Usuki City

Visit the national treasures (Stone Buddhas) and try the exceptional cuisine



Usuki is a historical castle town located in a bay on the east coast of Oita Prefecture in Kyushu. It is famous for its stone Buddhas, which are sculpted into the walls of cliffs. Stone Buddhas are rare in Japan, as most of Buddha statues are usually made of wood or metal.
HAKKO travel agency is sponsoring a two days and one night trip, which is arranged by Ai-road Inc, (Michikusa Green Tourism and Consultancy Company) on 16th and 17th January. Try this adventurous trip to try the extraordinary taste of Fugo fish http://michikusan.seesaa.net/article/431027413.html , crabs, with Miso soy sauce and know more about old traditions and cultures of Japan.
(It costs 34000 yen per person and for more information you can contact Ai-road.Inc)

By: Ateffa Jalali

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Fugu Fish

Would you play a game with death and try the exceptional taste of fugu?


Fugu is the Japanese word for pufferfish, which can be poisonous due to its tetrodotoxin. Therefore, restaurants that prepare fugu, are strictly controlled by law and fugu chefs must earn a license to prepare and sell it to public.
It is available in most Japanese cities, so dont try cooking it at home, as it occasionally causes accidental death.
The luxury and thrill of eating wild-caught fish, prepared on-site has kept fugu lovers stick to this expensive cuisine.
Fortunately, Usuki, a town in Oita Prefecture, is famous for selling non-poisonous fugu, thus you are actually not risking your life and it is safe.


By: Ateffa Jalali
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Japanese tea ceremony

A spiritual and artistic pastime unique to Japan

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One of Japan’s well-known tradition, Japanese tea ceremony history goes back to 1000 years. It is called chanoyu, sado, or simply ocha, which is serving of Japanese green tea called, Matcha.
To balance the bitter taste of the tea it’s usually served with Japanese sweets.

The philosophy of tea ceremony or “the way of tea” is “harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. The tea room’s interior usually looks very simple and rustic. It is decorated with paintings, unique tea utensils, flowers, ceramics, calligraphy, etc.
It is not only about serving tea but its characterized by an appreciation of beauty and good taste or as it is said “preparing a bowl of tea from the heart”.
Even drinking the tea and returning the bowl to the host is done in a specific way with due respect.

The ultimate purpose of tea ceremony is obtaining deep spiritual satisfaction through drinking tea and long and thoughtful observation of simple and natural beauties.

It allows having a tranquil conversation in a Pleasant and relaxing room where the friendship of host and guest gets stronger.

Once in a while we all want such an environment to find inner peace, thus whenever you visit Japan don’t miss the tea ceremony.
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By: Ateffa Jalali
posted by :時の旅:みちくさスタッフ at 13:56 | Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | スタッフDiary | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする



New Year’s parade of the firemen

Undeniably, Japan is a country of high technology, rich culture and art and New Year in Japan is bountiful of traditional festivals.
Dezome-shiki is a centuries-old classic New Year tradition that originated from firefighters in the Edo period (1603-1868).
Tokyo was called Edo and it was known as a city of fires. Indeed, a completely new firefighting system established after almost the whole city of Edo had burned down in 1657. Thus, the main purpose of this event is to display modern firefighting techniques and instill confidence to residence of Edo toward the new firefighting system. It also raises the morals of fire fighters.

The main attraction of the event is the breath taking ladder stunt which is accompanied with a traditional music. Firefighters dress in festival coats and perform acrobatic stunts on top of a bamboo tower being supported by a group of men, but without safety ropes.
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At the end, firefighters use hoses and shot jets of water into the sky, water-spraying from fire-trucks, boats and helicopters all at once.
By: Ateffa Jalali
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What if...

What if you receive a call and be informed about death of a family member. And you are far far away!!! ;(
You couldn’t see her or talk to her for the last time. You couldn’t take care of her when she was sick. When you close your eyes you see her and remember all the small stories of her. And you already start missing her warm shaking hands taking your hand and asking where you have been so long. I remember her waiting in front of the window to see when we came back from school. I remember her prayers for our exams. I loved her talking she gave so much detail that I could clearly imagine what she said! Her favorite topic was when I asked how my father was in his childhood. She could talk for hours about it! It is true that when we grow old we become a child again. I remember her innocence and kind heart.
I don’t remember her nagging at all, because unlike other grandmothers she never did.

I miss you grand ma and I pray for you!

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By: Ateffa Jalali
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Japanese new year

It is month of December so all over Japan there are preparations for Japanese New Year.
This annual and traditional festival is celebrated according to Gregorian calendar, on January 1st of each year. The Kadomatsu is a traditional decoration of the New Year holiday.


During new year celebrations, Japanese people eat special dishes called “osechi-ryon” or shortened as “osechi”, that includes boiled seaweed, fish cakes, mashed sweet potato with chestnut, simmered burdock root, and sweetened black soybeans.
There are different types of osechi and it differs region to region.Nowadays sashimi, sushi, and other non- Japanese food are often eaten too.

