わや*！That was a hard decision to make Kyushu? Okinawa? South Korea? Taiwan? No… I made it to Hokkaido and have to start this article by talking about Salmon Ikura Don (raw salmon with salmon fish eggs on rice that I ate in Sapporo), in honor of the best dish I’ve ever eaten.
First, If you want to travel in Japan and don’t know where to start, I suggest you to take a look at this list: here
Well, my two closest Japanese friends are living there… What better reason to fly north?
First of all, I love big cities. Tokyo is massive and I enjoy it. However, I’m still a Swiss girl from the Alps… So I was actually really excited about this trip. The image I had of Sapporo is pretty similar to the one foreigners can have of Switzerland, I guess.
There are a few things you should know about Sapporo. It’s not only a beer brand, this is also the fifth largest city in Japan, and almost 2 million people live there! The 1972 Winter Olympic Games were hosted there and it’s famous for its yearly Snow Festival as well.
Now let me tell you why the capital of Hokkaido Prefecture has became my favorite city in Japan, and how I managed to escape from the real world for 4 whole days (I didn’t even realize that Google had a new logo!)
I’ve lived in Canada, England, and Switzerland and have been able to travel around, including to Japan. But Sapporo has something that other cities clearly don’t have! There is still that urban vibe with areas such as Susukino, as well as a Western touch with the Former Hokkaido Government office and the area around that building.
The enormous park around the Hokkaido University reminded me of those I could relax in when in was in Toronto. The Maryuyama Park area has many bakeries, small cafės, and restaurants. I would describe this spot as fancy but cosy at the same time.
Beautiful Natural Surroundings
It is part of the atmosphere, but it needs its own paragraph. My friend took me to Mount Moiwa and the night view was breathtaking… Sapporo is a large city, so seeing all those lights sparkling from the mountain was magical, and I will simply never forget it.
It might seem insignificant, but the city is full of flowers and greenery, and this is what is missing in Tokyo. Almost every sidewalk has colorful flowers, and you can also find them in parks and even outside people’s front doors. It’s a small detail but it makes a big difference.
My other friend took me to Otaru, which is by the seaside north of Sapporo. It’s a small and picturesque city intersected by a river and many small boutiques.
Finally, wherever you are in Sapporo, if the weather isn’t foggy, you can see mountains! It really reminds me of where I am from. Now I can’t wait to go back to Hokkaido during the winter time and enjoy the snow up there!
The hospitality in Japan is no secret. But in Hokkaido, I was touched by the people’s kindness, generosity, and enthusiasm. I guess life is more peaceful there, so everyone takes the time to do whatever they have to. I felt relaxed from the beginning to the end. And of course, I am so thankful to my friends who were my reason for spending my precious time there.
I started with food and I am ending with food. If you do love Japanese cuisine, this is a no-brainer – you just have to go to Sapporo. Curry soup is famous there. I also had the chance to eat えび味噌ラーメン (ebi miso ramen)、うに (uni), and 鮭 いくら 丼 (salmon ikura don), which as you know tasted like heaven.
If you like cheese and milk, you won’t be disappointed in Hokkaido – just trust the girl from Switzerland, AKA ‘cheese land.’
Food quality isn’t a problem in Sapporo, and the prices are affordable too.
If you want to know more about Japanese food, check out this audio lesson: The 5 most popular foods in Japan
Before visiting this northern part of Japan, I’d heard many times that Sapporo was a great city to live in. Now I totally understand why and if you are planning to go to Japan, drop by Hokkaido, because you can find pretty good deals online to get there
* わや waya is popular slang meaning ヤバイ (yabai) in Hokkaido-ben.
Don’t forget to discover more about Japanese culture and language on http://japanesepod101.com