News / Events
After more than two years of pandemic restrictions, Japan is finally opening to international tourism . . . a little bit at a time. The most conservative predictions are that people will be able to freely visit Japan by the end of this year. If things go well, hopefully sooner.
“Hopefully” is not reliable enough information to book a trip. Until we hear otherwise, I recommend planning your next trip to Japan beginning in March of 2023, when next year’s hanami season (cherry blossom viewing) begins. If you can be flexible, please keep reading the news. Things can change quickly.
It has been lonely without being able to see visitors enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of Japan. We are all anxiously waiting to welcome you and share the charms of this amazing country!
If you can’t make these events, keep them on your radar for your next trip to Japan.
Photography Exhibit @ Lingua Franca
Currently at Lingua Franca/Jogasaki Culture Museum in Izu Kogen, it’s all about the South Pacific island of Tuvalu.
Izu resident Chika Matsui’s debut photography exhibit runs from Wednesday, May 25 – Sunday, June 5. The title of Matsui’s exhibit is “Tuvalu, The Mysterious Country in the Sea: a Photo Exhibition.” In addition to beautiful and informative photography, you’ll see various items related to Tuvalan life.
Born in Nara Prefecture, Matsui has lived in Izu for two years.
Asked about his connection to Tuvalu, he told me that he first wanted to visit after learning about it being threatened by rising sea levels. He wanted to see how serious the situation is and learn how local people are getting along.
“I visited three times. My first trip was for a month as a study abroad student during university. The second time was when I took a year off from university; I worked for half a year to save money, and I spent another half year as a student at University of South Pacific. My third trip was a two month stay with a Japan-Tuvalu exchange NPO.”
One of the things that captivates Matsui about Tuvalu people and their culture is that, “they live in harmony not only with their neighbors but with the whole community. They share everything. They also have a rich tradition of welcoming foreigners. I felt much love in Tuvalu and learned so much while I was there.”
When asked what Matsui hopes people will take away from his exhibit, he explained that the media focuses so much on Tuvalu’s plight as a victim of global warming and poverty. “Instead of a poor and pitiful situation, I found a culture of people living life to the fullest with smiles, love and an intimate relationship with their beautiful ocean.”
Please come and share Matsui’s celebration of Tuvalu, it’s people and it’s culture.
On both Saturday and Sunday (May 28 & 29), at 13:00, there will be a Tuvalan dance performance.
On Sunday, Lingua Franca will hold a craft/art market featuring items created by locals. It is rumored that you’ll be able to get your fortune told too!
Lingua Franca/Jogasaki Culture Museum – Where people make new friends in Izu Kogen.
With all this fun stuff going on, there’s no reason to be bored. There’s also a huge craft/art show (Sasarahosara) at Sakura no Sato, at the base of Mt. Omuro, so plan to visit Ito and Izu Kogen.
We’re waiting for you!
Sasara Hosara Festival
Art, crafts, music, dance and food! Sasara Hosara – takes place in the beautiful Sakura no Sato Park at the base of Ito City’s Mt. Omuro.
Sasara Hosara is an expression in the local Izu dialect that means “a messy and chaotic situation”. This event is chaotic in a fun way because it’s hard to keep track of all that it has to offer!
Come join the fun on Saturday-Sunday, May 28-29 from 10:00-16:00.
森の露天市 Outdoor Forest Market
June 4-5 10:00-16:00
This long running event is held twice a year.
There are about 80 booths featuring hand crafted items, flea market booths, food booths and live music.
The festival takes place in the Ito City Teenager Campground across the road from Sakura no Sato at the foot of Mt. Omuro.
83rd Shimoda Black Ship Festival
Shimoda’s most popular festival commemorates the opening of Japan by US Commodore Matthew Perry in 1852-54. Begun in 1934, this festival is put on by the City of Shimoda and the United States Navy. This year’s festival, the first since the COVID-19 pandemic began, will be scaled back to 2 days instead of 3, so please check the schedule of events.
Click the images above for schedule details (Japanese)
SUkechika Ito Festival
The Sukechika Ito Festival celebrates the Heian era samurai who gave the city of Ito its name.