Even with the rise in popularity of emails, Japanese have a popular custom of sending New Year’s Day postcards to their friends and relatives. Addressing is generally done by hand to reveal their talent of shodo http://michikusan.seesaa.net/article/428917617.html

Otoshidama, giving money to children, is another custom of Japanese New Year. It is handed in small decorated envelopes called “ pochibukuro”. The amount of money usually depends on the age of the child. It is similar to our custom of giving money to children in Eid (Muslim religious festival or Holiday). That’s one of the reasons that children wait for this type of festivals more than elders and are usually happier.
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Making and eating rice cakes http://michikusan.seesaa.net/article/428639527.html; writing poems about every first thing of the year like first sun, first sunrise, and first dream; and kite flying are also part of the custom.
This will be my first new year in Japan, thus I want to know more about the customs and enjoy each of them.

By: Ateffa Jalali
posted by :時の旅:みちくさスタッフ at 10:29 | Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | スタッフDiary | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする


Kagura Dance

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Kagura is a Japanese word referring to a specific type of Shinto theatrical dance. The epic Kojiki and Nihonshoki describe a folklore origin for this dance.Based on the epics, Kagura dance involves storytelling and reenactment of fables of a famous legendary tale about the sun goddess Amaterasu, who hided in the cave and made the world dark and cold.

Basically there are many types of kagura like Imperial kagura and Folk Kagura. Folk Kagura includes Miko kagura, Izumo-ryu Kagura, Ise-ryu Kagura, Shisi Kagura, and Daikagura. Originally kagura started as a sacred dance performed by shrine maidens, however nowadays, it is like a living tradition in special occasions.
In this energetic dance, the dancers wear horrifying costumes and masks. It is usually performed by villagers of different ages rather than professional dancers.
In different ceremonies these performances are done by dance groups from various local communities.
I have watched many videos of this cultural and religious dance, but I want to watch it live one day.

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By: Ateffa Jalali
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Miyazaki International Festival

Friends of the world

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those difference. (Audre Lorde)
Miyazaki International Festival, held on 21st November, was a festival of celebrating the cultures of foreigners living in Miyazaki Prefecture. One of the great things about living in Japan is their acceptance of multicultural variances and their respect toward foreigners’ religion, principles, and all other differences. The activities included 10th Annual art Festival, Japanese speech contest for foreign residents, Miyazaki Tea booth, Japanese practice sessions, JICA International Cooperation booth, Country booths and Japanese armor booth.


Country Booths

In country booths, foreigners living in Miyazaki Prefecture were assigned at booths to represent their home countries. Every booth displayed a bit of their culture and traditions. I am sure they must have felt like being in their own country for one day. The colors of hanged flags and happy faces of its nation made the festival highly attractive.
To be honest I wasn’t that attached to my country’s flag when I was in Afghanistan, but now when I see it in Japan, it gives me a feeling of finding a beloved thing that I belong to. The small girl is wearing Afghani dress and his father is also wearing traditional clothes of Afghanistan.


Here is the Namasti team of India. Ofcourse you could get it from their beautiful costumes, Sari. Not only Indians, but also Japanese girls also wore Sari. It makes me very happy to see such a peaceful and friendly international gatherings!

Also, Korean booth displayed Korean Kimono called “Hanbok”, the traditional Korean dress.

Indonesian students displayed their talent through singing performance using a musical instrument called “Anklung”, made from bamboo. They are wearing traditional clothes from different Indonesian islands like Java and Sumatra. The black and maroon dresses are called “Kebaya”, red and yellow dress is called “Baju Bodo”, and the man was wearing “Beskab”.


Japanese Armor Booth
In this booth, visitors could try samurai armor and take pictures. Many of them even look like real samurais except for their happy faces ;)


Posted by: Ateffa Jalali
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Free Paper Magazine Award 2015

Michikusa Magazine, the first prize winner!

Free paper magazine award 2015, that was organized by NICOA (Nippon Community Contents Association) and special sponsor was Marugotonippon Company, is drawing mass media attention towards it.
This event was supported by Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries co., Ltd, Tourism Agency, Japan Travel and Tourism Association.
Last year, Free paper magazine award had 238 magazines as participants, however this year there were 276 magazines including the local government public relations magazines and tourist information magazines and Michikusa magazine was honored by first prize award.

I am feeling proud to be part of Ai-road Company that is owner of Michikusa magazine. I as a witness can say that Ms. Eiko Fukunaga, President of Ai-road Company and writer of Michikusa Magazine is struggling day and night to increase readers’ love and admiration for Michikusa, thus she completely deserves to be honored with this award. We hope that Michikusa will always be loved and appreciated.



Post by: Ateffa Jalali
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Fishing experience in Aburatsu port


On 23rd November I attended Nichinan city festival with my husband http://michikusan.seesaa.net/article/429902613.html and we went to cruise and fishing in Aburatsu port. The cruise was awesome, and the weather was just right for it. Nature sounds were a little bit interrupted with the sound of the ship, but still I could hear them and it was giving me quiet and peaceful feeling.
The funny part, that makes it even more memorable, is we didn’t catch a fish, but as it is said there is no losing in fishing, you either catch or you learn.
Fishing is not just about catching a fish. It teaches to be patient, keep trying, and never give up.
Indeed, every new experience we try we actually make a new memory.
I always wanted to have small adventures and new experiences but maybe I didn’t find opportunities good enough to fulfill them.
I feel lucky I found a life partner who is more adventurous than me. Now every new experience of my life is double fun!

By: Ateffa Jalali
posted by :時の旅:みちくさスタッフ at 08:52 | Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | スタッフDiary | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする