Lake Shuuparo in Yubari!

by Kazu

Lake Shuuparo has a bridge that is not in use.
There is not a train on the bridge for exhibition like Tanzan Bridge in Ashibetsu City but it is loved by the citizens of Yubari City and ruin manias.
Lake Shuuparo is the artificial lake made by the dam but the dam was not built completely. So once the construction of has been completed, many buildings and forest will be under the water and the lake will be the biggest as an artificial lake in Japan.
This bridge will also be under the water and invisible from the land.


Guidebook "Sorachi as No,1 in Hokkaido! Draft 2

by Kazu

As per the previous posting, I post the draft of the English guidebook of Sorachi sub-prefectural area.

If any difficulties to read and understand, please give me the comments on how they should be corrected or added.

The photos for the guidebook is being selected by a certain NPO now, so I post the photos of Tsurunuma Winery and Vineyard this time.

Draft 2
The precursor of HOUSUI WINEARY was “Iwamizawa Special Product Grape promotion Association”. The winery obtained the license to make alcohol and started to make wine by themselves in 2006. Beside the vineyard, there is a building with the red gable roof that has the room for making wine and wine shop on the ground floor, and the lookout on the second floor from where the vineyard can be seen. The room for making 
wine can be seen through the sheet glass wall and how the grapes are squeezed can be seen in harvest. Their line-up of wine is “the series of snow genealogy” made from the grapes made from only the grapes of their own vineyard, Chardonnay, Kerner and Lemberger. Other than that, they sell various kinds of wine such as “RICCA Series” made from each kind of grapes produced in Hokkaido, and “HOUSUI Series” at reasonable price. Next to the red gable, an ice cream shop is open from the end of April through the end of October. “Red grape ice cream” and “White cream ice cream” with the sauce made from the grape juice are popular in the shop. Please try them!
MAOI WINERY is backside of Heidi Stock Farm. A couple raises the grapes and sell the wine by themselves. Their annual amount of producing wine is the minimum limit of the license allowed to make alcohol, 6,000 litter. “This is the smallest winery in Japan,” said the owner Mr. Takashi MUKAI. The most popular wine produced in this winery is the red wine named “YAMA (Mountain) Sauvignon” which is made from the hybrid of wild mountain grape and Cabernet Sauvignon. It has 
good reputation that it strikes the balance of the moderate sour taste and the fruit flavor. On top of that, they make very rare wine called “Iwamatsu” made from the hybrid of four kinds of wild grapes, that was developed by the grape researcher Mr. Seishiro IWAMATSU who passed away. There are worshipers who are waiting for the wine every year albeit a bottle of the wine is 31,500 Japanese Yen because each piece of the grape is very small that very little grape juice can be extracted by squeezing them. Their wine shop is open from April through December but only on Saturday, Sunday and holidays, 10:00 to 17:00. As a part of the wine on sale can be tasted, would you find your favorite one?
Eager to know how the grapes are raised
TSURUNUMA WINERY owned by HOKKAIDO WINE Inc. has the biggest vineyard in Japan. It has the history of about forty years since it started the experimental cultivation by planting the sapling imported from Germany. A variety of awards have been given in the domestic wine competitions again and again to “TSURUNUMA Series” of wine made from the grapes of its own vineyards such as Müller-Thurgau(white), Bacchus(white), Trollinger(Rose), Lemberger(red),  Zweigeltrebe(red).
It also produces the very rare wine made from the European high-class grapes such as Weißburgunder, Traminer and Riesling that are rarely raised in Japan.  Every year, it starts to sell all kinds of wine on the last Sunday in August after make each barrel of wine matured for two years. On the first day of sale, “TSURUNUMA Wine Festival” is held every year. As the whole-grilled lamb produced in Hokkaido and culinary delicacies cooked by the chef from very popular restaurant in Sorachi sub-prefectural area can be savored in the festival, over 4,000 people swamp to the festival everyyear. Other than that, from the middle of September, wine grape and table grape picking can be enjoyable for some cost.( Grape picking ends once all the grapes are picked up.) The grapevine can be seen freely (Please mind P’s and Q’s;) and the limited bottles of wine can be purchased at the wine shop in the premises.

