Archive for the 'Hokkaido 2018' Category

Hokkaido in Winter 2018

Right before finals season I escaped to Hokkaido for three days because freezing in the northernmost part of the country sounded better than studying.

And it was beautiful! I admit I’d voted against Hokkaido at first because I didn’t feel like braving the harsh natural elements, but once I saw all that snow any reluctance I had went out the window. You can actually enjoy the cold, once you’re numb enough.

It helped that we didn’t take a plane there—we went by shinkansen and just zoomed straight to Hokkaido. By zoom I mean it took us 4 hours from Tokyo, but that’s still unprecedentedly fast.

Got my ekiben for the journeyNothing puts me in the mood for a long train ride better than a bento box. I used to bring the boxes back home, so I have an unnecessarily large collection of old bento boxes piled up over the years.

The shinkansen from Tokyo only takes you up to Hakodate (the bottom tip of Hokkaido or what they call the genkan), so that’s where we stayed for three days. I’ve never been in this part but I loved it. It was all brick and snow and the occasional flock of birds.

History nugget for you curious learners out there: the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse (literally named for what it is) dates back to the beginning of the 20th century when it was a trading port. This was one of my favourite places in Hakodate and I had a lot of fun trekking through the snow between all those brick walls.

Thawing out our frozen selves with miso ramenTypically I’m more of a tonkotsu ramen person, but when in Hokkaido…anyway, it was delicious. And hot food really is a blessing in extreme arctic conditions.

As I quickly found out everything in Hakodate is photogenic(I mean…what’s frostbite if you can get nice pictures out of it?)

Wouldn’t be Hokkaido without meeting a snowman standing in the middle of nowhere.

Somewhere along the road we decided to stop and get lunch, and because of the long one-way roads there was a whole ordeal backing in and out of different driveways while we tried to find a place to park and eat at. But thanks to my brilliant intuition (and prior research on the gram), I found a chain restaurant called Lucky Pierrot by chance. And—italicising for emphasis—I want to live there.

It’s hard to describe, but it was dressed like a carnival. The funny thing about this place is that when I read about it on social media no one said anything about the decor. The talk was all on their burger which, fair enough, is what they’re famous for. Except I don’t care enough for burgers to go all the way to a place just for one. Coincidentally though I spotted the Lucky Pierrot sign (with a pierrot on it, obviously) along the road and convinced everyone to go there instead of eating ramen for the second day in a row. And what a good decision it was.

Everything was huge in this place. I didn’t do a good job of capturing it in perspective, but believe me when I say this bowl was almost twice the size of my face. It was a katsudon of Brobdingnagian porportions, and not even ¥1000.

I had the omurice, which was not as scarily big as the katsudon but still an endeavour to eat my way through. Ironically the one thing I didn’t get a picture of was the famous burger, but we did try it. We were probably just too busy feeling guilty about eating a 14-cm tall burger with chunks of fried chicken wedged inside.

We also went to visit the monkeys, who were happily soaking in the onsen while the humans shivered on the other side of the railing. I see those pictures of monkeys bathing in a hot spring on some snowy mountain all the time, but I’d always wanted to see them up close. I’ve changed my mind now—those monkeys are vicious. It’s a much better idea to watch them from a safe distance away while they shriek and run around while pushing each other off the ledge. Check out Hakodateshi Nettai Botanical Gardens to meet some cool monkeysFor just ¥100 you can even get a big pack of snacks to throw their way and watch them fight over it.

I only spent two nights in Hakodate, but everything was worth the cold and slipping around in the snow. I still want to go to Hokkaido in the summer one day, so hopefully sometime soon I’ll be back with a change of season in my pictures.

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▷ . Cheryl

A university student in Tokyo who takes pictures and puts them on the Internet

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