Thursday, March 31, 2016

Opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen: What Luck It Brings to People

Japan is one of the most visited places in the world.  Great economy, beautiful landscapes, the blooming of cherry blossoms in Spring which are definitely breathtaking, robotics and highly advanced technology are some of the well known trademarks of Japan.  And of course, who wouldn’t get interested with Japan’s high speed bullet trains, Shinkansen?  What excites me more is the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen last March 26, 2016 that absolutely people especially travellers would love.  Here are 5 Benefits that Hokkaido Shinkansen would bring to people:

1. Alternative Ride for Tourists
Courtesy of Japan

Going to Hokkaido through plane would take you for about one hour and 20 minutes with Haneda to Hakodate Flight.  People who intend to reach Hokkaido as fast as they could (such as those who have inflexible itinerary schedule or people with pre-arranged appointments) would prefer travelling with planes than taking the bullet train that takes more than four hours.  However, since tourists would likely love to experience the breathtaking landscapes, gentle slopes, snow capped mountains between November to April while travelling with rails, Bullet Trains would be a great ride. 
2. Boost Tourism Industry
Courtesy of New Stamps of the World
 Some of the lovely tourist attractions in Japan are found in the island of Hokkaido.  Visitors wouldn’t fail to visit Lake Toya, Niseko resort, or experience the great scenery of snow capped mountains with amazing shapes and slopes, clean air, and of course, the best food that the Hokkaido residents could offer.  With the opening of Hokkaido Shinkansen, this would attract more tourists to visit the island.

3. Safe Travel than Driving
Picture from <>.  
Compared to driving, taking the Hokkaido Shinkansen(Bullet Train) would spare you from traffic and gives traveller a much safer travel.  Driving in long hours would be much stressful and expensive: much needed fuel for your car, makes you feel tired than enjoying the sceneries, and of course, one might be prone to accident due to falling asleep unintentionally while driving.  With Hokkaido Shinkansen, one can actually rest and fall to sleep safely while travelling.

4. Accessibility to Nearby Island
Credit: Sapporo Station

Besides with tourists, the opening of the Bullet Train this year will benefit a lot of residents in Hokkaido.  Travelling in two islands would be much easier.  This makes Hokkaido and other nearby islands accessible to people that paves way in opening business communications. Creating business and providing more jobs to people would also be made easier.

5. Fast Transportation of Goods
Residents who will be transporting Hokkaido goodies especially the perishable ones would also have a huge benefit in the opening of the bullet train.  There will be easier and faster transporting of goods hence delivering them at their most desired schedule.…/tokyo-hokkaido-shinkansen-f…/…
People might have heard on the construction and testing of the Hokkaido Bullet Train in 2014 but might haven’t heard that its full operation started last March 26, 2016.  Residents of Hokkaido would feel their good fortune anent the operation of Shinkansen.  Additionally, the extension of Hokkaido Shinkansen route to the biggest City of Hokkaido, the Saporro in 2030 would likely entice visitors in exploring Hokkaido at its best.  

- J.Kimura

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Charm of Furano`s 4 Seasons

The Charm of Furano`s Four Seasons
Furano, the navel of the island of Hokkaido, is one of the most amazing cities of Japan all year round.  If not its most beautiful city, it certainly is one of its most enthralling.  No tourist ever regretted visiting it. 
Ainu. Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)
Furano comes from the Ainu word Furanui - Stinky Flame. Ainu are the indigenous people of Hokkaido. 
Photo Courtesy of Minoru` Photo Diary 
The city is associated with the sulfuric smell coming from the mountain range of Tokachi.


Spring in Furano,  its overflowing rivers and cool air,  signals the unobserved rebirth of Furano’s natural beauty.  There will still be snows in the mountains and some skiing, but in the meadows, the enticing scent of earth and the beginning renewed life of flower fields meeting the crisp cold waters gives new reason to celebrate. The celebration begins in May when the festivals entertain locals and visitors alike with passion and welcome. In May, the fields begin to turn lavender with speckles of yellow, red, and orange. 


