宮津姉妹都市ネルソン市表敬訪問 Official Visit to Miyazu Sister City Nelson, New Zealand


For one week this November from the 6th to the 13th, a group of seven people including both Miyazu citizens and city hall employees visited Miyazu’s sister city, Nelson (New Zealand).  In accordance with it being the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Miyazu-Nelson Sister City Agreement, a resigning of the agreement among other ceremonies was held and the visit served as a valuable opportunity to reconfirm the significance of the friendship and bond that the two cities share.



geyserWe left Japan for New Zealand from KIX Airport on the evening of November 6th. We first arrived in Auckland Airport from which we took a bus to Rotorua.  The flight from kIX Airport to Auckland Airport was approximately 10 hours.  After arriving in Rotorua, we were guided through a miraculous limestone cave where we got to see glow worms.  We also visited a giant geyser and got to experience and get used to the New Zealand climate and cuisine.  While riding on the bus from Auckland to Rotorua, all that could be seen was pastures and beautiful green vast landscape.  The color of the pastures and landscape was so vivid and brilliant that it was very impressing.  We also got to have some New Zealand beefsteak and try the local beer and wine which was all delicious.


nelson-2After spending a few days in Rotorua, we left on the morning of the 9th and headed to Nelson via Wellington.  We arrived a little after noon and a welcome party holding a welcome sign written in beautiful calligraphy lettering was waiting at the airport to greet us.  Everyone who came to meet us at the airport was so warm and friendly and kind.  After being treated to a delicious lunch, we were shown Nelson’s famous Boulder Bank (A land form similar to Amanohashidate in Miyazu but with no pine trees and covered in rocks.  It is also 13 kilometers long; about 4 times the size of Amanohashidate).  Both the Boulder Bank and the ocean surrounding it was very beautiful and calming. The area had a lot of palm trees and seemed tropical.  There was a lighthouse on the Boulder Bank that we were going to climb if it wasn’t for the rain.  In the evening, a movie night was held by the Japanese Association in Nelson featuring the Japanese film “Maiko is a lady”.  Before the movie started, there was time to chat and mingle with the Japanese residents of Nelson as well as the Mayors of Nelson and the Tazman Area and the Japanese Ambassador who were all in attendance.  The Japanese Ambassador also read an English greeting welcoming the visiting party from Miyazu before the movie started.  It was a very nice relaxing time.


nelson-3The next day, the group spent the majority of the day sightseeing visiting Miyazu Garden, (We found and took photos in front of the tree that NZ Association President, Mr. Adachi planted with the former mayor of Miyazu and the memorial plaque), the Nelson Cathedral, the winery, and enjoyed a pottery experience at a nearby village.  In the evening, an official dinner with the Mayor Reese of Nelson City was held.


maori-1The resigning of the Sister City Agreement was done on the morning of the 11th.  Both Mayor Reese of Nelson and Deputy Mayor Ueda of Miyazu resigned the agreement and the two cities reconfirmed their friendship and bond to one another.  It was a very significant event for the two cities.  The founder of the Sister City Association also attended the event and the members including the Deputy Mayor were very honored to get to meet such an important person who had contributed so much to the friendship between the two cities.  After shopping in the afternoon, we were invited to an evening farewell party at Carl’s house.  Carl is the conductor who organized and executed the performances in Kyoto, Osaka, and Miyazu earlier this year.  Everyone enjoyed chatting and drinking being reunited with members of the chorus group who visited Miyazu earlier this year and had a very nice time.  Even in only a few short days, and despite the language and cultural barriers, everyone was able to become close and enjoy each other’s company and newfound friendship.  The members of the chorus group who attended the farewell party sang several songs for us including “furusato” beautifully.  Those who had heard the concerts they gave while visiting Miyazu and Kyoto, felt nostalgic and were happy to be able to hear their beautiful singing again. The next morning before leaving, we were invited to have tea and cookies at the former Sister City Association Chairman, Mary’s house.  Afterwards we were taken to the airport and received a warm farewell from the citizens of Nelson who had taken care of us while we were there.  We are so grateful to so many people who helped arrange our visit including Lyndal who is Chairman of teh Sister City Association and planned our stay, found us hotels, and showed us all around Nelson during our stay; Mary and her husband, Akiko, Carl, and many others who accompanied us on our sightseeing and welcomed us so to their city so warmly.  We are very grateful for their kindness and thoughtfulness.maori-3


