Niseko, Japan

Hong Kong cycling tour in Niseko

Cycling

Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of hosting a group of terrific cyclists from Hong Kong for a cycling tour in Japan. Despite snow the day everyone arrived and a very cold next day, they were a delight to have around and all smiles as we visited Lake Toya and some other spots around Niseko. Here are a couple of photos from the trip. Enjoy!

Ride on The NISEKO Steam Locomotive!

Activities

I have ridden the NISEKO steam locomotive.

You need a reserved-seat ticket between Sapporo and Kutchan, but you can enjoy a small trip with local fare between Kutchan and Rankoshi. I savoured a short 50 minute round-trip journey between Niseko station and Rankoshi.

Retro-flavored seats and cafe lead you a nostalgia mood.

SL lunch box and special snacks for the SL perform a tool of your petit journey. Annoucement of touristic view points help you to understand scenery more from train windows.

The NISEKO Steam Locomotive is running on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays until November 3rd. Don’t miss the chance!

Beware of hornet’s activity this time of a year.

Nature

Nature and habits of hornets

Active in August and September

In Hokkaido most incidents caused by hornets are reported in August and September. Based on the number of hornets and the size of nests, hornets tend to be more aggressive in these months than usual.

Whites are not necessarily safe

Although it is said that hornets tend to be more aggressive toward the color black, there is no guarantee that white is safe. Hornets may tend not to approach the color white as easily as black.

Certain kinds of smells attract hornets

Not only sweet smells of juice and candies, but also the scent of perfume and hair spray attracts hornets.

Sensitive to rapid movements and loud sound

Even though they may not want to attack people, hornets can become agitated and aggressive when encountering rapid movements, such as trying to wave them off or loud sounds.

When you are approached by hornets…

Stay still

As mentioned above, hornets are very sensitive to rapid movements. In most cases, they are only looking for food or nesting material when they approach you. Unless there is a nest nearby, duck slowly when approached and stay still, and they will leave you alone.

You may not realize that you are approaching a nest.

Hornet’s nests can be located well out of sight. You may be approaching one without realizing it. When you are in mountains and fields, stay on established courses.

Hornets may attempt to warn you as you are approaching their nest. They will hover closely around you at first, and, if you ignore them and continue approaching, they would clap their mandibles and make noise to give you a final warning, saying, “Stop proceeding or you will be attacked.” If you hear them clacking, you are already in serious danger. Try to stay quiet, move slowly, and leave the area.

Are hornets pests or beneficial insects?

One benefit of hornets is that they will eat bugs which may destroy trees or crops. Hornets generally do not attack people unless agitated (such as a person approaching their nest). Understanding their nature and habits will help prevent any unnecessary accidents.

If you are stung by a hornet…

  1. Leave the area immediately. Move at least 50m away.
  2. Attempt to suck the venom out of the body. Insect poison removers can be purchased at stores, but if you don’t have one available, using your mouth to suck out the venom is said to be effective. Make sure you spit out the venom.
  3. Repeat step 2 to get all the venom out of your body.
  4. Ice the bite if possible and do not move around more than necessary.
  5. If you experience general symptoms such as palpitations, trouble breathing, dry mouth, cold sweats, dizziness, decreased blood pressure, numbness, nausea, or hives, see a doctor as soon as possible.

* If you have been stung by a hornet before or have an allergy, you may experience sudden hives and/or breathing difficulties within 15-30 minutes after being stung. If this is the case, a delay in treatment can be fatal. Please see a doctor immediately.

Hirafu Matsuri draws 1,000!

Activities, Events

This past weekend marked the second annual Hirafu Matsuri. Though there was a bit of ominous weather in the morning, the skies cleared by the time the festival started.

For me, a major highlight of the day was seeing many local restaurants come out and offer their expert cooking skills for the rest of town. As much as I love typical Japanese matsuri fare, there’s something special about being able to have craft sandwiches, beef stew, or smoked salmon and a beer (or wine!) in sight of Mt. Yotei with the rest of the community.

Events included junior Yosakoi dancing and flag tiggy, but the real excitement came after the sun set. First, there was a candy toss, with heaps of people cramming together to catch treats tossed from the top of a tower (photo credit: Glen Claydon).

After that, with bonfire in full flame, a local Taiko drumming group performed. It was quite the long set, and really got the blood moving – good, because it’s already getting a bit chilly in the evenings!

The evening ended with a fireworks show, and a large number of people stood around chatting by the bonfire later into the evening. All-in-all, a well-done event with all the hoped-for flavors of Niseko. See you there next year!

Relief program in Niseko

Niseko Daily Life

For the past few weeks, sufferers of the Great East Japan Earthquake have been taking relief in Niseko through a program. It was named “Niseko Tsunami Relief Program.” We have only 20,000 residents in the area, naturally most locals involved to be volunteers, along with most companies, have been cooperating to offer the participants to enjoy their stay. The 420 people, mostly mothers and children (most fathers visit only for a few days, or cannot come due to work), are passing their summer vacations in a relaxed way, enjoying running around outside or just napping on the grass.

We have been delighted to offer the many kids from Fukushima, who can’t leave home and must remain in hot, humid rooms in Fukushima, to play around outside, frolicking in streams or catching bugs in Niseko’s great nature. At the same time, it’s been complicated to hear their stories of Fukushima, where they cannot live normally such as breathing outside or exposing to sunlight. Some participants in the program have already made the decision to move to Hokkaido, encouraged by Niseko’s wonderful nature and kind people.

The number of visitors from Fukushima have been peaking this week, with summer in full swing and many local festivals being held. Most children are under 12-years-old, and the volunteer team has been running plenty of events for the kids, such as English game time, hiking, and BBQs. There will be many opportunities to communicate with the families through the end of August.

We welcome anyone who is interested, especially families with kids!

If you would like more information, please call Yoko (Tel:0136-21-2551) or refer to brochures in the Owashi Lodge communication salon (Hirafu area).

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