Asahikawa Winter Festival !

by Gen, Kamikawa Sub-prefectural Office of Hokkaido Government

Asahikawa Snow Festival also closed on February 11(Mon.). Speaking of the visitors, citizens of Asahikawa City and adjacent cities and towns accounted for the most. Compared to Sapporo Snow Festival, it can be said that the festival is hand-made and domestic.
 But the kids are crazy for the chutes in the venue and slide down again and again until they are wore down and fed up with the repeat of the same action.
I have no kids, so I am not sure how many times the kids require the same action and how long it takes to feed them up with sliding.
 Locomotive Thomas is also  so popular in Asahikawa City that the group of the citizens exerted their best effort to make the sculpture of Thomas without sponsors.
This snow sculpture gained an award in the competition. The motif is manta.
The site for the festival was not so crowded like in Sapporo Snow Festival. It's very comfortable and peaceful. Commercial-based festival may be too complicated for the municipalities to run by themselves.  Actually Sapporo City throws down the festival chores to the private companies.
Ice statues need the sponsors because it requires backhoes and cranes to build up. Illuminated ice statues are so beautiful and sparkling that they play the role of protagonists in this festival.
Snow dome is another big draw for kids. They like cocooning in a narrow space like kittens.
Snow rafting is "in" in Asahikawa City and other part of Hokkaido nowadays. It seems that even Japanese people started to enjoy their lives in winter in various kinds of way. Like kids, to play is to learn, I think.. For inviting visitors from overseas, how to help them enjoying their stay and how to continue to figure out the new satisfying attraction are the  key of the business.

I think Kazu will come back soon with his face sun-tuned too much.


Ice Fishing in Horokanai Town !

 by Gen, kamikawa Sub-prefectural Office of Hokkaido Government

Please come back, Kazu !
I am running out of the photos and articles to post on this blog site.

Binge drinking on the ice seems to be allowed in Russia but as in Japan, so called "zero tolerance" is implemented for driving a car, very few anglers sipping alcohol on the ice.

Kids are crazy for fishing Japanese smelt Wakasagi on the ice of Lake Shumarinai. All the anglers are comparatively well-equipped with tent, gas-burners, rods, hot drinks and cooking  utensils. Fishing, cooking and eating with drink. Nowadays, camping and day camping are "in" in Hokkaido and other islands of Japan. Why not in winter. Ice fishing may be the good occasion to talk with kids. I do not recommend to drink beer on the ice. Frequent commutes to the restroom may make the precious occasion with kids collapsed.


Ice candle Festival in Shimokawa Town !

 by Gen, Kamikawa Sub-prefectural Office of Hokkaido Government

As Kazu has not come back from overseas, I introduce the ice candles in Shimokawa town.
It is so easy to make the candle covers made of ice. Just pour the water to the specific vessels and put it outside of the houses. It costs only a few hours.     
But the arrangement and the layout of the ice candles require so long time. It's necessary to do that as effectively and efficiently as possible in the world of minus 20 degrees in Celsius.
It may be too tough to see the beautiful scenery without friends or a partner.
It's very calm and cold but the flames on top of the candles are dancing in the chilly wind.
I am not sure how long even the loving couples could gaze at the candles in this cold air but the countermeasure against the coldness is perfect, it is worthwhile.
I wish I could convey the cold air to the opposite side of this globe or could keep it through the coming summer for air conditioning.  So far, just the memory of its beauty can remain in our mind.


Sounkyou Hyoubaku Matsuri in Kamikawa Town !

 by Gen, Kamikawa Sub-prefectural Office of Hokkaido Government

Now that Kazu is away to Bangkok or Phi Phi Island in Thailand, I jot down some articles and post it with photos.

This is Sounkyo Area where ice fall festival is held. It is extremely cold in this area, so the river water is used to make the ice statues and sculptures.
Just pumping up the water from Ishikari River and pouring water to the skeletons of the ice sculptures again and again leads to fantabulous  art in the canyon.

