Goodbye from Jake, CIR in Seika 精華町国際交流員ジェーク氏の退任の挨拶

Hey everyone!  I’m Jake, the CIR in Seika Town and this will be my final post on the Tabunka blog.

Jake last2Over the past two years I have met new people, tried new things and learned stuff about myself that I wouldn’t have if I had worked anywhere else.  I had a great time working in Seika and I am excited for the CIR who will be coming in August to take my place.

Seika is a beautiful town with warm, friendly people.  In the mornings when I walked to work, I would be greeted by all the little old ladies walking their dogs calling out “Good morning!” and in the evenings I would get a “Welcome home!” from the people tending their gardens and rice fields.  Sometimes, the kids from the nearby elementary school and junior high school would walk back with me or if they were feeling really brave try calling out to me in English.  It really made me feel like part of the community these past two years.

Jake last4Working as a CIR was also a wonderful experience and I had the opportunity to make some great friends and do some things that I never would have expected to do.  I remember barely even being there a month and been asked to visit Kameoka to dance in front of kids!  Every day I was doing something new and thanks to all of that I believe that I really grew as a person.

For the next couple of years, I plan to live here in Japan so I am sure I will be back to visit often, but even if I move away from Japan I know that I will always be able to come back to Seika!

Thanks for reading everyone! And make sure to watch for articles from my successor!


Jake lastこの2年間、私は新しい人と出会って、やったことないことをいっぱいやってみて、そして他の職場だとわからなかったであろう自分のことについて分かりました。私は精華町で働くのをとても楽しんでいて、次の国際交流員のが精華町がその同じことを経験できるのをとても嬉しく思っています。


Jake last3国際交流員として働くのもとてもいい経験で、いい友達もたくさんいっぱいできて、いつもやらないと思っていたことをいきなり仕事で体験しました。そうといえば任期の一カ月もたってなかった時に亀岡市に行って子どもの前で踊るイベントに参加したことを思い出します!毎日は新しいことをやっていたからそのおかげで本当に成長したと思います。



Goodbye from Brian, the CIR in Kizugawa 木津川市国際交流員ブライアン氏からの退任の挨拶

July marks the season where a lot of JET Programme participants are leaving and new ones coming. 3 CIRs participating in this blog will be leaving at the end of this month: the CIRs in Kizugawa (Brian), in Seika (Jake) and at the Kyoto Prefectural International Center (Alice).

Here are a few words from Brian.




Wow how time flies. Three years have passed since I made my debut on this blog. Through the summer heat and winter chills, I have had a wonderful time living in such a pretty place like Kizugawa in Kyoto.


Through the Kyoto CIRs’ efforts, I hope more international residents can call Kyoto their comfortable home. And also I hope more natives all over Kyoto will be interested in traveling and experiencing different cultures, and become global citizens of the world. From understanding and interacting, make the world a better place. Thank you, Kyoto. See you around!



A Spring Dance Party – 親子deレッツ・ダンス~春のダンス・パーティ~

Hi guys! It’s Brian, the CIR of Kizugawa.

To enhance the international exchange of the three municipalities of Kansai Science City in Kyoto, Polly (Kyotanabe CIR), Jake (Seika CIR), and I hold 2 to 3 joint events together every year. And this time, we had a spring dance party.


In recent years only few dance fads have made it to Japan. We wanted to share some of the popular dances in the US with the locals, and we asked our participants to come with their family to dance together at this event.


Our Spring Dance Party took place on March 26. First we talked briefly about the dance culture in the US and the UK. There are school dances in both countries, and also people dance at weddings and other ceremonies. Then we started with the simple and old-school. We did the Macarena. It was easy so we played with the speed of the song and had all of us either rushing or in super slow-motion. The kids really liked it.




Next we introduced the Cha-cha Slide. After we went through the surprise moves like the Charlie Brown and Hands-On-Your-Knees, we had a great time doing the listen-and-move (watch-and-move for us at this event) number.


Body Transformers

Body Transformers ボディ・トランスフォーマー

We then played Body Transformers, which is simply team charades. We challenged the participating families with difficult questions such as conveyor belt sushi and electric fan. We were very impressed with the creativity we saw, and had a good time joining the children in charades.


