Shoppers’ Paradise By Shirley Palmer
IF only we had more time! The shopping in Kumagaya was certainly worth spending lots more time and money on! President Yagihashi’s department store was huge and had many levels of interesting and beautiful goods. There was a large range to choose from and making a decision difficult as there was so much one wanted to purchase. We had to buy another travel bag as we tended to accumulate more than we arrived in Japan with! The presentation of merchandise in their stores was amazing and we saw spring onions 80 cms long and asparagus 3 cms thick. Strawberries were plentiful and all so even in size one wonders the amount of hormones pumped into their produce for the consumer. We also visited another large retail complex Tiara 21 and this also was huge and housed many stores and restaurants. Whilst in Kumagaya our time was so busy that shopping was low on the list of things able to do unfortunately, although my husband was happy about that. We needed some extra days!
A Newsletter from the Kumagaya Friendship Association • May 2006 • Issue 6
Citizens’ tour to Kumagaya a “resounding success” Royal treatment: It was an honour for the members of the Invercargill Citizens’ Group to meet Kumagaya Mayor Tomioka.
In Tokyo it was a little different and some managed to negotiate the underground and find the Ginza!!! What an amazing shopping area. All the label shops and huge department stores. I was disappointed in myself as I didn’t have my head around the Yen/Dollar but it probably saved my credit card a little. The shoes in Japan were to die for!!! Shoes made in Japan, Italian shoes, a whole floor of beautiful shoes and so stylish. They also had sizes large enough for our feet also- mmmmmmm!
Meeting of minds: Members of the Invercargill Citizens’ Group were taken for a tour around the Kumagaya Council Chamber and are photographed with the Chairman and Councillors from Kumagaya.
Confectionery is big over there and the presentation of their chocolates and sweets make them most appealingso much variety to choose from it was time consuming just looking. The Japanese people were incredibly helpful and at one time I asked a young woman where a particular shop was and she started using her mobile phone and with GPS she was able to show me exactly where to go incredible! We thoroughly enjoyed this Citizens’ Tour to Kumagaya and Tokyo and I urge others to try and make it possible another time. The people are so hospitable and helpful, their English is great. We need to improve our Giant tuna: Japanese.
Cup of tea: The Invercargill Citizens’ Group enjoyed the ancient Japanese Tea Ceremony, one of the group’s many highlights of their recent trip to Kumagaya.
“Domo Arigato Gozaimas” Kumagaya By Tom Sawyer, President, Kumagaya Friendship Association
Dancing Queens: Enjoying the nightlife in Kumagaya. At a fish market in Tokyo.
Join the Association
Corporate and community members
THE Kumagaya Friendship Association is inviting new members to join. Membership fees are: Students $5, Individuals $15, Family $25, Community Member $30, Corporate $50+. To become a member, please fill out the membership form enclosed and send, with your fee, to Kumagaya Friendship Association, Private Bag 90104, Invercargill.
THE Kumagaya Friendship Association is supported by the following organisations: Platinum sponsor: Invercargill City Council. Corporate members: Bonsai Restaurant, Chamber of Commerce Southland, DT Carter Ltd, Jayel Trading Ltd, Pacific Shipping, Preston Russell Law, Ralph Moir & Associates, Southern Institute of Technology, Woodlands Apiary. Community members: Altrusa International Inc, Invercargill Kendo Club, James Hargest High School, Southland Boys’ High School.
Contact details IF you would like to contact the Kumagaya Friendship Association, please telephone (03) 211 1678 or email email@example.com
ON behalf of the 12 members of the recent Citizens’ Group, which visited Kumagaya I would like to use this edition of Nyuusu to publicly thank all those in Japan who made the visit a resounding success. It is difficult to single out individuals, as so many deserve special mention. To Mayor Tomioka for the wonderful gift and for all the work and help given by his Chairman, Councillors and Council staff. To Mr Yagahashi, President of the K.I.F.A ,for the warmth of the welcome and the hospitality. To Prof Hoshiyama, alias Harry Potter, for the magic, and with his team of superb interpreters for all the work in turning our English into Japanese and vice versa. To Andrew Ballantyne for all the assistance and invaluable local knowledge. And last, and specially, to all the members of the K.I.F.A, too numerous to mention individually, whose hard work, good humour, generosity, smiles, hospitality (and patience to finally teach me the difference between ‘keeray’ and ‘keeriy’), helped so much to further strengthen the bonds between our two cities. Thank You All, Very, Very Much.
ARTICLES INSIDE... Teaching cultural exchange for Cheryl Mouat Invercargill Librarian visits Kumagaya Library Tokyo and Kumagaya - a shoppers’ paradise
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Let’s have a meal together いっしょに 食事を しましょう。 The Kumagaya Friendship Association is inviting our members and friends to share a Japanese meal at the Bonsai restaurant Esk Street on Monday 29th May at 6.30pm. This restaurant provides wonderful Japanese food, is fully licensed and is BYO. There are limited places available so first in first served. This is an opportunity where the citizens who travelled to Kumagaya in April can share their experiences and photos and encourage others to embark on our next Japan trip. The total cost is $30.00 per head but the association will subsidise members by $5.00 so $25.00 per head per member. Payment must be made with the booking to our Chairman Tom Sawyer, Box 812, Invercargill. Please note: no payment, no booking. We look forward to meeting with you.
Japanese wedding a highlight for local teacher By Cheryl Mouat
Festival fun: Members of the Kumagaya International Friendship Association and the Invercargill Citizens’ Group enjoy the Cherry Blossom Festival held during April in Kumagaya.
Kumagaya library visit a wonderful experience By Vonnie Crawford
MY passion for travelling has landed me in Japan for my sixth time. I am here for five weeks because I applied for the Ministry of Education/AFS Language Immersion Award. I am one of ten people to be accepted on the programme throughout New Zealand. Only two of the ten are travelling to Japan and I am the first out of the group to go. This is a new programme that the Ministry of Education has started to encourage language teachers like myself to up skill. It gives us a chance to learn more of the target language and culture, collect resources relating to topics we are teaching in our classroom programme and improve our method of delivery, in turn sharing with others in our area what we have learnt. I left New Zealand on the 10th April, 2006 (a week prior to the start date of my cultural exchange) and arrived at Osaka - Kansai airport after spending the night in Auckland. I was met by the Matsushima family. This was my host family when I was an AFS exchange student in 1995 and we are still very close today. Luckily the beginning of my exchange coincided with my host brother's wedding and it is autumn so the Sakura (Cherry Blossom) is in full bloom. Japanese people are very proud of Sakura and if you have been here to see them you will understand why. It is so beautiful and hides what would usually be gray skies and dull buildings. Personally I think Japan is beautiful at night because the cities are alive with atmosphere and the whole place is bright with lights. This is especially true of big cities. The wedding was incredible and I was honoured to be a part of it. Although it is not actually part of the Language Immersion Award it has enhanced the programme for me. Michael and Glenda Corson (my sister and brotherin-law) were there with me as they had been on the Kumagaya trip a week prior and extended their holiday to come to Wakayama City where my host family live. We stayed in the most expensive hotel in Osaka the night before the wedding. My host family paid thank goodness because I don't get paid enough. The wedding started at 10am. The bride was so beautiful and changed twice. The first was a traditional white dress like we would wear and the second was like a pink ball dress. Taeko the bride is so small and she looked like a Barbie Doll in the pink dress. The ceremony was in a church like we would have. The family walked in first and we were included in that. Friends and other guests followed behind the family. Once the ceremony was over the family went into a room and each family sat on different sides and then was introduced to each other while the other guests waited outside.
KUMAGAYA Municipal Library is a multi-cultural utility with a cultural centre, public library and a planetarium. I met the manager Takashi Iwata who has no library qualifications, and his assistant who is a qualified librarian, and gave them two books from the Invercargill Library. They were very grateful and after an informal chat through an interpreter, we discussed the likelihood of swapping librarians for a time between libraries, he thought this would be a wonderful plan to do, much laughter and a number of personal questions such as was I married to a good keen Kiwi bloke! He said he was quite shocked at my “no” reply and that he could listen to my voice for hours.
Wedding Bells: James Hargest Junior College teacher Cheryl Mouat (right) poses with her host family who very hospitable and included Cheryl in their family wedding.
We got to see the introduction ceremony but were not introduced for obvious reasons. Next was the family photograph which we were included in. I could not believe how much they included us. It felt really special. My host family are amazing and so hospitable! The reception was much like what we would have. The bride and groom walked in and the lights went down with a spotlight on them. Music was playing in the background. It was beautiful. They had a PowerPoint presentation of the bride and groom's life as children then together in the last few years. The wedding finished and all the guests left at 4pm. This part I thought was really different. After this the couple took their friends to another restaurant and had food. Only invited friends went and no family were allowed to go. At this point I was considered a friend and got to attend. They all ate food, drank lots and played bingo. Yes, bingo. Can you imagine going to the Northern to play bingo with your friends? After that the couple went to a different place with the groom’s work mates. There were only three females at this part of the evening and I was one of them. They didn't talk much but drank heaps. It was like a typical Japanese businessmen after work drinking session. I think Taeko the bride was glad to have some female company to talk to. That all ended at about 11.00pm and everyone went home. On Sunday after feeling very tired I took the Shinkansen to Tokyo where I was met by the AFS coordinator. She took me out for some lunch. I ate Soba (cold noodles that you dip in a light sauce, somewhat like soup) which is very good for you and tastes delicious. From there we took another train to Juo in the Hitachi area. Hitachi is a famous brand and this is where it is all made. My new host family met me and after all the introductions we took a trip to the Hitachi Daini High School where I will be visiting until I return to New Zealand again on the 17th May. The school is a public girls’ high school and has over 800 students. It is a special international school and some of the classes are in English. The school day consists of six periods with 10 minutes in between and 40 minutes for lunch. School finishes at 3.15pm at which time the students are responsible for cleaning the school. Continued on page 3
consisted of broken wood, pieces of concrete and rubble, lots of American bombs, a first aid kit, three figures, one a civilian, and soldiers with a background picture of total devastation. Flattened, nothing left was the sight that greeted their people on the last day of the war after the Americans wiped it out the day before. He said there could be nothing else in their display because there wasn’t one thing left to use. The people of this city have worked so hard.
