The Tribes of Midnight

A Japanese bosozoku or biker gang member

The Tribes of Midnight – Based on a True Story

One day, years ago now, in Tsukahara, Minamiashigara, the bosozoku attacked Okamoto Junior High School. They beat up one teacher, and my understanding is that he never taught again. He recovered from his physical injuries but never wanted to teach after that experience.

Our story here though, largely occurred in Kaisei Town, one of the
quietest and safest you will find. If it can happen here, …you know the cliche.

Kaisei Town, Kanagawa

Hiroyuki Sakamoto talks with Suzukisan: “You should come out with us on Friday night Sakamotosan, we have a lot of fun! We cruise around on our ‘bikes’ (motorcycles), drink beer and meet girls. Hope to see ya!”

The Bosozoku — Biker Gangs of Japanese Guys

Hiroyuki ponders this invitation. Everyone has told him the bosozoku or Japanese bike gangs are dangerous and a dead end road to oblivion. Not the kind of thing a Japanese mother wishes for her youngsters. Suzukisan seems so nice however, and Friday nights have been pretty boring of late. Hiroyuki doesn’t have many friends, and the thought of spending another Friday night studying for high school entrance exams doesn’t enthuse him. Read More

Kaisei Mayor Tsuyuki & Others Making Waves

Kaisei Mayor Tsuyuki & Others Making Waves (from the Japan Times)


Staff writer

About two months before the Aug. 30 election, a small group of political leaders made big news by forming a new group. Though it consists of only half a dozen politicians at the local level, Shucho Rengo (the Local Leaders Federation) grabbed headlines nationwide and created concern among senior Diet members and bureaucrats in Tokyo.

That’s because the group mostly consists of young, dynamic political leaders who are sometimes fiery populists with strong individual personalities.

Each member has a reputation for being a reformist or shaking things up at the local level, and in general enjoys popularity ratings that senior politicians in both the ruling and opposition parties envy. Following are some basic facts about the federation:

What is the federation and how did it come into existence?

Read More:

Ajisai Festival Kaisei, held annually in June

Ajisai Festival Kaisei, The (Hydrangea Festival) held in June each Year

Pictured: Seto Yashiki, the famous poet Seto`s

house in Kaisei Town.

“Ajisainosato (アジサイの里) is the flower festival held by Kaiseimachi (開成町) on early June. There are more than 10,000 Ajisai (Hydrangea) in the town. At the festival, they have music ceremony, and food services. You can also buy Ajisai. Ajisai is very beautiful with rain. June in Japan is rainy season. So, if you had to cancel your schedule because of rain, visit Kaiseimachi to check out beautiful Ajisai.

This year’s ‘ajisai matsuri’ should be a great one. They have a lot planned. Last year’s
events included: a marathon, helicopter rides, Taiko drum concerts,
Japanese tea ceremony, traditional Japanese dancing exhibitions, a
bazaar and flea market, food and game booths, the making of
a ‘Guiness Book of World Records’length sushi roll, and much more.
The festival revolves around a large area of recently planted rice,
fringed with thousands of Hydrangea bushes of all varieties. It is
especially beautiful around dusk. This year they’re also lighting up
the flowers in the evening, from 7pm to 9pm. There seem to be a lot
more concerts scheduled this year.

The town of Kaisei has also restored a traditional thatched roof
home, the ‘Seto Yashiki’. It is only a 5 minute walk from the Hydrangea
festival. There are a number of events scheduled there as well
(concerts, exhibitions,…)

Across the river is the Matsuda-yama Herb Festival, same dates. And,
in Minami Ashigara, near the Kaisei border, is the ‘Hana Aoi’ Matsuri.

All can easily be visited on the same day. Shuttle buses run from
Kaisei Station from 9am to 3pm. The cost is 100 yen for adults and
50 yen for children (under 6, free). It is 400 yen for all the riding
you want to do in one day. The bus travels to the hydrangea festival,
the herb garden, and the Hana Aoi festival. Regular buses also run
from Shin-Matsuda Station. For those who like to walk, it is only about
20 minutes from Matsuda Station. Hope to see you there!”
–posted at the Odawara Bulletin Board

Tsuyuki, the long reigning Mayor of Kaisei Town

& More Musings about Life in our Area

While he has been criticized for having a short temper, and being too severe at times, or even for not understanding what junior

high school students are like, he is a far thinking and far reaching mayor, – one Japan needs more of.

At one junior diet, (a session he holds for junior high students in Kaisei,) he attempted to get ideas from the students about the

future of Kaisei Town, Tsuyuki became angry, and he severely criticized the students for being noisy.

The next group of students were on their best behavior however.     My wife led them in, and feeling chagrined, they were very, very quiet.

Despite occasional bouts of being short-tempered or severe, Mayor Tsuyuki is a good man and a great mayor.    He has made Kaisei

Town a much better place.    The Head Office of Fuji Film moved from Minamiashigara to Kaisei Town a few years ago.    Minamiashigara

could not put on a fireworks show at the local Kintaro Festival in 2010.     MA suffers from a lack of tax money, a problem Kaisei Town

doesn`t seem to lack.

I like people who think outside of the box, ( a rarity in Japan), and Kaisei`s Mayor is certainly one of these people.

Not only is he creative himself, but taps the ideas of others to make Kaisei the envy of the towns and cities around it.

He hired a friend of mine, Sandra Golinski (Isaka) to work for him.     He taps into the ideas of non-Japanese as well.

Kaisei`s Mayor Tsuyuki responds to questions from Odawara Living.

Kaisei is zoning the land of the town to keep factories away from neighbourhoods as much as possible.

Many of the roads are wide, with tree-lined sidewalks, that are safe for the children to walk to school on.

Like many towns and cities in Japan, Kaisei wastes enormous funds every year on ashphalt and cement,

but that seems to be a Kanagawa-wide initiative problem rather than a Kaisei one.    In Minamiashigara, they are even

putting cement in the Kari River to make it more like a canal.    However MA is not Europe, we don`t have

a gently meandering river much of the time.    Torrential rains cause the Kari to become a frothing, dangerous

place to be, and undue much of the crane work it took to make it canal like.    So after every typhoon you see the

cranes back in the river “repairing,” things.     We have many typhoons between August to October!

In Conclusion, I think the government of Minamiashigara can learn many lessons from Kaisei Town and Mayor

Tsuyuki, to improve MA.    Not being able to operate the pool in Iizawa, no fireworks, and closing the cultural center,

these are all big problems and bring down the morale of the people.

More on Kaisei Town

Toru Endo on Waste Reduction in Kaisei Town