Summer is the season that will hold you spellbound guaranteed. Summer in Furano promises you the extraordinary beauty and dazzle of miles and miles of fields of lavender and other flowers. So beautiful it is that the locals celebrate summer with the “Lavender Festival”, and the lush and plentiful expressions of life with fireworks in the Fireworks Festival,  as well as the renowned Belly-Button Dancing Festival. Summer in Furano is a time for Hot Air balloons and river rafting and of course,  communing with nature.
Photo Courtesy of
Early autumn is fantastic for bicycling around the city. The people are warm and kind.  The beauties of summer may be fading but the scenery is fresh, clean, and the pure green all around as well as the bright blue sky will give a visiting tourist wonderful memories of Hokkaido. The charm of Furano doesn’t end with spring, summer and winter. Cycling through the city in autumn, visiting the winery, cheese factory, art and photo galleries are just as fun, and end the day with a dip in the many hot springs surrounding the Tokachi Mountains.
Photos Courtesy of  Guided Cycling Tent

Furano, during winter, is a fascinating place for a skiing holiday. Guests are greeted at the Furano resort where live cultural performances, tea ceremonies,  kimono rituals and more enable them to experience the local culture. The natural hot springs have enchanted many tourists who’ve come to visit this beautiful part of Hokkaido. The ski resorts of Furano are a short distance from its downtown. Skiing, snow-shoe trekking, ice hole fishing, snow rafting and many other winter fun await to captivate tourists.
Photo Courtesy of
Furano’s year round activities and natural beauty keeps visitors coming back. Experience the different seasons, unique culture and gastronomic fare one can only encounter in this city. Lavender fields, ski resort, cheese factory, winery and bicycle rides are just the some of the places to visit and fun things to do in Furano.    

Saturday, March 19, 2016

3 Places to Enjoy in Otaru

Otaru is a beautiful harbor city in Hokkaido. It is about half an hour train ride from Sapporo

Otaru City is actually a major shipping port.  There are still remnants of the beautiful past that line Otaru’s streets and canal. 

Combined with snow-capped mountains, clean crisp air, time worn buildings and seasonal festivals, Otaru is a Hokkaido destination a visitor wouldn’t want to miss.

Otaru Canal 


The Otaru canal (Otaru Unga) is the main feature of Otaru.  Old warehouses line the canal and visitors will instantly shift from astonishment to romantic mood when they see the small buoys that carry candles.  Tourists get elated when they see a row of snow statues lining a path beside the canal. February is a good time to visit Otaru when the canal and the pathways around it are decorated with lights during the Otaru Snow Light Path Winter festival. The canal was started in 1923.

運河 北海道 小樽 Otaru Unga in Hokkaido 

運河 北海道 小樽 Otaru Unga in Hokkaido during Winter

The Otaru Music Box Museum  小樽オルゴール堂本店

Photo Courtesy of Nuttapon Pichetpongsa 
The Otaru Music Box Museum is located along Sakaimachi Street, together with other tourist destinations like the Museum of Venetian Art, the Glass Works house, and the Bank of Japan Building.

The Music Box Museum is one of Otaru City’s Historic Landmarks, which houses the largest collection of music boxes in the world. 

( Photo Courtesy of Payal Singh )

 Photo Courtesy of Payal Singh
Photo Courtesy of Payal Singh
Photo Courtesy of Payal Singh 

Photo Courtesy of Payal Singh 

Photo Courtesy of Payal Singh 

Custom made music boxes are also sold in the museum at the Handicraft Studio. Vancouver, Canada’s clock maker gave Otaru a steam clock which now stands in front of Sakaimachi Street’s most front-and-center.  
Photo Credits:



One of the most popular landmark in Otaru is the Tengu where a 30 foot gondola which rises to a height of 271 meters, will carry visitors to the top of the said mountain.  The panoramic view of nearby places such as Mt. Shokanbetsu, the Ishikari Bay, the Otaru Port and the Shakotan Peninsula are all breathtaking. The Mount Tengu Observation Deck is a favourite spot for the perfect overview of the whole city of Otaru at night.

Photos from See Hokkaido:

Otaru is undoubtedly a perfect place to visit because of its unique attractions especially the Otaru canal and Mount Tengu. The Music Box Museum and the other museums along Sakaimachi Street are all worth visiting for. This is one of the world’s loveliest destination and every traveler must prioritize Otaru as a Hokkaido destination on any season.