Of course, the skeletons of ice statues and sculptures hold the LED light bulbs for illumination. The water flow on the skeletons makes the ice and icicle on them and ice falls with artistic shapes are made in a few days.
Enough preparation for the cold weather is required to walk around the venue of the festival even if comfortable hot spring spas are in the hotels around this area.
The beauty of the harmony of ice statues and illumination may make you forget the temperature of minus 20 degrees in Celsius but do not forget the coldness may lead to death.
Every year many tourists visit there but it is not so famous as Sapporo Snow Festival. Please try the different kinds of art of ice and the hot spring bath after shivering. That is so comfortable and I love to do that !


Moth Orchids in Akabira City!

by Kazu                                                                                                                                                    

Akabira City is the center of raising moth orchids in greenhouse in Hokkaido. This greenhouse was run by the public corporation before but as the company had been in red for long time and a hectic amount of money from the budget of Akabira City was poured into the company, the facility was sold to the private company.
The flower can keep its beauty for a while with so simple care that it is bought as a present to the important persons and guests in Hokkaido.
To be honest, I do not know the accurate price of this orchid but it always exists in the mayor's office in Akabira City.
If anybody is interested in importing these orchids, please do not hesitate to contact me at]


Illuminations in Iwamizawa City !

by Kazu

Even in Iwamizawa City, such kind of beautiful illumination called the citizen's attention as well as the people's of adjacent cities and towns. The photo was taken in 2009.
I am not sure if the illumination of this area continues to be arranged and to attract the people even now.
For the reason of security, "projection mapping" on the wall of snow statue of Houheikan which had been a guest house of Sapporo City cancelled on February 9(Sat.) after too many visitors swamped to Odori site in Sapporo Snow Festival 2013.
"Projection mapping " got popular even in Japan after it was shown in the reopening event of Tokyo JR Station Building.
I told to my wife that we should visit there on February 10(Sun.) but on Saturday, after the projection mapping started, the steering committee of the festival decided to cancel the program because too many people gathered in front of the snow statue to keep their safety. Talk about the bad manner of the visitors ?
No. Every visitor was informed by TV program and Internet on the projection mapping beforehand and were so looking forward to the new attraction of this festival. It's a pity that we could not see the performance but could see on TV.
Will the program revive next year? I will ask the promotion company !


Railway Village in Mikasa City !

by Kazu

I've posted the article on the Railway Village before but this is the first time to post the photo of the locomotive in the village.
The first railway in Hokkaido was built in 1882 to  connect Horonai area in Mikasa City and Otaru City to carry the coal produced in Horonai area.

But after the coalmine industry nosedived and was abolished, the railway from Horonai area to Iwamizawa City was also abolished.
To preserve the railway and the locomotives as the industrial heritage of Hokkaido, the railway village opened in 1987. The real steam locomotive S-304 and other kinds of trains that had carried people and various kinds of products, materials and dream in Hokkaido are exhibited. S-304 and a miniature bullet train actually run around on the premises and can be taken for pleasure.    

Candles are lit in the autumnal festival of this village like this. All these candle-stands are made of transparent pet-bottles. The train manias and a certain circle set the candles and light the candles. The building of the railway station is refurbished as the train museum where the time table, the uniform of the station clerk, the parts of steam locomotives, traffic signals, other kinds of data and materials are exhibited as well as the miniature models of "D51 type steam locomotives" and "Benkei type".
I am not a train mania but it is worth visiting.

Have a nice weekend!


Quiz of the month for February and March 2 !

by Kazu

This photo is a wee bit different form the one I posted yesterday.

Where is this?

Please send your guess on the name of the municipality where the mountain is and the name of the mountain to

The winner of the quiz will get "Pan Forte made by "Food Palette a.i.u.e.o." in Nanporo Town.
This photo is also a wee bit different from the one I posted yesterday.
 I will leave Sapporo tomorrow. I will be looking forward to reading the right answer after I come back from overseas.


