The X-Pat Files
(Brought to you by H&R Consultants)
The X-Pat Files Community E-Newsletter provides a forum for the spread of information useful for English speakers living in Aichi. You can use the newsletter as an informational resource, and of course you can send in information you would like to share.
Contents for This Edition
1. Climb Mount Fuji
2. Gujo Hachiman
3. Brazilian Stores
4. HOPE International Opportunities
5. Great Places to Eat
6. Keep your cool this summer
7. Meet and Greet Luncheon
8. The Sumo
9. Pottery Event
10. Getting Real
1. Climb Mount Fuji for Charity
There are still spaces available – please take this opportunity to conquer Japan’s highest mountain while also combating world poverty!!
H&R Consultants, ReloJapan and LeaseJapan are happy once again to team up with HOPE International Development Agency for the annual Charity of Climb of Mt Fuji on the weekend of July 11th – 12th. There are still tickets available, so don’t miss this opportunity to climb Japan’s highest mountain with the support of others, while also supporting efforts overseas to bring relief to those in need.
This is a unique opportunity to ride in comfort on a chartered bus to Fuji, climb Japan’s highest and most sacred mountain with a great group of people… and all for a fantastic cause.
There is no charge for our clients, (except for the onsen and your own food) but we ask you to raise at least 10,000 yen for HOPE by asking your friends and family to sponsor you.
HOPE has a challenge website, www.hopeglobalchallenge.com, where you can direct your sponsors to go to place their pledge and find out more.
To avoid the crowds and the misery of climbing in the dark, this year we will climb during day light hours starting just before dawn. The day will end in a wonderful hot spring where you can also obtain a nourishing meal.
We look forward to doing this challenge with you!!
Call for Sponsors! Help me to reach the peak of Mt Fuji – Steve Burson
Despite my many years in Japan I have never climbed to the peak of Japan’s highest mountain, Mt. Fuji. Last year I decided to make the climb for HOPE International. Since I work an extremely busy life I am not always able to get the exercise I would like, so it seemed like an excellent chance to do something for myself while also doing something for those less fortunate. However, my dream to conquer Mt Fuji last year ended with an infection in my leg.
This year I am determined to make my goal, and I ask for your support at this time to sponsor my climb, on July 12th of this year. Monies raised will go to HOPE International and will be used for various projects but will primarily help finish a project in a remote region of southern Ethiopia installing a clean water supply system for a village of several hundred people.
As I know that you are hearty charity supporters, I would like you to each take 1,000 yen out of your pockets and pledge me for my climb. For those of you who wish me to get more enthusiastic about my climb, I would very much encourage you to pledge more. I will walk with much more motivation if you pledge me 10,000 yen for example…..
It is very easy. You go here; http://www.hopeglobalchallenge.com/participants.asp?id=69; click on the pledge area by my name and commit to an amount. Once I have climbed Japan’s highest, I will come collecting!
Please take 2 minutes to do this today for the benefit of Hope International and all of whom they support.
If you would like to do this climb with us, please also put your hand up. There are still spaces available and I am going to need some climbing support too! Details are here; http://www.hopeglobalchallenge.com/newsdisplay.asp?id=83
Thank you for backing me.
2. Gujo Hachiman
A friend told me of a unique village in Gifu Prefecture which has the unusual fame of having invented those little plastic food samples that you see in the windows of restaurants. Visiting this town you can try your hand at making your own food samples to take home – a true souvenir of your time in Japan!
When I looked up the town of Gujo Hachiman on the internet, I found it has an incredible English website with videos, photos, maps and suggestions for things to do along with detailed directions for getting there by bus or train. To get there by car, go from the Meishin Expressway at Ichinomiya Junction to the Tokai Hokuriku Expressway (the same road you’d take to Takayama) and get off at the Gujo Hachiman Interchange. It is about an hour and ten minutes from Ichinomiya Junction.
