Hokkaido culture

    • September 28, 2022
    • September 28, 2022

    What to Do in Hokkaido: Magnificent View We’ll Want to See before We Die

    The winter in Hokkaido is beautiful but too long and harsh A hometown is a place to long for from a distance, not to actually live in. This is the English translation of a Japanese famous proverb that often crosses my mind especially around this season. After graduation from college, I had been outside my hometown (Asahikawa, Hokkaido) for about 15 years. Indeed, for a while after coming back, I was just glad to escape from the crazy summer heat and humid climate of the main island of Japan, but now I have been fed up with the long, cold, and snowy winter in my hometown. I know this is man’s foolish nature, like crying for the moon, but the winter in Hokkaido is so long and harsh. The autumn in Hokkaido is short but beautiful Due to the long winter, the autumn in Hokkaido is relatively short but very […]

    • September 21, 2022
    • September 22, 2022

    What to Do in Hokkaido: What You Need to Know before Eating Salmon Roe

    Hokkaido is the home of salmon fishing in Japan I’ve been wanting to do fly fishing since I watched the movie “A River Runs Through It.” Unfortunately, I hardly remember any of the content, but the fishing scenes left a strong impression on me. A fishing rod whipping to and fro smoothly, a line describing an arc in the air, etc. It’s beautiful and completely different from what I always do. It’s ordinary bait fishing: just wandering along rivers and casting bait. Why don’t I do fly fishing? That’s because bait fishing is easier and can catch more fish. In the past article, I knowingly quoted Hemingway “When you can’t catch fish, think it gave you time to think about life.” To tell the truth, I hate to get skunked (go home empty-handed). Today, I’m introducing the charm of Hokkaido through the story of fish. Among river fish in Japan, […]

    • May 18, 2022
    • September 16, 2022

    Where to Visit in Hokkaido: Kengo Kuma Opened a New Office

    Why does public work become bureaucratic in Japan? Mistakes are not allowed, and so, we do things the same way as everyone else. This is a pattern of behavior that widely dominates Japanese society. You can see the behavioral patterns a lot especially in Japanese government offices. I can say that for sure from my experience of working as a public servant for more than 10 years. One mistake can shut the door on your career. Naturally, public servants are highly likely to make a low-risk option with precedent. A small town office made innovation There are exceptions to it, of course. One of the famous exceptions is the local government of our next town, Higashikawa town. It’s really a small town with a population of about 8000 only. Japan is facing a declining population, which is most obvious in rural areas. In addition, there are more disadvantages for the […]

    • February 15, 2022
    • September 24, 2022

    Wood Rather than Stone, Broze, and Iron: Why Do We Love Wood?

    We Hokkaido people reach enlightenment by clearing snow Nothing can stay the same. This is very famous Buddhist terminology, meaning “Life is fleeting and empty.” Even on weekend, I always wake up very early and leave home before six to go to a gym. On the way to the gym, I very often see many elderly people. They are active outside and clear snow even in the very cold and dark winter morning. Every time I see such people, the above words come up to my mind. Our life is very short, but we have to spend much of our time to clearing snow here in Hokkaido in winter, even though it melts away in spring anyway. Once even snow-clearing tools were made of wood The above image is of the International Snow Clearing Championship held in Hokkaido since 2013. It may sound funny to you, but it’s natural for […]

    • February 10, 2022
    • October 4, 2022

    Hokkaido Acorn Trees (Mizunara Oak) Make Japanese Whisky and Furniture

    How the green flash appears? Let secrets be secrets Do you know the green flash? Fairly infrequently, at the moment of sunrise or sunset, the upper rim of the Sun looks to flash in green. You might have learned it from the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean.” On a similar note, I know another strange natural phenomenon. I believed it was, to be more precise. When it heavily snows at night, the sky looks tinged with orange here in Hokkaido. It was my special secret. One day, with an air of great importance, I shared the secret with my wife. Surprisingly, against my expectations, she said quite casually “Snow in the sky just reflects the street light.” At the moment, I’ve decided in my heart not to tell her any more secrets. Orange-tinted street lamps unique to Hokkaido are gone High-pressure sodium lamps are used for the street light in […]

