(11/06)I will introduce Nataliya Gudziy (Наталія Гудзій)from Japan.

I am introducing Nataliya Gudziy who is active in Japan from Ukraine · Chernobyl
Nataliya Gudziy — Itsumo Nando Demo
Наталья Гудзий – Itsumo Nando Demo (Always With Me)

Linking Japan, Ukraine via songs

Musician from Chernobyl raises awareness of nuclear dangers

Nearly 20 years have passed since Nataliya Gudziy visited Japan for the first time, when she performed live with fellow members of the Ukrainian folk dance ensemble Chervona Kalyna, or Red Viburnum, named after Ukraine’s national symbol.

In a series of concerts across Japan, the troupe performed traditional Ukrainian folk dances and sang songs to the accompaniment of a “bandura” — a traditional 61-string Ukrainian instrument resembling the lute, played by then 16-year-old Nataliya, or Natasha, the informal version of her name under which she now performs here.

Becoming the first and one of only two professional bandurists within Japan, she continues to share Ukraine’s history along with her own, and her fellow countrymen’s, experiences, hoping to raise awareness of the dangers of nuclear energy that since 1986 has affected millions of people worldwide.

Natasha believes that music has the power to heal and bring relief. In her songs, some of which she wrote, she expresses her thoughts and her longing for Ukraine and the place where she spent the first years of her life. In addition to a selection of Ukrainian folk songs and others sung in Russian to familiarize the audience with her culture, Natasha sings in Japanese.

“I still remember the sky over my hometown that day . . . and even though I’m far away, I am singing to share my thoughts with you,” one of her songs goes.

“Since my early days in Japan, I’ve believed it was vital to share my story with people of the country where millions suffered from the effects of radioactivity caused by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945,” she said.

On March 11, 2011, when the crisis broke out at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Natasha was performing at a school in Tokyo.

“Until that day many Japanese viewed the Chernobyl disaster as something distant,” she said. “I was sad, knowing that many Japanese (from the day the Fukushima disasters happened) would share the same experience (as the Ukrainian people had done 25 years previously).”

Natasha, 34, was born in Dnipropetrovsk, southeast of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. When she was 4, she and her family moved to a small village adjacent to Pripyat, a city in northern Ukraine near the border with Belarus.

Pripyat and its suburbs offered housing for workers at the nearby Chernobyl nuclear power plant, where Natasha’s father landed a job as a technician.

On April 26, 1986, when she was just 6, a sudden surge of power, likely caused by a design flaw, occurred at the reactor of the plant’s Unit 4, only 3 km from Pripyat and 3.5 km from Natasha’s home, causing an immense explosion that lifted the cover off the top of the reactor.

“The accident occurred at night when we were asleep,” she said. “All of us spent the next day like any other. The weather was nice and people spent that day outside. My sisters went to school, as usual.”

The reactor was scheduled to be shut down for routine maintenance to test the ability of the reactor’s turbine generator to generate sufficient electricity in the event of a loss of external electric power.

Not long after 1 a.m. on April 26, soon after the tests started, two explosions that ruptured one of the four active reactors at the power plant were reported. The blasts and the subsequent fires that started that day and continued for more than a week resulted in the unprecedented release of radioactive materials, including iodine-131 and cesium-137.

“We planned to go to see a puppet theater with my sisters, but when they came back we were told to stay home,” she recalled. “I didn’t understand what was going on, but my mother heard that something had happened at the nuclear plant.”

The next day residents evacuated, but officials suggested taking only valuables and leaving other belongings as they would be able to return to their homes in three days, she said.

At a nearby train station the family managed to buy tickets enabling them to move to the western part of Ukraine, to her grandmother’s house. The following day, they headed to the station, leaving behind the girls’ father, who was assigned to help at the plant.

“I remember the station crowded with people, women unable to accept the fact they had to leave the place where they had spent all their lives; they were crying and shouting that they didn’t want to leave their hometown,” Natasha recalled. “I still remember the children who wouldn’t stop crying, complaining of headaches or sore throats.

“The moment the train left the station, I instinctively felt we would never come back and tried to remember the landscape from the train window, so it remains imprinted in my memory,” she said.

“It’s been 28 years, but the consequences of the catastrophe continue to impact new generations, as many who experienced the disaster at a young age still suffer from diseases, while babies are born with anomalies,” she added. “Some got sick soon after the accident, but many developed diseases (such as leukemia or thyroid cancer) 10 or 20 years later.”

From an early age Natasha showed an interest in music and signs of musical talent. After moving to Kiev to start a new life, she started to learn how to play the bandura at age 8.

“At that time many parents tried to engage their children in various learning activities to help them take their minds off the disaster and its effects,” she said, adding that having lost their friends and their homes, most of the children suffered both physically and emotionally.

