from Hokkaido JaLS

Fireworks at Toyohira river

2013年08月01日 16:24
カテゴリ:from Hokkaido JaLS, Living in Hokkaido

Last Friday, Sapporo was filled with yukata-clad men and women in high spirits – the annual fireworks (hanabi) at Toyohira River were here at last! Students of Hokkaido JaLS couldn’t miss this opportunity, and went to the hanabi in style, wearing yukata.

The fireworks are held once a year and are organised by UHB (TV company) and Hokkaido Shinbun. Most people gather at the banks of the Toyohira River to be able to watch the fireworks display without any buildings blocking the view. Families, students, co-workers, friends: everyone enjoys the spectacle together.

The spectacle is split up into three parts, with short intermissions to let the air clear and let people enjoy what they have seen so far. The entire display lasts about 45 minutes.

Wearing yukata (a light, summer version of the kimono) to fireworks is a tradition in Japan: fireworks displays have been held for a very long time, and wearing the yukata transports people back to the old days. Fireworks and similar events are therefore one of the best reasons to really dress up and enjoy some old-school entertainment.

Students of Hokkaido JaLS definitely enjoyed themselves. Why don’t you join us next time?


International Exchange Party

2013年07月26日 14:26
カテゴリ:from Hokkaido JaLS

Over 100 people recently attended an International Exchange Party at Fantasista Darts Bar in Susukino organised by Hokkaido JaLS.

The party was comprised of students studying at Hokkaido JaLS as well as local Japanese people. This gave students the opportunity to speak Japanese in a fun environment outside of the classroom.

Attendees were treated to a choice of free drink on entry and various snacks and treats were available throughout the night for all to eat including “Umai Bou” (tasty stick!)

The students made friends with lots of Japanese people over drinks and had a great time.

Watch out for our next party which will be a barbecue in Monami Park, Moiwa. Look out for it on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/#!/hokkaido.jals

Furano daytrip

2013年07月26日 14:22
カテゴリ:from Hokkaido JaLS, Hokkaido

On Saturday, students of Hokkaido JaLS, volunteers and Sapporo locals went to Furano to see the lavender fields, which rose to fame through their appearance on a popular TV show. Beautiful views, great weather and even better company: it was lots of fun!

The day started off with the bus ride to the lavender fields, about two to three hours’ drive from Sapporo. Along the way we stopped off at the cheese-, milk- and ice cream-making factory, where we had the opportunity to look at the cheese-making process, taste freshly made ice cream and even milk a (fake) cow.

After half an hour we boarded the bus again, and after getting stuck in a traffic jam (which lead to great hilarity and new friendships being formed over the question if it would be faster to walk or drive) we made it to the first lavender fields. The view was beautiful: purple flowers for a good hundred meters, if not more, with big rainbow-coloured bands of blossoms stretching the other way. After taking a group picture, we headed off to eat lunch (teriyaki hamburgers for most of us, with the odd slice of melon and perhaps a cup of lavender-flavoured ice cream) and wander around in groups for an hour or two.

After those two hours we boarded the bus again, this time headed for Biei to see another flower farm. This particular one happened to have an alpaca farm, a small quad-riding area and a lot of tractors besides rows and rows of different types of flowers. The tractors especially provided an extra layer of entertainment, with many students posing and lounging on them. The flowers were indeed quite beautiful, and since the farm was positioned on top of a hill, the flower fields cascaded down which lead to great views of the surrounding area. By that time the sun seemed to have really reached its peak and most people slowly but surely started to seek shelter in the shade while enjoying yet another ice cream or a bottle of guarana, which is probably best described as a sweeter Hokkaido crossover version of Coca cola and Redbull. A leisurely hour was spent here before we boarded the bus again to drive to our last stop of the trip: the Blue Pond.

The Blue Pond was a stop many weren’t expecting, but it definitely was a case of ‘last but not least’. The name is a bit of a giveaway – the pond is indeed bright blue, with lots of tree stumps sticking out while being reflected at the same time. Combined with the view of the surrounding mountains, it was a stunning ending to the Furano trip.
A few hours later, we drove into Sapporo after a long but fun day, with camera’s filled with new pictures. Come and join us next time!