There are three sample food workshops that offer “taiken”, the chance for you to make your own sample culinary delights! They are open from 9 in the morning until 4 or 5 in the afternoon, but go early or call ahead for a reservation to avoid disappointment. The names and phone numbers for these establishments are:
Asahi Sample Kobo (Asahi Sample Workshop) 0575-65-4887 (Fax: 0575-65-6298)
Sample Village Iwasaki 0575-65-2832 (Fax: 0575-65-2947)
Sample Kobo (Sample Workshop) 0575-67-1870
It’s not all about the plastic food samples, either! This town is due north of Nagoya and is located where three rivers meet, so it’s like the hidden heart of Japan. It’s sometimes referred to as Little Kyoto because of the number of temples and shrines and for the “old town feeling” of walking the streets. There is a castle surrounded in magnificent maple trees (visit in autumn for the full effect!) and there are beautiful caves which were used for shelter in ancient times.
From July to September it is festival time in Gujo Hachiman, and you can even take lessons in the dancing styles, or just join in! You can also wade right into the river to catch your own Ayu fish for dinner. It’s truly the best of the Japanese summer.
The website has information on all of the above along with detailed listings for accommodation and places to eat. There is a two day pass for people who want to explore all of the attractions in the town fully, for about half the price of what all the attractions would cost together.
I’ve never been to Gujo Hachiman myself, but as I’m writing this you can bet I’ll be there one weekend very, very soon!
3. Brazilian Stores
Thank you to Geri White for information contained within this submission
The Brazilian Store is the perfect shop to go before you have a BBQ. It has a good supply of meat at reasonable prices. The mince meat (hamburger meat) is virtually fat free! Other products they stock are confectionery, spices, beans. They also stock toiletries e.g. Colgate toothpaste, deodorant and more.
If you are looking for large chocolate eggs for Easter they stock these too!
Close to NIS and Sango station on the Meitetsu Seto line, it’s on the right hand side of Route 61 as you head out to Seto, in a blue and white building.
Address: Aichi-ken Seto-shi Kawanishi-cho 1-115
Another Brazilian Store well known in the expat community for cheap cuts of meat is Cibrasil in Komaki. It’s a little bit harder to find. You can try feeding the phone number (below) into your car navigation, or look at a street map. Near Komaki Interchange on Route 41, you will see the intersection with Route 155 (these lights are called Muranaka). You will see the big colorful building of Cibrasil on the right hand side of Route 41, but to get to it you have to do some fancy driving! Just past the Muranaka lights, veer left into a little side street that runs parallel to Route 41. Turn right at the first street, which is a tiny little tunnel that you will probably have to do a three point turn to get into (don’t give up! It’s worth the trouble!!) Go through this tunnel under Route 41, and when you come out immediately turn right (again, you may have to do a three point turn. Then just drive straight and you will see the shop on your left. There is plenty of parking, either in front of the shop or in a separate metallic parking structure.
Not just a supermarket with all the things listed above at Bom Preco Mercado, upstairs there is a small café with chocolate fudge to DIE for and also a restaurant. It is basically like going on holiday to Brazil, where the people who work there speak Portuguese (Japanese if you’re lucky, but probably not English).
Cibrasil Co. Ltd
Brazilian & South American Food, Bakery, Butcher, Restaurant, CD, Videos etc
Komaki-shi Muranaka Ikenomen 1368-1
Shop. Villa Nova 1F
4. HOPE International Development Agency
HOPE International Development Agency is reliant on volunteers, interns and the secondment of company employees to achieve its objectives. Current positions available for volunteers, interns and company employee secondment:
* Bilingual Editor / minimum 4 hours per week
To be responsible for working alongside the web master and Exec Coordinator in keeping the HOPE website up to date with news, project profiles and other important information. Needs to be fluent in Japanese and proficient in English. Writing skills required and a submission of writing samples is required.
