New Year Traditions around the World

January 9, 2018

Japan: Bells are rung 108 times at Buddhist temples. The Japanese believe this cleans them of the previous years sins.


Philippines: Circles are considered sacred, so Philippine people often eat round fruits and wear polka dots to bring prosperity.

Burma: During the Thingyan festival, the Burmese splash each other with water to purify their souls.

Armenia: Armenian mothers bake a special bread which is kneaded with luck and good wishes.


Spain: Eating one grape with each of the 12 chimes of the clock at midnight is said to bring a happy year.

Romania: Spare coins are thrown into the river by the Romanians so that they receive good luck.

Denmark: Danes smash plates at their neighbors door. The more broken plates are at your door, the more luck you will have.


Scotland: There is a New Years Eve Parade where Scots swing around giant balls of fire.

Brazil: Thousands of white flowers are offered to the Goddess of the Sea so that she makes New Year wishes come true.

Ecuador: Ecuadorians make paper scarecrows, often in the image of a person disliked, and burn them at midnight to bring good fortune.


Chile: Graveyards are opened so Chileans can bring in the New Year with their deceased ones.

America: Thousands have gathered in New York Times Square to watch the New Year ball drop since 1907.

Mexico: House are decorated in colors representing their New Year hopes. For example, red is for love and green is for money.


How did you celebrate the New Year?


December 6, 2017
 Did you know that long ago, Christmas wasnt celebrated in Hawaii? Ancient Hawaiians had a Makahiki festival that lasted for four months. The holiday as we now know it was not until Christianity came to the islands and King Kamehameha IV declared December 25th a national holiday in 1856.


 Today, Christmas is celebrated similarly to the mainland America, but with a Hawaiian spin. City Hall lights up a Hawaii-grown 50 foot tall evergreen tree in December. Their decorations include lights, poinsettia flowers, and even a giant display of Santa Claus with a shaka sign.


 Christmas luau feasts often have food from different countries. To name a few: sashimi, chicken adobo (Philippines), kalbi short ribs (Korea), tamales (Mexico), manapua (China), pad thai (Thailand), and malasada (Portugal). Of course, traditional food such as kalua pig, lau lau, and poke are always popular during the holidays.



 However, maybe Christmas feels incomplete without snow. With average low temperatures near 20C, its said that Santa Claus goes surfing after Christmas. Luckily, if you need that white Christmas, then go to Mauna Kea. At the highest peak of Hawaii, you can play with snow on a volcano.


 Lastly, it wouldnt be Christmas without music and carols. We bring out the ukulele and slack key guitar. You wont hear, On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a partridge in a pear tree. Instead wed sing in pidgin, Numbah one day of Christmas, my tutu gave to me: one myna bird in one papaya tree. The Christmas song, Mele Kalikimaka, brings festive cheer.


 Wish everyone a Merry Christmas the Hawaiian way by saying, Mele Kalikimaka!


Lets Do Shimanami Kaido!
June 29, 2017


 The expressway that connects Shikoku to Honshu via Imabari City and Onomichi City also boasts to be the best cycling route in all of Japan. A route of 70 kilometers takes cyclists over bridges and through six islands to give a unique experience of breathtaking scenery in tandem with exhilarating exercise. The path is clearly marked and inclines are not so steep that even a novice can complete the trail within a day. The expressway can also be traveled by vehicles or pedestrians, but cycling is definitely the best way to go!


The Kurishima-Kaikyo Bridge is the bridge that connects Imabari City to Oshima Island. It is also the worlds longest suspension bridge structure at 4,015 meters. On Oshima Island you can appreciate many different types of roses in the Yoshiumi Rose Garden and try rose-flavored ice cream as well.


Keeping hydrated and well fed is important for cyclists, but savoring the island favors are good too! On Hakatajima Island, there is delicious soft ice cream made with Hakata salt. Whereas gelato made from Setoda citrus fruits can be found on Ikuchijima Island. When you reach Onomichi City, you can try the local ramen with soup stock made from Seto Inland Sea fish.


You can enjoy cycling while seeing beautiful ocean and island scenery. Lets try it!


English News: Cool Japan!