Want to know where we’re going next? How about checking out our Facebook

Hoheikyo canoeing and Onsen!

2013年07月18日 16:11
カテゴリ:from Hokkaido JaLS

Some of the students went on a trip to Hoheikyo which lies just outside Sapporo to the west. The trip to Hoheikyo took less than two hours by bus. It was a lovely sunny day in which they travelled down the Toyohira river by canoe.

The Toyohira river is 72.5km long and provides the water supply for the city of Sapporo. It also powers the Hoheikyo dam which generates electricity. The scenery in the area was fantastic and they travelled under a famous bridge before reaching the top of a waterfall.

The students had a short break in which they drank delicious Chai tea which was provided by the guide. Chai tea originates from Southern Asia and contains cardamom, ginger, and other spices.


Once the canoe adventure had finished the next stop was Houheikyo onsen. This onsen is very natural and the water comes directly from under the ground. It features both an indoors and outside onsen and has a beautiful natural atmosphere. The onsen can be enjoyed at any time of the year and is especially popular in the winter when the surrounding landscape is covered in snow.

One unique aspect of this onsen is that it contains a restaurant which is famous in Japan for its high quality Indian cuisine. The students enjoyed a delicious Indian curry before returning back to Sapporo.

“The canoe trip took place in a beautiful landscape with great views of the mountains of Hokkaido. Afterwards the onsen provided a relaxing environment after a busy day” – Jonas Soesch (Switzerland)

“It was a really fun day out and I recommend it to anybody staying in Sapporo. I want to come back and try the onsen in the winter when the area is covered in snow.” – Freddie Coleman (England)

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Takoyaki and okonomiyaki party!

2013年06月25日 18:47
カテゴリ:from Hokkaido JaLS

On Friday, JaLS students and staff members had a takoyaki and okonomiyaki party! Takoyaki is a famous snack from Osaka, and is a ball of wheat-flour batter usually filled with octopus (tako), tempura scraps, red pickled ginger and a bit of spring onion. They are made in a special pan, as you can see below.

Okonomiyaki was also popularized in Osaka, but has a Hiroshima version as well. Made from a mix of cabbage, batter, whatever toppings you like and topped off with the delicious okonomi sauce, ‘okonomiyaki’ literally means ‘grill what you want/like’. Some might know it as the Japanese version of a pizza ^^

After preparing everything, we started cooking. There was lots of food, and in the end everyone was satisfied and thoroughly stuffed.

Come to Hokkaido JaLS and join us next time!

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Walk! Walk!! Walk!!! Let’s rock on the snow ~

2013年03月11日 16:51
カテゴリ:from Hokkaido JaLS

Who says staying indoors is the best activity in Hokkaido winter?

We JaLSers ran out of classrooms into the snow mountain in Maruyama Park (圓山公園). The snow there was so thick that you could hardly walk. At this time, you will find snowshoes the greatest invention in the world :p

A snowshoe is footwear which enables you floating on (walking over) the snow without completely sinking into it. The gear works by distributing a person’s weight over a large area … clever!

Energetic JaLSers hiked, snowballed each other and played suberidai (滑り台) regardless the cold weather and strong wind until sunset. Following rounds of fight and slide, we took rest in small log house and had a cup of hot sweet corn soup …  It’s so nice to be alive (haha)

We had a great time in the log house by having great soup and chatting with local Japanese. However, it’s high time to go back home.

