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Enjoy Spring in Otaru,Minato Machi! Recommended places and events.

 

Otaru – Rusutsu – Niseko  April 19th 2019

Otaru city famous as a Hokkaido port town is not only filled with romantic streets but is also a town filled with nature.

Other charms are the Otaru sushi and sweets. You can enjoy sightseeing all year round.

This time we are going to recommend sightseeing spots and events that you can enjoy during the spring.

There will be little known places, and also spots popular with the locals during this season. During the cherry blossom season there will be sights to see and events to go to so you can get the most out of Otaru.

| Contents |

1. Otaru’s Recommended Spring Spots
 1-1. Secret Cherry Blossom Spots [Tenjo-ji]
 1-2. Sakura as far as the eye can see [Temiya Park]
 1-3. Local Rest Spot [Hiraiso Park]
 1-4. [Mysterious Waterfall] Only in Spring
 1-5. [The Takashima Ghost] Seeing it is a miracle! <
2. Recommended Otaru spots in Spring
2-1. Plum Wine Festival 2019
2-2. Otaru Festival
2-3. The 14th Peony Festival
3. Things to know about traveling in Otaru in Spring
 3-1. How is the spring weather in Otaru? How about the temperature!
 3-2. We recommend warm clothing!
Closing

1. Otaru’s Recommended Spring Spots

1-1. Secret Cherry Blossom Spots

天上寺

Picture provided by Otaru Sightseeing Association

Proceed from route 5’s Nyuusen Jujigai on the road towards the mountains and you will find Tenjo-ji a hidden cherry blossom viewing spot.
Tenjo-ji has about 30 Yoshino Cherry Tree”s which fully bloom by early May.

The reason that Tenjo-ji is so popular is its Japanese style appearance and cherry blossom which embody the feeling of spring. There are also statues, of Kanon, Rokujizo and Gokoushi which create a beautiful contrast with the cherry blossoms.

One step into Tenjo-ji and you will feel like you have entered a space of purity where you can feel truly relaxed.

As it is located away from the main sightseeing area, there are few visitors and it is still a secret cherry blossom spot.

1-2.Sakura as far as the eye can see [Temiya Park]

手宮公園

Picture provided by Otaru Sightseeing Association

Temiya Park located in Otaru is a popular cherry blossom viewing spot frequented by locals. From Mid- late May around 700 Ezoyama Sakura  and Yoshino Cherry trees will be in bloom.

Temiya Park is not just for cherry blossom viewing but is also home to the  the Kuri Forest known as the northern border and Temiyaryokuka Botanical Gardens.

We recommend enjoying cherry blossom viewing by taking a walk along the row of cherry blossom trees.
Temiya Park is located on top of a mountain, so you can enjoy looking down at Otaru and the cherry blossom from it.

Also Otaru is home to many wild birds  so you may be lucky enough to spot some wild birds whilst viewing the cherry blossoms.

1-3. Local Rest Spot [Hiraiso Park]

平磯公園

Picture provided by Otaru Sightseeing Association

The next location is Hiraiso Park a  famous cherry blossom viewing spot well loved by the locals just like Temiya Park.
Hiraiso Park  is home to about 100 Yoshino Cherry, Yae Sakura and Ezoyama Sakura.

During the cherry blossom season,the park is filled with people having Genghis Khan or walking through the park gazing at the cherry blossom.

In the middle of May all three varieties of Sakura will be in full bloom and is a recommended sight to see.

You will feel warm inside when you see all three cherry blossoms bloom at the same time.
If you walk a little you will come to the Hiraiso viewing platform where you can see views of Otaru.

The view at night also makes this place a popular date spot for the locals.

1-4. [Mysterious Waterfall] Only in Spring

A mysterious waterfall located in Otaru.

This is a famous cherry blossom spot, Gozensui Waterfall, located on a cliff to the south of Temiya Park.
It is located in Temiya Cave side alongside the Otaru Sea side road, and is so secluded that it is easy to pass by. 

Why is it known as the phantom waterfall? Well, this waterfall can only be seen when the snow melts or after heavy rain.  It is very elusive and can only be seen at certain times.

The force that the water flows also changes depending on the amount of water, so the waterfall always appears differently.
A lot of cars pass though this area, so if you are taking pictures please be careful.

1-5. [The Takashima Ghost] Seeing it is a miracle!

石狩湾の蜃気楼

Even among locals there are many people who have never seen the Takashima Ghost.
What do we mean by ghost?

During spring and summer only , a mirage appears  at Otaru’s Ishikari bay .
Due to this mirage the view of the opposite shore appears to change in size and length which lead it to be called the Takashima ghost.

It has even been referenced in old works of literature (Nishiezo nisshi and the Sainishiezo nisshi).

Both works were compiled by Takeshiro Matsuura who explored this area at the end of the Edo era.
These works of literature contains detailed accounts of the Takashima ghost.

Nowadays the Takashima ghost is famously known as a  “Haru no fuubutsushi” a spring poem.

In order for the mirage to be seen, many conditions need to be met.
There are many locals who have never seen the Takashima ghost, so if you see it whilst on your travels then you will be considered extremely lucky.