May 31, 2017

Japan has developed as a cultural superpower. Due to its unique interests in media, food, architecture, tradition, and other areas, Japan has gained popularity among foreigners. For me, a deep love for Japan was sparked when I was introduced to anime as young as elementary school. I might have been impressed by the quality animation, or moved by the profound values of characters unlike I'd known before, but I definitely thought, "This is awesome!" Whether or not foreigners think Hello Kitty is cute or that public bathing is bizarre, Japan is very popular. In other words, Japan is cool.
Cool Japan will grab you and never let go!

So what do Japanese people think is cool about Japan?

"I like Japanese food," a first-year student says. "I like sushi.  I like squid. I like tuna." Members of her family also like sushi, particularly salmon and egg. "Kaiten-zushi," or conveyor belt sushi, where sushi is placed on a rotating conveyor belt so customers can choose from a steady stream of fresh sushi, definitely makes Japan special. Because of its convenient style and originality, similar sushi shops have popped up around the world.
 "I like Skytree," the student continues. "It's 634 meters." Indeed, at about 2,000 feet Tokyo Skytree is the tallest tower in the world. A world breaking record! The view from the observatory is wonderful and you can even see Mount Fuji on a clear day. It's no wonder that millions of people visit this piece of architecture.

"I like kotatsu," says another first-year student. "Kotatsu is hot. I use it in winter. While using kotatsu, I eat oranges. It is very good!" A kotatsu is a low table frame, that is covered with a heavy blanket and then a table top. Heat is trapped beneath the blanket, keeping the lower body nice and warm in the winter. Foreigners are more familiar with room-wide heating, but a kotatsu is a Japanese winter tradition that one should experience.
 "My mother likes Poppo Onsen," she adds. Onsen, or hot spring bath, is another unique experience. A hot bath is certainly relaxing, and coupled with the natural beauty and invigorating water, there is nothing that compares. Poppo Onsen is a popular hot spring in Matsuno, and not too far from Uwajima. The atmosphere is quite charming.

"I think Japanese festival, matsuri, is Cool Japan. Also, I think that a small matsuri in the area is common in Japan," shares Mr. Iwamoto. "In the matsuri, thoughts of the Japanese, such as nature, seasons, tradition, etc., are condensed. So, the Japanese matsuri is interesting!" Undoubtedly, the seasonal festivals are something to look forward to.

As it can be seen, many things make Japan cool! What is your favorite thing about Japan? Perhaps it might be traditional tea ceremony, or the hilarious Youtuber Hajimeshacho, or even the strange otaku atmosphere. Unique, interesting, or fun, there are many reasons for a Cool Japan. Let's go find them!

Spring Vacation!

April 27, 2017

  I spent the spring vacation here in Ehime! I went to Maruyama Park with my friends and we did cherry blossom viewing. Luckily, it was a good day with sunny weather. We took many pictures. After we ate our lunches, we played badminton and volleyball. It was my first time playing badminton, but it was still fun! Then, I asked, What did you do during Spring Vacation? This is what they wrote. They sketched pictures, too!

  I went shopping in Matsuyama and Masaki with my family. I bought some clothes, shoes, a cap, and a cushion. I was so excited. I watched a movie. When I watched it, I ate popcorn. I watched Sword Art Online. Its my favorite novel. We enjoyed that day.
  My friend Shota went to Miyajima. He bought shamoji (rice paddle). On it was written konjyo. After that, he visited Hiroshima. He watched Hiroshima Touyo Carps baseball game. He was so excited! –A. Umezaki

  I went to Sukumo with my mother and sister. I cut my hair there. Hair became quite short. My hair got lighter and more refreshing. Also, my mother bought me new clothes. It was a very good spring vacation! –Y. Shimizu

  I went to Game Centers. I played with my friends. I went to cram school. –K. Morimoto

  On April 1st, I went to my grandparents house with my mother to meet them in Matsuyama. We enjoyed shopping there. I felt happy! I want to go again.
  My friend Kankichi went to Kagawa to eat udon on April 3rd. He loves udon very much. I love udon, too! –S. Akagashi

  I went to Shimanto with family. I rented a bike and enjoyed cycling. We also did cherry blossom viewing. Next, we ate katsuonotataki. It was good and delicious. We were very pleased. –H. Takahasi

