Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Tenguyama Slide - The Sled Ride on the Summit of Mt. Tengu @ Otaru [Hokkaido, Japan]

The combo ticket we purchased for Mt. Tengu included a two-way trip on the ropeway, a pack of sunflower seeds for the chipmunk, the votive tablet for the long-nosed goblin and lastly, a one-time ride for Tenguyama slide; latter of which we shall be covering today! 

An upward climb of about 250 meters appeared daunting at first but the motorized mechanism pulling the sleds shall make your "job" much easier; just rest and relax under the hot sun. 

Instructions on how to operate the sled which i thought was pretty similar to the luge ride we have on Sentosa Island in Singapore

Visualization for better reference with further information on the ride; the English translation is pretty funny. For example, the drunk one cannot take it. 

With just a lever in the middle, i didn't think it would be much of a hassle to operate the sled; push forward to accelerate, pull backward to brake. Chicken feet in my opinion and you can see many kids giving it a try. 

My turn - the worker shall ensure a safe distance between riders by placing his foot on your sled before allowing it to cross the red line to join the rest. 

Here's the climb up the 250-meter slope! 

Big boards along the way shall act as kind reminder on what you should do and since you have literally nothing to do, it's very to your face. 

No English translation and i am guessing there are woodpeckers on the 680-meter tall mountain.

Halfway up the slope - the ride was said to take 5 minutes and i did a check; the climb up the slope was about 4 minutes which means the actual "slide" was a minute or less.

I think it's an eagle.

Boredom had set in at this time and i was just taking useless pictures (like the above of a dead bug) while complaining about the hot weather that was actually making me sweat! 

This will be the spot where gravity shall give us the much awaited thrill; however, safety comes first and the advice, according to the board, was to pull down the lever so that you don't go too fast!

Down we slide! Aside from having the wind brushing against my face on this sunny day, riders would be guaranteed a view of Otaru.

As the speed can reach up to 40 kilometers an hour and you might be unlucky to have a scared rider ahead of you who decided to slide down slowly; do be mindful of what's ahead of you and brake accordingly to prevent an accident.

Important notice - the last 20 meters and braking is NECESSARY! 

I had stepped out from my sled and guessed it might be useful to show you how the last leg of the ride looked like. Right behind me was Alex by the way.

Look at the joy on his face and you can roughly gauge that the 1-minute slide was fun! 


Summit of Mt. Tengu,
Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan


Combo Pricing
Part of Our Combo Ticket which cost 1,800 yen an adult

Ala Carte Pricing
400 yen - 1 ride for adult
1,800 yen - 5 rides 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Tenguyama Shrine (天狗山神社), Dragon God Shrine & Statue of a Shinto Priest @ Mt. Tengu in Otaru [Hokkaido, Japan]

You would not need to search around for directions to the Tenguyama Shrine as it's super near the long nosed goblin head statue; literally a few footsteps away.

Anyway, you would not have missed the white flags lining the path towards the shrine. I find the usage of the white color intriguing as China, Japan's neighbor in the far east, prefers bright colors and only dons white in funerals.

The iconic structure denoting a shrine's entrance! I recognize the Chinese characters on one of its pillars; 昭和57年 which means this Japanese temple was completed in 1982.

A simple introduction to the Tenguyama Shrine.

I think i have mentioned this countless times; Japanese shrines generally don't appeal to me. Friends who have been to Japan countless times (e.g. the Great Kon) said i just haven't been to the really good ones.

To a certain extent, i do agree even though in general, Japanese shrines have plain decoration that tends to fuse with nature and the general atmosphere is quieter and more peaceful than its Chinese counterparts.

In case you are mistaken, as i was, this shrine doesn't honour the tengu which is a creature and not a deity; the patron saint for tenguyama shrine is Sarutahiko.

The money box for your donations! According to the introduction, praying to Sarutahiko is said to aid in prosperous business and smooth traffic.

To the left of tenguyama shrine is another shrine even though i couldn't find any information about it on the official brochure and website.

The last two Chinese characters (赤沼龍神) translate into dragon god.

I am always curious about what's inside the 'house' that's in the Shinto shrines. For Chinese, the statues would always act as a relatable vessel for devotees to pray to.

Another stone tablet was erected behind the shrine; can't recognize the words though.

There's no money box but devotees continued to place coins in hope for their wishes to come true. 100 yen is about S$1.20 and as you can see, that's a lot of 100 yen coins out in the open!

On the left of dragon god shrine is the statue of a monk.

Again no information and the four Chinese characters offered scant information except that it's a Shinto priest. Speaking of Shinto priest, i once had a strange encounter with one in Singapore at Clementi MRT station.

