Dec 172013

On December 14th, the Itoigawa Global Geopark presented the Itoigawa Global Geopark Revalidation Commemorative Forum 2013 in order to mark Itoigawa Global Geopark’s first successful revalidation, received in September at the Asia Pacific Geoparks Network Conference in Jeju, South Korea.

The forum, presented with the cooperation of the Itoigawa City Board of Education and the Ministry of the Environment Nagano Nature Conservation Office, had a theme of “Geo Women’s Worldwide Talk – Enjoying Geoparks and Natural Parks.” Several hundred local community members attended the event.

Children and parents alike enjoy Geo-themed arts and crafts

Children and parents alike enjoy Geo-themed arts and crafts

The Gakken Co., Ltd, a publishing company which specializes in educational toys and materials, supported the event by providing a number of arts and crafts projects for children and parents to enjoy. Visitors could create their own paints from rocks, including malachite and azurite. They also used different sizes and colors of sand to make geological strata-themed pendants. While Gakken provided a great deal of support in the planning of these activities, additional thanks are needed to the Volunteer Clubs of local Itoigawa and Hakurei Senior High Schools. The high school students were a great help in operating the arts and crafts activities.

Children use microscopes to observe sand from geoparks around Japan and the world

Children use microscopes to observe sand from geoparks around Japan and the world

The community was also invited to try Itoigawa’s Geo School Lunch, a Geopark-sponsored school lunch program that focuses on using locally-sourced ingredients in healthy, traditionally-inspired meals. The menu prepared for the event, which won the Mayor’s Award in the Itoigawa Geo Breakfast Competition, featured rice mixed with wakame seaweed and eggs, steamed salmon, konbu seaweed and steamed vegetables, and miso soup with winter melon and corn. Almost all of the ingredients were locally sourced, and the menu was designed with a breakfast theme, showing an easy, healthy, and delicious way to enjoy breakfast using Itoigawa produce.

Geo School Lunch is a hit with parents and children a like

Geo School Lunch is a hit with parents and children a like

The menu served for the event

The menu served for the event

The forum culminated in a panel discussion in which 4 guest panelists, all women, talked about how they like to enjoy Japan’s geoparks and nature parks. Among the panelists were a woman from the Ministry of the Environment, a woman from Gakken Publishing, a New Zealander woman who works for the Oki Islands Global Geopark, and a woman from Itoigawa Global Geopark. Community members enjoyed listening to the women share their experiences in geoparks.

The Geo Ladies Panel, with Moderator Satoko Itou.

The Geo Ladies Panel, with Moderator Satoko Itou

Several hundred local community members attended the event. Through events like this we hope to improve awareness of not only Itoigawa Global Geopark, but also geoparks throughout Japan and the world. By using a Geo Women theme, we also hope to introduce more women to everything the geoparks have to offer.


Nov 142013

Good morning from Itoigawa Global Geopark! Just a short post today, but after the recent bad weather I wanted to give proof that the weather isn’t constantly stormy and grey here in Itoigawa!

2013-11-14 09.46.12Today the skies are clear, offering a fantastic view of the Northern Alps  from the city office. Just outside the window, work continues on the renovation of Itoigawa’s Civic Center. On the other side we are offered this view:

2013-11-14 09.43.41Here we have a fantastic view of the new Hokuriku Shinkansen Itoigawa Station, which is still under construction. Beyond that, the Sea of Japan stretches as far as the eye can see.

I hope the weather is as beautiful where you are! If you are in Itoigawa, take the opportunity to explore everything the Geopark has to offer before the weather becomes too cold!




Nov 132013

Good morning, everyone, from the Itoigawa Global Geopark! It seems like only last month when Itoigawa was shattering records for hottest temperatures in Japan…

…probably because it was only last month.

That time seems ages away now as Itoigawa experiences its first stormy winter weather of the season.

Winter weather and mountainsFor the past few days the skies have been gray and every day has brought sleet and soft hail. It’s all part of a yearly cycle in which weather systems begins to roll in from the mainland across the Sea of Japan. While these weather systems do bring a number of unpleasant days like these, it also bring the large amounts of beautiful white snow which completely transform the Itoigawa landscape every year. It’s time to dig out your ski equipment, we’ll be heading to the slopes soon!



