Japan Australia Pages

Monday, May 20, 2019

ALT/CIR Position in Oyama City, Tochigi Prefecture

Oyama City in Tochigi Prefecture
If you are an Aussie looking for a wonderful opportunity to live and work in a beautiful part of Japan near Tokyo, please keep reading.

The Oyama City Office in Tochigi Prefecture just north of Tokyo is seeking Australian Nationals to work as ALT/CIR (Assistant Language Teacher and Coordinator of International Relations) for the city. They are looking to employ three Aussies for the position. In recent years, Oyama City has forged many strong links with Cairns in Australia, so ideally they are looking for someone from Cairns.

The position starting in August 2019 is a combined position that will involve working for 4 days at local schools in the city and one day at the city office per week. Tochigi is a stunning part of Japan, famous for its cultural heritage and breathtaking natural landscapes. If you are interested in finding out more about this opportunity, please visit the Oyama City Office website via the link below.

Oyama City has extended the application period and will now accept applications up until Friday, 31 May, 2019.

ALT/CIR Position in Oyama City https://www.city.oyama.tochigi.jp/soshiki/18/2726.html

Oyama City in Tochigi Prefecture

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Gyokuro Japanese Green Tea

Gyokuro Japanese Green Tea
May is the perfect time to experience Japanese green tea with spring being the harvest season and offering the much sought-after first harvest which is called, “Shincha” in Japanese.

We at Japan Australia have been big green tea fans for years. What’s not to like about this liquid gold with its great taste and amazing health benefits. Recently we were offered the chance to try some new green tea from The Japanese Green Tea Company, winner of the Global Tea Championship in both 2017 and 2018.

The Japanese Green Tea Company offers quality green tea from Japan that is grown using the chagusaba (茶草場) method, an ancient farming technique that relies on labour-intensive processes to enhance soil fertility in order to produce quality tea crops. This method has been practiced by farmers in Shizuoka, known for growing the finest green tea in Japan for centuries. Sugar cane and sugar syrup are also added to the soil to enrich, protect and revitalize the soil, which enhances the sweetness of the tea.

We chose to try Gyokuro (玉 露), a premium green tea that is grown in the shade with specially made mats to allow the caffeine levels to increase in the leaves. This technique produces a sweeter and stronger flavor tea, which is my kind of tea.

Gyokuro Japanese Green Tea
Gyokuro Japanese Green Tea

The Taste Test 

The tea leaves for Gyokuro are a darker green due to the cultivation process, which creates a beautiful emerald green coloured tea with a rich taste and aroma.

I sat down with some Kashiwa mochi, a traditional Japanese rice cake filled with red bean paste and wrapped in an oak leaf, which is enjoyed on Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day) here in Japan, and brewed a pot of tea in my Mino-yaki Kyusu (急須) traditional Japanese teapot.

How did it taste? The taste is crisp and strong with a nice aroma. This is definitely more mellow and sweeter than your regular sencha green tea and is not bitter at all. You get a slightly different taste after each steeping and this tea is something that you can enjoy two or three times with one serving of tea. The colour and aroma are like spring in a cup for me and perfect to enjoy with the warmer weather.

This is a great Japanese green tea to try for anyone who is new to Japanese green tea and is looking to try a quality green tea that is easy and mellow to drink and not bitter.

Premium Japanese Gyokuro Green Tea
Premium Japanese Gyokuro Green Tea

The Health Benefits 

Gyokuro is great for anyone on a diet as it is high in polyphenol, catechin and EGCG, and reduces the absorption activity in the stomach. It has zero cholesterol and sodium levels. Gyokuro is rich in vitamins C and E with the added benefit of making your skin smooth and soft.

Gyokuro Japanese Green Tea
Green Tea has many health benefits

How to Order 

You can order your own Japanese green tea from The Japanese Green Tea Company website. Just mention that your are friends of Japan Australia by entering the coupon code of “JAPAN-AUSTRALIA” when you checkout on the site to receive a special 10% discount on top of the already 20% discount on offer.

A great starting point is The Champions Gift Set, which contains the 2018 and 2017 Global Tea Championship winning teas.

