The Wikipedia Town Shibetsu (ウィキペディアタウン士別) was held on 21 May 2023 in Shibetsu, Hokkaido, Japan. Hokkaido is the second largest island in Japan after Honshu. Of these, Shibetsu City is located in the northern part of Hokkaido, about an hour by car from the nearest airport, Asahikawa Airport. Shibetsu City is famous for sheep farming.
The city of Shibetsu is the birthplace of user:Saebou. Preparations for the event, such as scheduling, choosing a venue, selecting possible subject matters of articles, and accommodation arrangements, were made a few months before, with a local committee organised there, including people with a deep knowledge of cultural heritage and people from the local administration. The local Shibetsu City Board of Education, Shibetsu Tourist Association and Dohoku Nippo supported the event in various ways. In addition, the Wikimedia Foundation’s rapid grants were used to cover the holding costs in every way.
After the press release made one month before the event, it was picked up by the Hokkaido Shimbun and the Dohoku Nippo newspaper, which made the organisers surprised at the impact of the event.
On the day before the event, several Wikipedians visited the local library in the afternoon to conduct preliminary research. That evening, a party was held as a meeting for the following day, attended by those involved in the organising committee, and ‘Jingisukan’, mutton barbecue was served. The party was held at the ‘Shepherd’s House’ restaurant on ‘Sheep and Cloud Hill’, not far from downtown Shibetsu, where the participants ate Jingisukan. Lamb from Shibetsu, which even the locals rarely eat, was prepared for the party and everyone tasted it. Pictures taken on the day were also published in articles of ‘Shibetsu City’ and ‘Jingisukan’ the following day.
On the day of the event, nearly 30 participants gathered at the venue. After an explanation about Wikipedia Town, its significance, the role it plays in the community and its effects, given by Saebou, the participants moved towards the ‘Asahi Sunrise Hall’.
At the Asahi Sunrise Hall, we spoke to the staff member, who has been involved in the project since its inception. One of the most interesting points was that ‘The theatre does not only invite people to the theatre but it goes out. We are expanding to schools, etc.’ and “For 30 years, we have been constantly trying things out. It is important to have a budget, but it is the PEOPLE who make the theatre, and the character of the theatre is determined by the people who manage it”. I was reminded that the same is true for any community, and that comfortable and active management are still required. Inside the facility, there is an ‘Ikoi no Hiroba’, which exhibits the nature, flora and fauna, and daily life of Asahi-cho, and this space was set up in such a way that it looked like a folklore exhibition in a museum.
After an hour’s stay, the group visited the World Sheep Museum on Sheep and Clouds Hill. There, a wide variety of sheep from all over the world are kept. The participants played with the sheep in their own way and observed the actual spinning of wool in the workshop beyond.
After lunch, participants returned to the venue and were divided according to the subject matters to write and worked under the guidance of Wikipedians. The mode of participation varied from person to person, with some actually writing articles using their own computers, while others did not go as far as editing, but studied the material with great enthusiasm, which is probably the charm of Wikipedia Town.
Alioto, who was on the staff side, reflects on the writing of the group he was in charge of, Asahi Sunrise Hall.
This time, I was able to listen to the people involved in the project on site. Since articles are written based on literature, these stories themselves cannot be reflected in the articles, but I felt that listening to them gave us prior knowledge and made writing easier in some aspects.
As for the writing process, each person was assigned a responsibility to write the article. The students were able to experience the real thrill (?) of writing, such as the fact that the contents of the article differed depending on the literature, and that there were some literature that were not so clear as to whether they could be used as sources or not. The participants were able to experience the real thrill (?) of writing. It was a tough task, but the participants worked diligently to find the missing references by themselves. Since I don’t know anything about local stories, I was often asked to learn from them. Thanks to them, I was able to produce good articles. The history of the article makes it look like I did very little; in fact, there are very few parts I wrote.Comment by Alioto
The author himself added an article on the Shibetsu Track. As the name suggests, Shibetsu Track operated a railroad line running through the city until 1959. The company had caught my attention when I did some light research on the railroad situation in and around Shibetsu. The article was judged to be reasonably substantial. However, we decided that we could add a few sources of information from company histories, local magazines, and PR magazines that we discovered when we visited the library the day before the event, and we were able to add them while giving individual lectures to everyone on the day.
First, we asked a Hokkaido resident, a fugitive, about her role and the atmosphere of the event.
As table facilitator, I was in charge of “Sheep and Clouds Hill”. Fortunately, we were able to decide in advance what to write in the article, so each table member was assigned a role and asked to write. We were sometimes asked about grammatical guidelines (e.g., full-width and half-width characters, use of Japanese and Western dates, etc.), but since there was no limit to the number of questions we could answer, we decided to write the article first, thinking that minor corrections could be made later. We are not accustomed to other people’s PC environments and the operation of visual editors, and we had to ask for help from other Wikipedians, so we are left with some regrets. Nevertheless, the library has a good collection of materials, and everyone wrote well in the limited time available, which was very helpful.
