8 Fun and Interesting Things to Do and Eat in Hokkaido! (Summer Edition)

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Scenic Hokkaido Dusk View
"Hokkaido Sunset"

Finally, the Evilbean set his foot in Hokkaido, Japan! This is the place where they are known for their delicious Ramen, hot springs and heavenly desserts. I once asked my friend which country she thought had better food: Korea or Japan. Without even giving it a second thought, she replied Japan. Having been to Korea for 3 times, and falling in love with their Dak Galbi and Tteokbokki, I gasped out loud and told her: "IMPOSSIBLE! How can the food in Japan be better than Korea?"

She was right. 


Evilbean Selfie for Hokkaido
"Mandatory Selfie with Boarding Pass before Jetting off"

I was blown away by Hokkaido. Most of the things that I saw and ate had me gasping, moaning and squirming in delight. Why?

I guess the reason is that most of us are exposed to the Korean Wave or the Hallyu Wave, which allowed us to see and understand their culture in-depth. We more or less know the sights and their foods from Running Man or other Korean dramas. Therefore, we kind of expect them when we are in Korea. However, most of us do not really watch Japan dramas or variety shows anymore.. well, except for guys who frequently watch ANOTHER TYPE of "Japanese dramas" AHEMs. Therefore, when I was in Japan, I was really blown away by a totally different culture, totally different food. Technically, food in Japan is not "better", it is just that the food are all so new and fresh to us that we are in awe. Conversely, if we were exposed to more Japan's culture than Korea's culture, food in Korea might seem to be more interesting to us. It all comes down to a matter of perspective.

And with that, the Evilbean shall list down 8 of the most fun and interesting things to do and eat in Hokkaido, summer edition. I am pretty sure that the things you can do in winter will be slightly different.

1. Catch your own Sashimi at Hakodate Asaichi (Morning Market)

We all know that Hokkaido has one of the best seafood in the world. However, instead of being served with their sea produce, why not catch one yourself?


Catching Your Own Sashimi


This is an eye-opening experience to not only catch, but also watch your freshly caught squid being prepared right in front of your eyes! Just look at my reaction at the end of that video! There are also lots of fresh seafood and lots of FREE SAMPLES for you taste first before you decide whether or not to spend your yen. Being a market, it also sells the famous Hokkaido Honey Melon, peaches, as well as something that made the Evilbean jumped up and down.. 

Raw, uncooked corn. 

2. Pure White Corn (Uncooked)

Pure White Corn

You must be rolling your eyes at me now. "Uncooked corn? And white in colour?!?! Sure can eat or not Evilbean?"

"YES. YOU HAVE TO EAT THIS!"

Pure White Corn 2


I swear, this pure white corn will be the SWEETEST CORN you have ever eaten in your life. Selling at between 150 yen - 300 yen, this corn that is grown in Hokkaido is juicy, refreshing, and downright orgasmic. The reason why the corn can be soooooooooooo oishii comes from the fact that Hokkaido has huge variation in their temperature - the day can be extremely hot and the night can be extremely cold. Because of this weather, the fruits in Hokkaido lock in the most amount of moisture inside them in order to prepare themselves for the erratic weather. 

And precisely due to this fluctuation in their weather, Hokkaido fruits and vegetables are refreshingly sweet and juicy! That is why their Yubari Melon can retail up to $100 in Isetan. And this is also why the pure white corn in Hokkaido is a MUST-TRY. You can eat this every day and not get sick of it! How I wish I lugged back a carton of this heavenly corn with me. I promise you that you will never taste any corn that is as awesome as this!

If you are in Hokkaido and unsure whether the corn can be eaten fresh off the cob, just ask the seller: "Nama okay?" which literally means raw okay? When they say okay, just buy 200 back. Give 198 to me. Thanks :D

3. Mount Io (Sulphur Mountain)


Marvel at the creation of mother nature of this active sulphur mountain in Kawayu Onsen District. You will be overwhelmed by the strong sulphuric smell the moment you get out of your vehicle. Do you know that sulphur is used in some acne products to dry out your pimples and prevent blockage of pores? So, if you are daring enough, just place your face over at some of the spring pools for some free steam facial. Just pray that the hot jets of sulphuric water won't erupt into your face suddenly *insert Gwang Soo music*.



Ain't it pretty? It's so pretty I had to inhale some of the sulphuric fumes as a souvenir for my body.

Mount Io 4


4. Hokkaido Jingu Shrine


Hokkaido Jingu Shrine


This Shrine enshrines four kami including the soul of the Emperor Meiji. On the day that we went, we were fortunate enough to witness a wedding being held at this shrine!