Goodbye, the lovely log house, tasty sweet corn soup and fabulous night view from the Maruyama Park (^v^)/



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Otaru Snow Festival – a snow festival full of love

2013年02月28日 17:07
カテゴリ:from Hokkaido JaLS

Hokkaido JaLS brings you not only to Sapporo Snow Festival (札幌雪祭り) and Shikotsuko Lake Festival (支笏湖氷濤祭り) but also to Otaru Yuki Akari no Machi (小樽雪あかりの路) … a very romantic event in snowy Hokkaido ♡

Different from Sapporo Snow Festival and Shikotsuko Lake Festival, the ice sculptures in Otaru were simpler. I don’t mean they were all in small scale, or rather they were composed of snow cubes in star and heart shape ☆ (*´∀`*) ♡

Simple design but good enough to warm everybody’s heart in chilly Hokkaido winter ~


In Otaru, you could find snowmen everywhere !!

Every shop endeavored to build up snowmen and snow sculptures in front of their shops, which made Otaru the best place to spend during Valentine’s Day.


Fallen in love with the beautiful scene?
Come and work as a volunteer for next year’s festival : http://otaru.yukiakarinomichi.org/?page_id=4



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Ice festival !

2013年02月22日 13:59
カテゴリ:from Hokkaido JaLS

This week-end, JaLS students could enjoy Shikotsu Lake Ice Festival !

Of course, it’s about ice sculptures (who said “again” ?) but these are different from the ones you can admire at Susukino (Sapporo).
They are lit up by colored lights that give them a shiny, magic charm.

You can taste the local speciality : Himemasu-don, fried fish from Shikotsuko Lake laid on rice. If you don’t like fried dish, try festival food like butter-potatoes, grilled octopus, sweet sake, grilled corn…even ice-cream if you are not afraid of being cold inside as outside as well.

You can walk around the icy statues, play on icy slides…and go inside an ice temple where everyone stick its 5-yen coins on walls (the japanese pronuncation of 5 yen is Go-en 五円 which is also the same as ご縁 which means “fate”)

And last but not the least : fireworks !

The entry is free and all the work is done by volunteers so to support future events, please make a little donation.

Hopefully, see you next year !

Snow Festival : a 64-years long story

2013年02月20日 14:53
カテゴリ:from Hokkaido JaLS

Sapporo Snow Festival just ended a few days ago… it’s a little sad but snow doesn’t desappear like that in Sapporo so we can still play for at least 2 months !

Why such a big event is so short ? Because temperatures can vary suddenly in Sapporo and it doesn’t take much time for the snow to melt. Imagine a 10-meters high mountain like-statue falling apart on the crowd ? Keeping it short is the best idea.

Of course everyone knows about the festival attractions : giant snow sculptures, slides, food stands… but do you know its history ?

Everything started in 1950 with 6 pupils from junior-high school who decided to build a snow statue in Odori Park and it attracted 5000 people !


A few years later, Japan Self-Defense Forces decide to launch a contest of the most beautiful giant snow sculpture. Following that, the festival became popular in the media.

In 1974, the international snow sculpture contest started and since then, Germany, Australia, Canada, China…etc many countries competed to win the 1st place.

This year’s first price : Taiwan !

If you want to learn more about the snow festival, there is a Museum dedicated to this event where you can see the previous editions’ models, posters… at Hitsujigaoka park.

Here is the link in Japanese : http://www.hitsujigaoka.jp/amusements/yukimatsuri.html

Nowadays, around 2,000,000 people visit Odori Park each year. Do you want to join them next time ?



Curling (カーリング)

2013年02月12日 14:51
カテゴリ:from Hokkaido JaLS

Do you know what is curling?

Have you ever played this game?


If you come from the west (especially Canada), you may probably have heard of and may even be an expert in this sports. But for people living in the East, curling is a sport activity that can only be seen on the television when there is Winter Olympic Games. However, nowadays, this game is getting popular in Japan and we are happy to let our students have a go at this funny sport!



It was our first time to play curling so the coach taught us the basic skills including how to slide on the ice ground, how to deliver the curling stone, as well as how to make use of the curling broom.


At first, we were all very nervous as we all came from countries that never snow. In other words, we are not used to walking nor playing on ice ground  >.<  However, we found this game so interesting when we gradually got used to the slippery ground.


See ~ we LOOK so professional after an hour’s training  :p

What are you waiting for? Come and let’s have a game in Sapporo !



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