Location and Environment:
Isesaki-city is located in the middle-south of Gunma Prefecture and north part of the Kanto Plains. It is the city with good north view of Mt. Akagi and has a gentle stream of Hirose River near downtown. It is adjacent to Honjo city in the south with Tone River on the border. Isesaki, is one of Japan's most important industrial cities, which has been famous for it's "Isesaki Meisen", a kind of textile products, and used to prosper as a textile manufacturer is now a core industrial city in the metropolitan area that supplies mainly heavy industrial products such as transportation and electric products.
"Peace of mind" is the objective in Isesaki, and the City has heavy emphasis on the services of welfare, public security, and health. Isesaki is a nuclear weapon-free City, by a 1986 Declaration. A Culture Hall was opened in 1981 to encourage interest in cultural matters.
Kezo-ji Park is the symbol of Isesaki City. There are about 300 plus trees, 1,000 cherry trees, 5,000 azaleas, 500 alpine roses, and aquatic plants. Each blooms at a different time of the year.
In Winter, the seasonal wind called "Karakkaze" blows, but the weather is otherwise comparatively mild throughout the year.
The City is located in a flat area at the center of the Japanese island, 100 km from Tokyo. There are seven ponds as well as numerous branches of three rivers, the Hirose River, the Kasu River, and the Tone River.
Area and Population (as of Sept.1 1995):
Area: 65.16 square kilometers
Population: 121,092 (Male: 60,505 Female: 60,587)
- JR Ryomo Line (Isesaki Station)
- Tobu Isesaki Line (Isesaki or Shin-isesaki Station)
- JR Takasaki Line (Honjo Station)
- Kanetsu Exp. (Honjo-Kodama IC)
- The Ferris wheel in Kezoji Park
- The Pine of Tsunatori
- Aikawa Archaeological Museum
- The Graves of Kansuke and Kantaro Mimuro
- The Monument of Love of Horse between Mother and Child
- Ofujiyama Old Tomb
- Nomura Memorial Museum
- Kakaa Shopping Center
- Isesaki Meisen (a splashed pattern)
- Cocoon Dolls
- Grapes (Miyako)
- Welsh Onions (Shimoueki), Buckwheat (Hashie)
- Kakaa Anpan
- Kakaa Tea Kakaa Manju
Address : 2-410 Imaizumi-machi, Isesaki-city, Gunma,
Telephone : 0270-24-5111
Fax : 0270-23-9800
Kakaa-machi is another name of Hon-machi shopping center. It was named in 1992 with a catchphrase "Lively Isesaki Kakaa-machi". For mutual and external information exchange, Kakaa-machi has set a computer network called "Kakaa-Net" which has been working since 1995. Active Kakaa-machi is a women-oriented regional community and also the key station of information sender toward other communities. Ofuku-san is the imaged character for the Kakaa-machi campaign.
I have been in Japan – and Isesaki – now for five months, and my impressions have begun to become more clear and solid.
Before, I felt that I did not know how to communicated with people or how they would react to my communication. I was always afraid of offending someone or saying the wrong thing or forgetting to say something important. To an American it seems that one can easily offend a Japanese person in twenty or thirty ways – all in the first five minutes of meeting him or her. This is an exaggeration of course, but it really seems this way at first to a newcomer.
Coming from one of the most causal, rule-free cultures to such a formal culture can be terrifying. We feel the same embarrassment that many NIHONJIN (Japanese people) feel for knot knowing English. And while not knowing English is certainly not a character fault, bad manners or lack of proper manner imply poor character – even meeting English-speaking Japanese can be frightening for us. Because manners – whether they are spoken phrases or gestures – are a language themselves.
For instance, in American when I meet someone, there are probably a dozen ways to interact. I can shake his/her hand – or not. I can say “nice to meet you,” or not. I can smile and say “Hi, I'm David.”
In Japan however one always says “YOROSHIKU ONEGAI SHIMASU”
unless they are complete barbarians. But in the United States, there simply is
no single expression for meeting someone. I'm not saying that there are no
rules, but that in America the rules are much, much less formally defined.
I’m presently sitting at my desk at Miyago-chugakko, a junior-high school in west Isesaki. I’m a little tired this morning, since last night I threw my second natto party. The first natto party, two months ago drew a meager six guests. Last night, however, I was surprised to find my apatoo (apartment) filled suddenly with twenty guests, all who came to eat natto.
So what is natto? Kodanshi’s Japan informs us that natto is made by “fermenting soybeans with a bacillus know as natto...A valuable source of protein, natto was first made in the late Edo period (1600-1868). It is usually eaten with minced scallions, mustard, and soy sauce...” The flavor is sharp, the smell puguent, and when lifted with chopsticks, natto trails long gooey thin brown threads that sometimes stretch over five feet. The bowl must be held close to one’s mouth, partially inhaled, while twirling the chopsticks to wind and break the stringy goo.
Traditionally packaged in a straw box and sold on the streets in the morning, it is now sold in small styrofoam containers at convenience stores for a mere three for ¥120 (approximately $1.20)
While half the Japanese are fanatic over natto, the other half are positively natto-phobic. I would be remiss, if I did not mention that a different type of natto is eaten in the West. But this natto is of a dry variety, and fails to touch the Japanese spirit in the same way as does its eastern cousin.
After the twenty guest (four Americans, including myself and Tony Sumpter; one British bloke, a Canadian, and sixteen Japanese) had happily crammed into my small but cozy apatoo, and the thirty packs of natto were stirred together, the sharp odor pierced the night air. We made natto-gohan (natto on seaweed with a layer of rice), natto-okura (with okra), natto tempura, and even natto omelettes. To be sure, if you don’t like natto this was not your kind of party.
As the evening was wearing down, one guest thoughtfully observed, “You know, we Japanese people don’t usually have a natto party,” to which all English-speaking Japanese laughed heartily. Certainly the concept was quite amusing for them, even a little bizarre, perhaps doubly so considering the party was thrown by such a henna (strange) gaikoku-jin (foreigner) as myself.