Please take a look at this related text.


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  • A safe bet even for first timers!  The perfect Otaru canal guide

2. Recommended Spring Spots in Otaru

2-1. Otaru Plum Wine Festival 2019

おたる梅酒祭り2017

Picture provided by Otaru Sightseeing Association

An event where you can taste and compare recommended plum wines. Otaru Plum Wine Festival 2019 runs from April 19th to May 6th at Tanaka Sake Brewery.

There is a fantastic  selection of  Hokkaido plum wines as well as plum wines from all over the country and Hokkaido’s first sparking plum wine that you can buy and taste.

Our recommendation is the prized plum wine that will only be available during the festival period.

The  plum wine that is only available during the Otaru festival is considered to be very rare.
There is only  a limited number available, so it is only available while stocks last.

We will also show you how to really enjoy your plum wine. Take this chance to find the plum wine that is perfect for you.

2-2. Otaru Festival

おたる春祭り

Picture provided by Otaru Sightseeing Association

Held from May 24th – 26th Otaru Spring Festival is an event mainly based around food

As part of the event  we have incorporated the character Un-Gappa  for young children to enjoy. There will also be a bingo event for the younger ones to enjoy.
The schedule is action packed with  a karaoke competition, YOSAKOI SORAN dance parade, a food competition, and  an anime party in conjunction with the Otaru Anime Party.

2-3. The 14th Peony Festival

牡丹・芍薬まつり

Picture provided by Otaru Sightseeing Association

A historical building in Otaru Shukutsu. The old Aoyama Villa if calculated based on current costs, it would have had a construction cost of ¥3.5 billion is the home of the Peony (shaku-shaku) festival from May 25th to June30th.

Be greeted at the front of the building by a breathtaking red pine tree which is said to be more than 100 years old.

In the garden there are about 400 Peonies decorating the garden creating an air of elegance.
You can see peonies, cherry blossom, azalea, plum  and hydrangea in the gardens depending on the season.

The appearance of the garden varies depending on the season in which you visit.

3. Things to know about traveling in Otaru in Spring

3-1. How is the spring weather in Otaru? How about the temperature!

天気 イメージ

It is officially spring, but in Otaru the temperature is quite low and there tends to be a few chilly days.
The average temperature in April is 10.5℃ and the average temperature in May is 16.2 ℃ so there is still some snow on the road. deg

There will be puddles and areas difficult to walk through, so we recommend that you bring sturdy shoes with a non slip sole.
From late April to May trainers/ sneakers will be fine to use.

3-2. We recommend warm clothing!

冬小物 イメージ

If you are planning on doing sightseeing we suggest wearing a spring coat and long sleeve clothing.
In May it will be fine if you just carry a jacket with you.

As the wind can be quite chilly, bringing a wind proof jacket and gloves may be beneficial.

The morning and nights tend to be considerably chilly so if you are going out during these times, please dress accordingly.

Please take a look at this related text.


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Closing

So how about it? I hope we were able to explain to you what makes  Otaru Minatomachi such an attractive destination.

The spring in Otaru is a little cold, but it more than makes up for it with all of the wonderful things to see and do.
With the seasonally changing face of  Otaru and the feeling of nostalgia you get walking around, Otaru is a town you can really ejoy.

Who’s got time for Vanilla? Here are Hakodate’s Top 6 Unique Soft-serve Ice Creams!

ソフトクリームアイキャッチ

Ice cream on-the-go goes hand-to-hand with tourism; whenever people are out for a trip, they just can’t seem to avoid buying a sweet, cold pick-me-up.

And in Hakodate, *the* representative tourist hot-spot of South Hokkaido, there are many established parlors that serve scrumptious swirls of Soft-serve ice cream…

But!

Let’s address the elephant in the room here. Vanilla. Sure it’s tasty. Sure it’s the staple go-to when people think of ice cream. But sometimes, Vanilla can be so boring and dull and … Basic. Sometimes you want to get away from the default and treat your taste-buds on the new, the experimental, the unique, the different, the avant-garde.

If you’re in search of new dimensions of flavor – and let’s be honest, you ARE – then rejoice!

From coffee to chocolat to pumpkins and even wine, there are MANY unique soft-serve flavors in Hakodate that just can’t be enjoyed anywhere else. And on this occasion, here are the top 6 unique soft-serve flavors that we just have to recommend!

Read more

Top 5 Sushi Stores Recommended By Locals If You Visit Otaru!

小樽市

 

Though the city of Otaru once prospered as an exporter of coals and the main hub for trading with Russian, it is also famous as a place for Sushi.

Blessed with both a harbor and an ideal geographical position, it boasts a very fresh and lively selection of sushi ingredients.

On this occasion, allow us to introduce 5 locally-recommended sushi stores that you can dine in at Otaru.

They all have an easy and casual atmosphere, so please keep them in reference whenever you are in the mood for Sushi!

Read more

Only Available This Summer! Enjoy Limited Edition Hokkaido Beer When You Travel to Hokkaido!

