Konnichiwa. In the last issue of Kitakami Times I talked about the ‘Ichinoseki Science Cafes’ that are being held four times throughout the year. This issue I’ll talk about three events that took place in Ichinoseki in August, which the ILC Promotion Division got involved in to further awareness of the ILC project.
The first of these was on August 17, when the sumo summer tour stopped in Ichinoseki and international residents in the city, the rest of Iwate Prefecture and adjacent prefectures as well, volunteered with helping out. They came to the city gym the day before to help make the sumo ring, which involved assembling the base and then unloading earth and clay. The final touches such as hardening and smoothing the ring surface, and positioning the rice bales which form the boundary of the ring, were of course made solely by the sumo tour professionals.
On the day of the sumo, the ILC Promotion Division set up ILC flags in the gym lobby and supplied uchiwa or hand-fans, made by Iwate Prefecture and the prefecture’s ILC Promotion Council, which feature an image by Rey.Hori along with information about the ILC. International residents handed them out while greeting guests, who then used them inside the gym to wave off the summer heat.
A week later on August 23, there was a fair at which organizations from across the city set up booths. The ILC Promotion Division set one up, and a handful of the city’s Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs), who are also part of a newly-formed system to make Ichinoseki a more international city, helped in handing out ILC brochures and goods to people stopping by at the booth.
Local mascots from Geibikei Gorge also joined in on the fun and posed for photos. Geibikei Gorge is a scenic spot which researchers and PR staff from various institutes have visited in their trips up to the Kitakami candidate site.
The ALTs took part in the afternoon model runway show and showed off ILC T-shirts made by the ILC Promotion Division. On the front of the shirt are ILC letters in lowercase surrounded by sakura or cherry blossoms, and on the back is an outline of the Tohoku region in northern Japan, with Iwate Prefecture filled in white and the planned ILC route indicated in red.
Masataka Kudo, who works at a local printing and media company, said after visiting the ILC booth with his son: “the greeting by the ALTs was impressive, and the ILC panels were big and easy to understand. I hope my son grows up interested in the ILC,” later adding that his son had put the miniature ILC flag on his study desk at home.
Eriko Fukuchi, vice chairwoman of an international relations association in the southeast of the city, said it was great to see the smiling faces on each of the ALTs, but wondered how much conversation took place with local residents, noting that many people in Ichinoseki were not yet used to talking with people from abroad. Ms Fukuchi suggested getting junior high and high school students involved in promoting the ILC together with the ALTs, saying that if residents saw students learning English and knew that ALTs can chat in Japanese too, it would bring more residents closer to the ILC and further international exchange as well.
Finally, the third event was on the last weekend of August, when the 18th Ichinoseki National Craft Beer Festival was held. Some 300 varieties of craft beer from across the country and also from Germany and Belgium were served up, along with tasty treats making use of local produce. Staff from the ILC Promotion Division handed out newly-designed tissue packs which feature an ILC image on the packet and a QR code which jumps to the division’s ILC website.
This year’s craft beer festival broke the existing record for number of people visiting and for total volume of beer consumed. Perhaps an ILC-themed beer can help break the record again next year!