While in Kiev, Natasha continued on her musical path. As a member of the school ensemble, which later became known as Chervona Kalyna, mainly comprising evacuees from affected areas, Natasha would often take the lead playing the bandura, which was becoming increasingly rare even in Ukraine.

In 1996, Natasha and her fellow ensemble members came to Japan after receiving an invitation from Ryuichi Hirokawa, a photographer who was the first non-Soviet journalist to document the Chernobyl catastrophe.

During that year the group put on a series of charity concerts across the country to mark the 10th anniversary of the disaster. Chervona Kalyna visited Japan once again, in 1998.

After graduating from high school, however, Natasha had to give up on her dream of becoming a singer. Instead, to support her family, she landed a clerical assistant’s job with a local security company.

It was Hirokawa who helped Natasha realize her dream, inviting her to Japan in 1999 during which time she spent several months performing solo at venues nationwide.

With his support, Natasha returned to Japan in 2000 and since then has been living here while pursuing her career as a professional performer.

“Many people have forgotten about what happened and sometimes it is important to forget, but if we forget about Chernobyl, we’ll keep making the same mistakes,” reads a message in her book, “My Hometown.”

(11/05)Welcome to Okayama Japan, the Land of Sunshine!

MOMOTARO FANTASY 2017 (Okayama City)

MOMOTARO FANTASY is a wonderful illumination event representing winter in Okayama. LED lighting decorates Okayama Station Square. Come and enjoy the glistening scenery!

[Dates] Friday, December 1 – Monday, December 25
[Hours] 5:00pm-11:00pm

Venue: JR Okayama Station East Exit Plaza · West Exit Plaza
Location; Kita Ward, Okayama City
Inquiries: 086-252-3212 (MOMOTAROH FANTASY Executive Committee)


I am sincerely thankful for your visit and the comments you leave

(10/28)Welcome to Okayama Japan, the Land of Sunshine!

Fantastic Autumn Garden/U-jo (Crow Castle) Togenkyo (Okayama Ciy)

Okayama Korakuen Garden and Okayama Castle are open at night during the autumn foliage season. Visitors are treated to a beautiful sight as illumination lights up the castle and garden.

[Dates] Friday, November 17 – Sunday, November 26
[Time] 5:00pm-8:30pm (last admission 8:00pm)



Okayama Korakuen Garden
Free admission for individuals aged 18 and under

Limited-time offer! Individuals aged 18 and under are free, so come with your whole family.
[Dates] Until Friday 31, March, 2018
*High school aged students should be prepared to show ID.


One of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, Okayama Korakuen is a cultural heritage site for the world to treasure

In 1687, Ikeda Tsunamasa, daimyo (feudal lord) ordered his vassal Tsuda Nagatada to begin construction of Okayama Korakuen. It was completed in 1700, and it has retained its original appearance from the Edo Period up to the present day, except for a few changes by various daimyo. Korakuen is one of the few Daimyo gardens in the provinces where historical change can be observed, thanks to the many Edo Period paintings and Ikeda Family records and documents left behind.

The garden was used as a place for entertaining important guests and also as a retreat for daimyo, although regular folk could also visit on certain days. In 1884, ownership was transferred to Okayama Prefecture and the garden was opened to the public. The garden suffered severe damage during the floods of 1934 and during World War II bombing in 1945, but has been restored based on Edo Period paintings and diagrams. In 1952, Korakuen Garden was designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty under the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, and is managed as a historical cultural asset to be passed to future generations.

Address; Okayama Kouraku garden .Japan
Telephone; 086-272-1148

(10/18)Welcome to Okayama Japan, the Land of Sunshine!

Japanese heritage “SIZUTANI school”

“Special historic spot, former Shizutani school, the oldest school in the world as a public school for common people”

Shizutani-school, became a driving force for modernization, has been designated as Japan Heritage

Shizutani-school was established by the lord of Okayama province, Ikeda Mitsumasa in the beginning of Edo period, 1670(Kambun 10th). It is the oldest existing public school for common people in the world.

When Ikeda Mitsumasa visited Shizutani at the first time, he said that here was wonderful peaceful nature and therefore this was very suitable place for reading or academic research. Then he took a decision of the school establishment for leadership training.

In accordance with the intention of the lord who aspired for permanence of the school, the retainer Tsuda Nagatada spent 30 years remodeling the original school, then he completed a solid and majestic school which had a look similar to the present Shizutani school.

In April 2015(Heisei 27th), Shizutani-school was designated officially at the first together with some special historic spots shown below, as an ensemble heritage of modern Japanese education.
*The special historic spot “former Kodokan”
*The historic spot “Ruin of Ashikaga school”
*The historic spot “Ruin of Kangien”

Since it is represented that the modern education as typified by Shizutani-school attaching much value to ‘desire for learning’ and ‘civility’ became an engine of modernization and has been relayed to the present education, Shizutani-school was given official recognition of Japan heritage.

