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the refill Fukuoka JET newsletter

Issue #5

Surfing in Fukuoka │ Ramen guide │ Sydney │ Events

Editor’s note


tsukare sama deshita! What a great year it’s been! First and foremost I want to say thank you to everyone for supporting The Refill during our first year. Without your encouragement and support, it would not be where it is today. A special thanks needs to be given to our ever-prolific contributors – you are the best! We appreciate the time and effort everyone has put into creating Fukuoka-ken’s first JET newsletter.

As summer begins, the time to say goodbye to old friends approaches. We wish everyone departing JET this year all the best in their future endeavors! For those staying on, summer can be full of sayonara’s, hajimemashite’s and lots of humidity. Make sure to keep a fan handy and start polishing your words of wisdom to share with the incoming crew!

the refill #5 ǀ June/July 2011

Editor-in-chief Rebekah Randle

Content Editors Keliko Adams Lindsay Pyle

Layout and Design

While the heat can be hard to bear, summer offers plenty of things to keep one occupied. Festivals are the name of the game and they mean fireworks, yukata, food stalls, shaved ice and attempting to catch goldfish! We encourage everyone to enjoy all that these warm months have to offer. Please keep your pens and cameras ready to capture whatever may come your way. We encourage you to write us at 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 Tanya Bogaty Laura Cardwell Rachel Dunn Justin Endo Lauren Every-Wortman Yannick McLeod Jen Ng Shirin Sane Caitlyn Tateishi Jon Woodend Cover photo: Mike Seidman

Inside 4 Short shorts

Lesser-seen Fukuoka: Nihon Buyou Top 5: JET regrets


8 In Fukuoka

For the love of ramen Art in Fukuoka

12 Travel

Australia Surfing in Fukuoka Tokyo

Photo: Caitlyn Tateishi

18 Living

Linguistics Recipes

22 Entertainment Events A brief history of Gion

26 Reviews

Photo: Keliko Adams


Lady Bird Diner & Café Ten Nights’ Dream 3

Short shorts: Lesser-seen Fukuoka

M O V E D by the music Jen Ng shares her impressions of Nihon Buyou, a form of Japanese traditional dance


herever I go, I always look for things out of the ordinary. Japan is no exception. I have yet to fully experience a tea ceremony or try my hand at Japanese calligraphy, which are common experiences for many foreigners, but I have made soba by hand using water from a natural well, made osechi for new years and performed in a shinobue concert. I’m always on the look out to experience Japan’s traditional arts, and recently I saw a Nihon Buyou (traditional Japanese dance) performance by my fellow JETs at the Youth Science Culture Center in Fukuoka that evoked jealousy and curiosity.

The performance hall was packed with children, families, old women in kimono and fellow JETs for the 28th International Exchange KOINO-KAI. The lights dimmed and at the sound of a Japanese flute and a shamisen, the performance began. “Ooo’s” and “Ahhh’s” filled the hall when our friends stepped onto the stage. They all wore traditional kimono, headdresses and thick white make up. I could barely recognize them, but they were breathtaking. Their movements were precise and focused on small details of the hands, arms and feet. The fan was a major prop that drew pictures and told stories. One of the dances transported me into a foamy, blue sea; their light blue kimonos featured red flowers floating at the hem while their silver fans flowed like the rocking waves.

Watching their performance brought back memories of when I used to practice traditional Chinese dance. I still remember the excitement of learning the basic steps of a dance and building upon it to a complete routine. I remember the beauty of the costumes and the rush of excitement and nervousness I experienced just before going on stage. But most of all, I’ll always remember the applause from the audience, an affirmation of the long months of sweat and practice.

My friends practiced for seven months and I know the ending was bittersweet. They took part in a special Japanese tradition and shared it with us. Seeing my friends participate in something so amazing made me realize that I too want to be part of that special world. As I walked to the train station, my friend and I decided that we were going to participate in Nihon Buyou next year. See you there! Jen Ng is a first-year SHS ALT in Kokura who surprises her fellow coworkers when she’s conversing fluently with the Chinese teacher at her school.


Nihon buyou in action Photo: Beatrice Murch

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Short shorts: Top five

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REGRETS (aka a cautionary tale) Laura Cardwell shares her final Top 5 - the things she most regrets not doing before leaving Japan 1. Not taking the JLPT Aside from obvious benefits (literacy, daily competence and being an interesting conversational partner), studying Japanese can lead to JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) certification, which opens up many employment opportunities. Most companies in Japan require a minimum of JLPT N2 language proficiency, but few demand N1 level Japanese (many native speakers struggle with N1).  Even for those lacking salaryman aspirations, passing any level of JLPT is a tangible indicator of motivation and progress.  It looks great on your CV and gives job applicants a qualified edge over their competition.

2. Not saving money Some dumb person I know spent her first two years here not saving a single yen. Fast forward to two months left in Japan, and she’s shaking her head at how much opportunity for personal fortune building she squandered.  Over the past year she has consistently sent home about 90,000 Yen per month, and has still managed to enjoy life, travel abroad, go out every weekend and buy clothes.  If you come to Japan without outstanding debt or loans, I do not recommend the “frivolous, budget-less spending” route.  Instead, now might be the perfect time to open an investment account and sort out savings.  There is, after all, a good chance that you will never pay rent this cheap again! 3. Not travelling in Asia Flipping through my passport, I’ve got about two trips’ worth of pages left before I run out of space.  Regretfully, only a couple stamps are from non-Japan Asian countries.  Of course (barring the apocalypse) they’ll still be there after I leave Japan, but it’s a stretch to go to Hong Kong for a long weekend when you live in North America.  I wish I had taken advantage of No. 1 Travel and other similar agencies offering cheap deals and packages and made Asian travel more of a priority.  I have my domestic travel regrets too; I definitely wish I had checked out places like Hokkaido or Shikoku, or even Kurume.

