TOPICS January 2022

An Ehime Citizen Goes to Space

Maezawa Yusaku aged 46, the founder of ZOZO, a major clothing store, set off to space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on the Russian Soyuz spaceship on December 8, 2021. He will stay at the International Space Station for 12 days as the first Japanese private citizen. Hirano Yozo from Imabari City, Ehime, accompanied the enterpriser. He said he got this opportunity by a series of coincidences and miracles. He added that he wanted to show that everyone has chances and possibilities, and he would take many pictures and videos including ones of Ehime Prefecture from Space. He joined the company that is now ZOZO in 2007 after graduating from Imabari Nishi High School and Kyoto Prefectural University. He is now a manager for Mr. Maezawa. He has become the first person from Ehime to go to space. The spacecraft docked at the ISS about six hours after the launch. Then they spent two and a half hours preparing before the hatch was opened.

(December 7,10 Ehime Shimbun)

Matsuyama Student Wins Helen Keller Memorial Music Competition

The 71st Helen Keller Memorial Music Competition was held in Tokyo on November 13, 2021. In this annual competition sponsored by Tokyo Helen Keller Association, visually impaired students perform songs or play musical instruments. It started in 1949 to raise awareness of musical education for the sight impaired, and to make a gateway to the music world for sight-impaired students. An internationally known pianist Tsujii Nobuyuki and others have participated in the past. This year 32 students, including elementary, middle, and high school students, from around the country competed in eight sections. Moeka Kurumatani, a third-year high school student at the Matsuyama School for the Sight-impaired, won first place in the solo singing section for high school students and above. She sang “Ave Maria” with a powerful and calm voice and got high marks from judges. She is totally blind and started voice lessons seriously after entering high school. She was happy with this award, saying, “I came to like my voice even better than before.” She added she would keep studying music and improving her voice.

(December 5, Ehime Shimbun)

Ehime Prefecture Supports Local Sake Breweries

Ehime Prefecture started the “Ehime no Sake 35 Gura Oshi-Sake Sagaso!” (Find your favorite Ehime sake) campaign on December 1 to support local breweries struggling with declining sales since the outbreak of Covid-19. In the campaign, scheduled to run until the end of February 2022, anyone who purchases Ehime sake, including shochu (Japanese distilled spirits) produced by any of the 35 listed breweries can participate in a raffle in which 2,400 people will win two bottles of local Japanese sake (equivalent to 3,000 yen).

The campaign aims to boost declining demand by encouraging people to find a favorite Ehime sake. To enter, purchase 2000 yen or more at any of about 400 stores including local liquor stores and online-shopping sites and apply to the campaign by postcard or online. Those who also post an image of Ehime sake or shochu on social media get a double chance to win other prizes such as Ehime beef.

On December 1, Matsuyama Mitsukoshi Department Store set up a special display of local sake and shochu and a commemorative event was held. Ehime Governor Nakamura said, “we want people to experience the charm of Ehime’s local sake and hope this wonderful sake culture to be passed on to the next generation”.

(December 2, Yomiuri Shimbun Online)

Further information

Ehime Sake Brewery Cooperative Association/Ehime Sake Brewery Association website: in English)

Ehime Oshizake campaign website: (only in Japanese)

Go to Hot Springs to Reduce CO2

Ehime Prefecture launched a new campaign “Onsen de Ho! to Sharing” (Relax in a hot spring) in November in an attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by increasing the number of people using hot spring facilities and reducing the amount of hot water use at home. Visitors collect points at cooperating hot springs and apply to enter a lottery to win two free tickets for accommodation.

Point cards will be distributed at 58 participating facilities. Visitors get one point for each bath visit and they can apply to participate in the lottery after getting five points; points can be earned until February 28, 2022. The deadline for applying by postal mail or sending a picture by e-mail of the card with the accumulated points is March 3, 2022.

The prizes are as follows: three people win two free tickets for accommodation and 20 people win a ticket valid for five visits. The participating hot spring facilities can be checked on the prefectural website (see address below). The Environmental Policy Division of the prefecture is also calling on people to “Keep measures against Covid-19 in mind, even if you are relaxing in a hot spring.”

Further information:

Ehime Prefecture website: (only in Japanese)

(November 27, Asahi Shimbun Digital)

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