By Zhu Haoyu,Shanghai,China
Former Coordinator for International Relations at Nagasaki Prefecture International Affairs Division
Lived in Nagasaki April 2012 – April 2013
Hello! My name is Zhu Haoyu. I was a Coordinator for International Relations in Nagasaki from 2012 to 2013. I went home in April this year. Five months have already passed since then. Although I got used to life in my home country again very quickly, I noticed that various changes had occurred in China while I had been away. I would like to describe some of those changes to you.
1. Rising prices
Compared to last year, it’s fair to say that prices have risen across all areas, from the cost of vegetables at the market to the cost of housing. A seasoned egg sold at a convenience store has risen in price from 1 yuan per egg (about 16 Japanese yen) to 1.5 yuan (about 24 yen). A home that would previously have cost 2.4 million yuan (about 38.8 million yen) will now cost 3 million yuan (about 48.5 million yen). On the other hand, salaries have not risen comparatively, which is a little depressing.
2. The emergence of the buzzword “PM2.5”
Due to recent air pollution, a complex-looking scientific word, “PM2.5” (microscopic particulate matter) is being used frequently in everyday conversation. Every day the PM2.5 reading is reported on the weather forecast. Based on the forecast, some people wear masks. We might be getting used to the situation gradually, as it seems that lately, fewer people are voicing concerns about PM2.5. However, blue skies are still nowhere to be seen. The photograph below was taken on a sunny morning. The view shows a whitish sky. In Shanghai, blue skies and clean ear (or for that matter, safe drinking water) are luxury items.
3. An increase in good films and TV dramas
For a time, there had been rising criticism that Chinese-made films always prioritized scale over content. However, recently movies, such as “American Dreams in China”, are starting to change that image.
This movie is set against the backdrop of a time when there was a huge craze for studying abroad in the USA. It tells the story of three young men who, after many ups and downs, start a business together, managing a school, which eventually grows to become a listed company on the US stock exchange. I think that any Chinese person watching this film could not help but think back to the ‘good old days’ of that era. Also, the film contains the encouraging message that if you work hard you will succeed. It’s the kind of film that leaves you feeling refreshed.
Good quality TV dramas are also appearing one after another. I don’t even usually watch dramas, but lately I’ve become hooked on one. It’s a medical drama called ‘Xīn Shù’, somewhat like the Japanese novel and movie ‘Shiroi Kyotou’ (The White Tower). I like how it portrays the actuality of the healthcare industry in China, within a light-hearted atmosphere. In other words, it’s an easy and enjoyable way to get to know the facts. This drama is sure to strike a chord here, as Chinese people tend to think of going for a check-up at the hospital as something terrible. Another good aspect to this drama is that it enables a deeper mutual understanding between hospital staff and patients.
4. The popularization of words such as “Positive Energy” (正能量 zhèng néng liàng) and the “Chinese Dream” (中国梦 zhōng guó mèng)
“Positive Energy” refers to energy that gives people the power to move forwards proactively, describing the kind of vitality that awakens people’s potential. It is the feeling brought by optimistic and outgoing people. For example, it appears in the phrase ‘他身上充满正能量’ (tā shēn shang chōng măn zhēng néng liàng), which means “That person has a lot of positive energy, don’t they!”.
Since President Xi Jinping took office, the term “Chinese Dream” has become popular, appearing in statements advocating for a great revitalization of the people. The phrase is so in vogue as to have been adopted by popular television programs such as “The Voice of the Chinese Dream”. From this, one can see the impressive power of words.
5. My workplace’s cafeteria has improved!
This is more of a personal story, but previously, when classes finished, I would eat in the same cafeteria as my students (I work in a university). Sometimes I would be really tough on my students during class, and then go to the cafeteria, only to find that the people waiting in line behind and in front of me were all my students! I certainly felt awkward then!
Now, a staff cafeteria has been set up. The variety of dishes has become much richer, and the price is cheap, at just 6 yuan (about 100 yen). The same kind of set meal would cost at least 20 yuan (about 320 yen) at a restaurant, so I’m very happy. Nowadays in class I can wield my teacher’s authority to my heart’s content ^^
6. The trend for dancing in public plazas
Since I returned from NagasakiI have not been very busy, so every evening after dinner, I join in a dance session in a public square. In Chinese this is called ‘广场舞’ (guăng cháng wŭ), or ‘plaza dancing’. Dancing in plazas is particularly popular among older ladies. It has become quite a common sight to see large groups of people dancing in public in the evening after dinner.
