Saturday 10 February 2024

差ポロのユキマツリ Winter Festival in Sapporo city.


    Sapporo Yuki Matsuri             

Sapporo Ice World                                                                          Fish sculpture

                                                                           Ainu display

Sapporo City, is the home of Japan's famous winter festival, the Sapporo Snow Festival or Japanese, Yuki Matsuri.

Every year ice sculptures from around the world converge on this city of 2 million inhabitants to showcase their ice-scalping talents.

This year 2024 was special because for 2 years the city of Sapporo was not able to hold the event. Due to COVID-19 pandemic.

 Finally this year, the city opened its doors once again to have the biggest winter events.

      Bird                                         End of Ice World


This year 2024 marks 74 years of the Sapporo snow festival. It started in 1950 with a few high school students building a snow sculpture at the Sapporo famous Odori Park. From then on the event got bigger and bigger attracting many visitors from within Japan and abroad.

This year 2024, the event is held in 3 locations;

  1. Suzukino
  2. Odaori Park
  3. Sapporo Dome Area.
This year's term is ' Finding Delight and Interacting With Ice'.

1. Suzukino


The once puzzling main, street of Suzukino is where they cornered off allowing two blocks of the main street to be taken up by the Ice Word sculptures.

This year there were approximately 60 sculptures on display  including the ice sculpture with a trapped fish, ice sculptures from the contest, large-scale Ainu ice sculptures that are powerful and magnificent, and sculptures depicting characters from each broadcasting company were on display

                              Suzukino Ice World Map

2. Odari Park

Odari Park the original place where the Sapporo snow festival started has many snow sculptures. It also features some of the biggest snow sculptures for this event.

This year the sculptures feature many of Japan's famous people, anime characters and movies, singing groups, major sponsors, and Hokkaido Indigenous People, the Ainu.

This year the largest sculptures on display in Odari Park are Upopoi National Ainu Museum, Neuschwanstein Castle, Old Sapporo Station, and Hokkaido Ballpark F Village.

                        Golden Kamuwi Movie

There are also snow sculptures from various countries including, Indonesia, Thailand, Lithuania, and Mongolia.

This year Odri Park snow festival included the curling sport for citizens to try. The curling area is located next to the Sapporo Clock Tower.

Furthermore, if you are walking around and find yourself hungry. You can try out the many delicious Japanese stall foods. They are freshly cooked and are tenderly so good.
HBC Broadcasting

                                     Performance stage 

                                 Citizen sculpture

F Village.


3. Tsudome Site 

The Tsudome site is located in the famous Sapporo Dome area. This is Sapporo's biggest dome and they can host a lot of sports events there. It is located in the Toyahria Word area.

This site is mostly composed of giant ice-skying slides. It is enjoyed by children and their parents. There are slides, snow rafts, and other attractions. The indoor space offers gourmet booths, rest areas, and other attractions for children to play in. 

by Joshua.

Friday 15 December 2023

The most breathtaking cycling track in Sapporo City for your cycling adventures.

 Top 5 cycling tracks in Sapporo City, Hokkaido.

This is for those of you who enjoy riding bicycles and are either planning a trip to Sapporo or currently reside there and are always curious;

'what is the best cycling track for cycling in Sapporo city?'

It seems like you're on a quest to find an answer to this question, and I'm here to help you out. You've come to the right place, so let's dive in and find that response together!

Are you up for some cycling in Sapporo? I've got just the right spots for you to explore on two wheels. Let me guide you to the best cycling routes in the city! I got you covered! Let me show you the best spots in the city where you can enjoy a thrilling ride while exploring the beautiful surroundings.

 1. The Toyahira River Cycling Course.


Toyahira Cycling is one of the best cycling courses in Sapporo City. It starts at Makomanai Park and finishes at the Isakari River.

The course runs parallel to the Toyahira River and ends at the Iskari River. You can decide which side of the river you want to cycle on.

The total length of the course is around 25 km, and it would take you an hour and a half to complete the cycling track. The tracks go through different river sporting areas, recreation areas, children's playing areas, and small river forested areas. The view of the Toyahira River from the cycling trail is breathtaking.

I recommend doing light cycling in the afternoon when the sun is a little brighter. You will really enjoy cycling there.

So, choose the Toyahira River Cycling Course next time you want to cycle.

2. The cycling course Shiraishi Kokoro Do.



This was once a railroad track that was turned into a bike path. The rail extends all the way to Kita Hiroshima Station from Sapporodaichi Park. The route travels through parts of Sapporo City's Shiroishi area and Kita Hiroshima. It is around 25 kilometers long.

