日本での一年間

March 9, 2009

Return to Tokyo

Filed under: Domestic, Hokkaido, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 3:56 am

A couple of pictures from my return back to Tokyo.

In the airplane. We flew with a discount airline called Airdo.

In the airplane. We flew with a discount airline called Airdo.

Another picture from inside the plane

Another picture from inside the plane

The view out the window as the sun went down over Japan

The view out the window as the sun went down over Japan

Floating above the clouds

Floating above the clouds

March 8, 2009

A Bit More of the Otaru Orgel Museum

Filed under: Domestic, Hokkaido, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 4:32 am

Here are a few more picture from the Otaru Orgel Museum. I believe the museum might be the world’s largest music box store.

Looking at the main floor of the main bulding of the Orgel museum

Looking at the main floor of the main building of the Orgel museum

Just outside the museum, a clock begins to chime and tourists flock around it to take pictures to document this moment. Very Japanese to take excessive pictures like that.

Just outside the museum, a clock begins to chime and tourists flock around it to take pictures to document this moment. Very Japanese to take excessive pictures like that.

And if the picture of the clock tower isnt enough, you can get an additional souvenir by buying a Mini Clock Tower Music Box.

And if the picture of the clock tower isn't enough, you can get an additional souvenir by buying a Mini Clock Tower Music Box.

March 7, 2009

Otaru Music Boxes

Filed under: Domestic, Hokkaido, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 3:31 pm

The little city of Otaru in Hokkaido is famous for a few reasons: their sushi is well regarded, they sell beautiful glass works, and they sell wonderful little music boxes, which they call ‘orgels.’ (Also, a popular movie, ‘Love Letter,’ was filmed there.) They have a sprawling ‘museum’ for orgels and music boxes in general, which includes several buildings, but really, it’s not so much a museum as a giant gift shop. Almost everything is for sale.

Beautiful angel music boxes

Beautiful angel music boxes

One of the buildings of the Otaru Orgel Museum

One of the buildings of the Otaru Orgel Museum

A big organ on display in the museum.

A big organ on display in the museum.

One of the music boxes with the most notes in it and therefore the best range.

One of the music boxes with the most notes in it and therefore the best range. It plays Rhapsody in Blue.

The main building of the gift sho--I mean, museum

The main building of the gift sho--I mean, museum

Yet, another building

Yet, another building

Looking down at the main floor of the museum

Looking down at the main floor of the museum

A view from the other side

A view from the other side

March 6, 2009

Pinocchio

Filed under: Domestic, Hokkaido, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 3:47 pm

I saw these Pinocchios in Otaru city, just North of Sapporo in Hokkaido.

Pinocchio, Pinocchio, Pinocchio, Pinocchio

Pinocchio, Pinocchio, Pinocchio, Pinocchio

March 5, 2009

Sapporo Snow Sculptures at Night

Filed under: Domestic, Events, Hokkaido, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 7:24 am

Here are some more pictures from the Sapporo Snow Festival, these showing the snow sculptures at night rather than during the day, like my previous post.

The Japan Self Defense Forces helps to build and maintain the sculptures. Here they are touching up the Disney themed sculpture

The Japan Self Defense Forces helps to build and maintain the sculptures. Here they are touching up the Disney themed sculpture

Namdaemun sculpture

Namdaemun sculpture

Matsumoto castle sculpture

Matsumoto castle sculpture

Sculpture showing the animals of Hokkaido, lit up at night

Sculpture showing the animals of Hokkaido, lit up at night

The Hokkaido capital building (道庁), sitting at one end of Odori park (大通公園), where the sculptures are constructed.

The Hokkaido capital building (道庁), sitting at one end of Odori park (大通公園), where the sculptures are constructed.

Odori Park

Odori Park

March 4, 2009

Lake Shikotsu

Filed under: Domestic, Events, Hokkaido, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 3:51 am

During one of our days in Hokkaido, my friends and I rented a car and drove out to scenic Lake Shikotsu (支笏湖), an hour and a half drive south of Sapporo city. The lake is part of the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. Right next to the lake, they have a light up, where they build sculptures out of ice and light them up in bright pastels. It was amazing to visit the lake and watch the Japanese tourists get off their tour buses in droves and head straight for the artificial light up, while a much more beautiful scenic lake was right next to the little lights. But, apparently, that doesn’t interest the average Japanese tourist.

Our first view of Lak Shikotsu from a view point off the road.

Our first view of Lake Shikotsu from a view point off the road.

Arrived at Lake Shikotsu!

Arrived at Lake Shikotsu!

