Finding Similarities Among the Differences 相違点の中に共通点を見つけ出す

Hello everyone! It’s me, Gavyn, the CIR from Seika Town.


This past July, I took part in a Chikyukko Lecture event held by our local international exchange and support group Seika Global Net (SGN). The Chikyukko (Japanese for “small world”) Lecture is a series of talks held a few times a year usually focused on multiculturalism and cultural understanding. This time, the event challenged attendants, both local and foreign residents, to consider not the differences between their respective cultures, but the similarities.



Let’s enjoy Taiwanese Culture! みんなでいっしょに台湾の文化を楽しもう!

Hello everyone! This is an update from your Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) for Kyotanabe City, Mary Ho.


On Saturday May 25th, I ran the event 2019 Kyotanabe International Exchange Association Annual Anniversary Event: Let’s enjoy Taiwanese Culture! Every year, the association selects a theme and this year it was chosen to be Taiwan. This year the event featured Taiwanese cultural talk and Taiwanese martial arts performances.


As the speaker for the Taiwanese cultural talk session, I talked about Taiwanese people’s personalities and communication style as well as a brief introduction on Taiwanese history. It was the first time that many of our participants listen to such content and everyone was very curious. At the end of my talk, I had a quiz session with prizes. The participants actively raised their hands and people who answered the correct answers got Taiwan-related goods as prizes. It was exciting to see the participants enjoyed the talk so much. Everyone had fun during the quiz session too.


Then we had Mr.Wang and Mr.Chen perform Taiwanese martial arts for us. The lead performer – Mr.Wang is currently teaches at the Osaka Chinese School for various traditional martial arts such as swords arts and Tai Chi. During the event, not only did they perform the martial arts on stage but they also arranged a practice session with the participants. The participants got to learn the basic moves of Tai Chi and how it can be practiced for daily exercise. Everyone was amazed by the performances and enjoyed learning Tai Chi with the performers. The two hour event went in a blink and I was very happy to see the participants learn about Taiwanese culture in an enjoyable atmosphere. It was a wonderful day filled with the wonders of Taiwanese culture.


Thanks for the Memories!最高の思い出をありがとう!

Hi! It’s me, Michelle, the Kameoka City CIR. I will be finishing up my term here at the end of June. When I think back on all the valuable experiences I’ve accumulated here, my heart becomes filled with deep gratitude. Thanks to all the people who looked out for me, I was able to lead a truly fruitful, fulfilling and blissful life in Kameoka.


The time I spent here is an irreplaceable treasure to me. I got to learn a little bit of calligraphy, traditional Japanese dance and kimono dressing. Work-wise, I did more than I ever thought possible and it has led to close friendships with amazing colleagues, fellow foreigners, citizens from sister and friendship cities and last but not least, kind local people. When I received my placement notice 4 years ago in May, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would come to love Kameoka this much and that I would be so blessed in both my professional and personal life.


I also love Kameoka city itself. It is blessed with beautiful nature (Sakura Park during cherry blossom season and Kuwayama Shrine during fall), delicious food, and a great location. I remain ever so grateful and amazed that I got to enjoy gorgeous rural scenery on bike rides, hiking at the breathtaking Hozu valley, eating delicious traditional cuisine and cozy cafes (my favorite café in the world is Limone!) while being only a stone’s throw away from the famous Kyoto city.


Michelle at Limone
This place is so cozy and comfortable that I must have been here more than a hundred times!

Volunteering as a facilitator for the Powwow English Conversation session run by local citizen group Kyo-cro-cul was especially rewarding when I saw how enthusiastic and interested participants were to use and learn English. Learning about calligraphy, Japanese dance and kimono dressing allowed me to experience traditional Japanese culture up close and deepen my understanding of the intricacies behind each art.


Michelle Takarazuka
I fulfilled my dream of watching a Takarazuka show in Takazuka City thanks to a close friend whom I met in Kameoka!

Creating, planning and facilitating the Global Café sessions (organized by KIEA) brought me immense work satisfaction when I saw how happy participants and foreign guests were when interacting and exchanging cultures. I was initially intimidated and overwhelmed at first with business trips abroad. However, not only did I increase my professional competency once I overcame various challenges, I also formed close bonds with some wonderful and interesting people I met in the countries I visited.


Through my position at Kameoka City Hall and Kameoka International Exchange Association, I was given many chances to be actively involved in a variety of work from official visits and exchanges between sister and friendship cities, 2020 Tokyo Olympics related Host Town initiatives, to projects and newsletter editing work to promote international understanding amongst local citizens. Neither words nor pictures are enough to convey the diversity of experiences I was blessed with, so allow me to introduce some of these many experiences via the video below!


