Hiroba Newsletter



 *Hiroba is Japanese for an open space or public square 


August 2012 Edition

Website of the Consulate-General of Japan in Perth : http://www.perth.au.emb-japan.go.jp/



Obon in the North West



Readers who have visited Japan during July or August may have noticed that many Japanese seem to travel at this time. Many will know that this may be part of the Obon festival. In modern Japan this is a time for families to gather together at their traditional home where the graves of their ancestors are and show their respect by cleaning them and placing offerings. Also connected are the great summer festivals that include dancing Bon Odori or Bon Dancing such as the famous Awa Odori of Tokushima Prefecture. These traditions are said to go back at least 500 years in some parts.


This tradition is said to be based on the story of a disciple of Buddha, one Maha Maudagalyayana known as Mokuren in Japan. In his story Mokuren made offerings to save his late mother from wandering as a hungry spirit. These offerings were to the Buddhist monks who had finished their summer retreat on the 15th of the seventh month.


This date is still used as the start of the three days of the festival in some areas of Japan. Other areas celebrate this festival from the 15th of August while other areas calculate the 15th day of the seventh lunar month. But in each case it is thought that the spirits of one’s ancestors return to their graves.

Left: The Broome Japanese Cemetery at night with candles on each grave. Right: The large 1908 memorial stone commemorating 170 divers and crew who lost their lives in three separate cyclones.  

This culture of respect for the departed and making offerings to ease their existence in the afterlife was the inspiration for this year’s Obon festival held in Broome. The organizers felt that the spirits of the many pearl divers from Japan who died in Broome, as well as their families would appreciate a proper Obon ceremony. Obon has not been observed in Broome since 1968 so this year’s ceremony on the 2nd of August was the first in over 40 years. This year, Reverend Shigenobu Watanabe from the Hongwanji Buddhist Mission in Sydney performed the service.  It is nice to think that the memory of those who died far from home while helping build the Town of Broome is still respected and cared for.

Consulate-General News

TOHOKU - Through the eyes of Japanese Photographers


Last month the Japan Foundation in cooperation with the City of Perth and the Consulate-General of Japan in Perth presented an exhibition of photography from the Tohoku region of northern Japan. The photographs showed the past culture, scenery, lifestyles and people of the region whose modern face is mostly known through the reporting of last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake.


The exhibition also provided an opportunity to introduce some famous Tohoku dishes and sake attended by the Right Honorable the Lord Mayor Ms. Lisa Scaffidi and the Attorney General, the Honorable Michael Mischin MLA who represented the Premier. Thank you to all those who came to see the photos at Council House and especially to those who left thoughtful comments for our survey.


 The “Tohoku – Through the Eyes of Japanese Photographers” exhibition at Council House


JET Programme Pre-Departure Reception

On Tuesday July 17, participants in the 2012 Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme intake from Western Australia were guests of honor at a reception held at the Consul-General’s residence. Speeches were made by Consul-General Tatsuo Ishikawa, Ms Andrea Mitchell MLA, Member for Kingsley, representing the Premier, Mr Nick John, President of JETAA WA; and Ms Natasha Sjahrir, 2102 JET participant, who responded on behalf of the other participants.

This year’s JET participants with Consul-General Tatsuo Ishikawa.
They are, left to right, Brett Lynch, Alicia Sparnon, Zoe Womack, Katie Dearle and Natasha Sjahrir. 

JLTAWA Social Dinner

The Consul-General hosted a function on the 5th of July for the Japanese Language Teachers Association of Western Australia attended by many of the Association’s members and others who have a close connection with Japanese Language Education. In a relaxed informal atmosphere, well received speeches by the Consul-General Ishikawa, Ms. Clare Buising from the Department of Education and Mr. Chris Graham on behalf of JLTAWA were followed by guests taking the opportunity to mingle with likeminded professionals from all over Western Australia.


Upcoming Events


2012 Japanese Film Festival


The 2012 Japanese Film Festival is planned for the 26th to the 28th of September. The venue, screening times and the films to be featured will be confirmed in the near future. Check the September issue of Hiroba or the Consulate-General homepage.


Cultural and Language Classes


Ikebana Classes

Sponsored by the Australia-Japan Society of WA, ikebana classes will be held at the Hyogo Prefectural Government Cultural Centre on Wednesday mornings from July 11 to September 12. Please click here for an application form and more information.





WA (kaiWA) is a casual get-together of Japanese and Australians held every second Thursday. Hosted and organised by the JET Program Alumni Association of WA (JETAA WA), kaiWA is a great chance to practise your Japanese, make Japanese friends and learn more about teaching English in Japan on the JET Programme.

kaiWA is held at 43 Below on the corner of Hay Street and Barrack Street in Perth, and will be held on August 9 and 23. It starts at 5:30pm and runs until about 8:30-9pm, so there is no need to worry if you can’t be there at the starting time.

