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the refill Fukuoka JET newsletter

Issue #4

Tohoku aftermath │ JR Hakata City │ Art in Fukuoka │ Events the refill | April/May 2011 1

Editor’s note


arch saw Japan experience one of the greatest natural disasters of this century. While the physical effects did not reach Fukuoka, the repercussions of the disaster were felt globally. In a time when actions speak louder than words, communities worldwide have stepped up to lend a hand. I am proud of the positive steps that the foreign community in Fukuoka has and continues to take.

During this process of rebuilding, it is also a time of transition for many on JET. The new school year has just begun with all the challenges, joys and enkais April regularly brings. As we settle into summer, those returning home will be starting the process of packing and saying goodbye. To you, we hope you enjoy the last few months of your JET experience and all the best. And to those reappointing, who will be making plans to see fireworks and don yukata, we recommend you enjoy feeling cold while you can!

the refill #4 ǀ April/May 2011

Editor-in-chief Rebekah Randle

Content Editors Keliko Adams Lindsay Pyle

Layout and Design

With Golden Week just around the corner, we hope those traveling enjoy new things and great adventures! Please keep your pens and cameras ready for whatever may come your way. We encourage you to write us at the.refill. with any comments, suggestions or submissions for future issues.

Rebekah Randle Editor-in-chief

AJET: The Comic


by Yannick McLeod

Hugh McCafferty

Copy Editor Eryk Salvaggio

Contributors Marie Ayabe Laura Cardwell Monica Daniel-Power Itumeleng Dube Lauren Every-Wortman Eliza Han Sumomo Matsumoto Eileen Ng Fay Sandford Mike Seidman Cover photo: Eryk Salvaggio

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Inside 4 Short shorts

12 Photo: Eryk Salvaggio

Lesser-seen Fukuoka: JR Hakata City Top 5: 80s Japanese musicians

8 In Fukuoka

Taro&Hana dog cafĂŠ Art in Fukuoka


12 Travel

Beijing/Shanghai Miyazaki City

16 Living

Who are you? Recipes

Photo: Eryk Salvaggio

20 Opinion

Family of 5 in Fukuoka Tohoku earthquake aftermath

26 Entertainment Events Doshas

Photo: Marie Ayabe

30 Reviews

Shirukurodo Earth Celebration

32 Photos



JR Hakata City

Short shorts: Lesser-seen Fukuoka



aybe Hakata Station is an odd choice for a “Lesser Seen Fukuoka.” But given the size of the recent expansion, it’s unlikely that anyone has got around to seeing everything.

After all, the opening of the renovated station may as well be the opening of a new city. Not only because it has more shops and restaurants (230) in its eight floors than most inaka towns, but because the population of transient rail passengers averages in at around 350,000 people per day. I’d never think it was possible to spend an entire day in a train station, but JR Hakata City has transformed my vision of rail transportation and Saturday afternoons. The Tokyu Hands department store, on its own, could keep anyone occupied for hours. More than just another depaato (such as Tenjin’s Loft or Incube), Tokyu Hands is a central hub for do-it-yourself projects of any kind. Art supplies, construction supplies, buildyour-own-victrola kits and even leatherworking equipment is available, and local artists have a rotating showcase for creative wares.

There’s a reason Fukuoka’s expanded train hub is called a city, says Eryk Salvaggio

Meanwhile, Hankyu - one of the original “train station” anchor stores, named for the Hankyu rail service - bookends the opposite side of the complex, for more straightforward fashion and beauty shopping. Passionate readers will be delighted to know there is another bookstore with a large English section that rivals Tenjin’s Junkado: Maruzen’s new branch has English novels, non-fiction and even translated manga.

There is also food for every meal of the day, including more than one bagel shop and a fried egg sandwich stand for that elusive Japanese breakfast. The basement levels of Hakata have been soaked in coffee shops and bakeries, with the scent of pastries so strong it has forever changed my idea of what train stations smell like. Lunch fare in the basement ranges from pizza to kaiten zushi (conveyor belt sushi) and plenty of spots for udon, ramen and katsu.

Recommended, with some caveats, is El Borracho on the top floor, a Mexican restaurant with a limited menu and small portions that serves up the most authentic Mexican food I’ve found in Fukuoka, with a staff that speaks English and Spanish as well as Japanese. Make sure to try the guacamole chips, beef enchiladas and tacos and be prepared for their impressive array of tequilas. Resist the lure of the overpriced and barely-packed burrito and you won’t be disappointed. At the open-air rooftop shrine, you can look out for a view of the surrounding city as if from a mountaintop. Of course, the old haunts of the Hakata area are still around, including the arcade and restaurants on the top floor of Yodabashi camera and Canal City only a short walk away. And because there’s a railroad station somewhere in the midst of all this, you won’t have to worry much about how you’ll be getting home. Eryk Salvaggio is an ALT in Kasuya. His former home state of Maine was three times the size of Kyushu and had just one respectable train station.

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I’d never think it was possible to spend an entire day in a train station, but JR Hakata City has transformed my vision of rail transportation and Saturday afternoons

” Photo: Eryk Salvaggio

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Short shorts: Top five Shonen Knife

Somewhat interesting

‘80s Japanese musicians Laura Cardwell takes us back in time before Japanese pop bands had 48 members 6

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1. Yellow Magic Orchestra Sounds kinda like: Kraftwerk in bright colors Recommended album: Solid State Survivor Yellow Magic Orchestra got together in Tokyo in 1978, originally as a one-shot studio project. Their debut selftitled album landed them international fame and their second release, Solid State Survivor, launched them into superstardom in the world of technopop (as it’s called in Japanese). Yellow Magic Orchestra released nine studio albums between 1978 and 1993 and still occasionally get together to record or tour. With fun English-language cyberpunk lyrics paired with the innovative use of digital music technology, the biohazard-level infectious pop hooks in tunes like “Rydeen” and “Behind the Mask” will surely infect you. Fun fact: Michael Jackson recorded a cover of Yellow Magic Orchestra’s “Behind The Mask” which appears on his posthumous album “Michael.” 2. Shonen Knife

Sounds kinda like: The Ramones, if they were hungry ladies Recommended album: Pretty Little Baka Guy Osaka power trio Shonen Knife has aged remarkably well, with a solid threedecade career of carefree pop-punk with a lo-fi, DIY vibe. They sing in an endearing hodge-podge of English and Japanese, with lyrical themes ranging from candy bars to cuddly small animals. Musical influences include ‘60s girl groups, The Ramones (they have been billed for shows as “The Osaka Ramones”), and the Beach Boys. Pretty Little Baka Guy was released in 1986 and later that year Shonen Knife hit it off in the USA and UK. While they were in highest demand during the alternative and grunge-friendly ‘90s (they toured with Nirvana; Kurt Cobain adored them), they’ve been active since 1981 and are still going strong today. 3. Rebecca

Sounds kinda like: Madonna, but a bit squeakier Recommended album: Blond Saurus Somewhat deceptively, Rebecca contains no members actually named Rebecca. Powerhouse frontwoman Nokko is the eccentric prima donna of the ‘80s J-pop scene, analogous to Madonna