maori-2We left Nelson on the afternoon of the 12th and traveled to Wellington.  Due to the bad weather (rain) and a flight delay, we had to change our original sightseeing plans.  We visited Zealandia Sanctuary which tells the history of the native animals of New Zealand, and the Te Papa Museum with many displays of Maori architecture and culture.  We also watched a video explaining how films such as “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” were created and rode a cable car to a look-out point where we could overlook the city.  It was raining when we rode the cable car to the look-out point so the entire town was covered in a misty fog.


We began our journey back to Miyazu on the morning of the 13th and finally arrived back in Miyazu at around 10 pm the same day (Japan time).  We had many memorable experiences and were able to interact with a new culture and the people of our sister city and feel connected to them even though there is a ten hour distance between us by plane.  We had a very special experience with many new cultural discoveries.


Since Japan is not my native country, this trip was a very good chance for me to travel to another English speaking country besides the US for the first time and compare the culture with my own.  For me, one of the most interesting things about New Zealand was how much the native Maori culture is valued and is treated with respect as the native culture of the land.  I was surprised that the Maori language was one of the national languages along with English and sign language.   In the United States, we value freedom and equality and strive to achieve it but in reality we still have a very big problem with racism that we have yet to overcome.  There were also native people inhabiting the American continent before the European settlers came over who had a very similar belief/value system to the Maori people which was also similar to the Japanese Shinto religion and animism outlook on life.  However, in the competition for land, these native peoples were driven from the land and the majority of them died either from disease or in battle.  There are very few pure Native Americans left in the United States and large parts of the culture and language of these native tribes has been lost.  According to the explanation I heard from the JTB agent, New Zealand has a similar history of driving the native tribes off their land and also has only a small population of pure-blood Maori people.  However, they now acknowledge this historical mistake and work to preserve the Maori culture and share it with the world as an important part of New Zealand culture.  I thought this was very honorable.  The JTB agent also discussed that because New Zealand has a very low crime rate and little racial discrimination it is a popular country for study abroad.


One other interesting thing was that all of the restaurants closed very early especially in the more rural town that we visited.  We discovered this when we went to eat dinner one night and had a very difficult time finding a restaurant that was still opened.  The next day when we asked the JTB agent about this he explained that the people of New Zealand in general tend to value their private life above their work and so they will close their businesses around 5 or 6 pm so that they can spend the evenings with their families.  He said that this was quite typical.  Some Japanese people may be surprised by this and think that the restaurant owners are lazy or unmotivated but I thought that it sounded like a good way to live a fulfilled life in a non-monetary sense.


Lastly, out of all the places that we had a chance to visit the place the was most memorable for me was the limestone cave and glow worms in Rotorua.  It was so exciting to be in a cave and the glow worms on the ceiling of the cave looked just like a starry night sky.  It was so breathtakingly gorgeous and an amazing experience.


Miyazu- Cultural Exchange Events 宮津市の異文化交流イベント




Since arriving in Miyazu, I have had the privilege of working in cooperation with the international organization IOHMIYAZU to promote internationalization and foreign exchange activities.





An international culture-exchange event is held once a month.  The theme is either a seasonal event originating from overseas, baking, or an event designed around the interests/talents of one of the city’s AETs(We sometimes have AETs from surrounding areas cooperate in our events but it is usually the AETs stationed in Miyazu City).  There are two major types of events: events where foreigners introduce their culture to Japanese residents and events where Japanese residents introduce their culture to the foreign residents.  As examples of the first type, since I have started participating, there has been a Halloween party, an Easter egg hunt, a St. Patrick’s Day painting event, A kickball tournament, baking events (cookies, cakes(several)) etc.  As examples of the second type, there has been a Japanese New year’s games event, a traditional Japanese dance experience, and a guided tour of the different shrines and temples during the setsubun festival.



IOHMIYAZU is also working on another project that involves training volunteer English tour guides.  Volunteers who have interest in English are trained in pronunciation etc of English explanations of famous cultural sites or culture of the area.  The volunteers practice both together at the sessions and at home until they are able to guide foreigners in English while referencing the document.  One purpose of this activity is for the Japanese volunteers to rediscover Japanese culture and the culture of Miyazu by studying the famous historical sites and culture of the area more deeply and of course, to then be able to convey this newfound knowledge in both English and Japanese.  The first trial was held at Seirinji Temple in Miyazu and the theme was Zazen meditation.  Volunteers both experienced Zazen meditation for themselves and did desk work where they studied the significance, methods, etc of Zazen meditation.  On October 17 several members of a gospel choir from New Zealand and the UK agreed to participate in the Zazen meditation during their stay in Miyazu in accordance with the 40th anniversary of the Miyazu-Nelson sister city connection.  It was the chance the members had been waiting for and although it was their first time to actually guide visitors, they did very well.  Sessions have also been held on origami and paper crafts and the Old Mikamike House (a historically significant building once used as a sake brewery)but there haven’t been any chances for the volunteers to actually try guiding visitors yet.14720539_671950302961533_7352727436807063995_n



Lastly, I am doing a monthly lecture on American culture in order to try to improve the citizens’ awareness of foreign culture.  This lecture has been held four times thus far on the topics of the American election system, guns, Easy to identify with topics(drinking age, smoking age, and other age limits; driving; and the school system), and discrimination. The aims of these lectures are to raise citizens’ awareness of foreign affairs and to foster a sense of global awareness and broaden their horizons by learning about foreign cultures as well as to gain a deeper understanding of their own culture by learning the differences that it has with foreign culture.  In addition, I am always hoping that through learning the differences with other cultures that the participants will also be able to grasp the similarities that their culture shares with other cultures and by doing so learn to communicate more effectively with people of different cultures and gain a deeper perspective to be able to think of things from many different angles and perspectives.  Many international activities, not restricted to my town, target people who are interested in studying and learning English and so only a small portion of the community can participate.  I think this is a big problem that needs improvement so I conduct these lectures all in Japanese so that more people can participate easily.


I hope that there will be and that I can help plan many more activities in the future and to be able to contribute to internationalization and intercultural understanding in whatever ways possible.

Tim Hortons and Canadian words – ティムホートンズとカナダの英語

Hey everyone! It’s Michelle, the new CIR from Kameoka city!


It’s been 4 months since I’ve arrived in Kameoka. To start off, I would like to introduce some unique Canadian words (yes we do have them) and the very important and sorely missed Tim Hortons!


Tim Hortons, a donut shop chain in Canada, is so popular domestically that not only is it a Canadian cultural icon, it also has a special naming and ordering system for their popular menu items.

For example:

Tim Hortons (1)①「後でティミーズに寄りましょう。」=「後でティムホートンズに寄りましょう。」

“Let’s stop by Timmies later.” = “Let’s stop by Tim Hortons later.”


“I’d like a 10 pack of timbits & a medium double-double please.”


10 pieces of small, unique ball-shaped doughnuts

Tim Hortons (2)+中サイズのコーヒーにクリーム2つと砂糖2つ

A medium-sized cup of coffee with 2 creams & 2 sugars

Tim Hortons (3)Uniquely Canadian words – カナダの独特な言葉

Loonie = 1 dollar coin(1ドル硬貨)

Tim Hortons (2)Toonie = 2 dollar coin(2ドル硬貨)

Tim Hortons (1)Parkade = a multi-storey parking garage ( 立体駐車場 )

4th of July – 7月4日 アメリカ独立記念日

Hey everyone! Jake here from Seika.
It is July now and in the United States, everyone looks forward to celebrating the Independence Day on the 4th of July. Most people know that the 4th of July is a huge celebration, but I wanted to share with you all a little bit about how we celebrate the 4th of July.


