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Monthly Archives: September 2008

Amagoi no Taki

Do you like high places? Do you enjoy walking up endless steps through the mountains to find hidden pockets of natural beauty and solitutde, coupled by the excitement of rusty iron chains running over slippery surfaces providing access to even higher places?

Well, you’re in luck.

While the large number of mountains in Tokushima (80% of all available land) may be a bottomless pit of potential construction work, in a different frame of mind it is also a lush garden filled with deep forests and valleys, mountainous peaks and beautiful country views. The amagoi no taki, or amagoi waterfalls, is a little of all of these things mixed in together, nestled deep in the heart of the town of Kamiyama in the middle of the prefecture.

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Typhoon #15 – Jangmi

Another typhoon is headed towards Japan, moving on almost the exact same path as Typhoon #13 – Sinlaku. Not such good news for people in southern Kyushu, but it looks as though it might pass by Shikoku once again without doing much damage.

Still, you never can tell.

Just like its predecessor, Typhoon #13, the current storm made a long path out of the pacific into China before swinging back towards Japan, and there is no guarantee it will stick to its current path. Keep up to date with the weather reports, and make sure you have the most recent information on how the storm is moving.

For more informations and timed updates, check out the Japan Meteorological Agency website.

And most of all, stay safe.

Kawashima Castle

Kawashima Castle pokes out through a hole in the cherry blossoms.

The castle tower in Kawashima is what I expected when I first heard of Tokushima Central Park and the supposed ‘castle remains’ that stood there. Standing atop a hill with a fine view over the Yoshino River, its white walls and tiled rooves paint a very prominent and pretty picture that seem as though they were made to be photographed.

If you are a serious purveyor of ancient castles in Japan, however, you might find yourself a little disappointed. The only thing very castle-like about the area is the tower itself, and there are no moats or walls beyond those gifted to it naturally by its surroundings. The castle itself leaves a little to be desired as well, being a mere replication built in 1981 of the old castle tower and not the real deal.

But thankfully, what the area lacks in castle architecture it makes up for in parkland beauty.

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Reason of the Season #1

Autumn has officially arrived!

Cool breezes and a comfy climate make Autumn the best time to get things done, and look after yourself.

In Japan we have a saying that Autumn is a time for reading, a time for sports, and a time to build up a good appetite. It’s an all-around easy to live with time of year, and the fine weather makes it easy to concentrate on whatever is in front of you, whether it be reading, study, or work.

It’s also a good time to to work up a sweat, which is part of the reason why this time of year is the traditional period for sports days in kindergartens and schools. But, all that work means you end up with a big appetite as well, and eating properly and well helps keep you in good shape.

The good news is – no matter what you eat this time of year, it tastes great!

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More Tainted Rice News

A quick update about the use of tainted rice in Tokushima from an article in the Tokushima Newspaper yesterday:

On Thursday, September 25 it was discovered that the total number of schools affected by this issue has come to a total of 231 primary schools, junior high shools and kindergartens, two prefectural junior high schools, and six special support schools in 20 local municipalities throughout the prefecure. However, no risk to health is expected.

These results were compiled from a survey by the Prefectural Board of Education and local Boards of Education.

The spread of affected schools is 40 kindergartens, 138 primary schools, 55 junior high schools (prefectural schools included) and six special support schools. This includes schools that have closed over the past years since the product was first used, and school mergers as well, but overall comes to 60% of all the primary and junior high schools in the prefecture. Furthermore, it was newly shown that the Kito Primary and Junior High Schools in Naka-cho are also affected.

The period in which the product was said to have been used was from 2003 to 2008, and primary schools in Tokushima City show the highest rate of use at 17 times during this period. Further statistics on the past use of the product are still being compiled at each of the local municipal Boards of Education.

The food used in school lunches is decided upon individually by local municipalities, being ordered from school lunch centres and according to local need. However, not every school in the same region necessarily uses the same products, one of the reasons it has been proving difficult to collect accurate data so quickly.

Overall, many of the affected schools sent messages home to parents via students on Wednesday, September 24 about the issue. In Minami-cho, letters were sent via post to parents to explain the situation, while in letters in Mima City the additional information that “The use of starch in the fried eggs accounts for only 1% of the food, and as such presents no health risk.”

Yoshino River Mouth

The Yoshino River, also known as ‘Shikoku Saburo’, is one of the great symbols of Tokushima, the largest river in the prefecture and on all of Shikoku as well. Flowing down from the mountains in Kochi over 194km inland, the river crosses  some very dynamic territory and is simply packed full of great places to explore and take a look about.

The one I would like to talk about this time around is the Yoshino River Mouth on the far eastern shores of Tokushima as the river flows out into the Kii Channel. The place itself is in some ways quite sedate, but it affords a grand view back towards Tokushima City, and has its own pleasures for those who know how to look.

Heading out of Tokushima City, cross over the Yoshino River and head to your right on the road running by the river, all the way until you hit the sea along the Komatsu Coast. Along the way you’ll pass by the new bridge that’s under construction (more on that in a later post) and most importantly, a long concrete wall that stretches all the way down to the river.

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Hyotan-jima Boat Cruise

If you’ve come this far, you probably know by now that Tokushima is a city of waterways. And, with a total of 1,655 bridges crossing over 138 rivers in the city district alone, there certainly is a lot of water flowing about your feet! But while the cost of bridges to cross this mass of water may be putting the city deeper into debt, it does make for a pretty sight and plenty of chances to catch a boat ride down the river ways.

As it happens, the area in the middle of Tokushima city is known as Hyotan-jima. Loosely translated, the name means ‘gourd-shaped island’ in English, and it is so named for the shape of a small, island-like area separated by rivers on which the centre of Tokushima City stands.

As the name suggests, the Hyotan-jima Boat Cruise takes its passengers around this central city area via an open-top boat. The trip takes around 30 minutes all up, almost 6km from start to finish, and passes by some of the best tourist spots in the city, such as Tokushima Central Park and the remnants of the old Tokushima Castle (underwhelming as it may be).

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