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in the U.S. She has performed with Steve Vai and after Rebecca’s split-up, continued flying solo, living part-time in New York. Rebecca is a household name for pretty much any Japanese woman in the thirty to forty set; growing up they probably crimped their hair to catchy pop hits like “Virginity,” “Friends,” and “Vanity Angel.” Blond Saurus is my favorite Rebecca release. Check out the music video for “Vanity Angel” – those random dancing foreigners look suspiciously like they could be out-of-work ALTs fallen on hard times. 4. Soft Ballet

Sounds kinda like: Depeche Mode, to a T Recommended album:   Earth Born Not to be confused with Spandau Ballet or Soft Cell, Soft Ballet offer up quality industrial-rock-synthpop with a sinister edge and deep, baritone singing that has become synonymous with all that is goth in Japanese music.  They wore their influences on their sleeves as indicated by the fact that their debut album Earth Born could have been released by Depeche Mode. Active from 1986-1995 and 2002-2003, they released about a dozen singles and 9 studio albums. The title track on Earth Born was never released as a single, but in my opinion, it stands out far above all the others, achieving perfect harmony between industrial synthpop and intangible, romantic “goth” bliss. 5. Ippu-Do

Sounds kinda like: If Neu! and Kraftwerk had a Japanese baby Recommended album: Real Ippu-Do, sadly no longer active, played a fantastically ADD blend of krautrock, new wave, and synthpop.  On Real, their 1980 sophomore effort, listeners are taken on a wild ride through various synthesizer sounds and textures, much of which is incredibly edgy and advanced given the year of release.  It really comes as no surprise that it was recorded in Berlin. One hears obvious hat-tipping to Neu! and Kraftwerk (there’s even a track called “Neu!”), but it’s the brilliant, schizophrenic kaleidoscope of other eclectic influences from reggae to surf rock that make Real a valuable time capsule that defies categorization.  Good luck finding it; for a much more cohesive review check on

Laura Cardwell is a leaving third-year ALT and a rabid music fan who would very much like to make you a mixtape.


In Fukuoka

The truth

about cafés and dogs Fay Sandford tells of an incredible journey for a dog day afternoon


e - I’m an animal lover. Always have been. As long as it doesn’t have tentacles or rabies, I’m a fan. As a baby, I would only eat if my dad sat our family dog on his knee and held the spoon under her paw like she was feeding me (Unhygenic? Probably. Odd? Undoubtedly). Imagine my disgust upon discovering that several of my closest friends here are allergic to and/or hate cats, ruling out a trip to Fukuoka’s cat cafés. So when a teacher mentioned a dog café in nearby Kurosaki, I was elated.

Taro&Hana opened in April 2005 and has been playing host to human and canine customers ever since. It has a slightly different setup to a cat café in that there aren’t an abundance of dogs that live there, rather customers bring their own dogs to eat and socialize! Large signs in the car park proclaim ‘DOG CAFÉ: TACOS AND COFFEE’, nicely summing up what Taro&Hana has to offer. Upon our arrival, we became a little overexcited on spotting two bouncy Labradors at the window - “OH MY GOD I CAN SEE TWO DOGS!” The friendly cafe owner greeted us and introduced us to the dogs-in-residence, ChaCha and Hana.

beef jerky, accompanied by a complimentary bowl of water.

While you are waiting for your taco, you can browse the shop attached to the café, which sells everything you’d ever need for your doggy pal. Or, flip through the abundance of dog magazines and check the classifieds for Shiba Inu sales. Alternatively, simply admire the ‘Wall of Fame’ of past customers’ photographs and play the ‘which is your favourite?’ game. I chose to launch Hana’s ball around the café in a bid to have her pay more attention to me than the customers eating at the bar.

Dogs are not Taro&Hana’s only draw - it boasts a surprisingly delicious and reasonably priced menu for dogs and owners alike

Dogs are not Taro&Hana’s only draw. It boasts a surprisingly delicious and reasonably priced menu for dogs and owners. I recommend the taco – wash it down with a Corona and share a delicious crepe with your (human) mates. For your canine companion, they offer such delights as risotto and


dog traffic.

Sadly, on our visit, ChaCha and Hana were the only dogs there to play with not quite the 10 each we had madly dreamed of beforehand. However, my teacher assures me there were at least five when she was last there. Perhaps the next JETs to visit will be there on a day with heavier

When you’re homeward bound, save yourself from a 1.5 hour trek and Converse-induced blisters by taking bus no.75 from Kurosaki station. For more info, check Taro&Hana online at:

Fay Sanford is a first-year ALT in Kitakyushu. She enjoys Earl Grey tea and war propaganda posters but loathes poetry and the monorail. April/May 2011 │

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One of Taro&Hana’s cuddly inhabitants. Photo: Fay Sandford

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in Fukuoka

Installation shot from Kengo Minami exhibition at 3 Studio and Exhibition Space. Photo: Lauren Every-Wortman

part one Chuo ward 10

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In the first of a four-part series, Lauren Every-Wortman gives a round-up of the local art scene in Fukuoka, starting with art spaces near Tenjin in Fukuoka City


inding an art gallery in a city is something I’ve never found difficult to do. Usually you can walk down a main street and find an assortment of art spaces, whether in a cafe, gallery, or museum. But like most things in Japan, it’s different.

While big names such as Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara have gained international acclaim, artists are given very little exposure on a local level. Galleries and museums are tucked down alleyways, up in 4th floor cafes, on top of 52-story high-rises and often in unexpected neighborhoods far from the heart of the city.

The iPhone even has an app dedicated to guiding art enthusiasts to the elusive art spaces of Tokyo. It’s possible to accidentally enter a space through the back storage room or show up to a venue to find A) it’s been closed down and boarded up or B) It’s really a coffee shop with one wall to hang one photograph. Needless to say, my art-loving heart was pining. In Fukuoka prefecture, you have a few obvious institutions such as the Fukuoka Museum of Art in Ohori Koen, advertised in travel blogs and articles introducing “Things to Do in Fukuoka.” But after going once, you might not want to go back every time you want to see some artwork. And maybe you don’t feel like making the trek all the way to Fukuoka city from Omuta. What then?

I’d like to make it easier for you. If you’re an art enthusiast and don’t have time to conduct your own treasure hunt, or if you’re just a little bored of the same old shrine and temple scene, check out some of these galleries and art museums listed below. This issue’s listings concentrate on the Tenjin area. Look out for Hakata, Kitakyushu and off the beaten track in upcoming issues of The Refill. Whether Edo period woodblock prints or contemporary T-shirt exhibitions, there’s something in these hidden gems for everyone. 3 Studio and Exhibition Space Next to a custom motorcycle shop on the Suzaki Pier, this warehouse space is a little out of the way, but if it’s a nice day for a walk around the wharf you should check it out.