The trail is extremely smooth because it was freshly resealed.  Gorgeous chrysanthemum trees shade the trail. You can experience the beautiful fallage of riding in the spring and fall.

Riding a bicycle to Kita Hiroshima will pass through the Learning Forest, an area of breathtaking scenery. You can purchase refreshments at the Cycling Center in the middle of the Leaning Forest route, or you can hire a bike there as well. 

In addition to cycling, hiking is another activity available in the learning forest.

It takes two to three hours to cycle from Kokoro Road to Kita Hiroshima.

Shiraishi Kokoro's cycling path is worth considering the next time you're looking for an adventurous riding experience.

3. The Kotoni River Cycling Course. 

The Kononi bicycle track begins at the north end of Hokkaido University. The cycling track in Kononi is breathtakingly gorgeous. I've gone there on numerous cycles.

Running on both sides of the river, it's a stunning cove that leads all the way to Ishari. It is quieter than the other two tracks. There are fewer parks for resting and fewer people in general. Small woodlands bordering the river's side encircle it for the most part. It descended below Shinkawa Dori Ave. Thus, if you are riding your bike on the Konoi Bike Path you will be cycling at a lower elevation than the cars on Shinkawa Dori Ave.

With any luck, you may be able to spot some wildlife, such as foxes, gorgeous cranes, and other untamed birds. While riding and running there, I have seen some amazing wildlife.

The track is 14 km long, and it would take you one hour to pedal the entire 14 kilometers of the track.

If you want to experience a calm and scenic pleasure. Try the Kotoni cycling course.

4. The Kotonihassamu River cycling path.

One of the Koni River's tributaries is the Kotonihassamu River. It empties into the Konoi River a short distance downstream from the northeasternmost point of Hokkaido University. The river flows through the Kotoni neighborhood and ascends into the Heiwa neighborhood's mountains in Sapporo.

The family picnic area beside the river is traversed by the Kontoni River Cycling Trail, which runs along its right bank. You will enter the Nishino Green Route after passing through the picnic areas. It is a lovely, verdant natural area with lots of trees.

The road is 12 km long, and cycling uphill would take an hour, but cycling downhill would take less time. It's a tough uphill ride. However, it's enjoyable and satisfying once you complete the course and reach the waterfall upstream.

The Heiwa Cycle Bridge marks the end of the trip. The Heiwa Waterfall can be reached by following the route that parallels the Kotonihassamu River from that point on. There are several scenic views along the trail that you can enjoy while cycling.

If you'd like to take pleasure in both cycling and waterfall viewing. Go the Koni route.

5. The Nakano Cycling Part.

Another river that flows into the Konini is the Nakano River. I haven't gone cycling there. On Google Earth, nevertheless, it bears a striking resemblance to the Kotonihassau River.

Despite being shorter than the riding track in Kotonihassaumu. It has several family parks and picnic spaces, and I believe the vistas are fantastic.

Hey, don't miss out on this one! I highly recommend trying out this amazing cycling course. Once you hit the road, you'll feel the wind on your face and the thrill of the ride. Don't forget to share your experience with us - we'd love to hear all about it. we're all ears and can't wait to hear about your experience!"

By Joshua Sasahombi.

Feel the joy of cycling!.

Sunday 10 December 2023

Cost and processes of renting appartment in Japan.

 Apartments and Housing in Japan.

by Joshua.S.

This article shares the experience of the author regarding the processes and costs of moving, and getting new apartments in Japan. One important thing to note when getting an apartment in Japan is to know what types of apartments and housing suit you. There are several types of apartments in Japan and their prices depend on the type of buildings and also the age of the building.

These are the common terms for apartments in Japan.

If you are getting an apartment, you have to decide based on the table above and that is whether to get an R- which is just a room, or 1LDK- which is a1 room, dining,  and kitchen. The different terms represent the interior parts of a house/an apartment.

 Moving out from an apartment.

When moving out of your apartment,  you have to advise the real estate agency or the landlord a month before your final exit date. If you inform them of your moving date very late, you will pay extra fees.

Most landlords usually request the tenant to remove everything before the last inspection. You are required to do a small cleaning up before the last apartment inspection. The cleaning is to make sure everything for the room/apartment is in order. After cleaning is done, you then just have to wait for the day they will show up for the inspection. Always remember to keep extra cash for the inspection.

Disposing of/cycling of big appliances.

Japanese recycling law is very strict about disposing of and recycling electrical appliances and huge household goods. When recycling or disposing of the items, you are required to take them to the proper disposal shops or recycling centers. This process is not free. Different appliances have their own fees. Most times, these items cost a lot to recycle/dispose of.