After Shizutani school was opened, it has been a traditional style to take “Analects of Confucius” classes with sitting on the floor in the lecture hall.

Even now, in this valley you can hear echoed voice of student chanting Analects of Confucius.

Contact address: Bizen City Tourism Division
Telephone: 0869-64-1832

I am sincerely thankful for your visit and the comments you leave



(10/17)Welcome to Okayama Japan, the Land of Sunshine!

Tsuyama Railroad Educational Museum

Tsuyama City

This precious Fan-Shaped Locomotive Depot is designated as a Heritage of Industrial Modernization.

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Not only the turntable but also 13 cars in total including diesel engine cars used nationwide and the diesel locomotive, DE50 No. 1 of which only one exists in Japan are displayed. The N gauge model running in the diorama, a reproduction of Tsuyama townscape, is a must-see. Press the commemorative stamp here and purchase railroad goods which are only available here!

See reviews from Tsuyama Railroad Educational Museum

Basic information

Otani, Tsuyama City, Okayama Prefecture
10 min on foot from JR Tsuyama Sta.
Business Hours
9:00am – 4:00pm (last admission 3:30pm)
Mondays (or the following day if Monday is a holiday), December 29 – 31
General (high school and older) 300 yen; students (elementary and junior high) 100 yen; children (preschool age) free

(10/14)Welcome to Okayama Japan, the Land of Sunshine!


「特別な史跡、かつての静谷学校、世界の中で一番古い学校、一般の人々のための公立学校」近代化の原動力となった静谷学校は、岡山県主が設立した日本遺産、江戸時代の池田光正(1670年)(Kambun 10日)池田光正が初めて静谷を訪れた時、ここはすばらしい平和な自然でしたので、読書や学術研究の場として非常に適していました。その後、リーダーシップ研修のために学校設立の決定を下しました。学校の永続性を志向していた藩主の意向にもとづいて、永田田忠田さんは元の学校を改築して30年を過ごした後、 2015年4月(平成27年)4月に静岡学校は、現代日本の教育のアンサンブル遺産として、以下に示す特別な歴史的名所とともに公式に指定されました。*歴史的スポット “旧琴道館” *歴史的スポット “足利学校の跡” *歴史的スポット “康観寺の遺跡”静谷校に代表されるような近代教育は、 ‘と’ civility ‘は近代化の原動力となり、現在の教育に継承されている。静谷学校は日本の遺産を公式に認められた。静谷学校が開校した後、「孔子論」授業講義室の床に座っている。今でも、この谷には、学問の声を聞くことができる。[Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnKfZPJoPkw&w=560&h=315%5D史跡ガイドMapHistoryYear 1666(Kambun第6回)岡山の地主である池田光正が1659年喜楽村喜安村の新原村を訪れた。池田光正は123地点に「寺子屋」を設立した。彼の州。年1 670(Kambun 10th)池田光正は、庶民のためにここに学校を設立し、岡山県の執行長である長田田津田に経営陣を命じた。その後、北谷村から静谷村に改名されました。1673年(第1回)池田光正が「講堂」(旧館)の完成を見学しました。来年は「聖堂」(旧館)が完成しました。1675年(Empo 3rd)岡山県のすべての寺子屋は廃止され、その後は静谷学校に統一されました。1684年(帝京大学)新しい「聖堂」は1686年(帝京第3回)関西の儒学祭が開かれました。1701年(元禄14日)庄内(郷土師専用建物)、Shugeisai(建物、本来の教科書のような講義を受けることができる建物)が完成しました。儒教)と仁水(茶室)が順次完成した。その後、学校の周りに石垣が建てられ、ほとんどの施設が今の静谷学校の概要に似ていました。

(10/13)Welcome to Okayama Japan, the Land of Sunshine!

Kurashiki Hanpu

Kurashiki City

High-quality items using colorful Japanese canvas

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Used for more than 100 years, Kurashiki Hanpu is a thick canvas material created in a weaving factory for thick material and used in high-quality products under a highly acclaimed brand. One example of only a few high-quality Japanese canvases (cloth used for sails), Kurashiki Hanpu is a strong and durable material. From colorful canvas tote bags to wallets, book covers, and other small items, these products can be used by both men and women, making them popular as souvenirs.

Basic information

11-33, Honmachi, Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture
15 min on foot from JR Kurashiki Sta.
Business Hours
10:00am – 6:00pm
New Year’s Holiday

For inquiries; Kurashiki City Tourism Division
Telephone: 0864263421