I was studying in Singapore Polytechnic then and i was on my way up the escalator and when i reached the platform, the Shinto priest just threw his string of prayer beads at me and pulled it back immediately. He murmured a few words of prayers and continued his way while my feet remained glued to the ground; shocked and not knowing if there's any ominous aura around me.

Nothing happened to me; not that i recall as it's almost 20 years ago! Anyway, there was this line of smaller stone statues on the side leading up to the statue.

Quite interesting even though i still don't know their origins.

This boulder didn't suggest anything and i can vaguely make out two words; life umbrella. If the first character is save, then it would be interesting as it would mean save-life umbrella. And there's no brolly from where i see.


Summit of Mt Tengu,
Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan

Location Map

As above.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Chinese New Year Decorations for the Dog Year at Chinatown [Singapore]

I am contemplating a revisit to Chinatown maybe next week to take more photographs of the Lunar New Year decorations as the session i planned last Friday was marred by the afternoon thunderstorm!

In the meantime, i am not going to waste those pictures taken last Friday and thought it's better for me to publish them today. p.s. there's a slim possibility that i might not return if my full-time work continues to bog me down.

Focus is always on the main, 11-meter tall, centerpiece in between Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road and as it is the year of the canine, let us present to you the family of six dogs!

There has been a bit of controversy over this year's centerpiece; not seem since the chicken year in 2005 when the rooster was sitting on a bed of eggs.

Aside from the position of the alpha male, which was said to appear as if it's humping the mama dog from a certain angle, it's the expression that many Chinese took issue with.

Many commented that the dogs look like foxes and the expression was too 'fierce'; latter of which isn't appropriate for the happy occasion known as the most important festival among the Chinese.

I share the same sentiments although i viewed the controversies positively; at least it gets people to talk about it and for the designing team to be more mindful of the wires in the future. Personally, i thought they could have been more adventurous with the colours.

Colours for the 88 hand-crafted canine lanterns, i meant, and maybe various breeds in the mix to differentiate from one another.

From this angle, it appeared as if there was a pack of dogs waiting to chase the passing cars! I wouldn't be surprised if a driver, who is scared of dogs, braking suddenly when he/she drives past.

Taken further down the street, away from the centerpiece; in total, there are 2,188 lanterns purposely handcrafted for the street light up at Chinatown and "powered by around 13,000 environmentally friendly LED light bulbs", according to the article on Straits Times.

Hanging decorations along Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road, respectively. The use of pineapples was because of its similar pronunciation to two other Chinese words; the dog's bark and prosperity.

The stage for yesterday's opening ceremony.

Time to check out the street bazaar but before then, let's check out the queue at Chinatown's most popular bak kwa store; Lim Chee Guan! Queue was manageable at about 20-person long and pricing wise, the signature sliced pork bak kwa was selling at S$56 a kilogram as of 26 January 2018.

Street bazaar with over 400 stalls that run across a few main streets in Chinatown! As you can see, the floor was wet and that's no thanks to the light drizzle that eventually turned into heavy rain! :(

It's a bummer as many stall owners had no choice but to cover their wares with plastic sheets / curtains to prevent water damage.

Taking photo wasn't easy as i needed to protect my camera too! As business is dependent heavily on the weather, i hope the weather in the next few weeks would be better with minimal rain.

Didn't help that some of the streets were still open to traffic and in addition to the danger of being hit by a car, there's the risk of having water splashed onto you!

The above wasn't covered as the pomelos would benefit from the water!

Cross junction of Smith Street and Trengganu Street with the iconic building that's always featured on my CNY festive decoration postings.

Dog statues for one to take picture with.

Has there been a renovation? Trengganu Street seems much wider than before although i figured it would not address the issue of human jams in the run up to Chinese New Year's eve.

Taiwanese jellies and samples!

Bored with standard festive decorations for your home? Check out those with LED lights and sound. Thankfully, i am super lazy when it comes to decorating and have no interest to adorn my house.

S$38 for one?!

The irritating dancing dogs. On second thought, they would not be as bad as the shrills and screams coming from the chicken toy!

Started raining really bad and my mood was all gone since i specifically took leave that day to cover the new year decorations.

Many people were just holding on to their brollies and like me, praying for the rain to stop so that we can continue to roam the street without having to get wet.

Dog lanterns for the year on top of a store's awning - i thought it's nice to have them all around Chinatown instead of being restricted to zones.

Things improved nearing 6.00 pm but i honestly didn't have the enthusiasm to continue the photo-taking as i would be meeting my friends for dinner and i think the stall owners were worried that the rain might start again; hence, their products were still covered up.


Chinatown, Singapore