The experimental cultivation of grapes has been started in Utashinai City in 1992 with the slogan of “The town of black diamond to the hometown colored with grapes.” Since 2003, UTASHINAI TAIYO FARM succeeded the company which had run the vineyard and continues to raise grapes. It makes its original red wine “Penke Utaushunai” from the grapes raised in its own vineyard, such as Sibel 13053, Zweigeltrebe, Dornfelder and so on. It is said
the wine has the peculiar aroma of some kinds of mineral because the vineyard was developed on the area that has been the place of open-pit coal mining and the ground contains much mineral. Goats and sheep are also raised in the farm and its wine shop is available but a phone call should be placed beforehand for looking around the farm because the farm is run by a few staff. It also sells white wine and web shopping is available on its web site.

  The people who saw the fields of NAKAZAWA VINEYARD would be astounded. Because various kinds of plants and flowers flourish in the vineyard as if it was the field of wild plant. Since its open in 2002, no weed-killer and chemical synthetic fertilizer have been given to the vineyard and the weeds have been cut and taken off to be used as the natural manure for vineyard and other fields. The vineyard sells its original wine “KURISAWA BLANC” which is made from the grapes raised in the field where various kinds of creatures are co-existing and is made with the natural ferment sticking to the fruit. “KURISAWA BLANC” is blend Vin Blanc made from Gewuerztraminer, Pinot Gris and Kerner. Contracted winery in Tochigi Prefecture is making the wine but the grapes are raised by themselves. Shipping of the wine made from the grapes raised in the vineyard will start in September of the next year of harvest year. Vineyard tour and direst sales can be available but phone call should be placed beforehand because the vineyard is run by Mr. and Mrs.Nakazawa.

If you could give me comments to make the guidebook better, i would appreciate it so much!


Events in Sorachi sub-prefectural area!

by Kazu

A variety of events were held in the cities and the towns in Sorachi sub-prefectural area last weekend and will be held soon.The posters of those events are put on the board along the underground promenade which connects JR Sapporo Station and Oodori area.  

"Namahage Festival!" will be held in Utashinai City from 17:00 to 18:00 on February 3(Sun.). The featuring characters "Namahage" is  originally from Akita Prefecture because the most of the citizens in Utashinai City is the descendants of the immigrants from Akita Prefecture. "Namahage" is originally the character to pray for the good health and well-upbringing of the kids albeit the red-masked one and blue-masked one with straw raincoat scare the kids in the festival and the kids cry out loud.
Most of the time, a pair of the red-masked and the blue-masked do the household hopping, shouting out "Are there any kids who are crying or doing bad things?" Of course, the babies and the kids in the houses start to cry out loud and the parents are laughing but praying for the happiness of their kids.  The red and blue mask are shaped like the faces of ogres.  
Snow-ball fight may be the most popular and exciting events held all over Hokkaido. Many snow ball fights are held in many places in Hokkaido and the champion team is decided in tournaments. It has already been held in Yuni town on January 26(Sat.) and 27(Sun.) and I think almost all the members of the snow-ball fight teams savor the chitterling pot in the town after the fight.
Generally speaking, many people have the image to grill the intestine called "Horumon" in Japanon the metl net but in Yuni Town, there is a famous special restaurant which sticks with the special flat pan made in the town and which serves the fresh intestine "horumon" processed in the morning of the day.      
Takikawa City Paper-bag Lantern Festival is held at the square in front of the JR station, bell-road in the city on February 16(Sat.). The lanterns made from paper-bags by the citizens and volunteers hold the flame of candle softly and makes the light look warm. The subtle lights of lanterns make the down town of Takikawa City like the world of illusion. Hot drinks will be delivered for free of charge in the town and many food stands will open here and there.  
Cross-country skiing festival will be held in Horoshin area called Hotaru-no-Sato which means the home of light-emitting insects, in Numata Town on March 2(Sun.). It is not the competition and hot soup may be delivered for the participants. The main purpose of the festival is to invite many people and enjoy the winter together.
As I posted on this site yesterday,  I am making the English guidebook called "Sora-Ichi". Japanese guidebook of Sorachi sub-prefectural area was made last year and it is the base that I translated. Besides, we developed the application for smart-phones to introduce the contents of the guidebook last year. Precise speaking, the information on the guidebook can be obtained if you read the QR code on the poster  with your smart-phone.
We are also developing the portal site for
tourism on the web mainly for planning to visit our area before coming. Once you come our area, you can search the information you need on the spot. GPS function gives the information a cutting edge, I think.

