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Moraes – ‘The Man’ of Tokushima

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Article by Matthew Lindsay

The challenges of language and cultural differences that accompany everyday life for foreigners here in Japan can sometimes seem overwhelming. At such times it’s usually possible to find some solace in the companionship of a fellow expatriate. Next time you’re feeling lonely spare a thought for Tokushima’s most famous foreign resident, Wenceslau de Moraes, a Portuguese writer who lived here in the early 20th century. Some people regarded him as a ‘hairy barbarian’ (admittedly he was hairy) and children sometimes would even hiss at him as he walked by. He lived a life of virtual solitude with only his pets for company.

A statue of Moraes with his dog at the summit of Mount Bizan.

These days Moraes is Tokushima’s adopted son. At the summit of Mount Bizan in a building adorned with picturesque azulejos tiles from Portugal is a museum dedicated to this unique character and his fascinating life. Admission is free if you take the ropeway or 200yen if you make your own way to the top. Here follows a rough translation of the brochure included with entry.

Moraes and Mount Bizan
Wenceslau de Moraes was born in Lisbon, Portugal on May 30th, 1854. He was attracted to the ocean from an early age and after completing Naval Academy served as a Naval Officer in the Portuguese Navy in Portuguese colonies such as Mozambique. After becoming Deputy Harbour Master in Chinese Macao he visited Japan a number of times and developed a strong interest in Japanese scenery and customs. After coming to Kobe in 1898 he served as consul then consul-general at the Portuguese consulate.

Upon retiring in July, 1913 Moraes came to live in Tokushima, the hometown of his deceased wife, Yone Fujimoto. While plagued by homesickness, Moraes could only correspond with his family and friends and didn’t return to his homeland for the remainder of his life.

From the time he was in Kobe, Moraes sent information about Japan to newspapers in Portugal through a column titled ‘Japan Correspondence’. After coming to Tokushima he pursued a career in writing while living with Yone’s niece, Koharu Saitou. Moraes lived in a terraced house on Iga Street (now commonly known as Moraes Street), where enveloped by the vast greenery of Mount Bizan he wrote many works that he sent out to the world such as Tokushima’s Bon Odori (徳島の盆踊り), Yone and Koharu (おヨネとコハル), and Japan’s Spirit (日本精神).

After Koharu’s death in 1916, Moraes remained in contact with her mother, Yuki Saitou and her family. Although he received care from them with the onset of old age, troubled by chronic rheumatism, kidney disease and strokes he died in solitude on July 1st, 1929 aged 75. Moraes, Yone and Koharu’s graves are located in Chou-on-ji, a temple adjacent to the Awa Odori Kaikan at the foot of Mount Bizan.

Following his death Moraes’ many writings were translated into Japanese and through the efforts of translator, Tomizo Hanano, his complete works were published.

A bust of Moraes at the site of his former home.

Moraes – Equal of Koizumi Yakumo
As Moraes spent 17 of the 33 years that he lived in Japan in Tokushima, he has become known as the “Koizumi Yakumo” of Tokushima. (Koizumi Yakumo, otherwise known as Lafcadio Hearn, was a renowned foreign writer/ translator of Japanese stories.)

The Moraes Museum was opened on July 1st, 1976 at the summit of Mount Bizan to commemorate Moraes. The second floor display room is a recreation of Moraes’ living room and study with a focus on the paintings, desk and armrest that he loved. The complete collection of his works in Portuguese such as Far East Travel Journal (極東遊記), Great Japan (大日本), Water For Tea (茶の湯), Tokushima’s Bon Dance, Yone and Koharu and Japan’s Spirit along with their translations, biographies and research papers are arranged to serve as a backdrop to introduce the atmosphere of Tokushima during the Meiji, Taisho and beginning of the Showa periods. Also hundreds of handwritten postcards he sent to his elder sister, a record of Moraes’ lifetime explained on panels and Portuguese handcrafts are displayed.

Moraes the Loner
“Moraes spent much time in lonely contemplation, (a sentiment used specifically for Portuguese known as ‘Saudade’). Abandoning his homeland, living in continual poverty in remote Japan, dreaming of his hometown from afar and yearning for the deceased – in this melancholy he contemplated in solitude day by day. Tokushima’s green mountains and blue rivers resembled his birthplace of Lisbon and Moraes the foreigner lived as though consumed by Tokushima’s blessed nature and beautiful humanity. You could say he was a loner that loved Tokushima,” says Jiro Nita, a writer who is very knowledgeable of Moraes.

