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Kagoshima-gov.-news 2009 vol. 20


Kagoshima Prefecture Foreign Language Newsletter
"Kagoshima-gov.-news" (vol. 20)
- Latest happenings in Kagoshima
"Amami Kokuto Shochu" becomes registered regional trademark
Exchanges held between students from Honam Jeil High School in North Jeolla Province and high school students from Kagoshima

- Kagoshima through the eyes of a foreigner
Report by Amanda Chang, winner of the Singapore Japanese Speech Contest 2008
Report by Sojin Lee, participant of the North Jeolla Province/ Kagoshima High School Student Cultural Exchange Friendship Programme


Latest happenings in Kagoshima

<"Amami Kokuto Shochu" becomes registered regional trademark >

Kokuto (brown sugar) Shochu is, as its name suggests, a type of shochu (distilled rice spirits) made with brown sugar as the principal ingredient. The characteristics of this authentic shochu are a sweet mellow fragrance and a smooth taste that is peculiar to the distinctive character of brown sugar. Kokuto Shochu is manufactured exclusively on the Amami Islands that lie some 380 km south of Kagoshima City.

The year 1953, a time of recovery for Japan, marked the year that the Amami region, due to its past record of production/ consumption and production region conservation interests, became the only region authorized to manufacture Kokuto Shochu under the condition that brown sugar must be combined with malted rice. In the whole of Japan there are but 27 breweries involved in production and they are all to be found in Amami.

However, the fact that this precious Kokuto Shochu is only made in Amami is actually a surprisingly little known fact. For this reason, the Amami Oshima Distillers Cooperative obtained the regional trademark, "Amami Kokuto Shochu", on February 6 this year in order to more strongly associate the idea of "Amami = Kokuto Shochu"  in the minds of consumers and to distinguish it from similar products such as "Kokuto-shu" (brown sugar sake).

It is often said that "Kagoshima is all about Imo-jochu (potato-based shochu)", but we would like to work together with the industry to turn "Amami Kokuto Shochu" into just as much of a widely cherished distilled spirit as the famous "Satsuma" regional brand of "Imo-jochu".  

<Exchanges held between students from Honam Jeil High School in North Jeolla Province and high school students from Kagoshima>

Some 13 students (including escort) from Honam Jeil High School in North Jeolla Province visited Kagoshima from February 22nd to 27th as part of the North Jeolla Province/ Kagoshima High School Student Cultural Exchange Friendship Programme in order to participate in academic exchange, a home stay, and a hands-on pottery experience, among other things.

This programme forms one part of the "Korea-Japan Festival Student Exchange Project" that is being promoted by the governments of both Korea and Japan. The above mentioned students held exchanges, including a home stay, with students of the Kamimura Gakuen KODOBU (taiko and performance troupe) last September in Korea. The students continued to keep in touch after by exchanging letters and so on. Meeting once again after five months had passed allowed the students to re-experience the excitement and further deepen mutual bonds that had begun with the cultural exchange last September.

Academic exchange saw the Korean students visit Kamimura Gakuen and Prefectural Kagoshima Higashi High School where they presented an introduction to Korean culture, provided a Korean ethnic garb fitting experience, and so on. In exchange, the Kagoshima students introduced local cuisine, Kyudo (Japanese archery), and so on. Mutual understanding and exchange was greatly deepened among the fellow Korean and Japanese youth through such introductions to each others culture and other fruitful exchanges.

In addition, the Korean students paid a visit to a Satsuma ware kiln. Satsuma ware is a nationally designated traditional craftwork that is characterised by its Korean sensibility. The students were able to further deepen their understanding of the bond between Korea and Kagoshima through appreciation of many Satsuma ware pieces; moreover, the students themselves were given the opportunity to try their hand at pottery-making. I believe that the students were able to intuitively grasp the charm of Kagoshima through all these hands-on experiences and visits to sightseeing spots that exposed them to the wonderful nature and history of Kagoshima.

It is hoped that this kind of exchange will lead to greater mutual understanding between Korea and Kagoshima and to the further promotion of ongoing mutual exchange. 


<Kagoshima through the eyes of a foreigner>
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<Report by Amanda Chang, winner of the Singapore Japanese Speech Contest 2008>

            Memories of Satsuma

I'm glad to be alive.

Not an exaggeration by any means, but rather an honest-to-goodness emotion.

This thought was borne from my experiences gained during a recent trip to Kagoshima. I received the opportunity to visit Kagoshima on a 3D2N home stay programme as part of the prize I won during the Japanese Speech Contest held in Singapore.

As it had been a while since my last home stay, I had mixed feelings of apprehension and delight. In particular, I was at quite a loss as I wasn't sure of what to do or prepare for the home stay. Looking back at my home stay, I'm glad that I was able to visit Kagoshima and meet my host family.

