About Tsuyama: The head school is located in the central district of Tsuyama, the regional capital of the Sakushu, or Mimasaka area of northern Okayama Prefecture. It has a population of just under 100,000 people, predominantly families of farmers, business persons and merchants. The outlying areas support rice, dairy, cattle and pig farmers, as well as timber industry workers. There are several industrial parks in the surrounding areas, containing some of the major names in Japanese industry, including National Panasonic and Chugai Seiyaku. Situated in the Chugoku mountain range, the city is surrounded by mountains and the natural beauty of the area may come as a surprise to those used to the industrial, big-city images of Japan.
Climate: Summer is hot and humid; winter is cold, with the occasional moderate to heavy snowfall. Spring and autumn are truly beautiful with very mild weather and spectacular flowers and foliage. The wet season in early summer is very much as the name suggests, but no more so than any other area in Japan.
Sights: One of the finest places in Japan to view cherry blossoms in spring, and situated directly across from our school, is the ruins of Tsuyama Castle. Now a park, it has some 1000 cherry trees that burst with this symbol of Japan in early April heralding the start of festivals and celebrations that carry on through the summer months and into autumn.
There are many festivals celebrating the seasons in Tsuyama and the surrounding area, and anyone interested in this aspect of Japanese culture will be well served living here. Teachers in the past have joined these festivals on a regular basis.
The greatest attraction in Tsuyama is undoubtedly its citizens. People with any experience of the larger cities of Japan often comment on how friendly and approachable the local people are. They are proud of their city and keen to show you its best side. Happily, a large number of the best you are to meet here are among our students.
The National Tourist Organization provides a more colorful description of Tsuyama and the surrounding Mimasaka area. A more localized description of Tsuyama can be found on the official Tsuyama Tourism site.
More about the local area, industries and festivals can be found on the official Tsuyama City site.
Information about Okayama Prefecture can be found on the official prefectural site.
Teachers in the past have enjoyed a wide range of leisure pursuits in their free-time and on holidays, from fishing, cycling, snowboarding and hiking, to the more sedate indoor activities including karaoke, streaming movies, reading books and the local area has inspired the writing muse in many. Teachers have joined classes in the local area such as aerobics, weight-training, table tennis, painting and swimming.
Sports: Sports are very popular in Tsuyama including outdoor and indoor pursuits such as tennis, cycling, running, basketball, badminton, table tennis, baseball and bowling.
The Japan Swimming School (Japanese language site) is centrally located, not far from the teacher’s accommodation and the school, offering classes and training times at affordable rates.
Study: There are ample opportunities for foreign residents to study Japanese in Tsuyama with a well organized local team of experienced volunteer teachers running classes in several locations around town for a nominal fee.
The local area also supports a large number of classes in the traditional Japanese arts, such as pottery, the tea ceremony, calligraphy, kendo, karate, kyudo and ikebana.
Movie Theaters: The major cities to the south, Okayama and Kurashiki have a large number of movie theaters showing all the major and many minor releases from all over the world.
Shopping: Tsuyama is well serviced by shops and department stores, and apart from the occasionally needed ‘tastes from home’, almost anything a teacher needs can be found here or online. The much better serviced Okayama City, the largest city in the area with a population of about 700,000, is about an hour away by express train, and the much bigger Osaka is just over 2 hours away by highway bus.
Intercity Transportation: The local area is moderately serviced with public transport facilities should the teacher wish to travel outside Okayama on vacations or on the weekend. The local Tsuyama Train Line connects to Tottori City in the north and to Okayama City in the south with Bullet Train connections from there to the major cities of Japan.
There are a number of Japan Rail Highway Bus services departing from Tsuyama Station to most major cities in Western Japan as well as Tokyo.
Okayama Airport, with domestic and international connections, is about a seventy-minute drive from Tsuyama.