City of Kasama - Information for Foreigners (外国人向け情報)

reDiscover Kasama! (笠間を再発見)

Japanese version follows the English. 日本語版は英語版の後に続きます。

1 笠間焼で食事をより楽しく!

Natalia, Kasama City press and PR officer, writes about her experience of Kasama City.
グローバル枠採用の笠間市広報スタッフ ナターリアが笠間の魅力をを紹介します。

You can also find this corner in Kasama Magazine. The articles are written in Japanese with furigana reading aid.


Kasama Magazine version /「広報かさま」 (PDF)

#7 Walking the Path of Aiki (2023/4)
第7回 合気の道を歩く

English version

Aikido is what initially brought me to Kasama City. The Aiki Shrine, built by Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, is in Iwama District. It is the only shrine in the world dedicated to aikido.

Seven years ago, when I lived and trained at the dojo near the Aiki Shrine for two months, I participated for the first time in the Aiki Shrine Grand Festival, held every year on April 29.


The festival begins at 11 am with the rites and aikido demonstrations. However, we woke up at 5 am just as usual and spent many hours cleaning the Aiki Shrine and the dojo. Then we had a very busy day preparing and cleaning up the venue.

I was really looking forward to the demonstration because the culture of performing in a church would be unimaginable in my country. However, so many people, including tall foreigners, came to watch the demonstration that I could barely see anything.

After the festival, we had a picnic and mingled with other participants at the dojo, where azaleas were blooming beautifully. It was a great opportunity to learn about Japanese culture and a good memory for me.

Since I began living in Japan, I have been helping out with the Aiki Shrine Grand Festival as a regular student. Because of coronavirus, we could not host the event as before, but this year, for the first time in four years, it looks like we can hold it as usual. Please come and see it!

It is the last issue of "Rediscover Kasama." Thank you very much for rediscovering wonderful things about Kasama with me over the past year. I was happy to receive some postcards with your feedback. Starting this month, I am going to share what I like about Kasama with "#mykasama_jp" just as you do.

Please continue to support Kasama!

How do you say it in Japanese?

Let me introduce Aiki Shrine Grand Festival.

You read the original name "合気神社例大祭" as "aiki jinja rei taisai," but many aikido practitioners just call it "taisai."


"Aiki Jinja Shrine" is 合気神社 aiki jinja. Since it is mostly called "Aiki Shrine," you switch "shrine" to "jinja."

Let's have a look at 例大祭 rei taisai.

例 = usual/custom, 大 = big/great, 祭 = festival
例 + 大 + 祭 = regular big festival

So, it is usually translated as "grand festival," keeping in mind that is held regularly.

Review: 神社 jinja means "shrine."

Kasama Magazine version (April 2023) /「広報かさま」令和5年4月号 (PDF)














Aiki Shrine Grand Festival

「合気神社」=「Aiki Jinja Shrine」ですが、短くして「Aiki Shrine」とよく言います。

「例大祭」は「Grand Festival」と訳します。


本文を追加 (1)

#6 Getting to Know Ceramic Art (2023/2)
第6回 陶芸に親しむ

English version


Since I started living in Kasama City, I constantly hear about fascinating ceramic exhibitions and events. Little by little, my interest has sparked. So far, I have been to the Himatsuri Pottery Festival, the Irodori Hatsugama Ichi Pottery Market, Touen (Peach Banquet), Open Atrier, and other events.

Last February, I was curious about the Kasama Ceramic Hina Doll Festival "Touen" poster with a tiered display of ceramic Hina dolls, so I rented a bicycle to explore the participating stores.

I had read about the Hina Festival in a Japanese language textbook, but when I saw the ceramic Hina dolls for real, I was impressed by their beauty beyond my imagination. From finely crafted human figures and cute animal forms to more abstract and modern designs, the ceramic Hina dolls of rich individuality were arrayed in the shops. Interacting with the artists was also a great joy for me.

Also, at the end of February, I had a unique opportunity to observe students of the Kasama College of Ceramic Art firing pottery in the climbing kiln at Crafthills Kasama.
The firing took place over four days. The students took turns putting wood into the kiln day and night under the teachers' guidance. As they explained the climbing kiln structure and firing process, I thought it must have been even more difficult in the old days when there were no thermometers.


When I put on light-blocking glasses to reduce the glare and looked inside the kiln, the flames, dancing gracefully like living creatures, seemed to burn my worries away along with the wood. Also, while there were fierce flames inside the climbing kiln, the quiet atmosphere around it brought back my childhood memories of when I sat by a campfire and made me feel nostalgic.

Observing the climbing kiln during the firing process was a rare experience and a precious memory that made me feel even closer to the art of ceramics.

I look forward to your "#mykasama_jp" stories about pottery. Please share them with me!

How do you say it in Japanese?

