Nantan Kids Carnival 2015 – なんたにあんキッズカーニバル2015年

Alice from KPIC!

On the 7th of February I participated for the 4th time in the Nantan Kids Carnival, an event held every year. This year’s theme was “children’s games around the world” so I prepared activities based on French school festivals for my booth.


Nanta 2015

Face painting on the New Zealand booth ニュージーランドブースでのフェイスペインティング

This year we had a hundred people participating and booths from 7 countries: England, Jamaica, Philippines, New Zealand, Peru, Germany and France. Children first roamed freely in the room, exploring the different booths and chatting with the people from each nationality holding them.

They could enjoy tea and butter cookies at the English booth, various games at the Filipino and Peruvian booths, reggae dance at the Jamaican booth, face painting at the New Zealand booth and eating potato and jam pancakes at the German booth.



Ball game on the French booth - フランスブースでのボールゲーム

Ball game on the French booth – フランスブースでのボールゲーム

I had prepared 3 activities for the French booth: a paper plate game, a ball game and a craft activity. Every time children won a game, they could eat French candies. No need to say that they tried their best!

For the paper plate game, children needed to throw a tennis ball on to paper plates laid on the floor.

For the second game, I fixed some ropes to the wall and children had to make a ball roll on those up to the appropriate place before letting it drop in a basket. It was a really popular game with children lining up to enjoy it again and again.

The last activity was a small craft, where I taught children how to make a tricolor pompom with the colors of France (blue, white and red). They could then fix it to their bag, clothes etc. Some of them even used them as necklaces!





Fun times !  楽しい時間!

Fun times !

It was then time for the general game time. I had prepared a game called “the fishes and the fishermen” where pairs of 2 people (the fishermen) each form a “net” by joining their hands while the other people (the fishes) run around between the nets. The fishermen secretly decide a number between themselves and count aloud, subsequently dropping their hands when they reach their predetermined number, catching anyone who is passing through at the time. Children running around and laughing trying not to get caught was really fun.

We also played a game using colors’ names in English, a dodge ball game and ended the day with a reggae dance from Jamaica.



It was a really nice day spent playing with children and teaching them games I had played in France as a child. The children seemed to enjoy themselves a lot as well, trying new tastes with the German pancakes and getting to know other cultural backgrounds.


Cooking Class in Oyamazaki and Nantan Kids Carnival 大山崎での料理教室と南丹のキッズカーニバル

Hi! This is Alice, the CIR at Kyoto Prefectural International Center.
At the end of January, I was lucky to participate in 2 very different events in Kyoto Prefecture.

~ Cooking class in Oyamazaki ~

~ 大山崎町での料理教室 ~


The first event on January 23rd was a French cooking class organized in Oyamazaki Town, a 15min train ride from Kyoto. I already went there last year to cook some “Boeuf Bourguignon”, a beef stew braised in red wine, and “Riz au Lait”, a dessert made from rice, milk and sugar. Cooking French food in Japan is very challenging, because the taste of the ingredients is really different (everything is sweeter in Japan!), some ingredients do not exist (such as what we call “crème fraiche”, or fresh cream), and most of the dishes require an oven, which is really rare to find in Japanese homes.

Lecture about French cuisine and eating habitsフランスの食文化について発表

Lecture about French cuisine and eating habits


I first started with a presentation about French cuisine and eating habits, explaining how they changed through history, and how it was listed as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage” in 2011. What was classified is more French people attitudes and relationships to food rather than a dish in particular or the famous “French gastronomy”. Indeed, in spite of today’s stressful and busy life, most of the French still take a 2hour-lunch break, and still maintain 3 steps in their meal: starter, main dish and dessert. Dessert can be either cheese, yoghurt, fruit or a pastry. It feels strange to me if I do not eat something after finishing my main dish!


I also introduced the most common French family dishes. Do you know la “tarte aux poireaux”, le “cassoulet“ or la “tarte tatin“? Lastly, one cannot introduce French food culture without speaking about its many related events, such as La Galette des Rois (king cake) on January 6th, the Crepe Day on February 2nd, Easter and its egg hunt etc…


Gateau au Yaourtヨーグルトケーキ

Gateau au Yaourt

It was then time for the participants to try their hand at French cuisine. I had chosen a very simple cake recipe, the famous “gateau au yaourt (yoghurt cake)” that even 5 year old children can make. Basically, you just have to use one yoghurt, and then reuse the package to measure the other ingredients. No need of scales or particular cooking experience! The easiest cake in the world! This cake being really basic, we made an apple and a chocolate version.


