Thursday, December 13, 2012

日本語能力試験、バンコクからのレポートです!The JLPT Report from Bangkok !


こんにちは!東京のぐーのーです!2012年第2回日本語能力試験(以下、JLPT)が12月2日日曜日に実施されました。今回の試験は、海外61の国・地域 201都市と日本国内42都道府県で一斉に実施され、全世界で約35.6万人が応募しました。今回の試験から、イスラエルとイランでも新たに日本語能力試験を受けられるようになりました。世界中でこんなにも多くの人が試験を受けているなんて、驚きですね!

Hi everyone, this is Goo-Noo from Tokyo!! The Japanese Language Proficiency Test(JLPT) was conducted on Sunday December 2nd, 2012 in 201cities of 61 countries/regions abroad , and in 42 prefectures in Japan. This time, about 356,000 people registered for it and from this test, Israel and Iran joined as new test sites. It is such a great thing that such a big number of people took the test!


So, I will report you today how the JLPT in Bangkok was.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Greetings from Sydney シドニーからこんにちは!

Like a blink of an eye, the year is already almost over!


JPF Sydney is beginning to wind down for the year, especially after the successful 16th Japanese Film Festival where we welcomed several big name guests such as Director Masayuki Suo and his wife Actress Tamiyo Kusakari (pictured), Director Miwa Nishikawa, Producer Noriko Nishiguchi and Director Kenji Uchida – all very talented and beautiful people we had the privilege to host and meet. You can catch all the action on our facebook page.



In addition to the plethora of guests, this year was super exciting as the majority of films we screened are ones that were currently showing in Japan. Actually two titles in particular – Tug of War! and It’s a Beautiful Life – Irodori – were shown before it even hit Japan box offices with It’s a Beautiful Life – Irodori - being an international premiere! How amazing is that?!


So now, it’s quieting down, packing up and finalising for the year and planning ahead. With only a couple of weeks until 2012 is over, we look forward to celebrating Christmas, New Year and enjoying summer in Sydney. See you next year!


Friday, December 7, 2012


There is so much constantly going on in The Japan Foundation Toronto that when I first wrote this post trying to enlist everything we’ve done in the last two months, it ended up as a list of all the exhibits, lectures, screenings and talks. And because a list is not necessarily the most exciting form of narrative (with which Umberto Eco could disagree – see his The Infinity of Lists: The Infinity of Lists by Umberto Eco | Book review | Books | The Guardian ), I had to start the post all over again. This time I decided to choose an event in which I personally participated, so I could provide a first-hand report. As a Library Assistant I am not directly involved in most of the activities outside of the library, so let me tell you about one occasion at the end of September when I went to represent the Japan Foundation Toronto beyond the office walls.


ジャパンファウンデーション・トロント日本文化センターでは、次々にイベントが行われていますので、最初にこのブログを書き始めたときは、過去2か月の間にあった出来事、展示、講演会、映写会などの羅列に終わってしまいました。私が最近読んだウンベルト・エコーは否定するでしょうが、出来事の羅列は、読み手に取って面白いとは言い難いと思います。彼のThe Infinity of Listsを読んでみてください。そんなわけで、私は、このブログを最初から書き直すことにしました。



On the 23rd of September The Japan Foundation Toronto took part in the Word on the Street: National Book and Magazine Festival ( Toronto | The Word On The Street). The beauty of this annual event is that it is held outdoors, on the street around the big Queen’s Park in the heart of the University of Toronto downtown campus. The whole street is closed to traffic and occupied with booths by publishers, authors, or cultural organizations, with thousands of visitors strolling among them, checking out the latest books, meeting the writers, learning about new cultural places in town. Every organization tries its best to attract people to their tents, be it for example by offering hands-on experience, like our neighbor, The Nightwood Theatre, where visitors could try on actual costumes from their shows, or by featuring well-known persons, like the city’s biggest newspaper, Toronto Star, which organized panels with famous authors and intellectuals.


