Monday, April 22, 2013

Pirka Kotan Tour

My Japanese teacher told me about a free bus tour sponsored by the Teine Rotary Club and the Sapporo International Communication Plaza for foreign nationals to visit Pirka Kotan, the Ainu Culture Center and onsen.  There were only 20 spaces and a lottery would be held to determine who could go on the trip.  There were 80 applicants and Ted and I were chosen to be among the 20 to go! We were quite excited to be chosen, but as with most things really didn’t know what it was we were doing until we were doing it.

There were five Americans, Ted and me, Jamie from my Japanese class and her husband, and a woman we met on the trip who is from Hawaii, among the group of 20 foreigners. The group of 20 Japanese Rotarians and 20 foreigners met at the International Plaza across the street from the famous Sapporo Clock Tower to catch the bus.

The big group was divided in two when we arrived at Pirka Kotan and each group was given a tour of the Center. Our Ainu guide spoke in Japanese and one of the Japanese staff members from the International Center translated his words into English. The exhibition area was a hands-on museum with everything Ainu from clothing to tools to boats.

Outdoors, there were several Ainu houses and we went inside one of them.

After both groups had seen the inside and outside areas, we met in the auditorium and were treated to Ainu music and dance. The traditional instruments were first demonstrated, then more modern Ainu music was played.

Lunch was incredible.  Each person received this two layer treasure box of a Japanese bento lunch, filled with all Japanese traditional food, plus miso soup, soba noodles, and dessert.

After lunch, those who wanted to go to the onsen (us!) did and those who didn’t could go back to the exhibit area. Snow fell while we were in the outdoor onsen area. The water temperature was 42 C and snow was falling on us! After the onsen time, we met back in the room where we ate lunch and people could talk more or exchange business cards or email addresses.  Before getting on the bus, there was time for more photos, then we headed back to the International Plaza.


Ted was a big hit with the Rotarians

We really had a good day.  I was able to get to know my classmates better and we met and talked with many interesting people, plus experience the Ainu Cultural Center and onsen. A big thank you to the Teine Rotary Club and SICPF!


Emilio Fernandez said...

Good morning how are you?

My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because trough them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

For all this I would ask you one small favor:
Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Japan? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Japan in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

Emilio Fernandez Esteban
Avenida Juan de la Cierva, 44
28903 Getafe (Madrid)

If you wish, you can visit my blog where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

Yours Sincerely

Emilio Fernandez

Pamela said...

A letter is on its way to you.

Margaret said...

What an enjoyable visit. The Ainu textiles are fascinating and primitive. I went to the Shiraoi Ainu Village many times when I lived in Tomakomai and even then was fascinated with the variety - their designs are similar to our Maori ones here. But the colours are different.