The tunes include both Chinese and English songs, and I have a lot of fun dancing to match the rhythms. It’s good for keeping healthy too – I dance for about an hour and work up a modest sweat.
That brings me to the end of my round-up of the changes inChinathat occurred during one year. I think that these changes reveal not a change of lifestyle but a change in our sense of values. The challenge now, for a huge city likeShanghai, is perhaps how to adapt to the world as it changes daily at a bewildering pace.
By Hu Weiwei,Changzhou,China
Overseas Technical Trainee, 2012
Lived in Nagasaki August 2012 – March 2013
Hello, everyone! My name is Hu Weiwei, and I came to Nagasaki as an Overseas Technical Trainee in 2012. In March this year my traineeship ended and I am now living in the city of Changzhou, in China’s eastern Jiangsu Province.
While I was inJapan, I was often asked by Japanese people, “Where in China are you from?”. I would answer “Changzhou” but then continue “err… it’s near to Shanghai and Suzhou”. I found that most Japanese people had not heard the name “Changzhou” before, and it was hard for me to explain. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce to you all the city of Changzhou.
Changzhou is a very easy place to live, just like Nagasaki. It is the main station on the line between Shangahi and Nanjing, so one can travel to either of those cities within in an hour using the high-speed railway. As a model industrial city, manufacturing flourished here, and remarkable developments were achieved in textile spinning, machinery and manufacturing processes.
In the city we can find Tianning Temple, a Zen Buddhist temple which is over 1000 years old. The temple was built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and houses among other artifacts a golden statue of Buddha, inscribed metal panels and temple bells, and is praised for having China’s greatest Buddhist pagoda.
Dongpo Parkis a typical Jiangnan-style garden, created to commerotate the poet and statesman Su Dongpo, who visited Changzhou 11 times and also died here. In the park there is a monument inscribed with a poem by the Qianlong Emperor, who greatly admired Su Dongpo, as well as an exceptional collection of arbors, ponds, pavilions, artificial hills and abundant flowers and old trees.
Winter in Dongpo Park: a Snowy Scene
The Pagoda of Tianning by Night
Aside from the scenic and historic places, a new attraction is taking hold in the Jiangnan region: the “China Dinosaurs Park”, also known as the “Eastern Jurassic Park”, a large theme park stuffed with all kinds of dinosaurs, popular with both adults and children. I would like to take some time to describe this attraction to you.
Over 50 life-size models of dinosaurs are placed around the park, looking so lifelike as they wait, ready to pounce. The Dinosaur Fossil Museum exhibits over 100 fossils discovered during archeological excavations all around China, including the fossilized remains of three Sinosauropteryx, a dinosaur which lived during the Lower Jurassic period and which is said to be a key to the mystery of the evolution of dinosaurs and birds. These fossils are national treasures.
Add to that the theme-park rides such as the brontosaurus-themed rollercoaster, and the “Pterosaur Knight” ride, where you fly through the sky on the wings of a pterosaur, and you can fully enjoy your day experiencing the mystery of the Jurassic period in the setting of a modern theme-park.
China Dinosaurs Land（http://goo.gl/sxBo8）
The popular ride “Pterosaur Knights”（http://goo.gl/O0oPl）
Next I would like to talk about the art work of Changzhou.
Changzhou is known for its hand-painted combs, which have a history dating back around 1500 years. Made using natural wood, the combs are decorated using techniques such as carving, painting, etching and burning to make an attractive shape that has earned the combs worldwide renown.
Another traditional handicraft is a kind of needlework known as luanzhenxiu (free-stitch embroidery or ‘needle painting’). Combining Chinese-style painting and Western-style painting, using a needle in place of a brush, and threads in place of paints, the artist creates a new kind of embroidery that looks just like an oil painting. The work can even be said to look like a photograph, meaning that there is ‘order’ even within the ‘disorder’ implied by the word ‘luan’. This unusual form of needlework, with its rich colors, has become well-loved as a collectible item.
Changzhou combs Needle-painting
Lastly I would like to recommend to you some of the delicious foodstuffs of Changzhou.
These are rice cakes made from kneaded rice-flour dough, sprinkled with sesame seeds and baked in an oven. The cakes have a golden color and soft texture and the delicious aroma of the sesame seeds floats up from the thin and lightly crunchy skin.
Crab Xiaolongbao (steamed buns)：
The aroma of the crab is enticing and the soup inside the buns is very delicious!
Luobugan (pickled oriental radish): my favorite!!