What were our attention-catching tactics? Well, we humans all like free stuff, so the first front were staff members and volunteers handing out gorgeous paper bags covered with photos of Japan, generously provided by the Japan National Tourism Organization. Hardly any passer-by could say no to that, so the next step was to ask if they’ve ever heard of the Japan Foundation, maybe they would like to learn more, we’re located downtown, just around the corner, and what we do is giving Torontonians a chance to enjoy Japanese culture, and so the introduction went, followed by more specific topics depending on each visitor’s interests. (Even if someone was not interested in listening to us and just walked away holding the pretty Japan paper bag, the task of promoting The Japan Foundation Toronto was accomplished because the bag was full of our colorful information flyers. Aren’t we clever! ^_- )


We talked to people who had been to Japan and were happy to share similar experience with our staff. We met youth passionate about manga and anime who were pleasantly surprised to discover that we carried over 2200 volumes of manga in our library. Yet other guests used the opportunity to practice their Japanese language skills on us, and we used it to invite them to attend our language workshops or come to the library and browse our extensive collection of Japanese language materials – both in English and in Japanese. A little TV in the corner of the table drew people’s attention to CD promotion music videos and was a good conversation starter to introduce our DVD collection or invite them to animation and movie screenings which we hold quite often.


We met some of our patrons, but also a lot of people who’ve never been to our center. From the questionnaires collected at the event (and everyone who filled one out could draw a prize, so we got quite many: 225 from an estimated 2065 people who came to or passed by our booth) we found out that 64% of the respondents have never been to the Japan Foundation Toronto, so we consider the event a success in spreading the word about the organization.


Aside of the free paper bags, books, movies and flyers’ displays, the center of attention in our booth was unarguably a robot baby seal (sic!), Paro-chan: Paro Therapeutic Robot. Designed and individually hand-made in Japan, this interactive robot is used as a therapeutic device, replacing a pet in facilities where patients cannot keep live animals. Under the snow-white fur and in whiskers it has built in touch sensors, its cute big black eyes conceal light sensors, and somewhere it the head it has microphones to record the outside sounds, a speaker in the mouth, and mechanical joints in the neck, eyelids, mouth, tail and fins. All this machinery is crafted in order to make the seal responsive to voice and touch, by emitting little cries and moving in certain fashion, and to actually “learn” the most often registered sound as its name, to give the owner an impression of a live creature. Once it changes the owner, you just press the “reset” button and your Paro (from the Japanese pronunciation of the English “personal robot”) becomes a tabula rasa again. We got a Paro for the Foundation as an attraction for those kinds of events, and as an example of high technology married with the “kawaii” aesthetics, which appeals to most widespread images of Japan that many people hold. Every once in a while we also showcase Paro in the library during Saturday openings – it always lies securely on a trained volunteer’s lap (you need to be careful around it since it’s such an advanced mechanism), surrounded by curious children and adults as well. To be honest with you, however, not everyone falls under the spell of Paro’s cuteness. In questionnaires from another event we found a comment, ‘I don’t get it, is it a dog?’ ^_-

無料の紙袋、展示した本、映画、チラシなどの他に、ブースで一番注目を浴びたのはなんといってもロボットあざらしのパロちゃんです。日本でデザインされ、ひとつひとつ職人の手で作られたこの対話型ロボットは、セラピー治療用の装置として使われており、動物を飼えない施設などでペット代わりに使われています。まず、真っ白な毛皮の中と髭に、タッチセンサーが組み込まれています。さらに、真っ黒な大きな可愛らしい目には光に反応するセンサー、頭の中には外部の音声を録音するマイクが内蔵され、口にはスピーカー、そして首、まぶた、口、しっぽ、ひれなどが機械的に動く仕組みになっています。このようにすべての装置が、声やタッチに反応するように設計されており、小さな鳴き声をあげたり、愛嬌のある動きをしてみたり、たくさん使われる音を自分の名前として覚えることもできる学習能力もあるので、飼い主にとっては実際に生き物を飼っているような気分を味わえるわけです。もし持ち主が変わる場合には、ただリセットボタンを押すだけで、あなたのパロちゃんは元通り!といった具合です。(ちなみに、この名前“パロ”は英語のPersonal Robotを日本語読みした時の頭文字からきています。) パロちゃんを用いることで、イベントに訪れる子供たちの気を引くことができますし、ハイテクと“かわいい”美学を融合させたこのロボットは、広く知られている日本のイメージと一致し、たくさんの人たちの心をつかむことができます。時々、図書館の土曜オープンの際にもパロちゃんを披露することもありますが、その時はいつも好奇心旺盛な子供たちや大人たちの注目を集めます。(もちろんその際には、パロちゃんの取り扱い方をよく理解しているボランティアの膝に座らせ、高度な仕組みを持つこのロボットに万が一のことがないように十分に気を付けています。)とはいっても、正直にいえば、全員が全員パロちゃんの魅力にはまるわけではありません。実際にあったアンケートのひとつに、「何がいいのがわからない、これは犬か?」という意見もありました^_-

