Memoirs of Awaji Island - イギリス人TRIAD FELLOWSHIP研修生の淡路島滞在記です♪

(The original English interview statement is on the bottom.)

訪日外国人が急増する昨今、花の島 淡路島にもイギリスから花のような女性が!

英国ナショナルトラストのスタッフ Rhiannon Harrisさんにお話を伺いました。



- なぜ淡路島に?



- 淡路島にはどういうイメージをもっていましたか?





- 淡路島で困ったことは?


- ここでの一日のスケジュールは?







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- 地元の人たちと交流は?


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- 淡路島で好きな食べ物は?




- 淡路島以外で一番印象に残ったところは?


“Memoirs of a Geisha”という本が大好きなので、舞妓さんの踊りを見て祇園界隈を着物で歩いたことは私にとって本当に素敵な体験でした。



- 外国人来訪者にとってより魅力的な島にするためにどうすればいいでしょう?






- これから淡路島に来る外国人にアドバイスするとすれば?


-- --

淡路島の魅力は国境を越えたexclamation&question  SAKA

<Original interview statement>

- Why are you here on Awaji Island?

I am fortunate to be one of 6 students to take part in a new horticultural interchange programme called the TRIAD Fellowship where we spend 4 months each in Japan, UK and USA. Kiseki no Hoshi and ALPHA manage the Japanese section of the programme so my 4 months in Japan has been mostly based on Awaji Island. I am of course studying horticulture whilst here but am also trying to embrace as much of Japanese traditional culture as possible.


- What was your impression of Awaji Island before you came here? Has it met your expectations?

I knew it was a fairly rural area and associated with flower culture but I did not know very much about Awaji before I came. The reason for this is that there is very little information available about Awaji in English guidebooks and, without having a good understanding of the Japanese language it is also very difficult to find out much information on the internet. I think this is a great shame as Awaji Island is both beautiful and interesting; more people from the West should put it on their travel itinerary! I had read about the Akashi bridge though and was very excited to see the world’s longest suspension bridge for myself.

The scenery of Awaji is very beautiful and I remember taking so many photographs during my first few days here. Where I come from in England it is very flat and we do not have beautiful mountains like there are here. I love the way the mountains appear on a misty day - there are so many shade of blue to behold that it makes me want to get the paints out and try to capture that beauty on paper.

- Is there anything you have found difficult about your experience on Awaji Island?

Not really. People have been so friendly and helpful and I very quickly felt at home here on the island. In fact, whenever I have had to leave the island for a length of time I have longed to return!


- What is a normal day like for you here on Awaji?

That’s difficult, as our programme is very varied and we are sometimes away visiting gardens in other places such as Kyoto and Tokyo. We have also completed some work experience places such as Bonsai. A typical day on Awaji would mean leaving ALPHA at around 8am and driving to Awaji Yumebutai in order to work at Kiseki no Hoshi. Depending on what theme or event is due to take place at Kiseki no Hoshi will depend on what I actually do there! However, I always enjoy my work at this fantastic botanical museum.

I have been very fortunate to be given the opportunity by the museum creator, Tsujimoto Tomoko, to do some creative work at the museum. I have made Kokedama Orchid ‘paintings’ using old bedsprings, made a dress out of orchids and other plants, created a ‘functional’ vertical garden for an office environment, and created a Rimpa-style screen using Awaji Kowera tiles and moss. We are supposed to take an hour lunch break and 2 additional breaks but usually I am so involved in my work that I don’t want to stop!

We usually finish work at Kiseki no Hoshi at around 5:30, after which I have some time to work on my blogs about my experience here in Japan, and also to make use of the beautiful scenery by going for a run.

- Have you had the opportunity to get to know any local people?

When we first arrived on Awaji Island the students at ALPHA threw a big welcome party for us. Each of the students cooked a delicious Japanese dish and we had the opportunity to talk to them and to get to know them better. We have stayed friends with many of these lovely students and that had made our experience on Awaji so much more pleasurable.

Also we have met Yukie (the writer of this article) who has been so kind to us. She arranged for us to try a delicious home cooked Japanese lunch and has even given us some Japanese lessons! I am not sure we are the best of students so she must be very patient!