Art Space Baku Have a look in their small art space before enjoying a cup of coffee or glass of preferred spirits in the attached café. Konya 2023 Don’t miss this gallery tucked down a Daimyo alley and up a flight of stairs. Depending on the show it might be worth

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the hunt.

Artium (IMS building 8F) Up on the 8F of the IMS building this one is easy to miss, but try to stop by for Groovisions’ first solo design exhibition, open until May 8.

Institute France-Japan of Kyushu If there isn’t a show on, there’s at least a movie to watch. This month check out Osamu Akira’s installation up through May 7. Fukuoka Art Museum Until May, go see Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, Edo period vases, and paintings by Tomita Keisen. And don’t miss Yayoi Kusama’s Pumkpin near the entrance. Fukuoka Prefectural Museum of Art Located in Suzaki Park, a 15-minute walk from Tenjin, this museum has a variety of shows. But they try to concentrate on artists from Fukuoka. Gallery Moryta Check out works by Kenji Kobayashi at this Akasaka gallery. IAF Shop Check out Yamaguchi’s sculpture exhibit (up until May) or check their schedule for screenings and performances.

Gallery Toile (Towaru) This is a craft-based gallery featuring glass works, ceramics, and the occasional handmade jewelry. Come see what the local artists and artisans have to show you.

By no means comprehensive, this is the first of a four part series meant to introduce galleries and museums in Fukuoka Prefecture. These locations often hold performances and lectures along with regular art exhibitions. Be sure to check out each venue’s website for access, updated events and exhibition schedules. Make sure to print out the address, or use Google maps to find the location—asking tends to be unfruitful. Lauren Every-Wortman is a first-year ALT in Kitakyushu. She loves contemplating contemporary art, has an incurable case of wanderlust and a “thing” for city parks.



The Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. Photo: Mike Behnken


Beijing DAYS Shanghai NIGHTS

Itumeleng Dube takes a closer look at life in China and finds he misses his home in Japan 12

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y winter trip to China was an appreciated mistake filled with cheap beers, great walks on Great Walls and bomb shelters with gay club themes. It was my first winter in the Northern Hemisphere and I was in one of the coldest cities in the East.

Two ALTs and I took a ferry from Shimonoseki to Qingdao port. As we traveled there, my impression of China was a country with limited freedoms - outlined by a little red book - and dullcolored suits with amusing collars. When the ferry docked, police and soldiers were standing at their posts - exactly what we expected. The officers were dressed in winter gear – long army-green coats, brown combat boots and that Russian-looking fur hat with a red star. I was on my best behavior: I didn’t make any sudden movements, didn’t talk or even look at them. We stood out already. There was no need to draw any extra attention. When I got to customs, I smiled and said “hello” to the officer. She kept a straight face. I gave her my passport and she looked at it, looked at me, then looked at my passport. She repeated that procedure twice. Finally, she put her stamp on it.

We went to Qingdao station to get our tickets to Beijing. The station had an English counter to help us with our tickets. The only problem was that the train with available seats was arriving in four hours. With a few hours to kill we decided to check out the Qingdao pier. On the way to the pier we walked along a beach and saw that all the guys were playing beach volleyball in their underwear, yet I was freezing my soul off! We caught the train to Beijing for a five-hour trip that lasted seven hours - and this was supposed to be a “fast train”.

My view of China was changed the next evening when we went out for a few drinks and landed at a gay club

The guy in charge of the map with the name and directions to the hostel we were going to stay in forgot it. So we tried to explain, in English, to a Chinese-speaking taxi driver that we were looking for the International Youth Hostel. We tried Japanese and, eventually, he kicked us out of his taxi. We got help from a guy who knew some English, who told a driver that we were looking for a hotel. At first we were just driving around looking for any hotel we could find, but as luck would have it we found the one we had originally booked, though that was around 1:50 a.m.

The next day we headed to the Great Wall, but it was so cold that I had to psyche myself up just to take out my camera.

My view of China was changed the next evening when we went out for a few drinks and landed at a gay club. This country is not so tightly run and the people here are in fact free to be whatever they want. The next day we explored the Temple of heaven, Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City. We spent New Year’s in the streets of Shanghai and had a great time, but almost froze to death while trying to get a taxi back to the hostel amongst the millions of people trying to get a taxi. It was like walking the Great Wall in winter with a broken ankle and a panda on your back.

The next day we went to the Shanghai tower, the Bund, the French Concession and Nanjing Road. In the evening we met up with some friends from South Africa and we passed by the Jingan temple. We indulged in the nightlife and yet again landed up in a gay club called Studio. This place was formerly used as a bomb shelter, so it was built like a labyrinth with tunnels and dance floors.

The following evening we had planned to get on an overnight train back to Qingdao, only to discover that the ticket agents sold us midday tickets instead of the midnight tickets we requested. On top of that they gave us attitude on our appeal to be given our money back, even though this was their mistake. As a result we had a full swing standoff that continued for two hours. We eventually got our money back, booked a flight to Qingdao and flew out as the ferry was leaving. When we got back to Japan, I had never thought that I would miss it so much.

Itumeleng Dube is an ALT in Tobata, who only cares about POLO fridays and chocolate sauce-coded Facebook status updates.

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land of shrines and chicken


Eryk Salvaggio finds fried chicken worthy of the Gods in Japan’s mythological birthplace


ccording to Japanese mythology, Miyazaki is the land of the first Emperor, descended from the Sun Goddess, fathered and abandoned by the God of the Sea. This myth permeates the dark, cool temples that line the rocky coast. It’s also evident in the divine taste of Miyazaki’s signature dish, Chicken Nanban, which spawned a four-hour trek to southern Kyushu.

For most people, the primary attractions in Miyazaki are the


beaches. Lush forests line the highways and signs warn of unexpected boar and monkey crossings. Leaving Miyazaki city, these roads hug the coastline. Visitors with cars can scope out their ideal piece of beachfront real estate for their date with the Sun Goddess.

The unique beaches of Aoshima Island, seen from the sky, resemble a photograph scratched by a key. Long black streams of rock jut like saw blades from the sea, a formation April/May 2011 │

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Imaginative décor at The Family Ogura Restaurant. Photo: Eryk Salvaggio

statues guard a small shrine. Behind that, clay disks can be tossed onto a rock altar in a game resembling a ring-toss. Success in that task ensures success in love and family.

On the mountainside, just a few feet from the coast, is Udo Shrine. Built inside a cave looking over the sea, the view along the way is a spectacular ocean panorama punctuated by tall rocks and palm trees.

Like Aoshima, a test of skill awaits anyone who wants to make a wish. A rock formation a few feet away from the mountainside is lined with a straw rope. The shrine sells small clay balls you can throw with your left hand; if you get one within the straw circle, your wish is said to come true.

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Wishes for deliciousness are more easily granted.

