Forget-the-year Party

lightup12The illumination lights for the Christmas season in downtown Sapporo look somehow shabby without snow.

With or without the snow, December is the month for “forget-the-year party, ”  which is a typical “follow-up social activity” in Japan. The Japanese go out to dinner and drink not only with business colleagues, but also with vendors, customers, friends and sometimes with relatives. We are not surprised, therefore, to hear that a sales person has the party almost every night during December.

The follow-up social activities in Japanese businesses have been slowing down due to the continued staggering economic conditions and partly due to the mentality of the younger generations who make much of  individual activities rather than traditional social activities within their working environment.

But I see that the younger generations are starting to recognize that the traditional social activities made ready by their employer are the best place, or at least the starting line, to be shared with a profound experience and expertise of senior colleagues, and that they did not have to go to the online social media for self-development opportunities.

If you are a foreign business stationed in Japan and not yet received any invitation for a “forget-the-year” party, the high chances are your Japanese counterparts are waiting for your invitation.


Getting trees ready for snowfalls

tree12Landscape gardeners in Hokkaido are expected to have painstaking craftsmanship to hang tree branches so that they would not be broken by the heavy snowfalls during the winter.

Those bonsai trees, like the ones we find in the front yard of the Hokkaido Government office,  every one of them are taken care of by the professional hands.

I recall that my grandpa had that knowledge and technique, however, I did not get the chance to learn from him.

Munich Christmas Fair in Sapporo

sap-eventI hear that this annual event in Odori Park was started to commemorate the 30th year of Sapporo’s becoming a sister city of Munich.

Both cities, famous for beer production, hosted the Olympic Games in the same year, 1972, winter in Sapporo and summer in Munich.

The idea of this event is to enjoy the atmosphere of the Munich Christmas Market in Sapporo with hot wines and German sausages.  Night time, therefore, is the high time, I guess.  It’s definitely not a time for beer, but HOT wines?

I’ve never come across hot wines before, but they are spiced and mulled  and offered during the Christmas holiday season.  Thank you, but I’ll pass 🙂

Here’s the official web page in English of this event with night time photos.  Oh, just for your information, I do not encourage foreign tourists to plan to visit Sapporo in early December. It’s usually too early to enjoy the snow season and the roads get tricky because snowfalls often turn to ice 🙁


First Snow of the Season in Sapporo

cyclingroad1128My regular jogging course, Shiroishi Cycling Road, was finally covered with snow this morning. I will probably have to wait for the next spring to run on the road.

Sapporo, however, has some excellent indoor running courses so that runners like me wouldn’t get choked during winters.

One of them is Sapporo Dorm, the home ground for Nippon Ham Fighters, a Major League Baseball team in Japan.

Sapporo Dorm RunningThe 716m running course in the Sapporo Dome is arranged behind the top of the stand, and so it’s available only when there’s no event in the field.

I should also add that the Dome does have a well equipped training gym, which is regularly open for public.

You will find their schedule on their website.


Shiroishi Cycling Road

23fallOne of the best assets of my hometown, Sapporo, is the Shiroishi Cycling Road. There are other ones in Sapporo, such as the one along the Toyohira River, but this one is definitely the best.

This road had been a railroad up until about 40 years ago, and therefore, there are only a few traffic lights in its 20 km way to the neighboring town.  It goes through residential areas and there are many playgrounds along the road with tap water and restroom facility. Who could ask for more to run?

Running on this road is always a joy.  I don’t think that I could become capable of running a half-marathon if it were not for this cycling road.

I love running because it brings me inner peace. It really does.