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4. Not taking full advantage of opportunities at work Every ALT’s work schedule is different; I am scheduled for a back-breaking four classes per week. With all this free time, I sometimes wish I had spent it a little differently. Downtime is the perfect chance to spruce up the English office, organize pen pal exchanges, work on eikaiwa/Japanese language lessons with interested coworkers, and so on.  I have done some musical collaboration with the brass band club and found that highly rewarding.  There are a lot of projects and opportunities for change and improvement that do not require drastic time commitments off the clock; as Captain Picard says, make it so.

5. Not branching out more in the local community When I think about it, it seems like most of my memories and adventures involve other ALTs/foreigners or my small circle of local friends all revolving around the same little izakaya. I sometimes wish I had made a little more of a social footprint in my “hometown.”  The colorful characters I see at festivals and concerts, friends of friends I run into at midnight on Monday nights, even the middle-aged shop owner who called me chubby – there are so many interesting people around.  I wish I had overcome my crippling shyness and put myself out there – “nothing to lose” and all that.

Despite these regrets, I have to say that the past three years will be remembered with even greater nostalgia and fondness than my undergrad college years. I admit my shortcomings with shameless candor because honestly, hindsight is 20/20 and I had a great time here.  It’s been fun, Fukuoka.  I’ll be cryyyyyyying Roy Orbison-style all the way home.

Laura hates goodbyes almost as much as she hates insects. She’s going back to America in July; you may find her busking on street corners and scribbling Top 5 lists on truck stop bathroom walls.



imply put: I love ramen. My love only extends to tonkotsu ramen. When I say love, I don’t mean mere infatuation. It’s borderline obsession.

It started innocently enough. I began my position as an ALT in August. On my first day in Kitakyushu, I reported to the Board of Education for my first task: lunch. On the top floor of the office, overlooking Riverwalk, my first meal in Kitakyushu was tonkotsu ramen from the cafeteria for a reasonable 300 yen.

It was love at first slurp. It was on a completely different scale from the shoyu ramen I had grown up with. It was the culinary equivalent of watching high definition TV after years of analog. You were satisfied beforehand because you didn’t know any better. Since that day, I’ve been to many ramen shops to discover the best that Kitakyushu and Fukuoka have to offer. That first bowl is still one of the least expensive I’ve eaten (the only one cheaper is Hakata-ya near Heiwadori station at 290 yen). More commonly, though, I can expect a hearty meal to set me back a reasonable 500-600 yen. I’ve been to yatai, dives, chains and everything in between in my quest to find the perfect bowl of ramen.

What makes it so addictive? It’s not the smell. The first time I passed in front of the Lawson next to Tanga Market, a powerful odor permeated the area. The culprit was tonkotsu ramen from a nearby yatai (which, by the way, has really good negi ramen for 650 yen). Since then, I’ve concluded that the smellier the broth, the richer and silkier the taste. What draws me to tonkotsu ramen is knowing that it’s quintessentially ours. As I travel throughout Japan, I’m always asked where I live. When I mention that I’m from Fukuoka, people comment on how good the ramen is. I can’t disagree — when I ate shoyu ramen in Kyoto a few months ago, it just didn’t taste right. I’ve grown accustomed to the distinct flavor of tonkotsu ramen. In stark contrast, shoyu ramen just tasted... well, plain.

Throughout our area, every restaurant has a different opinion and style when it comes to crafting their bowl. But as tonkotsu ramen is Fukuoka’s specialty, or meibutsu, some things will be universal. Firstly, we can always order kaedama for an extra serving of noodles to prolong the life of our broth. Furthermore, the broth will always be a variation on the rich pork flavor that is tonkotsu. And lastly, it will be amazing no matter where you you go.

That being said, I’m still on the lookout for the perfect specimen. Right now, it’s Ichiran Ramen, customized with extra flavor, extra fat, extra garlic, extra onions and six times the usual spice. What can I say? Sometimes, I need that extra extra kick, and spicy foods are not common in Japan. Ichiran’s spice provides the right amount of mouth-searing pain while remaining enjoyable. However, my search is far from over. I can’t say I’ve found the perfect bowl until I’ve tried them all. There are still so many shops left to try and styles to be had. Given the number of shops in just Kitakyushu alone, it will take many meals to finish my task.

Some will say I’m being foolish. Others will say there’s no point. I don’t care. It’s all for the love of ramen. As they say, we do stupid things when we’re in love. Justin Endo is an ALT in Kitakyushu. His main passion is traveling, and he writes about his experiences at


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In Fukuoka

Ichiran with extra flavor, garlic and fat. Photo: Justin Endo

F or t h

e lo ve en ram of Justin Endo confesses his undying love for Fukuoka’s own tonkotsu ramen

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in Fukuoka

Exhibition space at Yamane Art Lab. Photo: Lauren Every-Wortman

part two Hakata ward 10

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Lauren Every-Wortman continues her round-up of the local art scene in Fukuoka Art in Chuo


he Here are some recently discovered additions to the Chuo guide! exhibitions in Fukuoka’s Gallery Lumo art galleries have the turnover rate of my students’ hairstyles Tokopola Annexe (I work at an alternative high school where, in the past month, one of my top students has had no Gallery Oishi less than five different hair colors). The average life span of art shows in Fukuoka City seems to be a week or two, and those themes and styles vary drastically. Unfortunately, this means that venues are often hit or miss. Here are a few galleries in the area that offer up a consistently colorful array of art, or at least have a café if you don’t like the current show!

