at 9-6 Ote-machi, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka-shi, 420-8601 Japan
The official English information portal of the Shizuoka Prefectural Government
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Shizuoka Prefecture is currently experiencing a rise of rubella cases. After recording 4 cases for the entire year of 2014, the prefecture has already seen 15 cases in the period between December 29, 2014 and April 12 of this year alone, the highest of any prefecture in the country. While there is no currently no confirmed national outbreak, the disease is known to spread between the beginning of spring and early summer, so further caution is necessary. The Shizuoka Prefectural Government asks that residents protect themselves through vaccinations as well as other means, such as proper hand washing and gargling. About rubella: Rubella, also known as German measles, is a disease that can cause a large pink rash, fever, and swelling of lymph nodes around the neck, among other symptoms. It spreads through airborne droplets. The disease is especially dangerous to pregnant women, as it can be transmitted to their unborn babies, potentially causing cataracts, heart conditions, hearing damage, or other problems. As women cannot receive the rubella vaccine while pregnant, immunization is particularly important for those living with pregnant women as well as women who have recently been or are trying to become pregnant.
Bicycles are a convenient, environmentally-friendly way to get around, but without following proper safety protocol and the rules of the road, they can also be dangerous to both the rider and those around them. Thus, when riding a bicycle, please remember that, in most cases, the bicycle should stay on the left side of the road and that going on the sidewalk should be the exception rather than the norm. If you do go on the sidewalk, make sure to yield to pedestrians, stay towards the curb, and go at a moderate speed. Prohibited actions include drinking and biking, riding two or more to a bike, and riding two or more bikes side-by-side. Cyclists should also turn on their lights after dark and strictly adhere to traffic lights and stop signs. Following these rules will help make life easier for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike.
Although some cherry blossoms, or sakura, in Shizuoka bloom in February, the vast majority appear around the end of March and beginning of April. The tradition of having picnics near these trees and admiring their beauty is called hanami. Although beautiful, sakura are short-lived, disappearing within a few weeks. Hence, hanami is meant to appreciate not only the aesthetics of sakura but also their ephemeralness. For those who would like to enjoy the beautiful blossoms in a quintessentially Shizuoka way, there are hanami spots with a view of Mt. Fuji all over the prefecture, even as far west as Honkoji Temple in Kosai. In addition, although most sakura trees will lose their blossoms in April, some areas in the prefecture, particularly those at higher altitudes, will continue to provide beautiful hanami opportunities all the way into late April or even May.
In Japan, April 1st is a date of many new beginnings. Not only is it the start of a new school year, it is also the typical first day of work for new employees. One major difference between Japan and many Western countries is the personnel transfers that take place at the start of the new work year. Company employees may be shifted to a new division, while teachers could find themselves sent to a different school. The purpose of this is to help employees gain a variety of different experiences to become more well-rounded workers. For those who work, it is likely that the new year will mean new coworkers. In general, these transfers tend to be announced between this time and the beginning of April, so be sure to keep your ears open.
Do you have trouble speaking with your neighbors? Do you wish you knew more kanji? International associations and other organizations throughout Shizuoka run Japanese classes targeted at international residents. Not only do these serve as an opportunity to improve your Japanese, they also allow you to meet other members of the international community and to learn more about Japanese culture. A comprehensive list of Japanese classes in the prefecture, including times, prices, and other details, can be found in Japanese on the Shizuoka Association for International Relations webpage. In addition, English information regarding Japanese classes for Kikugawa, Hamamatsu, and Shizuoka can be found on the websites of the City of Kikugawa, the Hamamatsu Foundation for International Communications and Exchanges, and the Shizuoka City Association for Multicultural Exchange, respectively. Don’t let the language barrier impede your enjoyment of Japan – find a Japanese language class and start studying!
With spring on its way in, the last of Shizuoka's early-blooming cherry blossoms are starting to appear. Currently, cherry blossoms are in full bloom along the Asahina River in Yaizu and along the Aono River in Minamiizu. They are also mostly in bloom along the Kakisawa River in Kannami, while those in Kakegawa Castle Park, Omaezaki (Shirasuna Park and Arasawa Furusato Park), and Izunokuni (along the banks of the Kano River and near Izu Chuo High School) are gradually beginning to blossom. This will be this year's last update regarding early cherry blossoms, but look forward to information on regular ones in a few weeks!
Rokuyō refers to the system of classifying days on the Japanese calendar prior to the adoption of days of the week. Under this system, there were six days of the week, which were called senkachi, tomobiki, senmake, butsumetsu, taian, and shakku. Each day of the week was supposed to signify whether that day would be lucky or not. Senkachi days were lucky in the morning but not in the afternoon, while senmake was the inverse of that. Taian was considered the most desirable for weddings, while holding nuptials on a butsumetsu or shakku day was a recipe for disaster. Tomobiki days were thought to spread one’s luck to friends, making them good for celebratory events but bad for funerals. Nowadays, Japan uses the same Sunday-to-Saturday system as the West, but there are still people who will choose dates for various ceremonies based on rokuyō.
