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Revealed Events | Kawatana | Kendo | Guitar Wolf | Curry

nagazasshi Volume 7 Issue 2 September/October 2014

Editor-in-chief Andrew Massey


Rosie Fordham Katy Squicciarini

Assistant Editor Niel Thompson

Copy Editor Doug Bonham

Treasurer Karl Po

Layout and Design Laurel Williams

Contributors Alex Aguirre Shiori Meadows Doug Bonham Johnny Tastepe Amy Gifford Niel Thompson Andrew Massey Katy Squicciarini Chris McLeod Remco Vrolijk Luis Zapata


Andrew Morris Matthew Nelson www.nagazasshi.com Cover photo: Hirado Castle By Remco Vrolijk


ell, we’re finally getting past those dog days of summer. And while September is certainly sultry in its own right, it’s reassuring to know that cooler days are on their way. A lot of people cite autumn as their favorite season in Japan, and for good reason. Deliverance from the humidity aside, there are plenty of little things to be glad about. The leaves begin to change color and give a distinguished look to the mountainous landscape. The air acquires a slightly smoky, almost savory scent. The incessant, roaring drone of the summer cicadas is replaced by the bubbly, playful chirping of the suzumushi. Japanese autumn is truly a sensory treat. In this issue, you’ll find lots to fill your fall with. Our feature is on the Hirado autumn festivals (p. 10) and you can also find out about some lesser-known local attractions (p. 4). We’re continuing our martial arts series with an article on kendo (p. 8), and we’re starting a new series on famous people from Nagasaki (p. 16). All this, plus our brand new popular media section (p. 6)! Speaking of brand new, most of the former Nagazasshi staff members have now left Nagasaki. As the new Editor-inChief, I carry their torch with a talented new staff and strive to put forward a magazine that is worthy of your time. Happy reading!

Andrew Massey, Editor-in-chief



Contents Events


My Two Yen


The Peacocks & Ruins of Kawatana


Japanese Martial Arts: Kendo


Historic Hirado, Fantastic Firando


Nagasaki Notables: Guitar Wolf’s Seiji


Questing for Curry


Kanji of the Month


Check out some staff recs for dramas and anime Discover what Kawatana has to offer explorers Our series continues with its fourth installment Uncover the history and beauty of Hirado Learn about this Nagasaki-born rockstar

Find out where to go to satisfy those curry cravings



Photo credits (counter-clockwise):

Yoshitomi’s Johnny Tastepe Kendo shinai flickr.com/tokyonatural Peacock flickr.com/fr0stnacht Seiji from Guitar Wolf flickr.com/jer1


Event of the Month Sasebo Yosakoi Festival Oct 24 - 26 Sasebo

For the 17th year in a row, Sasebo will be hosting Kyushu’s largest yosakoi dance festival. Over 150 teams will be dancing on stages all over the city for a chance at winning the grand prize. If you ever needed a reason to visit Sasebo, this is it.


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10th Annual Chinatown Fall Lunar Festival September 5 - 9, Nagasaki Great food, one thousand lanterns, and everything moon-themed. Come experience a taste of Nagasaki’s cultural past with this mid-autumn festival. Make sure to buy some dango and don’t forget to look up! Nonnoko Festival September 19 - 21, Isahaya Come watch the Nonnoko Dance performed by around 6500 people parading through the streets of Isahaya! Truly a sight to be seen. The main event is on September 20th, but there will also be a small event the night before and more festivities on the 21st. 2014 Settlement Festival September 20 - 21, Nagasaki (Minamiyamate/Higashiyamate) Celebrate Nagasaki’s history of the foreign settlement around Glover Garden, Oura, and the surrounding area. There will be plenty of food, drink, and activities including a bazaar, bagpipe performances, dragon dance, and much more. The World Food Restaurant puts on a special menu (Indian vegetarian lunch on the 20th, food from Sri Lanka, Korea, France, Thailand and Paraguay on the 21st). They will also be holding a chess tournament from 10:00 - 17:00 on the 21st. 500 yen entry. Doya Tanada Festival September 21, Matsuura Literally thousands of lanterns are set up along the ridges of the rice fields in Matsuura and are lit up in an enchantingly beautiful display. Lighting starts from 6pm. photo Luis Zapata