Participating in shows and festivals is an effective way to raise awareness about the Japan Foundation Toronto and its activities, and this is why we often get involved in such undertakings. Another large-scale event where the Japan Foundation Toronto was present was The Fan Expo Canada (Fan Expo Canada - August 23-26, 2012) at the end of August 2012, and in the meantime we’ve been showing up at many smaller events featuring Japan, like the University of Toronto’s Japan Day in November, or a large bank’s multicultural day last summer, where we represented Japan. Setting up a booth and spending a day or even the whole weekend at an event is a lot of work, but I believe that face-to-face contact with our existing and potential patrons allows us to present the Foundation as an organization with a human face, and to express personal commitment of its staff and volunteers. And speaking of volunteers, I would like to thank everyone who helped us at the Word on the Street and every other awesome person out of over 200 volunteers who are working with us right now. We would not be able to do all these things without you. Domo arigato!


Pictures | 写真


Early morning preparations for the festival. We installed our booth in one of the tents like these.



The library staff member Ayumi, holding the Japan paper bags.



The volunteer Jesse, showing the display materials and flyers to a visitor.



The volunteer Maria, receiving a filled out questionnaire from a visitor, bravely enduring the early autumn chill in a Japanese high school uniform. The costume was a part of our attention-catching tactics and we are really grateful to the volunteers that they agreed to wear them. Really.



Another volunteer, Helen (on the right) was also kind enough to dress up for the event. Here posing with the Chief Librarian Mariko Liliefeldt in the middle and Sachi, the library staff member who got a fancy to try a uniform herself too.



The volunteer Danielle is holding Paro-chan, at the moment “feeding” on electricity through its cute pink pacifier. Danielle genuinely loves Paro and for this reason it’s usually her who takes care of him.



When it’s not Danielle, the Program Officer Kate looks after the baby seal robot. In her left hand you can see a clicker counter – this is how we counted the attendance.



The Administrative Assistant Hisayo is talking to visitors. The lady in red is apparently happy with the paper bag and one of our promo materials.



Here again Maria, Hisayo and Mariko keeping an eye on the baby seal, Paro-chan.


Saturday, November 17, 2012



Hello, everyone!

First, I can't help mentioning the event in Italy! Federica, ikebana compositions by Mrs. Koka Fukushima just amazed me!They are so great! When you are near them you must have felt as if you were somewhere in the bamboo forest or in the jungle!






It is “The Japanese Fall” season right now in Moscow. There are a lot of events being on run or organized now. Though it feels like a marathon of events making us running faster and faster I would like to take a short pause and share with you my impressions of the brightest events held recently!

While Russians were fighting with strong cold wind the students who are studying Japanese were fighting with their fears and embarrassment making speeches on the Moscow Speech Contest in Japanese. It was the 25th anniversary of the speech contest held among students from Russia and the CIS countries. 21 students took part in this year’s contest. Almost all students’ speeches were of a very high level, so it was quite a tough competition.

The first place in the competition awarded to a student from Yakutsk (Russia). Her speech is called “Sisyphean labour”. She compared human’s everyday life with Sisyphean labour. Like Sisyphus, who was made to roll a huge boulder up a steep hill; before he could reach the top, however, the massive stone would always roll back down, forcing him to begin again; people have to do a lot of routine things around the house (like washing dishes, because they will use it again and will have to wash it again and again) or boring work. And they do give the meaning to their work not to lose themselves, not to stop respect themselves. The speech made a deep impression on most of the audience.


優勝者!The winner of the Speech contest!





