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Monthly Archives: March 2009

Supplementary Income Payment Begins

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From the March 30 Tokushima Newspaper.

This past Monday, March 30 marked the beginning of payment for the supplementary income payment in Tokushima City. Those first to receive their payments were those who had signed up for bank transfers, whilst those receiving cash payments will have to wait until mid April. Bank transfer and cash payment has also begun in Sanagouchi.

The payments in Tokushima City targeted 12,000 households (a total of 446 million yen) who had completed their applications by March 26 and who had applied for bank transfer. The payments were deposited in bank institutions (not including post office accounts) as designated by the heads of these households.

“It’s good for the family. I was surprised to see that the payment arrived a lot faster than I expected. I want to use it for a  congratulatory offering at a wedding but it isn’t quite enough to cover it,” said a Tokushima City Office worker who confirmed a payment of 44,000 yen for their family of four.

The next wave of payments are scheduled for early April. Afterwards there will be three payment blocks each month after the payments for a block have been confirmed. Payment to post office accounts is expected to be delayed due to problems in the system.

In Sanagouchi, a booth was opened at the Agriculture Promotions Centre next to the Village Office, and was manned by four office staff since 8:00 am. By 12:00 pm, 77 people had come to apply for the payment, of which five received cash payments due to not having a bank account.

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The Big Hina Matsuri Oku Zashiki

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Dolls in the mist - an outdoors display of hina dolls by the roadside.

Dolls in the mist - an outdoors display of hina dolls by the roadside in Katsuura.

The Big Hina Matsuri is one of Tokushima’s most famous yearly festivals. And while the spotlight sits squarely on the thousands of dolls on display at the Ningyo Bunka Kouryuu-kan, it isn’t the only way for you to enjoy this festive time of year. Katsuura is a town known for the hina dolls, and travellers further down the road can enjoy an even rarer and more interesting sight in the form of the inner hina matsuri (奥座敷 – oku zashiki).

Almost seven kilometres down the road from the Ningyo Bunka Kouryuu-kan, the residents of Sakamoto enjoy a different form of hina matsuri. Proudly displayed on long stands and cases by the streets are hundreds of hina dolls both new and old, mixed amongst flowers and bamboo in a myriad of different, home-grown displays.

This is the home of the inner hina matsuri. Started almost four years ago, the displays are less a large collection of dolls than staggered, separate displays through the streets of the town. Almost every store and house front has something to show, and there is a lot for visitors to see.

The Main Stage
Almost every street in the area is a part of the inner hina matsuri, but the main stage is located in the private garden of the Morimoto family. Found a little further down the road from most of the displays, visitors head down a steep path to a large traditional Japanese house where the displays are held.

The sign by the roadside showing the way to the Morimoto residence.

The sign by the roadside showing the way down the hillside to the Morimoto family residence.

Walking through the old wooden gates to the residence and away from the sounds of the modern world, you feel as though you have come across a real treasure. The displays of the Morimoto residence are like something you would expect to see in a tourist guide extolling the wonders of traditional crafts in Japan, and amongst them you can see a whole history of hina dolls from over a hundred years ago to the modern day.

A small selection of older dolls in one of the simpler displays of the Morimoto residence.

A small selection of older dolls in one of the simpler displays of the Morimoto residence.

But amongst the many indoors and outdoors displays, perhaps the most striking sight can be found in a large Japanese style tatami room deep in the residence. Taking off your shoes and going inside, you are greeted with the sight of hina dolls playing the koto, enjoying a game of karuta, and even having a picnic with yusanbako. Every inch of the room exudes an aura of traditional Japan and the undeniable presence of authenticity.

One of the elegant doll displays at the Morimoto residence.

One of the elegant doll displays at the Morimoto residence.

But while the residence is open to visitors, visitors need to remember that it is still a private home and that it requires the same respect as would be given to any such place. Shoes are to be taken off when going inside tatami rooms, and some areas are naturally out of bounds. However, the displays don’t leave anything to be desired, and it is very clear as to where visitors are and aren’t allowed.

Last of all, one big difference from the Big Hina Matsuri is that it is entirely free to see the displays at the inner hina matsuri and the Morimoto residence. However, you may want to donate a few hundred yen to the residence in the box provided to help support their activities. Of course, it is entirely up to you.

NB: The official period for the inner hina matsuri is the same as the big hina matsuri, from around late February to late March each year.

Access
The title ‘inner’ prompts the question of exactly just how far deep into Katsuura you have to go. Once you reach the Ningyo Bunka Kouryuukan where the Big Hina Matsuri is taking place, you need to keep going seven kilometres down the road. Just before you enter the Shin Sakamoto Tunnel (新坂本トンネル) you will see a small road heading off to the right, and a banner in Japanese to lead you in the right direction. Hop on this and follow the winding track around until you see displays along the roadside, and you’re there.