  I went karaoke with my sister. Late March, I played with slime and squeezed it. That was very fun. I went to buy a bed with my mother. –M. Simizu

  I went to karaoke with my friends during spring vacation. I like karaoke very much! I went by bicycle for fifteen minutes. We sang for two hours. It was very fun!
  My sister and brother and mother went to Matsuyama for shopping. They bought clothes and socks. Then, they ate ice cream. I want to go together next time. –H. Yamamoto

  I went to a hot spring with my family. We can relax there very much. After that we ate special food, yakibuta egg rice. Its so delicious. I was happy while eating. We want to go there again.
  My friend name Sato went to Matsuyama with her friends. She went to Emiful, amusement park and had a good time. She was satisfied with going. –R. Tsurui

  I played badminton with my sister. I went to Matsuyama. I got on a street car. I rode the Ferris wheel. I saw beautiful scenery. I met my grandfather.
  My friend Ai played with her friend outside. She reviewed Japanese, math, science, and social studies. She watched TV. –Y. Seike
  I went to Hawaii. I rode a horse at Kualoa Ranch. I saw Tantalus night view. I bought hand cream. I climbed Diamond Head. It was very tiring. I ate huli-huli chicken and macadamia nuts. Hawaiis food is very delicious.– A. Zenke

  I did some things during spring vacation. I went karaoke with my friend and went out with my family. Also I listened to music and did a game. I spent a good spring vacation.
  My friend Rena spent her spring vacation slowly. She read comics, did homework, and helped with housework. Besides that, she watched TV programs and listened to music. She cannot choose one thing from her memory, but she spent a good time. –R. Sato

  At the end of March, my favorite car was broken. Therefore I decided to buy a new car. My favorite car was made more than 20 years ago. I liked the design which the present car did not have very much. It was the parting that was very sad for me. –Mr. Iwamoto

  We hope you enjoyed your spring vacation too! May you enjoy your Golden Week as well!

Sharing Uwajima with the World

February 28th, 2017

    On February 26th, I and four other ALTs were led around Uwajima for the opening of its Tourist Information Center. With the SGG (Systematized Goodwill Guide) Uwajima volunteer guides, we went to Uwajima Castle and saw the early blooming cherry blossoms. Thanks to SGG, I learned about the different methods of building the stone foundation and the various surrounding vegetation.

    Next, we went orange picking with Ehime Kankitsu Sommelier Group and we tasted tarocco, setoka, and natsumi oranges that we plucked from the trees.

    "Oranges are like people," a sommelier group member said. "They have different characteristics, so you must call them by their name." All the oranges were delicious, but I love the sweet blood red oranges the best.

     Lastly, we went to Kiya Inn for lunch and a ceremony with the mayor. We had fantastic local food like tai soumen, pearl mussel, and amazake. Uwajima is a great place, so let's share it with other foreigners too!

Want to Study Abroad?

December 20, 2016

    I feel very blessed to be in Japan now. Being immersed in a foreign culture has given me opportunities that wouldn't have been possible otherwise. Many Ehime ALTs feel the same. This is why the Ehime AJET Scholarship was started.

    In order to give our students the opportunity to experience the world, we hold many fundraising events throughout the year. With the 200,000 yen raised, one high school student can study abroad during the summer in an English speaking country of their choice. The scholarship committee chooses a student who demonstrates passion for learning English and shows interest in international relations.

Scholarship recipient with Uwajima ALTs, published in July 2015 Ehime Shinbun

    Past scholarship recipients had worries, especially about their English abilities. But remarkably, they overcame their fears and the entire experience became more than just studying abroad. What did it become? To answer that, you'd have to live it yourself and find out!

    If you have any questions or are interested in the application process, please feel free to contact Caitlyn Cagaoan.

Let's Be Healthy!

December 15, 2016

    "It's cold!" I agree. The temperature falls below 20 , heaters are turned on, and it is prime season for sickness. It would be terrible to catch a cold. Luckily, we regularly hold sports events to keep ourselves healthy!