Chicken Nanban was invented in Miyazaki City, and one restaurant holds the title for the best in Japan: The Ogura Honten, or “Original Ogura” restaurant, is hidden in a tiny alley in the downtown shopping arcades of Shiki-dori. Two floors, decked out in owls and gnomes, look like a quirky great aunt’s house that hasn’t been renovated since the ‘70s. Faded birch tree wallpaper is punctured with tacks to hold faded, pen-marked maps of the region and pictures of baseball players cut from magazines.

for Mike Seidman’s delicious Chicken Nanban recipe!

Of course, you can order Chicken Nanban throughout Kyushu. It’s usually served as bite-sized chunks of chicken, coated in a sweet tartar sauce.

The name nanban, which refers to the “Southern Barbarians,” derives from the use of the term in describing Spanish and Portuguese traders, whose oils and tartar sauces influenced the dish.

Imagine turkey stuffing in a blender with tartar sauce and then imagine that tasting good

called “The Ogre’s Washboard.” Tidal pool enthusiasts will find crabs and snails in abundance. The island is host to a unique ecosystem just a few feet away from the jagged coastline, separated by a ring of white sand. You can explore the flowers and shrine or hide from the heat in swaying palm trees. The shrine on Aoshima has a unique twist on wishing for love. After passing through a small inlet into the forest, dog

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Nanban in Miyazaki is nothing like the Fukuoka plate. “Jidori” chicken is a Miyazaki specialty - “free range local traditional pedigree chicken” - and is worth trying anywhere in the prefecture, especially grilled or served with miso sauce.

The chicken at Ogura Honten and its sister location, Family Ogura, is some of the tenderest white meat I’ve had in Japan. The cutlets are fried, but not greasy. The Nanban sauce was seasoned with carrot, onion, celery, parsley and a touch of something sweet. It’s thick and starchy, but not dense. Imagine turkey stuffing in a blender with tartar sauce - and then imagine that tasting good. The second location - the Family Ogura Restaraunt - has a more diverse menu and an even more bonkers approach to interior design, but the sauce wasn’t quite as legendary. It did, however, include a dinner that would shame even the heartiest American restaraunt portions: Ebi fry, chicken nanban, a hamburger with demiglasse, rice, salad, spaghetti, ham and a slice of apple. It’s like a ticket to the States for 1300 yen. Eryk Salvaggio is an ALT in Kasuya and blogs at



Who are you? Eliza Han teaches you about the complexities of second person pronouns in Japanese


ow are you?” and “How are you doing?” are some of the most common greetings, repeated everyday, used by ‘I’ (the active speaker) to check if ‘you’ (the passive listener) are well and alive.

But in Japan, I often hear, “What does Eliza think?”(イラ イザはどう思いますか? Eliza wa dou omoimasu ka?) It took some time before I got used to hearing my name used in place of the second person pronoun. It just sounds so… childish. It isn’t that there are no second-person pronouns in the Japanese language; in fact, the rich collection of these words in Japanese makes the one and only ‘you’ in English seem dull in comparison. However, it is considered taboo to refer to someone directly in Japanese, so position/direction terms are used instead. Common second-person pronouns like あなた (anata), お前 (omae), てまえ (temae) literally mean ‘person over there’, ‘person in front’. The initial sense of respect endowed upon these pronouns faded with frequent use, to the extent that it is almost as rude as pointing fingers while shouting “Oi you!” at a superior. So to avoid humiliating your conversation partner and yourself, second-person pronouns are on their way to extinction.

the speaker and the listener and their respective responsibilities. For example, the people you refer to as お 父さん (otōsan, ‘father’) and お母さん (okāsan, ‘mother’) should ensure that you do not starve to death. Through the use of these second-person pronoun substitutes, social roles are made clear and allow the ‘you’ and ‘me’ of a conversation to be at ease because we know what is expected – and what to expect from the other.

Despite all that, “あなた” is probably one of the first things we are taught as learners of Japanese. This makes perfect sense, since what good does feeding an overload of information do a newbie whose understanding of the language is close to that of a newborn?  However, secondperson pronouns still have their place in daily conversation – especially amongst friends, and in some dialects it is even said to be a sign of affection.  Therefore, it pays to pause and think for a second before accusing someone of not giving you the respect you deserve should you find yourself addressed as あなた.  Japan is known for its ambiguity, so it is no surprise that the language reflects this part of the culture.

It took some time before I got used to hearing my name used in place of the second person pronoun

But worry not! Japanese offers a wide range of options aside from your usual proper nouns. For instance, instead of taking the risk of offending your boss or other superiors by calling out あなた (anata) or their name, simply address them by a title - for example, 部長 (buchō, ‘department chief’). That way, you acknowledge the fact that the person you’re talking to is superior, with the bonus of subtly reminding them that it is their job to look after you at work. Similarly, kinship terms reflect the relationship between


While I can babble on endlessly about fictive functions and other fascinating features of the use of second-person pronouns in the Japanese language, I shall stop here before sending my dear readers (yay, I managed not to use ‘you’!) right off to dreamland. Having written this article, I am grateful that we can get away with ‘you’ in English – very handy when you just cannot seem to recall the name of the person you’re talking to! Eliza Han is a second-year CIR who is employed by Fukuoka-ken but works in the heart of Fukuoka-shi. She likes to throw in ‘anata’ and ‘omae’ when talking to her close colleagues just to see their reaction. April/May 2011 │

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Pointing: Largely unappreciated in Japan. Photo: J.E. Theriot

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Recipes Baked chicken

Sumomo Matsumoto shares two delicious recipes that are easy to make!


Ingredients: • 400g sasami (chicken breast fillet) • (A) 5 tbsp breadcrumbs + 4 tbsp mayonnaise + 3 tbsp parmesan cheese • (B) 1 tbsp olive oil • (C) 1 bunch parsley

Directions: Step 1: Place cooking sheet (optional) on a baking pan & put (B) 1 tbsp olive oil. Step 2: Chop chicken breast fillet into 4 or 5 pieces and place them on the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Step 3: Chop (C) parsley finely. Step 4: Mix (A) with the (C) chopped parsley. Step 5: Spread the paste over the chicken evenly. Sprinkle the last 1 tbsp of olive oil over it. Step 6: Put it in the toaster oven (not preheated), bake for 20 min on high heat or 180-200 degrees Celsius. Step 7: Serve with rice/pasta/bread.