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Scarecrow Festival September 23, Hasami A collection of hilarious scarecrows, many of them based on popular/infamous celebrities and figures from the news, are put up for display in Kawatana. There is also a JR Walking event around this time, so you can see the scarecrows, tour Hasami and get some discounted pottery, all in one go. LGBT Exhibition: Rainbow Messages from the Hirado Dutch Trading Post September 14 - October 31, Hirado Features a LGBT photo exhibition on sexual and gender diversity, plus Koji Kinoshita’s latest photography project about people from the LGBT community titled “So Many Colors Photo Session.” There will also be other panels and short video fragments about the history and the current situation of the LGBT community in the Netherlands, USA, Taiwan and Japan. Nagasaki Kunchi October 7 - 9, Nagasaki This is one of Nagasaki’s largest festival, with people coming from all over the country to check it out. There are food stalls, parades, cultural performances, and a number of others festivities popping up all over the place. Make sure to grab your Kunchi map and see the sights. Hirado Kunchi/Autumn Festival October 24 - 27 (Kunchi) October 25 - 26 (Autumn), Hirado The streets of Hirado come alive with these two back-to-back events. Festivities are similar to that of Nagasaki Kunchi, but with a unique vibe that could only come from Hirado. Surely not one to be missed!


My Two Yen... Wondering what’s hot in Japanese pop culture? The Nagazasshi staff is here to give you some media recommendations! Dramas Hey guys! This is Katy with some drama recs! First, the Kimura Takuya vehicle Hero is coming back after ten years for its second season. Sporting a new female lead (Kitagawa Keiko), it is the story of an ex-Yankee turned prosecutor who focuses on the human aspect of each case, slowly transforming the lives of his more business-oriented coworkers.

Anime Niel here. My anime recommendations for this issue are two classic shows that were recently rebooted for a new generation. Dragonball Z (DBZ) was an immensely popular action cartoon in both Japan and America. Dragonball Kai (2009) is a kind of director’s cut, with over 100 or so episodes of filler removed. If you ever wanted to get into or re-watch DBZ but found the over 300 episode count

Next, the family drama All About My Siblings or Wakamonotachi is being produced to celebrate the 55th anniversary of Fuji TV, and the cast features today’s most popular film stars. Satoshi Tsumabuki, Eita, Hikari Mitsushima, Aoi Yu, and others come together in a slice of life drama about five siblings and their loved ones. Expect both laughter and tears as the family learns how to get along with one another. to be too daunting, then you might be interested in Kai. Sailor Moon was another similarly popular action show. A new version, called Sailor Moon Crystal, began airing this year to commemorate the series’ 20th anniversary. This shorter and more accessible version has completely new animation and all new voice actors. That said, Kotono Mitsuishi is reprising her role as the protagonist, Usagi.

Image Credits: Hero Fuij Television Network, Inc., Wakamonotachi Fuij Television Network, Inc., Dragonball Kai Akira Toriyama and Toei Animation Co., Ltd., Sailor Moon Crystal Naoko Takeuchi and Toei Animation Co., Ltd.


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The Peacocks & Ruins of Kawatana Katy Squicciarini lets us in on some cool sights in Kawatana.


awatana, a little town nestled in between Sasebo and Omura, is best known as the home of one of the most unique attractions in Nagasaki: a peacock park. Boasting a sizable stock of peacocks since the 1960s when an Indian ambassador gifted them to Japan, the peacock park has only grown in the decades following. It now hosts over forty peacocks which continue to awe the public. However, if you’re looking for something less touristy, I would recommend the Kawatana ruins. Although a bit smaller, it is more accessible than Gunkanjima and offers a similar experience. When driving through Kawatana, turn down the small road marked by a “chicken sign” that

shouldn’t be too hard to spot. The road is innocuous, and you will pass by picturesque countryside houses and an interestingly placed sausage factory. Continue on to a pier which will eventually lead you to the striking ruins. Once used as a school for Japanese suicide submarine torpedoes during WWII, the buildings have long since been abandoned and left to nature. One building, accessible only by boat or swimming, stands alone in the water. In another, you can find a tree growing proudly in the center of a room, lending an air of melancholy and magic to this long forgotten building. If you are a fan of history, beautiful scenery, or photography, this place should not be missed! n

Photo Credits: Kawatana ruins photos Doug Bonham, Peacock feather close-up flickr.com/58754750@N08

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Japanese Martial Arts:

Kendo Samurai-in-training Chris McLeod gives us the low-down on Kendo.


