THE YOKA - Kumamoto JET


THE YOKA - Kumamoto JET
International Affairs Division, Kumamoto Prefectural Government 熊本県国際課
6-18-1 Suizenji, Kumamoto-shi 862-8570 〒862-8570 熊本市水前寺 6-18-1
TEL: 096-333-2159 FAX: 096-381-3343
Everyday I’m
(Noh) Shuffling
Association, and professor at
both the RKK Culture Centre and
By Laura Turner, 1 yr ALT in
not just
in Japan, but all around the world,
performing in Germany, the
o be honest, crossUnited States and France. It is at
dressing as a male demon
the latter where he offered the
or learning how to shuffle
gift of Noh theatre to Aix-enwith an
internationallyProvence in 1994, and where he
renowned Noh actor were never
returns regularly to teach and
on my bucket list when I came
perform Noh theatre. To say
to Japan. That honour belonged
being taught about Noh from him
to such statements as „Eat
was a privilege is just a bit of an
basashi‟, „Visit the Hiroshima
Peace Museum‟ and „Become
When I first came to Japan in
best friends with a stray cat.‟ Now, A Noh costume
part of a school trip, I was
hastily scribbled at the bottom, and happily
invited to watch a Noh performance with my host
crossed off, you can find „Attend a workshop on
family. I vividly remember being very bewildered
by the movements and events that were taking
On January the 28 , UNESCO hosted a
place on stage, with absolutely no idea of what
two hour workshop on Noh, allowing 50
was happening. To be honest I
members of the public to
still have no idea what had
happened, but the movement and
Japanese drama. As one of the
style of the actors is the one thing
lucky 50, I was given the
I remember.
opportunity to meet Tanshu Kano,
Noh is considered to be
a living legend in the art of Noh.
Japan‟s most important
Master Kano began his training
cultural treasures. UNESCO has
at the age of 15, when he became
listed Noh as a Treasure of
disciple to the Master Tomoeda,
Noh actor for the two Lords Kato
alongside Kabuki and Bunraku.
and Hosokawa of Kumamoto.
Luckily in Kumamoto prefecture
Since then he has gone on to
we have access to both Noh
theatre and Bunraku (in Seiwa).
including President of the KishuNoh, combining elements of
kai of Kita School, President of
dance, drama, music and poetry
the Noh Council in Kumamoto,
into one highly aesthetic stage
permanent Director of the Tanshu Kano, living Noh legend
art, is the oldest surviving form
YOKA Winter 2012 (Feb)
of Japanese theatre. Actors, traditionally men
only, wear masks and perform up to 5 plays
within a day, using their chants, movement and
gestures to tell the story. The masks are instantly
recognisable to anyone who has studied Japanese
art, and the movement itself is unique.
The basic posture that the Noh actor takes
is called „kamae‟. Noh itself is often described as
„the art of walking‟, with actors moving their feet
in a very deliberate fashion. The art of „suriashi‟,
or shuffling, is no easy feat. The best way to
describe the movement of suriashi is this:
imagine you have heavy weights attached to your
ankles making it impossible to lift your foot. Now
drag a foot forward slowly and towards the end,
raise your toes a little. Don‟t look down, repeat
with the other foot, keep your arms extended and
Skeletal Trees on Mountainside (Aso)
By Michael Hofmeyr, 2nd yr ALT in Hitoyoshi
try to make it look easy. The art of suriashi
ensures that the actors seem to glide along the
floor, even while wearing up to 15kg worth of
After we had a little of the history of Noh
explained to us, and after watching the
performance of „Hagoromo‟ (the Robe of an
Angel), it was time for us to try out suriashi.
Master Kano quickly showed us how to place
your arms out front, folded fan in your right hand,
head upright, feet slightly apart and knees just a
little bent. Despite feeling a little like a
constipated duck, Master Kano seemed happy
with our postures and instructed us on the
movement of suriashi.
After we had all attempted the art of Noh
shuffling, it was time to learn about the masks of
Noh. The star of Noh performance typically
wears a mask to transform himself into the
character of the play. We were introduced to six
forms of mask, each one precious to Master Kano.
