Image search results - "sobetsu-cho"
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The Yokozuna Kitanoumi Ki'nenkan or Memorial Hall looks like a miniature version of the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena in Tokyo. Although it's near Lake Toya, it's off the main tourist road. There is a bus stop nearby, but I rented a bicycle.
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Front of the Yokozuna Kitanoumi Memorial Hall, dedicated to Sobetsu's most famous son. Yokozuna Kitanoumi was one of sumo's greatest grand champions in modern times. "Kitanoumi" means "Lake of the North," and this refers to Lak
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Today, Kitanoumi is a stablemaster and the chairman of the Japan Sumo Association. The front entrance of the Yokozuna Kitanoumi Memorial Hall which opened in May 1991..
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Right outside the Yokozuna Kitanoumi Memorial Hall are sumo banners. From left to right, they read, "Kitanoumi Stable," "Yokozuna Kitanoumi Memorial Hall," and "Sobetsu History Museum."
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This is what you first see. Photos of Kitanoumi growing up in Sobetsu town. Looks like any ordinary kid. Admission is 250 yen for adults, 100 yen for kids. Open 9 am to 5 pm, closed Jan. 1.
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Little Kitanoumi. He was born in May 1953 in Sobetsu-cho town which includes the eastern shore of Lake Toya (Toyako). At age 13, he moved to Tokyo and entered the Mihogaseki Stable.
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Kitanoumi as a young sumo wrestler. Even as Ozeki, he already had the aura of a Yokozuna. He had an ideal sumo physique, quiet dignity, and awesome sumo technique and power. He was a shoo-in to be a yokozuna.
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In July 1974, he became the youngest sumo wrestler to be promoted to Yokozuna at age 21. His 18-year sumo career included 24 tournament championships.
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This is the main room of the Kitanoumi Memorial Hall. It includes half of a sumo ring (dohyo) with a mannequin.
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The sumo ring is not made of real dirt.
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Top row has miniature versions of the tournament champion portraits awarded to the wrestler and hung in the Ryogoku Kokugikan. Bottom row of photos show his best career moments.
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Some photos are captioned with memorable quotes by Kitanoumi.
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The mannequin is a slightly larger-than-life likeness of Yokozuna Kitanoumi performing the Yokozuna Dohyo-iri (ring-entering ceremony). Yokozuna Kitanoumi Memorial Hall, Sobetsu, Hokkaido
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Above is an actual tournament champion giant portrait which once hung in the Kokugikan.
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He is doing the Unryu-style dohyo-iri.
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It sort of looks like Kitanoumi...
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Actual-size ringside seats are also on display.
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It looks kind of strange without his two attendants, the sword bearer and dew sweeper...
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Kitanoumi's kesho mawashi set (ceremonial apron) on display.
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His Yokozuna "tsuna" rope belt.
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And some of his trophies. Besides the Emperor's Cup (not displayed), the tournament champion receives numerous trophies and awards from various organizations and countries.
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Kitanoumi-beya stable sign at top, and various award certificates.
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Award from Czechoslovakia in 1978.
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Scale model of a sumo drum tower
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Tournament champion portrait. Kitanoumi retired in Jan. 1985 and started his own Kitanoumi Stable. In 2002, he became chairman of the Japan Sumo Association. We missed Kitanoumi, but another great Yokozuna from Hokkaido, Chiyonofuji, filled the void.
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Photos of other tournament champions. Six official 15-day sumo tournaments are held every year in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Fukuoka.
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Referee costumes in the showcase.
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Sacred offerings buried in the dohyo before each tournament.
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The other half of the building is the Sobetsu History Museum. This panel shows how Lake Toya was formed.
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Typical abode of early Hokkaido settlers who first came to this area in 1879.
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Artifacts of early Hokkaido settlers.
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Artifacts from the defunct local Iburi rail line discontinued in 1986. There was a Sobetsu Station.
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Power generation machinery
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Natural history exhibit
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Local wildlife exhibit, including the Ezo deer.
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Kitanoumi souvenirs for sale.
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When I got to the museum, the parking lot was quite full. It seemed that the museum was really popular. But most of them were there to play at the miniature golf course next to the museum.
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Miniature golf course
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G8 Summit welcome sign near the museum.
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Road to Showa-Shinzan. That's the Showa-Shinzan Youth Hostel on the right. Best way to get to Showa-Shinzan is by bus from Toyako Onsen bus terminal.
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Buses from Toyako Onsen don't run very often, so check the bus timetable beforehand. I opted to rent a bicycle and rode to Showa-Shinzan. Unless you like to push a bicycle up a very long slope for about 30 min., take a bus.
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Distance-wise, Showa-Shinzan is not very far. But the killer slope will get you... At least the return bike ride was a thrill and very quick.
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After a long walk uphill with a bicycle, Showa-Shinzan is in sight. Showa-Shinzan is in the town of Sobetsu.
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There's a large parking lot full of tourists.