he word Kendo, or “The Way of the kata performed to this day are modified Sword,” probably conjures up imfrom practices intended for warriors. ages of armored samurai in battle The bamboo sword (shinai) and armor or sandal-clad ronin clashing swords in a (bougu) were introduced by Naganuma moonlit bamboo grove. This perception Shirōzaemon Kunisato during the Shotoku of samurai, katana, and Japanese sword Era (1711–1715). Modern Kendo is organfighting techniques ized primarily by has been heavily inForm, stance, and fol- the All Japan Kendo fluenced by ancient Federation, which low through, in other words was formed in 1952 legends spread by samurai themselves, the way you strike your after the ban on and by media from martial arts was opponent, are far more Kurosawa films to lifted by post-WWII important than where you anime, manga, and occupying forces. actually hit them. video games. Naturally, modern kendo For those looking is much more grounded in reality, though to take up the sword today, it may be best the old philosophies still persist alongside to forget everything you think you know modern sporting conventions. about sword fighting. Practice can generally be divided into 3 categories: kihon (fundaKendo traces its roots to kenjutsu techmentals), kata (the previously mentioned niques developed on the battlefield. The combat practices), and jigeiko (sparring


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photo Luis Zapata

matches). In Kendo matches, points can only be scored by striking the head (men), right wrist (kote), or either side of the torso (dou). However, form, stance, and follow through, in other words the way you strike your opponent, are far more important than where you actually hit them. All of these elements come into play during kihon practice, particularly when doing kiri-kaeshi, an exercise performed at the beginning of every practice. Sword strikes are performed from the left hand, with the left shoulder responsible for raising and lowering the shinai. The wrists are used to flick the shinai forward at the end of the strike, and the right hand is mostly used to guide and stabilize the shinai. During jigeiko, the goal is to read your opponent’s intentions and react using all of the elements learned during kihon practice. The ranking system in kendo differs somewhat from other martial arts in that there are no belts or outward indicators of a kendo practitioner’s rank. After obtaining 1st kyu, practitioners are ranked from Shodan (1st dan) to Hachidan (8th dan). Shodan can be obtained starting from age 13, and years of practice are required in incrementally increasing intervals before moving up to the next rank (Shodan followed by 1 year of practice, Nidan followed by 2 years of practice, etc.). After practicing for almost two years and achieving Shodan rank, I feel pretty comfortable saying that kendo is as much a life-long project as it is a competitive sport. One of the most important things my sensei taught me is that kendo isn’t about winning or

losing official matches. I haven’t won a single match yet, but my sensei all tell me I’m doing fine because it’s more important to focus on self-improvement. In fact, kendo starts from losing. Practicing with more experienced people shows us our own short comings and areas for improvement as well as reminding the more experienced that we were all weak once, and we continue training in recognition of that weakness. That idea applies to a lot of areas in life, but nothing drives the point home quite like getting repeatedly and easily struck over the head with a bamboo sword. n Check back next issue for a peek into a different Japanese marital art.

Historic Hirado


Remco Vrolijk gives readers an in-depth guide on the historical sights of Hirado and why autumn is truly the best time to visit.


he island currently known as Hirado has had many names in the past. Various theories speculate about its origin, but it most likely came from the range of pointy mountains that were important landmarks on ancient sea faring routes. Some of the oldest archeological discoveries on mainland Japan are from this area, which suggests that since the days of old, this was the entry point to the Japanese archipelago for people crossing over from China or the Korean Peninsula.

Kobo Daishi, father of Japanese culture) left from the now barren beaches in the north only to return later with new schools of Buddhist thought. The first esoteric rituals of Zen Buddhism were held here and the first tea plants used specifically for tea brewing were planted here.

Hirado was used as the last port of call for the Japanese missions to China from the 8th to 12th century. People like Kukai (aka

In 1550, Chinese traders brought the Portuguese to the castle town since the largest Chinese maritime trading and pirate network at the time was based in Hirado. The Portuguese called it Firando and they set up the first base for trade with Europe in Japan. They didn’t just bring goods from far away places but also Christianity, which


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Fantastic Firando! photos Remco Vrolijk

quickly caught on. After a few trading dissilver was mined in Japan at the time and putes the Portuguese moved further south most of it was shipped through this little to Nagasaki but in 1609 the Dutch set up a castle town. The free international trade trading post in Firando, in Hirado was not to with the English followThis was the entry last, as operations were ing suit in 1613. eventually moved in point to the Japanese 1641 to Nagasaki’s DeCombined with the Chi- archipelago for peojima, a well controlled nese and Korean tradple crossing over from man-made island ers, it became a truly which was originally China or the Korean international trading constructed for the PorPeninsula. port. Many Japanese tuguese. such as ronin (masterless samurai) were employed by the Dutch Today, many remnants of Hirado’s rich and English trading companies and left for history can still be seen and in fact autumn, South East Asia. One third of the world’s with its clear skies, is an optimal time to