Takikawa City Snow festival will be held in Bunka koen (Culture Park) on February 16(Sat.) and 17(Sun.). Snow-dodge-ball started  last year and many food stands will open in the venue.      

Moseushi Town has a very nice curling ice rink in it. It is inviting many people to curling rink including novices to expand the base of the pyramid.
"Fukagawa Hyosetsu Matsuri" which means ice and snow festival will be held in Fukagawa City this weekend.Huge snow sculptures made by the self-defense force of Japan and the citizens of Fukagawa City, ice sculptures, giant slopes will surround the venue of the festival in Hanazono Park of downtown. Bingo game, snow-mobile rafting will be the attractions of the fest. Pork and veggie soup "Ton-jiru" will be served to the participants for free of charge.
The last but not the least, "the General Election of Sorachi" will be held from February 5(Tue.) through 11(Mon.) at the corner of underground promenade in front of JR Sapporo Station. It is not for selecting politicians but to vote to your favorite attraction, food and restaurant, play spot, and to select the character to navigate the visitors  to the portal web site that we are developing.
Freebies and giveaways are prepared for voters but the special products of Sorachi sub-prefectural area will be presented to the winner of the lot.
Please find and visit the corner for Sorachi sub-prefectural area and vote !      


Guidebook "Sorachi as No,1 in Hokkaido!

by Kazu

Now I am translating the guidebook of Sorachi sub-prefectural area and will post it on the web site of Hokkaido Government.

I post the article that I translated on this blog site, so please give me the comments to make it better.

SORACHI as number one in Hokkaido ~SORA-ICHI
Welcome to the journey to find the only one and the very best of Sorachi sub-prefectural area in Hokkaido
(Guidebook for Culinary Delights and Sightseeing)

Feature Article
~Jaunt in SORACHI Valley, invited by wine~
Driving Guide from Sapporo & Asahikawa
~Three types of “routes” can be available and enjoyable in SORACHI~
Milling the bless of the earth
~Living in luxury of flour, buckwheat, wheat and rice~

(Page 1)
Welcome to SORACHI, Welcome to the journey of SORA-ICHI

We’ve searched and found many of what we would like you the most to see, to eat and to touch in SORACHI Area, as the residents.

They are in the hole-in-the-wall, over the pastoral trail or large fields.
As a bit of discovery and encounter inspire your heart like a deep breathing, please enjoy this journey of SORA-ICHI under the vast sky slowly, heartily, again and again.
Page 3
Feature Article Ⅰ
~Jaunt in SORACHI Valley, invited by wine~
Page 9
Hit the road to Farm Restaurant!

Page 12
Feature Article Ⅱ
Driving Guide from Sapporo & Asahikawa
~ Three kinds of “routes” can be available and enjoyable in SORACHI~
Railway and Coalmine Heritage/ Waterway and Pastoral Landscape Story/ Motor way and Flower Garden Excursion
Page 26
Culinary Delights are from the earth and in SORACHI
Page 29
Travel sketch of art in SORACHI
Page 32
Sweets made in SORACHI
Page 35
Feature Article Ⅲ
Milling the bless of the earth
~Living in luxury of flour, buckwheat, wheat and rice~
Page 41
A Glossary of Seasonal words for Poets
Page 45
A Column of each town
Page 51
Hot Spring Pilgrimage in SORACHI
Page 53
Area Map of SORACHI

Page 3

Feature Article Ⅰ

The biggest amounts of grapes in Japan for making wine are produced in Hokkaido.
Among the areas in Hokkaido, SORACHI area has many wineries and vineyards, and getting famous as the source of high-quality wine.
Would you go out to see the grapes in the vineyards like the winery tours conducted frequently in Europe, North and South America?
You would appreciate much more the taste of wine if you felt the enthusiasm of the wine-maker and saw how the grapes were raised and produced.