Chirashizushi Ingredients: • 2 cups rice + 400ml water + 10cm sq. dried konbu kelp • (A) 1tbsp Japanese sake + 3 tbsp vinegar + 2 tbsp sugar + 1/2 tsp salt • (B) 4 leaves shiso (or basil) + 2 tbsp sesame seed • (C) 1 pack shibazuke (purple-colored pickles) • (D) 3 slices salmon • (E) 1 bunch mitsuba (or honeywort) + nanohana (or field mustard) • (F) 3 eggs + 70ml Japanese sake + 2 tbsp sugar + 1/2 tsp salt • (G) 2 sheet nori (seaweed) Directions: Step 1: Rinse rice, add water & konbu and cook in a rice cooker (It should take about 30 min) Step 2: While rice is cooking, shred (B) basil leaves, drain


ちらしずし & dry it with paper towel. Step 3: Chop (C) pickles finely. Step 4: Grill (D) salmon, skin, bone and flake it. Step 5: Boil (E) honeywort and field mustard under a minute, drain, cut in 3cm length & soak in salted water. Step 6: Put (F) in a pan, beat well & place over medium heat. Keep stirring with 5-6 chopsticks until the moisture has evaporated. Step 7: Cut (G) seaweed into 1cm squares. Step 8: Put (A) in a pan, place over low heat to dissolve gradually (be careful not to boil, otherwise vinegar will lose its flavor). Step 9: Once rice is cooked, pour (A) over the rice. Mix it with a spatula with a fast slashing motion so that extra moisture evaporates. Add (B), (C) & (D) to the rice. Cool. Step 10: Cup the rice on a plate. Garnish with eggs, greens & seaweed. April/May 2011 │

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Chicken Nanban


he country of Japan is host to a wide range of foods known as you-shoku: “western dishes” with a distinctly Japanese spin. Contrary to the common misconception that Japanese cuisine is uniformily good for you, these dishes tend to be fried and oily on a scale that puts American greasy-spoon diners to shame. Chicken nanban (lit. southern-barbarian chicken), is one such dish and it does not disappoint. High quality chicken pieces are deep-fried, then drenched in a sweet glaze before being topped with a creamy tartar sauce.

チキン南蛮 Mike Seidman’s take on Miyazaki’s most delicious culinary export

Recently I took a trip with Eryk Salvaggio and some others to Miyazaki Prefecture (see page 14), where we embarked on pilgrimage to the hallowed birthplace of chicken nanban: a humble restaurant called Ogura Honten. It was there that some brilliant chef first coated a freakin’ piece of fried chicken in glaze and then topped it with a mayonnaisebased sauce. I have spent following weeks obsessively attempting to reverse-engineer this scientific miracle and replicate the amazing chicken nanban that we ate at Ogura. Below is my best attempt at recreating the legendary nanban that started it all.

Ingredients: Fried chicken • 5 chicken breasts (if available, use jidori chicken) • 1 cup flour • 1/2 cup corn starch • Salt and pepper to taste • 2 eggs, beaten • Vegetable oil Glaze • 1/2 cup soy sauce • 1/2 cup mirin • 1/2 cup sake • 6 tbsp sugar • 3/4 onion • 1 carrot Tartar sauce • 1/2 cup mayonnaise • 1 egg, hard-boiled • 1 carrot • 1/4 onion • 1 cucumber • Sugar, to taste • Juice of 1 hyuganatsu (or any other citrus fruit)

Directions: Step 1: Remove skin from chicken, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Set aside. Step 2: Combine flour, corn starch in a bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper. You haven’t added enough

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pepper until there are noticeable black specks throughout the mixture. In another bowl, whisk two eggs. Step 3: Coat chicken breast in the flour mixture, dip in egg and coat again in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess at each stage. Step 4: Pour 1-2 inches of oil into a deep saucepan over medium heat. Test the temperature with a little flour - if it begins to bubble excitedly upon contact, it’s just right. If the oil begins smoking, turn down the heat. Add chicken to the oil one or two at a time. Don’t crowd the pan. Cook 7-10 minutes per side until golden-brown. Place on paper towel to cool. Step 5: While the chicken is frying, prepare the glaze. In a saucepan, combine soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar. Heat over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Chop carrot, 3/4 of an onion into thick wedges and add to the mixture. Simmer and reduce until thickened to the consistency of maple syrup. Step 6: Coat chicken in the glaze; getting sauce into every crevice. Step 7: Prepare tartar sauce. Combine ingredients in a food processor in order of firmness (carrot, onion, cucumber, mayonaisse, hard-boiled egg, sugar, fruit juice). Blend after each addition. The ideal nanban sauce will be thick and chunky with bits of vegetable suspended throughout. Taste and adjust accordingly with more sugar, mayo or fruit juice. Step 8: Place glazed chicken over white rice and top with tartar sauce. Pair with a hearty vegetable like asparagus or spinach and enjoy!




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Monica Daniel-Power tells us about her family’s challenges and achievements in Japan


ever will I forget the look on people’s faces when I first told them we were moving to Japan. It was a combination of “Wow, how exciting!” and “Are you MAD!” Let’s face it, you have to be a bit mad to drop your whole life, pack up your house and family, and leave everything behind to start a new life in another country, right? Upon arriving in Iizuka, my supervisor nervously commented on the way to the jutaku, “it’s a little old,” then giggled slightly. My initial thought was to go in without any expectations so that I wouldn’t be disappointed, but while pulling up to the jutaku there was no amount of preparation that could have prevented my reaction of ‘WHAT IS THIS!’ (said silently at the time). I put on a brave face as I was taken into the apartment. It wasn’t until everyone left that I sat down on the end of the bed to take it all in and burst into tears. Was this really what I had left my comfortable lifestyle in New Zealand for? What is my husband going to think? How can I raise my family in this place?

Eventually after my meltdown, I pulled myself together. At the end of the day I had to get on with it. I asked for an adventure and an adventure it was! Eighteen months in, I can say that we have managed just fine. While it hasn’t been ideal, it’s been a good opportunity to live minimally. It makes you realize that you don’t need all that ‘stuff ’. On the upside we sure will appreciate hot running water at our next place. As a family, our experience is a little out of the ordinary compared to the typical JET. There are both positive and negative sides to this. For one, the locals have been lovely to our children. Watching our children grow and develop in another culture and language has been both fascinating and rewarding. Our children can now speak Japanese, which they would have never achieved living in monolingual New Zealand. Living in another culture places your own values in the spotlight. As a foreign family we are fortunate that we can pick and choose aspects from each culture that we appreciate while letting go of the ones we don’t like as much. We live within our own unit and have done our best to stay true to what’s important to us and keep consistent in our rituals and routines.

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My husband has probably had the hardest time, as he has been on the front line in terms of the day to day interaction with the local community. The most frustrating part for him is the lack of understanding by locals in his role as ‘stay at home dad’. I can only imagine how the clogs turned in their heads as the Samoan man covered in tattoos rocked up to the playgroup with two


children. It was a huge challenge to their understanding of parental roles. From what I have observed in the dynamics between our housewife friends and their husbands, generally the mothers do most things when it comes to the home and parenting. It was no wonder they would crowd around him at playgroup when it was time for a nappy (‘diaper’) change, breaking into applause at his skills. He often told me he felt like an animal in the zoo. As the initial shock subsided, the mothers welcomed my husband into their circle and quite enjoyed the novelty of it all. We also stand out. Going to the supermarket is like shopping with the Von Trap family. My children will attest to this being a great thing. My 5 year old son has learned that walking up to the nearest old person and asking for “something sweet” will guarantee some goods. This often leads to old people and children following us around the supermarket like our own personal fan club. Over time I have learned to ignore the stares. I understand that they are not intentionally being rude. For many of our locals it is the first time they have ever seen a foreigner up close, let alone curly blonde-hair and blue-eyed children.