Thank you all for making me the person I am today. My next step takes me to Tokyo where I will be challenging myself on an entirely different stage. However, I hope to make similar connections in my new community by making full use of my experience as a CIR and to continue engaging in international exchange activities as I move forward.


小中学校でハワイ異文化講座 Hawaii Lectures at Elementary and Junior High Schools


My name is Gavyn Guigui and I am the new Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) for Seika Town starting August 2018. Although I am new to Seika, I am not new to the CIR position as I was previously the CIR for Kizugawa City (a neighboring municipality) for two years before coming to Seika. For a more detailed self-introduction, please check out my introduction page!



There are a number of events coming up in Seika Town that I would like to report in the coming days, so stay tuned! In the meantime, I would like to talk about some school visits I made towards the end of my tenure at Kizugawa City.



My stage for the day at Saganaka Elementary School

In my last month as the CIR for Kizugawa, I visited a few elementary schools and one of the city’s junior high schools to present about some interesting things from my hometown Hawaii such as the food, sights, and its cultural differences with Japan. Since the grade levels for which I asked to present to were so disparate, I decided to make two different presentations, one for the elementary schools and another for the junior high schools.


For the elementary school presentation, I talked about basic information regarding Hawaii like how many islands there are in the main island chain, and the delicious foods you can eat only in Hawaii. The children were enthusiastic in their reaction and were very interested in hearing things they didn’t know about Hawaii. Some classes prepared questions to ask at the end of my presentation, and a few of them even asked in English!


The middle school presentation consisted of similar topics, but I added a few slides about the differences between American and Japanese schools. The topics that surprised them the most were perhaps the quality of American school lunches and the lack of cleaning time allotted in the school day. Lastly, I taught them about the Hawaiian alphabet, vocabulary, and how to do a short self-introduction in Hawaiian.


IMG_9074Visiting the schools was a great learning experience on how to tailor educational content for different audiences of varying ages that keeps them interested and engaged. Also, since I don’t teach at schools on a daily basis, it was interesting to see the Japanese student and teacher dynamic in real time. I hope I get to visit many more schools during my time as Seika Town’s CIR!


英語村オリンピック・パラリンピック講座 English Village Olympics・Paralympics Lecture

(Posted by Maia Hall, Kyoto Prefectural Office CIR)

On the 22nd November, 2017, I had the opportunity to go visit the Kyoto Higashigaoka High School to take part in their annual English Village Hello Week. I, and two Kyoto Friendship Ambassadors spoke to a group of about thirty high school students about the Olympic and Paralympic Games.


We were all from past hosts of the Games: I from the United Kindgom, and the other two from China and the United States respectively. Our talks and discussion ranged widely from the breakdown of the Games, the meanings of the symbols and mascots that were used, the Opening Ceremonies, Olympic legacies, what a country can learn from hosting the Olympic Games, and what Tokyo and Japan do in 2020.


Understanding that these students were a similar age to mine when the London 2012 Games took place, I wanted them to get a feel of how important a step the Olympic Games can be to internationalisation, and the things they can contribute to these changes in the next few years.


The students seemed to enjoy themselves, asked many questions and had excellent English. We hung around for almost half an hour after it was over to speak in both Japanese and English to those who were more keen. I hope their brief but intensive encounter with some outside opinions about the Olympics managed to inspire them to action, or at least think about how Japan can become more accepting and open to diversity!2611535.jpg


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.

国際理解講座と写真展示会への誘い Invitation to a picture exhibition and seminar

「心の故郷、京都へ ~5年間を振り返り、京都と日本の国際化を考える~」

Picture exhibition and seminar
“Kyoto, my second home: an insight into 5 years of life and local areas’ internationalization”

cir omoide banner7月末に任務を終えるため、京都府国際センターの国際交流員ボナミ・アリスの最後のイベントと講演会となります。皆さん、ぜひ、ご参加ください!

This is the last event and seminar by the CIR in Kyoto Prefectural International Center, Alice, who will leave at the end of July.
Please come!


alice2● 名前: ボナミ アリス
● 出身: フランス、ボルドー市

● ストーリー:  中学生の時、ジブリにはまり、日本に一目惚れ。大学で日本語を勉強し、1年間屋台と豚カツの国(福岡)へ留学。異文化理解を専攻し、大学院を卒業。 2011年に京都府国際交流員として入洛。そこで、京都にさらに一目惚れする。5年の間、異文化理解・国際交流イベント、フランス自治体との交流事業など を担当し、京都府の国際化と多文化共生に幅広く関わる。


alice3alice4★ 写真パネル展示会
おおきに、心の故郷、京都 ~笑、涙、感動、冒険の混ざった5年間~
6月15日(水)~20日(月) 10:00~18:00
※ 申し込み不要

★ 講演会
そして、京都と出会った ~外国人府民としての想い、地域の国際化を考える~
6月18日(土) 14:30~16:30
※ 要申込、フランスのお菓子付き
※ 本講座は日本語で行われます

★ 場所: 京都府国際センター(京都駅ビル9F)

★ 定員: 45名(先着順) (講演会のみ)


Starting 2016: thoughts from the Miyazu CIR – 2016年を迎える:宮津市国際交流員から

Hi everyone! It’s Jessica, the CIR in Miyazu.