Please try the culinary delicacy with wine in the jaunt to the wineries.
The bistros and restaurants where the good wine can be savored with culinary delicacies are recommended by the municipality of Takikawa at

Page 5

Visiting the home of wine ~Wineries in SORACHI~
This family winery was founded by Mr. Kazuyuki YAMAZAKI, the third generation of the farmer that had taken root in Mikasa City, after he obtained the license to make alcohol. Mr. Yamazaki and his family, the wife and three sons stand on their own in making wine, shipping and running the shops of direct sales. At the early stage, they tried to raise ”Pino Noir” which is said to be hard to grow in the cold climate in Hokkaido and their wine made from the “Pino Noir” harvested in 2002 was highly ev
aluated and got the fame. The kinds of grapes were increased and “Chardonnay”, “Kerner” “Bucchus” and “Merlot” are raised in their vineyard of seven hectares that produces about 20 items on sale.
 What they have been sticking with since the first shipping is to use only the grapes that they produced by themselves on their own grapevine even if the amount of the harvest is smaller than they expected. Sympathized with their policy that they have abided by, many volunteers come from all over Japan to help the Yamazakis to pick up the grapes ripened enough for making wine in the busy harvest. Next to the winery, there is a log house that contains the wine shop where tasting of wine can be al
lowed and the limited bottles of wine are sold. But the shop opens only on Saturday, Sunday and holidays and from 10:00 to 18:00( to 16:00 from November to April). As the shop will be closed when the bottles of wine are sold out, please check out before visiting there in winter. Watching their vineyard and fields can be allowed if you have a contact beforehand.


Lesser Panda in Asahiyama Zoo!

by Gen,
 Kamikawa Sub-prefectural Office of Hokkaido Government

It may be prohibited to post the photos of pretty animals on this site because these animals are originally not from Hokkaido but so-called "exhibitions of animals'behavior " of Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa City is one of the biggest draws of Hokkaido.
 Lesser pandas were called panda before giant panda got popular all over the world. In Chinese, 小熊貓 / 小熊猫xiǎoxióngmāo is the name of this animal. Active lesser pandas walking on the ladder can be seen over your head in the zoo. Some people say "Lesser" is not appropriate to attach, so they call "red panda".
They are not alone in the cage and romping around all day long. I am not sure the climate in their original habitat is similar to that  in Asahikawa City but as long as I observed, there seems to be no problem with the circumstances of the animals even in winter.
Sleeping on the stage may be their main performance to allure many visitors. This animal makes the most of its pretty appearance and actions to contribute to the continuous success of the zoo. Why can the animal be so vulnerable in the zoo ? Is it because there is no enemy around them? Or, have they been trained as the actors? Their guarantee should be high!  


Wild geese in Miyajimanuma, Bibai City!

by Kazu

Many migratory birds drop by the marsh in Bibai City every year.
Wild geese are eating something on the the surface of the pond. Some birds seem to be sleeping in the morning.
Miyajimanuma is on the list of Ramsar Convention, Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat.
The scene of departure is worthwhile.
But rice crop and wheat fields are around the pond and some produces are damaged by the birds in autumn and spring. So we set some feeding area for the birds to reduce the damage of the agricultural fields around this area.
How long should we continue to feed the birds?