Well, what do you think? I hope you will come to visit Changzhou soon! I’m waiting to show you around! ^^
By Lin Chia Mei,Tainan,Taiwan
Former Exchange Student at Nagasaki Wesleyan University
Lived in Nagasaki April 2012 – February 2013
My name is Lin Chia Mei. I came from Taiwan to study as an exchange student in Nagasaki.
I finished my studies in February, and returned home to Tainan City.
I would like to tell Dejima Network readers about a place in Tainan which has links to Japan. In fact, this structure was built by a Japanese person.
Do you know where I am talking about?
It’s Wushantou Dam. The dam was built by a Japanese man named Hatta Yoichi, and was completed in 1930.
↑The entrance to Wushantou Dam
The reason I want to talk about this place is that recently there has been a lot of talk in the news around the themes of ‘the bonds between Japan and Taiwan’, the donation of cherry trees by the Japan Cherry Blossom Association, and ‘Sakura Diplomacy’.
Since 2003, Japan has donated 1000 Kawazu Sakura trees each year to Taiwan.
When they were first planted, the trees did not take root well, as they were not suited to Taiwan’s climatic conditions, but with hard work and care, the gardeners eventually managed to get the trees to bloom.
The cherry trees at Wushantou Dam are blooming especially beautifully. Even in Taiwan, one can enjoy Japanese cherry trees. Here, we can feel the links between Taiwan and Japan.
↑The trees are in flower from late February to March – in fact, as I write ^_^
There is another reason that I want to introduce this place. One cannot talk about Wushantou Dam without mentioning a certain character: the aforementioned builder of the dam, Hatta Yoichi. A statue of him can be found near the dam.
He is very well known inTaiwan: Most Taiwanese people know his name, and he features in school textbooks.
It would not be an overstatement to say that Hatta, a Japanese engineer who made an enormous contribution to farm irrigation in Taiwan, should be called the Patron of Taiwanese Agriculture. However, despite his popularity in Taiwan, it seems he is quite unknown in Japan.
The above URL links to a website with more pictures and a detailed explanation about the dam and Hatta (in Japanese), so if you have time, please take a look.
Near the end of the page is written the following: “Although many people in Taiwan know the story of Hatta Yoichi, basically the only Japanese people who know about him are those with a connection to Taiwan, or those involved in civil engineering. Although millions of Japanese people visit Taiwan every year, even among those in Taiwan, very few are aware of Hatta, who is so loved and respected by the Taiwanese”.
If I’m honest, I was surprised too – I thought he would be highly regarded in Japanas a historical hero.
So, I would like to take this opportunity to tell Japanese people and people from other countries that there is such a place in Taiwan, and that it was built by a Japanese person.
I hope that by reading this essay, you have been able to learn a little about the history of Wushantou Dam ^_^
Thank you for reading!
↑The scenery at Wushantou Dam, also called Jianan Dazun
↑The statue of Hatta Yoichi
（Wushantou Dam homepage [in Chinese]）
（Yahoo! Taiwan article [in Chinese]）
By Tra Thi Phuong Nga
from Da Nang, Vietnam
Former Overseas Technical Trainee
Lived in Nagasaki from July 2011 to March 2012
I’m Nga, one of Nagasaki’s Overseas Technical Trainees from 2011-12. Six months have passed quickly since March, when I finished my training and returned to Da Nang City, my hometown. Although I am busy at work every day, vivid memories of my life in Nagasaki still fill my head.
I only spent 8 short months in Nagasaki, but I was able to experience a range of seasons, from the beautiful colours of Autumn, through the cold Winter and into Spring, with pretty flowers blooming all over the city. I was also able to gain a deeper understanding of Japanese life and culture.
Even now I can recall the green-line streetcar bound for Ishibashi, the library enveloped in green plants and the bustle of the morning rush-hour. The wonderful days of my training period may be over, but I was fortunate enough to be offered an experience which I will treasure for the rest of my life.
Now, I’d like to take this chance to introduce to everyone in Nagasaki, and to my friends around the world, some aspects of my home country. This time, I’m going to talk about Vietnamese food.
When you think of Vietnamese food, one of the first things that comes to mind is probably pho. Am I right? Pho is a kind of rice noodle. Today I am going to tell you about another kind of rice noodle: bun.
There are many ways to use bun, and I am going to describe a few of them here.
First of all, the famous Bun Bo Hue.
Bun Bo Hue
Although Bun Bo Hue originated in the city of Hue, it is also eaten elsewhere in Vietnam, much like Nagasaki’s famous champon noodle dish is eaten across Japan. ‘Bun’ refers to the bun rice noodle, ‘bo’ means beef, and ‘hue’ shows that the dish is in the Hue style, so the full name means ‘rice noodles in a Hue-style beef broth’.