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visit this area of Nagasaki. A good place to start exploring Hirado would of course be the little castle town itself. Hirado Castle is a concrete reconstruction with only a few original parts remaining, but it houses one of Japan’s oldest swords and provides great views over the town and the Hirado straight. In the castle park you’ll find Kameoka Shrine where Hirado’s principal deities are enshrined. Every year, the Hirado Okunchi festival starts here with a parade and features Kagura dances, which last for almost the entirety of the following day. The town itself is home to the beautiful Matsura Historical Museum, the old headquarters of the Matsura family who had ruled over the Hirado Domain (which included Sasebo) since ancient times. As it is one of the oldest traceable family lines in Japan, the museum houses a very concise and valuable collection of both Japanese and Western items. It is also the oldest museum in the Prefecture. At the entrance of the harbor you can find a careful reconstruction of Japan’s first full-fledged Western style building, originally built in 1639. The museum tells more of the history of international trade. On the other side of town with its red pagoda sits Saikyo-ji temple, the sight of Kukai’s first esoteric Buddhist fire ritual. From here you can follow the lovely Olle walking trail all the way up


to Kawachi Pass. Whether you walk or drive, the wide hilly grasslands have 360 degree views over the northern part of Hirado and on a very clear autumn day, it is possible to see all the way to Iki and even Tsushima. A visit to Hirado would not be complete without a nice trip to the beach. Neshiko village, right in the middle of Hirado Island, has a beautiful bay with a series of great beaches. This area, together with Ikitsuki Island, was the most Christian area in Hirado and after the prohibition of Christianity, many people were martyred here. Those sights became sacred for the Hidden Christians who formed a hybrid religion while trying to conceal their faith. The scenic area between Neshiko and Ikitsuki Island is now a protected cultural landscape and is the only one on the list of sights for Nagasaki’s UNESCO World Heritage bid. If you have any more time to spend in Hirado, go for a drive along Sunset Road in Ikitsuki, climb sacred Mount Shijiki for magnificent views, or take the ferry to Oshima island where you can slip back in time 150 years while visiting the beautifully preserved Konoura village. Since autumn is the best season for sunsets don’t forget to go to Tainohana Park to finish the day with a spectacular sight of the sun setting over Hirado and the Goto islands in the distance! n more information visit: www. 8 For city.hirado.nagasaki.jp/english

Nagasaki Notables:

Guitar W



Andrew Massey tells us about Nagasaki native Seiji and the band Guitar Wolf.


“Warning, this is the loudest album ever recorded. Playing at normal volume may cause irreparable damage to stereo equipment. Use at your own risk.”

his “disclaimer,” which can be read on the labels placed halfjokingly over new copies of their 1999 album Jet Generation, says everything you need to know about Japanese power trio Guitar Wolf. If their lo-fi, heavily distorted, garage punk sound doesn’t leave your speakers buzzing, you’re clearly not playing it loud enough.


This is a band that took Spinal Tap’s advice to heart and always makes sure to crank it to eleven. Proudly claiming the title of “Japanese Greatest ‘JET’ Rock ‘N’ Roll Band” on their website, Guitar Wolf has been blowing out amps and tearing up stages since they first formed in 1987.

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photo flickr.com/chasingfun

Band frontman Seiji (aka Guitar Wolf) is Guitar Wolf has been through some big a Nagasaki native and was interested in changes in their twenty-seven years on playing guitar as early as middle school. the scene. Narita left the band early on Not much else is known about his early in their career and was replaced by Toru life, though it’s rumored that he was as Drum Wolf. In 2005, bassist Billy died captain of his high school kendo club. of a fatal heart attack at the age of 38. After graduating, Still, Guitar Wolf Seiji left Kyushu and If their lo-fi, heavily dis- persevered and traveled to recruited new torted, garage punk sound Tokyo, eventubassist U.G. to ally landing in doesn’t leave your speakers fill Billy’s sizable Harajuku. It was boots. Despite all buzzing, you’re clearly not here that he met these challenges, playing it loud enough bassist, Billy. they remain acThe two became tive to this day friends and began playing music toand still tour regularly both domestically gether. After some convincing, the two and abroad. Their commitment to rockbagged a drummer in the form of Narita, ing out and playing great music makes a co-worker from Seiji’s part time job at a Guitar Wolf one of the most tenacious vintage clothing store. The three adopted bands to ever emerge from Japan, or Ramones-esque stage names, becomanywhere else. LET’S ROCK ‘N’ ROLL! n ing the entities known today as Guitar Wolf, Bass Wolf, and Drum Wolf.

