Friday, August 9, 2019

Hokkaido Travel: Hokkaido Shrine (Hokkaido Jingu)

One way to get to know a country better is to experience their traditional festival. During our Japan trip in December 2018, we visited Nara to experience Kasuga Wakamiya On-Matsuri 春日若宮おん祭 at Nara (read our Nara travelogue here). During this trip to Hokkaido, we visited Hokkaido Shrine (Hokkaido Jingu) on the last day of Hokkaido Shrine Festival that is held from 14 to 16 June annually.

Throughout these 3 days, there are festive stalls at Hokkaido Shrine and Nakajima Park. At Hokkaido Shrine, there are traditional dedication ceremonies and various performances from 14 to 15 June. On 16 June, there is a large scale parade starting from Hokkaido Shrine, and it goes around Sapporo city.

To get to Hokkaido Shrine, we had to walk through Maruyama Park. It was a nice stroll as the park was quiet and peaceful.

After walking through the torii, there were many festive food and game stalls. Our children bought their favourite egglets and taiyaki.

The participants of the parade were getting ready. The men in white were more than willing to pose for the visitors' camera, and they didn't mind taking photos with the visitors. When it was my turn, one of the men suddenly took my hand and placed my hand on the horse's face! I was a bit shocked haha!

It was raining, so we quickly took some photos of the shrine and then went to seek shelter at Rokkaitei 六花亭, a famous Hokkaido sweets shop.

At Rokkaitei, we bought this Japanese snack - grilled rice cake with red bean filling. This reminds me of umegae mochi we had at Dazaifu in Kyushu. There was free flow of roasted tea, a perfect match with the rice cake!

We saw the men in white set off with the horses. Then we heard loud sounds, the ceremony started in front of the shrine!

The energetic participants made the atmosphere high by their cheer. It was really happening! After the ceremony, the participants dispersed... I was wondering, was this all?

The parade actually began at the First Torii Gate outside Hokkaido Shrine. However, as we planned to visit Otaru after that, we had to give it a miss to watch the parade. When I saw the news on TV later then I found out that the best place to watch the entire parade is at Odori Park.

One interesting thing that I found at Hokkaido Shrine is Rilakkuma ema (for writing prayer or wishes), so adorable! If you are Hello Kitty fans, you will be delighted to find Hello Kitty omamori (Japanese amulet) there too.

Other than at Hokkaido Shrine, during 14 to 16 June, we experienced Hokkaido Shrine Festival at different places at Sapporo - we saw the procession near Odori Park and Tanukikoji.

Hokkaido Shrine
Address: Miyagaoka 474, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Opening hours: Summer season 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Winter season 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission fee: Free
How to get there: Take Sapporo Subway to Maruyama Koen on Tozai Line. Walk towards Maruyama Park.

Our Hokkaido Summer Itinerary
Day 1: New Chitose Airport, Sapporo Clock Tower, Odori Park, Hokkaido Government Office
Day 2: Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park, Susukino
Day 3: Hokkaido Shrine, Otaru
Day 4: Asahiyama Zoo
Day 5: Furano - Farm Tomita, Tomita Melon House
Day 6: Biei - Blue Pond, Shirahige Waterfall, Shikisai no Oka , Shinei-no-oka Observatory Park, Ken and Mary Tree, Seven Stars Tree, Parent and Child Trees, Hokusei-no-oka Observatory Park  
Day 7: similar to Day 2 haha!

Our Hokkaido Travelogue June 2019

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