The masks were made of wood and beautifully
formed and painted. Each had two long ropes on
either side, which were used to tie them to your
head, and small pillows within the mask itself to
help cushion the wood against your skin. I was
given the opportunity to try on the Shikami mask,
representing a male demon. While wearing these
masks your visual field narrows down to about a
10 yen coin in size, instantly making the suriashi
movement even more difficult. Accompany this
with having NHK filming you and two journalists
wielding cameras in your face…well let‟s just say
Master Kano had a good laugh at my stumbling
attempts to shuffle along. Our workshop finished
with a costume demonstration and the partperformance of Yashima, telling the story of the
ghost of Yoshitsune Minamoto, a general of the
Genji troops, and his dance with a long-handled
I came to Japan with the idea to say yes to
any opportunity that came up, so when my
tantousha came to me with the application form
for the workshop I did not hesitate to scribble my
name down. With more than 100 people applying
for the workshop I was grateful to be given this
rare opportunity to explore the world of Noh.
YOKA Winter 2012 (Feb)
A Tokyo Transition
By Scott Borba, former Kumamoto PA and
current JET Programme Program Coordinator
countries, during which the officials would
describe Kumamoto‟s many attributes to the
visitors. I bring this up because the attributes of
Kumamoto introduced in these visits are exactly
the things I miss, namely, the water, the nature,
and the community.
As most readers of this article know,
water is the backbone of what makes Kumamoto
a great place to live. While in Kumamoto, I was
often told about the amazing water, as the people
of Kumamoto were (very deservingly) quick to
express their pride in it. The water in Kumamoto
nurtures the nature, creates and colors the
geography, and makes the locally grown food so
oishii, and through all of these has both a very
strong and a very simple presence.
Whether it be in the form of fresh
agricultural, marine, or animal products, or the
green hills and mountains and coastline, nature
envelopes and is present in every part of the
prefecture. This is even the case in the largest
urban section of the prefecture, downtown
Kumamoto City, where you can hanami at the
Shirakawa River, ride trams that flow over grass
carpets, and go for a jog through one of a number
of large, beautiful parks, all in the midst of dense
commercial and residential areas. And though
human influence can be seen in these and in other
grew up in a town of
university in a city of
100,000, and then
moved to Kumamoto
City which has a
700,000. Now I live in
Tokyo Metropolis, an
area with webs of trains
and bus lines and a
population over 4,000 times that of the small
town where I started. After six months I still only
know how to describe Tokyo as “crowded.” My
image of Japan has changed to also include the
busy, non-stop style of Tokyo life, and I have
realized, for better and worse, that life as a
foreign resident in Japan is also much different in
Though the change of pace in life from
rural to urban Japan has been exciting so far, I
often find myself longing to return to my home of
Kumamoto Prefecture. There are two main
reasons why I miss Kumamoto: the first being
that I miss Kumamoto itself,
and the second that leaving
Kumamoto meant removing
myself from so many
communities, as well as the
end of my time as a JET
participant. I don‟t mean for
this article to be a
comparison of Kumamoto
and Tokyo. Instead, perhaps
I would just like to reminisce
and encourage those of you
in Kumamoto to take the
opportunity to enjoy what I
no longer regularly can.
Through my work in
Kumamoto, I often had the
chance to sit in on visits
between prefecture officials Withered Leaves in Early Afternoon Sunlight (Aso)
and guests from other By Michael Hofmeyr
YOKA Winter 2012 (Feb)
natural sites of the prefecture, it is also evident
how much the people of Kumamoto care about
and care for their natural surroundings.
Perhaps now you are able to better
understand what I have felt having transitioned
from the pure water, great produce, and vibrant,
natural green color of Kumamoto into the sea of
buildings in which I now spend my everyday life.
However, as much as I miss these characteristics
of Kumamoto, I spend even more time longing to
return to the sense of belonging to a community I
Kumamoto felt and still feels like home
for me because I belonged to communities there.
I belonged to the community of my office and coworkers, to the communities of my neighborhood
as well as Kumamoto City and Kumamoto
Prefecture, the communities of the people I
played basketball and tennis with, and to the
communities of my friends and my fellow JET
Though looking back it does seem I
should have anticipated it, I did not guess how
leaving all of these communities at once and
moving to a metropolis would leave me so
community-less. In fact, I didn‟t notice how
much I missed the connections to communities
until I ran into former Kamiamakusa City ALT
John Hake on a train platform in one of the
busiest train stations in the world. (Shout-out to
John!) Chance encounters like this are rare in
Tokyo but a common occurrence in Kumamoto.
It made me realize how nice it is to live in a
community where you regularly run into people
you know, whether they are co-workers, friends,
or employees of the nearest convenience store.
