Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Anne of Canadian World, 芦別 (Ashibetsu)
And I thought I had left Canada behind. It turns out I was wrong. A little piece of Canada lives right here in Hokkaido. At least once a year as a probable tax write-off. Complete with gaijin dressed as Anne Shirley and Diana Barry (Gilbert Blythe was nowhere to be found), several punk rock bands, a merry go round and a train (one of these things is not like the other!).
Ashibetsu is the sister city of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. So naturally, an Anne of Green Gables theme park was required. The park itself is actually quite lovely, once you get past the haunted amusement park feeling. The whole town has kind of a haunted (or at least abandoned) amusement park feel to it. During the bubble, to attract tourism to this out of the way city, they built not only Anne of Canadian World, but also a giant buddha statue, a large suspension bridge, and even a monorail (it sure put them on the map!). No, the monorail isn't open for business either.
Yes, the biggest reason I went to Ashibetsu was to heckle my friends in their pinafores. I also went to participate in the pumpkin festival. That was a really great event -- a group of ALTs came in and assisted with pumpkin carving, pumpkin bowling, face painting and a costume contest. The town bought us lunch and dinner, and the local ALTs gave us a place to crash. All in all it was a good long weekend.