We finished the event with Watch Me, the song and accompanying dance that went viral in 2015. The moves were confusing at first. After a couple of rounds, everybody was doing the whip, the nae-nae, and the stanky leg perfectly.


Brian dance (3)As our last 3-municipality joint event, I had a great time. Dance is a way of expression, and has long been a tool of social exchange. Plus, it is a lot of fun! With the popularity of SNS such as Youtube and Twitter, hopefully more fun dances will emerge around the world. I hope I can see you on the dance floor someday!



Kyoto CIRs participated in the Gion Festival! 京都府の国際交流員が祇園祭に参加した!


IMG_0363Gion MatsuriOn July 17th, 4 CIRs of Kyoto Prefecture (Mark at Kyoto Prefectural Office, Jake in Seika Town, Brian in Kizugawa and Eric in Kameoka) participated in the Gion Festival and pulled one of the big float, the Houka Hoko.
In spite of the typhoon and heavy rain, all of them had the brighest smiles during the day, and were delighted to have been able to participate in such a major festival, as well as being able to experience first-hand Japanese culture and traditions.

Gion Matsuri7月17日(金)に京都府国際交流員の4名(府国際課のマーク、精華町のジェーク、木津川市のブライアン、亀岡市のエリック)が祇園祭に参加して、放火鉾を引きました。


Mark (CIR in Kyoto Prefectural Office, from Scotland)
マークより (スコットランド出身、京都府国際課CIR)

Gion MatsuriHi everyone, Mark here!
I had the pleasure, and privilege, of taking part in the first of the two parades of the Gion Festival (the saki-matsuri, 前祭) on the 17th July, along with Jake, Brian, and Eric. Although there were worries that the typhoon would scupper the plans, we all got up bright and early anyway to head over and get ready. Ultimately we got the green-light to go ahead, so after getting dressed into our outfits, donning the hats, and taking pictures, we joined the 50-strong team to heave the Houkahoko through the wind and rain.

I’m actually very glad for the rain as it kept us cool throughout the day, and although it was a little tough at times, I think I would have struggled more in the blazing heat of a sunny summer’s day!

I had a really great time, especially along Oike-dori and Shinmachi-dori when everyone was cheering us on and shouting words of encouragement, despite the bad weather. Hearing and seeing them cheer us on really gave me the extra energy I needed towards the end to finish the day. I am also happy to have finally experienced first-hand Kyoto’s pre-eminent festival and feel more attached to the city.

I’m very grateful to KPIC for organising it, and perhaps we can take part again next year!

Gion Matsuri皆さん、こんにちは!マークです~





Jake (CIR in Seika Town, from America)
ジェークより (精華町CIR、アメリカ出身)

Gion MatsuriGion Masturi was a lot of fun! The Hoko cart was surprisingly heavy though, so I am happy it rained. If I had to pull it when it was sunny out, it would have been really tough. It was also nice to see all the spectators cheering us on. Thanks to them pulling the Hoko didn’t feel so tiring. I think it was a good experience and I would love to be able to do it again if I have the chance.

Gion Matsuri祇園祭りはとても楽しかったです。鉾は思ったより重かったから雨降ってよかったと思います。晴れている日に鉾を引いていたらもっと難しかったかもしれません。また、観察者が応援してくれて、嬉しかったです。おかげ様で鉾を引いてもそんなに疲れなかったです。とてもいい経験だったと思います。機会があればまた参加したいと思います。


Brian (CIR in Kizugawa, from America)
ブライアン (木津川市CIR、アメリカ出身)

Gion MatsuriIMG_0427It was an honor to participate in Gion Festival, one of the three representative festivals of Japan. I have been to the Gion Festival while I was studying abroad in Kyoto, but never have I imagined myself actually being a part of the festival and pulling the floats. The volunteers, the locals, the visitors, the community came together for the millennium-old tradition. Although we were all soaked by the downpour, it didn’t take away our passion. It was a great experience.


Eric (Kameoka CIR) was the flag holder for the float! エリック(亀岡CIR)が鉾の旗を持つという大事な役割が与えました!

Eric (Kameoka CIR) was the flag holder for the float!

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.


