Summer Festivals, and an Exchange Teacher to Oregon

“Tatemon” at the Jantokoi Festival in Uozu City

Originally written for the Vol.6-No.4 edition (August 23, 2012) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

We are having a very hot summer here, and even overnight lows sometimes never reach below 80F/27C. But summer is a time for festivals and fireworks everywhere in Japan, with over a dozen within Toyama Prefecture. And in Japan, even average, small-city fireworks are spectacular displays. This summer, I went to the Furusato Ryugu Festival in Namerikawa City and the Jantokoi Festival in Uozu City, which both had outstanding fireworks shows over the bay.

In sister state news, we have a major announcement: we are reinstating the exchange teacher program, which had been suspended for several years. Ms. Akiko Nakano of Toyama Prefecture will be spending the next year and a half in Oregon, teaching at Sheridan Japanese School! We are thrilled to have this development in sister state relations, and excited for Ms. Nakano and everyone at the school. We would like to thank Sheridan Japanese School and the Oregon Department of Education for all of their support.


Running in Toyama, Japan

The original version of this article was written for the Vol.5-No.7 edition (September 2, 2011) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

One of the best things I discovered in my five and a half years living in Oregon was a love for running. And as any runner in Oregon can tell you, there is an excellent running community there and more race options than it is possible to keep up with. I found the Run Oregon blog to be an indispensable resource, and I loved it so much that I began to occasionally write race recaps for them.

I promised to continue running and writing in Japan, and I would like to share some of my relevant pieces with you.

Uozu Shinkirou Half Marathon (Uozu City, Toyama, April 24th, 2011):
This was my first race in Japan.

Kurobe Meisui Road Race (Kurobe City, Toyama, May 22, 2011):
This particular race has a special connection to Oregon and to the United States.

You might also be interested in my general observations about running in Japan.

Mirage or Not, Head to the City of Uozu

Originally written for the Vol.5-No.3 edition (May 13, 2011) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

One of the many unique features of Toyama Bay is the mirage, which can be seen from the city of Uozu. The mirage is a natural occurrence created by temperature differences in the atmosphere. The layers of cold and warm air cause light to refract, so that distant objects appear to change shape or size, or even create mirror images. A mirage might appear for a few minutes or for several hours. Spring mirages can be seen above the actual objects, while winter mirages are seen below the actual objects.

The spring mirage season is from late March to early June. Mirages typically appear ten to fifteen times during this period. They are most likely to occur after two to three days of good weather, when the temperature is higher than normal, and when there is a gentle north-northeast wind. As you might imagine, many people are not able to see a mirage. The Buried Forest Museum (which also houses information on the mirage) in Uozu has been passing out certificates to the lucky people who manage to witness a mirage.

However, Uozu decided that they also want to recognize and appreciate the people who visited but could not see a mirage. Through June 30th, the Uozu City Tourist Association is offering a “certificate” for those who were not able to see the mirage upon their visit to the mirage viewing areas of Uozu. The certificate proclaims “蜃気楼見られんだちゃ(Shinkirou miraren da cha),” which is “I couldn’t see the mirage” — in the local Toyama dialect. It comes with coupons for the Buried Forest Museum and the Mirage Land Ferris Wheel, as well as a voucher for a gift from the Uozu Aquarium.

A travel agency has even begun offering 2-day bus tour packages from the Tokyo area to Toyama, combining mirage-viewing with the firefly squid museum (Namerikawa City) and the World Heritage Site Gokayama Gassho-Zukuri Village (Nanto City). This tour package will only be available for select days this month, as the dates were chosen based on historical data of days the mirage has appeared in past years.

Source (article and photo): Toyama Just Now