Disposing of big electrical appliances like fridges, washing machines, TVs, and others is very costly in Japan and each item has to be paid for before recycling or disposal. When I moved out of my old apartment. I have to pay a lot of money for my washing and fridge to be disposed of.

I have to buy the disposal fee and the transportation fee for the items to be taken to the cycling center. But if you do want to pay the costly recycling fee. You can give them away for free by posting them on Facebook or Instagram groups.

Freighting of goods.

Freighting in Japan is very reliable, and the cost is pretty cheap. If you are moving to a new location or to a different prefecture within Japan. I recommended that you post all your baggage to your destination through postal agencies and then travel with only your carry bag. This is much cheaper than bringing all your baggage with you on the plane.

This is the cost of freighting in Japan from one of the biggest freighting companies in Japan.

I usually post my luggage a few days earlier and let them deliver my luggage the day after I arrived at my destination. It is much more economical and convenient.

Acquiring a new apartment in Japan. 

The process of getting a new apartment in Japan is fairly simple. There are 100s of real estate agencies in each city block. Each real estate agency offers different options for those seeking to rent an apartment. It is always better to check several real estate agencies before choosing which one is best for you. 

The real estate agencies in Japan act as brokers between landlords and tenants. Most policies on the contracts documents are directly from the landlord.

Important to remember as a Foreigner in Japan.

In Japan, as a foreigner, it is a little difficult to get an apartment. Many Japanese landlords do not allow their apartments to be rented by foreigners. I am not sure of the reason but I will write an article about it later.

The apartment contract and duration.

In Japan, the process involved in getting an apartment is pretty straight forwards. First, you have to go to the real estate of your choosing and they will discuss with you what sort of apartment you like and the budget you prefer. After discussion, they will show you several of their apartments that are available or will be available soon. Then they will take you to tour these apartments and from there you can decide which one you would like to rent. This process usually takes a day.

Once you have decided on the one you like, then you can proceed on and fill out the application to apply for the apartment that apartment.  After applying, the application will take at least a week to be processed. Usually, the application won't take long. If you have a secure job and a good income, it would take two to three days to be approved. In my case, it took only 3 days to be approved.

The initial cost for apartments in Japan.

There are a lot of variables involved in the initial cost of securing the contract and the apartment. The cost varies from real estate agent to real estate agent. In Japan, the actual monthly rental cost of the apartments depends on the ages of the apartments and the fees included by the agencies 

Below is a basic break up of common variables for the initial cost of acquiring an apartment.

This is an example of the initial fee you have to pay to move into a new apartment. Please take note of various fees. The cleaning fee is also an annoying fee you have to pay either with the initial cost or when you are going to move out of your apartment.

After the initial payment, you have to pay the monthly rent. Some apartments include an internet fee, community service fees, 24-hour maintenance, and others in the monthly rental fee.
Below is an example of a monthly rent breakup

There is a way you can avoid unnecessary initial fee costs, and that is through directly dealing with the property's owner. For my second apartment. I was lucky to be dealing directly with the landlord. I remember the landlord's name is Satou. He told me to only paid the cleaning fee. I did not pay all the unnecessary initial fees one would have paid if dealing with real state agencies. If you can find a landlord, then you will save a lot of money.

Moving into a new apartment.

 After paying the initial fees, it will take a few days for the real estate agencies to fix all documents. During the process of signing the contract document, the real estate agent will ask you; when would you like to move into your new apartment?. You can decide on which date best suits you.

Remember, if you are shifting apartments. You might be required to move your thing from your old apartment to your new apartment. Moving things from an apartment is also very costly. 

One important point to remember. 
After securing the contract for your new apartment. You are required to call the service providers yourself. Like, like water companies, gas companies, and others. Calling them and trying to make a contract with them is very difficult for a foreigner. Most of these companies deal in Japanese. Therefore,  for a foreigner, you need to find a Japanese to help you.

if you want to hire moving companies their cost is very expensive.
  1. For primary movers, it would cost you around 8,000 yen or 60 US dollars /per hour 
  2. For night service movers. A single person with all belonging will cost 20,000-30,00 yen/ 150 -200 US dollars.
If you are moving and on a budget. This cost is more burdensome than convenience. To avoid such heavy costs, you can do the following ;

1. Get help from a friend who has a car.
2. Hire a van by yourself 

Below is the price list of one of Japan's nationwide rent-a-car. Nippon Rent A Cars. The table shows the cost of hiring a van to move household goods. This is the second cheapest option. 

If you don't have a driver's license, you will need a driver to help you. Please ask your friend who has a Japanese or International driver's license. They will help drive for you. Also, to hire a car you would need a driver's license so they can use theirs for you to hire the car.

The price is in Japanese yen.

By Joshua Sasahombi

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