    • February 4, 2022
    • September 28, 2022

    Fight Lookism! No Two Wood Pieces Are Alike; Diversity Makes It Beautiful

    Can you judge apples by appearances? Apples are the most popular seasonal fruit in Japan in winter. You can see a lot of them piling up everywhere. I don’t know whether it’s because my wife really likes them or just because they are cheap in this season, though. Anyway, she always goes straight to an apple stand in any supermarkets. Her way of selecting apples looks like some magic ritual. With a serious look on her face, checking them from every angle, mumbling something, she carefully picks out the ones she thinks best. That’s why I eat apples a lot these days. To be honest, I can’t see any big difference in taste between what she and I chose. Even careful selection is no guarantee It is said that about 30% of agricultural output is thrown away as a non-standard product in Japan. Now the sugar level of some fruits […]

    • January 25, 2022
    • September 12, 2022

    Have You Seen How Lumberjacks Cut Trees Now?

    Snowy mountains are really harsh Last week a logging company invited us to a mountain tour to see the cutting of trees. While we were going up the mountain plowing through snow, a staff member talked a lot about the troubles they have faced in the mountains. The stories reminded me of a huge hostage crisis lasting for 10 days in the deep mountains in the winter of 1972, though I hadn’t been born yet. The police riot squad laid siege outside but soon became dysfunctional. Food and water were frozen. There was no bathroom, of course. In order to continue the operation, the military was dispatched for logistic support. The remote mountains are such a harsh environment especially in winter. Winter is the season to cut trees You might say “Why don’t you cut trees in other than winter?” but that’s not going to happen. In summer, for example, […]

    • January 18, 2022
    • September 28, 2022

    Snow as an Energy Source: The Renewable Energy in Hokkaido

    This is the reality of the frozen world The snow glows white on the mountain tonight, not a footprint to be seen. When you hear this song, you may picture in your mind some beautiful scenes, like Elsa and Anna playing in the snow and ice. Me? It’s more realistic and boring. Snow fields seamlessly spreading to the surrounding mountains (even to the gloomy sky when it snows), a heavy snowfall immediately covering even human figures let alone footprints, fingers numb with cold, etc. Our hometown is the heavy-snow and coldest place in Japan, of which lowest recorded temperature is -41°C. On the other hand, our summers are very hot. The maximum temperature often exceeds 35°C. On a hot summer day, I always wish I could get back the snow treated as a nuisance in winter. How to use snow as a renewable energy source As a matter of fact, […]

    • September 21, 2021
    • October 1, 2022

    More Bear Attacks in Hokkaido: The Original Japanese Landscape Is Being Lost

    Bears start to live in deserted villages in Hokkaido This year, riverbeds and big parks with forests were often closed in our hometown. It was not because of the COVID but because of bears. There are two kinds of bears in Japan: brown bears and black bears. Brown bears are a related species of grizzly bears. They are much bigger than black bears, and inhabit only here Hokkaido in Japan. Making matters worse, our hometown (Asahikawa, Hokkaido) is surrounded by mountains, and many rivers are stretching inside the town. Bears come out of the mountains and move freely along the rivers. It’s not so unusual, but I think this year is abnormal. You may guess it is because of a food shortage due to the destruction of nature, but it is not. To the contrary, some experts say it is because of increasing deserted villages, the recovery of nature. Villages […]

    • August 31, 2021
    • September 15, 2022

    Where to Visit in Hokkaido: Why Is Sapporo the Most Harsh Market in Japan?

    Hokkaido is more popular than Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan Conde Nast Traveler, one of the world’s most prestigious travel magazine announces every year the ranking of things related to travel. The ranking is based on the vote of the readers, more than 6 million. It was Tokyo that had won the first place in the ranking of the Best Cities in the World (10 Best Big Cities) for three years straight from 2017 to 2019. In 2020, Tokyo lost the first position to Kyoto, though. I guess the result would not be so surprising especially for people who have been to Japan. They saw the two cities were always packed with tourists from overseas. This fact, however, may be a little surprising to us because Hokkaido (where we’re headquartered) is more popular with the Japanese people. We love Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido Let me introduce another interesting ranking. […]