Everywhere we have been local people have been very interested in what we are doing here on Awaji so I have had some very enjoyable conversations with people and I know I will keep in touch with many of these via email in the future.

- What is your favourite food in Awaji?

Ikenago! When I attended the Valentine’s Evening Concert and Dinner at Kiseki no Hoshi I met a violinist playing at the concert. He was very kind to me and helped me not to feel alone at the concert. He was keen to know what I enjoyed about Japan and I told him that I loved the food. Especially ikenago! He told me that his wife make s the best ikenago in Japan and it was a wonderful surprise to find an envelope on my desk at Kiseki no Hoshi one week later with his wife’s famous ikenago recipe and also some photos of me with his daughter at the concert.

As well as ikenago I really love kasujiru, Awaji onions, Awaji beef (talk about melt-in-your-mouth), nanohana, nori and tsukudani. I will have to stop myself here as this list would otherwise take up several pages of Yukie’s blog. To be honest I have loved every type of food I have tried!


- What has been your best experience in Japan outside Awaji?

That’s a difficult question. Everyone asks me that! The trouble is that I really have seen and experiences so many wonderful things whilst I am here that it is almost impossible for me to choose just one as my favourite. Usually my answer to that question is the last thing that I did! If I’m pushed for an answer I suppose I would have to say that the Miyako Odori has been the highlight.

I did not know a huge amount about Japanese tradition and culture before arriving but the book Memoirs of a Geisha is one of my favourite books, and seeing the Maiko dancing and also visiting the Gion area was truly magical for me. It’s so wonderful to see how a country like Japan celebrates its cultural heritage, as we do not always remember to do this in England and as a result my generation could be said to be fairly ignorant of its cultural heritage.

In Japan you celebrate every flower as it opens from bud to full bloom and I think this is very special and something you should be very proud of.

I have visited so many places and really enjoyed them all. Kyoto has been a particular highlight for me, especially as one of my many visits there coincided with the sakura season. Both the city and the gardens there that I visited were unbelievably beautiful. I also had the chance to try wearing Kimono in Gion - I loved wearing the kimono and learning about all of the layers that go on beneath the outer garment. Also whilst I was in Kyoto I went to see the Miyako Odori - the dancing and the music and the clothing were so wonderful and this is a memory that will stay with me for a very long time.

I also had a 10 day trip in the Tokyo region. As well as visiting many of Tokyo’s beautiful gardens and exploring well-known tourist sites such as the Tokyo Tower, SkyTree and the Scramble Crossing, we took day trips out to other places including Mito Kairakuen, Hikone (sadly I couldn’t see Fuji san as it was snowing at the time!) and Izu Oshima for the famous Tsubaki Matsuri.

And that’s not all! I have also been to visit Hiroshima, Miyajima Island, Himeji Castle, Kanazawa Kenrokuen, Ise Great Shrine, Hikone, Kinosakionsen, Iga Ueno (for the Ninja museum) and Shikoko. I have also been to watch sumo at the Osaka Grand Sumo Tournament, seen Noh theatre and tried on Noh costumes in Osaka, visited the Nagahama Bonbaiten, lit the fire at a Tondo festival, made mocha and onigiri at a shrine.

- What advice would you give Awaji Island to increase its attractiveness to foreign visitors?

Again, that is a difficult question. I think one of the best thing about Awaji is how quiet and peaceful it is. Kyoto is a beautiful city but at times very hard to enjoy with so many foreign visitor. Awaji is equally beautiful but its strength is that this beauty can be enjoyed in relative solitude. A favourite poem of mine, called ‘Leisure’ goes ‘What is this life if full of care we have no time to stand and stare.’ Here on Awaji I have time to stop and look at the scenery and to really appreciate its beauty.

One thing that I would have found very useful is if more information about events and activities on Awaji were available in English, particularly on the internet. I have wanted to try doing as many things as I could on the island but without the help of a Japanese interpreter I am unable to find out any information!

- Do you have any tips for foreign visitor coming to Awaji Island?

Don’t be afraid to ask local people for help or assistance. Everyone is very friendly and keen to help; even if they do not speak English they will go out of their way to help you!

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