Oct 092013

Good afternoon everyone! It’s another scorcher today at the Itoigawa Global Geopark!


That’s right! Thirty degrees in the shade! In October! What is the world coming to? The Oumi Branch of the Itoigawa City Office reported a high of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). The temperature should drop this evening as Typhoon #24 comes closer to the coast. The wind is quite strong here and the skies are beginning to darken, but we aren’t expecting to see a great deal of rain from the now greatly weakened typhoon.


In nicer news, while it is still a few weeks off, we are beginning to see a bit of autumn color in central Itoigawa. This weekend I will visit the mountains to see how the foliage is coming along there! Check back for more pictures next week!



Oct 072013

Good afternoon everyone! Here at the Itoigawa Global Geopark, it’s sweltering hot!
26 in the Shade!

At the small shaded plaza in front of Itoigawa Station, the thermometer read 26°C (79°F) this afternoon. Other parts of town are experiencing temperatures as high as 30°C (85°F)! It’s hard to believe such a warm day in October.

View from Geopark Office

While the warm weather is certainly enjoyable, it means a late autumn foliage season. The trees are not changing in time for the upcoming three day weekend, which may prove disappointing for visitors. Hopefully the leaves will begin changing soon!



Sep 182013

Last week, on the 9th, the Itoigawa Global Geopark had its certification renewed at the 3rd annual Asia Pacific Geoparks Network Symposium held at the Jeju KAL Hotel in Jeju, South Korea.


The announcement was made as part of the welcome dinner, in the following picture you can see the tension in the air as representatives from around the world wait to see how their geoparks fared in the recertification:


Tension was equally high back home at the Itoigawa City Office, as members of the public gathered to watch a live feed of the results.


At 6:20pm, the Global Geoparks Network representative displayed a list of Geoparks which received recertification…


…and Itoigawa was on the list! In addition to Itoigawa, Toya Caldera – Usu Volcano Geopark and Unzen Volcanic Area Geopark also received recertification. This means the first three Global Geoparks in Japan all passed their first round of recertification.

CongratsCongratulations and thanks are in order to all the people of Itoigawa, without whom the Itoigawa Global Geopark would not be possible. Let’s all work together to make the Itoigawa Global Geopark the best it can be!





Sep 022013

Two weeks ago, on August 21st, 30 third-year junior high school students from Itoigawa departed on a study tour of Itoigawa’s Sister Geopark, the Hong Kong Global Geopark.


During their stay in Hong Kong, the weather was cloudy and rainy. They had initially prepared themselves for Hong Kong’s stifling heat but, thanks to the clouds and rain, were spared from the burning August sun.

Boat Tour

On the 2nd day, the group toured the Hong Kong Geopark, located within Hong Kong’s surprisingly rural New Territories. In addition to a boat tour of the Geopark, they were also given an opportunity to land on and visit two islands which house traditional villages far removed from the skyscrapers and bright lights of Metropolitan Hong Kong.

View from Boat

Traditional Village

The scenery on the islands and within the villages of the Hong Kong Geopark were like nothing the students had ever seen.

After dinner, the students went to view the nightscape of Hong Kong, but the fog was heavy and so the summit of Hong Kong’s famous Victoria Peak was not visible. Sadly, the fog ensured that Hong Kong’s famous “Million Dollar View” could only be appraised at about 500 grand that night.

Touring High Island
On the 3rd day, the students from Itoigawa had an opportunity to meet with local students from Hong Kong and tour more of the Geopark together. At lunchtime shyness got the better of the students and they said very little to each other, but by the end of the exchange they were exchanging mail addresses and promising to write each other! Hopefully some closer friendships will develop through continued correspondence.

View of Hong Kong

On the 4th day of their stay in Hong Kong, the group toured the city of Hong Kong and learned more about how people live there. While they spent the entire day in the city, enjoying a wide range of sights and visiting many landmarks, the students reported that it felt like they were there for only a moment. They certainly want to visit again to experience more of this beautiful city.

