Now this is fancy waste

It's been mistaken for a theme park, attracts thousands of tourists every year and even has its own TripAdvisor page. But this strange Japanese building hides a dirty secret.

This is actually the Maishima Incineration Plant, where 900 tonnes of rubbish is hauled in from around Osaka and burnt every day. It's a critical piece of infrastructure for managing the waste produced by the 2.6 million residents in Japan's third-biggest city.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-21/the-japanese-waste-incinerator-that-has-its-own-tripadvisor-page/9780872

Source: ABC News

New Tea House Coming the Central Coast

 

Wonderful news for the Gosford-Edogawa Japanese Garden at East Gosford.
Central Coast Council has accepted a donation from the Urasenke Foundation to build a Japanese Tea House at the site. Council will take over ownership of the Tea House once it has been built, at a cost of around $250,000, and has committed to its long-term maintenance. Mayor Jane Smith said Council welcomed the generous donation which would help enhance friendship and promote cultural exchange between the Central Coast and Japan. 

Hello Kitty Train

West Japan Railway Co. began a Hello Kitty-themed shinkansen in June 2018. The interior and seats of the 500-series shinkansen, to be used for daily round trips between Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka Prefecture and Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture, will feature Sanrio Co.’s Hello Kitty character. The special train, to be decorated with pink ribbons like the character, will be used to promote local attractions and specialty goods.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/05/18/national/hello-kitty-bullet-train-debut-japan-june-30/#.W2GoGtR97wc

Sumo Baby Crying Festival

Early in May, Japan hosted 'Nakizumo' or 'Sumo Baby Crying Festival'. Sumo wrestlers parade around a wrestling ring holding up wailing babies in a ritual believed to bring good health and ward off evil. Around 160 babies took part in this year's 'crying sumo' ceremony at Sensoji Temple, which dates back four centuries. Two by two, the babies were held up and jiggled by amateur wrestlers and encouraged to cry as their parents took pictures and cheered from the sidelines. Participants have to have been born in the previous year and are chosen through a lottery. Text and image: SBS News

Promoting Nutrition

Japan's school lunch program is leading the world with school lunches promoting food and nutrition education. Beginning in elementary school, kids come to understand what you put into your body matters a great deal in how you think and feel throughout the day — and how you go about your life. And lunchtime isn't hurried which means kids get the time just to sit and eat. To read more about this wonderful program, visit http://uk.businessinsider.com/japans-amazing-school-lunch-program-2017-3/?r=AU&IR=T

Celebrating 30 years of Sisterhood

 

In 2018, Edogawa City Office and Central Coast Council (formerly Gosford City Council) celebrate 30 years since our Sister City Agreement was signed. In that time, the relationship has continued to shine with many cultural, sporting and educational exchanges, friendships built, and various visits by many hundreds of individuals and groups of all ages and backgrounds. We're delighted Central Coast Council will re-sign the sister city agreement with Edogawa City in May 2018. It marks the confidence both regions have in this successful and very happy relationship. 

Golden Week 2018

Golden Week in Japan is a collection of four national holidays within seven days. In combination with well placed weekends, the Golden Week becomes one of Japan's three busiest holiday seasons, besides New Year and the Obon week. National holidays making up Golden Week:

April 29 - Showa Day (Showa no hi);
May 3  - Constitution Day (Kenpo kinenbi); 
May 4 - Greenery Day (Midori no hi); and
May 5 - Children's Day (Kodomo no hi).

In 2018, the weekends are placed in a way to create a 3-day weekend in the first half and a 4-day holiday in the second half of the Golden Week. 

Rugby World Cup 2019

The Rugby World Cup will be held in Japan in 2019. It is believed the first game of rugby in Japan was played by British sailors in Yokohama in 1874 and had spread via a British professor to Keio University by 1899. In Kansai, western Japan, the game received a boost when a Keio student taught rugby to Third High School (which was to become the college of Liberal Arts at Kyoto University) students in the grounds of Shimogamo Shrine in 1910. 

A stone monument and Sawatasha, a small sub-shrine of Shimogamo (pictured), now mark the historic spot.