In July 2012, Japan revised its residency management system for foreign nationals. Those living in Japan prior to the change were allowed to keep their Certificates of Alien Registration, or Alien Registration Cards, at the time. However, after a certain point, residents who have Alien Registration Cards will be required to exchange them for Residence Cards. For permanent residents, Alien Registration Cards will only be effective until July 8 of this year. For most other types of residents, Alien Registration Cards will be effective through the period of stay. Also, for those under the age of 16, Alien Registration Cards will become null and avoid on their 16th birthday, even if it comes before the aforementioned dates. If your Alien Registration Card is set to expire, please exchange it for a Residence Card at an immigration office.
National Foundation Day is a public holiday that occurs on February 11th, which is a Wednesday this year. Unlike many of Japan's national holidays, which were founded following World War II, National Foundation Day was established in 1966. It occurs on the same day as the former holiday of Kigensetsu, which existed from 1873 to 1948. Kigensetsu was established to commemorate the ascension of Emperor Jimmu, the first emperor of Japan, to the throne as told in Japanese folklore. In fact, February 11th is the Gregorian calendar equivalent of the date on which Jimmu's enthronement is said to have taken place. However, the purpose of National Foundation Day, according to the law that established it as a national holiday, is "[to recall] the founding of the nation and [to cultivate] a mindset of love of the nation."
Setsubun takes place on February 3rd every year and is traditionally considered to be the last day of winter. The word "setsubun" literally means "change of the seasons" and used to refer to any transition from one season to another. However, the change from winter to spring was deemed to be of special importance, as this was the traditional New Year before Japan began to use the Gregorian calendar. Setsubun's trademark custom is mamemaki, or bean scattering. This usually takes place at home, with one member of a family wearing the mask of an oni, or ogre, while the other members of the family throw beans at that person and yell "Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi," which roughly means "Out with the oni, in with fortune!" Many temples will also hold bean-throwing events that are meant to drive away oni and bring good fortune for the following year.
In the event of a large earthquake, evacuation centers will be set up in elementary and middle schools. These centers will be open to anyone who is no longer able to live at home, regardless of whether or not they speak Japanese. On Saturday, January 31st, come to Hamamatsu and learn how these centers operate through an evacuation simulation game. There is no fee, and everyone is welcome to attend. To apply, please contact the number below (Japanese only). The game will be conducted in low-level, easy-to-understand Japanese. Date: Saturday, January 31st 13:00 to 15:45 Location: 1st floor conference hall, Shizuoka Prefecture Hamamatsu Government Building (12-1 Chuo 1chome, Naka-ku, Hamamatsu) 10-minute walk from northern exit of Hamamatsu Station Contact: Seibu Regional Center for Emergency Management Phone: 0538-37-3678 (Japanese only)
This Sunday, October 25, the City of Shizuoka will be hosting the Intercultural Communication Fair in cooperation with the Shizuoka Association for Multicultural Exchange and the Intercultural Communication Fair Executive Committee. Highlights include stage performances, international food stalls, free consultations for international residents, and more. For details, please see below. Date: Sunday, October 25 10:00 to 16:00 (held rain or shine) Locations: Aoi Square, Aoba Park B1 block, Fushimiya Building (Gofuku-cho 2-chome, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka city)
Wasabi is one of Shizuoka’s most recognizable products, as the prefecture’s abundance of pure water allows the plant to be grown in large quantities. It’s no wonder, then, that Shizuoka has the highest production value of wasabi among Japan’s forty-seven prefectures. You might think of wasabi as something you put on sushi to give it an extra kick, but did you know that wasabi is a highly functional food as well? When the wasabi root is grated to produce its more familiar paste form, it develops a special compound called allyl isothiocyanate, or AITC. In addition to giving wasabi its signature pungency, AITC has been demonstrated to possess a list of beneficial properties: it kills bacteria and mold, fights cancer, prevents blood clots, strengthens bones, and more. So next time you enjoy some sushi, make sure this Shizuoka specialty is a part of your meal. If you do, your taste buds aren’t the only part of your body that will thank you!
Have you come down with a strong case of rugby fever? Good news: there will be more public Rugby World Cup viewings, this time for Japan’s match against the United States! The venues will be in Shizuoka city and Fukuroi. The match will be broadcast at 4:00 to 5:30 a.m. Japan time on the morning of Monday, October 12, which is a public holiday. If you can’t get to sleep without getting your fill of some thrilling rugby action, check below for details! **Shizuoka City Venue** Location: MIRAIErian at Community Hall Shichiken-cho Doors open at 3:30 Capacity: 250 people (first-come basis) **Fukuroi Venue** Location: Citizens’ Hall, first floor, Fukuroi City Hall Doors open at 3:30 Note: Entrance is free. Only those aged eighteen or over may attend the viewings.