This kind of noodles-in-broth dish is typical of Hueand the Central Vietnamregion. It is popular not only in Hue City but also in other areas like Da Nang City and Ho Chi Minh City. I was so happy to eat delicious bun when I returned home from Japan!
As for the bun noodle itself, Hue bun is mainly very thin, while bun from other regions is thicker. The delicious broth is made by boiling beef bones, beef shank, pork thighbone and pork trotters, adding lemongrass, various seasonings including the fermented seasoning mam ruoc hue and chilli powder for spice and colour. The difficult stage in preparing the broth comes with the addition of mam ruoc hue. The soup should be clear, but when mam ruoc hue, which is a deep reddish-purple in colour, is added, the mixture can become cloudy. The seasoning must be added carefully, tasting as one goes along, in order to achieve the right colour.
When the broth is ready, it is poured over a dish full of bun noodles and seasoned with black pepper. We then add green onions (scallions), Vietnamese parsley, salad vegetables, bean sprouts, banana flower buds, coriander (cilantro), pickled corms, pickled chillies, and a little lemon juice (or vinegar) creating the ingenious and delicious bun bo hue. We also like to dip French bread in the soup – yum!
This is just one example of Vietnamese food culture. Just as in Japan there are many kinds of ramen noodles dishes to enjoy, if you come to Vietnam, please try some bun!
○Bun Cha Ca – bun with fried minced fish
Bun Cha Ca
This bun recipe is a famous dish from Da Nang. Cha Ca is minced fish, which is formed into a circular or diamond shape and then fried to a deep reddish-brown.
The nutrient-rich broth, which can be used in many different dishes, is made from various differently-coloured fruits and vegetables including squash, cabbage, pineapple and tomato. This sweetly fragrant and ever-so-slightly acidic soup is very popular and has been well-loved for generations.
We add bean sprouts and other vegetables, and a squeeze of lemon, and in my town, fresh chilli to munch on. Alongside a cup of Vietnamese coffee at breakfast time, a bowl of delicious bun cha ca makes for a healthy start to the day.
○Bun Thit Nuong – bun with grilled meat
Bun Thit Nuong
Thoroughly seasoned salty-sweet sliced pork is rolled up and skewered, and then grilled over a wood fire. The cooked meat is then placed onto the bun, and instead of broth, a dressing is poured over. The dressing is made by mixing together nuoc mam (fish sauce), warm water, sugar, vinegar (or lemon juice), crushed garlic and chilli. Sliced carrot, papaya and so on are prepared in vinegar and sugar as an accompaniment, and mint leaves, pepper and peanuts are sprinkled on top. There it is – a delicious bun thit nuong!
Once eaten, the taste of the carefully seasoned meat, the salty-sweet dressing and the fragrant vegetables is hard to forget.
○Bun Rieu Cua – bun with crab meat
This dish helps to lower body temperature, and is thus often eaten in summer. The large amount of minced crab meat gives a strong flavour, balanced by the addition of fresh raw vegetables and thinly-sliced banana flower buds to make yet another delicious bun recipe.
○Bun Ca Ngu Kho Thom – bun with bonito and pineapple
‘Ca ngu’ is the Vietnamese name for the bonito (a tuna-like fish), while ‘kho’ means to boil, and ‘thom’ means pineapple, making this a dish of noodles in a soup of boiled bonito and pineapple. It is lightly flavoured and easy to eat. Thinly-sliced raw vegetables are added to the mixture. The fresh fish broth tastes like Japanese dashi, so if you like Japanese soups and stews, this dish may be the one for you. If you drink all the soup up at the end, you will be left with a sweet aftertaste.
○Bun Mang Vit – bun with bamboo shoots in a duck broth
‘Vit’ means duck, while ‘mang’ means bamboo shoot.
This delicious and easy-to-prepare dish of fragrant duck meat and mildly-flavoured bamboo shoots, with lots of lemongrass for seasoning, is great for enjoying as a family.
○Bun Cha Ha Noi – a bun recipe popular in the northern city of Hanoi
Bun Cha Ha Noi
The noodles in this dish are cut to an appropriate length to make it easy to eat.
The bun is eaten with a soup made from a base of nuoc mam, with added grilled meat and vegetables. Many shops serve fried spring rolls alongside. Unlike bun bo hue, mentioned earlier, which is usually eaten for breakfast, bun cha ha noi is generally eaten at lunchtime. One special feature of this dish is that each restaurant uses a different combination of delicious raw vegetables, although this does mean that those with sensitive stomachs should take care, as uncooked vegetables can pose a hygiene risk.