Libraries throughout the world function very similarly especially when they use the universal Dewey system which they do. The reference floor was very small in area and compact. The books are shelved extremely tidily, one photocopier stood to the side but the students were writing out the information in free hand and I never saw it being used. They had two catalogue computers and one woman wearing an apron behind the help desk set the scene in this very, very quiet area. Mr Iwata proudly showed me the only book they had in the library about New Zealand, a travel book well out of date.
Up another floor which was in semi darkness, chairs everywhere, I was shown to a plush lazy-boy chair, semi pushed into it and next thing I am lying flat on my back. The mind goes overtime, the lights go dimmer, music starts and an easy listening Japanese voice starts talking, the roof lights up into millions of stars, wow an awesome experience of the solar system. After ¾ hour I hear the word New Zealander present and they show the Southern Cross only they got it wrong. They had a cross with the down cross being very long, no pointers, but I thanked them most graciously at the end and said my final thank you and goodbyes. A wonderful different experience, it doesn’t matter where you go in the world you can always find your way around in a library and meet great people.
Down to the public floor and again stunned by the silence, they showed me the five daily papers for public use, this appeared to be a special achievement. A number of women in aprons at the issues counter, three catalogue computers with a very user friendly search system with a touch screen application and one photocopier by the issues desk and all the books on the shelves very uniform and tidy set this quiet scene.
The following day I was invited to the Risho University Library which was very similar, they were very excited because they had just installed three data base computers; they weren’t online or had their printers attached but it would be happening. They had three internet terminals for the students to read but not print from and touch screen catalogue computers. The books there were much thicker but very drab because all the covers had been removed because they couldn’t scan the barcodes, we don’t have that problem and it was a similar system. Their atlases of the world were enormous. The university has 12,000 students on two campuses with 5,000 at any one time on this one. Ladies behind the desks once again wearing yuk aprons. The manager was very proud of his library, we had lots of laughter and he was very kind to me.
The children’s area was very small and cramped but the children were happy sitting there reading and colouring in with crayons. They had a great collection of American and British classics, paper backs and picture books. I spoke with delight at seeing a book I loved and literally got told off for making a noise, felt totally embarrassed and thought of my noisy happy home library. The Kumagaya library serves 190,000 people. There are two other similar libraries in the towns that are now under the Kumagaya umbrella in this total and when another town joins soon there will be well over 250,000 people. Up another floor to a beautiful art gallery and museum. Their World War A display very humbling and sad, it Continued from page 2
Each year group has a different area and no cleaners are employed to do the job as in New Zealand schools. This includes cleaning toilets, vacuuming and sweeping. After school the students all have clubs to attend. These include the usual sports we would do in New Zealand and other activities like Kendo (Fencing), Kyudo (Archery), Calligraphy (Kanji only) and Tea Ceremony. The funniest things I have observed about Japanese culture would have to be a toss up between frantic waving when greeting or saying goodbye and the ability Japanese people have to sleep anywhere. I have seen this in many places. I saw one teacher asleep at his desk. During assembly where the students all sit on the floor in class rows, a quarter of the students were asleep as were half the teachers sitting at the back of the hall on chairs. I must admit that I fell asleep too for a while because the assembly went for 2 hours. On the train packed like sardines, people sitting sleep and people standing sleep. Apart from the wedding one of the nicest things I have observed about Japan so far would have to be the beautiful music. My host sister who is 13 years old is exceptionally good at playing the piano. Her time is limited so she practices in the morning. It is so nice hearing such stunning music when you wake up and it puts you in a really good mood for the rest of the day. At school the students practice during lunch time and after school. It can be heard from the teacher room and sounds like something we would pay to go and see. The atmosphere is electric! I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Ministry of Education, AFS New Zealand, AFS Japan, Hitachi Daini High School and James Hargest Junior College for allowing me to have such a wonderful experience!