fro as it cut through the ocean. I fell asleep, propped up against my backpack. We disembarked at Hishiura Port, Nakanoshima (Ama Town). We headed to Oki Gyu Ten, one of the few places that serves Oki beef on these islands. Oki cattle are raised on the islands and feed on its lush, green vegetation. Oki beef is some of the best gourmet beef I have ever eaten. In fact, most of this

premium beef is auctioned off in Tokyo markets. Oki calves are often sent to Kobe, where they eventually become the famous Kobe beef. After lunch, we rented bikes to explore the island. First, we cycled to Rainbow Beach, which is very close to Hishiura Port. We then climbed further inland to find the Oki shrine, built to honor Emperor Gotoba, a nobleman who was one of many who were exiled to the Oki islands during the Middle Ages. The way to the shrine was virtually empty. In the heat of the early afternoon, cicadas shrilled unseen from trees and shrubs that sprouted from the nearby hillsides. A trio of junior high school boys passed us. “Konnichiwa”, they said. “Konnichiwa”, we replied, wiping the sweat from our brows. As we pedaled faster, the wind whipped up. We coasted up and down, past deep blue sea, vibrant green fields, and white and brown houses. The Oki shrine was deserted. A bunch of hydrangeas greeted us, their purple heads drowsing in the heat. We headed back to the port and climbed aboard the Amanbow underwater viewing boat. Our guide spoke mainly in Japanese. However, LIFESTYLE

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he included some English words to make sure that we were following. Fishermen in nearby boats waved at us. One man was fishing off a rock in the middle of the sea. We approached three solitary rocks called Saburo-Iwa, or The Three Brothers. They are naturally picturesque, perfectly arranged from the tallest to the smallest. Later on, we descended the stairs into the bottom of the boat where we could see underwater through square windows cut into the boat’s sides. We pressed our noses against the glass of the giant aquarium as schools of tiny fish swam past us. Rays of sunlight streamed through the murky depths, flashing on silver-scaled fish. Then, the crew began to drop pellets of fish food into the water. A host of fish suddenly appeared: huge silvery ones, rainbow coloured ones, and striped ones too! They darted to and fro, swooped above and below, their mouths open to catch any stray food. After a couple of hours, we left Nakanoshima for Nishinoshima, the most popular of the Oki Islands. Its mountainous landscape is dotted with hundreds of Oki cattle and horses. As the afternoon waned, we headed to the Kuniga Lookout. Here, we saw the beautiful Kannon Iwa, or Candle Rock, gilded by the faint yellow light coming from the dying sun as it slowly dropped directly above the rock, resembling a golden flame atop a candle. We arrived at the retrofeeling, family-run hotel, Kuniga-so, just in time for 36

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tsutenkyo arch, kuniga coastline

dinner. The table was laden with everything imaginable: fresh seafood, including huge Iwagaki oysters, white squid, scallops, pickled abalone, fresh sashimi, hot fish stew, soba salad and sizzling Oki beef slices. The next morning, we headed to Matengai Cliff. The car climbed and climbed further into the hills. We turned a corner and saw three horses grazing grass on the hill. The wind picked up, rocking our parked car gently to and fro. On the top of Matengai Cliff, the wind was so strong that we forgot the searing summer heat. Some cows stared at us, but we were armed with bamboo walking sticks to defend ourselves if they got angry. The coastline here was beautiful, large pieces of green headland jutting out into the calm blue sea. Further afield, cattle and horses grazed calmly. It was so surreal that it looked like a painting.

After that we drove back to the Kuniga Lookout. Here, the strangely formed rocks, or Tenjyo-kai (Heavenly Area), looked different under the late morning sun. The coastline, one of the top 100 walking tracks in Japan, is perfect for gentle strolls and dipping your toes into the ocean. One of the highlights of this coastal walk is Tsutenkyo Arch. The wind and waves have stripped the rocks into a dramatic, multicoloured arch through which the ocean flows. Climbing back up to the lookout became torture under the burning sun. On the way back to Urago, we passed Yurahime shrine, which honours Suserihime, or Yurahime no mikoto, the goddess of fishing and maritime safety. Every autumn and winter, thousands of squid (ika) flood the inlet in front of the shrine. According to local legend, when the goddess


