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Beat the Heat Beach Guide|Peiron|Kakigori|Aquatic Adventures



erhaps fittingly, given that June and July herald tsuyu, or “rainy season,” in our corner of Kyushu, the theme of this issue is water.


However, we see no use dwelling on the daily downpours. Instead, we’ll be introducing great aquatic activities which will have you embracing water, rather than shunning it.

Volume 9 Issue 1 July/August 2016

Jennifer Edwards

Deputy Editor-in-chief Jessica Richard


Rosie Fordham Sophie Midgley

Assistant Editors Max Epstein Will Tiley

Copy Editor Will Powell

Layout and Design Dylan Nordstrom

Public Relations Conor Hughes


Daniel Allen Mike Carter Dan Cohen Max Epstein Rosie Fordham Camille Gajate Shiori Meadows Will Morgan Takayuki Odawara Kazuya Okubo Jessica Richard Maki Sugawara Takeshi Uchiyama Remco Vrolijk


Andrew Morris Matthew Nelson www.nagazasshi.com Cover photo: Race Day Takeshi Uchiyama

Check out our feature about Peiron (p. 10), a challenging water sport known elsewhere in the world as Dragon Boating. Then, if contemplating such exertion leaves you thirsty, read all about the refreshing summer snack kakigori (p. 13) – or go and experience the icy goodness for yourself! Finally, there’s no harm in making plans to catch some rays even as the rain is falling. Our guide to Nagasaki’s best beaches (p. 8) shows you where to celebrate the end of rainy season. As it happens, this will be my last Japanese tsuyu (for the foreseeable future, anyway). Come August, I’ll move back to my hometown of London (where, ironically, rain is also not uncommon). I want to thank you all for reading and supporting the Nagazasshi for the last year, and to formally thank the incredible team of people that volunteer their time to put together this magazine. Happy reading – and farewell from me!

Jennifer Edwards, Editor-in-chief

Contents Events


Aquatic Adventures


Life’s a Beach


White Dragons & Rough Seas


Frosty and Famous


Nihon(go) on the Go



How to cool off in the summer heat

Nagasaki’s Beaches Uncovered

The Origins of Japanese Dragon Boat Culture

The cold, hard truth behind Kakigori

8 Photo credits (clockwise from top): Kakigori Camille Gajate; Dragon Boat Takeshi Uchiyama; Neshiko Beach Remco Vrolijk


Event of the Month

Shimabara Water Festival August 6 - 7, Shimabara Come and join the residents of Shimabara City in their celebration of the natural spring water that brings life to their town! The nearby freshwater springs have nourished the Shimabara Peninsula for centuries. Enjoy the celebration with food, drink and friends as you poke around the historic district of Shimabara city. 8 visit-nagasaki.com/spots/detail/543 photo Takayuki Odawara


July/August 2016 | nagazasshi

Events Isahaya Lantern River Festival July 25, Isahaya Park, Isahaya Originally a commemoration of the lives lost during the great flood of 1957, the festival has gradually evolved into a more jovial event dedicated to public safety. The festival features tens of thousands of lanterns floating upon the river along with a wonderful fireworks display. 8 visit-nagasaki.com/spots/detail/106

Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony August 9, Peace Park, Nagasaki Held in remembrance of the lives lost in the 1945 Nagasaki atomic bombing, the event is notably attended by survivors and their families as well as the mayor of Nagasaki, who delivers a speech regarding world peace. Let history be remembered so that we may change the future. 8 visit-nagasaki.com/spots/detail/108

Nagasaki Peiron Championship / Minato Festival July 30 - 31, Nagasaki Seaside Park / Matsugae Int’l Terminal For 350 years, Nagasaki has conducted its annual dragon boat competition (learn more on p. 10). Food and music is available in abundance at the festival, but the massive boat race is also accompanied by songs and the beating of drums. Each day of the event closes with thousands of fireworks. 8 visit-nagasaki.com/spots/detail/105

