Powell Street Festival 2015

Matsuri is the Japanese word for festival. Summer is the season for matsuri in Japan. It’s also this past long weekend that the 39th Annual Powell Street Festival was held down in Japantown. I missed last year’s edition that was kept out of the usual Oppenheimer Park location by a tent city. This year, the festival was back into full gear in the park.

Here’s a few photos from this year’s Powell Street Festival.

 

festival vendors

Continue reading “Powell Street Festival 2015”

Last Day at JaLS and Summer Fireworks

Friday is grad day at JaLS

We couldn’t have picked a better day to end our 4 weeks of classes at Hokkaido Japanese Language School. It was our last day and we would be going to see fireworks in the evening. However, along with fireworks, comes yukataYukata are traditional Japanese clothing similar to kimono, but they are much lighter and less complex to put on. However, to us, the uninitiated, we needed help to put on these wonderful traditional pieces of clothing.

backside of a woman’s yukata

Continue reading “Last Day at JaLS and Summer Fireworks”

定山渓 Jozankei – Onsen Day Trip

Apart from our first night at Chitose Airport, we hadn’t been to an onsen during the month in Hokkaido. We had discovered that there was a nearby onsen resort town called Jozankei (定山渓). The first time we heard about this place was through the lovely green mascot below.

the Jozankei kappa mascot

That cute green mascot, my friends, is a kappa. Kappas are supernatural frogs of Japanese folklore. This particular kappa is using her powers of cuteness to reel in customers to the Jozankei onsen area. Just look at the wooden tub that she has to carry around with her to protect her modesty.

Continue reading “定山渓 Jozankei – Onsen Day Trip”

My (brief) Cycling Experience in Japan

Bicycles are pretty ubiquitous in Japan and a part of the everyday fabric. Kids, salarymen, sales ladies, and seniors all seem to ride bikes everywhere in Japan. Bikes are on sidewalks and on the street and nobody thinks anything of them. There isn’t the hyped up car versus bicycle antagonism that exists here in Vancouver. So I really wanted to experience what riding a bike was like in Japan.

Continue reading “My (brief) Cycling Experience in Japan”

Japanese Sweets Creation

Disclaimer: I hate cooking and I’m really bad at cooking. Perhaps I was emotionally scarred as a child against cooking or maybe I’m lazy or maybe I’m incompetent. I don’t know. Cooking is one of the most stressful things in my life. It makes me extremely anxious and grumpy whenever I cook.

Given my disclaimer, it’s amazing that I actually enjoyed our afternoon workshop on making Japanese sweets, or wagashi. This was yet another cultural experience workshop put on by the Hokkaido Japanese Language School, or JaLS. A whole gaggle of us students walked over to the Susukino area and to the Chuo Ward Office all the way at one end of Tanukikoji.

Continue reading “Japanese Sweets Creation”

Kimono Experience

What a way to start my third week at Hokkaido Japanese Language School, or JaLS. We had done taiko drumming the week before. Now on this Monday in July, we were heading off to our next cultural activity of the summer program – the kimono experience.

We headed out as a group to Tanukikoji, a busy covered shopping arcade in Sapporo. It was only a 15 minute walk from our school to a little kimono business, Mitsuki Sakura (美月桜), on the 5th floor of an office building just along the shopping arcade.

walking down Tanukikoji in kimonos

Continue reading “Kimono Experience”

Taiko Drumming

I am so happy that I signed up for the Summer Program at Japanese Language School Hokkaido, or JaLS. All the cultural activities included in the fee are really worthwhile. One afternoon, we were taken out of Sapporo’s centre to an area called Shin Kotoni (新琴似), which is accessible on one of the JR lines out of Sapporo Station.

We ended up in a very residential area of town. There were not many stores around and the station was relatively quiet. It certainly wasn’t a busy transport hub. We walked for about 15-20 minutes from the JR station to a tiny little building on a tiny little residential street.

Continue reading “Taiko Drumming”

Noodle Monday – Ramen Lunch and Soba Making

On our second Monday in Sapporo, we were back in classes. My language class had gone from 2 to 3 students. Yeah! And there was yet another cultural activity that afternoon. We were going to be making soba. Soba is a type of Japanese thin noodle made from buckwheat. Buckwheat is primarily harvested in Hokkaido. So there’s no fresher soba than in Hokkaido.

However, first things first. We were hungry. So after class and before the cultural activity, we had to grab lunch on our own. A few of us from the school were pretty hungry and had a hankering for ramen, the other very famous Japanese noodle (although if you ask the Japanese, ramen is a Chinese noodle).

rich miso ramen and cheese gyoza

Continue reading “Noodle Monday – Ramen Lunch and Soba Making”

Hokkaido Jingu Shrine

Here’s another trip that was a part of my school program at Hokkaido Japan Language School (JaLS). This afternoon, we headed off to the Hokkaido Jingu Shrine in the middle of Maruyama Park (円山公園 – maruyama kōen). We had to walk over to Ōdori Station again this time, but we boarded the orange Tōzai Line subway train.

Continue reading “Hokkaido Jingu Shrine”