horses at matengai cliff

was returning to Oki by boat, some squid in the area in front of the shrine nibbled her fingers. She was quite offended by this, so every year, several squid come back to the same spot to apologise for their terrible behaviour to the goddess. The squid story made us hungry, so we headed to a small but busy restaurant in Urago. At Asuka restaurant, we ordered a steaming bowl of ika don and a plate of delicious ika curry. As the day lengthened, we headed to the nearby beaches, Sotohama and Mimiura. Sotohama was easy to find. It had a lovely sandy beach and a clear, wide bay perfect for swimming and snorkelling. On the other hand, Mimiura was a bit trickier as there was not much English signage. Armed with our basic tourist map, we drove down a nondescript road off the main street. We drove further inland through a dense pine OCTOBER 2015

forest. I worried that we were lost and that we would miss the last ferry for the day. However, before long the ocean peeked through and we came upon a little hidden cove. Although the narrow beach was strewn with large pebbles and stones, the water was calm and aquamarine. A few kayaks lay beached on the shore along with a few tents that were perched along the beach. As we surveyed the scene, a man ran up to us. “Hey!” We got anxious. Did we do something wrong? He ran up to Jesse. “Handsome face!”, he said. “You go swimming?”. We shook our heads. “Chotto nihongo…jikan,” I said, pointing to my wrist. Not enough time. “Ah”. He pointed to his chest, “Eigo...sukoshi,” pinching his thumb and forefinger together. “Where from?” “Karibukai,” we replied. He roared and shook Jesse’s hands vigorously. We wished we could stay, but had

to quickly hop back into the car so that we could catch the ferry back to the mainland. Jesse Ramnanansingh

click the links below for more information

Nishinoshima Tourism Association and Ama Town Tourism Association

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COMMUNITY SPORTS EDITORS connect.sports@ajet.net Hiroshi Fukushima Becca Simas I’m psyched to hike Yakushima during Silver Week! Princess Mononoke forest, here I come! COMMUNITY EDITOR connect.community@ajet.net Cameron Joe Autumn/typhoon season calls for sweaters, tea, and snuggling up with a good book! Rachel Arredondo

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Community Kakeroma Sea Kayak Marathon

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The Land of the Rising Bat

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International Queer Women’s Community 42 Contributing to Connect

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KAKEROMA SEA KAYAK MARATHON CARSON MCBAIN (KAGOSHIMA) Japan embraces sports in a big way, as anyone who’s ever lived in the country knows. The ganbatte attitude of doing one’s best is deeply infused in Japanese culture. School sports teams practice every day without complaint, and many adults are also involved in community sports clubs after work. Weekends are often devoted to regional tournaments and races. On Amami Island in Kagoshima, a distinctly unique sort of race attracts people from all over Japan every July. There are no points, no penalties, and no judges on the sidelines. The setting for this event is not a gym or park, but the strait of deep-blue sea between the coastlines of Kakeroma Island and southern Amami. This event is called the Kakeroma Sea Kayak Marathon & HalfMarathon. On July 5th, the 23rd annual sea kayak competition took place. A total of 371 people participated, including four ALTs from the prefecture. Local Amami ALTs Megan Korling, Nathaniel Hayes, Jon Wieser, and Carson McBain, competed in the half-marathon course, along with Adrian Storr from Hioki City. Participants could enter

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as a pair, a relay team, or by themselves. Ganbatte Despite the Waves Due to slightly rough sea conditions, this year’s course length was shortened by a few kilometers, but that didn’t dull the participants’ enthusiasm. In the morning, over 200 kayaks queued behind the start line, making for a lively, colorful display in the usually quiet town. As the participants paddled their way along the shoreline, locals stood on the beach cheering for them and beating taiko drums. Junior high and high school students from the town of Koniya volunteered at the rest stops. Most of them were handing out drinks and snacks, but the happiest students appeared to be those who were gleefully dumping ice water on people’s heads.

Akiko. During the final song, the stage became crowded as locals freely joined the dancing. Despite its success, the Kakeroma Sea Kayak HalfMarathon and Full Marathon has remained for the most part a little-known secret. Why not come visit Amami and try it next summer? Carson McBain is Amami Island’s resident unicorn and block leader. She loves traveling with her Gudetama, running, hugging trees, and spending quality time on southern Amami at her seaside cottage. Megan Korling

The After Party After the race, everyone came out to the park to celebrate with a festival. As the last glow of evening began to fade, families sat on the lawn and enjoyed live performances. Women and girls from the local hula club danced gracefully on the stage, and the crowd was treated to the powerful voice of singer, Togo

Did you get me on video?