Perhaps the one who has gained the most is my daughter. Having spent nearly two years in a public school has been an all around great experience for her. I feel so proud watching her with her classmates, chatting away in Japanese like a natural. I must admit, I was slightly anxious as to how she would cope. Seeing her school for the first time was a shock and images of Russia came to mind. However, she got on with it and became the local superstar of her school. I do feel that we sometimes underestimate how much children can cope with. Things that bother us as adults just don’t even register on the radar of kids. As time has gone on I find it interesting how Japanese culture has started to influence her. It started off with her artwork changing into a more ‘anime’ style, which then moved to her choice of dress. She then changed her hairstyle to the ‘side ponytail’. I have even noticed a change in her body language, such as the occasional confused ‘tilted head’. I’m sorry to say it is even filtering down to her taste in music and we are now seeing signs of interest in (shock! horror!) AKB48. I may have to ban Youtube and hope for the best. Come this July we have made the decision to move on. As much as we have appreciated our time here we are ready for a change. I will be leaving JET and taking up a new position in Kyoto. I will be forever grateful for the experience Chikuho has given our family and I can only hope my children will remember the many great times we had here together. Monica Daniel-Power is a second year ALT for the Chikuho Board of Education. You can read more about her family adventures on her blog


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My five-year-old son has learned that walking up to the nearest old person and asking for “something sweet” will guarantee some goods

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What would

Nostradamus say?

Keliko Adams reflects on the media coverage and aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake


few months ago, I was surfing the Internet for information about Nostradamus. Somehow I had gotten wind of Nostradamus’s prediction that the world would come to a chaotic end in 2012. Some websites say Nostradamus (1503-1566) also predicted the Great Fire of London, the death of Princess Diana and the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, among other events. It was a chilling to read these predictions that had come true, so I continued to search and found just as many websites stating that Nostradamus’ obscure wording has been retrospectively matched to events to make them into accurate predictions. The cynic in me laughed and I felt relieved to know that the fate of the world remained unknown.

But later, I wondered why I felt comfortable trusting one website over another. Was it because the information it provided was more appealing to me? For all I know, everything on the Internet, including my beloved Wikipedia, could be full of inaccuracies that I choose to believe. After all, even in Wikipedia (where I attempted to include a drink named after myself on the “Grapefruit” page, but was thwarted by a fellow editor 15 minutes after posting) validated external references are just other websites or news articles that are, also, found on the Internet. And now, in the wake of “the Great Earthquake Disaster” in Tohoku, I continue to question the information I’m given, and not just from the Internet. In just a few weeks, media sources of every kind have made various assertions about what is happening in Tohoku, much of it contradictory, and I find myself distrusting every word I see. Nobel Prize Winner Isaac Bashevis Singer said that the purpose of writing is “to entertain (long pause) and to instruct,” and I’m reminded of those words now. Media outlets are selling the stories that aim to entertain their audience to keep their businesses going, rather than instruct.

Abroad, readers have been told that Fukushima could be the next Chernobyl and that toxic clouds of radiation are floating across the Pacific and that you must “GET OUT OF JAPAN!” And in Japan, we are told that the situation is being


resolved and we have no reason to panic. And all conflicting media are pointing their fingers at each other saying that the other is distributing false information. Maybe it’s not the most reliable source of information, but for me, hearing people around me talk about what is going on feels more honest and straightforward than seeing what media outlets are filling their headlines with. These people aren’t feeding off of the frenzy. They are concerned, but they aren’t fleeing the country or emptying bread shelves. Instead, they carry the hope of rebuilding their country.

Over the past few weeks, I have come to rely more on the conversations I’ve had with coworkers, students, friends and chatty cashiers who talk about their friends or family in the Tohoku region. The sentiment is mostly the same: It’s a sad thing that is happening and we must do what we can to help. This has impressed me most about this country. As quickly as the cherry blossoms have sprung open, people all over Japan have sprung into action to give money, save energy and donate blood. Whether at the train station or the conbini, I come across people collecting money to send north and, as well, people stopping to donate. There’s no question of how to help or whether or not I can. It’s innate: When someone else is in need, I have much to give. Perhaps this is one of the biggest benefits of the community-centered like-minded thinking that is so prominent in Japan… and that I have struggled with so much while living here. I’m reminded of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I think the quickest response was for people to begin looting. Not that I’m bashing America. But as far as disaster responses go, I think Japan has America beat. If Nostradamus is right and this is the end of the world, I’m happy to go alongside such a generous and giving community

Keliko Adams is a second year ALT in Yukuhashi who is starting to really like pandas. April/May 2011 │

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links Donate money Blood donation rules Blood donation centres Donate supplies Volunteer Host a displaced family Danny Villeneuv is a PA in Miyagi Prefecture who is helping to coordinate groups of JETs to volunteer in Miyagi. If you are interested, you can email him at


As quickly as the cherry blossoms have sprung open, people all over Japan have sprung into action

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Photo: Dominic Alves



Event guide compiled by Keliko Adams

Photo: Szabolcs Arany

Do not miss Golden Week April 29 - May 8



olden Week is a string of four national holidays that run close together, (April 29, May 3/4/5) and is the busiest travel time in Japan. If you are trying to avoid huge crowds on mass transit, here are some nearby events to keep you occupied during this time:

• Niji no Misaki Matsuri: Kunisaki-hanto, Oita. A 5-day

music festival that takes place in a different area of Kyushu each year. More information can be found on their Facebook page. • May 3: Shimonoseki Kaikyo Matsuri, Yamaguchi. Various events occur, including a sea battle reenactment with 200 boats and a staged samurai battle on Ganryu-jima. • May 3-4: Hakata Dontaku, Fukuoka. One of the biggest events in Golden Week, with a parade through the streets downtown, dance, & performances of all kinds. Over 2 million visitors fill the city during this time. • May 3-5: Hiroshima Flower Festival. An international peace festival featuring flowers, music and other entertainment. • May 3-5: Togyu Taikai, Tokunoshima, Kagoshima. Bullfighting event, however bulls are not wounded or killed. April/May 2011 │

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May Children’s Day (こどもの日 kodomo no hi) Nationwide, May 5 Originally called Boy’s Day, families display samurai dolls, eat rice cakes and fly koinobori (鯉幟) carp-shaped streamers to bring strength, health & prosperity to children, especially boys.

Cormorant Fishing Season Nationwide, from mid-May A traditional fishing method that is rarely practiced today in which cormorants are trained and used to catch fish in rivers. The most famous location in Japan for this is in Gifuken, but Asakura in Fukuoka-ken and Hita in Oita-ken also practice cormorant fishing.

Kawawatari Jinkosai (川渡り神幸祭) Tagawa, Fukuoka Prefecture, May 21-22 This River Crossing Festival features 11 huge floats carried by groups of men paraded through Tagawa City and through the Hikosan River where water fights between groups take place.


Photo: Chris Harber

Hotaru (蛍, ホタル) Nationwide, early-mid June A popular nighttime event all around Japan, especially in more rural areas, is to sit by streams and watch fireflies buzz around you.

