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Christmas Fantasy 2009/2009年クリスマスファンタジー

Past 11 yeas, this Christamas event started on the 1st of December and ended 25th, but this year, it starts 28th of November. It may be related to the 150th anniversary of Hakodate's port opening.
Christmas Fantasy 09

Period: 28th of November through 25 of December, 2009
Place: Hakodate Port and Kanemori Redbrick Warehouses
The main tree is lit from 16:30 to 17:45 and from 18:00 to 24:00.
Every day at 18:00, tree-lighting ceremony is held until 25th of December.

The opening day, 28th of November, tree-lighting ceremony is held at 17:30 and the tree will be lit at 18:00 with fireworks. To enjoy the event better, I'd like to recommend to bundle you up!
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The site of the Research Center/諸術調所跡

On the side of the wide Motoi-zaka Slope, you'll find a large vacant space. There used to be an advanced research center called Shojutsu-shirabesho. It literally means Research Center for various techniques.

In 1854, the Japan-U.S.A. Amity Treaty was concluded and the Japanese Government, then, Tokugawa Shogunate was forced to open two ports in Hakodate and Shimoda, Shizuoka prefecture. Until the treaty, the government took a national isolation policy since 1630s and after opening ports, it had to face the foreign threats. So the shogunate decided to have direct control over Hakodate.

After the Hakodate port opening, the American fleets and whalers visited Hakodate with their civilization. During the long isolated period, western countries experienced industrial revolution and their knowledge and techniques went far beyond those of Japan.

So, Hakodate government officials decided to establish an institute for western studies. In 1856, a research center, Shojutu-shirabesho was established and Ayasaburo Takeda, who then designed Japan's first western style fort, Goryokaku, became a professor.

At the institute, young people studied language, measurement, navigation, shipbuilding, etc. Some graduates became important politicians and one of them, Hisoka Maejima became the founder of the postal service in Japan. Jo Niijima, who was a famous Christian educator and founder of Doshisha University in Kyoto, also studies at this center.

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Hakodate Fortress/函館要塞

Do you know that Mt. Hakodate was once used as a fortress? There still remains sites of facilities used by the Japanese army.

Hakodate Fortress, then, it was renamed Tsugaru Fortress, was started to build in 1889 in order to guard Hakodate port from foreign countries. Until 1905, 17 facilities were built such as a power plant and an observatory.

In Senjojiki, there was a headquarters. A phone room and a strategy room were remained.

The fortress was made with the help of French people and used the then latest technique. This fortress was used until Pacific War. Until 1946, public was prohibited from entering this area. This period fostered today's rich nature of Mt. Hakodate.

Now, You can visit and see some sites: the second battery of Mt. Goten, the battery of Mt. Yakushi and the observatory of Mt. Irie, etc.

At the entrance of mountain trail, there is an arch bridge made of stones. Through it, batteries were carried up.

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Kannon Statues in Mt. Hakodate/函館山の観音像

十一面観音緑の島

The black-and-white image above is provided by Hakodate Central Library commemorating the 150th anniversary of Hakodate's port opening.
上の白黒の画像は函館中央図書館が函館の開港150周年を記念して提供しているものです。

The image was drawn by a German artist Heine who accompanied the American party lead by commodore Perry. They visited Hakodate in 1854 and saw the statue of Kannon near the mountain top of Mt. Hakodate.
ペリー提督率いるアメリカ一行に同行したドイツ人画家、ハイネが描いたもので、彼らは1854年に函館を訪れ、函館山山頂付近で観音像を見ました。

Kannon is a Buddhist deity, or Goddess of Mercy. Now, the statue in the picture is worshipped at the precincts of Tosenji temple in Yunokawa. There are thirty-three Buddhist statues there and the 8th statue, Juichimen Kannon(Kannon with eleven faces) is the one in the image.
観音は仏教の神様で、慈悲の女神です。今、その絵に描かれている像は湯川にある湯川寺の境内でまつられています。境内には三十三の仏像があり、8番目の仏像、十一面観音(十一の顔をもつ観音様)が絵に描かれているものです。

In 1830's, thirty-three statues, that corresponded the thirty-three sacred places in the western area of Japan, were placed along the mountain trails of Mt. Hakodate. Local citizens who couldn't go to the temples in the western area visited Mt. Hakodate instead. But in1899, fortification of Mt. Hakodate started and the statues were moved to the mountain foot. Finally, most of them were kept by Tosenji temple.
1830年代、西国三十三カ所に相当する三十三の像が函館山の登山道にそって設置されました。西国の寺院に行くことの出来なかった地元の人たちは代わりに函館山に行きました。しかし、1899年に函館山の要塞化が始まり、仏像は函館山の麓に移動されました。最終的にその像の多くは湯川寺で保管されることになりました。

Recently it was revealed that the 8th statue in the temple was the same in the picture above. How about visiting the temple or Mt. Hakodate to feel current of the times?
最近になって、湯川寺の8番目の仏像が絵に描かれているものだということがわかりました。湯川寺や函館山に行って時の流れを感じてみるのもいいかもしれませんね。

Trappist Monastery in Tobetsu, Hokuto city/トラピスト修道院(北斗市当別)

トラピスト建物
Trappist monastery in Tobetsu, Hokuto city is the first monastery built in Japan. In 1896, Nine monks founded a wooden monastery.

Their lives consist of prayer, labor, and reading of holy books and start with praying and end with praying.

Since its foundation, monks cultivated the land and stepped up farming, cattle breeding, and dairying.

Today's two-storied building was completed in 1908. On the way to this monastery, you can enjoy beautiful driveway, lined with cypress trees.
トラピスト並木道

Tips:
It takes about 40 minutes by car from the center of Hakodate. Please take Route 228.

Butter cookie and candy are both popular souvenirs made in this monastery and the souvenir shop in its precincts sell them with cheaper price(even though a little bit) than other shops in Hakodate.

Only men are allowed to visit the monastery. You need to apply in advance. If you are interested, please check its web site.
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