Coral plant on the coast of Lake NOTORI

by Alan

I am not sure why this plant in the moor is called coral plant(Sango-so) in Japan. Its nomenclature is Salicornia europaea. It is also called "Akkeshi-so" in Japan and Akkeshi is the name of town that Kazu introduced with its facility Conchiglie yesterday.  But I am convinced that the vague "red " color make me feel like in a dream.
It can be seen in the north frigid zone of Europe, North America and Asia.    
 Lake Notori is in Okhotsk district of Hokkaido and its southern coast is filled with this vague red in August and September. 
The name of the plant is derived from Akkeshi Town where it was found first in Japan but now this coast of Lake NOTORI is much more famous in Japan. Precisely speaking, this area is in Ubaranai of Abashiri City.
This is the sign that explains about this plant but I could not understand the discription. But I think that it is about the toughness of this plant to grow in saltwater. Am I right?


Conchiglie in Akkeshi Town

by Kazu

Please visit
and you will find a beatiful building, scenery of the sea and peninsula. But it is in Japanese.
The name of the building is "Conchiglie" which means the food with the shape of seashell in Italian.
This facility is aimed to create the culture of cooking and eating seafood and others sourced locally. Particularly the oysters raised in Akkeshi Bay are so popular that they are exported to other part of Japan and the world.
Grilled conch is also nice to have with beer. Once the conch bubbled with sticky fluid on the fire, we take the body off the shell, fill the shell with soy sauce, put the body of shellfish back to the shell and put them on the fire again.
Fresh sushi-grade oysters are superb and hit the best balance with horseraddish and Japanese sake or dry-taste white wine.
Scallopes, fish, meats and veggies sourced around this area can be chosen from the vat at the entrance of this restaurant in buffet style.
It seems that a certain Chinese movie film use this facility as the stage of love romance because many Chinese tourists, in particular couples of male and female visit this facility including the restaurant. 
Tomorrow is the last day of March.
So far just one contribution of article with photo has been sent to me from Mr.Evans living in Sorachi sub-prefectural area except for contributions from the U.S.A..
 Please let me know what kind of present should be selected for the MVP of this blog in April, 2012.   


Bombay Blue

by Andy Evans(U.K.)

Today I felt like Indian food, so I stopped by Bombay Blue, close to the university campus in Iwamizawa. It’s a firm favourite among the expatriates in Sorachi District, and rarely disappoints. As it was lunchtime, I went for one of the excellent lunch specials. I had a chicken curry set, which is a chicken tikka massala with rice, a fresh naan bread and a salad. For 790yen, it’s a real bargain.

I opted to have my curry ‘very very hot’ as I love spicy food. The complimentary lassi (Indian yoghurt drink) was most welcome, as my mouth was tingling after a few mouthfuls!
The chef has recently arrived from India, so his curries are as authentic as they come! The menu is varied, with something for everyone and the spice level can be varied if you're not used to the heat of a spicy Indian curry.

For regular visitors, it's worth picking up a Special Member's Card, with which you can get discounts on your bill.

If you went to the Join Alive festival, or the Iwamizawa Hyappei Matsuri, you may have seen a Bombay Blue stand. They now have a ‘Curry Bus’ which will be serving food at different festivals around Hokkaido this summer.

Jimmy, the owner of Bombay Blue, told me about an Indian Music event he will be hosting on May 12th. There’ll be a ‘sitar’ group playing from 6:00pm with a buffet and drinks. Sounds like it’ll be a great evening, I’m certainly keen to be there!

Spring has come ?

by Kazu

Considering my increasing weight,my biological clock seems to be telling spring has come.
But accumulated snow is still left in downtown of Iwamizawa. I am concerned that the flood around Ishikari river may damage the agriculture in Sorachi sub-prefectural area  in summer and autumn after the heavy snowfall in this winter. 
On the other hand, very few snow is left in Sapporo City. It is warmer in Sapporo than in Iwamizawa.
Weather alert service will be started in April. I am very sorry for the delay of the system. Weather alert email will be sent from " ikeda.kazuaki@pref.hokkaido.lg.jp " or my private email address that I will get in April.
The service is for the expatriates living in Sorachi sub-prefectural area, Hokkaido but if any comments or requests you have, please do not hesitate to tell me.
This is my favorite photo of this winter in Sapporo. Rising sun is the symbol of reincarnation.


