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Monthly Archives: February 2009

The 2009 AJET Musical – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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It’s been 15 years since the first ever performance of the AJET English Musical, and since then the ever changing cast and crew has challenged a myriad of stories from both the East and the West. From well-known stories such West Side Story and Alice in Wonderland to self-created stories such as Harry Potter and the Big Beckham Rescue, Tokushima AJET has just about covered it all.

But not yet.

This year, following on from last year’s success with the story of Momotaro and the Revenge of Akaoni, the cast and crew tackle the very big, and very sweet story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As per tradition, the musical will be held in five places around the prefecture, and is set to run for just over two hours in total including a 15 minute break. Plus, all performances are totally free to watch, and all you need to do is turn up at the door! See below for full details.

Musical Poster

Performance Dates

March 7 (Sat.)
Ishii-cho Chuo Kominkan

March 8 (Sun.)
Minami-cho Community Hall

March 14 (Sat.)
Tokushima Prefectural General Education Centre

March 15 (Sun.)
Hanoura Joho Bunka Centre – Cosmo Hall

March 21 (Sat.)
Wakimachi Odeon-za

If you want to find out more about the musical, call TOPIA at 088-656-3303 and ask for Mario or Andrew.


Baruto no Gakuen Set to Close

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From the Tokushima Newspaper on February 20:

The location set for the movie Baruto no Gakuen in Oasa Town in Naruto City will be closed at the end of February, with dismantling of the set beginning in March. Hiroaki Hayashi, President of the Bando Location Set Preservation Committee currently in charge of operating the set expressed that he had given up hope for the renewal location’s operating period. The formal decision will be made during a formal meeting on February 20.

Amongst other things, the possibility of damage being done to the set during a typhoon was put forth as one of the reasons from the  Naruto City Government as to why the set would be closed at the end of the month. “We believe there is no current problem with safety, but it won’t be possible to come to an agreement with the government, and it is an inevitable end for the set,” Hayashi was quoted as saying.

Furthermore, due to budget and space constraints, the Naruto City Government’s proposal to shift the set to a different location has also been erased as a possibility.

To commemorate the set, the first hundred people visiting it on February 21 and 22 will be given sweets. The set will be free to enter from February 26 onwards and on February 28, the last day, a closing ceremony will be held.

The location set recreates a prisoner of war camp from WWI. There are barracks for the german soldiers, a bakery, printing press and other buildings totalling thirty four constructions. It was opened in March 2006 by the Oasa Town Chamber of Industry and Commerce at the reqest of movie fans and was visited by 230,000 people by March 2008.

From April 2008 the running of the camp fell into the hands of local residents and a non profit organisation. All tours, reception and maintenance on the buildings has been held by volunteers until this point, but the area was visited by only 18,500 people by the end of January this year.

Kincho Manju

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There are two varieties of Kincho Manju - chocolate and vanilla.

The two flavours of Kincho Manju in a mixed flavour 6-pack.

Kincho Manju (金長まんじゅう) are one of Tokushima’s most famous sweets, first produced way back in 1937 by the well-known sweets company Hallelujah in Komatsushima City. They are noted for being the first manju in all of Japan to use chocolate in their outer coating, and even today are available in their original format. Inside the chocolate-flavoured outside is a soft white bean found in many such similar sweets across the country.

Kincho Manju are currently available in two varieties – Kincho Manju and Kincho Gold.

Kincho Manju are available in a variety of different numbers, and you can even get boxes with both flavours in them. The current lineup is as follows:

6-pack:   735 yen
10-pack: 1,155 yen
15-pack: 1,732yen
20-pack: 2,310 yen

The Awa Tanuki Battle
The name ‘Kincho’ comes from an old tanuki (racoon dog) of legend who used to live in the Komatsushima City area. A very popular character, he was also a major player in the legendary Awa Tanuki Battle and is even today remembered for the good luck he is said to have brought the region.

And so, every time you buy Kincho Manju, you can see the face of a tanuki on the wrapping paper, box and on each of the individual wrappers for the sweets.

Oonaruto Bridge Highway Toll Reductions

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From the February 2 Tokushima Newspaper:

On February 2, the Tokushima Prefectural Government announced plans for a large-scale reduction of highway tolls for the Oonaruto Bridge over a two year span aimed at doubling the number of visitors from outside the prefecture as well as the number of vehicles using the bridge. The plan, aimed at not only increasing the number of tourists visiting the prefecture as well as invigorating trade routes, is expected to be reflected in the initial budget for the FY2009.

Taking the first step in increasing regional tourism, the prefectures of Tokushima and Hyogo have exchanged page space in the February issue of their newsletters to publish information about tourist information in either prefecture.

In the Hyogo newsletter (2,370,000 units) published on February 5, Tokushima is set to provide information about the Uzubiraki Tourist Campaign and the Big Hina Matsuri in Katsuura, working under the slogan ‘Come to Tokushima for the start of spring’. Likewise, in Tokushima’s Kensei Dayori OUR Tokushima published on February 10 (313,000 units) information about Hyogo Prefecture is also set to be included. Plans also exist to hold similar connections with the other prefectures in the Kinki Region.

The aim of the project is to double the number of tourists to Tokushima  (7,270,000 in 2007) as well as the number of vehicles using the Onaruto Bridge (7,200,000).  The target period for this is the two years after the start of the lower price period (date yet to be decided).  “It is my hope that we can not only increase traffic, but work towards a more permanent reduction in tolls,” said Governor of Tokushima Prefecture Iizumi Kamon during a scheduled conference on February 2.

The Dochu Earth Pillars

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The earth pillars in all their glory.

The earth pillars in all their glory.

Travelling a little ways inland, one can find one of the most easily recognisable landmarks in Tokushima Prefecture – the natural earth pillars of Dochu. Much like the Naruto Whirlpools, these earth pillars are rated as a top world-wide natural feature. They rank alongside the sand pillars found in the Rockies in Wyoming, USA, and in the Tyrol region of Italy as one of the top earth pillars, and formed over 200 million years! While they make for a wonderful sight during the daytime, the evening light can shed a different light onto them, and during night they are illuminated from the bottom, making for a truly spectacular sight.

What to do There: The earth pillars are a good area for sightseeing,  although not for much else, but there are a number of good ways to soak in the sights.

First of all – viewing. There are a number of ways to see the pillars themselves, including from a viewing platform at the bottom to climbing all the way to the top. Perhaps the easiest way is to go around to the front of them as in the picture above and follow the trails there. All trails are clearly marked, and you need only walk a short distance to reach a platform with a fine view of the formation. From here you not only have a good view of the pillars at day or at night, but you can also see out into the surrounding area.

Secondly, you can climb to the top of the pillars by several marked trails from the main parking area. While the track is fairly short, the climb is fairly steep, so if you are going out in hot weather it may be handy to have a bottle
of water with you.

At the top, however, the view of the surrounding area is excellent and well worth the climb. It also makes for a great photographic opportunity, but remember to be careful, however, as there are no supports or rails along
the top.

What Else
In addition to viewing the pillars there is also a large outdoors play area for children with jungle gyms and slides. You can also sample tarai udon, a regional speciality, in one of the many stores nearby, as well as making a trip to nearby hot springs and much more. All in all, it makes for a fun, inexpensive trip for the family.

How to Get There
By train, the Dochu are one hour’s trip from Tokushima City station to the Awa Yamakawa Station. Go out from the station, cross the river there and follow the road straight for around 30 minutes. If going by car, head off the Wakimachi IC, turn left and follow the road around across the river until they come into sight.