The band’s style may not be particularly new or fresh, but this in no way diminishes their appeal. Fully clad in black leather with motorcycle jackets and dark wraparound sunglasses, Guitar Wolf’s image pays homage to rock legends like The Ramones and Link Wray. Their sound is, in a word, intense. They do everything with the zeal of a Sid Vicious on speed, but still manage to maintain an air of comic relief. This is evident in a number of their music videos, like the b-list sci-fi inspired one for Jet Generation. It’s clear that they don’t take themselves too seriously, but they are always serious about playing solid sets and giving the fans what they deserve.

Questing for... Curry rice is one of the most popular dishes in Japan, and we were eager to know where Nagasaki’s best plate of curry could be found. The Nagazasshi has settled on the following two. First, Johnny Tastepe lets us in on one of Iki’s best kept secrets. Then, Alex Aguirre tells us the real reason why people visit Saikai.

 N

Yoshitomi’s Friday Night Curry

312 Ashibeura, Ashibecho, Iki-shi, Nagasaki-ken 〒811-5301 ( TEL 0920-45-1379

estled in the southwestern reaches of the Sea of Japan lies the small, unassuming rock known as Iki Island. Here, you can find a number restaurants serving the freshest seafood – fresh as in, “I just caught your sashimi this morning.” One such restaurant is Yoshitomi’s, a small, family owned establishment in the eastern town of Ashibe. The seafood is amazingly delicious and the sashimi meal set is highly recommended, but what really makes this restaurant stand out is the Friday night curry. Yoshitomi-san used to serve in the Japan Maritime SelfDefense

Force and would make curry for the crew. He brought his curry recipe with him when he returned to his parent’s restaurant. Only serving it on Fridays, Yoshitomi-san feeds customers from his once-a-week batch, and once the curry is gone, it’s another agonizing week until the next fix. The restaurant is a slender, two-story building that stands out among the adjacent one-story buildings. A purple sign displaying the family name and “Welcome” greets you immediately before entering. Almost completely filling the walls are sketches of various fish they’ve caught and served. It’s a narrow restaurant with only about eight tables, but big enough to accommodate nearly everyone who walks in. Friday curry has been a tradition among Iki locals for many years, a tradition that even the local English teachers are compelled to uphold. Coming in small, regular,

16 photos Johnny Tastepe

medium, or large plates, the curry rice can be modified to include tonkatsu, scrambled eggs, and/or cheese. Pepper in some ginger and onions, and you have yourself a fantastic Ikistyle dish. If you want to run into the local ALTs, your best bet would be to go around 7pm on Fridays! n

Woody Life

21-7 Seihicho, Yagiharago Saikai-shi, Nagasaki-ken 〒851-3423 ( TEL 0959-28-0920


ucked away in Seihi, on the eastern coast of Saikai, lies the legendary curry house Woody Life. The restaurant’s architecture is reminiscent of a log cabin nestled in the woods, complete with trinkets, tchotchkes and tiny knickknacks lining the shelves. While Woody Life’s homey atmosphere may make the customer feel at ease, it’s the cuisine that keeps their cozy little waiting area constantly packed. The main attraction is the Japanese style curry and the portions, which are enough to fill up the hungriest of diners. The flavor is mild with a sweet aftertaste, making for a rustic and hearty meal.

photos Shiori Meadows

curry and vegetable curry, there are more unconventional combinations such as beef tongue curry and seafood curry. Woody Life also serves a variety of comfort foods such as stew, doria, and pizza. While salads aren’t usually a draw for curry restaurants, the greens here are not to be overlooked. These super-fresh salads bring an uplifting feel to the otherwise heavy meals served here by adding a little variety to the menu, both in terms of aesthetics and nutrition. If you somehow have room for dessert, there’s also a selection of handmade sweets you can pick up on your way out. Woody Life stands out as a hidden gem of Saikai. The experience is not one to be missed and you will most certainly be back for more. n

Curry? Along with your traditional pork katsu

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Nagazasshi 7.2  

Delve into the history of one of Japan's most influential port cities in our Sept/Oct issue. We also have staff recommendations for dramas a...

Nagazasshi 7.2  

Delve into the history of one of Japan's most influential port cities in our Sept/Oct issue. We also have staff recommendations for dramas a...