Well, folks, my tourism project with ICIEA has finally come to a close. It was a lot of fun, and I’m thankful for the experience. I created a video to precede my talk to the crowd gathered at the international fair we held on Sunday last weekend. It was a pretty fun time. I enjoyed looking over the posters and photography from other monitor tourists before showing my DVDs and then getting up to speak. Those videos have been arranged in a playlist and embedded above. The first 2 in the playlist are available in full 1080p HD, so don’t miss out. The remaining 4 have been previously featured on this site.
Anyhoo – I was asked to deliver a bilingual speech, so I frequently repeated myself, I’m afraid. I’m fairly sure that both the Japanese people and the English speaking foreigners in the crowd were able to follow me reasonably well. My take: Imabari should play up its unique food heritage in a play to put itself on foreigners’ radar. I explained the concept of food tourism, and how most foreign people who go to Hiroshima go there in order to take in the history, the museums, and the sights. But they’d be foolish to miss out on some okonomiyaki while they’re there. (Am I right?)
Imabari is the crosspoint of 3 major arteries of transportation, yet people no longer stop here on their way elsewhere on Shikoku. I urged them to think about the slogan thought up by my friend Harry; “Shikoku Starts Here.” Great slogan! If only we could get some people to take a break from their travels, spend a night here, and eat some yakitori. That’s right, yakitori. Imabari is currently the #2 city in all of Japan for yakitori, and it has a unique take on it, at that. In Imabari, shops make yakitori on sheet metal griddles and handheld steel plates instead of on skewers over charcoal. It’s said that this type of yakitori started because Imabari people are impatient and they want their food lickety-split. (It’s also likely that the ship building industry’s presence meant that loads of scrap steel plates were readily available…) DELICIOUS, by the way.
Anyway, my other recommendations were for people to get online and add information to the English language Wikipedia and Wikitravel entries. (I also told them they could pay me to do it….semi-facetiously. Got some laughs. The offer still stands, if you’re reading this, guys. Ha ha. ) All in all, I think my suggestions were well received, and I think the event went well. I want to say kudos to the other foreigners who volunteered their time and to all of the Japanese staff who worked so tirelessly on this project. お疲れ様でした！
I may or may not bring this topic up once more on this blog. It seems there may be some newspaper articles coming up out of this. And it’s also possible that I’ll post a song about Imabari’s yakitori. (No joke. It was made when we were the #1 city for yakitori. Perhaps with the aid of foreign tourism, we can reclaim the title?)
Hey everybody! The Japan Times published a little article I wrote for them yesterday. I was in transit at the time, so I couldn’t post about it at the time. If you’re curious about how you can abbreviate Japanese to sound more natural, give it a read! (It apparently caused quite a stir among the editors there. Especially “azzasu” and “~zzaimasu” – the legitimacy of which is…kind of the point of the article. Enjoy!)
Trip note: I’m currently writing this from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I’ll be here in Vietnam for a bit before making a sweep through Singapore (2nd time), Malaysia (2nd time), and Thailand. I’ll see everybody on the other side of the winter break. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!
Sweet! Progress! Here are 62 pictures to accompany the video roundup from my vacation in Okinawa. If you’ve seen the videos and bother to read the captions, I think you’ll easily be able to piece together what the trip was like, so I won’t bore you with a drawn out play-by-play recap. Feel free to shoot me any questions in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them! (Comments have been dead lately, thanks to my neglect. Please help me resuscitate the site!) I’ve got several other posts in the pipeline before I get back to regular stuff, so stay tuned! Also, I want to recognize Jonathan Wells, my new buddy, for providing me with all of the underwater photos and video – he kindly shared them with me and gave me permission to publish them here and elsewhere online. I couldn’t have shared it with you without him. Thanks Jon!
Ok, continuing on my attempt to catch up with all of the events of this summer, here’s a quick video roundup from my trip to Okinawa. These are my first vacation videos every shot using an HD camera – and although these videos are not uploaded in HD (thanks iMovie), they still look pretty darn sweet if you ask me – and some of the comment section folks on YouTube. They are pretty long actually – 2 of them come within seconds of the 10 minute cutoff, in fact. But I think they’re fun.
This first video shows a bunch of stuff in Naha and the southern parts of Okinawa’s main island. You’ll see clips from the Peace Memorial Park & Museum, Himeyuri Monument, the Naha Harbor Diner, Shuri Castle, and a bus trip northward to the Nago and Motobu area.
The second video features our visit to the Churaumi Aquarium, famous for having the largest single viewing window in any aquarium on earth (yes – bigger than Atlanta’s) and three whale sharks in the same tank. You’ll also see Cape Hedo, a lovely secluded beach where we snorkeled an afternoon away, a restaurant where we tried raw goat meat (yes…goat sashimi…with skin still attached, even…), and random good times in the area.
The final video is basically a ton of scuba diving. Why? Well, that’s kind of what we did in Okinawa. A ton of scuba diving. I went there hoping for 3 or 4 dives, but we pulled off 7 killer dives in the lovely tropical waters. Lots of seriously old reefs (they are freaking huge, mature architectural structures – amazing, really) to visit, fish to see, and nooks and crannies to explore. We did three dives at the Sunabe Sea Wall, one dive out at Okuma Beach Resort, and three more dives out in the Kerama Islands. Gorgeous. I hope to return and dive in the Ishigaki and Yonaguni areas someday. Perhaps with manta rays or hammerhead sharks.
Whoo hoo! The last video from the daytrip – the first stage of the Imabari City Foreign Tourism Project – has now been uploaded! Actually, I uploaded it ages ago and simply ran out of time to post it here, too, so many of you have already seen it. Anyhoo, as I hinted in the annotations on an earlier video, it contains a brief glimpse of a naked lady on a towel. Stay classy, Omishima. Ha ha.
In the video, you can see us enjoy some primo Hakata Salt Ice Cream. There’s a recipe available for it on the official Hakata Salt website – check it out if you’d like to give it a go. You can see the Japanese Wikipedia entry for the uber-impressive Oyamazumi Shrine on Omishima here. If you don’t read Japanese, you can just know that it houses a seriously astounding collection of Japanese National Treasures – in the form of oldschool armor. It’s great. The video finishes off with a few shots from the Tokoro Art Museum. My favorite part (other than the self-serve coffee and astounding view) was the wooden vending machine. I’d love it if it did give me change in toothpicks.