Art Space Tetra A small space on a street of houses, this first-floor gallery holds frequently changing exhibitions and live performances. The owners speak English, so this might be a good place to go if you’re an art lover who likes to ask questions.

Gallery Artlier Located on B2 of Hakata Riverain (Nakasu Kawabata station), this gallery boasts an interesting array of contemporary Japanese exhibitions and performances. It is managed by The Fukuoka City Foundation for Arts and Cultural Promotion and sits next to the Information Corner. There, you can get information about local art and cultural events, purchase tickets, buy museum trinkets and grab a coffee or a bite to eat. Yamane Art Lab This space is literally someone’s 10 th -floor apartment, but don’t let that scare you! The owner lived in New York for a few years, speaks great English and might even

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Gallery Kaze

chat with you on his sofa! Oh, and he shows beautiful paintings and prints on his living room walls.

Gallery SEL gallery-sel

Fuji Photo Salon salon.html Check out some Fujifilm photography contests and have a meal at this photo gallery and café. You might even find a few contest fliers lying around if you’re interested in entering!

Fukuoka Asian Art Museum home.html Located on the top floors of the NakasuKawabata station building. Be sure to check out their free rotating permanent exhibition room and grab a delicious (but expensive) coffee in their beautifully designed café. Lauren Every-Wortman is a first-year ALT in Kitakyushu city. She never quite recovered after writing her senior Visual Studies thesis and still finds herself thrown into fits of academic prose. She wishes to apologize for her pedantic ways and hopes you don’t think less of her for them.



Photo: Jean-Christophe Berthon and Vera Donk


How to do it without breaking the bank


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Rachel Dunn and Jon Woodend reveal the secret to vacationing in Sydney on a budget


he golden sands of Australia were our destination of choice for Golden Week. Having heard many a traveller’s tale about the country, we were excited to relax on a sandy beach on the Sunshine Coast, hit the nightlife of Sydney, listen to some Aussie accents and see at least one koala. We had some requirements - we wanted to stay in some nicer places, especially on our beach retreat (beachfront property desirable), eat great food, drink cocktails, see the sights of Sydney and shop. Our long list quickly looked doomed to failure, as hostels were expensive, beach resorts made Thailand look like pocket money and once we arrived, prices were shockingly high. ($28 USD for a paperback book in an English-speaking country? That’s more expensive than Junkudo!) We quickly realized that our money had to go further than we thought... and with some careful planning, we managed. Here are some tips for traveling to Australia the way you want with the budget you have. Getting There and Around With China Eastern all sold out (the cheapest option by far), Philippine Airways was the best deal. Our research found Fukuoka No. 1 travel to be the cheapest. They also allowed us to extend our layover in the Philippines for a small fee, allowing us to venture outside the airport.

We got our fix of koalas, fell in love with wombats and gazed at kangaroos at Sydney’s famous Taronga Zoo. It was pricey but worth the fabulous boat ride over. We declined the bus and sky-ride combo ticket and walked instead. (Bonus travel hint: When the zoo is closing, they let you take the sky-ride down for free!) When it came to eating, we adopted two price saving strategies - first, the service fee is either included or you don’t have to leave one. We rarely left a tip, and we were never chased down the street. Secondly, with stomachs used to Japanese sizes, we quickly realised that Australian portions are guaranteed to be more than enough. We turned Japanese and ordered to share, ordering between the three of us, at most, a salad and two mains. We were always more than full.

On arriving in a country to find most things way out of your budgeted price range, how do you visit everywhere while eating and drinking everything you want without spending a fortune?

For Sydney at least, we highly recommend that you walk everywhere. There are free buses and a subway available, however, it’s such a green city that walking allows you to take it all in and not miss a thing.

Sleeping Accommodation is always a little tricky; trying to balance price with a great location and those endless trip advisor reviews. In Sydney, booking early was our deal breaker – we stayed at the Travelodge and between the “30-day advanced reservation discount” and the “stay 3 get the 4th free deal,” we would have found it hard to find a hostel that was cheaper. For the beach break resort up north, it turned out booking late was best. As time went on, prices came down and, in the end, we called our preferred resort and they offered an even better discount than they were advertising.

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Everything Else On arriving in a country to find most things way out of your budgeted price range, how do you visit everywhere while eating and drinking everything you want without spending a fortune? We had to make some sacrifices and decide where we wanted to visit. Highlights included the Darling Harbour fireworks, Botanical gardens, Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge – all iconic and all free!

Even if the place you’re visiting is infamously expensive, you can still enjoy the finer things and keep your savings mostly intact. While you don’t have to account for every single penny - pennies are a defunct coin in Australia now anyways planning and flexibility can save a lot. Knowledge about how accommodation and flight prices work were our big money saver – for that reason, listen to friends who have been there and learn from their experiences. But most of all, don’t allow your vacation to be completely compromised because of your budget; be creative and find a way to do it the way you want!