Quiz of the month for February and March !

by Kazu

Running out of the budget for this quiz, this time I post the quiz for February and March.

No hint.

Where is this?

Please send the name of the municipality where the mountain is and the name of the mountain to
Is it too difficult ?

 The winner of the quiz will get "Pan Forte"made by "Food Palette a.i.u.e.o" in Nanporo Town, that I introduced before if the winner is the expatriates in Japan. And if the winner is the person living in overseas, something worth 3,000 Japanese yen will be the present as I sent Fatinnadiah something.


Yellow handkerchiefs of happiness in Yubari City !

by Kazu

Have you ever heard of the movie film "Yellow handkerchiefs of happiness" 幸せの黄色いハンカチ before?
It is very famous movie film featured by Charismatic Japanese actor Mr. Ken Takakura.
It is the story of a man who got out of the jail. He sent the letter from the jail to his wife. "If you allow and accept me after I get out of the jail, please put a yellow handkerchief on the roof of the entrance or somewhere so that the handkerchief can be recognized from the outside.
This is the place of the last scene of the movie film. The protagonist is the coalmine worker. At the night when he was informed by his wife that she miscarried their baby in her womb, he was so discouraged and walked on the street in Yubari City. A group of drunken guys passing by him but his shoulder struck the shoulder of one guy. The guy hit and kick the protagonist until he fell down. The protagonist was overcome by the grief brought by the loss of his kid and his anger was headed to the drunken guy. Just a few blows of the protagonist laid the guy down on the ground and  the guy was gone. It was an accidental homicide.      
The protagonist was imprisoned for years. He was eager to go back to his home and his wife. But his wife might be out of patience with his fault. So he wrote the letter to his wife.

When he came to the place where he could see his home, so many yellow handkerchiefs were tied with the rope in front of his house and he met his wife weeping and held her tightly.
The story is very simple but most of our nation love the movie.
Even now, the house is preserved by the municipality of Yubari and many tourists visit this area.
I am wondering if my wife would allow and accept me


Hokkaido Heritage in Wakkanai City!

 by Kazu

"Hokkaido Heritage" is the tangible and intangible treasure to be handed down to the next generation in Hokkaido and designated by Hokkaido Government.
This is not the occidental remains of ancient times but has the taste of that.
It is the seawall dome in Port Wakkanai, the northern end of Hokkaido Island. It was designated as one of the Hokkaido Heritage in 2001.
 The similar seawall is near there.
The design of this area looks a little bit different from the works of traditional Japanese public work and some commercial films have been taken there.
It works as the shelter when the waves and winds annoy the fishermen loading instruments and materials to their ships. For me, it is the very comfortable jogging course when I visit Wakkanai City even if it rains.
Now that the drift ice may cover the surface of the sea and I can not leave Sorachi sub-prefectural area in winter, I can not visit Wakkanai before spring comes but the drive to the northern end of Hokkaido is very nice to place that reminds me of L'Anse aux Meadows national Historic Site in Newfoundland, Canada.
Japanese bistro "Take-chan" is one of my favorites in Wakkanai City.


Drift ice has reached the coast of Okhotsk Area!

 by Kazu

Drift ice reached to the coast of Okhotsk area of Hokkaido Island. Ice-crushing ship that has drill-like ice crushers for tourists may be in full use in Monbetsu Bay in Okhotsk sub-prefectural area.
Some people may expect ice bergs on the sea as my wife had done before she actually saw the drift ice off shore of Abashiri City.

 The sightseeing train for enjoying enough the coast of Okhotsk area in winter started to carry the tourists and the "Welcome Event" was held by the tourism-related entities including Okhotsk Tourism Association in Abashiri JR station on February 1(Fri.).
 The passengers getting off the train named " Ryuhyou Norokko" from Shiretoko Shari JR station were received with heartfelt hospitality and given hot drinks such as Japanese Amazake, "Ryuhyou-ame" which means "drift ice candy" and pamphlet for sightseeing in Abashiri City on the platform of the station where  the banner "熱烈歓迎!" (Welcome!) was set.
One of the image characters of Okhotsk area, "Tsuku Tsuku Okhotskun" appeared on the platform and kindly took photos with the passengers.

