Hokkaido culture

    • February 15, 2022

    Do You Know Why We Love Wood?

    We 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 wood was used for snow-clearing tools, though 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 us to […]

    • February 10, 2022

    Do You Know That Beetles Like Acorn Trees (Oak)?

    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. Against my expectations, she said quite casually “Snow in the sky just reflects the street light.” I’ve decided in my heart not to tell her any more secrets. Orange-tinted street lamps are gone High-pressure sodium lamps are used for the street light in Hokkaido because the orange-tinted light improves visibility on snowy roads. According to […]

    • January 25, 2022

    Have You Seen How Lamberjacks 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

    The Renewable Energy in the Frozen World

    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

    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 is surrounded by mountains, and many rivers are stretching inside. 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. Some experts say it is because of increasing deserted villages. Villages worked as a buffer zone Japan is small in area, and […]

    • November 27, 2020

    Have You Ever Heard of the Sound of Silence?

    Japanglish In 2000, the then Japanese Prime Minister wanted to make greetings in English at the first summit meeting with President Clinton. He tried to cram the following exchange of basic phrases: “How are you, Mr. President?” “I’m fine, thank you, and you?” “Me, too.” Finally and unfortunately, the time had come. The PM made a big mistake right at the beginning and said with a big smile “Who are you, Mr. President?” When the whole world went pale, President Clinton tactfully replied “I’m Hillary’s husband.” The PM, exactly as he had learned it, proudly said “Me, too.” I’m not self-depreciating the poor English skills of Japanese people, but just want to get your attention to today’s subject: wordplay. Geniuses, Simon and Garfunkel I will never forget the strong impression I got when I heard the song, or the title of the song, to be more precise: The sound of […]