Let me introduce Kasama Ceramic Hina Doll Festival "Touen".

You read the original name "かさまの陶雛『桃宴』" as "kasama no tōbina tōen."

陶雛 tōbina consists of 陶 "pottery/ceramic" and 雛 "hina (doll)." Being put after another kanji character, 雛 hina switches its first consonant and becomes bina

桃宴 tōen consists of 桃 "peach" and 宴 "banquet," however, you simply write it as "Touen."

By the way, in the Japanese language in most cases, if an "u" follows a vowel, you don't really pronounce the "u". The previous vowel becomes longer instead. So, if you write a transcription, you usually choose between "tōen" and "touen."

Kasama Magazine version (February 2023) /「広報かさま」令和5年2月号 (PDF)












Kasama Ceramic Hina Doll Festival "Touen"

「雛祭り」の英語訳の一つは「Doll Festival(人形祭り)」です。

「陶」を「ceramic」として訳し、「Hina」と「Touen」をそのままローマ字に変え、「Doll Festival」を追加しましょう。

#5 "My Kasama" News (2022/12)

English version

"My Kasama" News is a project to let people share their stories and experiences in Kasama with others by adding a "#mykasama_jp" hashtag to their posts on social media.

I believe your stories help us discover new fascinating things about the city, so thank you very much for sharing them!

For this issue, I interviewed two people who used the hashtag in 2022 and asked them what they liked about Kasama.

Anastasia posted about visiting local galleries.  

I moved to Mito City two years ago. When I learned about the "Japan Heritage Pottery Town" next door, I decided to explore it. Riding around the city on a rental bicycle from JR Kasama Station, I was impressed by the countless pottery studios and galleries, as well as many other fascinating places to visit!

For instance, a brewery with the longest history in Japan is located in Kasama. There are also many instagrammable spots like Ishikiri Granite Quarry, Kasama Azalea Park, and Kasama Inari Shrine. All this made me think that Kasama may be one of the best sightseeing towns in the prefecture.
I believe it's worth letting more people, both in Japan and abroad, know about this place.

There is still so much I don't know about Kasama, so I want to explore more of it!

Mr. Suzuki shared the seasonal beauty of nature seen at the aikido dojo.


I was born and raised in Iwama and I still work in the city.

Many foreigners used to come to the aikido dojo where I practice every year. Many of them kept coming back here over and over again. So, it seems to be a special place for them where they feel peace.

I have been posting photos and videos to share the seasonal beauty and atmosphere of the dojo with Iwama fans even if just a little bit, as they have lost the opportunity to come to Japan because of the corona pandemic.

I received comments from people nostalgic for the birdsong and the sound of walking on gravel that they heard in the video.

I hope to share lovely things about Kasama City with many people in this way.

This year, for the first time in a while, many events took place in Kasama. I hope you enjoyed your time here.
I look forward to reading more of your "#mykasama_jp" stories next year!

How do you say it in Japanese?

Let me introduce azaleas this time.

Kasama Azalea Festival takes place at Kasama Azalea Park every year from around late April to early May.

"Kasama Azalea Festival" is "笠間つつじまつり" (kasama tsutsuji matsuri).
Let's review our old good friends 笠間 kasama and まつり matsuri, and add a new word.
As you could have guessed, つつじ tsutsuji means "azalea" in Japanese.

"Kasama Azalea Park" is "笠間つつじ公園" (kasama tsutsuji kōen).
So, another new word for you is 公園 kōen, which means a public park.

Kasama Magazine version (December 2022) / 「広報かさま」令和4年12月号 (PDF)




















笠間つつじ公園」= Kasama Azalea Park

笠間つつじまつり」= Kasama Azalea Festival


#4 Reunion with Chestnuts (2022/10)
第4回 栗と再会

English version

Kasama City has the largest area in Japan for growing sweet chestnuts. In the Iwama district, where I often take walks, chestnut orchards can be seen all around.


Where I come from, trees that we usually call "chestnuts" are horse chestnuts, and they are inedible. Also, the leaves and the fruits look different from Japanese chestnuts, which are actually pretty cute as they resemble little hedgehogs.

When I tried sweet chestnuts in my country, they tasted so bad that I thought "I will never eat them again". I have several friends who had similar experiences. However, ever since I tasted roasted chestnuts in Kasama, I look forward to the chestnut season from September to October every year. For me, such a sweet taste is unusual, and since I have a sweet tooth, whenever I find a new chestnut dessert, I end up buying it.

Three years ago, I participated in Kasama New Chestnut Festival held at Kasama Geijutsu-no-Mori Park as a kanban musume. "Kanban musume" is directly translated as "signboard daughter" and means an attractive girl or young woman who stands outside a store to attract customers. Though I was not used to the "Irasshaimase~ (Welcome!)" culture, it was a good experience to create a festival atmosphere simply by smiling and greeting people.
Vendors proudly promoted their food products, and customers lined up in front of their stores from early in the morning. It makes me nostalgic to recall the bustling atmosphere of the festival.