Starting in January, we started a new English conversation group called “Miyazu English Corner” in Miyazu. We host it every Wednesday through Friday and Sundays 2-4 pm. Starting in April we are planning to cancel Sundays. People of the community interested in English who are available between the hours of 2-4 come and try their bests to have simple English conversations with a native speaker. Miyazu’s ALTs also participate when their schedules allow.

Since the group is held in the afternoon participants consist mainly of housewives and elderly retired people. Levels range from people who can have somewhat smooth daily conversations to people who have trouble introducing themselves.

My future goals are to start new activities focused on conveying culture rather than teaching English. Starting next month in March I will be giving lectures once a month about American culture. I always want to work to further establish the duties of the CIR position in Miyazu and try to make it separate from those of the ALTs which I have yet been able to do. I also want to be more conscientious in leaving data and records for the next CIR.

Jessica new year2016年の1月をもって「英語交流広場」という英会話イベントを開設しました。毎週の水・木・金・日の14時から16時まで開設しています。4月以降は日曜日をなしにし平日だけとする予定です。英語に関心があり指定された時間帯に参加できる方を対象にしています。町の英語指導助手にも空いているときに参加していただき、なるべく日本語のない環境を作り市民の方々と簡単な英語でコミュニケーションを取り、参加者の英語力の向上を図っています。



Comfortab-LEE Brian 8 – 第8回まったLEE・BRIAN

Hey y’all. It’s Brian from Kizugawa.


Kizu brianOn July 28th, I had my 8th “Comfortab-LEE Brian” lecture. This time I talked about the youth culture in the US. I started by introducing “what’s up?” along with other casual greetings, also the motions done along those greetings including hugs and pound hugs.

7月28日に第8回まったLEE・BRIANを開催しました。今回はアメリカの若者文化についての講演にしました。始めに「what’s up?」などの口語的なあいさつを紹介し、あいさつのハグとパウンドハグを実演しました。

Then, I introduced some American slang words and SMS language often used by teenagers. I shared some trending words such as “slay” and “yaas,” in the US, as well as some once-trending-but-not-anymore words like “yolo” and “swag.”


I briefly touched on the rise of the hipster culture among young adults and ended with the popular internet memes related to Japan, including doge, hadokening, and meanwhile in.

そして、日本でもよく知られているヒッピー文化から始め、近年若者の間にブームになったヒップスター文化を紹介し、インターネットミームを説明し、「doge」「hadokening」「meanwhile in…」など日本と関わりがあるミームを紹介しました。

I had fun sharing the youth culture with my audience. It was a cross-culture, cross-generation experience.


The next Comfortab-LEE BRIAN is on September 25. I will be talking about love and marriage in the US and China along with the two Chinese interns at the city hall. Hope to see you there!


Intercultural Salon: Stereotypes about Brazil – 異文化理解サロン:ブラジルに対するステレオタイプ

RodrigoHi, everyone! My name is Rodrigo Brinca and I’m the Brazilian CIR working at Shiga Prefectural Government Office.

On May 24th I had the opportunity to give a presentation on Brazil in Kyoto’s Prefectural International Center. Since I had total freedom to choose the topic, I decided to talk about the stereotyped views Japanese people have regarding Brazil. My reasoning behind choosing this theme actually has to do with the fact that Japanese people actually do know a good amount about my country, although their perception is biased, understandably, by what Japan’s mainstream media says about it.


SambaFirst I selected a few topics I knew beforehand that Japanese people had some knowledge of, like Brazilian music, tourist attractions and so on. Then I explained what are some common misconceptions about these, i.e. “Brazilian women dance naked during carnival”, “all Brazilians can play soccer like Neymar” etc. By doing this, I believe we could reflect on how a minor aspect of someone’s culture can be misinterpreted as something major when no cultural context is given.


FavelasThe public showed a great deal of interest and we also had time to answer some interesting questions on varied topics by the end of the presentation. Since my usual listeners are elementary school students (which I also love talking to), I was glad to have this chance to talk to a different group of people and present to Japanese adults some aspects of Brazilian Culture that are not well known. I’m also looking forward to holding similar events in my home prefecture, Shiga when I get the chance.

Discussion with the participants 参加者とのディスカッション

Discussion with the participants


Also, lastly, from this year the CIRs from Shiga also started a blog. Be sure to check it out if you are interested in Shiga’s culture, tourist attractions or Multiculturalism.