Shiretoko Beauty!

by Kazu

It is so difficult to select the MVP of this month because there has been very few contributions of articles with photos from Sorachi sub-prefectural area and other part of Japan but just few from the United States have been contributed to this blog site so far.
As I mentioned before, Japanese sake "ARABASHIRI" brewed up by Kobayashi Brewery is the present to the MVP of this month.
At this moment, nobody is entitled to this present and it is very difficult to send this bottle to the  United States.
 Just one or two contributions with photos may be worth of this present in this situation. Every expatriates may be so busy at the end of Japanese fiscal year. I should change the present to the MVP of coming April, shouldn't I ?
If anybody could give me a comment on what kind of item should be selected as a present to the MVP of April, I would appreciate it so much !

Above is the photo of Mt.Rausu(1660m) in Shiretoko area, Okhotsk sub-prefectural area. It will take a month to see the mountain from the top of Shiretoko Pass between Route 334 and 335.
 Righthand side is one of the Northern Territory of Japan called Kuril Islands in English, Kunashiri Island that can be seen from the top of Shiretoko Pass. Currently those islands are under the control of Russia but they can be made the most of for both nation Russian and Japanese, and other nations, if a productive cooperation will be arranged and committed between Russia and Japan.
I believe  we can make it and those twin objectives can be realized by the young leadres of two nations. 
Hot spring water fall KAMUIWAKKA is the most popular spot to visit now in Shiretoko area even after the exploring to the blue pool to enjoy the long soak was prohibited because of the fear of falling rocks after landslides caused by heavy rainfall.
The flowing hot water with high level of pH is very sour and rusts metals.
The center part of this river is easier to walk because the quality and temperature of the flowing water fend off the water moss and weed that make th riverbed slippery. 
 This is the sign of prohibition on entering dangerous area of the headwaters. Only 20 minutes walk from the parking area near the foot of waterfall brings you to this point. Before, approximately 1 hour trekking can be enjoyable in this river to the blue pool to soak in.
Something went out of balance on the upper side.
After enjoying trekking, we should wolf down the gift from the sea at Utoro area on the northern side of Shiretoko Peninsula where many restaurants and inns are florishing. Among them, a diner run by the wives group of Fishermans Association in Utoro area is a big draw. Literally it is like a hole-in-the-wall which has a little space for guests.
The high season of tourism in Hokkaido will start in a month. Instead of bulk tour, individual private tourism is in nowadays. Please keep "safety drive" without shuteye at the helm;)
Again, the articles with photos of Hokkaido will be appreciated so much. Email address is
ikeda.kazuaki@pref.hokkaido.lg.jp  .


Coalmine Heritage Management Center

by Kazu

This is where the icebreaking party of winery and vineyard owners was held as I described last week.
This gallery is owned by a merchant and used as a warehouse of his shop. The building is made of block stones and its insude is so comfortable to stay for hours even in summer without air-conditioner.
As the name of this facility shows, it has many kinds  of heritage of coalmine industry in the shape of photos, models and gadgets which were actually used under the ground.
This is the skelton model of the buildings in coalmine area. It was made up by a former coalmine worker.
A variety of buildings are exhibited in the gallery.
This is the model of the shaft and gallery of a coalmine in Sorachi sub-prefectural area.