Sports Festival (体育祭 taiikusai) or Culture Festival (文化祭 bunkasai) Schools nationwide, 4 June A good time to interact with teachers, students and families at your school, both festivals feature what students have been working on in the weeks preceding the event. Songs of Summer Fukuoka City, 18 June The AJET Charity Committee is hosting it’s annual concert to raise money for the Touhoku disaster relief effort in Northern Japan. Come see musical performances by fellow JETs as well as members of the Fukuoka community!

AJET Sayounara Party Fukuoka City, 25 June As the JET year winds down, AJET provides a great opportunity for one last dance with JETs who are returning home. More information to come! Photo: Ryan Latta

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Keeping your


Lindsay Pyle shares some ideas about the ancient Ayurvedic belief in doshas

b al

ce Photo: D. Sharon Pruitt


ave you been traveling lately? Is your schedule irregular (meals, bed time, rising etc)? Have you been staying up late at night? Have you done excessive mental work lately? Talking excessively? Multitasking? Spacing out? Do you misplace or forget things? Do you feel stressed? If you answered yes to any of these, see vata. Do you skip meals even if you are hungry, because you do not have time to eat? Do you often have time pressures? Do you eat lots of hot, spicy foods? Drink alcohol? Do you spend an excessive amount of time in the heat or sun? Do you become irritated easily? Do you feel impatient or judgmental of other people often? If you answered yes to any of these see pitta.

Do you often oversleep? Sleep in the day? Overeat? Not exercising enough? Do you eat heavy, greasy foods? Are you often doing the same familiar things even if you feel it is monotonous? Do you feel unmotivated or lazy? Have you been gaining weight? If you answered yes to any of these see kapha. If you answered yes to any of the above questions, there


is a good chance that your dosha is out of balance. In Ayurvedic medicine, there are three primary doshas, or body constitutions, and it is the goal of Ayurveda to bring a person back to balance within their main dosha.

Traditionally, all of the universe is made up of five elements and we all have these elements in our bodies. Each of the doshas is made up of different elements, which are responsible for changes in the environment and within ourselves. For example, autumn is often known as a “vata” time of year because there is a lot of wind and movement. Leaves fall off trees and things change. At this time of year, we usually get sick in the throat and nose, the parts of the body that are ruled by vata.

Below is an outline to correspond to the questions 1-3 that will help you to find your main dosha. We usually have one main dosha, with two others that are present but less central to one’s overall makeup. If you answered yes to any of these questions, refer to the information on the next page to see which dosha you may have out of balance. For a complete guide, my favorite website is

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Vata Space and air. The lightest of the three, it governs movement in the body, breathing, blinking, muscle and tissue movement, heartbeat and all movements of blood and cells. Physical Characteristics of Vata: Thin, slender-framed, prominent joints, skin that is delicate and maybe dry, and voluminous hair.

Personality characteristics of balanced Vata: Quick and lively in thought and speech, makes friends easily, change comes often and easy for them, they are light sleepers and their laughter is quick. They are creative, enthusiastic, flexible and grasp concepts quickly.

Vata out of balance: Anxious or worried, can’t relax, forgets or loses things often, difficulty falling asleep at night, flaky or dry skin, brittle hair, cannot sit still, “spacing out” often, shorter than usual attention span, chapped lips. Vata-balancing foods: To offset the dryness, foods that are “heavy” or unctuous are good. A fat-free diet is not good. “Comfort foods” are good for vata balance. The three tastes that balance vata are sweet, sour and salty, so incorporate these in your diet as much as you can. Drink warm water throughout the day.

Avoid: Raw, cold foods, ice-cold beverages, exposure to cold, dry winds, too much travel, a variable daily routine, and mental overexertion. Vata-balancing lifestyle: Maintain a regular routine. Don’t skip meals. Sit down in a peaceful environment to eat a good lunch at mid-day with lighter breakfasts and dinners. Protect yourself from the cold and the wind by wearing several layers for warmth. Wear a cap and scarf to protect ears and throat (the primary parts governed by vata) and lip balm to prevent chapping. Walking is the best exercise, 20 minutes in the early morning is good. Sleep early for good rest, drink warm milk with nutmeg if sleep is difficult.


Water and earth. This forms the body’s structure (bones, muscles, tendons) and it provides the “glue” that holds the body together. Physical characteristics of a Kapha person: Larger proportions, robust frame, oily and smooth skin, dark, large eyes with thick long eyelashes, and rich, wavy hair. They are deep, heavy sleepers and dislike clammy, moist environments.

Personality traits of balanced-Kapha: Calm, sweet, loyal, stable and loving. They are patient, tolerant and extremely giving. They are the most grounded of the three doshas. They have excellent long-term memory, although they may take more time to understand. Out of balance: Weight gain, eating without an appetite,

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tired even though you haven’t done much all day, difficult to wake after long hours of sleep, oilier than usual skin and hair, break-outs, congestion in the throat, lethargic, feeling greedy, envious, attached or jealous, or unmotivated.

Kapha-balancing foods: Dry foods, foods with zing and spice and warm foods. Light warming foods like clear vegetable soups, dry crackers and lighter whole grains. The three tastes that balance kapha are pungent, bitter and astringent so include more of these.

Avoid: Fried food, salty, sweet or sour tastes, ice-cold foods or beverages, exposure to cold and damp, daytime sleep, lack of exercise.

Kapha-balancing lifestyle: Get moving. Exercise daily, and mentally challenge yourself with puzzles, welcome new relationships and experiences. Do not skip meals and do not fast. Protect yourself from damp and cold, drink warm water. Racquetball, singles tennis and jogging are good, and try to exercise in the morning to charge the rest of the day. Set aside about 30 minutes a day to meditate, aligning body and mind to inspire mental stimulation.


Fire and some water. It is the metabolic system in the body. It controls digestion, absorption, nutrition, metabolism and body temperature. Physical characteristics of Pitta person: medium proportions, warm skin that is fair or ruddy and may be sensitive, fine hair that tends towards thinning/graying. They may have piercing eyes, freckles and reddish hair.

Personality characteristics of balanced Pitta: Alert, intelligent and determined in thought and action. They are intense, ambitious and they make natural leaders. Selfconfidence and an entrepreneurial spirit are signs of a balanced Pitta.

Pitta out of balance: Jealous, impatient, easily-aggravated, tending towards anger/hatred, waking up early and unable to fall back asleep, thirsty all the time, heartburn, obsessed by a work project or problem, sarcastic or biting speech, hair falling out, or skin or eye redness or irritation.

Pitta-balancing foods: A few dry foods, some “heavy” foods, but mostly cooling, fresh and sweet tastes to combat the fire. The three tastes that balance Pitta are sweet, bitter and astringent. Avoid: Salty, spicy or sour tastes, hot or ice-cold beverages, situations that make you irritated and direct exposure to midday sunlight. Pitta-balancing lifestyle: Stay cool, physically and emotionally. Do not exercise when it is hot. Swimming and water aerobics are good.. Do not skip meals or wait until you’re starving to eat. Sleep before 10 to ensure a full night’s rest, because you may wake early.



