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Fukushima opens shop in N.Y. to promote “sake” rice wine

3 December 2018

The Fukushima prefectural government opened a temporary pilot shop in New York on Dec. 1 to boost name recognition of locally produced “sake” rice wines and increase their sales in the United States.

Dubbed “Fukushima’s SAKE Challenge Shop,” the store is located in a commercial facility in Manhattan. At a ceremony marking its launch, about 20 people attended, including trading company officials and those from the facility. “We would like to send out information to New Yorkers about the attractiveness of Fukushima-brewed sake,” Yasuji Miyamura , head of the prefectural government’s tourism and exchange bureau, told the ceremony as he proposed a toast. Visitors enjoyed a wide variety of sake brands, including comparing the taste.

The shop offers 50 brands supplied by 11 Fukushima brewers working to export sake to the U.S. market. Set to operate until early March next year, it will publicize the high quality, profound taste and safety of Fukushima sake.

The United States has seen sake consumption growing year after year amid rising popularity of “washoku” Japanese cuisine, taking in some 50% of sake exports from Fukushima. The prefecture intends to assist local brewers in boosting their U.S. sales, making a pitch for them through the shop on the back of its established reputation as a leading sake-producing region in Japan. For the sixth straight year, Fukushima won more golds than any other competitor among Japan’s 47 prefectures at the 2018 “Annual Japan Sake Awards” national competition for newly brewed sake.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

19 November 2018

Iwaki city wins Fukushima “ekiden” relay race for 2nd straight year

The 30th annual long-distance “ekiden” road relay race of all 59 cities, towns and villages in Fukushima Prefecture took place on Nov. 18 on a 95-kilometer course spanning 16 stages, starting from Qatar Sports Park Shirakawa in Shirakawa city and finishing in front of the prefectural government office in Fukushima city.

A team representing Iwaki city won the “Fukushima Ekiden” event for the second straight year to claim its 13th title overall in both city-to-city and all-municipality categories. Supported by peer-to-peer bonds and roadside cheering, a total of 31,952 runners have participated in the annual race in 30 years.

The front-running Iwaki team saw its lead once narrowed to 8 seconds by a runner-up team from Ishikawa town but widened the difference on the 13th leg and thereafter, with its anchor Takumi Kazawa , a 21-year-old senior of Heisei International University, crossing the finish line with an overall time of 5 hours, 1 minute, 4 seconds -- a gap of 4 minutes, 43 seconds from the second ranker.

Ishikawa won the all-town competition for the third consecutive year and the third time overall while placing second in the all-municipality category, helped largely by runners from Gakuho Ishikawa High School. Final 16th-stage runner Daiki Imamura , a 27-year-old teacher at an Ishikawa school for disabled students, broke the tape to clock 5:5:47.

In the all-village category, Izumizaki grabbed the title for the second year running and 11th time overall, fully displaying the combined power of all team members. The anchor was 24-year-old police officer Taikaku Kaneko, who finished to clock 5:22:22.

The event was jointly hosted by the Japan Association of Athletics Federation Fukushima and Fukushima-Minpo Co., publisher of the namesake local daily, and cosponsored by the Fukushima prefectural government, the prefectural education board, Radio Fukushima and TV-U Fukushima. All 59 municipalities participated in the race for the sixth successive year, with seven towns and villages forming a joint team dubbed “Kibo (hope) Fukushima.” As a result, the number of competing teams was 53. Runners in the last Fukushima Ekiden in the Heisei Era raced through Fukushima streets as hard as they could while onlookers rooted for them.

The next race is scheduled for Nov. 17, 2019.

【Photo】 Women runners compete amid rousing cheers on eye-catching 1st leg of Fukushima Ekiden road relay race as 30th signal gun echoed at Qatar Sports Park Shirakawa in Shirakawa city.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

11 November 2018

Global aquarium congress in Iwaki closes with vow to prevent ocean pollution

The four-day 10th International Aquarium Congress (IAC) 2018 held at Onahama Fish Market in Iwaki city, Fukushima Prefecture, closed on Nov. 10 after adopting a declaration pledging to step up activities to stem mounting pollution of the marine environment by microplastics. It came after final keynote speeches and related sessions.

The declaration said responsibility rests with humankind to conserve the ecological system of the water environment for the future of mankind and nature. It was read out by Paul Van den Sande, chairman of the IAC’s Steering Committee and executive director of the European Union of Aquarium Curators, and adopted with applause from participants.

Yoshitaka Abe, director of Aquamarine Fukushima, said that protection of not only the ocean but also mountains and rivers leads to a bountiful sea, calling for treading a path toward "a return to the era of Jomon" that will bring the natural environment closer to how it used to be.

In one of the keynote speeches, Masaru Asaishi, a former Tokyo City University professor who designed Aquamarine Fukushima, spoke on the theme of "Aquarium Design and Construction." Referring to the glass-walled Aquamarine Fukushima, he briefed the audience on the objective of adopting such a rare outer appearance for an aquarium, among other things.

Suzanne Gendron, executive director of zoological operations and conservation at Ocean Park Hong Kong, delivered a speech themed on the "Economy of Aquariums." She introduced the aquarium's efforts to increase visitors, stressing the importance of keeping aquariums economically sustainable and improving exhibitions.

The next IAC session is scheduled for 2021 in France. At the closing ceremony, European participants drew attention to the next congress by waving national flags. A gala party followed at Aquamarine Fukushima.

Photo: Paul Van den Sande, chairman of the Steering Committee of the 10th International Aquarium Congress 2018, reads out the declaration.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

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