Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Hokkaido University Botanic Garden

After attending the Sapporo Flower Festival and visiting the Ainu Museum last Sunday, we continued with a walk around the gardens.  If I lived in Sapporo, I think I would visit often. The brochure says “around 4,000 taxa of plants native to Hokkaido can be found here in the 13.3 hectare garden.”  I didn’t know what the word “taxa” meant, so I checked it out on
Taxa is the plural of taxon, which is defined as a taxonomic category or group, such as a phylum, order, family, genus, or species.  (Ted already knew what the word meant.)  A hectare is a unit of surface, or land, measure equal to 100 ares, or 10,000 square meters: equivalent to 2.471 acres. (One of those metric things.)  That means 13.3 hectare is almost 33 acres.
Seeing the reflections in this pond made me think of the Monet piece I am stitching.

Hokkaido’s oldest museum (built in 1882) is also on the botanic garden grounds. The building and display cases inside have been designated as National Treasures.  Most of the display cases were filled with dead animals including the only existing specimens of the Ezo wolf and many endangered animals.

 The Rose Garden features 20 varieties of roses and over 200 rose bushes. I do like roses and they smelled so wonderful.

The Canadian Rock Garden was opened in 2001 and contains around 150 species of wild plants from North America.  The Alpine Plants Rock Garden was designed as a copy of habitat near the summit of Mt. Tomuraushi in central Hokkaido and was opened in 1938.  There are about 600 species of alpine plants typical of Hokkaido here.The Northern Peoples Ethnobotanical Garden has about 200 species of plants used by indigenous people from North East Asia in ways such as for clothing (weaving and dying); food; material for housing, utensils and other everyday objects; medicine; ritual and hunting. I’m not sure of which photos came from which of these three gardens or the walkways and don’t want to get it wrong, so they are all together.

If you are in Sapporo and it’s not winter, this is definitely a place to visit.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Word Search Puzzle

Last week I wasn’t convinced that the students would give adequate attention to their English assignment after being gone on a three day field trip and having assignments in all their other classes.  I was right, no one studied their vocabulary lists for the day. Because I thought that would be the case and because they needed to know these adjectives for the lesson on making comparisons, I made up this word search puzzle exercise. (If you google “free word search puzzle”, you can find the web site I used.  You type in the words you want to use and get a puzzle with the words at the bottom in alphabetical order).

Working in groups of four, they had to find all the words in the puzzle and make up sentences using each word. They could use their dictionaries and a sentence like “He is polite” wasn’t good enough.  They had to tell me what he does to make them think he is polite.  They confused the word “hospitable” for “hospital”, but otherwise did very well. They learned the vocabulary and I learned several things about the students.  I learned one is a talented tennis player and another is a talented guitarist. I already knew who was talkative and which one has a powerful voice.

A couple of weeks ago I met one of the other part time English teachers and we went out to lunch last week.  She came to Japan as a missionary and later became an English teacher in addition to her church responsibilities.  We compared notes on our classes and talked about other things.  I learned she moved here from a city in the midwestern US where I used to live.  Small world!  We are planning to get together again.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

As the Garden Grows

Our little farm continues to grow, but I have to say, it’s a good thing we aren’t dependent on this to put dinner on the table.  Our vegetables are growing slowly, but it’s all we can do to keep up with the weeds! As you can see from the plot on the right, weeds can take over if you don’t keep up with them.

Corn on the cob is kind of expensive in the grocery store so we hope these little plants grow big.

We planted the tiny lettuce and are looking forward to harvesting some salad.

Yes, he is sitting in the dirt while wearing white shorts.
The beans are doing well and have blooms already. 

 We have several little tomatoes growing on each plant.

How long does it take for tomatoes to get ripe?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ainu Museum

After leaving the Flower Festival we went to the grounds of the Hokkaido University Botanical Gardens, where the Ainu Museum is located.  The admission for the entire area is 400 yen per person.
The Ainu or Northern People’s Museum features “a display of valuable artifacts from the indigenous people of Hokkaido (including Ainu and Uilta). These were collected from around 1870 to 1930 (from Hokkaido’s colonization in the Mejii period to the early Showa period).” From the brochure.

There were some utilitarian and decorative items.

I was interested in the clothing, especially the embroidered pieces. It was displayed behind glass, so the photos aren’t as clear as my view when I was there.The detail looks to me like appliqué and decorative chain stitch. There were some cotton items and others made from elm fiber and nettle fiber.

There were also items made from birds and animals.

Our day was still not over.  After visiting the Ainu Museum, we continued around the grounds of the Botanical Gardens.  I’ll write about that soon.