Monuments to Moraes
There are a number of well-maintained monuments to Moraes within Tokushima City:

  1. A bust marking the site of Moraes’ former residence is on Moraes Street (Iga Town’s 3rd Avenue) at the foot of Mount Bizan
  2. A monument marking the 100th anniversary of Moraes’ birth can be found in front of the Awa-Odori Kaikan building at the foot of Mount Bizan.
  3. A statue at the summit of Mount Bizan to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth, titled ‘Nostalgia’
  4. The Lisbon Moraes Square alongside Portugal Leiria Boulevarde near the Tokushima Zoo and Botannical Gardens in Katanokami.

Furthermore, an annual memorial service is held for Moraes on July 1st at Anju Temple (安住寺) in the Teramachi (temple) area.

Further reading:


Japanese Lessons @ TOPIA 2010

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The first semester of Japanese classes for 2010 will start at TOPIA this April. Students are welcome to register at any time from now until the end of the semester. Check the chart below for more details on specific classes.

Time: All classes are held from 10:30am to 12:00pm on their scheduled day of the week.

Where: The meeting rooms at TOPIA, on the sixth floor of the Clement Plaza, JR Tokushima Station.

Cost: There is a  materials fee of 1,500 yen for a semester of 20 classes. If there are only 10 or less classes in the semester then the cost is only 750 yen. However, all classes require the Minna no Nihongo  textbooks (2,500 yen), available for purchase at TOPIA at any time.

Tuesday – Elementary 3
Ms. Tamura
We will study reasoning, causative, passive voice, and honorific expressions.
Text: “Minna no Nihongo 2” from Chapter 38.

Wednesday – General Group Lesson
A salon-style workshop where students can study freely according to their current level, needs or requirement.
Please buy Minna no Nihongo if you wish to use it.

Thursday – Elementary 1
Ms. Yamada
We will study various verb forms, and sentence patterns using those forms.
Text: “Minna no Nihongo 1” from Chapter 14

Friday – Elementary 2
Ms. Aoki
We will study various verb forms, and expand our range of expression.
Text: “Minna no Nihongo 2” from Chapter 26.

Saturday – Beginner
Ms. Motoki
We will take the first steps towards learning basic expressions, and study hiragana and katakana too. Text: “Minna no Nihongo 1” from Chapter 1.

Saturday – General Group Lesson
A salon-style workshop where students can study freely according to their current level, needs or requirement.
Please buy Minna no Nihongo if you wish to use it.

Sunday – Elementary 2
We will study various verb forms, and expand our range of expression.
Text: “Minna no Nihongo 2” from Chapter 26

Sunday – Beginner – Elementary 3 (Elementary 2 excluded)
Group Study
A class for those who are only able to participate on weekends. Chapters will be split into four groups according to level.
Text: “Minna no Nihongo 1” from Chapter 1-25, and “Minna no Nihongo 2” from Chapter 36-50.

Also, a free Japanese class is held every Wednesday by Ms. Murasawa to teach basic vocabulary and kana in preparation for the elementary classes. You can turn up anytime without enrolling in the class.

Tokushima AJET Musical – The Lion King

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This year, the crew of Tokushima AJET tackle the famous Disney story The Lion King in this, their 16th annual English musical. Last weekend saw the opening shows at Ishii and Hiwasa held to great success and record audiences, and another three shows are planned over the coming weekends. Don’t miss this local rendition of the classic tale!

March 13 (Sat.)
Kitajima Sousei Hall

March 14 (Sun.)
Tokushima Prefectural General Education Centre

March 20 (Sat.)
Wakimachi Odeon-za

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

Tokushima TV Spot

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For those interested, there will be a short spot on TV focusing on a tourist locale in Tokushima. The show is Good Morning – Live Travel Info (朝だ!生です旅サラダ) and will be showing from 8:00 am this Saturday, March 13, on ABC. Stay tuned!

English Tourist Guides for Tokushima’s West

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A translation of an article in the February 13 Tokushima Newspaper:

Four local government bodies in Tokushima’s west came together to create a guidebook and tourist map in English to help entice foreign visitors to the region. The map and guidebook, designed for use by overseas tourists, introduce local accommodation and tourist spots and are available for free.

The tourist map is A3 sized and covers the Miyoshi, Mima, Higashi Miyoshi and Tsurugi regions, showing the location of accommodation and tourist spots in the area, and an overview of the areas on the reverse side.  It was created in line with the region’s selection as part of 16 locations in Japan to take part in the Japan Tourism Agency’s Winter Visit Japan Year 2010 Campaign.

The guidebook was made by the Let’s Visit Oboke/Iya Association that is comprised of five hot spring hotels in the Miyoshi City Oboke and Iya Valley areas. It is a 12 page A5 booklet that introduces tourist areas and accommodation, as well as places to eat.

Editing of the two resources was handled by was the foreign staff  in charge of running the 300 year old Iya farmhouse Chiiori, who also introduce information based on questions commonly received from tourists such as the location of ATMs, internet access points and English speaking facilities.