Moving to Tokyo, I‟ve found it difficult to join
similar communities here, despite constantly
being constantly surrounded by people. Of course,
it can be argued that a smaller community makes
it difficult to escape and get away when you
occasionally need to, but the support and
familiarity that life in Kumamoto provided me
are what I currently miss most and what I will
likely remember most fondly as time moves me
further away from my life there and my JET
Natural Italian with Plenty of
By Andrew August, 4 yr ALT in Kumamoto City
e have probably all found a favorite
restaurant in Kumamoto, a place that
fulfills our need for eating great food
with the added benefit of recharging our
Familiar food, familiar surrounds and
familiar people can add value to any dining
experience and for me such a place is Otto in
Kumamoto City.
An Italian restaurant that uses natural
Kumamoto ingredients, Otto also dishes out
enough heartfelt service to cure the toughest case WELCOME: Otto owners Hirokazu and Kazuki
of winter blues.
Owners Hirokazu and Kazuki Narahashi say that using chemical free vegetables means safe food,
which in turn gives customers a sense of comfort.
Customers also gain comfort from the warm customer service.
YOKA Winter 2012 (Feb)
“We try to give a welcome home
style from start to finish for anyone who
comes here,” Kazuki says. “And when
customers enjoy the food we also get more
energy in return from them.”
The couple has lived in Italy with
Hirokazu learning about Italian cooking
there, while Kazuki pursued her love for
the culture and language.
They met in Tokyo where they
worked in various restaurants before they
decided to leave the hustle and bustle and
relocate to Kumamoto where Hirokazu is
My favorite Otto meal is the pasta
NATURAL: Otto entrée
lunch. For 1000 yen you can get an
intricate entrée of salad, soup and various accompaniments served with buns freshly baked by Kazuki.
The pasta main comes next, while desert and organic coffee or tea round out the experience.
This culinary production is played out while Hirokazu cooks right in front of you and Kazuki
offers her special charm, explaining what you are eating with the most specific of detail.
Otto is located near the Suizenji Koen end of Densha Dori in Kokufu Machi, on Hachi Oji Road.
The Six Higo
By Jason Shon, 3 yr CIR in Kumamoto
he scenery is surprisingly green in my corner of the city. Potted plants fill backyards and line the
narrow back streets. A quick peek over the well-manicured bushes reveals quaint gardens
stocked with flowers that bloom at different times throughout the year. Trees are trimmed to
look like lollipops or trained to grow in interesting shapes. Even at work, nature is close by. Here at the
prefectural office rows of ginko trees welcome visitors and pine trees stretch their gnarled branches over
the side lawn. Sasanqua and other flowers line the walking path around kencho. I used to bike to work,
but now I take my time and walk.
When I think of winter, flowers are not the first thing that come to mind, but the kencho
sasanqua have been blooming all winter since November. They also happen to be one of the Six Higo
Flowers. The Six Higo Flowers (肥後六花, higo rokka) were cultivated by the samurai class and their
descendants from the Edo Era (1603-1868) through the Meiji Era (1868-1912). The term “Six Higo
Flowers” was first coined sometime between 1955 and 1965. The word “Higo” comes from Higo
Province, the name of the area that is now Kumamoto Prefecture. The flowers themselves are
characterized by prominent stamens, single-layered and flat petals that spread out from the center, and
vibrant colors. Here are the Six Higo Flowers.
YOKA Winter 2012 (Feb)
Higo Camellia (肥後椿, higo tsubaki)
Though most of the Higo flowers have singlelayered petals, the Higo Camellia has about five
or six overlapping petals that can be crimson,
white, pink, or a brocade pattern. The center of
the flower is filled with stamens, and flowers
with filaments which uniformly spread out from
the center are especially prized. The flowering
season lasts from February to April.
Higo Paeonia (肥後芍薬, higo shakuyaku)
The Higo Paeonia also possesses
overlapping petals that can be white, peach,
red, pink, violet, scarlet, or maroon. The
number of petals can range from eight to 20,
and the large flowers can reach up to 30 cm
in diameter.
Anywhere from 100-200
stamens crowd the center of the flower and
spread out evenly similar to the Higo
Camellia. Higo Paeonias with the biggest
and densest circle of stamens are prized the
most. The flowering season lasts from the
end of April to the beginning of May.
Higo Iris (肥後花菖蒲, higo hanashobu)
Coming in three-petal and six-petal varieties,
Higo Irises possesses large, broad petals and
come in white, violet, indigo, light indigo,
scarlet, deep blue, and a brocade pattern.
Flowering season lasts from the middle of
June to the end of June.