This is the shaft tower of coalmine.
This is the model of railway system for carrying coal.
Tangible and intangible heritage of coalmines are collected in this facility. Please visit the gallery and its web site :http//www.soratan.com/.  
 Mrs.Maeda will explain about the history of coalmines in Hokkaido in English.                                           


Winery and vineyard owners got together !

by Kazu

On March 23(Fri.),  the people who run the winery and vineyard in Sorachi sub-prefectural area got together and share the result of the probe conducted by the research company Zukosha in Hokkaido.
Based on the research, Sorachi sub-prefectural area is the best place to run the vineyard and winery in Hokkaido. The points of the research were the total time of daylight from August to October, the difference of temperature in a day, and the quality of the soil in the vineyard.     
As you may know, Norm, too much nitrogenous fertilizer results in reducing the sweetness of the grapes. And too much potassium raises the pH
 of the grape juice. The soil that has good drainage produces the grapes of higher quality as recognized in Bordeaux and Burgundy in France and Catalonia in Spain as well as Niagara on the Lake and British Colombia in Canada. Of course, various kinds of grapes has been developed for each part on this globe but it turned that Sorachi sub-prefectural area in Hokkaido is one of the best place to raise the grapevines and make the best wine in the world.     
All the people who run their own winery and vineyard got relieved and made up their minds again to take the bull by the horns in their lives as entrepreneurs.
It was the first time for them to get together bringing their works "delicious wines" and to talk each other about the efforts they have exerted so far. It may be difficult for them to talk man to man about the problem they are facing but on top of the appropriate competition among them, sharing information and recognize "our competitiveness" is required in Sorachi sub-prefectural area.
It may be easy for large enterprises to run the big wineries, blend the wine and keep the quality of their works but even for them it is impossible to make "the monster wine" because nobody knows what the future has in store and just the small size wineries have the possibilities to produce the grapes that lead to "the monster wine" that strikes  the chord with everybody.
Last year the deers and hornets ate the grapes for wine in Sorachi sub-prefectural area and the damage was so huge that some owners of winery were so discouraged . But in this meeting, they got the second wing in their heart, I hope.


Events in April and May, 2012

by Regional Policy Division, Local Policy Planning Dpt., SORACHI Sub-prefectural Office
・April 14(Sat.)-15(Sun.) :KOBAYASHI Sake Brewering Company will hold a sake celler festival and
                                        TANITA Confection Company will make a millet cake festival at
                                        the same time in Kuriyama Town, Sorachi sub-prefectural area, Hokkaido.
                                        Both of two companies are well-founded and will arrange the guided tour in sake
                                       celler and confection factory where the visitors can see the process of making
                                       Visitors can enjoy tasting various kinds of sake and non-alcohol sweet sake in
                                       KOBAYAHI Brewering Company and millet cakes in TANITA Confection
                                       Company gratis (for free of charge) before purchasing thier products.
                                       Temporary parking area will be set in each area in the town and will be connected
                                       by shuttle buses driven by the municipality of Kuriyama.
                                       The venue of the festival is 10 minutes walk from Kuriyama JR Station.

・April 20(Fri.)-22(Sun.): Orchid Festival 2012 will be held in Akabira City, Sorachi sub-prefectural area,
                                       It is the biggest Orchid Festival in Hokkaido where various kinds of orchids
                                       will be collected from all over the island and exhibited in the same venue.
                                       Orchids sale,
                                       special seminar for growing orchids and drawing for presenting moth orchid
                                       will be arranged in the gymnasium of the municipality.

・April 28(Sat.)-30(Mon.): YUNI Garden opening festival and cherry blossoms festival will be held in   
                                        YUNI Garden, YUNI Town, Sorachi sub-prefectural area.
                                        On first come first given basis, 102 visitors will be presented the seeds of flowers.
                                        Of course, the cherry blosoms and other flowers will be waiting for you!


・April 28(Sat.)-May 27(Sun.) : Bolishoi Circus shows their best performance in Hokkaido Greenland
                                                in Iwamizawa City, Sorachi sub-prefectural area.

・April 28(Sat.) : Canadian World Park in Ashibetsu City will open!

・April 30(Fri.) : Coalmine Museum in Yubari City where you can experience the real gallery and shaft
                         of coal mine will open!

