Before departure, artists often have many questions about what to expect during their stay in Hokkaido. We have compiled some information and tips that may help you get the most from your Japan experience.
Hakodate is not as humid as the rest of Japan, and you can expect temperatures in the 20s, which should be comfortable. At night the temperature is typically 15 to 20 degrees.
It is possible that there may be cool days when you are here, so you may want to bring a light outer layer.
Arrival in Hakodate
For the smooth running of the festival, key WMDF organisers will always meet international artists on their arrival in town. For groups that arrive in Hakodate on Aug 4 or before, the Festival Director will usually lead the greeting party. At the least, there will also be a representative of the WMDF Secretariat, group guide, and driver. Hakodate’s transport terminals (airport, regular train station, Shinkansen station) are relatively small, with obvious single exits for each arrival, and we will have WMDF signs/flags right by the exit, so please be re-assured that there is no chance of missing each other. Please understand that since preparations are in progress, we limit the welcome party numbers. For group departure after the festival, however, there is often a large send-off party.
Contacting WMDF In An Emergency
For any difficulties you have on the way to our event, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We make sure to read our mail extremely often during this period.
After arrival you will be accompanied by Guides for all festival events, so we can help you directly.
For emergencies during off-time, the staff at group residences can communicate in some level of English and then contact us immediately in Japanese.
WMDF arranges (usually at the opening party) a meeting with the mayor or his representatives. This is an opportunity for each group leader to exchange greetings with our town’s officials. Since it is Japanese custom to give gifts to guests, the City will present you with something. If you would like to reciprocate, we hope that you will prepare something. Similarly, on stage on the final day, WMDF will present groups with certificates.
Gifts For WMDF Regular Audience
Some of our audience members attend every day of our festival (!) On the last day, we like to give them something as a “thank you”. In the past, we have given out WMDF goods, but after so many years, a lot of our audience have acquired quite a collection. This year, we are asking overseas artists to bring something that we can give away. There doesn’t have to be any large intrinsic value to the goods: some sweets, local-themed key holders, fridge magnets or mementos from the group’s home town. There are maybe a few hundred people each year who attend every day, so if each overseas group could bring 20-30 small items, we should have enough. Apologies for making you busy, but we would really appreciate any cooperation.
Other Small Gifts
You may find that you meet people along the way who you want to express gratitude to. It can be useful to have a supply of small things from your country that you can give away. Small denomination coins or even sweets can make the recipients very happy.
Logistics During Your Time in Hakodate
To ensure good communication and the smooth running of the festival, WMDF guides have daily face-to-face meetings with artists and the guides are also happy to field questions and to make clarifications during time spent together on festival activities. Our guides are always much appreciated by groups, so we hope you will be able to relax and enjoy your time here. Also, there will be message boards displayed in your accommodations. Please check them daily to confirm the news about our event each day.
Since guides are busy and need their phones to confirm logistics and exchange information with other festival staff and officials, please understand that our basic policy is for guides not to share their numbers with group members.
Credit cards are becoming more common in Japan, but we still advise you to bring some currency. There are ATMs in Hakodate that will accept cards from international banks. Especially, branches of the 7-11 convenience store are open 24 hours, and deal with international cards.
Japan Visitor has a helpful page with some example prices of goods in Japan and advice on finances. Note that you can change money in Hakodate, but generally you will get a better rate if you exchange in your home country, or at international airports en route to Hakodate.
It is always much easier to buy adapters suited to a country’s plugs in that country. So, if you have electrical goods that you want to bring with you to use here, and your country’s supply or plug shape is different to Japan, we recommend bringing adapters.
In Hakodate, the supply is 100V at 50 Hz. Japan uses “Type A” plugs, see this Electrical Outlet page.
There are many indoor areas in Japan where shoes are removed and slippers are required to be worn. If you have big feet, or just perfer comfortable slippers, we recommend you to bring your own pair.
Some Japanese Words
We hope that you will enjoy communication with many people in Hakodate. Here is WMDF’s top ten list of Japanese words/phrases that we think will be most useful during the Festival:
|Ohayo gozaimasu||Good morning (sometimes just “ohayou”)|
|Umai||Good/skillful/delicious (a very useful word!)|
|Sumimasen||I’m sorry/Excuse me (also used to ask for attention, eg, in a shop)|
|O-tsukare-sama desu||It’s a formula said to people who have been working hard. You will hear our staff say it very often… If you say it to them, they will be happy, we think!|