Many books and calendars use the words “Independence Day”, but most Americans just say “4th of July” when talking about the holiday. Everyone has their own unique ways of celebrating the 4th of July, but there are a few activities and customs that most Americans have in common.


4th JulyThe first thing is to watch fireworks. Americans always look forward to seeing fireworks on the 4th of July. Of course there are other opportunities to watch fireworks, but the best fireworks presentations are always thought to be on the 4th of July. Every year, cities try and add more and more fireworks to impress their citizens. There are many different shapes, sizes and colors, but the best ones are always red, white and blue.

一つの習慣は花火を見ることです。アメリカ人はいつも7月4日の花火を見るのを楽しみにします。もちろん、他の花火を見る機会はあるけど一番いい花火のプレゼンテーションは7月4日だと思われています。 市町村は、住民に印象を残すため、毎年前の年よりもっといい花火を作ろうとします。 たくさん形、サイズと色はありますが一番いいのは赤・白・青色の花火です。

We also wear red, white and blue clothing on the 4th of July. Most people wear T-shirts with the American flag on them or a red, white and blue shirt, but some people make their entire outfit red, white and blue. Other people make special costumes in red, white and blue. The reason we dress like that is to show pride for our country.

そして、アメリカ人は7月4日に必ず赤・白・青の服を着ます。アメリカの旗が付けられているTシャツや赤・白・青色のTシャツを着る人が一番多いけど、服を全部赤・白・青にする人もいます。そして、特別な赤・白・青の仮装を着る人もいます。 このような服を着る理由は、アメリカに対しての誇りを表すためです。

7529111136_bf70304906_zSince we usually spend time outside on the 4th of July, most Americans either have a picnic or barbeque to enjoy the nice summer weather. We usually eat hotdogs, hamburgers and other types of grilled food as the main dish. On the side, we might have green beans, potato salad or some kind of casserole. We also enjoy eating watermelon on the 4th of July because it is cool and refreshing after playing out in the sun all day.


There are many more ways that I could talk about how we celebrate the 4th of July in the United States, but I couldn’t possibly share them all in one blog post. Did you all learn anything new about how we celebrate the 4th of July in the United States? Thanks for reading!

これ以外にも7月4日を祝う方法はたくさんあってここで全部を紹介することは残念だけどできません。 アメリカの7月4日の祝い方について新しい発見がありましたか。 読んでくれてありがとうございました!

Easter Party ― イースターパーティー

Hey everyone! Jake from Seika here.

Easter event2On April 5th, Polly, Brian and I planned an Easter Party at the Mukunoki Center in Seika. We started our party with a Team Easter Egg hunt. Each egg had a challenge inside that the children had to complete before moving on to get the next egg. The difficulty of the challenge depended on the color of the egg, and harder challenges received more points than easier challenges. Some eggs had tasks that required a physical challenge, while others asked various questions about Easter. If a team could not complete a challenge they did not get the points from the egg. At the end we handed out candy based on how many points each team got, but all teams got candy so don’t worry.


Easter event34月5日(日)に私とポリーとブライアンが企画したイースターパーティー(復活祭)をむくのきセンターで行いました。パーティーはのたまご探しゲームで始まりました。各たまごの中に子どもが完成しないといけないチャレンジが入っていました。チャレンジの難しさはたまごの色によって、難しいチャレンジのほうが簡単なチャレンジよりポイントを与えました。体力に関わるものや、イースターについての質問型のものもありました。もしチームがチャレンジを完成できなかったら、ポイントをもらえませんでした。最後に子どもたちが得たポイントに応じキャンディーを配りましたが、全員がキャンディーをもらったので安心してください。

Easter eventAfter the Easter Egg hunt we learned a dance called the Bunny Hop where kids stood in 5 lines and followed set of hopping dance moves to music, competing to see which line could make it across the room faster. When the dancing was done, we played a game where kids passed the egg in a circle and when the music stopped, the last person holding the egg was out. Then we ran a race were the kids had to blow an Easter egg across the floor without using their hands. For each game we passed out candy as well!