The master of the Kirie Mr. Shu Kubo with his assistant/manager Mrs. Sakura Ueda visited Moscow. It was the first time when Kirie (Art of creating a picture by scissoring the pieces of paper out of the Japanese paper washi ) was shown in Moscow. Mr. Kubo and Mrs. Ueda explained how to hold an art knife, and told us about the washi paper producing process and the fusion of tradition and modern trends in the Kirie Art.

Here is a postcard students were trying to make themselves using some other picture they chose.



This one is made by the teacher Mr.Kubo and his assistant Mrs.Ueda



The exhibition of Mr. Kubo Shu’s works are still held.




1) マトリョーシカ

2) チェブラシカ

3) こぐまのミーシャ(1980年モスクワオリンピックのマスコット)

During the demonstration the master made a very big picture of the Japanese typical images (the Mount Fuji and a sakura tree), while telling many things about kirie. Ha also has created one Russian representative pattern.

Try to guess, what it is!

1) Matryoshka doll

2) Cheburashka

3) Misha (The Moscow Olympic mascot)


マトリョーシカ/Matryoshka doll




こぐまのミーシャ/Misha (The Moscow Olympic mascot)



Well, your answer is?

Ba dum tssssssh…


久保先生が作って下さったチェブラシカ/Cheburashka made by Kirie Master Shu Kubo

ところで基金モスクワのオフィスに飾ってあり、毎日喜ばせてくれています!By the way it welcomes us every morning in our Moscow Office!


Aw, it seems like the first runner is getting closer and closer and it’s my turn to grab the baton and start running. …..(voice over) That was it. The next moment she vroomed.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Hello everyone!

It’s been a while since my last entry, welcome to all the new members of this international community!



Rome is starting to be cold and the 50th anniversary of the Japan Cultural Institute is approaching. It will be in December, and lots of events are soon to be scheduled for next year.


Meanwhile, a couple of very interesting and successful nights have been held here.

A very famous Ikebana Master Instructor took part in a wonderful conference/demonstration last October 5th. Mrs. Koka Fukushima came here to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Ranson Study Group, the Italian branch of the Japanese Ikebana Sogetsu School.


Ikebana is one of the most appreciated Japanese traditional arts, well-known in Italy as well, and with a lot of supporters and amateurs. The peculiarity of Sogetsu School, one of the many different schools of Ikebana, is the great modernity and the attention paid to the materials. The founder, Sofu Teshigahara, with his revolutionary approach, had broken traditional ties with his contributions to the world of ikebana.


The conference was a celebration of the Italian Ranson Study Group, founded in 1987 by Master Lina Alicino. As a special guest, Mrs. Koka Fukushima enchanted the audience making wonderful ikebana compositions and talking about her method and experience.

このカンファレンスは、Lina Alicino氏により1987年に創立されたランソン・スタディ・グループの25周年の記念イベントとして行われました。スペシャルゲストの福島光加氏による生け花デモンストレーションは、観客をあっという間に魅了し、また、彼女独自の生け花術、ご経験談など貴重なお話を伺うこともできました。




©Mario Boccia

Two weeks later an old friend of the Institute came along with two fellow musicians to give an amazing concert. We had the privilege to have the great jazz pianist and composer Makoto Kuriya as our guest for the third time, together with Keisuke Torigoe (doublebass) and Hiroki Murakami (drums). The concert was held on the occasion of the European tour “Makoto Kuriya Piano Trio” and was a great success.

その二週間後、ゲストとしてお呼びするのは三回目になるクリヤ・マコト氏(ジャズピアニスト・作曲家)が、今回は二人の音楽家、鳥越啓介氏(コントラバス)と村上広樹氏(ドラム)と共に、素晴らしいコンサートを開きました。コンサートは”Makoto Kuriya Piano Trio”ヨーロッパツアーのローマ公演として行われ、大盛況のうちに終了しました。



©Mario Boccia

The next scheduled events are a conference about humanoid robots developed in Japan and the concert of Tadashi Tajima, a famous shakuhachi player.


See you next time with new reports and news!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

マニラ・トンドよりラップにのせて/From Tondo, Manila With Rap



Hello, everyone! I am Yukie Mitomi from the Japan Foundation, Manila.


In the Philippines, there is a district called “Tondo” in the City of Manila. Some years back, a musical group was named after a certain area called “Smokey Mountain” ; the area was called such because Tondo may have been considered as having one of the largest slum areas in Southeast Asia.