The cat who we found sitting inside the visitors center

The cat who we found sitting inside the visitor's center

Dusk at Lake Shikotsu

Dusk at Lake Shikotsu

Another view at dusk

Another view at dusk

The bridge at Lake Shikotsu

The bridge at Lake Shikotsu

The very last bit of light hits the lake

The very last bit of light hits the lake

Looking at the bridge from the other side. The colored lights are the light up

Looking at the bridge from the other side. The colored lights are the light up

The light up from afar

The light up from afar

Inside a cave in the light up

Inside a cave in the light up

Pretty pastel lights

Pretty pastel lights

March 3, 2009

Japan Post Boxes

Filed under: Domestic, Hokkaido, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 3:14 am

Japanese Post Boxes are usually square, red boxes. But, sometimes you can find more interesting post boxes. Several decades ago, most Japanese post boxes were round (丸型ポスト). Japanese post box enthusiasts deplore the loss of these boxes and go around taking pictures of the ones that still exist to preserve the memory. As I explored Hokkaido, these round style post boxes seemed much more common than they are in Tokyo. Here are some of the Post Boxes I saw in Hokkaido:

A funky modern style post box in Sapporo

A funky modern style post box in Sapporo

Round Style post box in Otaru city

Round Style post box in Otaru city

Another round style post box from Otaru city. This one in front of the main post office for the small city.

Another round style post box from Otaru city. This one in front of the main post office for the small city.

March 2, 2009

Kit-Kat Flavors (Hokkaido Edition)

Filed under: Desserts, Domestic, Food, Hokkaido, Kit Kat Flavors, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 8:33 am

If there’s one thing Japanese people like, it’s limited edition products (限定商品), whether limited by region where it’s sold or time period it’s sold during. So, when Japanese people visit a certain region, they like to bring back limited edition products from that region as souvenirs. In Hokkaido, I even saw normal convenience stores providing lists of which products are limited to Hokkaido or having special limited edition products sections in their store.

Included in the limited edition Hokkaido products are Hokkaido only Kit-Kat flavors! Here they are:

All the Hokkaido flavors lined up together. They dont sell these in individual packs, only in these souvenir packs.

All the Hokkaido flavors lined up together. They don't sell these in individual packs, only in these souvenir packs.

Adzuki (sweet red bean) flavor Kit Kats (小豆味)

Adzuki (sweet red bean) flavor Kit Kats (小豆味)

Potato flavor Kit Kats (じゃがいも味)

Potato flavor Kit Kats (じゃがいも味)

Roasted Corn flavor Kit Kats (焼きもろこし味)

Roasted Corn flavor Kit Kats (焼きもろこし味)

These weren’t Hokkaido limited edition flavors, but I also saw the following flavors for the first time:

Unlike the limited edition Kit Kats, these are sold individually

Unlike the limited edition Kit Kats, these are sold individually

Tiramisu flavor Kit Kats

Tiramisu flavor Kit Kats

Matcha (Green tea) Tiramisu flavor Kit Kats

Matcha (Green tea) Tiramisu flavor Kit Kats

March 1, 2009

The Food in Hokkaido

Filed under: Domestic, Food, Hokkaido, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 2:41 am

While in Hokkaido, I made sure to try a bunch of the local specialties. Luckily, one of my friends who I traveled with was very knowledgeable about all the famous Sapporo dishes and where to find them. Below are some short explanation of each.

Soup Curry (スープカレー):
At Suage:

This is a specialty of Sapporo called Soup Curry (スープカレー). Unlike normal Japanese curry, which tends to be fairly mild, this curry was very spicy. But that was perfect to warm us up from the cold and snow outside.

This is a specialty of Sapporo called Soup Curry (スープカレー). Unlike normal Japanese curry, which tends to be fairly mild, this curry was very spicy. But that was perfect to warm us up from the cold and snow outside.

In this curry (same curry as above), is mochi (glutinous pounded rice ball), eggplant, cheese, chicken, an egg, carrots, etc. The rice was also necessary to deal with the spiciness. They allow you to choose the level of spiciness on a scale (at this restaurant, it went from 1 to 10) and we all chose a level that in retrospect might have been too high because were so used to excessively mild Japanese curry.

In this curry (same curry as above), is mochi (glutinous pounded rice ball), eggplant, cheese, chicken, an egg, carrots, etc. The rice was also necessary to deal with the spiciness. They allow you to choose the level of spiciness on a scale (at this restaurant, it went from 1 to 10) and we all chose a level that in retrospect might have been too high because we're so used to excessively mild Japanese curry.

At Spark:

I didnt like this Soup Curry as much. I thought the one above was much more delicious. All of the stores were pretty interesting. They all had a modern feel with simple design. Usually, when I imagine a Japanese restaurant with a regional specialty, its more of a traditional food and the restaurant would have a traditional feel, but since Soup Curry is not at all traditional, the restaurants have more free range to be a different style.