・May 3(Thu.)-5(Sat.) : Long holidays event will be held in the Steam Locomotive Park in Mikasa City,
                                    Sorachi sub-prefectural area. It is possible to ride the small model of bullet train and
                                    real steam locomotive.

・May 5(Sat.) : Takikawa City presents free flight of gliders to the kidsliving in Hokkaido in the Skypark in
                       Takikawa City.


Why sea urchin is so attractive?

by Kurt(U.S.A.)

Nowadays, the more sushi gets popular and attracts people on this globe, the stronger sea urchins and salmon roe make its status as a topping of sushi. Ezo bahun uni (sea urchin) is the top of the hierarchy and among them Ezo Red Bahun Uni is the top of the tops despite bahun means horse dung
in Japanese. The name is derived from the shape of the sea urchin.

I can not find other nation that attached so importance to sea urchin but I can understand the taste enough now. If we could find more delicious sea urchin in other part of the world, we might be a billionaire in a year.  


Near the railway station of Taushubetsu

by Kazu

What ?
Just missed!
 Good bye!
The railway system near Taushubetsu river  was abolished many years ago but the building of the station is preserved with beautiful birch trees.
Pretty deers come and greet you!
It is in Kamikawa sub-prefectural area.


Blue in the forest

by Alan (U.S.A)

BIEI river was covered with fog on that day. In Kamikawa sub-prefectural area, Hokkaido, "the blue pond" is becoming the new draw for tourists.The air around the river and the blue pond is like that in a seance.

 The floods of this river made the blue pond near the river. I am not sure when the blue pond got in the spot light but the color of the pond struck a chord with me. It promises to be the picturesque sight in summer.
As opposed to the color and sound of the river, this blue pond keep its beautiful silence in the forest of the sleepy hollow.
There is enough space to park the cars and buses near the spot. BIEI Town is near the area.


by Kurt(U.S.A)

Kamikawa sub-prefectural area has many big draw in its area and TENNINKYO area along Chubetsu river is one of the strongly-recommended course to visit.

This waterfall is called SHIKISHIMA no Taki (waterfall) and its tagline is "Niagara waterfall in Hokkaido". Approximately 40 minute walk from the hotspring hotel area in Tenninkyo brings you to this waterfall. In spite of the tagline, the size of the waterfall is much smaller than the real Niagara waterfall but please do not stick with the size. Just inhale the minus ion of water and feel the air of the garden of God in Hokkaido thai is called "Kamui Mintara" in the language of indigenous people in Hokkaido, Ainu.
Chubestu river has gone berserk after heavy rain and winkle the bank of this river so many times. So before deciding to explore the waterfall, please get enough information because the access trail to the waterfall is sometimes hidden by the waterflow.

Tenninkyo area is located in the southewestern part of Mt.Asahi-dake and the waterflow of Chubetsu river philanthropically ease hte pain of our mind and body.
HAGOROMO no TAKI(waterfall) is much nearer to the hotspring hotel area of Tenninkyo than SHIKISHIMA waterfall.
Its seven steps of waterfall is worthwile.The beautiful waterflow is compared to a silky clothe of Goddes.
It is strongly recommended to use the insect repellent spray to focus on the picturesque sights.
A small cave can be seen in the middle of the waterfall.

Wonderful camping sites are around the area and one of them provides hotspring bath gratsis. My favrite camping site is "The forest of 21st century" in Asahikawa that has comfortable cabins with kitchen and washroom inside.
The BBQ corner with roof is good for families considering the weather of mountains.
It is prohibited to use detergent in the bath because the drain is used directly for irrigation of rice fields.                            
Everybody can use the hotspring bath in the camping site gratis but it close 20:00. It promises to be the most popular camping site in Hokkaido.

Totally 29 people passed away hit by snow and ice-fall from the roof or because of falling from the roof while taking away the snow from the roof.
Please pray for the people who departed.