Australia and Japan reverse tourism relationship

 

When the Nagano Olympics were opened by Emperor Akihito in 1998, most Australians had little idea of where the historic alpine city was, nor did they really care. Back then, the picturesque and high-quality slopes to the west of Tokyo were almost entirely populated by locals.

Now you can barely slip on the ice outside the central train station without bumping into an Aussie. Back in 1998, at the height of our summer, Australian beaches were populated with Japanese tourists escaping the cold of the northern hemisphere winter.

Now, hundreds of thousands of Australians escape the humidity of the southern hemisphere summer in search of snowfields such as Hakuba, close to Nagano, or Niseko on the northern island Hokkaido, which has been described as the Bali of snowfields because of the influx of Australians.

Source - ABC News.  For the full article, visit http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-16/australia-and-japan-reverse-tourism-relationship/9332518

Coming of Age Day

The Coming of Age Day Ceremony is a Japanese public holiday that occurs every second Monday of January.

Coming of Age Day honors every person that has turned 20 years of age over the past year. When young people reach 20 they officially become adults in Japanese society and have responsibilities as well as new-found liberties such as being able to drink, smoke, gamble and to drive legally. Mayor Masami Tada officiated at the very large Edogawa ceremony.

Image: Edogawa City Office

Fishy prices

A bluefin tuna fetched ¥36.45 million (approximately $415,000), early January at the final new year auction held at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market before its planned October relocation.

The 405-kilogram tuna, the most expensive fish sold at the opening 2018 auction, was landed in Oma, Aomori Prefecture. It was purchased by Yukitaka Yamaguchi, head of wholesaler Yamayuki Group. The tuna will be sold to a company that runs restaurants in Tokyo’s Ginza district and abroad.

Source: (text and image) The Japan Times

Edogawa People's Festival

When Edogawa City organises its annual People's Festival, you can be assured it's a wonderful event. The 2017 festival, held in October, celebrated 40 years. To give an indication of the event's popularity, 550,000 people attended.

There is a lot of coordination leading up to the event and more than 400 groups work together to bring it all to fruition. The weather was perfect, and the entertainment, food and stalls all contributed to a fun day Sunday.

Edogawa City Mayor Masami Tada is justifiably proud of the annual People's Festival and enjoys the event as much as anyone. There were 3,000 people participating in the parade with many kindergarten and elementary school students taking part. Some of the children played music, and some even paraded on unicycles.

SOAP Chair Wins Major Award

 

SOAP Chair, Tony Sansom OAM was presented a major accolade at the 2017 Central Coast Business Excellence Awards at Terrigal recently.

Tony was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award for 'Outstanding Contribution to the Central Coast'. In particular, Tony's contribution to business, state and local government, tourism, and community on the Central Coast were all acknowledged. The award is well deserved and is a worthy recognition of Tony's service to the community over many years.

Edogawa Fireworks Spectacular

Edogawa City hosts one of the best fireworks festivals in Japan. No, let's say they host the best fireworks festival in Japan. In 2017, almost 1.4 million spectators lined the banks of Edogawa River to enjoy more than 14,000 fireworks. The event was held on 5 August and it truly was a spectacular sight. The sky came alive with amazing colour and sound. It's the 42nd year the festival has been held in Edogawa. Maybe it's one for the diary next year.

(Photo: Edogawa City website)

Lismore and Yamato Takada - the older sisters

 

The oldest sister city relationship between Australia and Japan is still going strong. Lismore in northern NSW signed its agreement with Yamato Takada City in 1963. A recent student exchange delegation from Yamato Takada presented Lsimore's Mayor with a cheque for $2,100 to go towards Lismore flood appeal. Lismore was devastated by floods in March 2017. https://www.northernstar.com.au/news/sister-city-helps-flood-appeal/3206261/

Mayor Tada to hold meetings in Gosford

 

Members of SOAP Central Coast look forward to meeting Mayor of Edogawa Masami Tada and senior City officials Koji Ishisuka and Morio Oda when they visit the Central Coast in May 2017.