The Japanese Green Tea Company

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Reiwa Era Japan

Reiwa Era Japan
Welcome to the first day of the Reiwa Era! Today, May 1st, 2019 marks the start of a new imperial era in Japan with the first day of the Reiwa Era. In a day of celebration for Japan, Crown Prince Naruhito ascended to the chrysanthemum throne as the 126th Emperor of Japan in the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy.

April 30th, 2019 signaled the end of the Heisei Era with Emperor Akihito’s historic abdication bringing an end to the three-decade-long period. It is the first time in over 200 years that a living Emperor has abdicated in Japan. The Emperor’s advanced age and health concerns made it difficult for him to continue carrying out his official duties.

The Emperor expressed about 10 years ago his desire to one-day abdicate for his son, but it was impossible for him to do so with the current Imperial Household Law stating that the throne may only be succeeded upon the Emperor’s passing. The Japanese Diet (parliament) had to enact a special one-off law in June 2017 in order to allow Emperor Akihito to abdicate.

Emperor Akihito shook up the Japanese monarchy by marrying a commoner and modernizing the imperial household, bringing it closer into line with the changes happening in society. He was seen as “The People’s Emperor” bringing the monarchy closer to the ordinary people, suffering the pain along with them as he and Empress Michiko visited disaster locations to offer their support and sympathy.

While we must say thank you and goodbye to the Heisei Era, we can welcome in the Reiwa Era. The name of the new era, Reiwa (令和), means “order and harmony” and is derived from the kanji (Chinese characters) from the Manyoshu, an eight-century (Nara Period) anthology of waka (classical Japanese poetry). It is the first time that a Japanese era name has had its characters taken from Japanese classical literature instead of classic Chinese literature.

"Reiwa" means "order and harmony"

The Heisei Era (8th January 1989 – 30th April 2019) brought with it peace and stability for the nation as well as a period of great technological advancement, but also some unprecedented lows such as the bursting of the “bubble economy”, an aging and shrinking population, and natural disasters (1995 Kobe Earthquake and the 2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami).

The new era is a time for the Japanese people to reminisce about the past and the hope that the new Reiwa Era will bring to Japan. It is a significant change, the passing from one generation to the other with the whole country excited about what the future will bring.

What are you looking forward to with the start of the new Reiwa Era? 

Yoshihide Suga, announcing new imperial era, "Reiwa", to reporters.
Image from Wikipedia: Yoshihide Suga announcing the new "Reiwa Era"

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Golden Week in Japan 2019

Golden Week is a collection of four national holidays in Japan that are closely grouped together in the space of seven days from late April to early May to create a holiday period. This year in 2019, we have a special Golden Week period due to the abdication of the Emperor on April 30th, and the ascension to the throne of the new Emperor on May 1st, which will be made a national holiday.

Due to this change, April 30th and May 2nd will also become national holidays because according to the law, a day between two holidays also becomes a holiday. This creates an unprecedented 10-day consecutive holiday period in Japan from Saturday, April 27th to Monday, May 6th.

Golden Week and this period of time in Japan is a celebration of spring with a lot of cultural festivals and historical events taking place all over the country.

The Four National Holidays of Golden Week 

1. Showa Day (April 29) 

The first national holiday of Golden Week is Showa no Hi (昭和の日) or Showa Day, which is the birthday of the former Showa Emperor. It is a day to honour the birthday of the late emperor, as well as to remember the hard work and effort of the Japanese people in rebuilding their country during the turbulent Showa Era (1926 – 1989).

 2. Constitution Memorial Day (May 3) 

The second national holiday of Golden Week is Kenpou Kinenbi (憲法記念日) or Constitution Memorial Day. It is a day to commemorate the new Japanese constitution, which was put into effect on May 3, 1947.

3. Greenery Day (May 4) 

The third national holiday of Golden Week is Midori no Hi (みどりの日) or Greenery Day. It is a day to show appreciation for the environment and nature. It is the perfect time to head outdoors and enjoy the beautiful spring weather and fresh green leaves of the season.