The map is available online in PDF format thanks to the prefectural government. Links to the map on the prefectural homepage are as below:

Map Front

Map Back

Christmas Illuminations

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The Christmas illuminations display at Kenchopia in front of the Tokushima Prefectural Government Office.

With Christmas only four days away, it’s time to bring in the annual Christmas illuminations displays. And Tokushima has no lack of these, so let’s take a look at a few of the more popular destinations in town.

Ikeda Fuyu no Obuje
The illuminations in Ikeda, Miyoshi City can be found near the JR Awa Ikeda Station and nearby parks. A few other buildings in town are also lit up during the end of year season, so if you have a car or other way of getting around town then it makes for a nice trip.

When: Now until Sunday, January 10, 2010, from 17:00-22:00.
Cost: Free!

The yacht harbour in front of the Prefectural Government Office is one of Tokushima’s classic Christmas lights displays. Organised by the Tokushima Yacht club, the boats along the Shinmachi River area west of Kachidoki Bridge are decorated with an array of lights that make for a beautiful display on the water. The area is perfect for an evening walk or a date, but you might want to pick your moment as the wind can be a little strong near the water.

When: Now until Friday, December 25, from 17:00-23:00.
Cost: Free!

A heart-shaped display by the waterside at Kenchopia.

Anan LEDs
In a word, the display at Ushiki Joushi Park each year in Anan City is blinding. The hill here is literally covered in blue LEDs (including the stairs used to climb to its peak!) and it is a fascinating sight to behold.

Also keep an eye out for the Kirakira Dome, whose name was decided upon this very day! Literally translated as Sparkle Dome in English, this dome is made of over 38,000 LEDs and is programmed to display a variety of patterns to music.

In addition to the lights display, there will be a variety of events held from Wednesday, December 23 to Friday, December 25. On Wednesday, December 23 there will be a concert from 18:00-22:00 as well as other events, and on Thursday, December 24 there will be a Christmas Bridal Fashion Show from 19:00 and 20:00. Come have a look!

Where: Ushiki Joushi Park, Anan City
Cost: Free!

Astutamu Land Christmas Lights and Concert
This Wednesday, December 23, Asutamu Land in Itano is going to be the host for a Christmas Concert arranged by FM Tokushima. Featuring artists Kai Natsu, SHAKE and sasanqua, it is the perfect event for couples or even those looking for something special. The concert will be followed by fireworks, and there will be a large-scale illuminations display throughout the park.

When: Wednesday, December 23, from 17:30
Cost: Free!!!

Bunri University
While lesser known, the lights display at Bunri University in Tokushima City is simply stunning. Entire rows of trees are covered with blue LEDs that give the area an ethereal glow. Definitely worth a look!

When: Now until Friday, December 25, from 17:00-23:00.
Cost: Free!

Got any hidden spots for illuminations in the prefecture? Any power-surging houses in your street? Post them here!

Chifure Cosmetics

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Long time, no see, everyone!
It’s Lady Sudachi here.

The weather has gotten progressively colder and winter is now right at our doorsteps.

At this time of year the air can get very cold and dry, and it can be very harsh on women’s skin.

Why not make use of your time in Japan to try some of the local brands.

There are many well-known brands, but this time I’d like to introduce you to a brand called ‘Chifure’.

Chifure is one of the more inexpensive brands of cosmetics on the market right now, but it has a surprisingly high quality behind its low cost.

Chifure products cost around 1,000 yen at their most expensive and you can get many basic types of cosmetics for just 600 yen. They are scent-free and use no artificial coloring, and are known for being gentle to your skin. What’s more, the labels are clearly marked with the date of production and the ingredients so you know exactly what you are using.

Chifure products are also environmentally friendly. Once you buy a certain product, you can use the same bottle it comes in by simply buying refill packs. Refills are even cheaper than the original, bottled products, so you can make a saving here as well.

Chifure is a very easy brand of cosmetics to use and can be helpful for those who aren’t sure which brand to go with or who are looking for something light and easy to carry while on a trip.

In Tokushima, you can buy Chifure products from the seventh floor of the Sogo Department Store in Tokushima City. Most other general drug stores stock their products as well.

Please give it a go!

They even have an English website:

Also, a more full description of products is available for those who can read Japanese.


Cleansing Oil 220ml 735 yen (Refills – 630 yen)
Face Wash 150g 420 yen
Skin Lotion (Moist Type) 150ml 578 yen (Refills – 473 yen)
Moisturizer 50g 735 yen (Refills – 630 yen)
Foundation 840 yen (w/case) (Refill – 525 yen), Sponge 168 yen
Lipstick case 105 yen、Lipstick (Refills) 315 yen