YOKA Winter 2012 (Feb)
Higo Morning Glory ( 肥 後 朝 顔 , higo
The flower center is given the most attention
in most of the Six Higo Flowers, but the
center of the Higo Morning Glory is hidden
and cannot be seen. Anywhere from six to
nine petals are joined to form a funnel. The
center of the funnel is pure white. As the
funnel opens, the petals turn into vibrant
colors of peach, white, blue, maroon, violet,
or scarlet. The flower itself has a diameter
of 10-15 cm. Flowering season lasts from
July to September.
Higo Chrysanthemum (肥後菊, higo
Tidiness rather than extravagance is
prized in Higo Chrysanthemums, which
come in white, yellow, or scarlet. Petals
range from 20-30 per flower, and do not
overlap. The shape of the petals can be
flat or tube-like. Diameter of the Higo
Chrysanthemum can be small (5-6 cm),
medium (8-10 cm), or large (20-22 cm).
The center of the flower is tidy, and the
flowering season lasts from mid
November to mid December.
Higo Sasanqua ( 肥 後 サ ザ ン カ , higo
Part of the camellia genus, sasanquas are prized
for their circle of single-layered petals. The
Higo Sasanqua, however, has been cultivated
so that some flowers have 8-layered petals.
Flowers can be 5-15 cm in diameter and come
in scarlet, ruby, violet, peach, pink, white, or
Single-layered flowers have
between 5-10 petals while 8-layered varieties
can reach 30-50 petals per blossom. The best
time to view the Higo Sasanqua is in November,
but flowering season starts in late October and
can last till February.
YOKA Winter 2012 (Feb)
by Ian O’Kidhain
1 yr. ALT in Kamiamakusa
Taken in Kamiamakusa
YOKA Winter 2012 (Feb)
Bye Bye Alien Registration System
eginning from July 9, 2012, the current alien registration system will be abolished. In its place
the Ministry of Justice will implement a new Resident Management System. There are two
important parts to this new system: the Residence Record and Resident Card.
Residence Record
Resident Card
What is it?
Residence Records are part of a registry of
current residential addresses maintained by
municipal governments. Japanese law requires
each citizen to report his or her current address
and related matters to the municipal government
who compiles the information for tax, insurance,
and census purposes. All foreign residents will
now be included in this system.
What is it?
Unlike our current Alien Registration Cards
(which are handled by municipal governments),
the new Resident Cards will be handled by the
central government via Regional Immigration
Bureaus. Like the Alien Registration Card, you
will be required to carry the Resident Card with
you at all times.
How will this affect me?
Starting in May 2012, you will receive a
“provisional” Residence Record (仮住民票, karijuminhyo) from your municipal government. The
details will reflect what is on your Alien
Registration Card. There is no paperwork
required to obtain this provisional Residence
Record, and you should receive it automatically.
Check to make sure if all your information is
correct. Please report any errors to your
municipal government. On July 9, this
Provisional Resident Record will automatically
become your official Residence Record (住民票,
Tell me more!
Under the new system, you must notify your
municipal government of changes in address.
This is done by submitting a “moving-out
notification” (転出届, tenshutsu-todoke) to the
old municipal government and a “moving-in
notification” (転入届, tennyu-todoke) to the new
municipal government.
When leaving the
country permanently, foreign residents must
submit a “moving-out notification” ( 転 出 届 ,
tenshutsu-todoke) to their municipal government.
Why now?
The new system is being promoted as a move
towards creating a more fair and convenient
system for foreign residents to access government
How do I get one?
Foreign residents with a valid visa allowing them
to reside in Japan for more than three months will
either receive a Resident Card when entering the
country or receive a stamp in their passport that
will allow them to receive a Resident Card at a
later date (in principle, it will be mailed by post
after completing a “moving-in notification” (転入
届, tennyu-todoke).
What should I do with my Alien Registration
Hold on to it. Your Alien Registration Card will
be deemed equivalent to your Resident Card until
July 8, 2015.
Is it true they’re getting rid of the re-entry
permit system?
Yes. Starting from July 9, 2012, if you leave
Japan with a valid passport and a valid Resident
Card, in principle you will no longer require a reentry permit to re-enter Japan with the same
Status of Residence as long as you re-enter within
one year from departing and your Period of Stay
does not expire while you are outside of Japan.
This is so cool! Where can I get more info?
The following links contain more details on the
Residence Record and Resident Card, including
information for those married to Japanese
nationals, those with families, and those who give
birth in Japan, etc.
YOKA Winter 2012 (Feb)
 Notice from the Ministry of Internal Affairs
and Communications (MIC)
 MIC Pamphlets in Different Languages (with
 English:
 Japanese:
 Pamphlets are also available on the MIC
homepage in Simplified Chinese,
Traditional Chinese, Korean, Portuguese
and Spanish.
