Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium

01Nov 2011 tomocchi

This is Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium, a great place to go out and have fun with all the family.



A huge statue of a penguin greets you as you arrive. As you might imagine, the main attraction here is penguins.


Once you enter you’ll soon come across a large, blue water tank, and right in the children’s eyeline is…




…a penguin!



Their tottering walk on land is transformed into complete ease in the water.


 Here, it seems almost as if they’re flying in the sky.





As you can see in the picture, you can see all the penguins up close. Being able to see them so close is deeply impressive.


The aquarium also allows visitors to feed the penguins on weekends and holidays, meaning you can get even closer.



It’s feeding time! When it’s time to eat, music begins to play and the penguins, associating the sound with food, come up out of the water onto the ground.

Their waddling walk is so cute!



The way they appear to line up in order seems very polite and almost human.

They eat horse mackerel, and each penguin can eat up to 20 of them in one sitting.





You can also touch the penguins.




Tickets for feeding the penguins are distributed from9amon weekends and holidays, and are limited to the first 30 groups, so those who wish to join in should get there first thing in the morning! There are also a lot of other things to try, too.



This is a picture of the penguins and a diver at lunchtime.







【Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium】


Address: 3-16 Shuku-machi,Nagasakicity

Tel: 095-838-3131

Entry fee: Adults 500 yen / Junior High students and younger 300 yen

Opening times:9:00 – 17:00

Open all year round.



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11Oct 2011 tomocchi

   Now that Nagasaku Kunchi is over you’d think the festival mood would die down, too, but there’s still a lot happening!

 There’s plenty going on inNagasaki in autumn!



  The stage for this festival is Wakamiya Inari Shrine in the Irabayashi area of Nagasakicity.

It’s only a small shrine, but  it’s bursting with people! Crowds visit every year on the 14th and 15th of October to see Takengei.



  Takengei is a hono-odori (a dance performed in front of shrines), but one including acrobatic stunts, as its name in Japanese suggests (gei meaning performance, feat or craft).

 It is performed on bamboo poles well over ten metres tall.




  The performers clad themselves all in white and put on fox masks.


Let’s start with the fox cubs.



  In Takengei, a high-level performance is carried out to the spectators’ shouts of “Yoisho!” (“Heave-ho!”) in time with music.

The fox cubs climb up to these shouts and strike a pose at the top!





By the way, this fox cub is a third grader at elementary school! Apparently there are even three year olds who perform the fox cub role.


When they’ve climbed to the top, it looks like this. The bamboo for the fox cubs is only five metres, but it’s really high!




This next fox cub is a sixth grade elementary student.


They’re incredibly skilled, and perform ignoring the crowd’s fear.




What they’re carrying in their hands is called makimono – things like towels and mochi that they scatter about from up high.

At the end of the adult performance, they even throw a live chicken!



Now on to the adults.


They perform dressed as both male and females foxes – but somehow they have a strange air about them, as if they’re not humans dressing up, but actually possessed by foxes.



Audience, try calling out “Yoisho!” together!



This bamboo pole is over ten metres high…



As you can see, there’s no safety line, either. Visitors watch the performance with bated breath.



Oh no, it looks like they’re going to fall!

One person rests their arms and legs across two bamboo poles, making a bridge that a second person hangs from.



No-one will forget a performance done high up like this.




Bamboo is naturally flexible so it bends back and forth during the performance, and the foxes also apply their weight, like on a swing, to make it sway to and fro.



Maybe you understand what I mean. It sways heavily to the right, then to the left. The foxes perform frightening stunt after frightening stunt like this, as if they enjoy the shrieks from the audience below.




After this, the foxes tumble down head over heels and the performance finishes. This bit was too fast so I wasn’t able to get a good picture, sorry!


There are also Takengei performances from8pm, which are done by the light from bamboo lanterns and have a fantastic, dreamy atmosphere. Make sure to stop by on your way home from work.


So please remember – the week after NagasakiKunchi is Takengei!









Dates: 14th – 15th October

14th October:2pm and8pm

15th October:12pm,3pm and8pm

Venue: Wakamiya Inari Shrine



Tel: 095-822-5270



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Matchmaking at Suwa Shrine

03Oct 2011 tomocchi

This is Suwa Shrine, famous as the stage for NagasakiKunchi.




From above it seems a small space to hold the Hono-Odori, but in this tiny area the dance is unbelievably dynamic and powerful.



On three sides throngs of people watch the performance below.



Now, in Suwa Shrine there are matchmaking Yin-Yang stones that have a long history.

It’s said that they’ve been there since sometime during the Edo Period (1603-1867)!

Visiting the shrine is easy. Just step on the flagstones on the approach to the shrine and visit the shrine to offer a prayer. That’s all!

However, the stones that men and women step on are different, so be careful!