精華町で国際交流サロン① – International Exchange Salon in Seika

Hi everyone! It’s me, Jake from Seika Town Office. Today, I would like to share my experience hosting my first International Exchange Salon, which took place last December.


International Exchange Salon 1 (Jake)My background is in Mechanical Engineering, so when I decided to host my first salon, it made sense to do it on a topic related to technology. This time, my salon was about American vehicles like cars, trains, buses and airplanes. A total of 7 people came, which was perfect because we were able to discuss the information rather than just lecture.


I started off with a brief introduction to vehicles in the United States, mostly talking about famous ones that many people know such as the Wright Brothers airplanes and the Ford Mustang. After that I covered a variety of new technologies being produced in the United States such as electric cars, bullet trains and airplanes. I even got to talk about rockets and drones for a bit.


Many of the participants were somewhat familiar with the technology that I introduced and some of them were even more knowledgeable than I was! We discussed the technology behind the Shinkansen thoroughly and I learned a few things as well. There were also many good questions about the information and it seemed that everyone enjoyed the topic.


My next International Exchange Salon will be in February on the 26th. February’s topic will be about the production of energy in the United States. I will post again after that to let you know how it went!


Field Trip in Seika 2014 – フィールドトリップin精華町2014年

Hi everyone! It is me, Jake, from Seika Town office!
Today I am going to talk about the field trip that Alice and I did in Seika in November. Seika is the center of the Kansai Science City, so it is home to many research facilities, factories and educational institutions. For this field trip, we invited foreign residents from countries all over the world to come take part in the Information Communication Fair, explore Keihanna Memorial Park and learn to make dried persimmons and onigiri at a potluck party with Seika residents.


At the Communication Fair, having fun with robots 情報フェアでロボットと遊ぶ

At the Communication Fair, having fun with robots

On the morning of the field trip, the group gathered at Kyoto Station and took a bus to Keihanna Plaza for the first part of the event, the Information Communication Fair. Participants walked around the fair and conversed with the representatives of the various companies learning about the new technology that each company is developing. For difficult topics, volunteers from Seika Global Network, Seika’s volunteer international exchange group assisted with interpretation. Afterwards, the participants had lunch at “La Seine” in the Keihanna Plaza building.


Autumn leaves in Keihanna Park 記念公園の紅葉

Autumn leaves in Keihanna Park

After finishing lunch and spending a bit more time walking around the booths, the field trip moved to the Keihanna Memorial Park where participants enjoyed a bit of nature, fed the koi fish and took pictures of the park. Fall had just started, so only a few trees had turned red, but walking around the park helped everyone get to know each other better so it was still very fun.


Finally, in the evening we met up with residents of Seika to learn about making Onigiri and dried persimmons. There was also a small potluck party where participants had the opportunity to try daikon radish and curry rice, as well as cakes made with Japanese sweet potatoes. Many of the participants said it was their favorite part because they had a chance to actually talk to the people living in Seika.

Seika 14


Cooking sweet potato cakes サツマイモのケーキを作る

Cooking sweet potato cakes

At the end of the event, the participants loaded up on a bus and headed back to Kyoto station. Everyone got to bring the dried persimmons they made home with them as well. It was a long day, but I think that everyone enjoyed themselves and had the opportunity to learn a little bit about Seika.


If you have a chance, stop by and visit Seika!


Homecoming – ホームカミング

Hey everyone! It’s me, Jake, from Seika Town Hall. I just wanted to share with you a small part of American culture. Every year around this time, many universities and high schools host an event called “Homecoming” which is a way of welcoming back alumni to visit the campus and enjoy some events.


Homecoming usually lasts about one week. During the week, students and alumni wear T shirts bearing their school color every day. Between Monday and Thursday, there are various games and contests, and Friday is like a festival where people eat food from food carts and walk around campus. Finally, on Saturday morning there is a parade and in the evening a football game. It would be sad if your team lost on homecoming, so many schools choose a weak team for the game.


Homecoming (2)Every school has their own customs. My school dyes the fountain in front of the library orange every year to match our school colors. Also, clubs and circles build big signs called “Decks” out of paper and compete with each other to see who has the most interesting deck. Every day is lively and fun.


