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ISSUE 05
VOLUME XVI
MAY

  Follow That Girl!   How to Play
Mini-Soft Volleyball
  MONTHLY ARCHIVES   EVENTS CALENDAR   PHOTO OF THE MONTH
EVENTS CALENDAR    
   

 

Enshu Hamakita Hiryu Matsuri (kite festival)
June 3rd & 4th
Hamamatsu, Shizuoka

Dontsuku Matsuri (strange ritual)
June 3rd & 4th
Hamamatsu, Shizuoka

Lake Hamana Flower Festa 2017
Now - June 11th
Hamamatsu, Shizuoka

MARVEL Age Of Heroes Exhibition
April 4th - June 25th
Roppongi Hills, Minato, Tokyo

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Follow That Girl! by shy l.
   

Retracing the Dancing Girl of Izu.

Kawabata Yasunari (1899 – 1972) is the first Japanese writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. He is famous for writing a short story called Izu no Odoriko (The Dancing Girl of Izu). Published in 1926, the short story is about a student from Tokyo meeting a group of travelling performers on the road and falling in love with a young dancer. Joining the group, he travelled for a short time around the Izu peninsula. I certainly enjoy reading the story because the setting is familiar to me, for example, Ito, Shuzenji and Yugashima.

Fans of the book can retrace the steps of the nameless narrator and the dancing girl. The Odoriko Trail is a popular hiking route that winds it way through the Amagi Mountains and the old Amagi tunnel. The hike is around 17km in total length and takes approximately six hours and 55 minutes to complete. The trail is not impossibly steep and not too difficult if you are relatively fit. All you need a good pair of walking shoes.

What is special about the old Amagi tunnel? It is a prime example of a construction project from the Meiji. Constructed in 1905 (the Russo-Japanese war happened the same year) during a period of frenzied construction and development, it is the longest road tunnel – 445.5 meters long, 4.1 meters wide and 4.2 meters high – to be made entirely of stone and not concrete, that cuts through the ridge that divides the Izu Peninsula. Thrill-seekers may be interested to know that the tunnel is a famous haunted spot. You are given a lantern to light your way as you enter the tunnel. It is almost completely dark in the tunnel, even in the day. The lantern’s pale weak light does not help you see much in the dark and definitely bumps up the creepy factor a couple of notches, especially when you see the lanterns of other hikers “floating” in the dark. Feel free to heave a sigh of relief as you exit the other side into the sunshine.

The hike takes you through some of the loveliest spots in Izu. You see forests, wild birds, wasabi farms (tucked safely behind barbed wires), and waterfalls. A good time to visit is in spring when the pink sakura are blooming and in autumn when the trees are crowned with red and you are treading on a carpet of gold. Take a stroll to see the Kawazu Seven Waterfalls (Nanadaru) and look at the famous statue of the student and the dancing girl. Finally, reward yourself with a soak in an onsen. You deserve it!

The Odoriko Trail access and information below is extracted from this website: http://kanko.city.izu.shizuoka.jp

Course time (reference)
<time required: Approximately six hours 55 minutes> Round-trip 17.0km
Mt. Shuzenji Station (bus 43 minutes) - Amagi Pass bus stop - former Amagi Tunnel - Amagi Pass - Mukatao - Omi turning point -8 orders pond - Shirata Pass - Totsuka Pass - small - Katase Pass - ten thousand Saburo Pass - ishikusunokiritsu - Manjiro - Manjiro starting point of a mountain climb - Amagi Heights golf course entrance bus stop (bus 55 minutes) - Ito Station
<access>
"Amagi Pass" gets off from Shuzenji Station for Tokai bus 43 minutes Shuttle bus Amagi golf course ⇔ Ito Station

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How to Play Mini-Soft Volleyball by zuri l.
   

As some of you may know, I play volleyball quite regularly. It’s a great way to stay in shape, and also meet people living in your neighborhood. Though I call the sport volleyball, it is actually a variation of it called mini-soft volleyball. In Okazaki, there are three types of volleyball played among its citizens; volleyball, soft volleyball, and mini-soft volleyball. I’m sure some of you may wonder what the differences between them are, so I would like to take the time to explain mini-soft volleyball, its rules, and how it differs from regular volleyball.