Participants were really happy to find out that French cakes can be really easy and fun to do, and I am glad I had the chance to go out and meet the very enthusiastic and sweet people of Oyamazaki. I hope we can meet again next year!

~ Nantan Kids Carnival ~

~ なんたにあんキッズカーニバル

England boothイギリスのブース

England booth


France boothフランスのブース

France booth

The second event was held on January 27th in Nantan City, approximately one hour from Kyoto. Held every year, it is quite a large scale event with a hundred participants and booths from many countries in the world.
I had the chance to participate this year, together with people from Bhutan, the Philippines, India, England and Germany. Everybody had prepared a small booth with various objects, clothes and sometimes even music instruments from their country. For France, I had brought some maps and postal cards of Bordeaux, my hometown, French manga called “BD” in French, twice the size of Japanese manga and in full color, euro coins and Japanese manga… in French! Children were especially surprised to learn that we all use the same currency in Europe, but that the heads side of the coins are different from each country.

Explaining about the Euroユーロについて説明する

Explaining about the Euro

Learning Dzongkhaゾンガ語を習う

Learning Dzongkha


Indian mathematicsインドの計算

Indian mathematics

The event started with Bhutan, introducing their language, Dzongkha, and teaching children the basic greetings. We then learned how to multiply the Indian way, and I wished I had known this earlier in school to get better grades! Mathematics became so much easier.
After that, it was time to test our cultural knowledge about England, by looking at pictures of the queen, famous bridges etc., and answering quizzes about them. I discovered my knowledge as a European was almost the same as Japanese children! I need to learn more about my home area…
We got to move our bodies afterwards, thanks to games from the Philippines. The kids especially enjoyed playing with a ball made from a sort of paper. You have to make the ball bounce on the inside of your legs as many times as you can, but it almost turned out into a giant soccer party, which was really fun as well.

Londo Bridge is falling down!ロンドン橋が落ちている!

Londo Bridge is falling down!

Stilt race: run for the pogs!メンコのために竹馬レース頑張れ!

Stilt race: run for the pogs!

レースの後、メンコでたくさん遊びました。実はフランスでポッグが90年代ぐらいに流行りましたが、2000年代に入ってから段々なくなりましたから、今のフランス人の子供はポッグを知らないかもしれません。。。 子供の時にポッグを集めて、遊ぶのはとても楽しかったので、南丹の子供も楽しめたら嬉しいですね。

Giving out French pogsフランスのメンコを配る

Giving out French pogs

France’s turn was after that. I had prepared a stilt race with Pogs to win. The children and their parents both participated in the race and were divided into teams. Encouraged by French pop music, they rushed through the room to finish the race as quick as possible and win a lot of Pogs. Surprisingly, the children’s team won against the adult team!
After the race, everybody was busy trying to win other children’s Pogs and play together. Actually, the Pog fad in France soared in the 90s before fading out again, so maybe nowadays French children don’t know about them… I had a lot of fun collecting and playing with them when I was a child, so I hope Nantan children will enjoy them too!

French pogsフランスのメンコ

French pogs


We then sang a German popular song in many languages before it was time to go back home for the children.
Despite the amount of preparation needed for such a big scale event, everything went smoothly thanks to the experience of the Nantan International Association and the volunteers who participated. I had a great day playing with the children and learning about other countries in the world! I also hope to participate again next year!

Horikawa high school visit – 堀川高校の訪問

Hi! It’s Alice, the CIR at Kyoto Prefectural International Center.
Today I would like to write about a school visit I did in Horikawa Senior High School last  December.


Horikawa Senior High School is really committed to raise awareness about other cultures and human right problems among their students. Indeed, all the first-year students have to study abroad for a few weeks in March and stay with a host family to increase their language skills and broaden their horizons. In order to prepare the students for this trip, I was asked to speak about my country and how French people view Japan and the Japanese.




This visit was divided into 2 different kinds of events. First, I visited the school on December 14th with 3 other CIRs: Kyoto Prefectural Office’s CIR Mark from Scotland, Kameoka’s CIR Margaret from America and Kyotanabe’s CIR Polly from England. There were also 2 exchange students with us, Jorge from the Philippines and Windu from Indonesia. I thought it would be interesting to have speakers from as many countries as possible so that students understand that we are not the same “foreigners” but French, American, Indonesian etc, each with its own differences. Everybody was really eager to participate when I spoke with them about this event.




First, the students split into groups and interviewed us individually about our countries, our lives, our interest in Japan and why we choose to come live here. They also wanted to check if the image they had of each country was correct or not and what we thought about it. For example, French people are usually thought as elegant and stylish… it might be true when seeing the Haute Couture shows but not on an everyday basis! Actually Japanese youth are more fashionable than French ones.


Mark and I came back for the 2nd visit on December 21st, to speak in front of all the first-year students, which is to say almost 250 people!
Students first presented their conclusions and feelings about what they had learned during the interviews the week before. I was really surprised to hear that Japanese summer feels hotter than the Philippines, or that Japanese people walk and live too fast for Indonesian people. Indeed, in France, we do not get to know a lot about South East Asia in our education and I learned a lot myself from these presentations.


Explaining about the CIR job国際交流員の仕事について説明する

Explaining about the CIR job

Then, it was time for Mark and I to climb on the stage under a warm of applause (which felt good but was kind of intimidating) to be interviewed again “live”. They asked us to speak about Christmas celebrations in France and Scotland, what were the famous places and food, what did we like about Kyoto etc. Then came the tricky questions such as “what makes you French / Scottish?” I would never have been able to answer should I have stayed in my country all my life, but living abroad really made me realize who I am, what it does mean to be French and rediscover my own culture and habits as well. In this way, I really hope you will get the chance to live one year or more in another country and culture, for it is a life-changing experience.


Mark explains about his jobマークが仕事について説明する

Mark explains about his job

Quickly speaking, French people like to take their time, enjoy their meals, put work and their private life (family and friends) on the same level of priority, complain a lot, go on strike and holidays and put all their heart in doing what they like. C’est la vie! Of course there is more much to that, but it would take more than a blog article to speak about it.


After the interviews, Mark and I gave a small presentation about our countries, how Scotland differs from the UK and how Bordeaux and the South of France are not like Paris. We then introduced our reasons for wanting to work as a CIR in Japan, mainly because we wanted to put into practice what we learned in college (languages, multicultural communication and marketing) and challenge ourselves. To end, we spoke about gender equality in Japan and how the gap is still wide, differences at the workplace and in working practices, and how foreigners are viewed in Japan. If Japanese are the best when it comes to help and welcome us, they should treat us less as guests and “foreigners” but more as “French” and “Scottish” and as citizens living in Japan just as they do.

Answering questions質問に答える

Answering questions


After the presentation, we had a smaller gathering with the students who wished to participate, and were able to talk more casually with them about life in Scotland and France, our feelings about living in Kyoto, and give them advice on how best to communicate with their host families during their oversea internship to come. Japanese people usually tend to think of themselves as really bad at English and prefer not to talk at all rather than try and make mistakes. However, even with the worst pronunciations and mistakes, people will really appreciate if you make the effort to speak their language especially in their own country, and will help you as best as they can to improve. The best way to learn is by making mistakes!


It was my first visit to a Japanese high school, and I’m really glad I got this opportunity to exchange with the students, introduce new things about France and maybe change how they view foreign countries and cultures. I hope I will have more opportunities like this in the future!


Receiving flowers was such a nice surprise!花をいただいて、びっくりしました!

Receiving flowers was such a nice surprise!

Mark’s comment マークの感想

On the 21st December, myself and Alice gave a presentation to the students of Horikawa High School, on various topics such as internationalisation, social issues, and what it’s like living and working as a CIR in Japan. As it was my first school visit, I was quite nervous, but was glad that the students all seemed to learn something afterwards, especially about my home country. The planning that went into the whole day was very well organised by two of the students themselves, and our session the week before on the 14th allowed the students to interview some of the other participants, and prepare presentations on what they learnt, with some very interesting insight!
All in all, a great opportunity to meet some excellent students, and let them know a little more about ourselves, our jobs, and our cultures, as well as show off my traditional Scottish kilt to the people of Kyoto!