I had a great time playing games with all the kids and teaching them a bit about one of the holidays I remember from my childhood. All of the kids seemed to have a lot of fun and it was amazing how much they remembered from our presentation at the beginning. I am excited to invite them all back again in the fall for our next event!



Easter event4Hey it’s Brian from Kizugawa City. The CIR collaboration event was a lot of fun this time as well! Being one of the most celebrated holidays in the US, Easter is still not that well-known in Japan. I was glad that we had the chance to introduce it to more people, while having a blast celebrating with the kids through dance and games. Join us at our next event! It will be a lot of fun.


Comfortab-LEE Brian 6 – 第6回まったLEE・BRIAN

Hey it’s Brian from Kizugawa. I had my 6th Comfortab-LEE Brian lecture on March 26th.


To wrap up the fiscal year, I had a lecture on the major holidays in the US and Taiwan. In the spirit of April Fools’ Day, I pretended to end my lecture after my self-introduction, giving them a preview of the next lecture. The audience had a good laugh out of it.


To decide which holidays to cover, I prepared a holiday bingo sheet for the audience to play. From the well-celebrated Christmas to the less-known Easter, I covered the representing holidays of each season. I had the most fun introducing Saint Patrick’s Day, which none of the participants were familiar with.


We had too much fun talking about the different holidays so there were still many left at the end of the lecture. I think I will have a part two for this subject as well!


Join us at the next Comfortab-LEE Brian, which is on May 28th. I will be talking about movies and TV shows in the US and Taiwan. Hope to see you there!


“La Chandeleur”, crepe day in France – フランスのクレープの日「シャンドルール」

Every year on February 2nd, we celebrate a day called “Chandeleur” in France. During this day, almost every family cooks crepes and eats them together. Even in Japan I cook crepes at home on that day.

ChandeleurIn the olden times, it was around that time of the year that the sowing of crops started. People then used the remaining seeds to make flour and cook crepes.
In order for the crops to grow well and the harvest to be plentiful, people went to church to pray for protection from bad weather, storms and death and lit candles, bringing one back to their home for good luck.

Before Christianity, there was also a pagan festival held during that time of the year, called “Pan’s day” where people held torches and walked around town.
A candle in French is called “chandelle”, hence the name of this day, “chandeleur”.



Christians used to go to Rome during that time of the year for benediction, and the Pope of the time, Gelase the 1st, used to distribute crepes to hungry pilgrims.
It is also said that crepes, with their round shape and yellow color symbolize the sun and are a reminder that warm spring days are soon to come after winter.


Will you catch it? 無事に飛ばせますか?

Will you catch it?

There is a ritual associated with cooking crepes on that day. It tends to be forgotten nowadays but some families keep the old tradition alive.
One usually has to flip the crepe with their right hand while holding a coin in the left hand, in order to enjoy wealth and prosperity for the year to come.
Another legend advises to roll the coin into the first cooked crepe and put it on top of a wardrobe; it will not rot, will ensure one will always have food for the year, and wards off poverty if that coin is given to the first beggar coming to the house.

Crepes are often eaten with sugar, Nutella, cream and fruits. クレープを一般的に砂糖、チョコクリーム、生クリームや果物と食べます。

Crepes are often eaten with sugar, Nutella, cream and fruits.


The most common crepe is made from white flour, but France is also famous for a darker crepe called a “galette”, made from buckwheat flour. It is especially famous in Brittany, a region with the perfect weather to cultivate buckwheat.
In Brittany, galettes are often eaten with a sausage rolled inside, giving it its nickname “Brittany’s hotdog”, a snack that is often found during festivals.
Galettes are also eaten with ham, cheese and eggs as toppings, and apple cider (cidre) is the right drink for this dish.


Now it’s time to go to the kitchen and cook those crepes!