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Birthday Suit Loincloths: Okayama Prefecture

Who are you? Where are from originally? What year are you on JET? Where do you teach? What level?

My name is Nicole Finch, and I’m from the hockey loving, maple syrup drinking country of Canada. I’m a 3rd year JET in Okayama City, Okayama, where I teach at two academic high schools, one academic junior high school, and one special needs school.


Why did you apply for the JET program or come to teach in Japan?

It’s one thing to learn about another culture via books and the Internet. It’s an entirely different thing to actually immerse yourself and experience culture. I applied for JET because I wanted to understand the world, and not just know of it. I also couldn’t resist the challenge of surviving in a completely foreign culture.


How did you end up in your prefecture? Was it a preference of yours?

Somebody at Tokyo Orientation mentioned something about a dart aimlessly thrown at a map of Japan… lol. No, it wasn’t my preference to end up in Okayama. When I received my contract, I had to Google “Where the heck is Okayama”. I didn’t know anything about it, but it turned out to be the best “decision” JET ever made for me.


What has been your favorite memory in your prefecture so far?

Leaving Okayama to go to Osaka! Ha… just kidding! My best memory in Okayama would have to be hanging out with intriguing, like-minded ALTs and Japanese people in my community. I know… sounds so cliché, but the relationships are what make the experience; Sunday GoT parties, Friday café nights, monthly AJET BBQs…


Is there a “best” time to visit your prefecture?

I would recommend coming to Okayama in mid-February for Hadakamatsuri (Naked Man Festival). Thousands of loin-cloth clad men fighting for STICKS… you can’t go wrong!


What are your “Must Do’s” for visiting JETs?

1. Hadakamasturi on the third Saturday of every February (See above for more details)  

22. Kibi Bike Trail


The Kibi Bike Trail is a popular 17km long cycling trail that starts in Bizen Ichinomiya and ends in Soja City, and known for its association with the legend of Momotaro. Rent a bike for ¥1000 at Bizen Ichinomiya station (10 minutes from Okayama station on the Kibi Line; ¥210), and stop along the many sightseeing spots along the trail, including the legendary Kibitsu Shrine, Bitchu-Kokubunji Pagoda Temple, and Tsukuriyama-kofun. Don’t forget to take a slight detour for some amazing home-made ice-cream at Yasutomi Bokujo, a family run dairy farm.

 3.    Eat an Okayama peach

Okayama white peaches are famous for their association with the legend of Momotaro, the boy who was born out of a peach and went on to do great things. These peaches are cultivated to perfection with the utmost care and technique. This coddling process produces the softest, sweetest fruit around. The peach season is from June to September.

 4.    The Momotaro Uraja Festival in early August

The Momotaro Uraja Festival is a 2-day celebration held annually on the first weekend in August. Dancers, dressed in flamboyant ogre costumes, swarm the streets of Okayama City to perform choreographed dances. This festival celebrates the ogre, Ura, who is featured in the tale of Momotaro.

 5.   4 Drink locally brewed beer at Kibidote Microbrewery

It would be a tragedy to come all the way to Okayama, and NOT taste our locally brewed beer at Kibidote. Their beer has been featured at many beer festivals in the Chugoku region, giving them quite the reputation. Brewed in a tiny wooden house next to Asahi River, their ales come in a variety of flavours from coffee to mint to white peach. The best part would have to be their free shuttle van service to and from Okayama Station. This local gem gets quite packed on the weekends, so it’s best to call 086-235-5712 to reserve a table and request transportation.


What do you feel is unique to your prefecture, something JETs can’t find anywhere else?

Naked men fighting for sticks!!!!!! Need I say more? Look out for Okayama AJET’s event on FB next January to sign up as a runner or participant.


5Anything else you want to add?

Unfortunately, I didn’t re-contract for the 2015-2016 school year. I will be leaving Japan this August, but If anyone wants more information about the sunny prefecture, Okayama, please feel free to message me on FB or via email nicole.finch29@gmail.com.


Nicole Finch

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