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!




Aug 122013

Good morning, everyone, from the Itoigawa Global Geopark! It’s shaping up to be another sweltering August Day today, but we’re all working hard here in the office!

Last week, I was unable to write a blog about it, but this morning I would like to share with you one of Itoigawa’s largest summer festivals which was held here on the 3rd:  The Omanta Festival.

Omanta Festival Dancers

Community members join in the dancing that forms the main event at the Omanta Festival.

Omanta’ is a word in the Itoigawa dialect of Japanese that translates to “you (plural).” It is a word that is unique to Itoigawa and so it is only natural that it come to represent just what it means to be a citizen of Itoigawa.

The Omanta Matsuri or Omanta Festival is held on the first weekend of August every year. It starts early Saturday morning with the usual shrine processions and culminates in a large bon odori, a style of traditional Japanese dance that is performed in a large circle. The bon odori at Itoigawa’s Omanta Festival is danced by nearly 3000 members, divided up into over 50 teams. The entire dance is performed in front of Itoigawa Station, around roughly two blocks.

Picture of Itoigawa's Mascots

Mascots of Itoigawa and the Geopark pose for pictures.

This year’s festival saw the introduction of a new mascot for Itoigawa, standing third from the right: Gyofu-san. Modeled after Gyofu Souma, a famous poet and writer from Itoigawa, Gyofu-san was created to introduce the traditional arts of Itoigawa to the younger generations.

Mascots dancing

Mascots join in the bon odori

The mascots even had an opportunity to join members of the Itoigawa Geopark Staff in the festivities of the evening.

On the 10th, Nou District celebrated with their fireworks festival. I’ll be sure to post about that before the week is out.