I didn't like this Soup Curry as much. I thought the one above was much more delicious. All of the stores were pretty interesting. They all had a modern feel with simple design. Usually, when I imagine a Japanese restaurant with a regional specialty, it's more of a traditional food and the restaurant would have a traditional feel, but since Soup Curry is not at all traditional, the restaurants have more free range to be a different style.

Butter Corn Ramen (バターコーンラーメン):

Mix the Japanese style Ramen noodles served in giant bowls with the Hokkaido made butter and corn and you have Sapporos ramen specialty: Butter Corn Ramen. It really looks like they just took a normal bowl of Miso ramen and piled some corn on it and a slab of butter before giving it to you. Its delicious though.

Mix the Japanese style Ramen noodles served in giant bowls with the Hokkaido made butter and corn and you have Sapporo's ramen specialty: Butter Corn Ramen. It really looks like they just took a normal bowl of Miso ramen and piled some corn on it and a slab of butter before giving it to you. It's delicious though.

Lamb Genghis Kahn (ラム成吉思汗 or ラムジンギスカン):

This Hokkaido specialty has you cooks lamb on a hot plate in front of you. Lamb is not at all common in Japan. It would be hard to find in Tokyo, but apparently its more plentiful in Hokkaido. The lamb we ate was delicious and not too expensive either.

This Hokkaido specialty has you cooks lamb on a hot plate in front of you. Lamb is not at all common in Japan. It would be hard to find in Tokyo, but apparently it's more plentiful in Hokkaido. The lamb we ate was delicious and not too expensive either.

We tried going to this famous Lamb Genghis Kahn restaurant for lunch and found out they onlt opened at dinnertime. They opened at 5 pm and stay open everyday until 5 am. The staff was all women in their forties or so, which seemed strange for an establishment that stays open all night. But they knew what they were doing and the restaurant is always busy, with a long line you have to wait in. They dont take reservations.

We tried going to this famous Lamb Genghis Kahn restaurant for lunch and found out they onlt opened at dinnertime. They opened at 5 pm and stay open everyday until 5 am. The staff was all women in their forties or so, which seemed strange for an establishment that stays open all night. But they knew what they were doing and the restaurant is always busy, with a long line you have to wait in. They don't take reservations.

Otaru’s Sushi (小樽市の寿司):

We took a day trip to Otaru city, famous for its sushi. I had a sushi donburi (sushi over rice). They called the set I ordered the Ohstosk Sea set. The sushi on it was salmon, salmon roe, and crab. I mostly wanted to try the crab because Hokkaido is famous for crab and I wanted some before I left. That was tasty, but I didnt enjoy the salmon roe as much. Im not a big fan of salmon roe.

We took a day trip to Otaru city, famous for it's sushi. I had a sushi donburi (sushi over rice). They called the set I ordered the Ohstosk Sea set. The sushi on it was salmon, salmon roe, and crab. I mostly wanted to try the crab because Hokkaido is famous for crab and I wanted some before I left. That was tasty, but I didn't enjoy the salmon roe as much. I'm not a big fan of salmon roe.

We were sitting at the counter, so we were able to watch the chefs prepare the dishes. Heres one of the chefs showing off a sushi set going to another customer.

We were sitting at the counter, so we were able to watch the chefs prepare the dishes. Here's one of the chefs showing off a sushi set going to another customer. Sorry for the focus being off on the sushi.

Crab (蟹):

Crab for sale in Otaru city.

Crab for sale in Otaru city.

Another crab. All the large crabs like this we saw were ridiculously expensive.

Another crab. All the large crabs like this we saw were ridiculously expensive.

Corn (トウモロコシ):

Corn for sale on the street. A sight I hadnt seen since my trip to Shanghai. Even uncooked corn from the supermarket is expensive in Tokyo. But, in Hokkaido, for about the same price, you can get delicious corn, ready to eat.

Corn for sale on the street. A sight I hadn't seen since my trip to Shanghai. Even uncooked corn from the supermarket is expensive in Tokyo. But, in Hokkaido, for about the same price, you can get delicious corn, ready to eat.

February 27, 2009

A Trip to the Chocolate Factory (Part 4)

Filed under: Desserts, Domestic, Hokkaido, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 6:38 am

The last set of pictures from the Shiroi Koibito chocolate factory.

Snow falls on the factory

Snow falls on the factory

I saw this all over Sapporo: Japanese people walking in the snow with umbrellas.

I saw this all over Sapporo: Japanese people walking in the snow with umbrellas.

The grand staircase

The grand staircase

Hot air balloon chandelier above the grand staircase

Hot air balloon chandelier above the grand staircase

Making some little chocolates

Making some little chocolates

Fresh chocolates

Fresh chocolates

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