The three gentlemen are all good friends of SOAP Central Coast and they have also made friends with many people throughout the former Gosford City. This official visit will include meetings and discussions concerning the sister city relationship with Edogawa and the recently formed Central Coast Council of New South Wales.

Golden Week 2017

Happy Golden Week - if you're in Japan. This is one of Japan's busiest holiday seasons. The national holidays are:

29 April - Showa Day: the birthday of former Emperor Showa who died in 1989.

3 May - Constitution Day: on this day in 1947, the new postwar constitution was put into effect.

4 May - Greenery Day: dedicated to the environment and nature. 

5 May - Children's Day: the Boy's Festival. Families pray for the health and future success of their sons by hanging up carp streamers and displaying samurai dolls, symbolising strength, power and success. The Girl's Festival is celebrated on 3 March.

Bringing a Smile to Tourists

Iwate Prefecture has a new campaign to attract and assist foreign visitors.

The campaign, called 'Ten Ways To Make Travellers Happy', features an image of a samurai warrior informing tourists of local etiquette and culture.

Another character is a piglet inside a bowl advising vegetarians and pork lovers what they may find in some of their dishes.

Admittedly, we all need a bit of help when travelling in a a foreign country. More info - http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/02/07/national/iwate-introduces-quirky-signs-initiatives-lure-foreign-visitors/#.WQQmp9R97wd

Maple Syrup Bath - interesting

Ever dreamt of a maple syrup bath?

Your dreams could have come true in Kanagawa Prefecture recently. Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Spa was helping promote Moringa Hot Cake Mix (a popular Japanese pancake mix) on their 60th birthday. The bath was not entirely made up of maple syrup as that would be too costly. But maple syrup element was poured in three times a day just to keep it nice and sweet and just a little gluggy. The sweet sensation promotion finished late April. 

Image: Facebook: Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Spa

Happy Cherry Blossom Time

 

We've experienced some fairly unusual weather here on the Central Coast of New South Wales. Extreme temperatures in summer, bucket loads of rain in March ... Who knows what to wear when you leave home each morning?

One thing we can be sure of is Cherry Blossom time, around April and May in Japan. It is a spectacular time to truly appreciate the beauty of nature.

To follow the progress of blossoms across the country, visit http://www.japan-guide.com/sakura/

Extreme road works

We think we've found the ultimate in road repair.

A major sinkhole appeared in Fukuoka recently and workers took only a few days to repair this major pot-hole. Impressive! 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-16/workers-repair-giant-sinkhole-japan-fukuoka/8028744

Spending your leftover coins

There are plenty of food and drink vending machines around Japan but a new installation of vending machines is catering for foreign tourists at Narita Airport. And it's hit the jackpot. Here's how to spend your leftover coins, before heading home.  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/01/04/business/capsule-toy-vending-machines-narita-airport-hit-tourists-abroad/#.WG80KdR97wc

KFC the meal of choice for some Japanese at Christmas

Like your KFC? Well, whether you like it or loathe it, in Japan, it's popular at Christmas thanks to a marketing campaign that dates back to December 1974. This was just four years after KFC entered the Japanese market with its first store opening in Nagoya.

Click on this link to find out more about the Christmas craze- http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/people/japans-christmas-kfc-craze.aspx

Melon flavoured Kit Kat - only in Japan

We love our Japanese food. The flavours, amazing presentation, the freshness - it's all superb. But, how's this? Kit Kat has developed a melon and marscapone flavour - and you can only get it in Japan. Well, we're not so sure about the combination but, admittedly, we'll probably give it a try. Oishi!

Hedgehogs with your cuppa

Now you can play with a hedgehog while enjoying a cup of tea or coffee in a new hedgehog-themed cafe in Tokyo. 

Harry, a play on the animal's name in Japanese, is the latest animal-themed cafe to open in the country.