The store I was helping was baking a pizza with roasted chestnuts on top in a wood-fired oven. As it was quite an original recipe, I was happy to see that customers enjoyed it so much.

I looked around other stalls and found chestnut rice, desserts, sweets, and many other delicious things. I also saw a roasting machine for the first time and was surprised by the huge cloud of steam coming out when the chestnuts are ready.
The festival was not only about food. Many people enjoyed chestnut-picking activities, games, and a concert.

My friends from overseas also came to buy souvenirs before leaving Japan. Since moving here and getting to eat regional delicacies, I have come to think that local specialties are the best gifts to bring back home.

Please share your chestnut stories through #mykasama_jp too!

How do you say it in Japanese?


Let me introduce the "Kasama New Chestnut Festival."

You read the original name "かさま新栗まつり" as "kasama shinkuri matsuri."

This time, the words かさま kasama and まつり matsuri, which we have already learned are written in hiragana. I guess the characters' balance looks fancier this way.

新しい atarashii means "new," and 栗 kuri means "chestnut." However, if you put them together as 新栗, they change their reading to shinkuri.
新 becomes shin, like in 新宿 shinjuku or 新幹線 shinkansen.

As a bonus, マロン maron is an easy word for you to remember. It comes from the French word "marron" and means nut fruit of the sweet chestnut.

Kasama Magazine version (October 2022) /「広報かさま」令和4年10月号 (PDF)












Kasama New Chestnut Festival



#3 Hiking with Tengu (2022/8)
第3回 天狗とハイキング

English version


When I first visited Kasama City nine years ago, I climbed Mt. Atago and saw large tengu masks and themed omamori amulets at the Atago Jinja Shrine for the first time in my life. That's how I learned about these Japanese folklore creatures.

Recently, I have been reading a book called "Tales of Iwama" and watching a video series of "Kasama Folktales" on the Kasama Channel. It is said that in the old days, when Mt. Atago was called Mt. Iwama, tengu lived and did austere practices there. I was surprised to read the "Tengu's Sumo" story, as some techniques appeared to be just like aikido ones!

I had thought that the Atago Jinja Shrine enshrines these supernatural beings. However, when I asked the staff, they told me that it was actually one of the three major fire prevention shrines in Japan. Behind it, at the Iitsuna Jinja Shrine, they worship the thirteen tengu of Iwama. I had wondered what these small buildings lined up in a row were, and was told that they were shrines to the thirteen tengu. Mystery solved! I also learned that the Iitsuna Shrine is famous for an extremely unusual Akutai Matsuri (Cursing Festival).

Goshuin Stamp

When the priest talked to me about the Atago Shrine, he also let me try my hand at writing a goshuin stamp! As it was hard to keep a good balance of kanji characters, my handwriting wasn’t that good. However, it was a gratifying experience I could not normally have.

Afterward, I walked along the "Kasama-Wagakuni Atago Hiking Course" to see what kind of mountain the tengu trained on. I wandered through a tunnel of tall trees and enjoyed the soothing birdsong and hummed the song I heard in the Tengu animation short movie. My legs were tired but my mind was refreshed as I reached the Minami-yama (South Mountain) resting spot. Next time, I will wear proper hiking shoes and try to walk the entire trail.

It seems that there are many folk tales and legends passed down in Kasama. Knowing them not only helps you understand local traditions and history, but it also becomes a topic of conversation with foreigners like me. Please let me know about opportunities to experience folk tales and hiking in the city through #mykasama_jp!

How do you say it in Japanese?

Let me introduce the shrine’s and mountain’s names in Japanese.

"Atago Jinja Shrine" is "愛宕 神社" (atago jinja).
Since the word “jinja” means "shrine," you just drop the English explanation. It’s easy, right?

"Mount Atago" is "愛宕 山" (atago san).

If you speak about mountains in general, you use the reading "yama" for the "山".
However, you usually read the same character as "san" in mountain names. So, no, in Japanese it’s not "Fujiyama," it’s "Fujisan."

Kasama Magazine version (August 2022) /「広報かさま」令和4年8月号 (PDF)












「愛宕山」=「Mount Atago

書く時は、「Mt. Atago」と短く書くことが多いです。「山の名前」ではく、「山」を表す時は、「mountain」という言葉を使います。

「愛宕神社」=「Atago Jinja Shrine

「Shrine」は「神社」という意味です。人によっては、「Jinja」を言わず、「Atago Shrine」と言う時もあります。

#2 Escape the Heat in Kasama (2022/6)
第2回 笠間の避暑地

English version

Tea Break

It is getting hotter and hotter. There are not so many hot days where I come from, so I get tired of the muggy and humid season in Japan and instinctively want to escape to a cool place. Do you know any spots in Kasama where you can enjoy staying cool, among other things?