Jon Woodend is a 3rd year Senior High School in Fukuoka. He loves reading, shopping and travelling while impersonating Justin Bieber. Rachel Dunn is a 2nd year Senior High School ALT in Fukuoka. She loves travelling, especially when one of her friends is constantly mistaken for Justin Bieber.


Ready to ride


Caitlyn Tateishi’s tips for novice surfers on how to get started in Fukuoka

Photo: Caitlyn Tateishi


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eady to ride giants? Well, not quite. This article isn’t about how to rip and shred through waves, but more about where to start for people interested in learning how to surf. I am by no means an expert or even good at surfing, but in this past year I have surfed more than in my entire life. I surfed for the first time in Newport, Oregon, and thanks to my friends I have become a much better surfer in Fukuoka. Japanese surfers are the friendliest and least localized, making it easy for beginners to get in the water.

When to Go Summer’s the PERFECT time to learn how to surf... right? Unfortunately, no, summer is the flattest time for Fukuoka’s waves. Waves pick up in September and winter is the best season for local surf. Whenever you decide to go, check out the waves before you head out. A useful website for the surf forecast is Gear Winter surf means wetsuits. In the coldest months, 5/4mm wetsuits are a must. Gloves and boots are also recommended. I rented my wetsuit throughout the winter season from H1 surf shop. Since they do not have gloves and boots for rental, I bought mine from Murasaki Sports. Although a bit pricey, it helped me surf for two hours in January while it was snowing! Not many people from Hawaii have experienced that!

Surfboards Most beginners start with a longboard, usually 8-10 feet long with plenty of volume. Longboards make it easier to catch the smallest of waves and for learning to stand up. When I began to go often in August, I started with a longboard. By November, I had graduated to a funboard. A funboard is 7-8 feet long, right in between a longboard and a shortboard. Shortboards are 6-7 feet long and are the hardest boards to balance on. Paddling, sitting and standing on shortboards are a completely different story from the other two boards. This past Golden Week I took a trip to Tsushima (, a little-known island with great, uncrowded surf, where I finally rode a shortboard. After a few frustrating tries, I managed to stand up and not look stupid! Where to Surf in Fukuoka: Itoshima Itoshima is known in Fukuoka for its surf, beautiful sunset

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and delicious cafés. What I like most about this area is the chill, laid-back vibe typical of the surfer lifestyle. There are designated surf spots in Itoshima. All surf breaks in Itoshima are sandy, so it’s not as dangerous during epic wipeouts. Here are the surf breaks and nearby places to eat coming from Fukuoka city:

Futamigaura Famous for its white torii and meoto-iwa (wedded rocks), it is also a great surf break protected from strong winds. It is located right across from both Palm Café and Sunset Café. Cafés are popular in Itoshima, but Sunset Café was the first. Nokita Hidden by a wooden fence, this beach break is frequented by longboarders. Across the street is Ohana, a place known for its karaage teshoku. Along the street is Current Café and Hinode Tacos. You can rent boards at Mission Surf Shop nearby.

Oguchi Often the spot with the biggest sets, Oguchi is across the street from Hola Café which specializes in tacos. A short walk up the road is TF Surf Shop where you can rent boards.

West Coast Shima This surf break is conveniently located across the street from H1 Surf Shop. H1 Surf Shop rents out longboards and funboards and also offer hot water showers for a small fee. Mizukami-san of H1 Surf Shop speaks some English and is very friendly. Not too far up the road is Natty Dreads, which has delicious Jerk chicken. Keya Beach There is a sign on the road marking the trail to Keya Beach. Park your car across the street in the gravel parking lot and it is a short hike through a grove of trees to get there. Conveniently, Keya Beach has a live camera. So, before you go, you can check out the waves on your computer at

Caitlyn Tateishi is a third-year ALT in Chikuhou. She is looking forward to returning to Hawaii in August, where she plans to surf every day until she does not embarrass herself.


Photo: David Schroeter

Tokyo as it happens


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Yannick McLeod ambles through the streets of Tokyo and finds the heart of the city


olden Week. Tokyo. Three days. I was there, plans and all. A rarity. I don’t make plans. Or rather, I avoid making them. I have a propensity towards perfectionism. That, and an unhealthy aversion to mistakes, tends to rob me of the joys of plan-making. But this trip was different. I was going to Tokyo. You can’t willy-nilly Tokyo. Can’t just drift through it. Conquering Tokyo is a rite of passage for the visitor to Japan. Three years in and I was showing up late to the party. I had to go in, guns blazing, because until I took this city, I had no right to say I’d ever been to, or lived in, Japan. So, I got to boy-scouting. I bought my tickets. I booked my hostel. I grabbed my towel. I defined my objectives. I came up with two: 1. See the pandas. 2. Visit a bookstore.

Scant and, under normal circumstances, enough. Clear, concise, easy to accomplish. But dammit, this was Tokyo! You can’t visit Tokyo hajimete and not see the major sites. Sacrilege. People start to ask questions. Your authenticity as a traveler is left in doubt. No, the major sites must be seen. Thus, broad goal number three:

schedule. This sent me rushing hither and thither, trying to make up time. I had to see everything. I mean, I had made a schedule - and if it was on the schedule it had to be done, right? It wasn’t fun, though. Too rushed. Also, I was beginning to chafe.

