Winter at the zoo !?

2013年01月29日 13:48
カテゴリ:from Hokkaido JaLS

Today’s activity was Asahiyama zoo ! Students got to discover that beautiful site and its attractions.

They admired the penguins march ! Outside of their home, penguins are parading so close to visitors that they could almost touch them !

Polar bears and seals seemed very happy surrounded by snow and ice, while tigers and other felines relied on their fluffy fur to fight the cold.

However, there is a strange animal that shouldn’t be playing outside, right キリンさん? (“kirin” means “giraffe”)

After the tour, students could buy very cute plushies, stationery or phone straps figuring their favorite animals at the souvenir shop.

And you ? Do you want to join us next time ?

Where are the Hokkaido people?

2013年01月22日 19:01
カテゴリ:Living in Hokkaido

When I first arrived in Sapporo, I was astonished by the street view here. You can hardly find a person in the street !!


‘Where are the Sapporo people? Are they spending the winter in south part of Japan where the climate is much warmer?’


Questions came up in my mind when I was walking along the street. Finally, I got the answer when I walked down to chikagai (地下街).


In chikagai, heater warms up the air. Also, chikagai protects you from the strong wind outside. Furthermore, there are many boutiques and restaurants in chikagai. You can spend the whole day in chikagai without getting bored#

# Sapporo Chikagai runs from Sapporo JR Station to Susukino Subway Station. It also links to various shopping malls and commercial buildings.



Another way to warm your up in Hokkaido severe winter is kairo (カイロ). It is a small pad stuffed with vermiculite which produces heat in contact with oxygen. These pads are available in drug stores, convenience stores and 100 Yen Shop.


The most basic type of kairo is to warm your hands. Recently, there are different types of kairo appear in the market. Say for example, there are warm pads which can be attached to clothes to make your body warm and even smaller pads to be put into shoes to keep your feet warm.

Stay warm!


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Sapporo map and directions

2013年01月21日 13:23
カテゴリ:Living in Hokkaido

New in Sapporo and already lost ? No worries, we are here to guide you !

First, you must know that Sapporo is divided in ten wards, called “ku” 区. Sometimes their name are logical as based on their location (North ward “Kita-ku” 北区, Center Ward ”Chuo-ku” 中央区…) or on the contrary, totally random (The white stone ward “Shiroishi-ku” 白石区、ainu-language derived Toyohira-ku, 豊平区).

Concerning the orientation in the city, the system is based on cardinal points and number of streets such as New York city. The starting point is the TV tower. From here, the further you go, the streets number will grow higher. Then, your position is marked this way :
North/South Number East/West Number.

It’s very easy to find your way in Sapporo, just follow our little map and you will get the trick in no time !

Here is Hokkaido JaLS directions and a view of the signs that will guide through the city. As they are everywhere, there is no chance to get lost.

At first, you won’t probably be able to distinguish where is North or South… but try to remember some key locations such as Sapporo Station or Tanukikoji to figure out your position.

Don’t be affraid to be lost, you may discover things that maps don’t show.

Coming of Age Day

2013年01月16日 16:24
カテゴリ:Japanese Culture

What’s the age of a teenage turning into an adult in your country?


In Japan, young people gain the right to vote when they reach 20 years old#, which means they start carrying the social responsibility. In other words, 20 is the turning point in a Japanese’s life. To value this important stage, Japanese Government names the second Monday of January the Seijin-No-Hi (成人の日).

# Japanese are officially permitted to smoke and drink alcohols from 20s.


On the day of Seijin-No-Hi, people who reach 20 that year all dress up nicely. Young men dress themselves up in suits while young woman are in kimono wears.


And actually, the date and way to celebrate Seijin-No-Hi did change as time went on.


Long time ago, when Japanese were still adopting the lunar calendar, Seijin-No-Hi was on the 15th January. With the rise of Meiji Revolution in 1868, the Meiji Government abolished lunar calendar and adopted Gregorian calendar. Seijin-No-Hi thus changed from lunar calendar 15th January to Gregorian calendar 15th January. In 2000, Japan Government finalized the date of Seijin-No-Hi the second Monday of January every year.


In the past, young people reaching 20 years old that year celebrated with families. Nowadays, many young people take part in the official ceremonies organized by ward offices. For example, Sapporo Central District Ward Office has announced the Seijin-No-Hi Ceremony to be held at Sapporo Park Hotel this year.



Interested in the Seijin-No-Hi Ceremony?

Please feel free to drop by and have a look if you’ve got the chance next year  🙂


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Japanese manners : toilet

2013年01月11日 15:29
カテゴリ:Japanese Culture

Of course, even in the most private part your daily life, manners are still after you. Today’s example : toilet.

Who would have imagined that going to the restroom is a big deal ? In Japan it is, sometimes.

First there are a HUGE different between what japanese called “Japanese-style toilet” and “western-style” toilet.

so-called Japanese-style :floor-bidet


so-called western-style :robot-toilet

No need to explain the first one, it makes sense. However, the western-style one is like a real computer, full of technology.

Be aware : it talks ! When you enter the cabin, it will politely inform you that it’s an automatic device so you don’t need to flush it…cool.

Sometimes when you go near the bowl, a little song (chirping, classic music…) will cover your business. If not, you will have to deal with a range of buttons near the seat. Their are not just here to turn on the cover-music but also, to control the jet position and power…Yes, there is a water-jet extention that exerts to wash everything properly…

If you take a look around there are always cover-sheets, disinfectant products, enough hooks to hang on each of your clothes individually…Everything is always cleaned and well-supplied so you will NEVER run out of something.

Last but not least, you should use special slippers dedicated to the restroom…and try not to forget to remove them when you go out.

Strangely enough, using Japanese toilet is really a funny experience. However, JaLS’s toilet don’t talk…


Japanese New Year

2013年01月04日 16:50
カテゴリ:Japanese Culture

New year in Japan is a real big event.

Everyone is preparing to return to their family and enjoy this night together. The schedule is quite full !

First, you should send greeting cards to all the people you may know and it is not uncommon to send thousands of cards each year.

Then, be ready to spend time in the kitchen: make soba noodles (buckwheat long noodles), osechi, お節(various kind of food packed in pilled lunch boxes), and mochi (rice cake).


Typical New Year’s celebration in Sapporo:

On New Year’s Eve, eat soba noodles in front of Kōhaku Uta Gassen、 紅白歌合戦, a TV-show that select the best singer/ group of the year.

Around twelve, go to the nearest temple and to listen to the 108 bells ringing (じょやの鐘 joya no kane ) that chase away the 108 sins of human being.
Then, at Hokkaido Temple, 北海道神宮 throw your 5 yen coin into the altar (5 yen coin, pronounced “go en”, 五円, as the same pronouncation as “go en”, ご縁, which means “fate”) pick your omikuji, 御神籤 and discover your fortune for the year.

Hokkaido Jingu

After, you can buy a talisman, omamori お守り.


Then, go to Moiwa Yama,藻岩山 to see the first sunrise of the year. Back home, you can enjoy your osechi and mochi and receive your otoshidama, お年玉, envelops that contain money and generally offered to children.


If you manage to do all of this, then you can say that your New Year was purely japanese. But the most important thing is that you enjoyed this transition and be ready to start a brand new year !