    Last week we had Sports Day. Not quite as grand as the summer Sports Festival, but it was just as exciting. Students were broken into teams and competed in basketball, soccer, and volleyball. Everyone played hard and tried their best despite the cold weather. When students weren't playing, we cheered on their classmates and friends from the sidelines. Seeing everyone's great teamwork and camaraderie made me think America should have Sports Day too.

    This week, students will also participate in marathon running. It is difficult, but it is good for the body. You can do it!

Happy Holidays!

December 6, 2016

     Recently, I was treated to not one, but two Thanksgiving celebrations. Thanksgiving originated as a day to be thankful for the harvest. But to me, Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season. I can look forward to festivities and family gatherings. Although I'm not with my blood relations now, I extended my family with new friends. We foreigners from America, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Ireland, and even Philippines came together for great food and company.!

     There was, of course, the traditional turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. But everyone contributed to the meal and showcased our surprising cooking skills. I made mac and cheese as well as the Hawaiian dessert haupia. Together we played games and chatted about life and Pokemon Go. I am very thankful to have these wonderful people in my life.

Let's Enjoy English!

November 15, 2016

     On this past Saturday, elementary school students were able to experience English class and club here. During English class, we had introductions and a restaurant activity. Students chanted "Nice to meet you" and "Nice to meet you,too!" Together with Ms. Ise, I introduced American play money with $1 bills and half-dollar coins. Then, the students got to buy and sell items as if they were in a real restaurant. "One hamburger, please," a customer said. "Here you are," a shopkeeper replied. The students were very shy, but they were able to experience ordering in English.
     During English club, we also had an introduction activity as well as a Charades game. First, the students wrote their names on a piece of paper that they folded into a paper airplane. Then, they got to throw the airplanes around the room! When they found someone else's airplane they had to find the original owner and then introduce that person. Then we played Charades, a gestures game. The students had to make movements with their bodies so that their team members could guess the correct alphabet letter or English word. With Mr. Asao and the students of SGH club, it was great fun!

October 31, 2016

     Halloween is a special day celebrated on October 31st. It is a day to remember the dead, much like how the Japanese celebrate Obon. However, unlike Obon, Halloween is considered to be scary. Halloween activities include wearing costumes, trick-or-treating, and visiting haunted places. Here at Uwajima Minami, I did Halloween-themed activities and students learned about spooky figures such as vampires, monsters, and witches.

     In Yoshida, other ALTs and I helped out at the Halloween event. I dressed in a simple costume of Snow White, Disney's first princess. I saw many children dressed in wonderful costumes like Waldo, a scary pumpkin, Alice from Alice in Wonderland, and even Snow White! That day had many fun activities. For instance, apple bobbing, mummy wrapping, decorating jack-o-lanterns, and of course going through the haunted house. Boo!

Cursive Poetry Contest

June 6, 2016

     For the past two months, the English Clubs of Uwajima Minami Secondary School and Uwajima Higashi High School have learned how to write in cursive. Cursive is an English writing style where the letters are joined in a flowing manner and is usually used for personal writing such as signatures and diary writing. In addition, the students learned how to write poems, such as the English haiku, acrostic poem, and free verse poem. Then, they combined the two skills and produced a poem in cursive.

     On June 4th, the students exhibited their work at Uwajima Higashi High School. The students from both schools chatted and introduced each other in English. Along with native English speakers who judged their work, the students viewed each other's poems. Writing down their comments and favorite parts, the students also voted for their favorite poem. In addition to the Popular Award, students were awarded for Best Haiku, Best Free Verse, Excellence in Aesthetics, and Excellence in Legibility. In the end, all the students were able to express themselves in English creatively. Congratulations, everyone!

What's your name? What do you like?

Let's read this poem together!

Presentation of Awards

Kawananakoa Middle School Exchange

May 27, 2016

     From the 22nd to the 26th, students from Kawananakoa Middle School in Hawaii visited our school. During their homestay, they visited many places such as Tenshaen Garden and Matsuyama Castle. They also participated in different subjects with our students. It was difficult to communicate in English, but everybody had fun. Lets meet again in Hawaii!