First let’s talk about women:

In the area between the first and second torii gates at the bottom of the shrine approach there’s this stone.

It’s called the “Man Stone.”



It’s in the middle of the path and compared to the surrounding flagstones it’s big and round, so it’s easy to find.



Ladies, please step on the Man Stone.

Next climb up the steps a bit, and near the fourth torii you’ll find this stone…

This is called the “Woman Stone.”



This one is a bit more geometrically shaped than the Man Stone.

Guys, let’s step on this Woman Stone!

It’s said that after each gender has stepped on their respective opposite gender stones and then stepped on the Dual Gender Stone in front of the hall of worship, they will find their soulmate.



The fact that these stones have been here since the Edo Period means that people long ago used to visit for matchmaking, too.

The desire for love never changes, even though the people do.



There are many places inNagasaki, such as the heart stones nearSpectaclesBridgeorGloverGarden, that have such love-related legends attached, but the matchmaking stones at Suwa Shrine remain relatively unknown.



Saying that, when I visited the shrine I did spot one man very deliberately stepping on the Woman Stone and then going on to the hall of worship. Your time for love will come, mystery man!




Suwa Shrine is known, however, as a place for talismans and protection at sea, and you can pray for many things here, starting at the stone guardian dogs near the shrine gate. Why not visit and give it a go yourself?





【Suwa Shrine, Chinzei Grand Shrine】

18-15 Kaminishiyama-machi,Nagasakicity

Tel: 095-824-0445

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20Sep 2011 tomocchi

Make friends with people from all over the world!


An English-language area has been completed at Huis Ten Bosch, called “English Square.”

A part of it was open to the public in March this year, but the new facilities have now taken it to the next level entirely!


The highlight is, of course, the Watermark Hotel Nagasaki Huis Ten Bosch, which uses English as its official language.



It’s a hotel built around the concept of “a foreign country withinJapan,” where hotel signs and conversations with staff all use English, and forty percent of the staff are non-Japanese.


Then there is the new themed facility, “TOMODACHI Factory,” where you can familiarise yourself with English whilst enjoying the attractions.




Here you can, at first, purchase tickets in a set of 6 or 11. Hand over a ticket at each attraction and enjoy!


The attractions include…


“Little Market”



Try shopping in English! Tell the shop assistants what you want from among the items on display.


Next…are some people who are in costume for some reason…



This is the TOMODACHI Actors corner.


Here you can enjoy English conversations with actors dressed up as, left to right, a doctor, an explorer and a school teacher.




Don’t worry if you can’t speak English well.

What’s important is familiarising yourself with English.


There’s also “Basketball Coaching,” where you can get used to English while being taught how to play basketball.




The coach is a former senior member of an Olympic team!

With him you can learn real English and pro-basketball at the same time!


There are many people out there who might feel a little nervous when they think about being forced to speak English, but experiencing genuine English through play and communication is very important.


Come and enjoy the atmosphere and language of a foreign country as if you’re really there, at Huis Ten Bosch.





Venue: Huis Ten Bosch Free Zone

Opening Hours:10:00 – 20:00


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Chirin Chirin Ice-cream

05Sep 2011 tomocchi

When it’s hot, what you want to eat is ice-cream!

Speaking of ice-cream in Nagasaki, there’s chirin chirin ice-cream!


Chirin chirin ice-cream is sold at various tourist spots and other such places within the city, and this time I’ve come toSpectaclesBridge.




Both adults and children love the refreshing, sorbet-like taste.




When I was in elementary school, I really looked forward to the chirin chirin ice-cream cart coming and being bought an ice-cream.


The name “chirin chirin ice-cream” comes from the chirin chirin (ting-a-ling) of the bell that would sound when it was being sold. The bell has a pleasant tone that somehow lures you out!




Skilled hands dish up the ice-cream into a cone.




The beautiful rose-like ice-cream is complete!


Chirin chirin ice-cream, 100 yen.




It didn’t look this fancy when I was little…


I heard that they started to make this rose-shaped ice-cream about 3-4 years ago, not because they thought to themselves “Let’s make a rose!” but because there were many children who dropped their ice-cream, and when they pushed down the ice-cream more firmly it made the shape of a rose.


There were definitely kids who, ecstatic at being bought an ice-cream, would try to race home and soon dropped it.


Incidentally, the people working atSpectaclesBridgeare known to have the highest skill in making beautiful rose ice-cream!


However, they’re not there everyday, so if you come across a sky-blue parasol atSpectaclesBridge, go ahead and request your ice-cream “shaped like a rose.”





【Chirin chirin ice-cream】

Address: Uonomachi,Nagasakicity, (nearSpectaclesBridge)

Business Hours:09:00-17:00

Holidays: Irregular (except when it’s raining)

Chirin chirin ice-cream, 100 yen.



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