Spirit Boat Procession August 15, throughout Nagasaki Obon is a traditional Japanese festival held to honor the memory of one’s ancestors, but Nagasaki puts a maritime twist on it. For one night, in a display entirely unique to Nagasaki Prefecture, luminous boats are paraded around town, decorated by family members according to their past relatives’ tastes. 8 visit-nagasaki.com/spots/detail/109

Nakashima River Summer Festival August 1 - 2 & August 22 - 23, Spectacles Bridge, Nagasaki Come and enjoy the spectacle of Meganebashi’s night market. The festival includes lantern-lit celebrations for the duration of the event. Knickknacks, handicrafts, festival food and entertainment are available as well as an unquestionably romantic atmosphere you won’t easily forget. 8 visit-nagasaki.com/spots/detail/544 nagazasshi | July/August 2016

Emukae Sentourou / Thousand Lantern Festival August 23 - 24, Emukae, Sasebo This festival has been lighting up the night of Sasebo for an astounding 500 years! The festival celebrates Buddhist blessings of good health. Throughout the festival, children come to douse a sacred Buddhist statue in water and bless themselves. The festival features 10,000 lanterns hung throughout the town, centered around a pyramid constructed of 3000 additional lanterns. 8 visit-nagasaki.com/spots/detail/110



eed some ideas on how to cool off this summer? Whether you enjoy catching some rays, taking a plunge, or learning a new skill, beat the heat with a day-trip to one of Nagasaki Prefecture’s best natural places to chill. Find out where in our guide below!


Pearl Sea Resort Sea Kayaking There’s no better way to see the 99 Islands than from a kayak. Glide along the calm waters between hundreds of tiny islets. If you’re in the mood for quiet contemplation, rent a single kayak, but if you’d like to share the experience with a special someone, you can also rent one for two. Kayaks are available for rental throughout the summer months, so this is a perfect way to beat the heat, see beautiful scenery up close, and get some exercise, too! 8 visit-nagasaki.com/spots/detail/222

Iki Island

Tatsunoshima Cruise Enjoy the best of Iki island’s crystal blue seas from aboard one of Tatsunoshima’s cruises. Whether you want to fish from a deserted island, swim along untouched shores, or just laze on the deck of your vessel—there is a package to suit your beach holiday needs. Glass-bottomed boats allow for a closer look at the native sea life, while pleasure boats let you see the best of the beautiful natural environment. 8 visit-nagasaki.com/spots/detail/245

Nagasaki Prefecture Tourism Association (一社)長崎県観光連盟 8 http://www.visit-nagasaki.com ENDLESS DISCOVERY

N AGASAKI official visitor guide

Goto Diving Lagoon Take a fifteen-minute cruise from Goto’s Fukue Island to swim amongst colorful tropical fish off the coast of deserted islands, Yaneo and Tatar. Diving packages cater for beginner to intermediate divers, but if you’re not keen on taking the plunge, snorkeling and fishfeeding experiences are also available. Advanced divers can explore the mystical depths of a 100m shipwreck, the most popular dive in Goto. All dives include: two chances to dive, gear and tank hire, insurance, and lunch aboard the cruiser. 8 visit-nagasaki.com/spots/detail/646 ( 090-7160-6433 (English information available. Ask for Mike Carter) Photo credits: Unless explicitly stated otherwise, all photos are the property of Nagasaki Prefecture Tourism Association p. 7 (center photo): Maki Sugawara p. 7 (bottom photo): Mike Carter

amishimabara n i M Nomozaki

Otonanozukoubu Beach Art Appreciate the natural seascape that surrounds Nomozaki’s Community Cafe Ripple whilst getting crafty at an adult art class. Use watercolors, seashells or locally sourced sea fronds to create your very own masterpiece. Classes are held every second and fourth Sunday of the month from 12:00 PM. Be sure to book in advance to secure your spot. 8 visit-nagasaki.com/spots/detail/645


Ayugaerinotaki Waterfall Located in Unzen National Park, Ayugaeri waterfall is the perfect place to cool off this summer. The smooth rock slab at the top creates a natural slide into the refreshing basin, where you may spot a few of the local fish, Ayu. Above the waterfall there is a teahouse where you can enjoy nagashi-soumen (flowing noodles), cooked in the crystal clear water from the surrounding currents. 8 visit-nagasaki.com/spots/detail/625

hed c a e ’ s a B ncover


photo Remco Vrolijk

Lifaseaki Beaches U

Max Epstein takes us on a tour of some of the best beaches in Nagasaki “Life’s a beach.” Though a popular quip, it’s difficult to grasp what the phrase means. Does the beach represent a place of tranquility? A cigarette-addled stretch of grimy sand overrun with screaming

kids? Whatever the meaning of this phrase, if you’re looking to relax or just itching to have some fun in the sun, check out these beaches and don’t forget your sun lotion!

Yuinohama Beach This quaint little grotto can be found to the East of Nagasaki city near Maki Island. What it lacks in size it makes up for in charm—the beach is rarely crowded and the clear waters are calm even by Japanese standards. Complete

with a handful of barbecue and picnicking areas, it’s the perfect place to spend a lazy day and have some lunch in between dips. Even better, the beach offers a first-class view of the sunset and, if the season is right, shooting stars!

Shirikusari A Saikai double-feature that offers both a gorgeous beach and a campsite! Visitors can soak up the scenery and sun by day, but the main attraction begins at night when bioluminescent plankton illuminate the shore and sea like


an aquatic Huis Ten Bosch. Campers can roast weenies by the light of the stars (and plankton), then wash the scent of smoke and sausage off during a morning swim. Readers will have a hard time finding a better beach campsite than this. Why not make a day and night of your trip? Don’t forget to bring extra marshmallows. July/August 2016 | nagazasshi

Neshiko Beach Like an artist’s canvas, this slice of paradise features rolling green hills, white sand you could eat off (but probably shouldn’t) and crystal clear water as far as the eye can see. A mere 30-minute drive from Hirado City Center, Neshiko has been named as one of the most famous swimming spots in Japan, and with good reason!

Beachgoers can revel in snorkeling, volleyball, swimming, or just catch a few rays on the shore. Its isolated location offers a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of popular beaches readers are probably accustomed to, and the seaside provides a sumptuous bit of eye candy for a picnic. A must-visit for beach bums!

Takashima Famous for a coal mine established in 1695, the a z island is now a popular ga c a hangout for tourists and i P n locals alike due to its sunny beaches. Unlike its neighbor Ioujima, Takashima can only be reached by boat. However for about 5,000 yen you can book a round trip package including boat and bus tickets for two and a 300 yen voucher for food, drinks, and more. Taking about an hour, the ferry offers a splendid view of Nagasaki City and the snake-like bridge stretching across the sea to Ioujima. On the approach to the island, you can even spot Gunkanjima, better known as “battleship island.”


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Upon arrival, a red bus transports visitors to the beach. The beach itself resembles a painting. On a cloudless day, the sun’s rays reflect off a tranquil

lagoon separated by a stone ring that allows beachgoers to snorkel to their hearts’ content. Further out sits a diving platform where children and adults alike leap into the refreshingly cool water. The world below is even more vibrant, with colorful fish darting between coral colonies. On the shore, beachgoers soak up rays and a cold beer or two from a beachside kiosk. Though Takashima isn’t the largest island in Nagasaki, it stands out as one of the most memorable. It’s a place where time stands still. Arrive in the morning and before you realize where the day has gone, you’ll be watching the sun set. If you’re planning a trip or simply want to liven up a lazy Sunday, don’t hesitate to visit! n

Special thanks to Daniel Allen and Shiori Meadows for their Hirado and Saikai recommendations

nagazasshi | July/August 2016


White Dragons As local teams prepare for their biggest tournament of the year, Jessica Richard investigates the special connection between peiron, or dragon boat racing, and Nagasaki.

Although dragon boat racing is now an internationally recognized sport, its origins lie in ancient Chinese folklore. The most common story goes that widely-loved poet and politician Qu Yuan (c.340-287BC), having been accused of treason, threw himself into the wild waters of the Miluo River (located in modern-day Jiangxi province). It is said that locals raced out in their long-boats in an attempt to save him, but his body was never retrieved. Afraid that Qu Yuan’s body would fall into the clutches of evil spirits or be eaten by fish, boat-goers beat their drums and splashed the water with their oars to scare these creatures away. Performed annually, this tradition eventually became what we know today as the dragon boat race. The tradition came to Japan in 1655 on the wings of a devastating typhoon. As


&Rough Seas The Origins of Japanese Dragon Boat Culture the storm tore through Nagasaki Harbor, several Chinese merchant ships and their crews were lost, leaving the city in a state of mourning. To appease the wrath of the Storm Gods, superstitious Chinese residents suggested holding a race in the harbor, which quickly gained popularity and became an annual event. In Nagasaki the sport is known by its original Chinese name báilóng. It is written as 白龍 (“white dragon”), yet it is read as “peiron” which is the closest Japanese pronunciation. Described as a “hot-blooded” and “fierce” sport, it was particularly popular during the Edo period. Nagasaki locals flocked to peiron as a way to spend their extra earnings. Peiron enthusiasts funded boats and stimulated the local economy with wild drinking parties to honor recently crowned champions. There were several attempts to shut the sport down due July/August 2016 | nagazasshi

to the perceived “waste” of money that it entailed, yet the fact that peiron still continues today is a testament to its fans and the people who supported the sport throughout its long and tumultuous history.

traditionally decorated in white, black, blue and red, today teams use bright combinations of colors and designs to create their own signature style.

Each team consists of 30-35 people, with 15 rowers on each side rowing in time Though tournaments are now held to the taiko (drum) and the dora (gong). around Japan, Nagasaki retains its Meanwhile, the kaji-tori (navigator) at own unique peiron traditions. For the stern clutches a long wooden rudder, example, Nagasaki’s peiron boats are and steers the team as they hurtle the simple in design, 630m towards the particularly when turning point. Coaches howl comparing them praise and criticism at the top of their lungs to the highly With the balance of decorated dragona nora-neko (stray headed vessels typically seen in Hong cat) and the strength of an ox, it’s up to Kong and Singapore. the kaji-tori to swerve the boat around the 3 meter-high buoy as the coaches Approximately 13.6m in length, and howl praise and criticism at the top of rowed by up to 30 people, the boats are their lungs. Waves swirl over the sides of longer than they are wide and are said to the boat during the race, while a waterresemble the shape of a whale. Although scooper works tirelessly to bail the water.

Each member of the team must work as one throughout the race—one badlytimed stroke may slow the boat down and cost the team a place in the finals. Races are incredible demonstrations of endurance and teamwork, and the exhilaration for all involved (or spectating!) during and following a race is second to none. Originally a male-dominated sport, the 400th anniversary celebration of Japanese-Dutch relations in 2000 allowed female teams to complete in Nagasaki’s annual tournament, the Minato Matsuri (Harbor Festival), for the first time. Along with women’s and local community teams, the festival attracts participants from major companies, junior high schools, and communities from all over Japan. 50-60 teams compete in the two-day festival and the overall winner secures

the opportunity to travel to Hong Kong to compete in the international tournament the following year. This year’s Minato Matsuri festival will take place on July 30th and 31st. So, if you want to support a centuries-old Nagasaki tradition while watching a stunning display of human strength and teamwork, head to Matsugae International Ship Terminal and choose a team to cheer! Even if chaotic boat racing isn’t your thing, the party atmosphere around the harbor will surely be enough to convince you that peiron is not to be missed! n Information for this article compiled thanks to Kazuya Okubo and 8 pe-ron.kikita. net/index.html photos Takeshi Uchiyama