So, I slowed down. I removed my earphones and let my camera dangle. I started worrying less about my itinerary — it was self-constructed anyway — and focused more on enjoying my walk. Wasn’t that the real goal? I spent less time peeking at my watch and more time observing the happenings around me: the salarymen chatting to marathon runners laughing with the cosplayers bowing to the picnickers enjoying some fresh air at the park, the park being shaded by the skyscrapers making nice with the shanty shacks sharing space with a shrine a hop, skip and jump from the suburbs soaked in silence while not half a mile away trains hurtled by on sounds of thunder. Neon danced with sunlight. Apartments romanced love hotels. Ultraman got fliers from housemaids. And I was catching it all because I had realized: listening to music and checking boxes just distracts you.

I removed my earphones and let my camera dangle. I started worrying less about my itinerary and focused more on enjoying my walk

Explore Tokyo.

I printed a list of the top ten things to do in Tokyo. Then, I read up on walking tours because I’m a nomadic traveler. I find walking to be the best way to experience a city. I selected the walks that took me through the popular areas and allowed me to leisurely walk circles ‘round the city in my own time, on my own terms.

Gradually, things fell into place. I contacted friends living in Tokyo. We would meet up. A stroke of luck meant I got my hands on some tickets to the Ghibli Museum. Coincidence meant flying into Tokyo with a friend. Plans solidified. Everything was set. Tokyo would be conquered! And here, I’m brought to the moral of my story: If you have plans to visit Tokyo, don’t.

To clarify, I mean don’t have plans. Chuck them. Especially if you are an easily diverted wayfarer like myself. Mere hours after my plans were set in motion, I was giving them up. I arrived at my hostel late, which put me woefully behind

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I still saw my pandas. I waited an hour to see the adorable, lazy bums. I still perused the bookstore. I bought two books. I still went to Ghibli, maybe the most awesome museum ever. I met up with my friends and I explored Tokyo. However, all this was made more enjoyable, more memorable, when I stopped planning to see Tokyo and actually started seeing Tokyo.

So, my suggestions for Tokyo? Forget about plans. They’ll hinder you. Have goals but make them small. Leave huge chunks of time for your inner Columbus because Tokyo needs discovering. It’s a place that demands you get lost and find your own adventure. It’s a shout to the gypsy, a challenge to the trekker, a call to the adventurer. It’s more than your plans, and it’s not your Lonely Planet guidebook. It’s Tokyo. Yannick McLeod is a third-year ALT living in Kitakyushu. He is terrible at planning, could get lost in a one-shelf bookstore and wants a panda for his birthday. Someone oblige, please.



Linguistics: A little taste Tanya Bogaty applies lessons in linguistics to the trials of learning Japanese


efore you run away from the title, let me tell you a secret: linguistics is awesome. Yes, it’s an eleven letter word, but so is okonomiyaki. Lots of good things come with scary names.

Studying Linguistics 101 usually inspires a series of “Oooooh!” and “Aha!” moments because a lot of the things you learn are new and intuitive at the same time. It can be especially satisfying for those studying or teaching a language. So let’s get into it! I want to start by introducing my friend the phoneme. A phoneme is what we usually think of as one sound. But as we’ve learned from our Japanese friends’ and colleagues’ inability to distinguish “roller skates” from “loller skates,” (gasp!) the boundaries of a sound may vary across languages. What may be perceived as two sounds in one language may sound the same to speakers of another.

We have this experience when learning Japanese. When I came to Japan, kyotou (sensei) and Kyouto (shi) sounded exactly the same. That Japanese speakers could tell the difference between the two seemed ridiculous. But I was humbled to realize this is the same as the ‘r/l’ problem: A difference obvious to Japanese speakers seems impenetrable to me, and vice versa. In Japanese, the long ‘o’ acts like a separate phoneme. It has the power to create a new word.

To determine the boundaries of a phoneme within a language, linguists search for minimal pairs. A minimal pair is a set of words that differ in a single feature (like tongue position, vowel length, or the vibration in the vocal cords) and are perceived as two separate words. In English, “roller skates” and “loller skates” are minimal pairs. Our ears can detect the subtle difference in the way the mouth moves to make an ‘r’ instead of an ‘l,’ so we hear two separate words. Most Japanese people’s ears are not trained to distinguish these sounds, because the difference is irrelevant in their native language.

“Ramen” and “lamen” are the same thing. On the other hand, tori (chicken) and torii (gates) sound quite different to


Japanese speakers because in their language, differences in vowel length create minimal pairs.

You might assume that a phoneme always sounds the same within a language, but this isn’t the case. Even though we perceive phonemes as one ‘sound,’ there can be differences in a phoneme depending on the surrounding sounds.

For example, the English plural ‘s.’ Everyone knows that to make an English noun plural, you add an ‘s,’ right? Not really! Say ‘dogs’ in your head and think about it. That’s totally a ‘z’ and not an ‘s’ at all. Next to a voiced (vocal cordvibrating) sound like ‘g’, the ‘s’ becomes voiced too. This is not the case for ‘cats’ because ‘t’ is voiceless, so we still pronounce a true ‘s’. All languages have situations like this. In Japanese, the phoneme ‘n’ (ん) is a great example. I bet you’ve noticed that when the ん occurs next to a ‘b’ or ‘p’ (in a specific environment,) it is pronounced as ‘m’ (like in sembei.) This happens because humans are lazy and find it easier to pronounce two adjacent consonants if they are articulated in the same place (in this case, the lips), just as they find it easier to say two adjacent consonants if they are both voiced (like ‘dogs’).

The take-home lesson here (I’m a teacher now so I can really say that!) is that what seems confusing, frustrating or senseless about languages often has perfectly logical explanations based on the patterns of linguistics. So pick up a book and find out what they are! Ask a linguist friend your burning questions! Take a bite of this delicious eleven-letter dish we call linguistics!

To learn more about linguistics, check out these hip resources: • The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker (a good, accessible introduction to linguistics) • Language log (a thorough blog on timely linguistic topics) • Peter Ladefoged’s website ( Tanya Bogaty is a first year ALT in Chikugo. She erratically posts photos of her life in Japan (but mostly of plants) at June/July 2011 │

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せんべい: Delicious, compelling evidence that people are lazy. Photo: Jessica Spengler

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Shirin Sane offers a recipe for Indian food that can be made right here in Japan

Photos: Shirin Sane


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Indian butter chicken


um: ‘‘Just remember what the mother says on that ‘Bend it like Beckham’ movie: ‘What family would want a daughter-in-law who can run around kicking a football all day but can’t make round chapattis?’’’ All those years I lived at home, I never listened. Then I moved to Japan. I miss my Mummy! But I can cook now. Japan divided by necessity equals perfect ‘daughter-in-law’ training. This is a from-scratch recipe that I made with ingredients you can easily find at a large local grocery store in Japan (TRIAL has an especially large spice section). If I can cook, anybody can. Ganbare! Shirin Sane is a second-year ALT residing in Kogemachi, Fukuoka Prefecture. She likes playing the piano, doing Karate with her club, and now loves cooking too!

Ingredients: • 125ml (1/2 cup) plain natural yogurt • 1 tbsp lemon juice • 1 tsp turmeric • 3 tsp garam masala • 1 tsp chili powder • 1.5 tsp ground cumin • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed • 1kg chicken breast fillets, fat trimmed, cut into bite-sized pieces • 4 tbsp butter • 1 tbsp sunflower/vegetable oil • 1 large onion, chopped finely • 1.5 tsp ground cardamon • 1 cinnamon stick, snapped in half • 1 tsp cinnamon powder • 1 bay leaf (laurel) • 3 tsp sweet paprika • 1 tsp salt • 425 g can tomato puree (not tomato paste). カットトマ ト (cut tomatoes) aren’t as smooth but also work great. • 100 ml hot water • 3 tsp sugar • 200 ml (1 cup) ‘fresh’ cream (not the whip type, it says fresh in katakana) • Steamed basmati rice, to serve (long grain rice can be found at foreign food stores. Japanese rice is also ok; just add slightly less water than normal) • Optional: a handful of cashews, fried over oil until golden to garnish; saffron and salt for the rice.

the refill | June/July 2011

Directions: Step 1: Marinade. combine yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, ginger and garlic in a bowl. Add chicken and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours (overnight is better). Step 2: In a large saucepan heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onion, cardamom, cinnamon stick and bay leaf and cook for 2 minutes until the onion starts to soften. Stir occasionally, taking care not to burn the spices. Step 3: Dissolve the sugar in the 100ml of hot water. Step 4: Reduce heat to low, then add the chicken and marinade, salt, paprika, cinnamon powder, tomato puree, and the hot water and sugar mixture. (More hot water can be added throughout the cooking process depending on the rate of evaporation and the desired consistency of the gravy). Stir and simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on, checking and stirring every few minutes. Step 5: Once the chicken is cooked, give the gravy a taste. More garam masala, sugar, salt, paprika or chilli powder can be added to suit your tastes. Keep in mind it will get milder once you add the cream. Step 6: Stir in cream and cook for a further 10 minutes. Taste test! Step 7: Garnish with fried cashews or a drizzle of cream and serve with saffron spiced basmati rice. This dish works well served with a cucumber raita (yogurt-based salad). It’s a good opportunity to use up the remaining yogurt too. Dice 1-2 cucumbers and add to half a cup of yogurt. Add salt and sugar to taste. Sprinkle with paprika to serve.



Event guide compiled by Keliko Adams

Photo: Matt Reinbold

Do not miss Matsuri (festivals, 祭) Nationwide, all summer



ummer in Japan is a time for yakitori (焼鳥), odori (踊り) and hanabi (花火)! Festivals take place all over Japan throughout the summer months as a way for people to enjoy the warm summer evenings and forget about the hot summer days. Highlights of festivals include wearing a yukata (浴衣) for girls or jinbei (甚平) for boys, eating various foods like grilled octopus, ramen burgers or chocolate covered bananas & ending the nights with stunning fireworks displays. Not to mention the most unabashed displays of public drunkenness you will see in Japan. For information on Gion Festivals around Fukuoka, see page 24. June/July 2011 │

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June Kabuki Hakata-za, Fukuoka, 2–26 June Kabuki (歌舞伎) is a traditional dance-drama performed in elaborate costumes and make-up. Choose from either an afternoon or evening session to see three separate performances. Visit for more information. Trockadero de Monte Carlo ACROS Fukuoka, 24 June An all-male drag ballet troupe presents a playful view of traditional ballet. Call 092-712-4221 for ticket information.


Iizuka Yamakasa Festival Iizuka, 15 July The main event of this festival is called the oiyama where four teams representing the four districts of the city race, each carrying a float that represent their district.

Wakamatsu Port Festival Kitakyushu, late July Events include a fire festival, kappa (water spirit) festival, kukino-umi fireworks display, and musical performances. On the night of the last day, a parade of about 2,000 participants with torches climbs up 120m Mt. Takato.


Photo: Lilia Tombs

Western Japan Ohori Fireworks Display Fukuoka, 1 August Kyushu’s largest urban display of fireworks is in the middle of Fukuoka City. Chikugo River Festival Kurume, 4 August THE biggest display of fireworks in all of Kyushu, with 18,000 launched over the river.

Fukuoka JET Orientation 2011 Fukuoka, 5 August All-day orientation for new incoming JETs. Afterwards, the welcome dinner will take place at Shibafu beer garden. More info for current JETs to be sent out by AJET in July!

Wasshoi Hyakuman Festival Kitakyushu, 6–7 August The city’s largest festival created to celebrate the formation of Kitakyushu City. The hyakuman odori (百万踊りis a dance that is performed every year.

Photo: Fabian Reus

the refill | June/July 2011

Obon (お盆) Nationwide, 13–15 August A traditional Buddhist festival to honor one’s deceased ancestors. Most Japanese people return to their family homes, and businesses tend to close down during this time.


Keliko Adams looks at the history of the Gion festival, one of Japan’s most popular summer rituals

A brief history of Gion from the Kyoto plague to the yamaboko

Photo: Chris Gladis


June/July 2011 │

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ion festivals (祇園祭) originated in Kyoto. The first one took place in 869, when a plague swept through Kyoto (the Imperial capital of Japan at the time) and the then-Emperor Seiwa ordered people to pray at Kyoto’s Yasaka Shrine, which was originally named “Gion-sha.” This first Gion festival included men carrying wooden floats to stop the plague and 66 decorated spears, one for each province in old Japan, erected at Shinsen Garden.

Apparently this ritual worked, because the tradition of Gion has continued in Kyoto since that day. It has grown into a full month of activities starting on July 1 and ending on the 31st. Now the purpose of the festival is to pray for good health and a good harvest. Activities feature various parades of lanterns, dancing, hanagasa (flower parasol, 花 傘) and mikoshi (portable shrines, 御輿)

The festival’s main event is called the Yamaboko (festival float mounted with a spear on top, 山鉾), which takes place on July 17. This massive parade features two kinds of floats, the yama, which are smaller and are carried on people’s shoulders, and the hoko, which are much larger and mounted and pulled on huge wooden wheels. In the midst of this are elaborate costumes and facepainted dancers moving to the music played by hoko riders. There are 32 floats, some reaching 25 meters high.

kazariyama (飾り山) decorate the streets, and on the morning of the 15th, the oiyama (追い山) is held where men race through the street carrying one-ton portable shrines called yama (山).

Iizuka Yamakasa Festival Iizuka, 15 July The main event of this festival is called the oiyama where four teams represent the four districts of the city, each racing while carrying a float that represents their district.

Kokura Gion Daiko Kitakyushu, 16–18 July The sounds of taiko (太鼓) drums will echo throughout the streets of Kokura for this 400-year-old festival. Kokura Gion Daiko is known for its unique drumming style that can only be seen here. Omuta Gion Daijiyama Festival Omuta, 16–24 July This festival features large floats in the shape of snakes, which are paraded down the streets to the shrine. There, eyes of the snakes are taken out and given as offerings.

Kurosaki Gion Yamakasa Kitakyushu, 20–23 July The floats in this Gion festival are carried through the streets while being spun around on an axle. Unique to this event, conch shells are used in the music. On the 20th, the float competition takes place in front of Kurosaki Station.

At Fukuoka’s Gion, the carrying of the parade floats is a race between groups starting at 5 am on the last day of the festival

On the night of the 16th, the Yoiyama (evening mountain, 宵山) takes place, preceding the yamaboko, and is a smaller-scale parade, featuring mostly musical instruments and dancing.

Not only has the Gion Festival in Kyoto grown into a bigger entity, its popularity has spread to cities all over Japan. Most towns celebrate Gion in some way at a local shrine. The traditions of the yama and the hoko are essential in Gion festivals, though they can be used in unique ways. At Fukuoka’s Gion, the carrying of the parade floats is a race between groups starting around 5 a.m. on the last day of the festival. The crowd watches to see which group can get to Kushida Shrine the fastest while maintaining grace and style. Also typical of Gion festivals are the parades, dancing and overall processions leading to a specific shrine in the area. Find out where your local Gion festival takes place and make a prayer for this year’s health! Here is a list of some Gion Festivals that take place in or near Fukuoka. This list is by no means complete, so ask at your city office to find out if there are Gion celebrations near you. Hakata Gion Yamakasa Fukuoka Kushida Shrine, 1-17 July The second largest festival in Fukuoka, large floats called

the refill | June/July 2011

Hita Gion Festival Hita, Oita, 23–24 July In this festival, participants pray for peace and well-being. Nine elegant floats are paraded down the street, some measuring over 10 meters.

Tobata Gion Oyamagasa Kitakyushu, 23–25 July The highlight of this festival are the four mountain-shaped floats made of paper lanterns that are stacked 10 meters high, making illuminated pyramids at night. Imai Gion Festival Yukuhashi, 19–31 July A smaller-scale festival praying for health and good luck. Floats of colorful streamers and lanterns are paraded around the Susa Shrine. Other events include traditional performances of renga (連歌), a night market and taiko drumming.

Keliko Adams is an ALT living in Yukuhashi and can’t wait for another summer full of festivals!


Reviews Lady Bird Diner & Café Yukuhashi


Photo: Keliko Adams


s a foreigner living in Japan, it’s almost obligatory to try every culinary experience that your stomach and taste buds can handle. As exciting as this has been, I also can’t deny the immense feelings of momentary comfort and salvation I feel upon finding a “foreign foods” restaurant that masterfully recreates what could otherwise only be found at home.

