Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




“Churaumi”(beautiful ocean)voyage with a drone around Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa


Charms of Japan

This is a TV program that broadcasted by NHK last summer (2018). I recorded and watch it repeatedly. The program showed 10-day sea kayak voyage of 230 kilometers by Satoru Yahata, a marine adventurer, from Ishigaki Island, via Kohama Island and Iriomote Island to Yonaguni Island, with a drone. The sparkling ocean is breathtaking.


Yahata was born in Tokyo, but moved to Ishigaki Island 15 years ago. Now he lives with his family in the island. His way of talking on the TV program was gentle, which was different from the image that crossed the sea by a kayak from Australia to Japan, and it gave a clue to his mild personality.


The ocean around the Yaeyama Islands is very clear. Yahata said that sometimes he could see all the way to the bottom of the sea at a depth of 30-40 meters. The scene where Yahata experienced a traditional fish-catching method in Kohama Island was impressive as well. The fisherman appeared in the program had a muscular build naturally created by years of fishing. Yahata was impressed with the fisherman’s skill that stabbing only fish head with a fishing spear at once. Because fish body must not be damaged to sell them.


In Iriomote Island, Yahata climbed to Mayagusuku Fall, which he said it’s the most beautiful fall in the Iriomote Island. Mayagusuku means wildcats’ castle in Okinawan language. He passed through a jungle for about few hours and he sometimes had to burn a leech that stuck to his leg. To get to the fall, a hidden scenic spot, you need to apply for entering the route, and it is not easily accessible without a guide. The image from above taken by drones was really amazing.


The final destination, Yonaguni Island, which was once said to be difficult to get there because the open sea is rough. Yahata left the Iriomote Island at 4:30 in the early morning and finally managed to arrive at the Yonaguni Island at 19:50 by sunset. So he kept rowing for 15 hours. When he was hungry, he ate a rice ball. It was a hard crossing that when he was about to get heatstroke, he soaked in the seawater to cool down his body and started to row again.


The program was repeated recently. If it will be repeated again, please watch it. You will surely feel comforted with the refreshing images. (H.S)


Yahata stands on the big coral in the sea of Shiraho, Ishigaki Island. The coral seems to be about 300 years old. Its upper part is dry and hard, so it’s okay to stand on. (Generally, you must not step or touch corals.)


The sea of Yaeyema from a drone.
Yahata’s kayak looks small.


Yahata is kayaking.


[Video] Kayaking in Iriomote Island (5’50”)
In the beginning, Yahata is giving a tutorial on paddling.

Commemorative coins of The Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020


Charms of Japan

At the annual New Year's party with friends, a friend gave us New Year's gift money. In the envelope for money gift, there were two commemorative 100-yen clad coins of The Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.


The friend who gave us the coins works for a bank, so she was able to get the coins early. Everyone there saw the coins for the first time and cheered. It is nice New Year's gift money because it will be a good memento.


For details of the 100-yen Clad Coins of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, please see the press release by Ministry of Finance, JAPAN. (H.S)


On the top side of the coin of Olympic Games, there is a picture of two fencers.
And on the top side of the coin of Paralympic Games, there is a picture of a
boccia player.


Each back side of the coins has a picture of the official emblem.

Bonsai Exhibition of Ume Trees with Blossoms in Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture


Charms of Japan

The annual event, "Bonsai Exhibition of Ume trees with blossoms" is held from

January 10th to March 10th, 2019 at Keiunkan in Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture.

It is the largest and the oldest one in Japan.

About 90 pots are exhibited, and some of them are 3 meters tall and 400 years old.



As soon as the visitors walk into the venue, they'd enjoy the sweet smell of the blossoms.

The beautiful colors of the blossoms amaze them for sure. Bright red, white and pink stand out in the Japanese traditional rooms and it brings up the gorgeous atmosphere of the exhibition.


I visited the exhibition a few years ago and it was impressive to see all the amazing Ume trees. It is going to be held until March, so I would love to go back there!

If you have a chance, how about visiting the Bonsai Exhibition of Ume trees with blossoms?



Peaceful farm road in Awara City, Fukui Prefecture


Charms of Japan

beautiful sky

I took a walk along a farm road in Awara City.



farm road that is about 20 minutes away from JR Awara Station in Fukui Prefecture

It was a twenty minute train ride from Fukui to Awara. From the Awara Station,

it was a walk of approximately twenty minutes to the farm area. Since it's not so far

from Fukui City, so it was a nice day trip.



rice fields and moutains

Fukui City is surrounded by beautiful nature and the farm road I went

had so much more nature than it does in the Fukui City and it was refreshing to see it.



flowers and Japanese pampas grasses moving gently in the breeze

It was in the beginning of autumn and such a beautiful day. It was soothing to see some

flowers and Japanese pampas grasses moving gently in the breeze. I saw rows of beautiful

mountains over these flowers and grasses. The area was very quiet but it was nice to

hear bell-ringing crickets, the sound of a few cars passing by and the distant sound of

trains running. I felt nostalgic seeing the scenery and hearing these sounds.



persimmon farm
persimmon farm

I saw large persimmon farms. There were many ripe persimmons that were ready

to be shipped out to the whole country.



a farm road surrounded by mountains

If you have a chance, how about taking a walk around one of farm roads near you?

I'm sure you can feel relaxed.



Koinobori (Carp Windsocks / Carp Streamers)


Charms of Japan

Last month, as I was walking on the street in Fukui City near Fukui Prefectural Hospital,

I saw Koinobori. Koinobori is at least three set of carp windsocks, carp streamers or

carp banners which are usually hang on a pole from April to early May.


Until about 10years ago, many people used to hang up their Koinobori by their houses

but not so many of them do so now. Because of apartment rules and regulations

which don’t let residents put their large Koinobori on balconies, low birthrate

and/or many tall buildings were built, we hardly see Koinobori nowadays.


Koinobori was started in Edo era(1615-1868) and it was for the celebration

of the Tango no Sekku festival (the festival for boys, now it’s known as the Children’s Day)

on May 5th. This festival was the important day for Tokugawa shogunate

(the last feudal Japanese military government) and people celebrated at Edo Castle.


Whenever Shogun (the top class Japanese feudal lords of Japan) had baby boys,

people celebrated for the babies on May 5th by putting up banners.


Putting up the banners to celebrate for the birth of baby boys

became popular among Samurai families as well.


And then, it started becoming popular among others who were not Shogun or Samurai.


Not to be feeling lower than Samurai families,

people who were rich but not Shogun or Samurai started putting up the banners as well.

They started drawing pictures of carps on banners.

Carp symbolizes courage and strength because it can swim up a waterfall.

It is said that this was the beginning of Koinobori.

Like the carps which can swim up a waterfall, parents in Edo era wished

that their children would be healthy, strong and success as they grew up.

Even now, parents wish their children’s health and success

by hanging up their Koinobori by their houses around Children’s Day (May 5th).


If you ever have a chance to see Koinobori, please remeber how and why it started.