Homecoming (1)Before the football game, fans of both teams set up tents and sit in the back of trucks eating hamburgers and drinking beer while waiting for the game to start. In general bringing alcohol on campus is not allowed, but game days are a special exception. This event is called “Tailgating.”


Homecoming (2)Once the game has started, all fans enter the stadium. At Oklahoma State University, there are a lot of fans and they all wear orange so it looks like the inside of the stadium is dyed orange. This is called the “Sea of Orange.” All the fans stand together singing and shouting to support their team. It’s gives off a very exciting atmosphere.


Homecoming (1)In the future, if you have an opportunity to go to the United States, Homecoming is not limited to just alumni and students, anyone can go, so please check it out! It will definitely be fun!


International Cooperation Station 2014 – 国際協力ステーション2014年

International Cooperation Station 2014 – 国際協力ステーション2014
Intercultural Communication Workshop by the CIRs of Kyoto Prefecture

Alice from KPIC here.
On September 13th and 14th, the International Cooperation Station was held on the 2nd and 9th floor of Kyoto Station.

Goods on sale グッズの販売

Goods on sale

The 14th edition of this event was held during a beautiful autumn weekend in September at Kyoto station. Shedding light on social contribution activities at an international level with a focus on international cooperation, we choose to broaden the event to multiculturalism this year, with one organization representing Japanese language classes’ network in Kyoto Prefecture, and another one active in the field of supporting non-Japanese mothers in Japan among others. In total we had 19 organizations participating in this event.

On the 2nd floor, booths with picture and panel exhibitions were set up and local craft goods were on sale in an open space.

On the 9th floor at the Center, we had various activities going on: café corner with fair trade drinks, craft workshops where one could make foreign accessories and toys, an international cooperation consultation corner with specialists, as well as lectures on a broad range of topics.

Station 149月の秋晴れの中、京都駅ビルで、国際的な分野の社会貢献活動のイベントを開催しました。


On the 14th, I organized an intercultural communication workshop called “Barnga” with 3 other Kyoto CIRs: Brian (Kizugawa), Jake (Seika) and Eric (Kameoka).

Station 14In this workshop, participants experience the shock of realizing that despite many similarities, people of differing cultures perceive things differently or play by different rules. They learn that they must understand and reconcile these differences if they want to function effectively in a cross-cultural group.


After the workshop we had a debriefing with everyone, and then had participants discuss into groups what they learned from the workshop and the talk afterwards. They then presented what they will be paying attention to and working for when dealing with different cultures (be it foreign cultures or different values shared by people of the same Japanese culture).


Station 14I love this workshop because anybody can participate and gain something from it.
For people who have usually no interaction with foreign cultures, they can gain their first insight into multicultural society and communication, and use that knowledge when interacting with other people sharing the same culture and nationality but with different values.

For people having lived abroad or used to deal with foreign cultures, it allows them to become aware of their unconscious feelings and natural reactions when confronted to cultural clashes, because of the casual nature of the workshop (game) removing cultural and moral barriers and enabling people to be their real self.


Station 14異文化と触れ合う機会の少ない人の場合、異文化社会とそこにおけるコミュニケーションを初めて体験でき、同じ文化と国籍なのに違う価値観を持つ日本人と触れ合う時にもこの知識を活かすことができます。


People were thrilled at the end and some even wanted to hold this workshop at their workplace. I will try to hold it again!


From Brian, the CIR in Kizugawa – ブライアン(木津川市の国際交流員)から:

With Barnga, we had our participants experience the many emotions that come with language and cultural barrier. Being the first time for me to participant in a game type event, I was worried at first whether it would resonate with the participants. However, I was more than happy to see participants actively sharing their feelings throughout the game and hear the rules of intercultural communication they came up with after experiencing Barnga. It was a great success!


From Jake, the CIR in Seika - ジェーク(精華町の国際交流員)から:

Station 14Barnga was a lot of fun! I was a bit surprised, but every table seemed to have their own way of solving problems, almost like a real country. For example, one table followed the rules of the eldest person, no matter what. Another table mixed the rules of the remaining players and the new players in order to continue playing. There were a lot of different reactions so it turned out really well. I got to talk with some of the participants afterwards and it seemed like everyone really got a good grasp of what multiculturalism. Even though I was staff, it was a valuable lesson for me as well.