* Global Education Coordinator / minimum 8 hours per week
To work with the Asia Pacific Director in coordinated a public speaking schedule and active organizing speaking opportunities with Universities, Rotary Clubs, Lion Clubs, business associations/chambers and Ladies Groups. The role also involves preparing fundraising events in the following cities in the coming months: Osaka, Nagoya, Kariya, Owariasahi, Yagoto, Tokyo, Yokohama
* Marketing Coordinator for www.hope-auction.com / minimum 12 hours a week
HOPE has successfully piloted an on line auction for two years for over 100,000 dollars of prizes donated so far. HOPE is now using the powerful website to also feature classified ads for people to sell personal items donating 50% of proceeds. The Marketing coordinator will work with the Web Master and the exec coordinator in refining and promoting the site to various networks. While proficiency in Japanese would be helpful, it is possible for a non Japanese speaker to take on this role.
* Event Organizer
HOPE always welcomes people with good ideas for a fundraising event and the commitment to put their ideas into actions. Please contact us with your idea and plan.
5. Great Places to Eat
Thank you to Windy Tamplin for this submission
Listed below are two of our favorite breakfast places and one other place we like to eat lunch or dinner.
Blanc Pain in Tempaku-ku is a European Cafe with the best coffee and breads. You walk in and feel like you are in a small cafe in France which is probably because the owner is French. The place is very kid friendly. We have spilled many a cup of milk and lately our 3 year old daughter now seems to have the goal of spelling one drink before we leave a restaurant. It is small with only 5 tables but they do have take out and a picnic table right out front and they open at 9am. They have breakfast sets with rolls, croissant and drink or a lunch set of roast chicken which comes complete with salad and dessert which you get to pick from the many to good for words display case. The staff is pretty good with most English and menu has pictures. They have parking but it is only 8 spots but you can park around the corner on the side street or if going early in the Salvorie across the street. The contact navi info is as follows
Address: 1-410 Ueda-Yama, Tenpaku-ku , Nagoya
Open: 09:00 - 19:00 (Closed Mondays)
Map (in Japanese)
Directions: At the Ueda Ippon-bashi lights on Route 153 go west, and then turn right after the bridge at the lights. At the next lights turn left and you’ll see Blanc Pain on your right. Going by public transport, it’s about a 5 minute taxi ride from Hoshigaoka Station on the Higshiyama line, or 20 minute walk from Shiogama-guchi on the Tsurumai Line.
Saint Marc Craftsmanship is our other favorite spot that serves breakfast sets and fresh rolls of all different flavors (matcha, blueberry, onion, sesame) constantly while you eat. The breakfast sets are either soup, egg and bacon and potatoes (like tater tots) or salad, soup, and creamy macaroni and chicken very close to a home made mac and cheese. My kids like the last one. The wait staff understands and some speak English. They have a big parking lot out front and it is down the street from Sapore if you are out shopping.
Address: 1-1 Umezono Hiroji-cho Showa-ku Nagoya
Open: 09:00 - 23:00 (Closed Mondays)
Map (in Japanese, click the third map link from the top)
Directions: Near the Jusco at Yagoto. Come out of the Jusco at the UFJ Bank exit and turn right. Walk or drive along the road that goes to Nanzan, and you will see the restaurant on your right.
One more place (not for breakfast but for lunch or dinner) is Cannery Row, an Italian Restaurant. They have a wide selection of Italian food and the waiters also speak English and will explain any dish on the menu. I love the cheese fondues and paella and the pizza and pastas and the girls loved all of it. They have sets where you can get 5 courses very reasonably. They have parking under the building and usually has a wait but you are seated pretty fast.
Address: 2-1101 Inokoishihara Meito-ku Nagoya
Open: 11:00 – 22:30
Map (in Japanese, may not be much help but you can zoom in and out which is nice)
Directions: 5 minutes walk from the Hikiyama Bus Stop (bus from Issha Station on the Higashiyama line). If you go north on route 302, turn at the lights AFTER Hikiyama. You will go past the Daiei, and then you’ll see Cannery Row on the right after the 3rd set of lights.
