Otaru This & That

Hina Doll Visiting 2011

Doll Festival, the festival for girls on March 3 draws near.

"Hinameguri" or Hina Doll Visiting event is held at this time of year in Otaru. The period of Hinameguri this year is February 19-March 6.

This year, you can enjoy beautiful Hina dolls; some of them are as old as 200 years, at fifty places including shops and public facilities in the city during this period.

It is said that the Hina dolls express the scene of imperial wedding in the Heian period that is about 1,000 years ago.


"Shibareru" is Hokkaido's dialect expressing the state of "freezing cold", or actually something's freezing due to the low temperature below zero.

We don't have Shibareru days any more in late February, and walking outside is getting much easier compared with those arctic days.

When walking along a narrow worn line of snow in Otaru Park today, I was looking back on my childhood.

Like many other children, I enjoyed outdoors playing with snow, eating snow ball that tasted a bit of dust, taking an icicle off from the low eaves, and trying to gnaw it.

Sunny Side

It's already mid-February. Time really flies!!

The peak of Otaru's winter has passed, and the sunshine is getting much brighter these days.

Mashike range of mountains sometimes can be seen on a sunny day beyond Ishikari Bay at this time of year.

When I see the mountains, I feel spring is not long way off.

You can see the mountains vaguely across the water.

The mountains look so close depending on the place you see them from.


Because of my poor photography again, you cannot tell
what it is, but this is a bullfinch sitting on the roadside.

The beautiful bird was still, and didn't try to fly away even I approached it to take a photo.

I hope that it was not weakening.

St. Valentine's Day

St. Valentine's Day is supposed to be chocolate-giving day, usually from women to men in Japan.

It is said that this practice originates many years ago from a chocolate company's idea to promote the consumption of chocolate among the Japanese.

Their efforts have borne fruit, and nowadays, St. Valentine's Day is the important day for the
chocolate companies in Japan to predict their annual amount of sales.

Winter Continues

We had a heavy snowfall last night.
The roads that the piled-up snow was just taken away are right back at it again.

Today is national holiday(National Foundation Day) in Japan, but the people in Otaru could not have a relaxing morning because of the snow to clear away.

The train services between Otaru and Kuchan, another heavy snowfall town near Niseko well known as a ski resort worldwide were halted this morning.

Snow is rather a nuisance for the locals, but after all, it is the gift from nature.

Snow Light Path in the Back Streets

I guess both sites of the Snow Light Path festival; the Canal and Former Temiya Railway Line must be crowded with people every day.

However, you can come across lovely creations to set off the candle lights in the back streets off the main sites.

Snow Light Path is the event involving whole city of Otaru, you can see candle-lit alleys even in residential areas.

Please try to walk back streets other than main sites. You can find some nice candle ornaments.


Herring is the fish once brought Hokkaido the enormous wealth.

The coastal area of the Sea of Japan used to bustle with herring fishing in early spring.

However, the thriving herring fishing that began in the middle of 19 century came to an end in 1950s because of the fish's disappearance.

No one can tell the exact reason why the herring disappeared.

Snow Light Path 2011 has begun

The 13th Snow Light Path(I found the title of the festival in English has changed from Snow Gleaming Festival according to their official web site) began from yesterday.

When I took a glance at the Former Temiya Railway Line site around 8 o'clock, many people were enjoying the path lit by the candles.

Watch Your Head!

It is quite warm for this time of year in Otaru today.
The highest daytime temperature is predicted to be 5℃.

You have to be watch out for the snow on the roofs of buildings that can melt and slide down on a warm day like this.

You sometimes find the 「頭上落雪注意」 sign to alert the pedestrians for the danger in the street.

However, I don't think you have to watch your head very much in the evening when the temperatures go down rapidly.

The annual Otaru Snow Gleaming Festival begins from tomorrow. The hours of the festival is 17:00-21:00.

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