I had prepared “sahocchi” as a subject I wanted to write about myself, but I decided to concentrate on being a facilitator this time, so I wrote it up and submitted it just before the writing time started on the day of the event.Comment by Tobosha
I also asked a participant, Kita-Subaru, what he thought of the event.
I had heard about Wikipedia Town six years ago at a breakout session of the 59th Hokkaido Library Congress, where I heard reports by Mr. Kawamura of Hokkaido University and Mr. Yamagata of Morimachi, but this was my first time actually writing an article about Wikipedia Town. So, when I was invited, I decided to attend this meeting, even though my other plans overlapped.
As a non-resident of Shibetsu, I was afraid to go to the meeting because I did not know many people there, but the venue was already lively even before the meeting started. Thanks to the participation and guidance of veteran Wikipedians from Tokyo, Chiba, and other cities, we were able to get under way even though we were all new to this.
First, we visited “Asahi Sunrise Hall” and “Hill of Sheep and Clouds,” where all participants wrote articles. After returning to the venue, we were taught how to write Wikipedia articles, the rules, etc. We were divided into groups for the articles we wanted to write, and each group worked on their own articles until the time was up, while staring at references and materials. The process of writing an article was like searching for literature before writing an article, and I thought it would be useful for referencing in my work. Although it was a short time, it was both difficult and fun, and I learned how amazing Wikipedians are, how Wikipedia works, and that Wikipedia is collective knowledge, which changed my perspective a little.
After participating in the library conference six years ago, I suggested to one of the committees of the city where I live that we should try something like “Kiroku-no-Kioku” in Morimachi, although it is not a Wikipedia Town, but it was not taken up. I am very happy that Shibetsu City has become the northernmost Wikipedia Town in Japan.Comment by Kita-Subaru
After the closing dinner, “TEN Cider” appeared on the table. The cider, an original product created to be one of the region’s specialties, was a source of great interest in its packaging, and the fugitive was quick to respond to this. He immediately searched Wikipedia to see if there was an article about it, and searched for material that could be made into an article. The time passed quickly. Everyone there had one more thing to look forward to: the thought that they would be able to look up more material after we broke up the next day.
The final articles edited during the day were the following items
- Sheep and cloud hill
- Asahi sunrise hall
- Nobuko Koike
- Hokkaido Shibetsu High School
- Shibetsu City Museum
- Katsumi Sakurai
- Shibetsu city
- Shibetsu Kidō
- Okuno Koshirō
- Junjirō Kitamura
The next morning, as each of us proceeded with our own preparations for departure, we were all surprised to hear from the fugitives that they had added photos to the “sahocchi” article and that they had published the “TEN cider” article. Apparently, such work was being done at a time when everyone around us was resting. I asked him how he had done the research when the library was closed. He told me that he had used “G-Search,” one of the largest business database services in Japan, to conduct the research. This database is available for personal use and contains many newspaper articles published in Japan.
The fugitive said, “I had already researched the possibility of photographing Sahocchi at a manhole at a roadside station in Shibetsu City, and was fortunate that the roadside station was within walking distance from the inn and that the rain on the day of the event had stopped by the next morning, so I took the picture in the morning. When I said at dinner that I wanted to write “Heavenly Cider,” I was half in jest, half in alcohol. But when I did some research the next morning, I found out that not only was it a local specialty, but that local high school students were involved in its development, which was very interesting and I wrote it in about two hours.” He said.
After preparing for departure, the group stopped by a roadside station in the city center, which was established in May 2021 and stands at the intersection of Route 40, which runs through northern Hokkaido from Asahikawa to Wakkanai, and Route 239, which crosses Hokkaido from Abashiri on the Okhotsk Sea coast to Rumoi on the Sea of Japan. After checking out all of Shibetsu’s products, I bought a clear file with a design of a bus of Shibetsu Railroad.
Yoju-san said, “From the beginning, I was thinking about food ingredients or seasonings as souvenirs. When he stopped here, he looked around for the ingredients and seasonings he wanted, and then, considering the weight restrictions for the return flight, he chose “Hokkaido beet oligosaccharide,” a lightweight seasoning, as a souvenir. This is oligosaccharide made from sugar beet, a specialty of Hokkaido, and I had never seen it in Honshu,” he told us the reason for his choice.
Finally, we asked the Wikipedians who participated with us what they thought of the event.
Since I had come all the way to Hokkaido, I decided to try some good food. First, I had a ramen and curry set at the Ekimae Ryokan in Kenbuchi, a local specialty restaurant with a good reputation that I had researched in advance. This was my first taste of Asahikawa ramen, and it was delicious! Next was a berry berry parfait at Meimu, which is known for its delicious parfait in Shibetsu, as told to me by Saebo! I was very satisfied with the quantity and taste, but what is worth mentioning is that both the parfait and the restaurant have the same Showa-era atmosphere! I really wish there was a store like this nearby.
