Discovering the real Japan

“Learning from the past to give to the future” is the image with which “BOUNDLESS” pursuits not only the revitalization of Japan but also the creation of a sustainable world bound strongly to its culture and traditions. This ambitious project goes by the name of “Sosei Partners” and it is ready to welcome participants from all over the world, on a trip to real Japan; a place that is often blurred by its stereotypical image, and whose real treasures lie on its ancestral folklore.

Dennis Chia, the founder of “BOUNDLESS”, has managed to design a portfolio of workshops and activities that teach foreigners the local traditions, and simultaneously bring them closer to the community that has subsisted for generations thanks to them. Furthermore, this project also brings out to the public the innovative new plans that are reshaping the future of some of the rural areas of Japan. Particularly those taking place in Ishinomaki, a city that is bouncing back from the devastating tsunami of 2011, by using the creativity of its citizens as foci of success.

 

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During a walking tour of Ishinomaki city

 

One of the workshops, “Ishinomaki Learning Program”, focuses on promoting the customs of this coastal city, located in the northeast part of Japan. The trip starts by teaching the visitors how the 3.11 disaster affected the life of the locals, with real testimonies, anecdotes, and with a short hike to a famous hill where the scenic view tells an ineffable story.

The tour continues to the multi-purpose café “Irori”, a space that has become a trendy spot amongst young and veterans. This former garage has a conspicuous chimeric floor that blends with the cozy rustic appearance of the venue, and is where visitors and locals sit as family to enjoy international dishes, voluntarily prepared by the participants of the workshops.  Irori usually hosts the meetings of “Ishinomaki 2.0”, a group created shortly after the Great East Japan Earthquake and intends to transform Ishinomaki into an inspiring city, even beyond its former self.

 

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At Ishinomaki Laboratory

 

A couple of kilometers away from the center of the city, “Ishinomaki Lab” gives every visitor a solid proof that innovation transcends any barrier, what started as a solution for a local problem has transcended into a multinational business with shipping to Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany and the U.S. This is the world’s first DIY furniture label, and its roots are embedded in the history of Ishinomaki.

Even further from city, “Fisherman Japan” takes on the task of teaching not only foreigners but also the new generations of locals that the fishing industry is not the “dirty, dangerous, and demanding” business it is commonly portrayed as. Their mission is to include fishermen into the modern society and promote a sustainable industry with fresh seafood products as their banner.

These are merely a glance of all the activities that form the “Ishinomaki Learning Program”. Moreover, this workshop is just one of the options that “Sosei partners” has to offer you. So if you want to experience the real Japan, be in contact with the ancestral traditions of the wonderful melting pot of customs that is this country, and have a first-hand insight of these rural communities, do not miss out on this opportunity.

As reported by Manuel Campos. Manuel is currently a student in the Graduate School of Medicine and serves as the Managing Editor of ‘The Sentinel’. 

Sosei Partners have held an orientation at Tohoku University last year. The founder of IRORI is an alumnus of Tohoku University.

Only In My Country: Thailand and the Art of Lottery Prediction

“Lottery”, from the Dutch word loterij, is now everywhere in the world. Basically, a lottery is referred to as a random-number ticket, which, like a bingo game, gives the buyer a chance to earn big money. Thus, buyers try their best guess to choose a number that may help them win. Talking about the way to get hold of that lucky number, some people may just choose the lucky number for themselves, for example, 8 (for Chinese) or 7 (for Japan). Some people choose from a lucky number list based on their zodiac signs (Aries, Taurus, Gemini etc.), while some people seriously use scientific method such as probability and data science to calculate and get the number. By the way, the method used in Thailand is totally different. I can say that this unique lottery prediction which happened in Thailand is an unique art you can find nowhere else.

 

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A Thai lottery ticket

 

Thailand and lottery are close friends. Lottery began in Thailand in 1832 or about 186 years ago and was started by Chinese group. However, the lottery which exists today (Fig. 1), was first released (by the government) in the period of King Rama V (about 144 years ago). A Thai lottery consists of 6 numbers and costs around 80 baht (270 yen or 2.5 US dollars). Compared to the living cost, this price is not cheap at all. You can use 80 baht for 2-3 meals in Thailand! Moreover, the rate of winning the first prize (when all the 6 numbers get matched) is extremely low (0.0001%), with the winning rate of the cheapest prize being only 1% (when 2 of the last numbers are matched). Nevertheless, people still buy them a lot by parting a bit of their fortune inspite of the low winning rate. This has become one of the biggest sources of income for the government. And to compensate what they have paid for, getting the luckiest number is always a challenge in Thailand.

Thai lottery buyers have several funny and unique ways to obtain the number they believe would win. Here are some common methods that are still being used.

  1. People scratch bark of trees : Especially the old trees, such as a 100-year-old Ta-khian Tree (Fig. 2) or a one with a bizarre shape such as, a banana tree with dragon-like shape. Some Thai people believe that such trees hold spirits, fairies and god who, would help them get a lucky number. Of course, when the bark is scratched or rubbed, its surface is altered with a new wood pattern and people then try to use their imagination to find and read a number (supposed to be a lucky number). Some people also believe that sprinkling body powder during scratching will help them find the number easier! Every time the news about old trees or bizarre trees comes out, people would flock to it.

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    A tree bark could be your path of fortune!
  2. People take the number on the car license plate into account. Not only their own cars but also others: neighborhoods, celebrities or even the prime minister, are all relevant. The most memorable news about this was back in 2013. At this time, the government was led by the first woman prime minister in Thailand’s history “Yingluck Shinawatra”. Occasionally, one of the winning numbers matched with her business car and of course, there were people who bought the lottery ticket based on this in advance and won the same! Since then, for several months, the numbers which matched with each of her car’s license plates were sold abundantly. Apart from celebrity cars, the numbers on car license plates of the ones involved in big accidents are also in favor. What a dark humour!
  3. People infer the number from their dreams. Sometimes the story that we weave in our dreams have no origin and absolutely not relevant to what we see in daily life. Since lottery has already become one with the people of Thailand, they can pop up a number from our dreams without any reason or logic. For example, in your dream, if you see a chicken or a dragon, it means 1 (one); if you see a dead body, a chair or a bed, it means 4. Meanwhile, if you see umbrella or you were cursed by a ghost in the dream, it means 6. Thai people who are experts in this field can infer everything from dreams to numbers and then interpret them for lottery purchases.

If you want to follow this Thai style lottery prediction, I recommend the second method since it is very easy to remember the number on car license plates. The next winning number may be your own license plate number or that of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who knows! Of course, I do not recommend you rubbing a tree bark yourself because it may not be worth your transportation fee and labour cost (You know, it’s not fun at all to scratch a bark with bare hands!). The third method may be possible but more than half of us cannot remember our own dreams. This Thai-style art of lottery prediction may earn you a chance to win a big prize in the next announcement!

As reported by Rojrungsasithorn Tanach (TAE). Tae is student under IMAC-U program at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, School of Engineering, Tohoku University. He enjoys playing games and loves to cook fine desserts from time to time.

Only In My Country is a new series under ‘The Sentinel’ where we ask people some unique things about their country. If you have something interesting to share with us, please send us an email at tohokusentinel@gmail.com

This series is ideated and developed by Rojrungsasithorn Tanach (TAE).