In Japan, every season provides fresh incentive to celebrate nature. Hokkaido winter is of course synonymous with the famous Sapporo Snow Festival; spring heralds cherry blossoms; summer is perfect for beach barbecues; and fall brings the changing leaves.

 

Despite my futile wish for mild weather to continue indefinitely, autumn has quickly swept over the prefecture, and as the temperature drops, we may as well warm our spirits with the beauty outside.

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When my parents visited me in early October, I showed them around Sapporo, one day whisking them through Maruyama Park to the grand, 140+ year old Hokkaido Shrine.
I had visited the shrine in every other season, but I didn’t expect that fall would be my favorite. The lush forest surrounding the main shrine turned all shades of yellow, red, brown and green, and dusk gave the landscape a mysterious glow.

Although we visited just before closing time at 5pm, there was still much to see, including the beginning of a wedding procession, and some adorable children making their shichigosan* shrine visit in traditional clothing. Not to mention there are food stalls along the main road, and a Rokkatei tea room for your sweets craving!

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Hokkaido Shrine and Maruyama Park are well-publicized destinations within the city, but I think it never hurts to appreciate them anew. They are only a few minutes’ subway ride from Odori Park, yet once you arrive, you feel as if you’ve entered a calm woodland sanctuary. I suggest stopping by soon if you wish to glimpse the colorful leaves before they fall and snow covers the shrine. That said, no matter what time of year you visit, there’s always something to enjoy.
* Shichigosan is a celebration for children who turn seven (shichi), five (go), or three (san) years old. Typically a mid-November event, it is observed as early as October in Hokkaido.

紅葉の北海道神宮

日本では、季節ごとに自然を楽しむ習慣があります。北海道の冬では、札幌雪まつりが有名です。春は桜。夏は海水浴場でバーベキュー。そして秋には紅葉を楽しむのです。

 

穏やかな気候がずっと続いて欲しい。。。という私の切実な願いに反して、秋がすぐに押し寄せてきた。寒くなってくると気温は下がるけれど、美しい秋景色が私たちの心を温めてくれる。

 

私の両親が10月初旬に来た時に、札幌を案内して、円山公園を通り140年以上経つ北海道神宮に行きました。私は季節ごとに神社を訪れますが、秋の神社が好きになるとは思っても見なかった。本殿を囲む新緑あふれる森は黄色、赤、茶色と緑のすべての色合いに変わり、そして夕暮れは、風景を神秘的に輝かせていた。神社が閉まる午後5時前に来ましたが、結婚式や、七五三に来た着物の子供の姿が見られました。道沿いには出店があり、六花亭の茶屋もあります。

 

北海道神宮円山公園は良く知られた観光地ですが、見に行ってもがっかりすることはありません。大通公園から地下鉄で数分の場所と近く、到着するとその穏やかな森の聖域に入ったと感じるでしょう。その色鮮やかな紅葉を雪が神社を包む前に見て欲しい。それは北海道神宮が一年を通じて訪問を楽しむことが出来ることを意味している。