Court and Equipment
A volleyball court is usually 18m x 9m, while a mini-soft volleyball court is 13.4m x 6.1m, the same size as a badminton court. The ball used in mini-soft volleyball is about 79cm in circumference and is made from a softer material than a regular volleyball. The height of the net in mini-soft volleyball is 220cm, which is 23cm lower than a standard volleyball net. Knee pads are optional when playing mini-soft volleyball. Many players wear them for personal safety, but there are those who don’t because they feel that it restricts their body’s movement.

Players
You need at least eight players on one team to play a proper mini-soft volleyball match. These eight players are then divided into an A team and a B team that play an opposing team’s A and B teams. Many mini-soft volleyball teams are comprised of women, but men are also allowed to play as well. The amount of male players on a team roster is not limited, but when playing, for any given A or B team, there can’t be any more than two men on the team in order to have a fair and balanced match. Some tournaments in Okazaki are restricted to women only, but male members of the team will often go to support their team. Also, one must be 18 years of age to participate in official mini-soft volleyball tournaments, but high schoolers are allowed to play only if their parent is playing on the same team.

Rules
Each individual set in a match in mini-soft volleyball is always played 4 vs 4. In a match, two or three sets are played to determine the winner. The first team to get to 15 points wins a set, and two sets are necessary to win the match. If there is a tie after two sets, a third set is then played. In Okazaki’s rules, both teams start with five points each at the start of the third set. This is to help save time, otherwise tournaments would take longer to finish. The third set can have any combination of A and B team members, just as long as there are only four players and no more than two men.

In volleyball, you serve to the opposing team, but in mini-soft volleyball, you serve to your own team. Since you serve to your own team, it is best to serve the ball underhand so that your team can maximize control of the ball and set up for a good attack. Like volleyball, the bump, set, attack pattern is used in mini-soft volleyball, but the hitting rules are a bit stricter. For volleyball, it is possible for one to spike on the second hit, which can catch the opposing team off guard, but for mini-soft volleyball, a team must hit the ball three times before it can go over the net. If your team hits the ball once or twice, but not a third time before it goes over the net, it is the opposing team’s point. When a team is serving, the actual serve does not count as a hit. Since there is a three hit sequence involved when playing, blocking becomes irrelevant since it would only result in the opposing team’s point. Another strict rule is that one can only hit the ball once in the three hit sequence. Only after the third hit, if the ball doesn’t go over the net and rebounds off of it, anyone from the team is allowed to hit the ball once more to try to get it over. Like volleyball, when playing close to the net, players must be careful not to touch it as it will result in the opposing team gaining a point.

Footing is very important in mini-soft volleyball. When serving, the server has to serve the ball from behind the back line and within the width of the court. If any part of the server’s foot comes into contact with the back line on the serve, it is considered a fault and the opposing team’s point. Line restrictions also vary between men and women as well. On the court there is an attack line about two meters from both sides of the net. Women are allowed to jump attack within that two-meter area, but men are forbidden to do so and have to do a back attack from behind the line. There are two separate rules for men regarding back attacks which depend on the specific tournament that you’re playing in. Standard tournament rules indicate that men can attack from behind the attack line, but cannot cross or step on it when they jump or land. In Avec tournament rules, men are allowed to cross over the line or land on it after a jump, but they can’t step on the line at the moment of the actual jump. The jumping rule for men only applies to when it is the third or fourth hit.

So that sums up on how to play mini-soft volleyball. In Shizuoka, there is a similar sport called balloon volleyball, but I am not so familiar with it. If you are interested in playing with a team near you, I’m sure that teams would be more than happy for you to at least try it out a couple of times. Play safe!


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PHOTO OF THE MONTH


I spent some time in Seoul eating delicious foods and going to wonderfully colorful outdoor markets. by marc c

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