Upon arrival in Kagoshima, Natalie and I were met by Mr. Uchiyama and Ms. Chua from the International Affairs Division, Tourism Promotion and International Exchange Bureau of the Kagoshima Prefectural Government. They then subsequently brought us into the city and showed us around.

As Kagoshima seldom sees exchange students from Singapore, we were interviewed by the local press. Through the kind arrangements of the staff of the Tourism Promotion and International Exchange Bureau, we were given the opportunity to tour various sightseeing facilities in the city, such as the Atsuhime Museum and the city Aquarium, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I was especially delighted with the visit to the Atsuhime Museum where I was able to try on the costume fitted for the actress Aoi Miyazaki, who played the leading role of Atsuhime in the television series. 
I had watched the television series back in Singapore and was extremely interested in the history of Atsuhime. It was while I was watching the show that I started to gain more interest in Kagoshima; hence it was a lucky break that I got the chance to visit Kagoshima, the birthplace of Atsuhime.

Due to the great fun we were having, time flew and soon we got to meet our host families. That evening, we feasted on a variety of Amami dishes with our host families. My host family was the Gejima family, consisting of my host father, Hirofumi Gejima, and my host mother, Taeko Gejima. Initially, I was rather quiet and did not talk much due to nerves. However, as my host father is a very humorous person, I gradually relaxed and was able to participate in the conversation and interact more with my host family.

The next day, I embarked on a one-day tour of Kagoshima accompanied by my host mother. Luck smiled on us and the day was clear and sunny. After a scrumptious breakfast prepared by my host mother, we hopped into the car and went on a scenic drive towards Sakurajima.

We arrived in Sakurajima after crossing the sea on a car ferry. Used to the seemingly small Sakurajima depicted on the television screen, I was greatly surprised by its sheer size.

The volcanoes that I had seen during my travels to other countries cannot be compared to Sakurajima. I was deeply moved by its beauty; looking at Sakurajima while driving along the road was an emotional moment. Growing up in Singapore, I had never seen such a beautiful sight before. Truly, I'm envious of everyone living in Kagoshima.

It's unfair that you get to see this superb view every day!

After I snapped numerous pictures of Sakurajima from the observation platform and took in fully the beauty of nature there, my host mother brought me to soak my feet in the hot springs. The foot bath was pleasantly warm and I enjoyed the relaxing soak. The best part about the foot bath however, has got to be the fact that it is totally free of charge!

After lunch, we went to the Ishibashi Memorial Park where the Nishida Bridge, Korai Bridge, Tamae Bridge and Nishida Bridge Main Gate were relocated and reconstructed.

Dinner was the Gejima family special, sukiyaki. To prepare this dish for me, my host father specially made the time to run to the supermarket in advance to purchase high quality ingredients, which included top-grade beef and the famous Kagoshima Kurobuta (Berkshire) pork. We sat around the kotatsu, enjoying the meal and company. Amidst much laughter and talk about ourselves, time passed without our noticing and we finished a meal for 5 between the 3 of us. Stuffed with delicious sukiyaki, we rounded up the meal with zenzai (sweet red bean soup) made by my host mother and played games on the Wii. I'm pretty embarassed to say that I lost to my host parents in both the golf and baseball games.

On the last day of my home stay, my host parents brought me to the Kodama Art Museum and the Nagashima Art Museum. The Kodama Art Museum is situated beyond a grove of bamboo trees and I took plenty of photos of the lovely bamboo trees when crossing the grove to get to the museum. The Nagashima Art Museum commands a breathtaking panoramic view of Sakurajima and it was while looking at that view that I could not help but think, "I'm glad to be alive." Indeed, I'm really fortunate to be able to see such a lovely sight with my very own eyes.

After the visits to the museums, my host family then brought me to the "Soba-cha-ya" for my last meal with them. After lunch, it was time to bid farewell to them. Time really flies when one is having fun; it was truly difficult and sad to part with them so soon after just getting to know them.

Despite finally getting to know more about each other, we had no choice but to part ways. I was also slightly disappointed that I only managed to pick up a smattering of the Kagoshima dialect.

It would have been great if I could have spent more time in Kagoshima. Although the 3D2N stay in Kagoshima was extremely short, I was able to leave with many fond memories. The people of Kagoshima are very kind and warm, and the food and specialties of Kagoshima extremely tasty. I had loads of my favorite sweet potatoes and Kurobuta pork while there and I can safely say that I have no regrets in life now.
I believe in the Japanese saying "Ichigo Ichie", that people meet only once in a lifetime and thus it is important to treasure each and every meeting. It is thanks to Mr. Moriyama, Mr. Yamanouchi, Mr. Yonemori, Mr. Tanaka, Mr. Kurino, Mr. Uchiyama, and Ms. Chua of the Kagoshima Prefectural Government that I was able to meet the Gejima family and have my home stay in Kagoshima. I am truly grateful to them.