THE LAND OF THE RISING BAT ALAN CURR (TOCHIGI)

Cricket, a sport familiar to many from countries from the Commonwealth. We hear from the man, Alan Curr, who is leading the chase to make Japan the land of the rising bat through an organisation called Cricket Blast.

and introduce a PE program that uses cricket to teach the fundamental movement skills that all elementary school children require, rather than trying to force a cricket program that may not be fully understood.

As part of Tokyo Orientation for the new JETs, I was very lucky to be invited to attend the welcome events hosted at the Australian and British Embassies.

How to get involved

We, at the Japan Cricket Association (JCA), are very keen to strengthen our ties with JET teachers and help people take cricket into schools by providing them with teaching resources in the form of manuals, videos, and most importantly, equipment. Spreading the word The purpose of being there was really simply to let people know that the JCA exists and keen to support those who have an interest in introducing cricket to Japanese children. While some will have a longstanding relationship with the game, for others it may be an opportunity to simply introduce something from their own culture.

Outside of teaching, we also wanted to inform the new arrivals of the many opportunities that exist within Japan, both in terms of playing, umpiring, scoring and volunteering at our events, while others may simply want to come and watch a game from time to time. The JCA are always happy to receive questions and will do all that we can to guide any new JETs who would like to know more about how cricket is operating in Japan and look forward to hearing from you. Special thanks to Alexandra Siddall at the Australian Embassy and Alexander Taylor at the British Embassy for hosting me, and to Elliott King of the New Zealand Embassy who hosted my colleague, Bebe Miyaji.

Alan is a sports fanatic who has made a career out of travelling to unusual places. Prior to trekking in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine and Iraq, he watched England win a rugby World Cup in Australia, do less well in a cricket World Cup in the Caribbean, and set his own world record by playing cricket on Mount Everest. He is determined to make Japan the land of the rising cricket bat, but only so long as he can watch the sun set with a beer at the conclusion of any game. Alan Curr

Go here for more information about cricket blast. FIND More Japan Cricket Association Information here!

For many in Japanese schools, cricket is still an alien sport, so a wealth of knowledge is not required when introducing the game to the kids. Our aim is to try OCTOBER 2015

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TOKYO’S INTERNATIONAL QUEER WOMEN’S COMMUNITY

LOOKING BACK ON TWO DECADES OF ORGANIZING KIMBERLY HUGHES (TOKYO) At nearly 44 years old, I often feel that I am straddling multiple generations. As a JET in small-town Tochigi prefecture during the 1990s, (that’s right, when many of you were still in diapers!) the Stonewall Japan community for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) identified foreigners did exist, but as it was the fledgling era of the Internet, all communication was done through the post. There were no e-mail groups— much less anything like Facebook—I find the way that today’s generation creates a community via the Internet to be both beautiful and inspiring. If only my 20-something self, isolated and heartbroken when my girlfriend in the States broke up with me shortly after I came to Japan, could have been part of something so amazing! On the positive side, however, I feel extremely fortunate to have been part of an amazing 42

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era of community organizing in Tokyo, within the lesbian and bisexual women’s community, as we called ourselves before the word ‘queer’ came on to the scene as a term of empowerment.

much of its original spirit. It has also changed with the times to expand from its initially stated “lesbian-only” attendance rule to welcoming bisexual and transgender women.

The by-now legendary Dyke Weekends (DWE), which started in 1980 and are rooted in the lesbian feminist movement, were thriving when I first began attending them in 1997. Anywhere from 80 to 100 people attended, and there were roughly equal numbers of Japanese and international women, who came from all corners of the world. The retreats were packed with discussions on sexuality and other social issues, along with workshops on anything from astrology to sex play to self-portrait painting; belly dancing, soccer games and hiking; and numerous other activities that the participants themselves suggested. Despite some rough patches along the way, the DWE happily continues today, and has retained

In addition to the precious resource of the DWE, which has been a lifeline for many Japanese and foreign women alike, another jewel of the Tokyo women’s community has been the establishments run by Chu-san, who is, as her name (中) suggests, truly the center and the home of our community. Anyone who now frequents Rainbow Burritos adjacent to the Shinjuku 2-chome gayborhood, will know her as the one who is always working quietly in her kitchen, satisfying our tummies and our spirits with her scrumptious treats inspired from the Mexican food in San Francisco’s Mission district (teaser: come try her signature dish, the tacorrito, and one of her out-of-this-world yummy watermelon cocktails!).


