Wedding Banquet in Japan/日本の結婚披露宴

Yesterday on TV, a very gorgeous wedding banquet was on air. The banquet was of a famous couple in Japan. The bride is very beautiful actress and the groom is young comedian, popular in Kansai district, rather than Kanto.

It was really gorgeous and expensive banquet, but was a good exampl of Japanese wedding banquet. Their wedding reminded me of my wedding banquet.

Usually, wedding banquets held in hotels are done as follows.

Welcome-in of the guests→Entrance of the bridal couple→Toast→Dinner→Costume change of the couple→Cutting into a wedding cake→Speech or performance from friends→Costume change again→candle lighting→gratitude from the bride to her family→gratitude from bridal family to the guests→gratitude from the groom to the guests→Leaving of the couple→Send-off

Usually the bride change her garments twice or three times. In my case, I changed three times. I entered the banquet room with colorful glittering wedding kimono and after the toast, left the room and changed into a wedding dress.
first kimono

It was to implement a wedding cake cut-in ceremony. I used a fake large wedding cake, but some of my friends cut in edible one. It seems that more and more couples prefer the latter.
cake cut in ceremony

After the cake cut-in ceremony, some speeches and performances from friends were offered. Then I dismissed again and changed the clothe into an evening dress. Before the bridal couple entering the room, the light is dimmed. The couple enters the room and lights a candles on the table of guests, one by one.

This ceremony is done so that the bridal couple can visit guests' tables one by one, receive congratulations and show their gratitude to the guests.

Almost must process is the bride's reading aloud of a thank-you-letter for her family. It is an emotional good-bye to her old nest and good opportunity to show her gratitude.

The above is the rough process of the wedding banquet. Now, I'd like to mention about more practical things. To hold a wedding banquet, how much does it cost? It varies depending on the number of invited guests and the scale of the banquet, but the average is approximately 3,000,000yen (about US$25,000.00.)

In Hakodate, average cost for a wedding banquet is smaller than the national average. I think it is about half or one third of the average and most of the wedding banquets in Hakodate apply no-host style. I'd like to write about the style soon.


First Japanese Convert to Christianity in Hakodate/函館における日本人初のキリスト教改宗者

First Japanese convert to Christianity in Hakodate was
1. a Samurai who disliked foreigners
2. a Shinto(Japanese indigenous religion) priest
3. a man who came to Hakodate to assassinate foreigners

Please wait for a while for this answer.

The answer is.... Please click on "READ MORE".


Nakamichi Shokudo/なかみち食堂

Nakamichi Shokudo is a casual style restaurant and famous for its generous helping of food.

Here below are two of their menues.
humberg set and omrice

Left is a set menue called "Hamberg Ebi-fry mix teishoku" and right is a dish called "Omuraisu-Oomori." The former costs 900yen and the latter costs 800yen. Oomori means a larger serving and you can ask it for most of menues with additional 150yen. Most of casual sytle restaurants in Japan have this system, but it's dangerous to ask oomori here.

Omuraisu is ketchup flavored fried-rice covered by a sheet of omelet. It's hard to show you how big this omuraisu is with this photo, but once you see this dish with your eyes, it's spectacular.

Hamberg ebi-fry mix teishoku is a dish that consists of a dish of thinly sliced raw cabbege as salad, a hamberger, a fried egg, and two pieces of fried prawn(shrimp?), a bowl of rice, a bowl of miso-soup with plenty of wakame, a small bowl of cooked white radish and a small dish of pickles.
hamberg and fried prawn

All the menues are sealed on its tiled wall. Next time, I'd like to order a curry, which seemed to be one of their specialties.

This eating place is located near the Central Municipal Library in Goryokaku.

Reopened Botanical Garden/植物園リニューアルオープン

Have you been to reopened municipal botanical garden in Yunokawa, yet?
If not, why don't you visit there?
botanical garden inside

It seemed that most of the plants had been replanted and they had scraped excess off.

Outside of the greenhouse, you'll see play sets for kids.
play sets

play sets for kids

At the botanical garden, you can see monkeys, racoons, turtles, etc.
monkey mountain


adult 305yen kids under 15 100yen
To get more information, click here.

大人305円 15歳以下の子供 100円

Noboribetsu Bear Park/登別クマ牧場

I went to Noboribetsu Bear Park for the first time. Bear Park is located in Noboribetsu Hot Spring Resort and there are about 200 brown bears. They are so cute! I never want to see them in mountains or woods, but as long as safty is assured, they are really cute animals.
a leg holding bear

There are two farms now and one for males and the other for females and cubs.
male farm

Farm for males, the bear in water is a boss/オスの牧場。手間の水に入っているのがボス。
farm for female

Farm for females/メスの牧場
bear face

The photo above was taken at the place called "Human Cage." You can feel as if you were caged and looked by bears.