It was a great five days for the students who participated and they learned a great deal about our Sister Geopark in Hong Kong. Through programs like this we hope to continue to foster close relationships with other geoparks both here in Asia and aroud the world!


Aug 202013

Good afternoon, everyone! As you may know, last Saturday was the 2013 Play & Learn at the Itoigawa Global Geopark event.

The Itoigawa Global Geopark Learn & Play event gets set up at Oyashirazu Pier Park

The Itoigawa Global Geopark Learn & Play event gets set up at Oyashirazu Pier Park

Learn & Play is a yearly event which invites young and old alike to participate in a variety of fun (and educational!) activities related to the Itoigawa Global Geopark. Held toward the end of summer vacation, Learn & Play has something for everyone:

Geopark staff and volunteers help children and parents identify rocks

Geopark staff and volunteers help children and parents identify rocks

One of the main activities offered was the creation of rock sample cases. The beaches of Oyashirazu are a treasure trove of rocks of  many kinds and origins. Geopark staff members, volunteer guides, and students from the Niigata University Geology Department were on hand to assist in the identification and labeling of specimens.

Children and adults try their hand at making magatama beads

Children and adults try their hand at making magatama beads

Perhaps the most popular activity was magatama bead making. In this activity, instructors taught guests how to make their own magatama beads, using techniques similar to those employed by the Jomon people millennia ago here in Itoigawa. Rather than use jade, which is exceptionally hard and requires countless hours of grinding and polishing to work using traditional methods, visitors made their beads out of talc. The earliest Jomon people similarly used talc to produce their first beads, owing to its soft and easily malleable nature.

Children paint rocks they've collected

Children paint rocks they’ve collected

Another activity offered was rock painting. Here, children were encouraged to collect rocks with interesting shapes and to paint them based on how they thought they appeared. You may remember the post from last week in which we made a few examples of these.

Learn & Play 2013Overall, the event was a great success! Apart from these three activities, visitors could also participate in a seaside treasure hunt and an Oyashirazu Pier Park-themed quiz! Hundreds of people came out to take part in the event and we’d like to thank all of them. We hope to see you next year as well!




Aug 162013

Good morning, everyone! Ishikoro here, reporting from the (at least recently!) ever sunny Itoigawa Geopark!

Today I’d like to share with you one of the features of the Kotakigawa Jade Gorge Geosite: The Jade Gorge Fishing Park.

Mt. Myojo rises over the Fishing Park

Mt. Myojo rises over the Fishing Park

The Jade Gorge Fishing Park centers around an artificially-formed branch of the Kotakigawa River, using the river’s natural flow. It offers visitors, beginners and experienced anglers alike, an opportunity to try mountain stream fishing. Among the fish found swimming in this stream are varieties of char, rainbow trout,  and other freshwater trout. After catching the trout, the park has facilities available for cleaning and grilling the fish to enjoy right there.

The price for fishing (which includes rod, bait, basket, and a limit of 5 fish) is 2000 yen.

Visitors try their hands at hand-fishing

Visitors try their hands at hand-fishing

Last Sunday, the Fishing Park hosted its annual Char and Trout Festival, offering visitors a variety of ways to enjoy the cold mountain stream water and the fish that inhabit it.

The Fishing Park will remain open everyday from 9am until 4pm until August 25th. After that, the park will open only on weekends and holidays. Plan a trip here soon, before summer vacation ends.


Aug 142013

Good afternoon, everyone, from the Itoigawa Global Geopark!

Today, we did some preparation for the Itoigawa Geopark Learn & Play event that will be held at Oyashirazu Pier Park this Saturday (August 17th).

Jade CoastFirst we went to the Jade Coast, a popular beach near Downtown Itoigawa.

Scouring the ShoresAnd then, we began our search! But what are we looking for?

Rocks!Rocks! Of course we are looking for rocks! We collected bags of them and brought them back into the office.

But what did we do with those rocks? You’ll have to come to Oyashirazu Pier Park on Saturday if you want to find out!



Itoigawa Geopark Learn & Play 2013
Place: Oyashirazu Pier Park
Time: August 17 10:00am – 2:30pm
Open to Anyone and Everyone!