Shirukurodo Amagi, Asakura-shi Lunch 10:00 – 15:00, Dinner 17:30 – 23:00



rench-Japanese fusion restaurant Shirukurodo challenges the notion that chefs who have been educated on the world’s cuisines don’t come to small towns to use their international knife skills.

Shirukurodo is an example of how small towns do not come short for restaurants that dish out quality fare. Behind the kitchen bar, I unabashedly peered over the waitress’s shoulder and creepily watched the chef coat shrimp, fish, steak,and tomato laced with mozzarella into fresh batter before dipping the skewers into frying oil. Watching a man fry tempura isn’t the most awing experience. Watching a man really cook, as he confidently dips each skewer into the oil pit one at a time and meticulously reassures each piece is cooked to the perfect crunch and color, is a rarity, and perhaps rightfully a moment of private celebration for food lovers. The chef’s international experiences and tastes are evident in the restaurant’s procurement. Although humble in its size and decor, Shirukurodo’s food is serious and polished. The menu offers an eclectic yet simple mix of Japanese and French cuisine. From green tea soba salad and kushikatsu, fried skewers, to unexpected findings such as ParmesanMozarella Cheese Fondue. In the cheese fondue, hints of Japanese accents give this classic dish a refreshing bite. Dipping the slightly bitter and uniquely textured Japanese vegetable kariburo, a blend of broccoli and cauliflower first harvested in Kurume, into the cheesy pot of flavor was addictive. While I tried to contain the crumbs spilling over my plate of assorted kushikatsu and cheese fondue, the chef found time to engage me in small conversation. The chef, upon discovering I was from America, excitedly told me about


Photo: Eileen Ng

his time working at the best restaurants in San Francisco before returning to culinary school in France. Of course, this is only after he had extensively travelled and cooked throughout Japan. He shared his ideas and preferences on Chinese cuisine in San Francisco, the inferiority of American cuisine to the French and how, after cooking around the world for years, he loves meeting and cooking for people in his restaurant in Amagi.

Although his story was entertaining and made me feel lucky to be eating in his restaurant, what struck me more was the gesture of coming out to speak with me. How many times have I eaten at a quality restaurant where the chef took the time to come out of the kitchen and discuss food with a random diner? Perhaps you won’t find fine dining service with bow-tied waiters feigning over your every request, but in Amagi, you’ll find the sincere service that resets the standard of how the restaurant experience should make you feel.

Shirukudo is a fine example of how the best food and experiences can be discovered in less obvious places, such as a tucked away space behind a few bushes lit by Christmas lights in Amagi. From meals that have sold me on the idea of eating Japanese food everyday, to the indulgent and somewhat shameful moment of scarfing a Big Mac alone, my eating experiences in Amagi have proven that while filled with rice fields, I won’t leave hungry and disappointed when looking for a place to dine for an evening out on the town. Eileen Ng is a first-year ALT in Amagi. When she’s not scoping out new restaurants, she can be found hunting for fresh produce in farmer’s markets or looking for new accessories to add to her tiny kitchen. April/May 2011 │

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Earth Celebration Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture Annual festival



itting on the grass under the starry night sky, I listen to the buzzing of cicadas in the treetops. As I’m about to take another breath of the moist summer air, the thunderous roar of an O-daiko resonates through my whole body. From the darkness appear six white demons with gold faces and long glistening hair. They dance across the stage to the sound of resounding cymbals, weaving in and out of stands holding wooden drums. Warm light envelops their brisk movements. After staking their claim on the instruments, they lift their arms in unison and begin playing with the utmost precision, showing off their musical prowess. My heart beat echoes the rhythm of the drums as it speeds up and intensifies. I’m watching a mysterious dream unfold. This dreamscape is a scene from Earth Celebration and the performers are members of Kodo, a renowned Japanese taiko troupe that live and train on Sado Island off the coast of Niigata prefecture. After eight months on tour, Kodo returns to its serene home every summer to host a three-day international arts festival called Earth Celebration. People from around the world make the journey to Sado Island to attend this spectacular event. Ever since I became interested in taiko five years ago, I have dreamed about visiting Sado Island to see the masters perform. Last summer, my dream finally came true. It was everything I imagined and more. This year’s Earth Celebration will be held Aug. 19-21. During the day, you can enjoy a variety of performances and activities. Go to the visitor center and pick up a schedule of events. At various locations on the island, there are Fringe Events, which are free performances

by local and international artists. After watching these performances, you’ll be inspired to express your creativity. Enroll in one of the hands-on workshops led by members of the Kodo community. Workshops cost 1,000 – 5,000 yen. Spots are limited, so register in advance through the Kodo Ticket Service Site. In addition to the standard taiko workshops, there are specialty workshops on traditional Sado Island dance, basket weaving and flute. I participated in an O-daiko workshop for beginners led by Yoshikazu Fujimoto, the senior performing member of Kodo. Striking the O-daiko towering several feet above me was exhilarating to say the least. And being the taiko geek that I am, I even had my bachi (drum sticks) signed by Fujimoto-sensei. The next day, my arms and legs felt like udon noodles, but it was worth it. After breaking a sweat at one of the workshops, it’s time to re-energize. Choose from one of the many sushi restaurants along the ferry port that serve fresh local fish. For those of you craving something besides Japanese food, stop by Harbour Market where international vendors are cooking up everything from Indian curry to burritos. You can also peruse the market for clothing, accessories, household decorations and handmade instruments. When the sun begins to set, it’s time for the main event: Kodo’s concert at Shiroyama Park. Every year, Kodo invites a different international music group to perform with them on stage. Last year’s guest was A Filetta, a male a capella group hailing from Corsica, France. Tickets cost 5,000 yen. Alternatively, you can save money with the 2-day (8,900 yen) or 3-day (13,000 yen) pass. After purchasing some drinks and tasty otsumami, find a spot on the spacious lawn and let Kodo transport you to another world. For more information about ticket sales, workshops, accommodations, and recommended transportation routes, visit

Marie Ayabe is a second-year ALT who lives in Nogata. She is often seen air drumming at her desk and drinking endless cups of green tea.

Photo: Marie Ayabe

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Lauren Every-Wortman Mike Seidman Keliko Adams

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the refill?

Based on Fukuoka’s tradition of kaedama, in which a refill of ramen noodles is served for leftover broth, the refill serves up additional information about life in Japan for Fukuoka’s JET community.

contact us at The contents of this newsletter are strictly for entertainment purposes. The magazine cannot be held responsible for actions taken as a result of its content. The viewpoints published herein are those of the authors and do not reflect the philosophy or viewpoints of the Fukuoka Board of Education, the JET Programme or CLAIR.

The Refill issue 4  

Based on Fukuoka’s tradition of kaedama, in which a refill of ramen noodles is served for leftover broth, the refill serves up additional in...