4. Children’s Day (May 5) 

The last national holiday of Golden Week is Kodomo no Hi (こどもの日) or Children’s Day on May 5. It is a day for children in general, but is primarily for boys, as girls have their own day called Hina Matsuri on March 3. Children’s Day is a day to celebrate boys and to pray for their healthy growth. It’s a Japanese tradition for families with boys to celebrate this day by raising carp streamers (koinobori) outside their houses around this holiday. Carp are believed to symbolize successes in children’s lives. The black carp of koinobori represent the father, the red carp for the mother, and blue, green, purple or orange for the subsequent children.

Golden Week is one of the busiest travel periods in Japan with most tourist destinations extremely crowded and fully booked out. Airports and train stations are usually overflowing with people during this time and it can be very hard to get reservations for accommodation and transportation during Golding Week without booking months in advance. Many Japanese offices close for about a week to 10 days, depending on the calendar with many workers taking a vacation, traveling abroad or to a popular tourist destination in Japan.

The travel peak is anticipated for around April 27th this year with the return rush around May 6th.

What are your plans for Golden Week in Japan? Please leave your reply in the comments below.

Koinobori | Photo by Raneko | Flickr

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Starbucks Japan Cherry Blossom Drinks 2019

Starbucks Japan Cherry Blossom Drinks 2019
Starbucks Japan have just released news of their 2019 limited-edition sakura cherry blossom drinks. This is news that we at Japan Australia look forward to every year as it is a sure tell sign that spring is on its way. The Japan only sakura drinks not only always taste great, but are a great prelude to the upcoming cherry blossom season in Japan.

You can follow all the latest news and updates about the cherry blossom forecast by following Japan Travel Advice, who recently published their annual 2019 Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Forecast for Japan. Check it out and start planning your hanami parties now.

This year, we can look forward to Starbucks Full Sakura Milk Latte and Full Sakura Frappuccino.

Starbucks Sakura Latte and Frappuccino 

This year Starbucks is combining two popular pink flavours, cherry blossom and strawberries with a theme “Sakura Mankai Moments – Full Blooming All Around You”. “Mankai” means “full bloom” in Japanese with inspiration for the drinks taken from the cherry blossoms in full bloom.

The Full Sakura Milk Latte is designed to represent that special moment in spring when a gentle wind blows through the trees and the soft cherry blossom petals slowly fall to the ground. The drink has a light sakura flavor and is topped with whipped cream and strawberry chocolate shavings and chocolate sakura flavoured petals. The Full Sakura Milk Latte is available from February 15th until March 19th, 2019.

The Full Sakura Frappuccino is designed to represent the cherry blossom petals in full bloom reflected on the water’s surface. Cherry blossoms along the river are a common sight in Japan during the spring. The Full Sakura Frappuccino base is a sakura and strawberry sauce with sakura jelly and strawberry jelly pieces all of which is topped with whipped cream and strawberry chocolate shavings and chocolate sakura flavoured petals. The Full Sakura Frappuccino is available from February 15th until February 27th, 2019

Starbucks Sakura Latte and Frappuccino

Starbucks Sakura Chocolate with Strawberry Jelly 

Available for a limited time only at convenience stores around Japan is the Sakura Chocolate with Strawberry Jelly drink. From February 12th you will be able to pick up one of these which has a sakura and white chocolate flavoured base mixed with tiny pieces of strawberry jelly. Its thick texture is similar to the Starbucks Frappuccino with the drink meant to be shaken before being drunk.

Starbucks Sakura Chocolate with Strawberry Jelly

Starbucks Sakura Goods 

Starbucks limited-edition range of seasonal drinkware including travel mugs, cups, glasses and tumblers are always a hot item in its spring line-up. This year we have two different collections to enjoy. The first series being released on February 15th in soft pink is based around a “cold” theme.

Starbucks Sakura Goods First Series

The second series will be available from February 25th with a more vivid strawberry red theme and is based around a “sunlight” theme.

Starbucks Sakura Goods Second Series

Starbucks Japan Website

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Small Buildings of Kyoto: Volume II Book Review

Small Buildings of Kyoto: Volume II
The second volume of John Einarsen’s delightful little picture book, Small Buildings of Kyoto: Volume II has recently been published by Kyoto Journal. The book came about from a hit photo series on Instagram which focused on the charm and visual richness of seemingly ordinary structures in Kyoto. This photo series led to the first edition, Small Buildings of Kyoto being published in 2017.