In this Park, there is a section named "Yukara-no-sato" and it's a reproduction of Ainu people's village.

Ainu are indigenous people living in Hokkaido before Wajin, or Japanese settled there. Their life was based on hunting and fishing and they have unique belief that everything in nature has spirit.

There are some "chise(Ainu house)" which were accurately reproducted and inside of those chise, from May through October, some Ainu people stay there.
chise of craftwork

At the biggest chise, their traditional dance, songs, etc. are introduced to the visitors. I remember the show started at three.
women are singing

In the Bear Park, there is also a brown bear museum and observatory that commands a fine view of Lake Kuttara.
lake kuttara

If you are intereted in this Bear Park, how about visiting its web site.

Noboribetsu Hell Excursion/ 登別・地獄巡り

Noboribetsu has various kinds of hot spring water and it is said that there are 1(1.9 kinds 2.10 kinds 3.11 kinds ) of hot spring water. So its variety is 2(1.the best 2. the second 3. the third) in Japan.
登別といえば場所によって色々な泉質の温泉がわき出していて、全部で1.(1.9種類 2.10種類 3.11種類)に及ぶと言われています。そして、その種類の多さは日本2.(1.1位2.2位3.3位)です。
hell valley

Jigoku-dani, or Hell Valley was made about 10, 000 years ago when a volcano called Mt. Kasayama was erupted. It is an explosion crator and its bottom's diameter is 3(1.450m or 492yd 2.550m or 601yd 3.650m or 710yd). And numerous hot spring sources and fumaroles are dotted on the bottom. Around the main hell, there are 4.(1.14 2. 15 3.16 ) hells.
地獄谷は約一万年前、笠山という活火山が噴火した時にできた爆裂火口跡で、直径3.(1.450m 2.550m 3.650m)の谷底には数多くの湧出口や噴気孔が点在していて、大地獄を中心に4.(1.14 2.15 3.16)の地獄があります。hell valley2

The water temperature is very high and the highest is 5(1.206.6F 2.208.4F 3.210.2F ). And the gashing quantity is also abundant and the Hell valley is the main hot spring source of the Noboribetsu Hot Spring Resort.
この熱湯は最高5.(1.97度 2.98度 3.99度)と非常に高温で、また量も豊富なため地獄谷は登別温泉の最も大きな泉源となっているます。

I make this a quiz form. Why don't you try it? Answers are in the below and scroll downward to see them.
ちょっと趣向を変えてクイズ形式にしてみました。ぜひ挑戦してみてください♪ 回答は下へスクロールして行ってください。

It was the first time for me to visit the Noboribetsu hot spring resort. Hell Valley is very adequate expression to express the sight. From the nearby parking lot, you have to step up stairs to the observetory and on arriving there, "Where am I?" view is sprawling out in front of you. It was amazing. The photo below is a boardwalk that leads to a geyser whose name is Tetsusen-ike.


And, the above photo is Testusen-ike. Observing the pond, hot water gashes out tidaly. Compared to the geyser in Shikabe-town, it was modest, but the scenery around it helped a lot to feel as if you were in the hell.

1. 3's 11 kinds 2. the best! in Japan 3. 450m or 492 yards 4. 15 5. 2,208.4F

1.3の11種類 2.1位!です。3.450m 4.15 5.2の98度です。

Bears as Gods/神としてのクマ

All bears in Hokkaido are brown bears and they are widely found in the Northern Hemisphere from Europe to Siberia, Mongolia and North America. They are the same as grizzly or gray bears. Bears in Honshu, the main island of Japan, are black bears and they are different from the ones in Hokkaido. Bears in Hokkaido have been regarded as "the biggest beasts of the island" and "enemies of pioneers".

However, for the native Ainu, bears are kamui, or gods who bring fur and food to them.
Ainu people

Ainu people/アイヌの人たち

A festive ritual that is held to send a bear's spirit back to the land of gods is called Iyomante(Bear sending) and is very importaint for the Ainu.
for bear ritual

According to a local newspaper's column, it is "a ritual for expressing gratitude for the blessing of the gods, welcoming the bear god's visit to our world and sending him back to the land of the gods." I found a good story at the Brown Bear Museum to understand the coloumn better.

The title was "The Bear God who wants to listen to Yukara, or an Ainu folk story." The bear god was welcomed to an Ainu village led by Princess Pine-Tar and Princess Aconite. Soon pine tar adhered around his feet and he was intoxicated by a good fragrance of aconite and fell asleep. When he woke up, he found himself dead. He was shot by an arrow that contained aconite poison and pine tar inside. But his spirit remained. The spirit was celebrated by the Ainu people with sake, or rice wine, and big meals. Then, he listened to a traditional yukara of the village. But at this point, he was told, "the next story shall be told upon your next visit." So only his spirit went back to the land of the gods. This is the story I read at the museum.

