Otaru This & That


There are just ten days left in this year.

There is not much you have hurriedly to do, but everyone looks busy at this time of year in Japan.

Japan's Automatic Vending Machine

In Japan, you can find automatic vending machines for soft drinks everywhere.

Varieties of plastic-bottled or canned drinks including coffee, tea, Japanese green tea (both hot and cold), cola and other drinks, (sometimes even hot soup!) are available for 120 yen-150 yen at any time.

New Year's Card 2

I bought New Year's greeting cards at the post office yesterday.

On the message side, a rabbit that is the next year's oriental zodiac animal is depicted, and on the other side that the recipient's address and name should be written, you can see the lottery numbers.

The draw takes place in mid-January. If you have a card(or cards)with winning numbers, you will get an equivalent article to the rank of your lottery number.

However, in Japan, there is a practice that you don't send and receive New Year cards if some one in your family died during the year.

New Year's Card

It is time for Christians to exchange Christmas greeting cards.

Here in Japan, we have similar custom to exchange New Year's Cards.

Many Japanese people buy New Year's cards with lottery numbers at the post office, while others buy blank post cards, and print photos or pictures of their own.

As New Year's cards are best to arrive on the New Year's Day, post offices encourage people to post the cards by a certain date every year.

The number of New Year's cards they have to handle is tremendous. Some send only 20-30 cards,and others send as many as some hundred.

Unique & Tasty Pizza

Pizza is a popular Italian food in Japan, and this time, I would like to introduce a pizza topped with a Japanese food "Mochi" or rice cake and flaked crab.

Rice cake stretches by heat like cheese does, and its chewy texture is somewhat similar to cheese. Crab meat seasoned with mayonnaise goes well with Mochi,too.

You can enjoy this unique pizza at the restaurant "Verre Bois" near JR Minami Otaru Station.

They also have several different pizzas and pasta menu.

Busy Season for Confectionary Makers

When Christmas comes near, advertisement blitz by confectionary makers starts in Japan.

Although Christian population in Japan is said only 1%, most other non-Christian Japanese, especially children like to enjoy Christmas as a joyful event.

Christmas for the Japanese seems that it is the day to eat beautifully-decorated Christmas cake, and exchange gifts.

Therefore, cake shops provide leaflets and brochures to attract customers' attention with their cakes made specially for Christmas. Advertisement for Christmas cake can also be seen on TV.

Vicinity of Otaru Park

Otaru Park is one of the parks in Otaru located in about 15-minute-walk distance from JR Otaru Station.

You can command a nice view of the city from the top. The locals enjoy walking in the park especially in spring for cherry blossoms, and in autumn, for colorful foliage.

I like to walk around surrounding area of the park, too.

Seasonal Closure of Otaru Aquarium and Herring Mansion

Otaru Aquarium and Herring Mansion in Shukutsu will finish this season's operation on 23rd of November, and will be closed until next April.

It is the season for some facilities in Otaru
to hibernate.

Herring Mansion & Hiyoriyama Lighthouse

Mochitsuki, or Rice Cake Making

Mochitsuki, or rice cake making is an old Japanese custom that takes place on happy occasions.

When I went to Tanaka Sake Brewery for shopping this morning, some of the staff were rehearsing Mochituki for the Brewery's festival at the end of this month.

To make Mochi, hot steamed glutinous rice is put in a wooden rice mortar called 'Usu', and pounded with a wooden pounder, called 'Kine'.

Nearing an End

The season of autumn leaves in Hokkaido is nearly over.

However, it is fun walking on the colorful fallen leaves in the forest when the gentle sunshine of late autumn streams in through the branches with no leaves.

Cherry Trees in front of Tenjoji Buddhist Temple

The color of cherry trees changes three times a year. Cherry blossoms' pink in spring, green leaves in summer, and orange in autumn

The color of birch trees in Otaru Park have all changed.

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