Paralympians from Ehime and its Partner Mozambique
Four athletes from Ehime participated in the Tokyo Paralympics. Naohide Yamaguchi, mentally challenged, got a gold medal breaking his own world record in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke. This is Ehime’s first Paralympic gold medal in 29 years. Haruka Hirose got 7th place and Junko Hirose placed 5th in judo. They are a couple, both with visual impairments, who worked hard together for the Games. Miho Nagano, physically challenged, entered the compound archery competition. She lost the first round, but she encouraged many people when they saw her draw a bow with her mouth aiming intensely at the target.
In Ehime Matsuyama City, Niihama City, and Iyo City became hosts for Mozambicans, in recognition of the peace activities in Mozambique of an NPO from Matsuyama. From August 19 to 23, two Mozambican athletes with visual impairment practiced at Ningineer Park in Matsuyama. At the Paralympics, one of them got 6th place in the T13 category of the women’s 400-meter dash, and the other placed 7th in the T13 category of the men’s running long jump. On September 8, after the Paralympics, they visited Higashi Junior High School in Matsuyama for exchange with the students. The jumper said, “Practice here was very helpful, but I’m sorry I didn’t place higher. I will get a gold medal next time.”
(September 9, August 30, Ehime Shimbun)
Matsuyama Mitsukoshi to Reopen After Major Renovation
Matsuyama Mitsukoshi, currently undergoing major renovations, announced on September 2 that it would reopen in stages from October to December. The original Mitsukoshi has been reduced to less than half the number of floors of what it was and a food hall and a hotel run by local companies will open. The reopening is scheduled to take place in three stages: on October 6 and 26, and in early December. Initially, a single reopening was planned but that had to be changed because some renovation work was delayed due to COVID-19.
The first floor, where the cosmetic department used to be, will be a food hall (550 seats) with 13 vendors, including Italian, and Spanish food and a bistro, and will be open until 11:00 pm.
The basement will be a supermarket, mainly providing locally produced food. The department store occupies the 2nd to 4th floors, with fitness-related businesses on the 5th and 6th floors, and a hotel and a restaurant on the 7th and 8th floors run by Chaharu, which operates an inn in the Dogo Onsen area.
In addition to the department store floors, part of the food hall on the 1st floor is set to open on October 6, the first opening day. On October 26, the second opening day, the basement supermarket will open, and on the third opening day in early December, all floors will be fully open.
Matsuyama Mitsukoshi reviewed its business structure because it had been in the red for many years. The renovation was started in September last year.
(September 7, Asahi Shimbun Digital)
New Musical at Botchan Theater
“John My Love – 7 years of John Manjiro and Tetsu”, a musical, has started at Botchan theater located in Toon city.
The new musical commemorates the 180th anniversary of John Manjiro, from Kochi, who was shipwrecked, was saved and taken to U.S. at the end of Edo era (middle of 19th century). The story is about John trying to develop a new culture in Japan after his return home from his wife Tetsu’s point of view. It describes the short and fruitful 7 years from when John met and married Tetsu to her death. The songs and dances are a must-see. The stories of the tumultuous last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and a wife and husband with their friend struggling to make a country with freedom and equality are well presented.
This musical will be shown until the middle of August 2022.
(September 3, Ehime Shimbun)
REGN-COV2 Antibody Cocktail
It was announced that the REGN-COV2 antibody cocktail, which is expected to prevent severe symptoms of COVID-19 has been available at recuperation accommodation facilities in Matsuyama. It can be provided for patients over 50 years old or/and with underlying medical conditions and recuperating at home or recuperation accommodation facilities, who could easily get worse. The maximum number of patients who can be treated by this is 10 in a day.
The REGN-COV2 antibody cocktail consists of a combination of antibodies for COVID-19 and is administered by IV in about an hour. It was already provided at medical institutions in Ehime. The recuperation accommodation facility which can offer this treatment is Oku-Dogo Ichiyu-no-Mori. They require a 2-night/3-day stay at the facility.
Governor Nakamura says that it will be the most effective if the REGN-COV2 antibody cocktail is provided within 7 days after the start of symptoms, so that early consultation with a doctor is very essential.
(September 1, Ehime Shimbun)
An Afghan in Matsuyama
An Afghan man, born in 1992, lives in Matsuyama. In a recent newspaper interview, he repeated the fear about the Taliban, who ruled his country from 1996 to 2001. They cut people’s hands and feet as punishment, and sometimes carried out public executions. They forbade women to work, be educated, or go out without her husband or brother.
After the new government started with the U.S. forces in 2001, he felt freedom and peace little by little, but it was not complete peace. Citizens continued to become victims of suicide bombings by terrorists.
The Taliban viewed people working with foreigners as enemies. His older brother, who worked at an American bank, was threatened, and escaped abroad 4 years ago. He himself, who worked at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), was threatened too, and came to Japan in 2019, where his Sri Lankan wife had worked.
Because his late father worked at the embassy of a European country, he is afraid that his mother, 3 younger brothers and a younger sister hiding at a house in Kabul, are in imminent danger. He asked the country his father worked for whether they would help his family leave Afghanistan, only to receive no answer. He explained to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that he and his younger brother had the working experience at JICA and asked them to help his family, but their answer was they would only help the current staff and their families evacuate overseas.
His friends in Afghanistan are sending information and pictures to his smartphone one after another, including the suicide bombing near Kabul International Airport on August 26 just after the Taliban regained power. He said, “Living now in a peaceful country, I fear that I may lose touch with my family unless they get help immediately. It doesn’t matter if it is Japan or not. I would like someone to help my family go to a third country.” His wife is worried about him because he doesn’t eat very much these days.
(August 30, Ehime Shimbun)
Hotel Directly Connected to Matsuyama City Station Opens in December
The Iyotetsu Group (Matsuyama City) and Vessel Hotel Development (Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture) announced the December opening of a hotel, “REF Matsuyama City Station by Vessel Hotels” (208 guest rooms), directly connected to Matsuyama City Station. The hotel has a large public bath and smaller family-type bath for group use available by reservation to attract business people, families and group travelers. REF is the 31st Vessel hotel in Japan and the first in Shikoku.
The Iyotetsu Group is constructing the 13-story building (floor area of 7,900 square meters) directly connected to the city station. There are three restaurants on the 1st floor, and Vessel Hotel Development operates the hotel on the 2nd floor and above. Construction started in March last year and is scheduled to be completed in September this year.
The guest rooms include singles (130 rooms), twins (35 rooms), triples (28 rooms), barrier-free designed rooms (three rooms), and concept-designed rooms named the “Iyotetsu room” (two rooms) with an interior like an Iyotetsu train. Those 18 years old and under can stay for free if they are with their parents.
The hotel name “REF” is a brand of the Vessel Hotel chain specializing in regional characteristics and is an acronym derived from the English words “region,” “experience” and “freedom.” Tobe pottery and Iyo kasuri textiles are used as part of the decor in the lobby.
(August 26, Yomiuri Shimbun Online)