If you do happen to miss the turnoff, however, don’t worry. Just stay on the road, go through the tunnel just up ahead and then take the first right after you get out. This will lead you up into the hillsides and then back around on track from the opposite direction.

For those using public transport, simply take the bus on the Katsuura Line (勝浦線) and get off at stops between Kubo no Uchi (久保の内) and Sakamoto Kami (坂本上) and go for a walk in the streets. At around 76 minutes and 960 yen from Tokushima Station, it is a long ride, but well worth the trip.

Kirushna – South Indian Curry

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The exterior to Kirshuna as seen from the street.

The exterior to Kirshuna as seen from the street.

Tokushima-shi Okinohama Higashi 3-65-3

Tel.

088-624-3313

Hours
11:00-15:00, 17:00-22:00
* Last order is at 21:30
* Closed on Mondays
* Total of 28 seats
* Parking available

A taste of real south Indian curry just off route 55 in Tokushima City.

Found in the south of Tokushima City, Kirshuna is a small store that offers customers both a healthy menu of Indian food, and a range of hand made Indian clothing and accessories.

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Naruto Students Active in Charity Work

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An article from the March 20 Tokushima Newspaper about students in Naruto City who are working to support the activities of Peace Village in Germany.

Five second-year students of Naruto High Schools (Naruto City, Muya-cho) are helping raise money for the NGO German Peace Village in Germany, an organisation that helps children from across the world affected by war. In aid of the organisation, whose only source of revenue is through charity, the students are calling for help within their school and the local region. During a charity event at the Naruto City German House on March 21 and 22, they are set to report the results of a half years work.

The five students are Takeyama Tomoka (17), Takara (17), Takemura Shiho (17), Yumoto Chiharu (17), and Harada Saki (17). They first came to know of Peace Village when Takeyama Tomoka saw  a programme about it on TV in August 2008, and then called on the other four to “do something to help children injured by war and domestic conflicts”.

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Wada no Ya – Green Tea and Mochi

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Tokushima-shi, Bizan-cho Ootakiyama 5-3.

Tel.
088-652-8414

Hours
10:00~17:00
*Closed on Thursdays

A semi-traditional tea house nestled in the northern slopes of Mt. Bizan.

Are you a fan of green tea and traditional Japanese sweets? Then look no further! Specialising in a type of grilled mochi, the Wada no Ya offers a range of teas and traditional sweets, all in a cosy location just past the hustle and bustle of the city. Read the rest of this entry

Supplementary Income Payment Application Period Begins

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March 16 saw the beginning of the application period for the supplementary income payment in Tokushima City. If you haven’t filled out your form yet, now is the opportune time.

Below is an article from the March 16 Tokushima Newspaper about the start of the application period.

NB: Japanese names and map links added for reference.

March 16 marked the beginning of the application period for the supplementary income payment in Tokushima City, first of the local authorities in the prefecture to do so. Applications can be handed in to the Tokushima City Office, which has had a consultation booth since March 10, the Fureai Kenkou-kan (ふれあい健康館), Kawauchi-cho Kouminkan (川内町公民館), Kami Hachiman Shisho (上八万支所), and the Kokufu Community Centre (国府コミュニティーセンター). And by noon on the day the application period began, city hall alone had seen over 1,000 citizens come to fill in their applications.

In a booth set up for applications at City Hall, eight consultation windows were increased to twelve to handle the flow. And by 8:30 am on March 16 already over 30 citizens were forming a line to have their applications processed. City Office workers were busy handing numbers to the applicants and maintaining order.

While the formal method of application is by the application form sent by mail, it is also possible to apply in person. “The application form is hard to understand so I thought I’d come in person,” said one resident of Myoudou-cho.

Payment for the Supplementary Income Payment is expected to start on March 30.

The Home of Dinosaurs

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A stegosaurus patiently waits by the roadside for visitors.

A stegosaurus patiently waits by the roadside for visitors at the Kyouryuu no Sato.

Shortly after my arrival in Tokushima, I went to the local book store and bought the first tourist guide to meet my eye. Flipping through the pages, I quickly passed over the well-known spots like the whirlpools of Naruto and the Iya Valley Vine Bridge, and started searching for the lesser-known treasures the prefecture had to offer.

Moving on to steadily smaller and smaller articles, I finally came across one that said something along the lines of “model dinosaurs on the road.” And sure enough, the stamp-sized picture devoted to this haven for pre-historic creatures showed a large stegosaurus and diplodocus standing by the roadside way out in the dark corners of Japan.

I was smitten.

There was no logical reason for my desire to travel there, and I knew full well it had almost no chance of matching up with the grand expectations I had formed. After all, it was located in a part of the prefecture with so few roads that the map looked more like a line randomly drawn across a sheet of paper, and the size of the article spoke for itself. And yet, for the next two years I made it my goal to get there one way or the other.

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