The highlight of the festival is a floating stage on Ito’s Matsukawa River, said to be the only stage of its kind in Japan. Here, in the stillness of the night, some of Japan’s top-ranked Noh performers perform Kyogen and Noh plays. It is a unique experience that invites the viewer into an ethereal world.
In addition to the floating stage, there will be many other performances, vendors, music, food and fun!
Sukechika Ito Festival and Ito Marche marketplace take place on Saturday and Sunday, May 14-15.
Location: Fuji Hiroba, where the Matsukawa River meets the ocean
New Exhibit at Lingua Franca in Izu Kogen
Golden Week is here!
And so is a new exhibit at the funky, friendly and charming Lingua Franca / Jogasaki Culture Museum in Izu Kogen!
From now until May 8, Odawara artist Kyoko Tanaka will exhibit a series of paintings, postcards, and calendars in which Izu Kogen and the Ito area figure prominently.
I visited Tanaka san today. She recalled how she was captivated by drawing and art as a child. When she grew up, she pursued her dream of studying art with three years each at Setsu.mode Seminar and MJ Illustrations in Tokyo.
As a resident of Ito in Izu, I smiled when I first saw her work. Tanaka san chose paintings that show her range while showcasing the landscape around Ito. If youre familiar with the Izu Kogen area, you’ll be charmed by how she captures the local feel.
Sadly, I know little about paint materials, but I was curious how she creates such vivid colors. “I paint on grey cardboard using acrylic paints. That produces a matte, dark texture,” explains Tanaka.
It’s difficult to describe, but it’s very interesting how she creates such rich color while evoking a sort of dreamy impression. She told me that she takes photos of places that strike her. After waiting for some time to pass, she looks at the photos again and tries to recapture that feeling.
Tanaka san’s work will be on display until May 8. Please stop by Lingua Franca / Jogasaki Culture Museum in Izu Kogen and support the local art scene! It’s a great place to relax, have a cup of coffee, meet some interesting people and experience the essence of Izu.
Mountains & Oceans of Izu Exhibit
Lingua Franca / Jogasaki Cultural Museum in Izu Kogen is hosting a short term exhibit on the relationship between the mountains, rivers, and oceans of the Izu Peninsula. The impact of environmental pollution on a local scale like this helps us imagine the devastating effects on a global scale.
I had a very interesting conversation with Yumi, the curator of the exhibit. She pointed to examples like the loss of seaweed in Akazawa cove, which used to be referred to as the ocean’s beard. Run off from rivers, sewage overflows, and plastics have all had devastating effects on Izu’s coastal regions.
Yet there is still great beauty in our local waters as shown in the beautiful underwater photography by Yuta Shigeno. And more inspiration can be found in the ‘Upcycled’ items made from materials discarded in Izu. A group of volunteers cleans up areas in the mountains of Naka Izu and saves materials that can be reused or converted into new form. Many charming handmade a upcycled goods are on sale during this exhibit.
The mountains-rivers-ocean exhibit finishes up on Sunday. Be sure to stop by this weekend if you’re in Izu.
Lingua Franca/Jogasaki Cultural Museum is just southeast of Izu Kogen Station on the Izukyu Ito-Shimoda railway – an easy 10 minute walk. It’s on the same street as the Teddy Bear Museum and Kenny’s Cafe.
Exhibit runs from March 23-27, 2022
2022 Mt. Ōmuro yamayaki
The Omuroyama Yamayaki Festival, which brings spring to Izu, will be held on Sunday, March 13, 2022.
The main mountain burning starts between 12 – 13:00.
In order to prevent the spread of corona, the number of people riding the lifts to view the “Ohachiyaki” (caldera burning) from 9:15 a.m. will be limited to 400 people. For the safety of visitors, we will restrict the viewing of the caldera event to about 3/4 of the rim. Please follow the instructions of the staff.
For the whole mountain torch lighting at 12:00, the number of torches sold will be reduced to 30 (maximum 2 torches per family). Numbered tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis from 8:30 am.
Japan Regional Revitalization group discussion has moved to our new Facebook group
The success of our first networking session and the enthusiasm to interact with others involved in promote tourism and regional revitalization prompted us to create a new Facebook group.
You are welcome to comment here on my humble little website, but most discussions are now happening on Facebook. We’ve been assimilated!
