Helicopter Rides Over the Town

Last Sunday I spent my day at the Shibazakura Park, helping out at the information desk with the people who were visiting Takinoue. It was a lot of fun, I got to meet so many people!

helicopter 4
My view from the information desk last Sunday- and my cute nametag! 

One of the really interesting and fun things offered at the Park are helicopter rides over the town and park- and in a rare quiet moment, I snuck off to see what it was about!

helicopter

I had never ridden in a helicopter before, and was surprised at how smooth the takeoff and landing were. In the air was really peaceful and calm- although standing outside the helicopter is really loud, inside is quiet. But I think I was so excited that I wouldn’t have even noticed if it was loud!

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The Shibazakura Park from above

The helicopter ride lasts about 3-5 minutes, which seems short but is totally worth it! Adults are 5,000¥, children are 4,000¥, and up to 5 people can ride together at one time. Come check it out!

helicopter 3
My beautiful town!
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Sapporo/Asahikawa to Takinoue Express Bus Special

Hello everyone!

Today I received information about a bus special that makes it easy to visit Takinoue from Sapporo or Asahikawa! It’s a special limited-time deal that runs from May 7th-June 5th, and includes round-trip bus fare and admission to the Takinoue Shibazakura Park. If you are planning a trip to visit Takinoue this spring, take a look! The 3rd and 4th pages of the document are in English too, so it’s very helpful!

Takinoue Moss-Phlox Viewing Express Bus Information

New Years Celebrations in Takinoue

New Years is one of the most important holidays in Japan. It’s a time when family gathers to spend the season together, and there are a lot of traditions that go into New Years celebrations.

For my New Years, I did many things! I spent the first part of the night eating osechi-ryouri with some friends and my sister, who was visiting from America. Osechi is a traditional Japanese meal for New Years. They spend several days eating osechi, which consists of many small dishes, like kamaboko (fish cakes), kuro-mame (sweet black beans), ebi (shrimp), datemaki (sweet omelettes with fish paste), and many other foods. Every food has meaning and symbolizes a wish for the upcoming year.

 

osechi
Elaborate osechi-ryouri! It was delicious!

 

As midnight approached, I went to the temple with many other people. It was very cold, but we all  bundled up and gathered. During the summer, I can hear the temple bell ring from my house every morning, but I had never been to the temple at night before. There, we rang the temple bell 108 times. Each ring of the bell symbolizes one of the earthly desires of Buddhism, and it’s rung to leave them behind in the new year.

This year, when the bell ringing was finished, I… went to bed! But not before being invited to the local monk’s house (in typical Takinoue fashion), where we had some sake and chatted in the early hours of the  New Year.

 

The next morning, my sister and I went to Takinoue’s shrine for hatsumode, the first visit to the shrine of the year. Many people go right at midnight, but we were both tired from our travel and late night before. Takinoue’s shrine is really beautiful; it is set on a hill overlooking the town, across from the shibazakura hill. In winter, you have a lovely view of the town and river, covered in snow.

 

shrine-view
This is the view from the shrine. It’s so beautiful in winter!

We went early, so it was still very quiet at the shrine. We only saw one other family there. My sister and I paid our respects to the shrine, and then get our omikuji, or our fortunes for the year. Omikuji  have a lot of detail and talk about things like your work life, travel, love, illness, your wishes, lost things… it goes on! It also gives you a general indication of your luck for the future. The best is dai-kichi, or “great blessing,” and the very worst is dai-kyo, or “great curse.” I’ve never seen dai-kyo though!

 

omikuji
My fortune for the year

 

I ended up drawing chu-kichi, middle luck! My sister, however, got dai-kichi; so hopefully she will have a very lucky year- and I’ll at least have a middle-lucky year!