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Bamba Kyogi or "Ban'ei Kyogi"
The Ban'ei horse is a blend of Percheron,Belgian and Breton blood use for draft racing.
Race in which the horse pulls a heavy sleigh over hills.
The weight of the sled is the handicap and varies with age and track record of each horse.
ASSABU is a small village located at 60 kms northwest of Hakodate
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Russian presence in Japanese, yet decreasing?
Seen the most in Hokkaido, as there are several ferries and flights (mostly seasonal) which leave from several places here, though this is not widely used by the population due to its expense and time required for strict visa rules and processing, hence people here tend to choose very much cheaper and easier travel to Korea, China, Australia, or other ASEAN country etc.
Indeed in our last journey to Hokkaido in Mid-winter 2008, the feeling is apparently mutual as seen by the marked increase in Hokkaido of these visitors. Hokkaido seems also now to make efforts to attract international visitors with signposts and labelling in four languages, excluding Russian.Related to:
- Study Abroad
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Japan Self-Defense Forces & Northern Territories
Near Shin-Chitose is one of the largest military bases of its type in Japan, and it is common to see uniformed personnel walking the streets unlike in most other cities in Japan.
Also in Hokkaido there are many signboards along the roads stating their position on the Northern Isles Territories still disputed with Russia since end of 2nd World War. Here in the midst of the Snow Festivities is the first I've seen in English.
Strange angle roof shape
This is a unique feature of Hokkaido construction, to handle the heavy snowfall. Recently, in the newer constructed homes, I've seen completely flat roofs designed with a water collector to recycle the water.Related to:
Hi-tech toilet seats
In some of the hotels and rest stops, visitors may come across some toilet seats that are not of the usual variety. These are Japan's hi-tech toilet seats and offer a variety of functions.
The most common function is the seat warmer. This is especially useful in winter time, or so I assume, since it gets extremely cold in Hokkaido then. Then there is a bidet function, where you get your rump sprayed clean with water after a poop. After that is the blow dry function, to dry your rump after it's been sprayed clean.
And finally, there's the butt cheek massaging function. By activating this function, 2 extensions will emerge from the toilet seat to massage your butt cheeks. You may shudder, but some people actually swear by it. Afterall, its no different from having your feet or neck massaged, right?
Unfortunately, it appears that the instructions for these seats are mostly in Japanese, so you may want to refrain from pressing the buttons while sitting on the throne.
Going for onsen (hot spring bath)
Around Hokkaido's well-known onsen (hot spring) areas, you'll be able to find numerous establishments offering accomodation and onsen facilities.
Most of these have an onsen for hotel guests that is segregated for men and women. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of a "public" bath, you should prob'ly go for a place that offers private baths (but it will be expensive).
In the rooms, you will find that towels, yukatas (summer robes) and slippers are provided. You will have to put these on when you go to the onsen. At the bath, you will find everything you need in terms of toiletries, like soap, shampoo, creams, lotions, disposal combs, cotton buds, etc. You cannot wear any clothing into the hot spring and MUST shower before getting into the hot spring. The only thing you can take into the water is a small towel (not that helpful for hiding behind, I'm afraid!).
Those with health problems like high blood pressure or heart conditions are not advised to soak in the hot water, which is about 40 degrees C. There are also cold water pools which some people alternate with the hot water pools. Some places also have outdoor hot pools. For first-timers, you are advised to soak for a few minutes and get out, perhaps take a shower, wash your hair, and then go back in for another few minutes, and so on.
Because people generally visiting these places are there for the onsen, you may find the bathrooms attached to your room to be extremely small and cramped. The rooms themselves prob'ly aren't too big and are measured by tatami mats (this is how Japanese homes are measured). 8 tatami mat rooms are the standard size, I think.
Arrow markers along the road
The purpose of the markers is to inform where the edge of the road lies, when the snow removal trucks scrape away snow in winter.Related to:
- Road Trip
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