On the day before Wikipedia Town, we had a preliminary tour of the library and other facilities. Wikipedians are serious – everyone was doing a lot of work in front of local materials. What personally caught my attention was the prominence of materials related to tanka poetry associations. I have added an article on [[Fumiko Nakashiro]], who is known to have been active in a tanka poetry association in Obihiro, so I am interested in the state of tanka poetry associations in Hokkaido. According to local residents, it seems that tanka tanka associations were also active in Shibetsu as a regional characteristic. I am interested in whether this is a regional characteristic of Hokkaido as a whole.
On the day, I worked exclusively on an article about the Soshin-no-matsu (Ancestral Pine). As a yew tree with the second thickest trunk in Japan, there was no problem with its noteworthiness, but we were not able to gather as many references as we would have liked, including on the day of the event. I think it would have been more substantial if we had more information on the circumstances of the discovery or more specific information on the preservation project. I also regret that we were not able to conduct on-site interviews because brown bears were spotted in the area. After the event, Mr. Swanee, a leading authority on arboreal articles, made some substantial additions to the report. We would like to take this opportunity to thank him. The local residents who participated in the event were enthusiastic about the work. Overall, a good article was erected, and the addition of additions and photos was well-deserved. I hope that some of the participants will continue to be involved in editing Wikipedia. Finally, I would like to thank everyone at the Shibetsu City Library, the Executive Committee, the Shibetsu Board of Education, the Shibetsu Tourist Association, and The Dohoku Nippo for their support.Comment by Norimaki
Last fall, I made a U-turn and moved from Yokohama to my hometown Otaru, and I am the only Wikipedian from Hokkaido to participate in this event. When I was invited to participate, I accepted the invitation simply because we were both in Hokkaido, but it was my first time to go to Shibetsu. It takes 4.5 hours from Otaru to Shibetsu by train. It is about the same time as the time required for a return trip from Yokohama to Otaru. Although there is a difference between overland and air travel, Hokkaido is still a big place (smiles).
As a Hokkaido native, I did not think Jingisukan was a special dish, but I changed my mind in Shibetsu. Jingisukan in Shibetsu is really delicious, and I would like to visit again. Speaking of Hokkaido’s gourmet food, I was actually planning to visit Asahikawa, which is located between Otaru and Shibetsu, to photograph and write about the famous “Asahikawa Shoyu Yakisoba” (fried noodles with soy sauce), but I regret that I could not get off the train at Asahikawa because I found out on the day that my JR ticket did not allow me to get off at the stopover.
When I visited the library the day before the event, I was so engrossed in researching local Hokkaido magazines and Ainu materials that I made sure to make copies of them (lol). I have been writing articles about my hometown of Hokkaido since I was living in Yokohama, but this trip to Shibetsu made me realize that there is still much more to Hokkaido that I do not know about its history and charms, that I need to work even harder in the future, and that there is still room to add to the articles I have written so far.
I would like to express my sincere appreciation to everyone who was involved in organizing the event, to the participants, and to everyone who cooperated in any way. Thank you very much.Comment by Tobosha
Hokkaido has always been a favorite place of mine, but it had been 23 years since I had actually landed there.
In Wikipedia Town, I added an entry for “Shusanto Incident” to the “Kitamura Junjiro” article. This was due to my interest in the issue from the fact that I am a specialist in historical studies, and also because I had heard from Saebou-san, who is a grandson of Mr. Kitamura that Wikipedia still does not reflect the “Jucheito Incident” in its article.
The “Shusan Party Incident” has left traces in various parts of Hokkaido, as the parent organization of the party was formed in Nayoro and party members were arrested in Wakkanai, so we have focused on the relationship between Mr. Kitamura and this incident and added it as an entry. However, through this Wikipedia Town, we have learned that there are still materials related to Mr. Kitamura in Shibetsu, and materials related to this case in various places that were key points in the case. Lastly, I would like to note that the participants, who were fortunate enough to have been helped by Mr. Kitamura before his death, not only enjoyed the opportunity to learn about him directly from him, but were also very pleased that we chose to include his article as an addition to this report. In this way, I felt the essence of the Wikipedia Town project to enhance local articles based on local materials.Comment by Yoju
After the event, two newspapers, the Hokkaido Shimbun and the Dohoku Nippo, picked up the story.
- Hokkaido Shimbun, “Writing ‘Wiki’ to introduce Shibetsu: New articles including ‘Sahocchi’ at the workshop,” May 23, 2023.
- The Hokkaido Nippo, “Wikipedia Town Shibetsu 2023 – 6 new articles launched,” May 23, 2023
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, we were able to use a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation for this event. We would like to take this opportunity to thank them again.
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