Hokusei Gakuen University's Junior College
Kurt Ackermann is associate professor in the English department of Hokusei Gakuen University's junior college, located in Atsubetsu ward, Sapporo. His interests include tourism and environmental issues.
Dear Conference Delegates,
Welcome to Sapporo, “yokoso Sapporo e”, “Irankarapte!”
A very sincere welcome to Hokkaido from me, Kurt Ackermann, and Asia Research Association (ARA), the organizers of the 2020 Sapporo conferences.
Located centrally in Hokkaido, the northernmost main island of Japan, Sapporo is the prefecture's main gateway.
The Hokkaido Shinkansen began service from Aomori in Honshu to Hakodate in southern Hokkaido in 2016, but the majority of visitors to Hokkaido from overseas arrive through Sapporo and its airport located in nearby Chitose city. As the transportation and financial hub of Hokkaido, Sapporo attracts a wide variety of visitors, coming for tourism or business, though the global spread of COVID-19 has dealt a severe blow to tourism and it is difficult to predict when or if the situation will return to normal. Sapporo has a well-established transportation infrastructure adapted to its unique winter situation, giving it some of the widest streets in Japan once the snow has melted, which it certainly will have by August!
After the short spring has brought green to the city, temperatures rise and people like to get outside, to have barbeques, or to go to Odori Park, which runs from east to west through the center of the city. If you go up the TV Tower at the eastern most end of Odori, you can enjoy a view to the west that encompasses Odori Park and beyond, up to the large hill ski jump located at Okurayama. Along with several other winter sports facilities in Sapporo, this ski jump hill was used in the 1972 winter Olympics, the 2007 Nordic World Ski Championships, and the 2017 Asian Winter Games. There is an observatory located here, from where you can look back in the opposite direction down to the TV Tower. Next to the ski jump you will also find the Sapporo Olympic Museum, where you can learn more about winter sports and even try a ski jumping simulator! The experience may very well convince you to return someday in winter to actually try sports such as downhill skiing or snowboarding. In Sapporo, the possibilities for such winter sports are almost limitless.
Although by August in Sapporo the cherry blossoms will have long since fluttered to the ground the following places for which they are famous, are also pleasant to visit in the summer: the former Hokkaido Government Office, Maruyama Park and Hokkaido Jingu (shrine), the Sapporo Beer Museum, and Moerenuma Park, which is well known for having been designed by Japanese American artist and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi.
Hokkaido is also famous in Japan for the quality and variety of its food, and Sapporo has more than its fair share of treats for your palette. Seafood is famous, of course, but Sapporo also introduced 'soup curry' to the world and now a delicacy to close out busy evenings, called shimé parfait, is a popular Sapporo culinary innovation.
Sapporo is a city developed with the input of people from all across Japan, who gathered in Hokkaido for various reasons. One of the things I like so much about Asia Research Association organized conferences is the diversity, both of the fields represented in the presentations and of the participants themselves. It can be very refreshing to attend a presentation from another field to allow us to reconsider our perspectives and have the opportunity to be exposed to different ideas and ways of thinking. I strongly recommend all participants to attend at least one seemingly unrelated presentation, you might be surprised at what you learn and the new contacts that you make.
Enjoy this opportunity to both share your research and experience Hokkaido.