6. Keep your cool this summer
Thank you to Betty Mizutani for information contained within this submission
Don’t just CRANK the airconditioner this summer or hang out day after day in shopping malls to avoid the heat. There are many things you can do to remain comfortable in the Japanese summer!
7. Meet and Greet Luncheon
For those of you who are new to Nagoya, please come and join us for lunch. Meet and Greet lunch is the ideal place to make new friends, have a chat, and find out what is going on in Nagoya.
Date and Time: Tuesday, July 8th, starting at 11:30 a.m.
Change of Regular Venue: see note below!!!
Temporary Venue: The Seasons Restaurant, 2F, Hilton Nagoya (with special corner for kids)
Price: 2600 yen
RSVP: Joey Tan is the Meet and Greet Coordinator. Please RSVP to Joey by e-mail at email@example.com as soon as possible, at the latest by the 4th of July. When you are RSVPing for another person, please give the name of the other person to avoid double bookings. There is a minimum attendance of 15 people for just this Meet and Greet, so please contact Joey as soon as you can to avoid cancellation.
Important Note: The Meet and Greet has been hosted at Shooters Bar and Grill each month, however renovations to the restaurant have required the Meet and Greet to find a new temporary home.
Shooters would like to apologize to Meet and Greet attendees and other customers at this time and hopes to have your custom and support again in approximately 3 weeks when the renovations should be complete.
The Meet and Greet would also like to thank Shooters Bar and Grill for their continued support each month. Because they open just for the Meet and Greet and provide a smorgasbord lunch at a reasonable price, it is a very easy event for parents with young children. We look forward to returning to Shooters when we can.
8. The Sumo (Nagoya Basho 13th – 27th July)
Sumo is the traditional national sport of Japan, mentioned in Japanese texts more than 1000 years ago (although it is also believed to be much older). It encompasses elements of Japanese culture and the Shinto religion. It is even shown in certain ancient wall paintings, showing that it may have been practiced by prehistoric man praying for a good harvest. Much later it was used as a kind of military sport between warriors and their enemies. It is Japan’s oldest sport and yet it is much more than a sport (in the way that baseball might be in the US). It’s a way of life and has played an important role in the cultural history of this country. Sumo wrestlers (called Rikishi) are seen as heroes and role models in Japan much as other sports stars may be in the west.
In the current form of Sumo (now referred to as a gendai budo or “modern martial art”) rikishi strive to better their overall ranking. There are six divisions in sumo: makuuchi (fixed at 42 rikishi), jūryō (fixed at 28 rikishi), makushita (120 rikishi), sandanme (200 rikishi), jonidan (approximately 230 rikishi), and jonokuchi (approximately 80 rikishi).
Rikishi enter sumo in the lowest division and work up toward the top division. Wrestlers in the top two divisions are known as sekitori. These sekitori are the ones who really make a living at sumo, anything less is considered amateur and the wrestlers will receive an allowance at best.
The higest makuuchi division receives the most attention from fans and has the most complex hierarchy. The majority of wrestlers are maegashira and are numbered from one (at the top) down to about sixteen or seventeen. Above the maegashira are the three champion or titleholder ranks, called the sanyaku. These are, in ascending order, komusubi, sekiwake, and ōzeki. At the pinnacle of the ranking system is the rank of yokozuna, the ultimate honor for any sumo wrestler.
Yokozuna, or grand champions, are generally expected to be regularly in competition to win the top division tournament title. The promotion criteria for yokozuna are therefore very strict. In general, an ōzeki must win the championship for two consecutive tournaments or something similarly stunning to be considered for promotion to yokozuna.
There are six Grand Sumo tournaments, called basho, held each year. They take place only when it's an odd numbered month like March or July. Matches are held in Tokyo, and in the cities Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka. Every summer it’s Nagoya’s turn, so July is the month of the Natsu Basho (summer tournament) at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.