On another board at the museum, I found the next passage.

"Brown bears are paid the highest respect by the Ainu people as a god of the mountains. It is because the Ainu people believe that a brown bear possessed by gods of the heavens comes from a deep mountain to a kotan(Ainu village) bringing a big loaf of meat as a souvenir and wearing a nice fur coat.

Moreover, this bear god doesn't visit anyone. It appears in front of a chosen hunter, who should truely be a kind hearted, among hunters coming to nearby mountains to invite the god. The bear god is shot of himself by a chosen hunter and leaves souvenir. So the one who could shoot a brown bear thanked that he was chosen by gods."

For your information, the museum I visited is in Bear Farm in Noboribetsu. It's worth visiting and futher information about the farm is soon be uploaded.


Be careful about bears!/クマにご用心!

Bear dropping

If you are eating something, I'm sorry to tell you that the photo above is a bear dropping. I don't recommend clicking on it for a better view.

I took the photo when I participated in the walking tour in Fukushima and it was the reason I joined the tour. I feared encountering bears. If you love nature and want to explore alone or in a small group, please be careful not to bump into bears.

If you happen to see a bear, there are instructions below.
instruction on encountering a bear

It says,
50-meter distance ~~~ safe
↓try to make yourselves bigger than the bear by holding hands with others.
30-meter~~~~blow a whistle, make big sound
↓throw your bag (to attract bear's attention to the bag)
10-meter~~~~ready bear spray(chili spray is sold at stores) or a hand axe

If it is too late, you only have to fight against the bear or guard yourself from receiving a mortal wound. Here below is a position you should take.
guard style

5.6 million people live in Hokkaido with about two thousand brown bears. It is said that no other place in the world is like here, people and bears living so closely. Actually, I was really surprised hearing so many local news stories on bears when I returned here from Tokyo several years ago.

It means that people in Hokkaido live close to nature.

Tonosama(feudal lord) walk in Fukushima-cho/殿様ウォーク・イン・福島町

On May 4th, I participated in a walking tour held in Fukushima-cho. Fukushima-cho is located west of Hakodate and it takes about one hour and half from Hakodate by car.

There is a way called Tonosama-kaidou which is considered to be the route where a feudal lord of Matsumae clan and his retainers walked to get to a nearby hot spring resort.

The route is located at the mountain foot of Daisengendake mountain(1072m). The highest part we went was about 200m, but the route was varied widely and I enjoyed a lot.

Here below are photos I took on the way. こちらはその街道で撮った写真です。

Dog's tooth violets and Ezo-engosaku/カタクリとエゾエンゴサク

beech tree tunnel

Beech tree tunnel/ブナの木のトンネル

defunct train line

Defunct train line/廃線になった線路跡
We crossed this bridge.この橋を渡りました。

wood bridge

Log bridge/丸太の橋
Here I saw a guide slipped into the river. Poor guide...
The biggest beech tree

Big beech tree/ブナの巨木

Tea brake

Tea brake/お茶でちょっと一休み
Organizers served a cup of tea and soba-manju, or buckwheat dumpling, to all participants.

The tour started 8:40 and returned to the starting point around 12:00, maybe. I don't remember well, but after the tour, we were served buckwheat noodles and saw Matsumae-kagura, dance dedicated to Shinto deities.
soba noodle

100% Sengen Buckwheat noodle/千軒十割ソバ


Matsumae Kagura/松前神楽
13-year-old Shinto maidens dedicated dance to Shinto deities.

I enjoyed this tour very much and I want to join next year, too. It cost 3,000 yen per person and to get more detailed information, please visit this site.

Cherry blossoms are in full bloom now/桜満開

Cherry blossoms in Hakodate bloom in early May every year. This year, its bloom falls in holiday-studded-week, so called "Golden Week" and many people enjoy cherry blossom viewing.

Today, I went to Hakodate Park and Hakodate Hachiman-gu Shrine.
Hakodate Park

Hakodate Park/函館公園


Hakodate Hachimangu Shrine/函館八幡宮

In the precincts of Hakodate hachimangu Shrine, there is a cherry tree damaged badly by a big storm a few years ago. But surprisingly it blooms, too. I felt amazing power of nature!
broken tree

cherry blossoms



Akiko lives in a city next to Hakodate and loves to drive around Hakodate and surrounding area. I hope people who visit or live in the Southwest area of Hokkaido come to love the area, too.