For me, they are art museums!

Kasama has surprisingly large museums, such as the Kasama Nichido Museum of Art and the Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum.

Kasama Nichido Museum of Art is situated not far from Kasama Inari Jinja Shrine. You can enjoy special exhibitions of Picasso, Tsuguharu Foujita, and other renowned Japanese and foreign painters, a palette exhibition, and bronze sculptures by famous sculptors. Once you enter, it feels like you're in a different world. There are three exhibition buildings, a garden, a rooftop café, and a museum store. 
I love cats, 
so when I went to see the "A Cats' World II" exhibition, I enjoyed the entire museum at my leisure and was very satisfied. I spent three hours there, but it was so exciting that it felt like a blink of an eye.

The Ibaraki Ceramic Museum is located in Kasama Geijutsu-no-mori Park. Visitors can enjoy a variety of unique contemporary ceramic works, from traditional crafts to figurative works and even everyday tableware.


The museum boasts masterpieces by Kosei Matsui, designated as a Living National Treasure, and other renowned artists. You can also take a break in the museum store or restaurant.
I was not interested in ceramics before visiting the museum. However, I was deeply impressed by the beauty of the ceramic works at the "Blue or White - Blue, White, and Blue and White Porcelain" exhibition two years ago. Since then, I have visited the museum many times.

Dear Readers, please be careful in this hot weather!
If you know of any other places in Kasama where you can escape the heat, please let me know on social media by adding the hashtag #mykasama_jp to your post!

How do you say it in Japanese?

Let me introduce the museums' names in Japanese.

"Kasama Nichido Museum of Art" is "笠間 日動 美術館" (kasama nichidō bijutsukan).
Kasama is the name of the city, Nichido is the title, and bijutsukan means an "art museum."

"Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum" is "茨城県 陶芸 美術館" (ibaraki-ken tōgei bijutsukan).
Ibaraki-ken means "Ibaraki Prefecture", and this museum is run by the prefecture, although located in Kasama City.
Tougei means "ceramic art, pottery".

While in English you can say just "museum," in the Japanese language, you have to choose between 美術館 bijutsukan, and 博物館 hakubutsukan.
As you may have noticed, bijutsukan is a fine art museum. You can find paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photography, and other works of art there.
Hakubutsukan is a general word for a museum. However, you usually use this word for an institution that displays artifacts and other historicalcultural, or scientific objects.

Kasama Magazine version (June 2022) /「広報かさま」令和4年6月号 (PDF)
















「笠間日動美術館」=「Kasama Nichido Museum of Art」(カサマ・ニチド・ミュージアム・オブ・アート)

「茨城県陶芸美術館」=「Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum」(イバラキ・セラミック・アート・ミュージアム)

Museum of Art(ミュージアム・オブ・アート)とArt Museum(アート・ミュージアム)は語順が違ちがいますが、どちらも「美術館」という意いみ味です。

#1 Nice to Meet You (2022/4)
第1回 初めまして

English version

My name is Natalia, and I work at Kasama City Hall in the Public Relations Office.

I came to Japan four years ago and have been living in Kasama for two years. Every day I discover new beautiful things about Kasama. In this column, I would like to introduce Kasama as seen through the eyes of a foreigner like me.


Let's rediscover Kasama together!

Kasama is rich in nature, has many museums and galleries, and has surprisingly many events.

Besides big events like the Himatsuri Pottery Festival, the New Chestnut Festival, and the Chrysanthemum Festival, small fairs and festivals also often take place, making Kasama a place where it is fun to live.

Although events have been decreasing because of the Covid-19 pandemic, I believe this is an excellent chance to realize the value of ordinary things. Therefore, I invite you to see life in Kasama with new eyes, and I hope you will find more things you like about this lovely place.

However, I am still a relative newcomer to Kasama, so please let me know about exciting things happening here by adding the hashtag #mykasama_jp to your post on social media if you like.

I will also tell you the names of local tourist attractions in English and Japanese.
Let's learn together!

How do you say it in Japanese?


Let me introduce the "Kasama Himatsuri Pottery Festival".

You read the original name "笠間の陶炎祭" as "kasama no himatsuri."

笠間 is Kasama, the name of the city.

陶炎祭 (himatsuri) is quite tricky. It consists of the characters "pottery," "flame" and "festival".

Please don't confuse it with fire festivals.

Kasama Magazine version (April 2022) /「広報かさま」令和4年4月号 (PDF)











Kasama Himatsuri Pottery Festival


「Pottery Festival」という単語をつけることで、焼き物のお祭りということが伝わりやすいです。



〒309-1792 笠間市中央三丁目2番1号

電話番号:0296-77-1101 ファクス番号:0296-78-0612