Frosty and Famous Kakigori

Rosie Fordham explores the historical, flavorful appeal of kakigori photo Camille Gajate

According to The Japan Quality Review, what sets kakigori apart from ice cream or sorbet is “the custom of savoring and appreciating the quality of the ice itself.” photo flickr.com/norio-nakayama

In my first year teaching in Japan, I asked my junior high school students what they liked best about summer. While answers like “summer vacation,” “swimming,” and “ice cream” were prevalent, another item that kept coming up was “kakigori.”

match. That’s because kakigori is so much more than just flavored ice—kakigori has a proud culinary tradition dating back a thousand years.

Kakigori (かき氷) is Japanese shaved ice flavored with fruity syrup and often served with a topping of sweetened condensed milk. Having grown up in the US, where the closest you can get to shaved ice is a sad looking snow cone with a sprinkling of corn-starchy syrup, I wasn’t very excited by the prospect of eating kakigori. Eventually, on the rainiest, least summery day possible, I finally tried it for myself at a tiny neighborhood shop. I was happy to discover that kakigori has a depth of flavor and a light, refreshing quality that no mere snow cone can nagazasshi | July/August 2016


This has a great deal to do with kakigori’s history. According to inHamamatsu.com, ice was historically difficult to obtain in Japan. Though the first reference to kakigori in Japanese history appears in Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book, written around the year 1002 CE in the Heian Era, the dessert wouldn’t actually become available to the masses until the 19th Century.

Now kakigori is a staple of summertime in Japan—its classic flavor joined by countless other variants. A quick scan of the kakigori tag on Rocket News 24 shows just how many ways there are to enjoy this frozen treat. Kakigori can be topped with anything, including fresh fruit, red beans, chocolate, and even ice cream, not to mention the variations of the treat in other Asian countries like Korea and Taiwan. When the red and blue banners advertising kakigori appear this summer, don’t be as quick to dismiss this fabled summer treat as I was. It not only has a venerable history, it has more than enough variety to satisfy any palate. n


photo Camille Gajate

At that time, Kahei Nakagawa, a prominent entrepreneur, founded Hakodate Ice, and ice at last became available to the average citizen. In the next century, technologies like icemakers and ice shaving machines allowed the dessert’s popularity to grow.

Nihon(go) on the Go The arrival of 梅雨 (tsuyu - rainy season) in Japan means that summer is approaching. Officially, 海開き (umibiraki - the start of the beach season) is on 海の日 (uminohi - Marine Day, July 18th this year), but it’s usually warm enough to swim once 梅雨 is over. This month we will look at some cool words to use on hot days. First off, note that in English you “go to the beach,” but in Japanese you 「海に行く」or “go to the sea.” When you head out, make sure you’ve got your 水着 (mizugi - swimsuit), タオル (taoru - towel), 日焼け止め (hiyakedome sunscreen), and of course 友達 (tomodachi - friends) with you. Putting together a beach trip can be tricky, but these magic words will help you with your plans:

海に行きたい !

(Umi ni ikitai! - I want to go to the beach!) You can swap out 海 for any place that you’d like to go, such as コンビニ (konbini - convenience store), or 五島 (gotou – The Nagasaki island paradise of Goto). Make sure you recognize the kanji for 男 (otoko - male) and 女 (onna - female) before you head into the 更衣室 (koishitsu - changing room). Also, remember to keep an eye out for かき氷 (kakigori - Read about it on p. 13)! Please note that lifeguards are generally only on duty during the four week swimming season from July 18th to August 15th, so swim at your own risk in June and September. Have a great summer!

Dan Cohen & Will Morgan

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Nagazasshi 9.1  

Water you doing this summer? Hop into the deep end with our aquatic events and banish the rainy season blues!

Nagazasshi 9.1  

Water you doing this summer? Hop into the deep end with our aquatic events and banish the rainy season blues!