Click below to check out stonewall japan For more information on Chu’s amazing Mexican bar, Rainbow Burritos, please visit the website here. If you are interested in finding out more information about DWE, please visit the website here.

Those of you who have been around for longer, as I have, will know Chu as the one who has always selflessly worked for others outside of the kitchen as well, helping women move into or out of their apartments, or shuttling them in her van to and from the Dyke Weekends and other events. From 2001 to 2010, our beloved Chu Babe was also the mama-san for Chestnut and Squirrel (try direct-translating that into Japanese!), a legendary bar and café event that was held every Wednesday night in a bar just behind Shibuya station.

OCTOBER 2015

東京都新宿区新宿3-1-32 新宿ビル303 #303 Shinjuku Bld. 3-1-32 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Telephone Order 090-9834-4842

As with the DWE, our C&S was an incredible space wherein on any given Wednesday, there might be people from 10 to 15 different countries gathering to drink cocktails, eat Chu’s amazing food, flirt hard and find love, make new friends and chill out with old ones, and simply affirm the existence of our incredibly diverse community. And while the space was lesbianrun and focused, it was most definitely open to anyone who shared out spirit. Our gay boy and transgender friends, as well as straight allies, could often be found there too.

This spirit now continues with Rainbow Burritos, and for those of us who were there in the so-called “Golden Age” of the Tokyo queer women’s community, we couldn’t be happier. And as for the future? Bring it on. Kimberly Hughes is a freelance translator, journalist and community organizer who has been based in Tokyo since 2001. Her writings on various grassroots social movements in Japan and beyond, including LGBT communities, may be found here. Kimberly Hughes

COMMUNITY

43


CONTRIBUTING TO Connect is a magazine for the community in Japan, by the community in Japan. Everyone is welcome to write, no matter your experience or style! If you have an idea you want to see in these pages, reach out to our Head Editor, or any of our awesome section editors. We’ll work with you to make it the best it can be and share it with our audience of thousands. Not every article needs to be an essay! We feature interviews, infographics, top-ten lists, recipes, photo spreads, travelogues, and more. Contact the Head Editor of Connect, Rajeev Rahela, at connect.editor@ajet.net with your submissions, comments, and questions. ARTICLES Write about something you’re doing. Write about something you love. Tell us a story.

SPOTLIGHT

HAIKU

Tell us about someone in your community who’s doing something neat and noteworthy. Cooks, collectors, calligraphers—we want to hear about the inspiring people around you.

Each month Connect will feature haiku from our readers. Haiku are simple, clean, and can be about anything you like! If you’re an aspiring wordsmith with the soul of Basho, send all of your haiku along with your name and prefecture to connect.editor@ajet.net.

COMMENTS Let us know what you think. Click the comment button at the end of any article, or interact with us on Facebook, Twitter, and issuu.com. PHOTOS All of Connect’s photos are provided by the community, from the cover to the articles and everything in between. If you’re an aspiring photographer and want your work published, please get in contact with the lead designer, Patrick Finn, at patrick.finn@ajet.net.

COMICS You asked for it, and now Connect features comics. Whether you’re a desk doodler or a published artist, we want to see your panels and strips about life in Japan.

CONNECT WITH US Interested in contributing to Connect? Want to stay up-to-date on interview opportunities, photo requests, and Connect announcements? Sign up to be a contributor at the Connect Contributors Circle online to receive updates from us, pitch your ideas, and get involved with the Connect staff and community. You can find the current Connect team and their contact information here. You can also like us on Facebook, followus on Instagram and Twitter, and interact with the magazine via CLIP at ISSUU. 44

Connect magazine Japan #42 -- October 2015  

Autumn is here! Leaves aren't the only things changing their color, and Connect has you covered with essential Fall tips for beauty products...

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