There are still seats available at the upcoming tournament which runs from the 13th to the 27th of July. Weekend tickets are now nearly impossible to come by, however the weekdays are still quite open. More expensive seats include a boxed lunch that I hear is quite lovely, so why not treat yourself to the ultimate Japanese experience?
If you’ve got your tickets but you don’t know so much about sumo, then it’s well worth doing a bit of homework before you go. There is so much information around in English on the internet (see my list of links below), but my strong recommendation for a novice would be to at least check out a number of the more popular “winning moves” (kimarite) such as oshidashi (frontal push out), ashitori (leg pick) or shitatenage (underarm throw) that a rikishi can use to defeat his opponent. You can find these winning moves and more on the Goo Sumo Homepage.
Other websites to check out are:
9. Pottery Event
Twelfth generation potter Hiroshige Kato has lived and worked the same land all of his life. His grandfather and father handed the land and the skills down to him from a long line of distinguished artists. 400 years ago his family was one of three to be brought back under the protection of the Tokugawa shogunate for the task of making tea ceremony goods for use at Nagoya Castle. Of these three families, Kato-Sensei is the last remaining potter who is still working the clay hills of Seto.
The family have come through good times and bad, and have been through several incarnations of business. Tenth generation potter (Kato-Sensei’s grandfather) Sanzaemon worked hard through the industrial times to become a renowned artist at the age of 80. Eleventh generation potter Eigo Kato turned the business into a production line of which the factory still remains, now dormant. Now Hiroshige Kato struggles to keep the family name alive in his little studio atop the hill previously owned and worked by the hands of his ancient family. The art has come full circle – the factory lines lay silent while Kato-Sensei crafts his art from the pure clay of the Seto hills. A husband and father himself, he is a kind and patient teacher, with a glint in his eye and a smile that will light up a room.
I have been to Kato-Sensei’s studio many, many times and witnessed my friends and family making beautiful and professional looking pottery at the wheel under his watchful eye (and his helpful hands!!!).
Check out Kato-Sensei’s website in English, and also an upcoming class and tour of his kiln.
Supported by Source International
Date: Saturday, July 5th from 14:30 to 16:00
Place: Akazu, Seto city, Aichi pref (map)
The event will apparently be repeated from every first Sunday of the month from September, so if you do miss out this time then you can contact Chikami from Source International for more details.
In addition to these tours in English, Kato-Sensei is available for group or semi-private lessons at his studio any time (there may be other Japanese clients, so an English experience may not be guaranteed). Kasen Tableware Gallery is open from 10am to 5pm every day except Wednesdays, and Kato-Sensei can be contacted directly by e-mail (English OK) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
10. Getting Real
Do you know the story of the Velveteen Rabbit? This classic children’s tale (with a world-wide adult readership) illustrates one simple but universal truth – that we only become real through love. Life is never easy and we’ll probably get pretty shabby and even battered along the way, but it’s through our relationships with other people that we will become finally real.
Coming to Japan we might be expected to learn new sets of rules or adhere to different customs. We may get these rules wrong, we may mess it up along the way. But if we act out of love and respect for the other person, there is no real way that we can fail. We can be real, experiencing this culture and acting as fully participatory members of this community.
I received a phone call from a friend the other day. We used to work together, but now that she’s moved to Tokyo I hardly hear from her. On the phone I could hear that her voice was not right. She told me that her father had died. “Oh, I’m so sorry…” I said impotently. It is at times like this that we feel most powerless to ease the pain of our fellow human being.
The Japanese tradition requires that the body be watched over by family members for a number of days without letting the slow burning incense fire extinguish. Families sleep at the funeral home with the body of the deceased, and it was my friend’s turn to stay with her father that day.
