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Pre-Departure Advice For Groups

We have compiled some tips that may help groups to make their experience more smooth and rewarding. We hope you will find this information useful.


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.


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.


Credit cards are becoming more common in Japan, but we still advise you to bring some currency. 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.

Arigatou Party

In 2011, we lost the last day of the Festival to a typhoon. The artists scheduled to perform kindly agreed to give a private concert for our staff instead. It was the first time in four years that some of our staff had the chance to relax and enjoy the performances. We liked it so much that we decided to continue the tradition. So, we hope that each group can perform something at the "Arigatou" Staff Concert/Farewell Party on the last day. We would like to share the cultures or traditions of the participating countries, so we are also happy if groups lead us all in an enjoyable activity.

Gift Exchange

At some point, WMDF arranges a meeting with the mayor or his representatives. We would like to give each group leader the opportunity to exchange grretings with him. Since it is Japanese custom to give gifts to guests, the mayor will present you with something. If you would like to reciprocate, we hope that you will prepare something. Similarly, at the final Staff Concert, the WMDF Committee will also present each group with some gifts and certificates.

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.

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")
Konnichiwa Hello/Good afternoon
Konbanwa Good evening
Sayonara Goodbye
Arigatou Thank you
Umai Good/skillful/delicious (a very useful word!)
Sugoi Great/Wonderful
Kirei Beautiful
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!

Interested in Performing?

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Volunteer Staff