It has been a long time since my last post, so I’m going to share a little bit about some of my recent adventures in southern Hokkaido.
In early spring, we went to Esan to go hiking on Mount Maru. I was amazed by the steam coming out of the volcano! I had never seen that before. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, and the view from the top was spectacular.
The next weekend, we did a fundraising run, called “Run ‘Till You’re Done”, from Assabu to the top of Mt. Hakodate. The purpose was to raise money for the Hokkaido English Challenge, an annual English camp held by Hokkaido’s Assistant Language Teachers. During the event, we ran until we were tired, then were picked up by volunteers and shuttled to the top of Mt. Hakodate. Most people ran a half marathon, I did 27km, and 3 people made it 55km. We all did our best that day, and almost all of us broke our person distance records. Video by Jeremy Blanco: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V026ecZFjBU
Over spring break, we went to Matsumae for hanami. We stopped at Cape Shirakami on the way to enjoy the view from the southernmost tip of Hokkaido. The mix of architecture and nature in Matsumae was stunning. I tried sakura ice cream. It was delicious.
At the end of spring break, Fukushimacho held its annual women’s sumo tournament. A few ALTs joined in the games, so we went out to support our friends and watch the matches. Some friends made it further than expected in the tournament, while others were unfortunately defeated by the reigning champion in one swift and gentle movement. It was a very exciting event for everyone involved.
The next weekend, I enjoyed collaborating with some junior high school music teachers in Yakumo and nearby towns to perform in Kumaishi. There were many brass band students and music teachers who came out to enjoy each other’s music.
That same weekend, we went to Toya for some camping, sightseeing, and to cheer on our friends who joined the Toya marathon. It seemed like a beautiful course! I hope to join the race next year.
We went to see the ruins from the eruption of Mt. Usu in 2000. I was surprised by the damage that was left in its wake, and felt it was an important reminder of the power of nature.
From the next weekend, sports festival season had begun. Though there were many exciting events, and many great costumes, my favourite event was definitely kibasen. It looks a little dangerous, and extremely fun. Someday I hope to try kibasen. This year I was able to participate in some of the PTA events, such as tug-o-war, dancing, and otedama. I’m always impressed with the effort of all the staff and students at every school in preparation for their sports festival.
Amidst the sports festival excitement, we managed to escape into the woods for a day and hike up Obokodake. Unfortunately, the top was still covered in too much snow for us to make it all the way to the peak, but we got a nice view of the sea, and had an exciting adventure scrambling over rocks and wading through water. Video by Jeremy Blanco: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adGbAq__K0I
The next few weeks were spent running. First, the Yakumo Milk Road Race, a beautiful half-marathon that runs by some hilly farmlands while enjoying a hint of cow smell.
Next, we went to Okushiri to join the Moonlight Marathon. It was my first time on the beautiful island of Okushiri. The food was very delicious, and the people were extremely friendly. I ran my first full marathon. It was definitely both a mental and physical challenge. There was a barbecue at the end with a comedy show. It was raining that day, so it was especially refreshing to get out of the rain and have some sea urchin, abalone, Okushiri wine, and other amazing foods.
More recently, Yakumo held its annual lantern festival. This year, I played the big taiko on both Friday and Saturday nights. I was impressed with all the lanterns and dances that everyone prepared. It was especially exciting to see Kumaishi’s floats join the parade this year. Some of my friends came to Yakumo to join in the festivities, and all of them had a wonderful time!
Things are starting to wind down as summer vacation approaches, with the more recent events having been a little more relaxing. I went out to a candle night event for Tanabata, where I learned some belly dancing, and enjoyed some artisanal food and live music. It was nice to see so many stars at night.
The next weekend, a nearby ALT set up a fun obstacle course and water balloon colour fight for us to enjoy at the beach together. Video by Jeremy Blanco: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_51tzJ7WEew&sns=fb