Monthly Archives: March 2016

JLPT: July 2016

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If you are studying Japanese and would like to test your Japanese proficiency, look no further than the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test). The first test in 2016 will be held on Sunday, July 3rd, and the application period has already began. Those interested in taking the test have until April 28th to register. Registration is available both online and by mail, and costs 5,500 yen. For more information about the application process and the test itself, please visit the official JLPT website.

Kumamoto Governor Elections

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The elections for the next governor of Kumamoto were held on Sunday, March 27.

The candidates were:

  • Daisuke Terauchi, a lawyer
  • Ikuo Kabashima, current governor of Kumamoto running for his third term
  • Seiji Koyama, former three-term mayor of Kumamoto City (2002-2014)

The results are as follows:

  • Ikuo Kabashima – 504,931 (68%)
  • Seiji Koyama – 201,951 (27%)
  • Daisuke Terauchi – 33,955 (5%)

51.01% of eligible voters participated, an increase of 12.57% from the last election in 2008. Continue reading

Kumamoto Population Data from National Census

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Here is some information about the population of Kumamoto Prefecture and its cities, towns, and villages. All this data was compiled from the National Census that took place last October. Your city, town, or village may also have population data on their websites.

You can find more information, such as specific data for each city, town, or village in the official report from the prefecture on the Kumamoto Prefecture website (Japanese only).

National Data
National Population: 127,110,000 people (decrease of 947,000 people – 0.7% down)
Number of Households: 53,403,000 households (increase of 1,453,000 households – 2.8% up)

Kumamoto Data
Kumamoto Population: 1,786,969 people (down from 1,817,426 people in 2010, decrease of 30,457 people – 1.7% down)
Number of Men: 841,042 people
Number of Women: 945,927 people
Number of Households: 704,497 households (up from 688,234 households in 2010, increase of 16,263 households – 2.4% up) Continue reading

Kumamoto Cherry Blossoms

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一心行の大桜の写真As of March 16, forecasts that the cherry blossoms in Kumamoto will begin to open on Wednesday, March 23 and full bloom is expected on Saturday, April 2.

The Japan National Travel Organization also has a very handy English site with background information on the cherry blossoms, such as the various types of blossoms you can find and a guide on “how to hanami” (cherry blossom viewing).

Here’s a table of some of the more famous spots for cherry blossoms in Kumamoto. As always, it’s not a comprehensive list, so don’t worry, you can easily find great spots closer to where you are in Kumamoto as well (they may even be less crowded!). This list will be updated with more information as it becomes available, please feel free to send in any suggestions you have for more sights to view cherry blossoms! Continue reading

Pro Baseball in Kumamoto

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There will be two Japanese professional baseball games in Kumamoto in April and tickets are still available for both. This is a great chance to experience a Japanese baseball game in person. Both games will take place at Fujisaki Baseball Stadium (near Ninomaru Park) in Kumamoto City. For most people it is easiest to buy tickets from ticket machines at Lawson or 7-11, but there are some online services available as well (please consult the event websites for details).

eh_hawks2016_1Game 1: Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks vs. Orix Buffaloes

Sunday, April 10 – Game starts at 1PM (Gates open at 11AM)

Ticket Prices

  • 1,800 yen for unreserved seats in the outfield (700 yen for children).
  • 4,500 yen for reserved middle of infield seats.
  • 5,500 yen for reserved infield and behind-the-plate seats.
  • Day-of tickets will cost 200 yen more for unreserved seats and 500 yen for all other seats.

Event Website:

160119_giant.jpgGame 2: Tokyo Yomiuri Giants vs. Chunichi Dragons

Tuesday, April 19 – Game starts at 6PM (Gates open at 4PM)

Ticket Prices

  • 1,200 yen for unreserved seats in the outfield (600 yen for children).
  • 4,500 yen for reserved middle of infield seats.
  • 5,500 yen for reserved infield seats.
  • 5,700 yen for reserved behind-the-plate seats.

Event Website:

Night Cherry Blossom Viewing at Kumamoto Castle

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Kumamoto Castle will be open at night from Saturday, March 19 to Sunday, April 3 for night viewing of the cherry blossoms around the castle. Kumamoto Castle and the surrounding area boasts around 800 cherry blossom trees (with 650 of them being the famous Yoshino cherry trees).

The castle will extend its opening hours from 6PM to 9PM. There is a reduced entry fee for entering the castle after 5PM: 200 yen for adults and 100 yen for elementary/junior high school children. Kumamoto City elementary/junior high school children and people over 65 can enter for free.

For reference, the cherry blossoms in Kumamoto are expected to open on Wednesday, March 23 with full bloom around Saturday, April 2.

Kurashi no Nihongo Kurabu

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The Kumamoto City International Center (the venue where Kumamoto Orientation is held) holds weekly casual Japanese conversation tables (called “Kurashi no Nihongo Kurabu”) for beginning level Japanese students. This is a good opportunity for people just starting to learn Japanese or those eager to practice their Japanese.

The sessions are held on:

– Tuesdays from 10AM to 12PM.
– Wednesdays from 10AM to 12PM, 2PM to 4PM, and 6:30PM to 8PM.
– Sundays from 10AM to 12PM and 2PM to 4PM.

It is only 100 yen a day to participate. If you would like to participate, please notify the International Center (phone: (096)359-2121 e-mail: in advance. All sessions are held on the 2nd floor of the International Center.

JET Programme Introduction Tools

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From the JET Programme Website:

While many Japanese people may know the word “ALT,” comparatively few are aware of the JET Programme and the fact that it places ALTs in schools all over Japan.

In order to spread awareness of the JET Programme and its near 30 years of history, the CLAIR staff have created a set of basic JET Programme Introduction Tools for use in your self-introduction. These tools can be used as is, or modified by you to match your audience (students, school staff, parents/guardians, members of the local community, etc.).

You can find the JET Programme introduction files on the JET Programme website.

Winter 2016 YOKA

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The Winter 2016 YOKA is out! This issue of the YOKA features:

  • Failure to Communicate by Liam NolanWinter2016YOKAcover
  • A Little of Ourselves: The Decision to Re-Contract by Sara Birnbaum
  • Japanese Residence and Income Tax by Dokken Nakamone
  • Samui Desu Ne! by Denise Wiley
  • Day Trips from Kumamoto by Olivia Lee
  • Bright Lights in Asagiri by Jamie Jové-Viniegra
  • Present Tense by Jessica Weinstein
  • Photos by Erika Egner, Chris Hester, Jamie Jové-Viniegra, Olivia Lee, Denise Wiley

This YOKA was designed by Denise Wiley.

Submissions are always accepted for future issues of the YOKA. If you want to contribute an article, photo, or creative piece to be part of a future issue, please e-mail your submission to