Hokkaido Jingu Shrine Wedding

This is a truly serene place that is surrounded by tall, natural woods, unlike Singapore where you see high-rise concrete buildings beside the temple, destroying the very nature of holy places. 

You have heard of monks/priests blessing people, babies, or even amulets. But have you heard of them blessing cars? Yes, one of the interesting cultures in Japan is that you can actually bless your cars!


Hokkaido Jingu Shrine Car Blessing

Hokkaido Jingu Shrine Car Blessing 1

It is said that if your car always gets into accidents, or if you just bought a new car and want your travels on the road to be safe, you can drive your car here for the monk to bless it. Super interesting! 

There is also another interesting thing to do in this shrine and that is the purification ritual.

Hokkaido Jingu Shrine Purification

Hokkaido Jingu Shrine Purification Ritual

The best way to enjoy a country is to take part in their culture. Set aside your own norms and immerse yourself in another cultural activity. This is when you can discover yourself. Another thing you can try in the shrine is to pray the Japanese way called the Ni-rei ni-hakusyu ichi-rei (二礼二拍手一礼).

Ni-rei ni-hakusyu ichi-rei
Image from: http://mcha-jp.com/3816

To pray at the shrine, you should do the following steps:

1. Throw coins into the wooden offertory box. Do not use 10 yen coins. Any other coins are fine.

2. Bow twice.

3. Clap twice.

4. Pray and make your wishes.

5. Bow once.

Also, according to the locals, the shrine is believed to be very 灵验, which means that your prayers will be answered accordingly. They have this thing called the Omikuji or fortunes which you can draw for a token donation of 200yen. Inside each omikuji are your fortunes and some lucky trinkets which signify for different things. 


If you get a good lot, you should keep it as it will bless you for the entire year. If you get a bad lot, hang them on this thing and it will change into good luck at the end of the year. 


Trinklets and Charms from Hokkaido Jingu Shrine

They also sell some pretty little charms at their counter at 1000yen, of which I bought a few for my mum, friends and myself. The one with the purple strap is for me, which drives bad luck away and brings in good luck.

Right outside of the shrine, there is also this famous 六花亭 known for their snacks. 


Liu Hua Ting

Inside, they offer you free flow of cold Japanese green tea, which is super refreshing on a sunny day. They also sell a super delicious mochi which they pan-fry on the spot!

Liu Hua Ting Mochi

Overall, Hokkaido Jingu Shrine is a very tranquil, serene place for you to "have a feel" of the soul of the great Meiji Emperor (who played a great part in the molding of Japan now) and experience true Japanese culture from blessing of cars to newborns, as well as their Omikujis that will bring you good luck as long as you pray sincerely. You definitely have to visit this if you are open to cultural experience!


5. An Island of Ice-Cream

If you have seen my instagram posts (@Evilbean), you would have known that all that I have been posting recently are all ice-creams from Hokkaido. Hokkaido should also be called icecreamdo because they have SO MANY YUMMYLICIOUS ice-creams everywhere! Just look at the amount of ice-creams I stuffed into my mouth for this trip:


Vanilla soft serve Ice-Cream

Lavender soft-serve Ice-Cream

Rainbow Ice-cream

Rainbow Ice-Cream with 7 different layers of flavour. This is how a real rainbow should taste like!

Shiroi Koibito Ice-Cream

YES! Even 白い恋人 (Shiroi Koibito) Ice-Cream! =D

7-11 Gran Cacao Ice-Cream

7-11 Ice-Cream pouch

This ice-cream with a cute packaging is a little weird though. They wrapped it in a very condom-like plastic, and you are supposed to suck on it... Erm... Interesting experience? +_+

7-11 Ice-Cream pouch 1

7-11 Ice-Cream pouch 1


And the famous Yubari Melon with Melon Ice-Cream! Literally at every turn in Hokkaido, you will find a vendor selling soft-serve ice-cream. If you love ice-creams, you will find your paradise here at icecreamdo/Hokkaido.

6. Ramen Street at Sapporo Ramen Yokocho
(元祖さっぽろラーメン横丁)

How can you not have Ramen while you are in Japan right? At Susukino, which is the largest entertainment district in Hokkaido, they have this Ramen alley, which is also where "Miso Ramen" was first born. 

We chose this restaurant called Teshikaga (弟子屈) because it had the longest queue. Being Singaporean, our mentality of queuing = good prevails everywhere. And we were right. This 2 bowls of Ramen that we ordered were the BEST RAMEN we have ever eaten!

When you go into the restaurant, you don't "order" from a waiter. You choose what you want from the ticketing machine, pay, and pass the tickets to the chef. Kudos to the Japanese for coming up with such a hassle-free machine for both the customers and the chef.