○Bun Hen – bun in freshwater clam soup
‘Hen’ is the name for a freshwater clam. There are so many clams atop a dish of bun hen that you cannot even see the noodles! Steamed clam broth is poured over the top, and a separate steamed broth is added to taste. This hot but lightly-flavoured soup has a splendid fragrance. For more flavour, we add salted fish guts from Hue, salad leaves, thinly-sliced shiso (perilla, a basil-like herb), bean sprouts, and lots of aromatic sautéed white sesame. This dish also features the ever-popular cayenne pepper – the red colour and spicy flavour really makes your mouth water.
○Bun Xao Long – bun with turmeric
Bun Xao Long
First, pork liver is stir-fried with turmeric. Then, sautéed vegetables are added, followed by the noodles, and the whole mixture is stir-fried together so that the noodles take on the taste of the liver, and the colour of the turmeric. This dish is easy on the stomach and simple to prepare quickly at home, so why not try making it for yourself?
A common sight in Vietnam– pickles and mam ruoc hue fermented seasoning.
○Bun Chay – bun with mushrooms and other vegetables
There are many vegetarians in Vietnam, and there is a bun recipe to meet their needs too: bun chay.
Since vegetarians don’t eat meat or fish, this dish is made from various types of mushroom (for example, abalone mushroom, shiitake, enokitake, and straw mushroom), plus tofu, daikon radish and onions. The recipe may seem simple, but time and effort is required to bring out the delicious flavour.
There are more than 10 different kinds of bun cuisine. At 15,000 – 35000 dong (VND) for a bowl (about 57 – 133 yen (JPY)) this cheap and delicious food is sure to satisfy anyone who eats it. Please do come to Vietnam and try some bun!
That’s all for now – I hope to tell you much more about Vietnam and my city, Da Nang, so look out for my next article.
By Gu Jiefen, Shanghai, China
Former Coordinator for International Relations at Nagasaki Prefecture International Affairs Association
Lived in Nagasaki, June 2011 – April 2012
Hello everyone! Long time, no see! This is Gu Jiefen, writing from Shanghai. I worked as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) at Nagasaki Prefecture International Affairs Department until April this year. I’m back home now, and back in my old job. Recently, I went to Beijing for a symposium to mark the 20th anniversary of the JET Programme’s link with China.
The Temple of Heaven in Beijing
Meeting other former CIRs in Beijing and talking about our work and lifestyle in Japan brought back memories of my life in Nagasaki. I feel so nostalgic just thinking about Nagasaki’s pretty neighbourhoods, fresh air and kind people. Since I came back to Shanghai, five months have passed by in a flash. When I first returned, I suffered from reverse culture-shock and it was a real struggle to get used to life in Shanghai again. The strange thing was, however, that despite being away for nearly a year, I wasn’t at all surprised at all the changes that had occurred in my absence. And for that, I have to thank ‘Weibo’…
The homepage of Xinlang Weibo
‘Weibo’ means ‘microblog’ in Chinese. ‘Wei’ means ‘micro’ and ‘bo’ is the first character of ‘boke’, the Chinese word for ‘blog’. A weibo is a miniblog site somewhat like Twitter. While there are a number of microblogging sites in China, including ‘Tencent Weibo’, the term ‘weibo’ is usually used to refer to one particular service: Xinlang Weibo. Since its launch on August 14th, 2009, Xinlang Weibo has become one of China’s most popular websites, gathering over 300 million users by 2012. Each day on average around 100 million postings are made on Xinlang Weibo.
Xinlang Weibo: over 300 million users
I guess you are wondering what weibo users can do and what kind of postings they make. There are all kinds of ways to enjoy microblogging. Using weibo, you can tell your family and friends about your daily life. Shops and companies can use weibo to publicise their products and activities. I, too, use weibo regularly. If I find something interesting or delicious, I take a picture and upload it to my microblog.
Starbucks’ official weibo page My friend’s weibo
Even famous people make weibo pages to interact with their fans!
The weibo page of famous actor Jackie Chan
Recently, a succession of Japanese local authorities has started using weibo to promote tourism and Japanese traditional culture to Chinese microbloggers.
The weibo page of the Embassy of Japan in China
Nagasaki Prefecture’s weibo page.
If you are interested, why not try using weibo yourself? I am following Nagasaki Prefecture’s page on Xinlang Weibo, so see if you can find my page among the followers ^_^