Blogs from Tokushima, Japan, Asia

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Asia » Japan » Tokushima December 21st 2012

A final posting to wrap up our autumn trip. Whilst most would know that we are now all safely home and that we had a wonderful time somethign about the wonders of the Island of Shikoku are needed to complete our story. From Okayama we went by ferry to Naoshima (the Art Island) a small island in the Seto Inland Sea. An inspired project, funded by the Fukutake family (publishers of Benesse educational materials), took an island with diminishing industry and aging population and created the Benesse Art site. This produced an utterly new type of space and experience by setting contemporary art and architecture amidst the beauty of nature and inside unused village houses. We visited the main sites including Chichu Art Museum, where "Water Lilies" by Claude Monet, works by James Turrell and Walter ... read more
Chichu Museum Naoshima
View along the Seto Sea
Brian, Gail and Val at Chichu

Asia » Japan » Tokushima November 24th 2012

Day 8 We had an even earlier start to the day, as we needed to set off to catch a ferry to the next island. Breakfast was on the top floor of the hotel, which they had open early for us. It was even more Japanese than usual, and we find the concept of a tray and plastic plate a little odd. We managed some toast and fruit, but there was no yogurt, and the egg that I was going to try turned out to be raw rather than hard boiled. We met in the lobby, and set out for the ferry. On the way, we went through countless tunnels - all of which have a name - and through mountainous regions and again, the autumn colours were outstanding. We were on time for the ferry, ... read more
Huge sandal attached to entrance door
Putting money into the sandal to bring good luck.
Small Sandals left attached to gate

Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima July 20th 2011

Here I am in the teachers' room at my commercial high school with a beautiful bouquet of pink lilies propped up on my desk. School's officially out for summer, but the copier is still humming and people are shuffling around busy with I'm not sure what, tying up loose ends I suppose. In exactly one week, someone else will be sitting at this desk, living in my apartment and introducing herself to my coworkers, many of whom I can now call friends. Life is a constant series of goodbyes (although I'm not very good at them), but goodbye feels especially unsettling without at least the possibility of running into people at the grocery store. This is goodbye to not only the school and the town, but the country, the continent and the hemisphere. Forever. Surprisingly, I ... read more
Goodbye Friends
Goodbye Students

Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima July 8th 2011

I wrote this article for Awa Life, the newsletter for JETs in Tokushima Prefecture, which came out today: Six Japanese men in cowboy hats, vests and plaid flannel shirts, a group by the name of Cabin Home, fiddled, strummed and jammed away Typhoon Songda’s howling winds as they took the stage on Sunday, May 29th. I was an attendee of the fifth semi-annual Tokushima Bluegrass Festival, supporting Fumio Fukui-sensei, the machinery and electromechanical systems teacher at my technical high school. After eight months of working together, he had finally shared his secret with me: not only is he fluent in English, but he also plays and sings country, bluegrass and folk music. “ is very simple and easy,” Fukui-sensei told me. “Everyone can play and sing, but it is very deep. Bluegrass and country music has ... read more
Cabin Home, the first performers of the day
Fumio Fukui, a.k.a. Dr. F

Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Naruto June 29th 2011

Sorry about the poor title pun but I didn't want to write another title bemoaning the weather conditions. After a 3 hour ferry ride I made it to Matsuyama and I don't think I have ever been on a ferry for that length of time let alone one with no seats. It was quite a pleasant way to spend the journey, sprawled out on my bit of floor and sleeping the journey away like the rest of my fellow passengers. Matsuyama is home to a castle which overlooks the town and a luxury public bath with different pricing options depending on which bath and which post bathing refreshments you pick (it all sounded very complicated). The rain continued on and off but did let up for long enough to allow enough time to visit the castle ... read more
Ropeway
Tera Tera Bozu
Uwajima

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Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima June 9th 2011

My latest pursuits are in the physical realm, and have transformed my uggh-the-week-is-only-half-over Wednesdays into super-awesome-four-hour-work-out Wednesdays. Yes, four hours of working out in one day, starting at 5:30 am. I don't recognize myself, either. It all starts with a 45 minute bike ride to the farther of my two schools. Happily, this is just the right time for me to plow through morning excercises in the park (as an observer, not a participant). Many Japanese people, especially elderly Japanese people, enjoy waking up at dawn everyday to do taiso, an excercise involving matching track suits and piano music. I'm not trying to poke fun at the Japanese exercise regiment, but it does brighten my day to see everyone lined up in the park taiso-ing at six in the morning. At seven, I'm in my high ... read more

Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima May 20th 2011

At my latest work party, my high school's kendo (sword fighting) coach invited me to meditate with the team at a local temple. Twice a month, as part of their training, they practice Zazen medition, which comes from Chinese Zen Buddhism. At first I was just excited to have such a unique experience, and didn't think about how difficult it might be to sit motionless for half an hour. But when the moment arrived on Thursday night, with incense burning and monks ringing bells, I started to get a little nervous. We had already been sitting cross legged on the floor for about 15 minutes, which is a long time for someone with poor circulation who's used to sitting on furniture. We (and by we I mean everyone else in the room except for me) were ... read more

Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima April 12th 2011

Celebrating hanami seems disrespectful with so many people suffering in the north, and Japanese people are cancelling vacations and parties to show solidarity with the victims. But cherry blossoms, or sakura, have been blooming all over Japan and as the weather slowly infects me with spring fever, it's also hard not to enjoy the season. I experienced big league hanami in Kyoto two weeks ago, and the picturesque views in traditional gardens and temples left me with no doubt why Kyoto is the famous place to see cherry blossoms. Even just strolling down the street in Gion, the Geisha/Maiko district, is scenic and just pleasant in general. Bridges and canals run alongside sakura-lined streets with little Edo period (16-1800s) buildings that could have walked off the set of Memoirs of a Geisha. We wandered through this ... read more
Kyoto
Spotted: Almost Maiko
Kiyomizu-dera

Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima March 29th 2011

What with the recent disaster and my parents coming to visit, I didn't have a chance to write about the culmination of the past three months of my life. I'm talking about the JET Musical, an adventure that has kept me from sleeping in since January. In a good way, of course. The musical, a long-standing tradition in Tokushima, is a way for us to contribute to the community. There are some fans who have been coming to see it for years. Check out the awesome musical promo video for this year's show, by John M. My role in our wacky rendition of Treasure Island was Penelope: the captain's long lost sister, marooned on an island with a contingent of ninjas who carried me onstage in my spotlight moment. It's always been a suppressed dream of ... read more
Spotlight Moment
Zombie Dance
With the Parents

Asia » Japan » Tokushima » Tokushima March 25th 2011

There's been a lot of Japanese government-bashing lately because of their response to the nuclear crisis, but something I read today on Mother Jones really hit me: "A natural disaster, accident, or terrorist attack that might be statistically unlikely in any year or decade becomes ever more likely at the half-century, century, or half-millennium mark. Given enough time, in fact, the unlikely becomes almost inevitable. Even if you and I are not the victims of some future apocalyptic disturbance of that lethal residue, to consign our children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren to such peril is plainly and profoundly immoral." full article Because of how much time it takes for radioactive material to break down, there really isn't anywhere in the world that's safe for a nuclear power... read more




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