by Kangaeroo •
Koshigaya, located some 30 kilometers from downtown Tokyo, and Campbelltown, which is situated about 50 kilometers from Sydney’s central business district, were almost made for each other, even if only serving as satellite cities for their respective countries’ largest cities.
Koshigaya and Campbelltown are sister cities and it’s hard to see a better example of the custom than the relationship between the Japanese bed town and its Aussie sibling.
Koshigaya is also home to a picturesque corner of Australia, complete with wallabies, emus and some lovely wild birds, including rainbow lorikeets, superb parrots, Major Mitchell’s cockatoos, tawny frogmouths and kookaburras.
The Campbelltown Forest of Wild Birds in Koshigaya could arguably be one of the Kanto Plains areas best-kept secrets.
Though only a small-scale park, the attraction is overall an excellent one as it gives a reasonably close view of some delightfully colorful (mostly) Australian birds in a fairly authentic aviary, the largest of its type in Japan.
Surrounding the aviary are plenty of gum trees, adding to the Down Under-flavor of the Saitama Prefecture city.
Koshigaya and Saitama became sister cities in 1984, one of the earliest formal relationships between local governments in Australia and Japan.
The Campbelltown Forest of Wild Birds opened in 1995 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the sister-city relationship.
Campbelltown reciprocates with its Koshigaya Park, containing Japanese gardens.
Details of the Campbelltown Forest of Wild Birds in Koshigaya are as follows:
Campbelltown Forest of Wild Birds(Japanese link)
272-1 Daikichi, Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture, 343-0008
Open: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Mondays, new year season holidays
Entrance fees: Adults 100 yen, children (primary and middle-school students) 30 yen
Related information on Koshigaya-Campbelltown ties
Campbelltown-Koshigaya Sister Cities Association
Campbelltown City Council page on sister city relations
Campbelltown-Koshigaya Sister Cities Association student delegates arrive to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their relationship
Campbelltown-Koshigaya friendship is 30 years young
by Kangaeroo •
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, probably the most-loved Australian children’s TV program in history, has turned 50 years old.
The first episodes screened in Australia in February 1968 and the show remains popular to this day, though only three series comprising 91 episodes were made.
The show premiered outside of Australia. Its run in Japan had effectively ended before Skippy showed in Australia, mainly because the series was made in color, which did not arrive in Australia until 1975.
Skippy told the story of a grey kangaroo and her best friend, a young boy named Sonny Hammond, played by Garry Pankhurst in his only role of significance in an acting career that had finished by his teens. Pankhurst grew up to work in the hospitality business and eventually ended up exporting kangaroo meat for consumption in Asian countries.
Sonny’s father, Matt, was the head ranger at the (fictional) Waratah National Park, as depicted by Ed Devereaux.
Other cast regulars included Sonny’s brother, Mark, portrayed by Ken James, the park pilot, Jerry King, played by Tony Bonner, and park receptionist, Clancy, performed by Liza Goddard.
Skippy was the marsupial equivalent to the likes of Lassie, Flipper and Rin Tin Tin, to name a few animal sleuths, solving all sorts of problems and achieving all manner of feats worthy of a superhero.
The series was one of Australia’s most heavily exported TV programs. It was broadcast in at least 128 countries. Among its versions are Skippy in Norwegian and Finnish, the French, Skippy le kangourou, the Spanish, Skippy el Canguro, Dutch, Skippy de Boskangoeroe, the Russian, Скиппи (телесериал), German, Skippy, das Buschkänguruh, Persianاسکیپی, Italian, Skippy il canguro and of course, Japan, where it was known as カンガルー・スキッピー(kangaruu sukippii).
In Japan, Skippy ran on the NTV network. The show started running in 1966 in a dubbed version, with re-runs playing in an early morning slot into the 1970s.
Skippy was mildly popular. The theme song, 森のスキッピー(Mori no Sukippii) was sung by School Mates, a large group of talented young kids belonging to the Tokyo Music Academy.
The Tokyo Music Academy has schools throughout Japan.
It is closely tied to Watanabe Productions, one of Japan’s biggest talent agencies.
Incredibly, School Mates continues performing to this day, albeit with a complete change of membership.
Moreover, a popular folk band at the time, The Riginnies, also released a song based on the show, called Skippy.
In addition to the TV series, in 1969 there was also the release of a feature-length film called Skippy and the Intruders. See the movie here.