Kyoto Journal is an award-winning quarterly English magazine founded in Kyoto in 1987 with the goal of presenting cultural insights from Japanese and Asian culture.

The Book’s Content 

Small Buildings of Kyoto: Volume II is a great insight into the real buildings and architecture of Kyoto that usually don’t make it into the books and travel guides about this historic city.

Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital is famous for its masterpieces of Japanese architecture and UNESCO World Heritage Sites with many of its buildings listed as National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties.

While the buildings in this book might not have the stunning beauty of these national treasures, they do have their own charm and beauty through their quaint and quirky characteristics. Each building has its own story to tell, offering you a fascinating insight into the way Kyotoites live today.

Small Buildings of Kyoto: Volume II

My View 

Why I really like this book? It is compact and full of beautiful colour photos that highlight the enduring charm of Kyoto’s everyday architecture.

The colour photos in the book are not of the iconic postcard-worthy attractions of Kyoto such as Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion) and Kiyomizu-dera Temple, but the everyday buildings that make up the urban fabric of the city.

I love the range of buildings covered in this book that showcase a mix of influences with some dating from the pre-war Taisho era (1912-1926) and others an interesting hybrid of textures, materials and shapes.

Kyoto Coffee Pocket

One thing that I really admire about Japanese architecture is how they get the most out of working with limited space to create elegant and graceful structures.

The best way to really get out and explore Kyoto is on foot by walking through the backstreets and tucked-away neighbourhoods that offer you the magic of the everyday charm of modern Kyoto.

This book is perfect for anyone looking to get some real insight on the everyday life of modern Kyoto. The quirky, humble and endearing buildings in the book reveal another side of Japan’s ancient capital city.

Ginka Coffee Shop

About the Writer 

The author, John Einarsen is a photographer and long-term resident of Kyoto. Originally from Colorado, he fell in love with Kyoto on his first trip there and settled down there in the early 1980s. He is the founder editor of Kyoto Journal and has served as an advisor to the Japan Times.

Small Buildings of Kyoto: Volume II is available now from the Kyoto Journal Website.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Japan Visions Photobook

Japan Visions Photobook
Japan is a country of contrasts from the futuristic glowing neon of Tokyo to the historic temples and shrines of ancient Kyoto. You don’t even have to leave town to see the ultra-modern mixed in with the traditional.

One of the many things that I love about Japan is seeing this constant on a daily basis. I could be walking down the street in Gifu and see a high-tech vending machine on a corner which leads to an old street lined with lattice-walled houses from the Edo period (1603-1868).  

Japan Visions is the debut photographic book from Amélie Ravalec which highlights through images the colouful contrast that is the land of the rising sun.

The Book’s Content

Here’s what Amélie Ravalec says: “Japan Visions is an evocative and colourful journey through the streets of Japan, from Tokyo’s neon lights and underground culture to the ancient beauty of Kyoto’s temples and gardens. Amélie Ravalec debut photographic publication captures the country’s odd beauty: android robots, erotic wooden plaques, guillotined dolls and cyberpunk warehouses.”

Japan Visions Photobook Android Robots
Showa Period Robots

My View

Why I really like this book? It is the perfect size for picking up and flicking through to enjoy the many wonderful large and vibrant colour photos. I also really like how it has absolutely no text, but just lets the colour photos do the talking. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

Japan Visions Photobook Pictures
A picture is worth a thousand words

As a photographer, I really like the way that Amélie Ravalec captures the essence of daily life in Japan from ordinary street views to people just going about their regular life. The photos also show the underground side of Japan from weird and wonderful Showa period (1926-1989) robots and dolls to erotic ema plaques and neon-lit alleyways.

Japan Visions Photobook Everyday Life
Daily Life on the Streets of Japan

Japan Visions Photobook Neon Lights
Neon Light Life in Japan

About the Writer

The author, Amélie Ravalec is a London-based documentary filmmaker and photographer. She is the director of Industrial Soundtrack for the Urban Decay (2015), Paris/Berlin: 20 Years of Underground Techno (2012) and the forthcoming documentary Art & Mind (2019).  

Japan Visions offers you a glimpse into the colourful contrast that makes Japan the special place that it is for many of us expats living in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Japan Visions is available now via Amélie’s website.

Japan Visions Photobook

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