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Mt. Showa-Shinzan is a lava dome which arose in the middle of farm land in 1943-45. Lake Toya, Hokkaido.
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We cannot climb Showa-Shinzan.
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The closest we can go is this park at the foot.
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Statue of Masao Mimatsu, a post office worker who observed and documented the development of Showa-Shinzan. His records are valuable.
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Statue of Masao Mimatsu.
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Park at the foot of Showa-Shinzan which means "New Mountain of the Showa Period." Showa-Shinzan is adjacent to Mt. Usu.
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A tourist village called Kazan-mura (Volcano Village) has developed at the foot of Showa-Shinzan. 火山村
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Mt. Usu is on the left, Showa-Shinzan on the right. In the background is the conical Mt. Yotei. Between Usu and Showa-Shinzan is the tourist village and the Usuzan Ropeway terminal.
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Usuzan Ropeway terminal on the left.
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Usuzan Ropeway car holds over 100 people.
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Leaving the ropeway terminal.
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The ropeway distance is 1370 meters. It takes only 6 min. to reach Mt. Usu. The roundtrip ropeway fare is 1,450 yen for adults, 730 yen for kids.
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Showa-Shinzan gets smaller.
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Usuzan Ropeway, Lake Toya.
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View of Lake Toya from the ropeway car.
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View of Lake Toya from the ropeway car.
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Lookout deck on Mt. Usu, near the ropeway terminal.
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Toyako lookout deck on Mt. Usu, near the ropeway terminal. 洞爺湖展望台
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Lake Toya lookout deck on Mt. Usu, near the ropeway terminal. Showa-Shinzan clearly in sight. 洞爺湖展望台
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Mt. Showa-Shinzan as seen from Mt. Usu.
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Lake Toya's bald spot.
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Showa-Shinzan closeup. Still steaming.
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Lake Toya as seen from Mt. Usu.
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Lake Toya as seen from Mt. Usu.
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You can see the road (and youth hostel) where you turn right to reach Showa-Shinzan.
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Lava dome on Mt. Usuzan
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From the ropeway terminal is a path to another hill which has another lookout point.
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Alpine flowers
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Mt. Usu Crater lookout deck on the top of the hill. 有珠山火口原展望台
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Mt. Usu Crater lookout deck on the top of the hill. 有珠山火口原展望台
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This lookout point is for viewing the Ginnuma Crater.
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Lava dome on Mt. Usu. This volcano has erupted four times in the 20th century: 1910, 1943-45, 1977-78, and 2000 (on the west side called Nishiyama).
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Another hiking trail goes closer to Ginnuma Crater for a better view.
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Path to Ginnuma Crater
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Mt. Usu's Ginnuma Crater, one of the largest. It was created during the 1977 eruption. 銀沼大火口
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The hiking trail goes along the rim of Ginnuma Crater. Most people don't go that far. 銀沼大火口
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View of Date city and the ocean.
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During the last eruption in 2000, Toyako Onsen was damaged by the debris. But no one died because everyone had been evacuated. A series of tell-tale earthquakes prompted the evacuation.
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View of Showa-Shinzan and ropeway terminal.
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Heading back to the ropeway terminal.
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Ropeway terminal
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Ropeway terminal
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Going back down on the Usuzan Ropeway.
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The Usuzan Ropeway terminal has gift shops selling a variety of G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit merchandise. T-shirts, bags, candy, etc.
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This box of cookies show all the G8 Summit leaders bathing in a hot spring and scrubbing each other's backs. They also say, "Ii yu!" (great hot spring) which is pronounced "EU" as a pun.
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit merchandise: Pins
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit merchandise: T-shirts
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On the eastern shore of Lake Toya in Sobetsu town, there's an uphill road off the lakeside road. It goes up to Sobetsu Park, a hillside park full of plum trees.
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The road is too steep to ride a bicycle, but short enough to walk it. You will be sweating though.
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During early to mid-May, the plum blossoms bloom.
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Sobetsu Park gives great views of Lake Toya and the Nakajima islands.
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When I went in early May, it was a little too soon for the plum blossoms which were just beginning to bloom.
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Plum trees closer to the sun were blooming earlier.
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Sobetsu Park and plum blossoms overlooking Lake Toya, Hokkaido.
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Flowers on the ground.
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Picture-taking point
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At the top of the park's hill is a lookout deck. However, you can also walk on the slope and see the plum blossoms up close.
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Cherry blossoms at the top of Sobetsu Park.
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View of Mt. Usu and Showa-Shinzan (left) from Sobetsu Park.
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Cherry blossoms and plum tress. They bloom almost at the same time in Hokkaido.
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit welcome sign at Mt. Showa-Shinzan.
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit welcome sign at Usuzan Ropeway terminal.
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit welcome sign at Usuzan Ropeway terminal.
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The Usuzan Ropeway terminal has gift shops selling a variety of G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit merchandise. T-shirts, bags, candy, etc.
