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  • A student pulls up a salmon with a "marek" spear.

    Elementary school students in Chitose on the Hokkaido northern main island got some hands-on experience in traditional salmon fishing of Japan's indigenous Ainu people in class in mid-October.

  • A ‘phantom prefectural highway’, so called as it only opens for about one month during the year, exists in the town of Higashikawa in the Kamikawa region of northern Hokkaido. The road is a 12.4-km section of Prefectural Highway Route 1116 between the Chobochinai Gate and Higashikawa Kita 7-sen Gate. This year, the section opened until October 12, and the undulating route was taken by riders and drivers from throughout Hokkaido and beyond.

  • October 2 saw the start of the first weekend after all COVID-19 state-of-emergency and anti-infection priority restrictions were lifted, with commercial facilities and tourist spots bustling with large numbers of visitors. “It’s been a long time,” said one of the visitors. “People can come with peace of mind,” said a representative at one of the facilities. Some tourist facilities extended opening hours as the first steps toward the co-existence of COVID measures and a thriving economy began.

  • The pipe organ in the chapel of wedding ceremony church "Miyanomori Frances Church" in Sapporo's Chuo ward was discovered through expert appraisal to be a 19th century British organ, of which only a few exist in Japan. The organ interior was assessed for repair, and it was discovered that while the area that delivers air into the pipes had been fitted with an electric motor, the bellows had originally been operated manually. The expert reported, "It is rare for 19th century organs to be imported, so this is a rare treasure."

  • On September 23, a dead, beached whale was seen being eaten by brown bears at Shiretoko Peninsula in the town of Shari, situated in Eastern Hokkaido's Okhotsk region. A video was captured by a passenger on a brown bear observation cruise ship that departed from the Aidomari Fishing Port in the town of Rausu.

  • The Sapporo Snow Festival Executive Committee, made up of representatives from Sapporo City and the like, announced on September 21 that the installation of large-scale snow sculptures at the 72nd Sapporo Snow Festival, scheduled to be held in February next year, will be cancelled again, as they were this year. The Tsudome venue (Higashi-ku) and the International Snow Sculpture Competition will also be cancelled. The decision was made as an end to coronavirus pandemic could not be foreseen. With regard to the details of the event, a decision regarding a scaling down to small- and medium-size sculptures at the Odori and Susukino venues (Chuo-ku), or to switch to an alternative online event, will be made before the end of the year.

  • In response to numerous incidents of brown bear attacks on cows in the town of Akkeshi in the Eastern Hokkaido Kushiro region, the Kushiro Ohta Agricultural Cooperative has introduced a small, unmanned drone equipped with an infrared camera and speaker. On September 11, the drone was deployed for the first time in a field of animal feed dent corn that is about to be harvested. It spots and intimidates bears, and lowers the risk of bear attacks on people. The idea is for the drone to help ensure safety as well as assist in biological research and capturing bears.

  • The Japanese government on Tuesday formally decided to lift the COVID-19 state of emergency covering Tokyo and 18 other prefectures, as well as the quasi-state of emergency in other areas, as infections have declined from their peak.

  • The State Railway of Thailand announced on September 10 that it will receive 17 used diesel trains from JR Hokkaido. After refurbishment, the plan is to utilize the trains – which were used on the ‘Okhotsk’ (Sapporo-Abashiri) and ‘Taisetsu’ (Asahikawa-Abashiri) Limited Express routes – on the railways in Thailand, as of next year.

  • "Daikan Ranch" launched this spring, and is the first dairy farming training ranch in Southern Hokkaido. The Yakumo town government and an agricultural corporation funded by entities such as the major Western sweets producer Fujiya (Tokyo) are going to install electrically powered three-wheeled vehicles at the ranch in September. The vehicles will assist in giving tours to visitors who come from both inside and outside of the town to see the ranch. They will transport visitors when traversing the spacious ranch area. The popular Fujiya character "Peko-chan" appears on the sides of the seat. The cute character is expected to garner attention.

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