It’s the cherry blossoms season!

che1We all have been waiting for this season. The cherry blossoms, at last!

Why do the Japanese have such a strong emotional attachment to cherry blossoms?

Probably the secret lies in the clear cut four seasons in Japan, and the cherry blossoms signifies beginning, or maybe departure, in our minds.  In Japan, school year and the fiscal year begin in April and end in March, so that life-events such as graduation and  employment coincide with the cherry blossom season.

You would be surprised to hear that virtually all Japanese companies, listed on the stock exchange, employ new-graduates as of April 1st and hold an employment ceremony on that day.  I am not joking.  It’s one of the “standard practice” conducted by the Japanese companies.


From Father to Son

soba0423Shinoya, a soba restaurant, is one of my favorites in Sapporo.  It’s located only 5 minutes’ walk from the Sapporo Prince Hotel.

The soba noodle they serve is called “Sarashina” that uses only the core portion of soba grains and is whiter than others.  Sarashina, therefore,  is not to enjoy the aroma of soba but rather to enjoy its what we call “trace in the throat.”  Noodle making of this kind requires years of hard work and experience, I hear.

The owner chef  had unexpectedly passed away last year, however, his son took over the restaurant and its “one of a kind” soba is waiting for me just like before.  It seems that Shinoya’s tradition was  successfully handed over to his son.

Do they have winter tires for bicycles?

002sIt seems to me that my neighbors love bicycles so much and they cannot get rid of riding on them even during the winter 🙂

I doubt that they have winter tires for bicycles, however, postman’s motor bikes do put on winter tires during winter.

Yes! They deliver mails with motorbikes, even on the icy road in Sapporo!

With a full load of mails packed in the bag attached to the handlebar and in a box on the rear seat, postman’s driving technique is really “Kamiwaza.”

Sapporo Snow Festival

snowfes2014sThe 65th Sapporo Snow Festival is now underway!

If you have a chance to visit the festival, I strongly recommend to see the sculpture during the night time, too.  The lighting show is really something.

It’s damn cold though 🙂

For your information, the Snow Festival is held in early February each year. The official English information is here.

New Year’s Day Ritual

jingu140101Here in Sapporo, mass of the people pay a visit to Hokkaido Jingu (shrine) during the new year holidays.  Particularly on the fist day of the year, you will witness that people are jammed in line all the way from the nearby subway station up to the shrine.

This event is called “hatsumoude” in Japanese. People pay a visit to a nearby Shinto shrine or Buddhist temple during the new year days.  It is intended to drive away any defilement and pray for the family’s health and prosperity.

I think it is safe to say that shrines (Shnito) or temples (Buddhism) do not matter in this occasion. I know it sounds strange for the people of different religion, however, we choose which one to visit depending on where we live rather than religious reasons, and so we do here in Sapporo.

To the foreign eyes, hatsumoude appears be a cultural event rather than religious one. That’s true.  But it is also true that many of us, especially elder ones, feel very much “uncomfortable” if they miss out this occasion.  Consequently, if something bad happens later in the year, they regret not having paid a visit to the shrine (or temple) in the beginning of the year.