About several months ago, if I am not mistaken, a famous Japanese actress, Yui Aragaki visited Tondo to shoot a documentary; there were a lot of film and TV crews from Japan as well as from other foreign countries that came for film shooting, etc. In most instances, the films and documentaries aired abroad featured Tondo as a slum area - place of “poverty, criminality and gangs”. Tondo is a place with diverse characteristics; but, unfortunately, only the negative aspects were highlighted.


In one occasion, I happened to have asked Mr. O.G.Sacred – a Filipino hip-hop artist from the “Tondo Tribe” - “How would you describe Tondo?”.

“Tondo is a place with full of inspiration”, he answered with distinct pride.

As a matter of fact, it is not widely known in Japan or maybe even in other foreign countries, but there are a lot of artists who were born and raised in Tondo.


No doubt he is proud of his roots and indeed, I consider it, very cool.


Are you proud of your roots and/or culture?



The Japan Foundation invited O.G.Sacred, OmiyukiCHANNEL and GOW with various roots and background to Okubo, Shinjuku and conducted 2 days hip-hop music workshop for migrant children in that area. This project is in cooperation with Shinjuku Art Project.

Our aim is to develop the self-esteem of migrant children through the series of music workshops about music composition and writing lyrics.




At first, the children were a little shy; but, gradually they became very actively involved in the workshop as they were caught by the power of music. And we were able to record one beautiful song with the theme of “world”.




For the seminar scheduled on Saturday - November 3, we are going to discuss the outcome of the workshop, and, how art will be beneficial in creating a harmonious multicultural society.

Please come and join us !!







Seminar “Creating The Multicultural Society Through Arts”

Saturday - November 3, 2012 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm (Open house at 12:30pm)

Venue: The Japan Foundation JFIC Sakura Hall

Reservation and Inquiry: Asia and Oceania Team (Ms. Yagi and Ms. Uchida)


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

最新情報!来年のヴェネチア・ビエンナーレ国際美術展 日本館 田中功起

Latest Info of 2013 Venice Biennale: International Art Exhibition KOKI TANAKA



Exhibiting artist for the next year, Koki Tanaka




ん?? 何をやっているのでしょう??


What are they doing ?? 

If you wanna know the answer, come join the artist talk event!

第55回ヴェネチア・ビエンナーレ国際美術展 日本館 トークイベント

★2012年11月1日(木) 19:00~20:30

国際交流基金 JFIC

★Nov.1 (Thu) 2012 7:00pm~8:30pm

The Japan Foundation JFIC

Friday, October 19, 2012

じぇふ吉、参上!/ Here we come, Jeffkichi !!


みなさまお久しぶりです!ぐ~の~です!! 最近東京もだいぶ秋らしくなり、気温も下がってきましたよ。最近風邪も流行ってきているようですのでみなさん注意してくださいね。

Hello everyone, long time no see, this is Goo-Noo from Tokyo! Finally fall is here in Tokyo and I feel it’s getting cooler day by day. For those of you in the northern hemisphere, please be careful of catching a cold!



Today in this season of culture (so we say in Japanese), I would like to introduce one cute character. The Japan Foundation finally created so-called a “yu-ru” character(=a cute and loose mascot of an organization to gain popuparity, )”, named “Jeffkichi” . We got ideas in the office and this monkeylike character got the most votes!





On Twitter, Jeffkichi is tweeting a lot of interesting things relating to the Japan Foundation and international communication. If you have an account, why don’t’ you follow him now?

Today, I would like to introduce you some personal information about him !











◆◇Jeffkichi’s Personal data◇◆

Place of Birth: Joetsu City, Niigata, Japan


Favorite baseball team: Saitama Seibu Lions


Wake-up time:7AM

Bed time:1AM

That's it for today! Stay tuned for more Jeffkichi and Have a good weekend everyone!

Your friend Goo-Noo

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

2012 JET Memorial Invitation Program


Hello from sunny southern California. My name is Thomas and I work at the Japan Foundation, Los Angeles!

太陽の光あふれる南カルフォニアからこんにちは!国際交流基金 ロサンゼルス日本文化センターのThomasです!