Inside Lady Bird Cafe, you will find all variations of “American diner” décor, with signs for Route 66 lining its walls, sun-bleached plastic McDonald’s toys displayed across counters and red-and-white checkered cloth on the table tops. But what is remarkable about Lady Bird is that it has the most authentic Hawaiian food I have found in Japan! While “Hawaiian” restaurants in Daimyo serve fancy SPAM musubi cut into dainty cubes served with toothpicks and garlic shrimp that wouldn’t even leave a grease stain on a paper bag, Lady Bird offers a taste much closer to real Hawaiian soul food.

My favorite item on the menu is the Mochiko Chicken. Sweet, juicy and lighter than karaage, Mochiko Chicken is a staple of Hawaiian cuisine and offers a peek at Hawaii’s history of cultures mixing together. You can get a plate lunch of Mochiko Chicken, rice, potato salad (not mac salad, unfortunately) and a plain salad for just 600 yen, or you can order Mochiko Chicken on the side. Other Hawaiian foods on the menu include garlic shrimp, Loco Moco, spam


musubi and Hawaiian Sun juice flavors.

In addition to the excellent Hawaiian food, the menu boasts 15 different flavors of milkshakes, ranging from chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and black sesame to pineapple and honey-lemon. Six pastas and two kinds of pizza also give Lady Bird an Italian flair, 10 different burgers make choices difficult, and side dishes are on offer ranging from Taco Rice to onion rings to avocado and prosciutto salad.

Another gem on Lady Bird’s menu is their Chicken Burger, which is not as plain as it sounds. The cooks at Lady Bird have taken their own savory Chicken Nanban recipe and put it in a bun, and true to Chicken Nanban-form, it’s so sticky from sauce dripping off of it that they serve the burger with a wax-lined wrapper on the side - slip your burger in and slurp up every bit of sauce. Like all burgers in Lady Bird, it’s held together by a long toothpick topped with a paper ornament of some kind of fruit. On the napkins and menus at Lady Bird you’ll find their slogan: “Faint heart never won fair lady. Go to the sea, if you wish to fish well.” These two pearls of wisdom are an additional treat to the amazing food you’ll definitely encounter here. Enjoy!

Keliko Adams is an ALT living in Yukuhashi. She didn’t realize how much she misses home until she ate Mochiko Chicken at Lady Bird. June/July 2011 │

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en Nights’ Dream in Asia, (24 March – 5 July 2011) curated from the permanent collection at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, showcases 26 works by Asian artists linked by the literally applied theme of “dreams.” The exhibition is free, but don’t let this sway your opinion about the quality of the work. The show has banal moments, but contains a few noteworthy gems. Featuring artists from China, India, Mongolia, Bangladesh, the Philippines and more, this exhibition displays a wide range of influences and styles.

Ten Nights’ Dream Fukuoka Asian Art Museum 24 March – 5 July 2011


While most of the works focus on the surreal aspects of sleep, a few tackle more politically and socially relevant issues, adding a dose of thematic depth.

Placed in the entrance of the exhibition, a large panoramic photograph by Chinese artist Chi Peng dominates the exhibit physically and thematically. The piece, entitled Apollo in Transit (2004 C-print), shows a blurred naked man fleeing past benches along a wall of the Forbidden City. Seated on the benches are voyeurs, all men (though some are in drag). This piece illustrates the sensation of scrutiny by Chinese society — one so harsh that the man feels physically stripped of security. The presence of the transvestites and lack of female characters suggests that the subject, Apollo - the god of light, truth, and the arts - is a gay man struggling under the strict social binds of his world. He is alone, both he and his relationships the subject of public examination. The stop motion illustrates a moment frozen in time, but the title demonstrates the agelessness of the themes of scrutiny and the pressure to conform. Apollo in Transit reflects the pressures of society, spanning national borders — poignant in Japan as well as China. As contemporary Japanese art is trending away from the kawaii art culture dominated by Takashi Murakami, many artists are exploring themes of social repression. Though not represented in this show, the Japanese artist Aido Makato, like Chi Peng, highlights the pressures of society on men. In his piece Ash Color Mountains (2009-11), Makato illustrates a mountain of meticulously dressed, grey suited salary-men piled atop one another. Indicating the mounting pressures on men to hide their identity and conform to the pack, this grey image of the salaryman’s life is another illustration of Chi Peng’s theme, proving that the issue crosses cultural boundaries.

While Ten Nights’ Dream in Asia does not form a particularly poignant or cohesive thematic vision, some more conceptual pieces demonstrate the universality of human experience connecting these foreign artists to their Japanese counterparts. If nothing else, this show exhibits artists from countries seldom represented in the gallery world proving this museum worth a visit or two. Lauren Every-Wortman is a first-year ALT in Kitakyushu. She never quite recovered after writing her senior Visual Studies thesis and still finds herself thrown into fits of academic prose. She wishes to apologize for her pedantic ways and hopes you don’t think less of her for them.

the refill | June/July 2011

From Chi Peng’s True and False Monkey King (2007)


... and finally A special thank you to Laura Cardwell, who is returning home at the end of July. Laura has been contributing (great) articles to The Refill from day one and we wish her all the best as she begins an exciting new chapter in her life.

Thanks, Laura! You’ll

always be in our Top 5!

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 5  

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...

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