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!
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.
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.
The black-and-white image above is provided by Hakodate Central Library commemorating the 150th anniversary of Hakodate's port opening.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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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