Though typhoon season is slowly drawing to an end, the possibility of more big storms still remains. With that in mind, here are a few tips. First, always be prepared for a potential loss of electricity, gas, or water by having an emergency kit containing items such as a flashlight, bottled water, and instant food. It’s better to have these supplies and not need them than to be caught off guard. Second, stay inside as much as possible. Even if you are in your car, rain that is heavy enough could render windshield wipers ineffective or, worse, cause your brakes to go out of control due to hydroplaning. If inside, avoid basement areas, which are susceptible to flooding. Lastly, be on the lookout for information regarding landslides, especially if you live in a mountainous area. Being vigilant is the key to staying safe.
Most residents of Japan know about Golden Week, the string of public holidays that occur from the end of April to the beginning of May. Did you know, however, that there is a similar period in September called Silver Week? This month, we have two public holidays: Respect for the Aged Day on the 21st and Autumnal Equinox Day on the 23rd. Because these two holidays occur two days apart, however, the day between them also becomes a holiday. Thus, many people get off work or school from Saturday the 19th to Wednesday the 23rd, making for a five-day weekend. Naturally, this will likely be a popular time for travel, so don’t be too surprised if trains and other forms of transit are crowded. For those readers who get the pleasure of a long weekend, enjoy your vacation and travel safe!
Attention rugby fans! Did you know that Rugby World Cup 2019 will be held in Japan and that Shizuoka’s own ECOPA Stadium in Fukuroi will be one of the venues? That may be four years from now, but it’s never too early to get pumped up. Shizuoka Prefecture will be holding public viewings to watch the Japan national team play at Rugby World Cup 2015 in the United Kingdom, which starts today and runs through the end of October. Entrance is free, so come on down and get ready for some late night rugby action! Note: All times are Japan time. Entrance permitted for ages eighteen and above only. Saturday, September 19 (to Sunday, September 20): vs. South Africa At ECOPA Stadium in Fukuroi Parking lot opens at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, doors open at midnight Game runs from 12:45 a.m. to 2:15 a.m. Sunday morning Saturday, October 3: vs. Samoa Planned venues: MIRAIErian at Community Hall Shichiken-cho in Shizuoka city; Gotemba Highland Hotel Toki no Sumika in Gotemba Details to be confirmed at a later date Monday, October 12 (public holiday): vs. United States Pending results of previous matches
While Shizuoka’s many beaches are overall a great asset to residents, they can also be dangerous under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, there have been numerous instances this year of people drowning or nearly drowning. In order to reduce the number of deaths and injuries occurring in the water, Shizuoka Prefecture asks residents to note the following warnings. First, please do not swim in areas that are marked as off-limits. Second, please pay attention to your physical condition and do not swim while sleep-deprived, physically exhausted, or under the influence of alcohol. Third, if you are a parent, please keep a sharp eye on your children. Lastly, if you get caught in a riptide, swim parallel to shore until you escape; do not try to resist the current. Following these rules will allow you to both enjoy the beach and protect yourself.
Did you know that today is Shizuoka Prefectural Residents' Day? Today marks the 139th anniversary of Shizuoka Prefecture's existence in its current form. Prior to the Meiji period, what is now Shizuoka was split into three provinces: Izu, Suruga, and Tōtōmi. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, provinces were abolished in favor of prefectures, and Shizuoka's provinces were reorganized into Hamamatsu Prefecture, Shizuoka Prefecture, and Ashigara Prefecture, the last of which contained the Izu Peninsula. In April 1876, Ashigara Prefecture was absorbed by Shizuoka Prefecture, which then merged with Hamamatsu Prefecture on August 21 of the same year, resulting in the present-day borders. Hence, not only is Prefectural Residents' Day a day to celebrate living in Shizuoka, the history behind the holiday also offers an amusing insight into the diversity of Shizuoka Prefecture's culture.
Although the heat of summer is difficult to endure for many people, there are a bunch of interesting seasonal traditions to enjoy as well. For instance, summer is a time of many festivals, especially fireworks festivals, which provide a fun outing opportunity with friends or family. Many of these feature street vendors, called yatai, selling guilty pleasures such as French fries, karaage fried chicken, takoyaki octopus balls, and more. Lovers of sweet food in particular will be happy, as many of these vendors offer kakigōri, or sweet shaved ice, in various flavors. If you want to keep cool during the summer without breaking the bank on an electric bill, you could try fanning yourself with an uchiwa paper fan or a sensu folding fan. Another idea is uchimizu, the practice of sprinkling water on the street to make the air feel cooler. Whatever you choose, good luck beating the heat!