Ramen Ticket Machine

Ramen Alley

Freshly grilled char-shu right in front of you! With highly trained skills, the chef expertly grilled the char-shu while multi-tasking on the noodles and even washing the cups. The result of the meat? Soft, tender pieces of char-shu with just the right amount of fats that gives superb texture when paired with the SWEETEST SOUP BROTH EVER.

Ramen 1

Ramen 2

I swear (literally), this is the best F******* ramen ever! The Ramen egg is medium-boiled to PERFECTION with just the right amount of runny yolk centre. The seafood is fresh, the ingredients that went into each bowl is generous, and the taste of the whole bowl of Ramen is just OIISHIIIIIIIII! Just look at our happy faces!


Of course, this is not called "Ramen Alley" for nothing. There are several other stores inside the alley that also sells Ramen. A pity we only had 2 nights in Susukino. Otherwise, I am pretty sure we will visit every single store everyday for supper!

7. Visit 白い恋人 (Shiroi Koibito) Park

Shiroi Koibito aka 白い恋人 is one of the many Hokkaido's famous brands that mainly produces the chocolate sandwiched between 2 pieces of cookies. At this park, you will get the opportunity to have an excursion through its Chocolate Museum to discover the history and production of the famed Hokkaido’s chocolate! 

Shiroi Koibito Park 1

Shiroi Koibito Park 2

Shiroi Koibito Park 3

Shiroi Koibito Park Passport

At 600 yen, you get a passport to enter the factory/museum and a piece of the 白い恋人 cookie!

Shiroi Koibito Park Factory

Shiroi Koibito Park 6

Shiroi Koibito Park 7

Shiroi Koibito Ice-Cream

At every hour, the whole park comes alive where the clock tower, the trees, and even the dustbins move and sway to the music that illuminates the park! This is a magical place for lovers and kids and adults-that-do-not-like-to-admit-they-are-old to laze 1 to 2 hours away sitting at their cafes and sipping afternoon tea while having a slice of their pretty cakes or desserts. Ranked at No.2 on TripAdvisor among 25 attractions in Sapporo, this 白い恋人 park is one of the interesting places to visit with lots of colourful candies and flowers as a backdrop for your photos!

8. Buy up their Snacks

Yeap, all their snacks and drinks look so mouth-watering that you can't help but keep tossing out your yens on their snacks! Hokkaido is truly a paradise for the Evilbean. Just look at the amount of noms noms that I bought during the trip. And these are just SOME of them.


Kagoshima Kurobuta Patty

Kagoshima Kurobuta Patty 2




Melts in your mouth Caramel Candy that has won awards for 3 consecutive years!

Cow-Shaped Snacks


If you ever see this drink at a vending machine, do not hesitate to buy this for your trip! Refreshing max and a milk tea taste lingers in your mouth! 

Hokkaido Melon Jelly Drink

Melon Jelly drink! The more you suck, the more awesome this jelly drink gets! 

Sapporo Agricultural College Cookie

I must have bought like 10 boxes of these super milky and creamy cookies!

Bakery Shop

Caramel Ice-cubes

And that's Evilbean's recommendations on the 8 most fun and interesting things to do and eat in Hokkaido, summer edition. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Hokkaido and I really wish to go back to Hokkaido again for their romantic winter soon! If you have been to Hokkaido and would like to recommend more things for the Evilbean to add into this list, do drop me a comment! :)

Hokkaido Rating (out of 5 Evilbeans):

 
 (5! TOO AWESOME ALREADY HOKKAIDO!)

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9 comments

  1. Looks GREAT! Thanks for the recommendations. How long did you spend in Hokkaido?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! No problem! I had a lot of fun in Hokkaido so it was fun to blog it out as well! I was there for about 10 days!

      Delete
  2. hello... i came across ur article while surfing for info for my trip to hokkaido... wondering where or how can i read ur part II - hokkaido noms noms

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello blueprint! Unfortunately, I ATE THEM ALL BEFORE I could do a review of them :<

      Seriously though, just buy them according to your feel! Most of them will not disappoint! Enjoy your trip, it will be awesome! :D

      Delete
  3. Am planning for the trip and found your blog ! It is helpful and wish to have a nice trip soon.

    I like the ice-cream series of picture it looks so nice when matching with the scenery = )

    ReplyDelete
  4. May i know where did have the Yubari Melon with melon ice cream on top of it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, you can actually find this almost everywhere! :D

      Delete
  5. Hello,
    Thank you so much for sharing all these great ideas with us!
    I have just arrived in Sapporo as an English teacher at Mainichieikaiwa (http://www.mainichieikaiwa.jp). I am thinking of exploring the city on my days off, and your ideas are very inspiring. Thanks indeed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Eikaiwa! No problem, and hope you will have lots of fun on your days off! :D

      Delete

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