The fantabulous scenery of drift ice on the sea can be seen from the window of the train "Ryuhyou Norokko" which runs on the rail comparatively slowly. A rotund stove is set in the train as it was many years ago and the passengers can warm up the dried squid "Surume" on the stove and savor it. That is recognized as the things of this area.

The seasonal train "Ryuhyou Norokko" is available for a month until March 10(Sun.)and connects Abashiri City and Shiretoko Shari twice a day. Details are at the web site of JR Hokkaido Kushiro Branch Office at  http://www.jrkushiro.jp/
but only in Japanese.
A convenient information site for tourism in Okhotsk area is at http://www.okhotsk.pref.hokkaido.lg.jp/ss/srk/grp/english_s.pdf


Longing for spring !

by Kazu

Coming back from Iwamizawa City to Sapporo City, I jogged around Hokkaido University. The passers by on the premises are so different from those of 25 years ago. So many international students were passing by on the main street. I hope they can get sweet and good memories in Sapporo City as I enjoyed life in the university.
After I invited my friend from Nigeria to Hokkaido, many international students from Africa seemed to have increased so much.
My friend Kunmi from Lagos State addressed to establish the relationship between Africa and Hokkaido University and the special training course arranged by JICA in cooperation with Embassy of Japan in Nigeria.  

I am not sure how the trainees and international students from Africa feel about the cold winter in Hokkaido but I hope they are not shivering in the room. Skiing, ice skating, ice fishing, snow rafting, horse riding, dog sledge can be enjoyed even in winter. Needless to say, in spring, summer and autumn, if the international students are doing cocooning , I will be driven up the wall;)
I wish I could help the international students and the trainees of JICA enjoy their stay in Hokkaido to the maximum.
It snowed last night and will have snowfall of   20 cm today. But we are steadily approaching the spring of 2013. As the Japanese saying, San kan, shi on, which expressing the process from winter to spring, three cold days and four warm days, the coldness of this winter seems to have peaked.
I do not use my stove in Iwamizawa City any more.
This kind of sticky snow covering the branches of trees are the sign of getting warm.
I am selecting the photo for the quiz of the month for February. I have not had enough time to take photos for this blog these days and I will have to visit Thailand this month. So Gen in Kamikawa Sub-prefectural office of Hokkaido Government will post the photos of his area during my visit to Thailand.  Before my departure, I will post the quiz of the month.
Besides, I am contemplating what should be the present to the winner of the quiz for February. I fretted about the arrival of the present to the winner in this month. If anybody has a comment in this regard, please post it on this blog or email me.
 And if anybody visiting to this site in Thailand could contact me during my stay in Bangkok or Phuket, I would appreciate it so much !
I will check my email once a day.
I hope no business contacts will swamp on the beach of Phuket.
Have a nice weekend!  


Takikawa Winter Festival & Lantern Festival !

by Kazu

It is still cold albeit it has already been the beginning of spring on lunar calender. Take care and stay fit by wearing mask for hygiene, washing your hands and gargling because flu and cold are rampant now.
 Takikawa Winter Festival to enjoy enough the season is held on February 16(Sat.) and 17(Sun.) . Precise information on the festival is at「2013たきかわ冬まつり PDFファイル (1,296KB)」 but only in Japanese. Snow chutes are built by the Self-defense Force of Japan in the Fort Takikawa and snow sculptures made by the citizens are exhibited on the site.
If you want to attend in the Dodge-ball game tournament of Hokkaido, please apply beforehand to Takikawa Sigtseeing Association (TEL0125-23-0030).
 On 17:00 of February 16(Sat.), The 11th Takikawa Paper-bag Lantern Festival will start. The flame of candles are swaying in the wind as shown above. Please be invited to the world of  illusion in Takikawa City with your family or friends.