Humans are strange creatures: we only learn to treasure something when we lose it. The beautiful nature of Kagoshima is something irreplaceable and exceptional but dear readers, how many times have you been to Sakurajima throughout your time living in Kagoshima?

< Report by Sojin Lee, participant of the North Jeolla Province/ Kagoshima High School Student Cultural Exchange Friendship Programme >

Sojin Lee, 2nd year student at Honam Jeil High School

It was with a certain amount of anticipation and trepidation that I boarded the Kagoshima-bound plane on Sunday February 22 to take part in a 6 day trip to Japan. I met Sakura-chan's family that evening. I was a little reluctant to open up at first because it had been ages since we had met, but the warmth of Sakura-chan's family gradually helped to thaw my reserve. It was very touching to see them searching through Korean conversation language books and an English dictionary when they spoke to me. After our first meeting that day we went shopping. I got a really cute necklace. That night was the first time that I stayed in a traditional Japanese house and the experience has become an unforgettable memory. The hot springs and tatami mats were really something, but what impressed me more than anything was the kindness shown me by Sakura-chan and her family. I can not thank them enough for making me feel like part of their family even though I only stayed in their house for one night. 

On the following day I went to the Kagoshima Prefectural Government Bureau and couldn't help noticing that it was somewhat different from the North Jeolla Provincial Government Office with its emphasis on simplicity and luxury. After eating, I went to Kamimura Gakuen to participate in academic exchange. I introduced Korean culture and Korean high school life. Following this exchange, I was given a tour of the school premises. One thing that surprised me was that there were many departments just like in a Korean university, but I suppose that this is a good thing since it is for the benefit of students who have a whole life ahead of them.

On the third day, I visited the Kagoshima Museum of Environment. The first thing to catch my eye when I entered the museum was a garbage exhibition. It was supposedly garbage that had followed the ocean current and eventually washed ashore in Kagoshima. Since a large majority of the garbage was from Korea, it gave me reason to reflect upon myself. The second exhibition pavilion featured an exhibit on African children. It made me realize just how affluent and happy my life really was. I had the chance to make a pouch for chopsticks. I tried my best even though it was the first time I used a sewing machine.

On the fourth day, I visited the Chinjukan pottery kiln and had a hands-on pottery experience. Chinjukan pottery is said to have originated in Namwon, North Jeolla Province, Korea. The family has a long history of pottery-making that dates back some 400 years, with the current Chinjukan representing the 15th generation of the family line. I was able to feel the Korean spirit in his works. It made me think that Korea really needs to protect and nurture its own distinctive traditions. Later on I finally had the chance to try the highly anticipated natural sand steam baths. I felt warm and revitalised in the sand, and the sea breeze was a great compliment to this. I really enjoyed the experience.

On the fifth day, I visited the NHK broadcasting station and had the chance to experience what it was like to be involved in a TV show. I played the role of a reporter. This was my first such experience and I had a really great time. I also took a ferry to Sakurajima. I was blown away by the sight of the majestic volcano peeking through a gap in the clouds, reminding me of the grandness of Mother Nature.

My six day field trip to Japan ended on a high note. I am so grateful to all the people who helped to make my trip possible and allowed me to experience so much in such a short time. I sincerely hope for both the success of ongoing exchanges between Japan-Korea and that the historical divide between our countries is broken down so that future generations can benefit from international exchange and peace in a bright future filled with hope.



Editor's Note (International Affairs Division, Kagoshima Prefecture Tourism Promotion and International Exchange Bureau)

How was this month's edition of the "Kagoshima-gov.-news" newsletter?

In order to better connect Kagoshima with readers from around the world, we are always striving to enrich and expand the contents of the articles and reports in the Kagoshima Prefecture Foreign Language Newsletter "KAGOSHIMA-gov.-news".
We would greatly appreciate any feedback, comments, or suggestions that you may have concerning the way that "Kagoshima"-related news is covered abroad.

Questions and Inquiries;
 International Affairs Division
 Tourism Promotion and International Exchange Bureau
 10-1 Kamoike Shinmachi, Kagoshima City
 Kagoshima Prefecture 890-8577, Japan
 Tel: +81-99-286-2306
 Fax: +81-99-286-5522
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Kagoshima Prefecture owns the copyright to this report. Any and all unauthorized use of this report (redistribution, BBS, etc) is strictly prohibited.  
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