For more information on the JET Program Alumni Association of WA, please check their website above and for information on the JET Programme please check the following site.



Chatterbox is another casual get-together of Australians and Japanese, held on Saturday afternoons at the Hyogo Prefectural Government Cultural Centre from 2 to 4pm. For more details please call the Centre on 9385 9002 or visit their website.



Meetings of the Bonsai Society of WA and Bonsai Workshop Inc.

Meetings of the Bonsai Society of WA are held on the last Monday of each month and include demonstrations, lectures, films, advice and a display of members' trees. The Bonsai Society also holds regular workshops and other events; for more information please click on the above link.

Meetings of the Bonsai Workshop Inc. are held on the last Saturday of each month. Members can bring their trees to work on, receive advice and watch others at work. For more information please click on the above link.




The Consulate-General of Japan in Perth is not affiliated with any event unless otherwise stated - for further details please contact the event organisers directly. The Consulate-General is not responsible for the content of linked websites.


If you know of any upcoming Japan-related events and would like to have them publicised in Hiroba, please e-mail details to info@pt.mofa.go.jp The decision to publicise will be at the discretion of the Consulate-General.






2012 Japanese Language Proficiency Test

This year’s Japanese Language Proficiency Test is drawing into view and will be held at Curtin University on the 2nd of December. With applications beginning on August 6th and closing at 4.30pm on September 21st now is the time to think about your study plan. More details can be found on the Curtin University School of Social Sciences and Asian Languages here. Good luck!


Thirtieth Australia-Japan Relations Essay Contest

Conducted by the Embassy of Japan and Consulates-General of Japan in Australia, this annual contest for students between Years 7 and 12 is now open for applications. Students are to answer an essay question on Japan or Japan-Australia relations, with the first prize winners receiving a round trip ticket to Japan or other prizes. Applications close Monday, August 20. More details can be found at the Embassy of Japan webpage: http://www.au.emb-japan.go.jp/e-web/education_essay.html


Video Matsuri Contest 2012 and Art Speaks Japanese Comes Alive! Contest 2012

The Japan Foundation presents its Video Matsuri Contest 2012 and Art Speaks Japanese Comes Alive! Contest 2012. In the video contest, students are to produce a short film of up to three minutes. There are no restrictions on theme or style but all videos must include some Japanese language. In the art contest, students become familiar with a resource kit called Art Speaks Japanese, and create their own artwork based on that, again including some Japanese language. Entries for both contests close on September 28. More information on the video contest can be found here and information on the art contest (including past winners and photo galleries) here.



COLOURS OF THE EAST – A selection of photographs of Japan and other parts of Asia

For all those interested in Japan, photography or especially those who enjoy both, an upcoming exhibition at Little Creatures Gallery in Fremantle will be of interest. Former JET Programme participant Simone Addison will exhibit some of her fine collection of images which will no doubt remind many who have visited Japan of its natural and cultural beauty.


Opening Night: Wednesday 26th September at 7pm

Exhibition runs from 26th September till 31st October

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-late, Sat-Sun 9am-late

Little Creatures Brewery Upstairs Gallery (Restaurant)

40 Mews Road Fremantle

More information: info@simoneaddisonphotography.com.au






Phrase of the Month

一生懸命(いっしょうけんめい) or 一所懸命(いっしょけんめい) (isshokenmei)


Isshokenmei is a popular Japanese phrase composed of four characters. Such four character phrases are known as 四字熟語(よ じ じゅ くご) (yojijukugo). In modern usage isshokenmei means to commit to doing something, and often implies doing that something to one’s utmost. It comes from the original meaning “to guard one location with your life”, an expression that was literal in feudal Japan. Although isshokenmei does not now necessarily foreshadow fatal consequences the essential meaning of total commitment to an action remains.





Watch Japan Now


Shedding light on interesting people, figures and trends, “Watch Japan Now” brings you compact and accessible updates.


FPCJ - The Rise of Japan's Ethically-inspired Investors - Their Vaccine Bonds Contribute to Saving Children's Lives in Developing Countries(July 5, 2012)




Web Japan


Web Japan provides Japanophiles with a world of engrossing information on Japan in all fields, from traditional culture to the latest fashions. http://web-japan.org/

Japan's New Sub-Culture Hubs (July 2012)

A Manga Lover's Paradise (July 2012)



Office Information 


Opening Hours

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General Enquiries: 9am to 1pm, 2pm to 5pm

Consular and Visa Enquiries: 9am to 12.30pm, 2pm to 4pm


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