Asahi Bridge in Asahikawa City!

by Gen,
Kamikawa Sub-prefectural Office of Hokkaido Government

I am not an architect but love the shape of this bridge in Asahikawa City. The name of the bridge is Asahi-bashi. Its voluptuous line of the bridge has been the landmark of the citizens.
Many people walk along the river watching these curves.
The citizens are also annoyed by heavy snow in winter but the coldness might beat the amount of snow fallen in the city.
These ladder-like bars reinforce the bridge and almost no snow fall from the bars. I do not know who designed the bridge. If anybody knows the designer, please post the name on this blog site.
This photo was taken in spring. Longing for spring, I take off the snow on my car. How much snow has fallen in your region, guys?
Affected by the reduction of public works, each municipality, Hokkaido Government and the branches of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism run out of trucks to convey the snow albeit they have enough rotary car to load the snow on the trucks.
I prefer milder winter!


Hidaka Chiho!

by Greg

This photo is today in Hidaka. Beautiful mares waiting in the sunshine
for their foals to be born. Foaling time is the best time of year in Hidaka.

I love this area. It is close to Chitose and Sapporo, between the
beautiful Pacific Ocean and the wonderful Hidaka Sanmyaku, has
spectacular scenery and really good seafood.

But no tourists ever go there. Nobody promotes Hidaka, even though
Chinese tourists and others would love the horses. I do not understand.

by Kazu

I've got the new oracle for the future of Hokkaido!
Thank you very much for contributions of photos and articles, Greg!
I really appreciate your cooperation to this blog site.
If you have any chances to drop by Iwamizawa or Sapporo City, please feel free to contact me as I showed in email. I would like to treat you to the culinary delight and binge drinking if you allow me..   

Deep Blue in Niseko!

Photos by Yukihiro Hiro Takahashi

Why does the nature do such tricks even in its harsh behavior ?

Niseko area is getting fame for its high quality powder snow and various kinds of activities that allure the tourists all the year round.

Bit it may be difficult to take such photos for the visitors. Only the residents in Niseko area may be able to do this.

The contrast of deep blue sky and white snow of coquettish, amorous and voluptuous shape? is the fruit of the wind, snow and the flora in Niseko area.

Can you imagine to draw the line with ski or snow board on the white hillside of mountains with no loci ?
This year is the year of the snake. It is said that the year is good for producing and saving money. White snake is much luckier than normal snake. Is it like the embodiment of white snake?

I hope the photos bring the fortune to the viewer of this site !

Tanzan River Bridge in Ashibetsu!

by Kazu

Tanzan River Bridge of Mitsui Ashibetsu Railway (Ashibetsu City)

    It is the bridge that had connected, for coal conveyance, Ashibetsu Station and Raijou Station where the coalmine had been. On the railway of the bridge over Tanzan River, a diesel locomotive D501 and a freighter are set and preserved. That makes for a good place to take photos.

  The bridge is not in use but exist just for making scenery to take photo and reminding the visitors of what was there.

  Only the photo of white scenery and food can be posted on this site in this season, so I will post the photos taken in other season sometimes.

  Again, please cut out your favorite scenery of Hokkaido with your camera of cell phone and send it with some comment to us
Thank you for cooperation in advance!  


Windbreak in Naganuma Town !

by Kazu

To be honest, running out of the photos of Hokkaido to post on this site, the photos of beautiful scenery and yum food in Hokkaido have the value on this site.
Heavy snow and arranging countermeasures against it don't allow me to hit the road and collect the photos attractive scenery.

If anybody of you all could send me such photos of Hokkaido with some comments, I would appreciate it so much !
Please cut out your favorite scenery with your camera of cell phone and send it to ikeda.kazuaki@pref.hokkaido.lg.jp

Idyllic scenery may not be seen in this season but I really appreciate the report and photo from each part of Hokkaido. I promise to post them on this site as by-lined article.

Besides, I love the scenery of windbreak beside rice fields or veggie fields all the year round. This time, the windbreak in Naganuma Town made a excellent impression to me.

I think you may be able to cut out such scene with camera around your office or house.

And, dear Fatinnadiah, if you do not have the preference, can I try to send cash to your address by snail mail ?

It may be risky but if I can not find appropriate coupon which is available in your country, I have to try that to reach you with the present to the winner of the quiz.