 Notice from the Immigration Bureau of Japan
 Immigration Bureau Pamplhets in Different
Languages (with Q&A)
 English:
 Japanese:
 Pamphlets are also available on the
homepage in Simplified Chinese,
Traditional Chinese, Korean, Portuguese
and Spanish.
Move to Ban Bicycle Street
Parking in City Center
from June
Shimotori, Shinshigai Arcade, and the Kotsu
Center. Bicycle parking would be banned on
streets, parks, and other public spaces. Parking
space in front of Hanabata Park and on Yotsugi
Bridge would also disappear.
New parking areas set to be installed by
private businesses at the end of May combined
with existing parking areas already managed by
the city and private businesses will bring the total
number of parking zones to 20 with a total
capacity of 5,244 bicycles and 1,360 mopeds
(including motorbikes under 125cc). A survey
conducted last year put total capacity at 5,036
bicycles and 1,222 mopeds.
The council
determined it was possible to secure enough
parking zones to exceed demand. The first two
hours will be free at most parking areas
administered by the city. It will cost 100 yen to
park for 3-12 hours.
According to one council member‟s
opinion, “I think the number of people using
bicycles will rise with the increase of parking
areas.” The council also added, “After the city
makes the transition and begins charging at
parking zones we will survey the situation and
report the analysis to the council.”
To view the original article in Japanese,
from Kumanichi, January 31, 2012
by Chihiro Yokoyama, translated from Japanese
n January 30 the Kumamoto City Council
for Bicycle Policy (chairperson: Chikae
Watanabe, professor at Tokai University
Graduate School) approved measures to impose a
fee at bicycle parking zones in the city center and
designate other parts of the city center as “no
bicycle parking zones” beginning in June.
“No bicycle parking zones” are currently
limited to the areas in and around Kamitori,
Shimotori, and the Shinshigai Arcade. These
zones would be greatly expanded in an effort to
beautify the city center and ensure a safe walking
environment. The council will submit a report to
Kumamoto City Mayor Seishi Koyama.
The Kumamoto City Council for Bicycle
Policy is composed of 18 representatives of the
shopping district, schools, prefectural police, and
other groups. The proposed ban on bicycle
parking would affect the district between the
Shirakawa River and Tsuboigawa River, from
Fujisakigumae Station to areas around Kamitori,
YOKA Winter 2012 (Feb)
Announcements for Current JETs
Congratulations Kumamoto City!
n April 2012, Kumamoto will become an
ordinance-designated city ( 政 令 指 定 都 市 ,
seirei shitei toshi). This gives the city much
more autonomy to perform many of the functions
usually delegated to prefectural governments.
The city will be divided into five wards – north,
south, east, west, and central – and foreigners
residing in the city will be sent a notice informing
them which of the five wards they fall under.
After the alien registration system is abolished on
July 9, address changes and other notices should
be filed with your corresponding ward office.
In terms of the administration of the JET
Programme in Kumamoto, this means there will
be two host offices for the JET Programme in
one representing Kumamoto
Prefecture (currently at the International Affairs
Division), and one representing Kumamoto City.
From April, municipal JETs currently employed
by Kumamoto City will fall under the supervision
of Kumamoto City‟s host office. Kumamoto City
will also select its own PAs. All other JETs –
including all prefectural senior high school ALTs
– will still fall under the supervision of the
Kumamoto Prefecture host office at the
International Affairs Division. Under current
plans, Kumamoto City and Kumamoto Prefecture
will collaborate to implement Kumamoto
Orientation and the Skill Development
Conference for all JETs in Kumamoto.
Call for Tokyo Orientation
nformation and application forms for Tokyo
Orientation Assistances (TOAs) have been
sent to your tantosha. If you feel like you can
make a positive contribution to Tokyo
Orientation and want to help welcome the new
JETs this summer, feel free to fill out an
application. Please be sure to discuss it with
your supervisor and get his/her permission.
The deadline for handing in applications to your
supervisor is Wednesday, March 7, 2012 or the
date set by your contracting organization.
The General Summary for the
2011-2012 Kumamoto ALT Skill
Development Conference...
s now available on our website, The report is based
on the surveys you filled out at the end of the
conference. There are graphs illustrating how
useful participants felt each workshop was, a
collection of your responses to the keynote
address, PA responses to some common
trends/comments, some general feedback, and a
list of workshop suggestions for next year.
Valley in Shadows (Aso)
By Michael Hofmeyr