• Ishikawa Yoshinori, who set about rekindling the mood of the store

    Ishikawa Genzo Shoten, a long-established sake retailer, which was established in 1891 and closed-down eight years ago, has been ‘revived’ as a standing bar. The owner, Ishikawa Yoshinori became aw...

  • On April 15, the pre-opening event of a café-bar and guesthouse run by ‘PoRtaru,’ a limited liability company (LLC) established by Otaru University of Commerce students, was held in the Hanazono shopping district of Otaru. The company hopes the facility will be used as a base for regional interaction, and plans to review its opening hours and services in response to users’ opinions, before operations are scheduled to begin in earnest in mid-May.

  • Tanaka Sake Brewing Co., Ltd., a long-established sake brewery in Otaru, has been making a new batch of top-quality sake to be entered in a sake contest. Work took place on February 19 and March 5, when a process known as ‘shizuku-dori’ – in which a cotton bag containing the mash is suspended to allow the sake to drip out – was carried out at the Kikkogura brewery.

  • On March 6, a ‘kuki’ or large shoal of spawning herring was observed near the coast of Asari in the city of Otaru in central Hokkaido, turning approximately 3 km of the surface of the sea a milky white color.

  • This winter, Hokkaido has been hit by record-breaking snowfalls. Transportation was paralyzed and large piles of snow lined the main roads and residential streets, heavily impacting the lives of the residents. In an attempt to solve this situation, ‘smart snow removal’ that utilizes information and communication technology (ICT) such as artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance sensors, is attracting attention.

  • This fiscal year's project to promote scallops cultivated off the coast of Shukutsu in the city of Otaru, under the ‘Otate’ brand name, is progressing steadily. The project is being implemented by an executive committee comprising 17 industry, academia and government organizations in the city, including the City of Otaru, fishery organizations, and Otaru University of Commerce. In January, the committee organized a tour for participants to sample scallop dishes inside a kamakura (Japanese-style igloo). The committee is also working on a PR strategy for the new fiscal year, and efforts to raise awareness of hidden gems are gaining momentum in a bid to revitalize the local economy, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • At my workplace we have a long tradition of the so-called seminar, or abbreviated zemi. The term refers to a class at a university in which a small group of students gather to conduct their own research under the guidance of a teacher, and then present and discuss their findings. This is also referred to as active learning as opposed to passive learning, which is the traditional way of learning featuring one-way lecturing in large classrooms. Although active learning has become a recent buzzword in Japanese education, the seminar has a long history in Japan and goes back to the Meiji era (1868-1912) when Japan borrowed the seminar concept (and the name) from the German educational system. In fact, the seminar was a notable feature of Kyoto Imperial University, established in 1897.

  • On February 8, the Hokkaido ASEAN Office (Singapore) conducted an online class called "Virtual School Trip" for students at the Hokkaido High School for the Deaf (Zenibako, Otaru). They taught about Singapore lifestyles and culture.

  • On February 4, Otaru Canal Boat, which operates the Otaru Canal Cruise, offered a cruise to view projection mapping on the quay and under bridges after sunset. The passengers enjoyed the views from the boat, as well as vivid images introducing the canal.

  • Otaru: population 110,410, households 61,914. This is what it read at the entrance of Otaru’s City Council a few days ago. A sign of many single-person households, a declining and ageing population, and young people abandoning the city for greener pastures.