Student's Comment:

     I've always wanted to visit Japan and so when I found out that I was coming to Uwajima, I was excited. This experience benefited me because not only was I able to learn about the Japanese culture, but I was also able to make more friends from a different country. I really enjoyed my experience with Japan because it is different from Hawaii. For example, at school in Japan the teachers change, but in Hawaii students change classes. I'm also thankful for my host family for letting me stay with them. They were really patient with me and took time to help me understand what they were trying to say. I also taught them a little English so they could understand me better and the other way around. I especially I enjoyed the food that they served me. There was one food that I enjoyed the most: the ochazuke. I liked that because it had a lot of flavor and there was salmon in it, my favorite type of fish. Japan has taught me a lot and I'm thankful for it.

Troy Sensano

Welcome UPIS Students!

March 15, 2016

     Eight students from University of the Philippines Integrated School visited our school on March 15th. They were not familiar with Uwajima's colder weather and wore at least four layers of clothing. They said that in the Philippines, even if you were wearing one shirt it would still be too hot. Koto Club members performed a song called "Pegasus," and let the visitors play with the stringed instrument.

Then, our high school students did presentations about Uwajima and our school. Next, Uwajima Minami students taught how to make temaki sushi and the UPIS students taught how to make a dessert called palitaw (ѥ꥿). They explained that palitaw means "to float" because the rice flour mixture will rise in boiled water when cooked.

While we ate, the UPIS students were skilled with the chopsticks, but they explained they usually eat with their hands or a fork. Everyone thought the food was delicious! For dessert, we ate ichigo daifuku. For our visitors, strawberries are rare so it was their first or second time eating it. They liked the dessert so much, they wanted second helpings! It was fun and interesting to meet and chat with these Filipino students.

Graduation Ceremony

March 1, 2016

     March 1st was our school's graduation ceremony. The sixth years finally completed high school! It was a solemn yet moving occasion, and I admit that even I was tearing up near the end. It made me smile to hear their names called one by one and hear them each reply, "Hai!" Similarly, it reminded me of when students' names are read during American graduation ceremonies before they receive their diplomas. One thing that surprised me was the involvement of underclassmen and former principals. The non-graduating students sang a beautiful farewell song for the graduating class. In America, younger students usually do not participate or attend the ceremony, unless they are close with a graduating student. I was also surprised that principals, from elementary schools our students attended, were invited as guests of honor. Such a practice would be strange back in America. But, I think it is a heartwarming sentiment. Listening to the students recall their fond memories and sing together the school song for the last time was also very touching. After many trials and tribulations, it is such a feat these students have accomplished! Congratulations, Class of 2016!

New ALT: Aloha from Hawaii!

November 20, 2015

     Meet Caitlyn, a new Assistant Language Teacher in Uwajima. Caitlyn is teaching English at Uwajima Minami Super Global High School. She is from Hawaii of the United States and recommends trying Hawaiian food like lau lau and poi. Caitlyn studied Children's Literature at the University of Hawaii. Her hobby is collecting things with stars and she also loves to travel. She has a younger sister named Chelsea, who is an ALT in Nagano. Caitlyn also enjoys spending time with friends. She looks forward to teaching English and learning more about Japanese culture.

New ALT Profile:
Family name: Cagaoan
First name: Caitlyn
Born: Oahu, Hawaii
Age: 25
Favorite food: Pasta
Date of birth: 01/16/1990
Astrological sign: Capricorn

Caitlyn with her sister and the view of Hawaii in the background.

Workshop for international leadership 2015

September 2, 2015

Students' Comments

    I joined this workshop because I wanted foster my leadership.
    First, we learned JICA's activities. They had worked hard to improve a standard of living and education in developing countries. We discussed about what we could do for them. There were many contents, e.g. environmental issue, sightseeing, occupation and so on.
    Second, Chirasi Art was very fun! It looked like an ordinary bracelet but it was made from fliers. The disabled people in developing countries make it their income. But it was so easy.
    This workshop said that you should head abroad. Now I do that a little but it was precious experience for me.


    I took part in this program on August 2nd and 3rd. I learned many things.
    On the first day, we made two groups to discuss Bhutan with the other members. Today there are many problems in Bhutan. For example, agriculture, child labor and so on. We have to think about these serious issues.
    On the second day, we talked with people who had studied in Japan. I enjoyed it. There was a student who spoke English fluently among us. I wanted to speak English more fluently!