I want to share with you a program we organize called the JET Memorial Invitation Program (JET-MIP), which was started last year after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, to commemorate the lives of two Americans participating in the JET program named Taylor Anderson and Montgomery Dickson who sadly lost their lives during the disaster.

今回は国際交流基金が主催した「米国 JET 記念高校生招へい事業」というプログラムをご紹介しますね。東日本大震災の後、昨年スタートしたプログラムで、JETプログラムに参加されていたTaylor Anderson さんとMontgomery Dicksonさんという二人のアメリカ人を追悼するためのプログラムです。お二人は本当に残念なことに震災でお亡くなりになりました。


Participants for this program were selected from schools all across the United States and they have all been studying Japanese all throughout high school and most had never been to Japan. Their first stop was in Los Angeles where they participated in a pre-departure orientation at our office. Then it was off to Japan.



During their initial stay, the participants learned about the institute, the JET program, and even some Tohoku dialect. They also spent some time making a collage showing various landmarks in the United States and cities where they are from. This was later presented to the elementary schools they visited. Then it was off to the Tohoku region.

オリエンテーションでは、参加者は国際交流基金 関西国際センターやJETプログラムについて、そしてなんと東北弁についても学びました。そして、アメリカのランドマークや自分たちの地元の街のランドマークのコラージュを作成したりもしました。このコラージュは、日本を訪れた際に小学校で披露されました。そしてこのオリエンテーションの後、高校生たちは東北へと向かったのでした。


While in the Tohoku region, they visited an elementary school and also participated in the first ever high school summit with students from two local high schools in Rikuzentakata. The topic of the summit was how they can work together for the future and after the discussions; the students presented their findings. This was a good opportunity for the participants to exchange ideas with their counterparts in Japan and make some new friends in the process.



The last few days in Tohoku were spent orienteering in Sendai and then it was off to Ishinomaki where the participants visited the local elementary school where Taylor Anderson taught and also Taylor’s Bunko (Reading corner), which was created in her memory. Later that day they had an exchange with the Kiwi Club, an English conversation group where Taylor taught and made friends. This event wrapped up the Tohoku portion of the trip as the participants returned to Sendai that night and flew back to Osaka the following day.

東北滞在の後半、高校生たちは仙台でのオリエンテーションに参加しました。その後、石巻に移動し、Taylor Andersonさんが英語を教えていた地元の小学校とTaylor さんを追悼して設けられたTaylor’s Bunko(読書コーナー)を訪れました。同じ日にTaylorさんが英語を教え、親交があった英会話サークル「Kiwi Club」と交流しました。このイベントをもって東北訪問は終了し、参加者たちは夜には仙台へ戻り、翌日仙台から大阪へと飛行機で旅立ちました。


Upon their return, they paid a visit to a local High School where they met their host brother or sister. Together, they travelled to the Consulate General of the United States in Osaka to talk about themes relating to international diplomacy. After visiting the Consulate, the students parted ways and the next day was spent in the classroom going over the Tohoku trip, learning Osaka dialect, and preparing for the weekend homestay.



The big weekend finally arrived when the American students met their host families for a weekend of cultural experience in the Kansai region. When they returned from their homestay, the cultural experience continued at the Institute with workshops covering Wadaikos and Yukatas. On the final day at the institute, preparations began for the trip home and also for the completion ceremony. After the introductory speeches, the participants had a final chance to talk with their host families and even performed a song and dance. The night ended with final goodbyes and the next day, the group departed Osaka for the wrap-up meeting in Los Angeles.



At the wrap up meeting, the participants presented their experiences in Japan. Many talked about their eye opening experience, the friendly people they met during the trip and the new friends they made. This experience motivated them more to continue studying Japanese and eventually participate in exchange programs such as the JET program just like Taylor Anderson and Montgomery Dickson. After the meeting, the participants had one more night together as the program slowly came to a close. The following day, each participant would leave just as they had arrived and return back to their hometowns all across the United States.