Curious? Find out more at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-07/tokyo-cafe-shows-softer-side-of-hedgehogs/7307464 

Kumamoto Earthquakes

Members of Society of Asian Pacific (SOAP) Central Coast - Gosford Branch send our thoughts and best wishes to those devastated by the earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture in Southern Japan in April 2016. More than 40 people have been killed and more than 1,000 people have been injured. There is also a great deal of property loss and damage to infrastructure. Two powerful earthquakes and aftershocks have been been very destructive and our prayers are with the people of Kumamoto.

One man's influence on our rice industry

SOAP Life Member Mina Matsudaira has published her latest book.

It tells the story of the pioneer of Australian rice, Mr Jo Takasuka and his family, who came to Australia from Japan in 1905. Mr Takasuka started testing for rice cultivation in Swan Hill and over the years his family became well known and respected in the area.

Mr Takasuka always looked to the future, never gave up on his dreams and always centred on the love for his family. Now he is clearly recognised as the founding father of the Australian rice industry.

It's a great success story and a wonderful example of the relationship between Australia and Japan.  For more details, visit minamatsudaira.com

Edogawa Panel Theatre 

Our fabulous friend Taeko-san has been coordinating and performing Panel Theatre for many many years in Edogawa City and other wards in Tokyo. Taeko-san visits nursery schools and libraries, educating and entertaining children, and bringing huge smiles to their faces. We're big fans of Taeko-san and we know hundreds of kids are also.

Check out our brief video.

Japanese girl band raising funds to help wombat find a mate

An all-girl Japanese pop group has taken on the task of raising funds to help a lonely Tasmanian wombat find new love.

Fuku the 11-year-old wombat is originally from Tasmania and has lived at the Satsukiyama zoo in Osaka since 2007.

He moved to Japan with his intended breeding partner Ayaha, but in 2010 she died after a long illness.

Satsukiyama zoo's deputy curator Kozo Sejima thought it was time Fuku found a new love.

"He's been alone since then so we believe he would like to have a partner," Mr Sejima said.

Mr Sejima said Fuku leads an active life, taking an interest in digging holes and daytime naps – an agreeable partner for any young female wombat on the market.

The local government in Japan had promised to approach Australian zoos and find him a mate - but first they needed to raise the $AU50,000.

The Satsukiyama zoo does not charge for admissions and so did not have any spare cash for projects like Fuku's plight for a mate.

That's where pop group The Keeper Girls came to the rescue.

The all-girl group partnered up with the zoo to raise the estimated $AU50,000 required to transport a female wombat from Australia.

In an effort to do this, they wrote a song about the lonely wombat and planned to perform and sell their CD and merchandise.

 

Source: ABC News Australia

Check out the wombat song on this Youtube clip.

Edogawa People's Festival

 

An amazing community festival is held each year in Edogawa City.

 

The Edogawa People's Festival was held in October 2015 and attracted 550,000 people.

But as well as the visitors, the festival involves 20,000 volunters and 400 groups.

The coordination is huge and a major event in Edogawa each year.

The festival includes a parade, food stalls, flea market, dance performances,

traditional tea ceremonies, animal petting zone, flowers and plants, and booths

promoting sports, the environment and disaster prevention. 

 

Photo shows Chairman of Edogawa Council Sukumoto-san, SOAP Chairman Tony Sansom,

Margaret Hardy, Secretary of the Gosford Sister City Association and Edogawa City

Mayor Masami Tada at the festival.

 

 

21st Anniversary for our Magnificent Garden

 

The Gosford-Edogawa Commemorative Garden turned 21 years of age in September 2015.

 

The Gosford Sister City Association organised a special event to mark the occasion and launch a DVD 'A Dream Come True' highlighting the creation of Gosford's beautiful Japanese garden.

Former Mayors of Gosford City, members of the Gosford Sister City Association and SOAP Central Coast, and many key people involved in the garden, including gardener John McKie, were in attendance.

Historic photographs were on display and Secretary of the Sister City Committee, Margaret Hardy, gave a speech outlining the history of the garden and the wonderful gift presented to the people of Gosford by Edogawa City.

And of course, as at any 21st birthday celebration, there was a delicious creative cake.

 

The Gosford-Edogawa Commemorative Garden is open daily from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm in Webb Street, East Gosford.