Japan-US Training and Exchange Program for Young Teachers

August 24, 2015

     From July 21st to August 10th, I took part in a program held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was the "Japan-US Training and Exchange Program for Young Teachers". 90 teachers (not only English teachers but also other subjects) from all over Japan participated in this program. All participants felt how important it was to have experience. When we try to do new things, we sometimes have worries, but we can learn so many things from the experience.
    We started this program in Tokyo and flew to Washington, D.C. Then, each three groups moved to Portland, Salt Lake City and New York City. I belonged to the NYC group and had a great experience there.
    We were given an opportunity to study in Teachers College, Columbia University. The lectures and workshops we took were very interesting. We learned a lot of things through visiting some museums, the United Nations and so on.
    We enjoyed noticing and learning the differences between American and Japanese culture and education.

Eri Maeda

Columbia University Teachers College in CU A scene working on a task

United Nations In front of the famous monument in UN

Gate of subway A sign on the subway

Chinese students visited our school! ya ya ya

July 16, 2015

   Chinese students from International Pacific Women's College visited Uwajima Minami Secondary School. On June 24th, two students joined Japanese history lesson. On July 6th, seven students came to school and some members of SGH club showed them around the school. They visited Kendo club, Art club, Japanese music club and Japanese culture club. It was the first experiences for them to watch such activities, so they enjoyed watching the clubs. We are glad if they understood some parts of Japanese school life. You can see their impressions of this school visit.

Having Guests From Hawaii

   Two Hawaiian students (Ashley Akemi Nakaoka, Takayuki Christopher Nagase) visited our school on June 16th. They told us about Hawaiian culture, language, history and so on. They showed us how to dance the Hula. We enjoyed Hula dancing with them. After the class, we talked with them in English. This was a wonderful experience and we had a lot of fun. We understood Hawaii very well.

Laughing and talking in the principal's room.

They came from the University of Hawaii.

They played the ukulele.

Hawaiian dancer.


  They were forced to dance by the ukulele.


  They danced willingly.

French artists visited our school

   Le Blay Frederic, Travert Jean Paul and Rene Le Gall are French artists. They visited our school on May 19th and members of the SGH club welcomed them.
   They are the members of the Society of Small Towns in France and the group has done cultural exchange programs through the art with Mikame-cho. One of the teachers who used to work at our school happens to know them and invited them. We showed them some unique clubs in our school such as hougaku, brass band, japanese culture club, and the Kendo club. We learned how fun and exciting it is to communicate with people who have a different cultural background.

Globalization and Native Culture
March, 2015

       On Saturday, March 7th, a fourth lecture related to an associate of SGH (Super Global High school) was given at our school.
       Mr. Okamoto Koji, an honorary professor at Osaka International University gave a lecture with on Globalization and native culture.
       He told us the differences between Japan and India. He has gone to India for these 40 years. He felt those differences through his life experience in India.
       At the end of his lecture, he mentioned globalization isnt about whether we can speak English or not. Its about how much we understand our own country and whether we can explain it to people from other countries.

Those who catch fish and those who eat fish
Monday, December 2014

       On Saturday, December 6th, a third lecture related to an associate of SGH (Super Global High school) was given at our school.
       Mr. Kameda Kazuhiko, a professor of fishery at Nagasaki University gave a lecture with the theme Those who catch fish and those who eat fish.
       He told us it is important to think about the management of the resources in the ocean from the point of view of supply and demand. We should consider how we can live in harmony with those resources and the other countries who use them.
       At the end of his lecture, he mentioned his technical assistance work in Costa Rica. He told us that learning about fisheries gives us a chance to widen our field of vision.

Students Comments

Ueda Kodai
       In recent years, the consumption of fish is decreasing. I think it is a problem. It is caused by a change of lifestyle, the nuclearization of the family and advancement in society of woman. Eating fish is troublesome. But eating fish is very important and very necessary. Uwajima is a city in which the fishing industry is prosperous. So, I think we should advertise about it. And then we should hold an event like Uwajima Sangyo festival. During this event, the marine produce of Uwajima is displayed and sold. I think this event is very good. If we eat fish, the food self-sufficiency ratio will rise.

<img src="http://uwajimaminami-h.esnet.ed.jp/9_kokus
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