Skippy’s iconic theme also proved to be a winner for transplanted Pom, Eric Jupp, who wrote and performed it. On the back of the successful son, Jupp released a series of Skippy-themed singles, including the main theme.
Skippy remained an integral part of the Australian TV landscape long after its original run.
In 1992, an updated version of the show ran, called The Adventures of Skippy.
In this show, Andrew Clarke played a grown Sonny Hammond, himself now a park ranger, but who retained strong ties to Skippy.
Even this series had a Japanese angle, as you can find out by watching the show below.
And, just as a bonus, here’s the French version of the show’s opening titles.
Skippy – générique en français
by Kangaeroo •
Japanese have been legally eating kangaroo for longer than most Australians.
Kangaroo meat was imported to Japan and being served in Tokyo restaurants from 1988, five years before meat from the national symbol was legalized for consumption by Australians in all states other than South Australia, where kangaroo could be eaten legally from 1980. (Indigenous Australians had continued eating kangaroo, a traditional food, regardless of the ban.)
Despite the head start, kangaroo meat never really kicked on in Japan, despite its reputation for being a healthy, high-protein, low-fat alternative to beef or pork.
RooMeat was promoted in Japan as being a preferred choice of athletes and models, but the “stars” called upon to plug the meat were not household names. Moreover, the meat was promoted with the somewhat mysterious catch copy of “it’s tasty if you cook it.”
Kangaroo meat can still be purchased in Japan, probably most easily from The Meat Guy, purveyor of fine meats.
Kangaroo meat is also promoted as an environmentally friendly choice as kangaroos produce less methane than cattle.
Some people have also adopted kangatarianism, which is essentially a vegetarian diet that allows for the consumption of kangaroo meat.
Japan’s kangaroo business was also involved in the kangaroo industry, which focuses around the marsupial’s leather, which is regarded as the strongest source of leather for shoes and gloves.
K-Roo kangaroo meat promotions
Premium kangaroo meat promotions
by Kangaeroo •
Japan has a strange affinity when it comes to using Australian animals for its advertising.
A number of major Japanese corporations use koalas and roos to plug their products and services.
One with a difference is Hayashi Corporation, a construction company with a history of over 100 years and based in suburban Tokyo.
Hayashi Corporation’s Fuchu branch office entrance is adorned with photos of a family of cartoon kangaroos decked out in soccer gear, just like Australia’s national football team, the Socceroos.
Japan’s next opponent in World Cup qualifying is Australia, but there’s no connection.
What is interesting to note, though, is that the kangaroos had been painted over until quite recently. They were restored after many years and now stand out prominently.
The reason for why this marsupial touch has been added to outer suburban Tokyo remains a mystery, though.
by Kangaeroo •
Sometimes, the connection to the leaping marsupial is obvious and needs no other explanation.
Other times, the link is less apparent. Even so, the reason for using the Australian symbol is rarely given.
A rare exception to this case is the Tanida Dental Clinic based in the Hyogo Prefecture city of Nishinomiya in western Japan.
At first glance, there seems to be little reason for a dental clinic to use a kangaroo and joey to advertise its business.
But the clinic provides an explanation for why it does so (and it can be read here in Japanese).
The clinic explains that its logo is a kangaroo and joey because child orthodontic care is something best carried out by parents and their children working as a team.
The kangaroo connection continues with the clinic’s monthly newsletter, called the Kangaroo Tsushin, or Kangaroo Communications.
by Kangaeroo •
Before conjuring up images of warfare, thought, the fields being referenced were actually courts and the competition was for tennis.
Simpson was a brand started in Australia in 1937 and was known for its prominent display of a kangaroo logo. It would outfit the Australian Olympic team in 1948 and through Olympic Games in the 1950s. The brand was favored by the Australia Davis Cup team and tennis stars including winners of Grand Slam events such as John Newcombe, Tony Roche and Frank Sedgman.
By the 1970s, Simpson was a prominent brand for stars on the professional tennis and golf circuits.
Then, something went all awry.
The Simpson kangaroo lost its bounce. It fell from being a front line player to a minor figure in the ultra-competitive sporting apparel market, not only in its native Australian market, but throughout the world.
Japan, though, is an almost singular exception. Simpson is not a major sportswear brand in Japan, but it retains a connection with tennis and golf in particular.
Simpson Japan still issues new season’s fashions in Japan, keeping the kangaroo-branded sportswear in the market.