Summary of first meeting (December 28, 2021)
Thank you to all who attended the first networking/brainstorming session of the Japan Tourism Promoters and Writers Networking Group (gotta find an easier name for the group).
Between 10-12 people were able to attend, and about the same amount wanted to attend but were unable. We are looking forward to all of you being able to attend future sessions.
We began the session by declaring a brief agenda then a quick summary/assumption about what brings us all together. Most people who joined had responded to a post on Facebook for a networking and brainstorming session about 地域活性化 (ちいき かっせいか) regional revitalization and/or travel writing. When I (Jim) posted the original inquiry to the Deep in Japan Facebook group, I was thinking of people like me who are working on inbound tourism primarily through writing and translation. However, as people with a variety of different experiences signed up, I remembered that regional revitalization is more than creating interest through stories and making information available in English. I soon realized that this group would teach me a lot, and it did.
So, I began by declaring (or assuming) that we all need to provide value to our audience/target market. As a group, we can share the methods that we use to convey that value. Furthermore, we all have the shared experience of living and working in Japan, and we have learned to navigate the cultural subtleties. We can learn and help each other by sharing our own stories of success and failure.
We had a really interesting mix of people. After the agenda and summary, we introduced ourselves and discovered that among several writers were two attorneys-turned-writers, and a university professor who I think of as a modern Lafcadio Hearn. There were a couple of people who work in the digital marketing field, specializing in tourism. One gentleman in attendance works at an investment firm and has many years of experience in regional, national, and international development projects. We had a filmmaker/photographer and an English teacher/writer/photographer. The group represented regions from Tokyo/Chiba all the way down to Kagoshima where one member works on local development projects.
The experiences and brainstorming round was great. Here are some of the things we talked about:
- We talked about the challenges writers face in targeting specific audiences, both domestic and international.
- We talked about how information in English about regions in Japan is siloed and difficult to find.
- We talked about foreign direct investment potential and how to tie it in with regional promotions.
- The member from Kagoshima gave an example of regional development through bringing international sports competitions to remote regions, specifically a pro surfing event in Miyazaki.
- We explored how to the government’s goal of promoting ‘off the golden route (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka)’ tourism.
- We questioned how the corona pandemic has altered tourism and what changes are permanent and temporary.
- We heard about how targeted digital marketing campaigns attract the kinds of people who will come and spend money.
- The investment specialist cited case studies of 12 international destinations that have implemented successful development programs and how to reproduce those models.
- We talked about how different destinations appeal to different tourists. For example, Chinese tourists are looking for different kinds of experiences than American or European tourists.
- We talked about how English classes and/or immersive experiences can be a draw for domestic tourists during and after the pandemic.
- I’m sure I’m forgetting other topics.
Overall, it was a great group with a lot of experience and enthusiasm.
Some of the things that we need to work on are:
* Interactive medium
* Organizational roles
* Topics and format for future sessions
Interactive medium – how are we going to interact in the future? Should we set up a separate Facebook group? I can set up a discussion board on my website where we can talk to each other and announce meetings/events. However, it might become more than I can manage on my own. Maybe an interactive application like Facebook would work best, even if we have to sacrifice our souls (and privacy) to Big Brother. For now, please use the comments section on the webpage where you registered for last night’s meeting: https://www.izurhythm.com/news-events/ Doing so will assure that I have your email address to announce changes, and we can talk to each other until we find a better medium of exchange.
Organizational roles – There is enthusiasm for the group, and I think we can really help each other make a positive impact on our communities here in Japan. As the group grows, it will be challenging (impossible even) to manage for one person. We need help in some organizational roles such as technology (hosting online meetings, managing interaction, etc).
Topics and format for future sessions – Finally, what shape should our interaction take? I am thinking of a presentation followed by open discussion format. Networking events are great, but they take time away from topical presentations. Should we do separate sessions? Maybe we can set up a membership group where we each write our own brief intro like we did at the first session: Name, what region of Japan you are working on, how long have you been here, what can you contribute, and what would you like to learn? That might be one way to make our online sessions more efficient.
Please make suggestions if you have some ideas. We are in sharing mode, so let’s help each other figure this stuff out.
Thank you again for your interest, participation and enthusiasm.
I’ll keep you posted!