Your email may be rejected by our firewall of the security system installed by Hokkaido Government, so please post your preference on this site or send email to Sorachise@gmail.com


Deep in Yubai City !

by Kazu

It may be a mediocre scenery of rural area of Hokkaido but for the bankrupted municipality, it is so tough to get over the cold winter and heavy snow. There is no money to take off the snow on the road and roof.

As I introduced some times before on this site, Yubari City had been in full flourish in 1880's to 1960's with many coalmine companies and related industries.
After those industries closed their office and coalmine, a hectic amount of money was poured into the coalmine area including Yubari      
City. But almost no tangible result was left and only aging population was there in the aftermath of collapse of coalmine industry in spite of the citizen's effort exerted for revitalization of the area with tourism. Apparently the citizens got lost in the direction shown by the mayor of that time. The grant from the central government poured in the city was in vein.
Some people said that the city was built because of the coalmine industry and the city should be gone with the industry.
Actually the city should plan to make itself more compact by collecting the population in the center part of the city.      
As it flourished with the number of shaft towers of coalmine, the living area was expanded too much. The municipality has to rebuild its financial plan to make ends meet.
Many staff and citizens of the municipality have gone after it went bankrupt.  They have to help each other providing with their pro bono work as shown on the left and obtain the real autonomy. But the aging population and decreasing kids make it difficult for the citizens to hand down the hometown sound and kicking to their children..
Please wait and see the city rise again!                                                                                                                                                                                                            


Shinjo area in Ashibetsu City!

by Kazu

To be honest, I prefer cross-country skiing to snow-shoeing, and prefer downhill-skiing to cross-country.

But exploring to white field play a big part in strengthen my heart and body in winter. We human beings do not have to do such things and to conquer the peak of the mountains in winter albeit many people got lost in the winter mountains. Some were saved and some were lost their lives. Somebody invisible invited them to the mountains ?  
Why do the people climb the mountains in winter ? Do they want to face the possible death or stand on the border between living daylights and the darkness of death?

What is the reason to take such risk ? At the risk of losing their lives, what can they obtain in the mountain?

Beautiful scenery might have grabbed their heart and invited them to the core part that can not be seen without taking risks.  But such beautiful world on the right that moves us  may be existing much nearer than we imagine.  


Hotel Tenku-no-Oka byTSURUGA 3

by Kazu

Well-decorated objects are playing the role of a by-player in the hotel like in other branch hotel of TSURUGA Resort Group. I am wondering if the designer of the group could arrange the whole city in Hokkaido.
This plant arrangement at the corner has a bit of twist like the one exhibited in MOMA in New York City. The lighting is also striking the visitor's fancy and strike me as what calms down my mind and let me focus on the truth.  
This is the hallway to the bathroom. I am not sure how many guests are necessary in a day to run this kind of like-luxurious hotel.
The illumination shaped deer in courtyard is in the snow. The guests can not drink at the relaxation room in watching decoration in the courtyard after soaking in the hot spring bath but it is comfortable enough to sit on the chair on tatami floor and have a nap.  

As the farmers in Hokkaido are annoyed by the deer that eats up the veggies and crops, I am not sure if they can have a rest comfortably watching such kinds of illumination.

But the sculpture of owl is very popular in each branch hotel of the group.
This is the entrance of the outside bathroom for males. As it was so cold outside,  no guest was there and I could take the photo in the bath.
The bathroom inside the building could hardly be seen from outside because of the steam in the air.
Can you see the outside bath in the photo?
This may be better than above.
Lake Abashiri adjacent to the hotel could not be seen from the outside bath, unfortunately. The guests can enjoy ice fishing on the lake in every winter.
The name of the bathroom for females is Hakuchou which means swan in Japan.
This is the waiting and relaxing room in front of the courtyard. Can you see the illumination shaped deer ?
 Even the females were not having a chat loudly in this room after soaking in the bath.
The name of the bath for males is Fukuro which means owl in Japanese. Would you try the newest branch hotel of TSURUGA Resort Group in Abashiri City this weekend?