ラップアップミーティングでは、参加者たちは日本で経験したことについてプレゼンをしました。多くの高校生たちが、初めて経験して驚いたこと、日本滞在中に出会った人たちのフレンドリーさ、新しく生まれた友情などについて触れました。今回のプログラムを経験し、高校生たちは日本語の勉強を続けたいとの思いをよりいっそう強くし、Taylor AndersonさんやMontgomery DicksonさんのようにJETプログラムなどの交流プログラムに参加したいとの声も聞かれました。ミーティングのあった日の夜は、もう一晩共に過ごし、プログラムの終わりがだんだんと近づいてきたのでした。翌日、参加者たちは初めてロサンゼルス日本文化センターにやって来た時と同じように、全米各地の地元の街へとそれぞれに戻っていきました。


I will be writing a more detailed overview of the trip in an eight part series in our monthly newsletter below. There you will also be able to read the essays written by the students, which will be distributed across the next eight issues. Hope you all enjoy their stories (English Only).


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Auspeaks Japanese


Beginning just three and a half years ago, with only three members, Auspeak is at the hub of Sydney’s language and cultural exchange between Australia and Japanese people. Meeting in a safe and casual context in a central Sydney Hotel, Auspeak is a friendly social gathering allowing Australians and Japanese to practise speaking Japanese and English, respectively. However as its members will attest to, Auspeak is much more than just a fortnightly language exchange event. More importantly it promotes cultural exchange and understanding and is a testament to numerous long standing inter-cultural friendships.


Now with a regular attendance of about fifty people, even the founder John is astounded at the growing success of Auspeak. “I started it because after returning from living in Japan, my Japanese friends in Sydney kept complaining they had no opportunity to meet locals. And I too wanted to keep up my Japanese so I wouldn’t forget it upon returning home.’ And so began the simple yet effective concept of Auspeak.


The meetings follow a constructive formula, where half hour time slots are alternated between English and Japanese, ensuring all participants can practise their language of choice. With no monetary membership fee, all are welcome and all that is required is a smile! Upon arrival members are given a short bilingual printout, which they are encouraged to fill out with five new words they have learnt from that day’s conversations. And of course the most important rule is to mingle! Interacting with lots of new people and engaging in interesting, often humorous conversations is all part of the fun!


Auspeak sees an eclectic mix of participants. Sprawling across half of the ground floor area of a popular Sydney Hotel, there is always a constant flow of lively chatter. At times it seems like a party, with people almost screaming over raucous laughter and excitement in order to remain audible! Miyuki Sato, a second timer at Auspeak, loves this casual and fun way of learning compared to the formal environment of her Sydney Language Institute, where she studies English on a daily basis. “I like meeting and talking with Australians so I can learn natural English and it’s fun here! Last time we went and tried salsa dancing after class together!” As evidence she is learning useful every day idioms, one of her newly learnt phrases of the day was “spread the word”, which ironically epitomises exactly what she has done since discovering Auspeak.

Auspeakには実に様々な人が参加されています。街でも人気のSydney Hotelのグランドフロアの半分を占めて、たくさんの人が絶え間なくおしゃべりをしています。時にはパーティのような盛り上がりを見せ、自分の声が騒々しい笑い声にかき消されないようにと、ほとんど叫んでいるかのような声でおしゃべりしています(笑)。Auspeakに参加するのは2度目だというMiyuki Satoさんは、カジュアルな雰囲気で楽しく学ぶことができるAuspeakが大好きだそうです。ちなみに、Satoさんが毎日英語を勉強しているというSydney Language Instituteは、もっとフォーマルな感じらしいです。「自然な英語を学ぶことができるので、Auspeakの集まりでオーストラリア人に会っておしゃべりするのが楽しいんです!前回は会の後に、みんなでサルサを踊りに行きました!」どうやら、Satoさんは日常生活で役立つイディオムを学んでいるようです。直近で学んだフレーズは、ズバリ「言葉を広める」というもの。図らずも彼女がAuspeakと出会って以来、してきたことですね。

Australia is renowned as a desirable destination for foreigners wanting to learn English, Sydney is often advertised as a city of golden sandy beaches, a picturesque harbour and cute cuddly koalas enticing thousands of temporary and permanent Japanese visitors yearly. But perhaps more importantly, Auspeak ensures Japanese people in Australia experience something which can’t be advertised on paper, an authentic Aussie Sunday get-together, chatting over a drink and having a laugh. No wonder Auspeak is the talk of the town!