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This box of cookies show all the G8 Summit leaders bathing in a hot spring and scrubbing each other's backs. They also say, "Ii yu!" (great hot spring) which is pronounced "EU" as a pun.
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Sobetsu Town Hall with a G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit welcome sign. Sobetsu fronts the east shore of Lake Toya.
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit welcome sign in Sobetsu.
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If you want to bicycle around Lake Toya, do it in the counterclockwise direction from Toyako Onsen where you can rent a bicycle. It's easier slope-wise and you can see the lake better on the left side of the road.
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These pictures show what you will see when you cycle east from Toyako Onsen. I did it during cherry blossom time in early May. You can cycle around in 3 hours, but it took me all day due to sightseeing and shooting photos.
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Sculpture: 奥山喜生「回峰」 
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Cherry blossoms
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Sculpture: 中井延也「シグナル」  
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Cherry blossoms and sculpture
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It was pretty sunny, but I still used flash for this shot.
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Sculpture: 秋山沙走武「薫風」
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Sculpture: 秋山沙走武「薫風」
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Rocky shore
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Windsor Hotel in the distance.
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The water is very transparent.
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Cherry trees almost in full bloom.
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Cherry blossoms and the Nakajima islands.
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Swan boat too.
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Love this transparent water. Makes you feel like canoeing or kayaking to the Nakajima islands.
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Carp fish
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Carp, they must love this clean lake.
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Close-up of cherry blossoms. Doesn't look like the Somei-Yoshino type.
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Sculpture: 峯田敏郎「記念撮影五月のかたち」
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Sculpture: Posing for a Photo in May, by 峯田敏郎「記念撮影五月のかたち」
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One thing I like about photographing human-figure sculptures is that they are very good at keeping still for my camera.
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More cherry blossoms...
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Cherry blossoms and Lake Toya with the Nakajima islands.
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Toyako Enchi Park, a lakeside picnic area.
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Sculpture: Ripple Dance, by 関 正司「漣舞・リップル・ダンス」
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Sculpture in Toyako Enchi Park: Ripple Dance, by 関 正司「漣舞・リップル・ダンス」
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Nice cycling path goes quite far.
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Sculpture: Scene of a Portrait, by 湯川 隆「肖像のある風景」
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Sculpture: Scene of a Portrait, by 湯川 隆「肖像のある風景」
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Road to Mt. Showa-Shinzan.
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Steaming Mt. Showa-Shinzan. More photos of Mt. Showa-Shinzan here.
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Mt. Usuzan Ropeway. I visited Showa-Shinzan and Mt. Usu on the next day. More photos of Mt. Usu here.
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Aqua-blue water was almost like a tropical ocean...
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Finally, cherry blossoms near the lake water...
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Lake Toya and cherry blossoms. Shikotsu-Toya National Park
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Little island in the lake. Name unknown.
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Eastern Lake Toya, with Mt. Usu in the distance.
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Eastern Lake Toya, with Mt. Usu in the distance.
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Eastern Lake Toya, with pretty lake colors.
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View of Nakajima islands from eastern Lake Toya.
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I left the lakeside road and took a side trip to the center of Sobetsu town.
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This river leads to Sobetsu Falls.
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Sobetsu Falls, Lake Toya, Hokkaido.
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Sobetsu Town Hall with a G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit welcome sign.
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Beef
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The main reason for the side trip was this museum, the Yokozuna Kitanoumi Memorial Hall, dedicated to one of sumo's greatest grand champions. He was from Sobetsu.
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After pushing my bicycle up the long slope from central Sobetsu, I went back on the lakeside road and again went uphill to Sobetsu Park, famous for ume plum trees.
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Lakeside road on eastern Lake Toya.
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Passed by two small Shinto shrines...
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Another red torii.
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Arrows point downward to show where the road edge is, when there is deep snow.
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Kimundo-no-Ie Hot Spring and campsite.
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Kimundo-no-Ie Hot Spring and campsite office. You can bath in a hot spring for 390 yen here. Open 10 am - 9 pm. Closed Thu. Phone: 0142-66-7022 来夢人の家、仲洞爺湖温泉
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Sculpture at Kimundo-no-Ie: Spring Winds Blowing, by 熊谷紀子「春~風走る」
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Sculpture at Kimundo-no-Ie: Spring Winds Blowing, by 熊谷紀子「春~風走る」
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Sculpture at Kimundo-no-Ie: To the Shore in Summer, by 神田比呂子「夏~渚へ」
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Sculpture at Kimundo-no-Ie: All-Day Autumn, by 秋山知子「秋~終日」
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Sculpture at Kimundo-no-Ie: Winter: When Stars Fall, by 小野寺紀子「冬~星降る夜に」. A persistent problem is the bird droppings forming ugly white streaks on the pieces. Someone should clean it.
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More arrows point downward to show where the road edge is, when there is deep snow.
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View of the Nakajima islands from eastern Lake Toya.
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Swans along Lake Toya, Sobetsu, Hokkaido
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Swan nesting. Photos continue here as I head to northern Lake Toya...
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