I had many options to be of support to my friend. I could attend the funeral (which was the next day), I could attend the wake (which was that night), or I could slip over and see my friend while she was keeping watch. I decided that since I didn’t know her father it may not have been appropriate to attend the funeral or the wake so I initially took the latter option.
When my father died nobody knew what to say to me. Many people get very curly and jittery around death – they want to focus on something positive and so they may wax lyrical about other non-death-related things. Some wanted to assure me about an afterlife. Some wanted to hug inappropriately. Some just shuffled about and looked at their feet. You’d think that people would get used to death – the only certain thing that comes to us all. Think again. There are as many ways to act weirdly around death as there are people dying.
Anyway, since my friend was going to be alone I decided to rely on my own instincts and my native language of English to deal with this situation in any real way. My friend is very good at English, and I knew that she would appreciate my attempt to be real at this time. I didn’t even look up my own X-Pat Files article on funeral etiquette, and so went completely unprepared.
When I entered the room I immediately was hit with the folly of my ways. In the few hours it took me to get here the whole family had arrived – the wife of the deceased, the son who was the chief mourner, his wife, a surly male teenaged relative playing GameBoy. They were all there, and all of my social graces and appropriate funeral Japanese flew out of the window.
There is a phrase used to express sympathy in these situations, “Go-shuu-sho-sama-deshita”. The phrase used to convey thanks for the preparation or payment of a meal just eaten is extremely similar: “Go-chi-so-sama-deshita” and so in my mind these two are impossibly linked. Absolutely sure that I did not want to make a mistake and thank the bereaved family for their meal, I told my friend in English that I had forgotten my Japanese. She didn’t volunteer up the information so I got to meet each and every relative without being able to say the phrase that I needed. At the end I was even giggling inappropriately at my own lack of Japanese prowess. I had become my own worst nightmare of post-death inappropriateness.
Despite my obvious flaws, my friend and her mother seemed glad that I had come to the funeral home and I decided that I would also attend the wake. Driving home and back I practiced the words I would need “Go-shuu-sho-sama-deshita, Go-shuu-sho-sama-deshita, Go-shuu-sho-sama-deshita”. I was not going to make the mistake again. I had my little packet of money tucked away in my impossibly small black leather handbag and I was ready to act appropriately (although I might say that I had AGAIN forgotten to read MY OWN X-Pat Files article on Japanese funeral traditions). When I got to the funeral home however the ushers were all rushing about, wanting people to quickly pay their respects to the deceased before checking in and passing over the envelope of money. I had not expected to have to “perform” so quickly and so when I was raced right up to the front of the alter I just got through the incense burning ritual as best I could. After finishing I went back out to reception and “signed in”, then took my seat back at the wake. It was only then that I realized that I had forgotten to bow to (or even to make eye contact with) the deceased’s family in any way when I had paid respects at the alter. Again I had muffed it up. I only hoped that the family would forgive my utter uselessness in Japanese customs at this, their time of need.
After the wake I was able to see my friend, to apologize for my messing up of Japanese funeral practices. I was even able to hug her lots (perhaps inappropraitely!). I was one of these people who don’t deal with death well. And yet I was acting out of love. I love my friend and I know that she loved her father. When I met my friend’s mother I said to her the immaculately practiced “Go-shuu-sho-sama-deshita” and the little giggle that she gave (knowing that I had looked it up before the funeral and practiced it) let me know that it didn’t matter how unversed I was in Japanese funeral tradition. It didn’t matter that despite my “expert reputation” writing the X-Pat Files I had returned to the role of beginner-gaijin at this most uncomfortable time. What mattered was that I made the trip twice to see my grieving friend, to let her know that while I sorely wanted to take her pain away there was no way that I could even go close.
“Love is being open to experience the anguish of another person’s suffering… the willingness to live with the helpless knowing that we can do nothing to save the other from the pain.” - Sheldon Kopp
That`s it for this edition of the newsletter. We hope you found it informative - please let us know what you would like to see in future editions, and we will attempt to address your issues.
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