北海道限定ビール

What comes to mind when we talk about Hokkaido beer?
I am sure many would answer “Sapporo Beer,” and would know that its classic Black Label can be consumed all over Japan.

As such, we would like to introduce you to Limited Edition Hokkaido Beer that can only be consumed in Hokkaido this season.

Summer limited edition beer will be released this season on top of the standard Sapporo Classic that is only available in Hokkaido, so make sure you try out the Hokkaido limited edition canned beer when you visit this summer.

 Read more

Downtown Retro – Gourmet Stroll Best 8: Sapporo Tanukikoji District

狸小路グルメイメージ

Located in central Sapporo near Odori Park, the “Tanukikoji” district is famously known for its many new fashion buildings. In actuality, it is a location with many retro-style buildings remaining from the Showa period, which makes it the perfect area for this “stroll around town”.
 
On this occasion, we shine a spotlight on the Tanukikoji district ―particularly the West 2nd block to the West 8th block― as we take breaks, eat loads of food, and close it with tasty Yakitori (grilled chicken). We selected the best 8 discoveries that only a local writer could recommend.
Look forward to it!

Read more

Now only! Exclusive to Mukawa! I ventured out to try the must-eat shishamo sushi!

むかわ町ししゃも

Fall, the best season for satisfying your appetite.
Countless food festivals are held around Hokkaido during this time when a variety of food sources are harvested and caught.
Amid this festive season, those in the know flock to Mukawa, forming endless lines in pursuit of Mukawa shishamo.

I ventured out of Sapporo in order to get a taste of the most exquisite shishamo and the sushi made with it, both of which can only be found in Mukawa at the outset of the fishing season.

Summary
1.On Mukawa
2.The shishamo you’ve been eating isn’t actually shishamo!? Shishamo vs. Capelin
3.Open fishing season at last! I went to eat shishamo as the season began!
3-1.The quintessential shishamo sudare that can be found nowhere else
3-2.Shishamo sushi that can only be found here and now
Conclusion

 
 

1.On Mukawa

Bordering the Pacific Ocean on the southern edge of Central Hokkaido is the town of Mukawa with its 8,700 residents.
Formerly written as “鵡川” (Mukawa in kanji), the town was renamed as “むかわ町” (Mukawa in hiragana) after absorbing the town of Hobetsu in 2006.

It is the birthplace of Akira Suzuki, an honorary professor at Hokkaido University, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009.

In recent years the town has garnered much attention due to the widespread fascination for dinosaurs.
Mukawa gained fame as a dinosaur town after a fossilized bone found there was identified as a dinosaur tail.

A diverse array of dinosaur fossils are displayed at Mukawa Hobetsu Museum, where visitors can learn more about the forefront of dinosaur research.
Along with its shishamo, Mukawa is known for the Hobetsu Melon and Mukawa Wagyu.

 
 

2.The shishamo you’ve been eating isn’t actually shishamo!? Shishamo vs. Capelin

Commonly found at supermarkets, “shishamo” may be enjoyed by many as a cheap and delicious fish.
However, the truth is that the “shishamo” you usually eat may not actually be shishamo…

What is usually found at supermarkets is capelin, also known as karafuto shishamo, meaning Sakhalin smelt.

Although shishamo and capelin are similar in appearance and texture, you may be surprised by the substantial difference after tasting real shishamo.
Shishamo is an endemic species that exclusively inhabits the Pacific Coast of Southern Hokkaido.

Shishamo is an incredibly rare fish, which can only be caught in said area.
Over ninety percent of the komochi shishamo (shishamo carrying eggs) that circulate the markets are capelin. What a shock…

むかわ町ししゃも
Shishamo was chosen as Mukawa’s town fish in July of 1995.
The town of Mukawa is undoubtedly the town of shishamo.

 
 

3.Open fishing season at last! I went to eat shishamo as the season began!

 

After shishamo fishing season opened on October first (the fishing season changes each year), I made my way over to Mukawa to indulge in this exquisite fish.

Mukawa is an hour and 20 minutes by car from Sapporo and 40 minutes from New Chitose Airport.
For transportation, JR lines and express buses for Mukawa leave from Sapporo, New Chitose Airport, and Tomakomai.

むかわ町 カネダイ大野商店

This time, I headed to Kanedai Ohno Store.
Established in 1923, the store handles only shishamo and offers a medley of shishamo products.
 
 

3-1.The quintessential shishamo sudare that can be found nowhere else

むかわ町 ししゃもすだれ

An exquisite sight that can only be seen at the peak of shishamo season—that is the shishamo sudare, or half-dried shishamo.

むかわ町 カネダイ大野商店 店内

Half-dried shishamo can be bought and taken home, or cooked right in the shop using hotplates that are ready and available for use.

むかわ町 カネダイ大野商店店内説明

There is an instructional sheet as well as friendly employees to aid customers with the cooking process, so even those without any experience can cook and eat their fill.

むかわ町 カネダイ大野商店 ししゃも

After cooking for some time, a delicious aroma and sizzling disseminates throughout the air.

The fish may come apart if they are flipped too much, so be patient and flip sparingly.
Dig into the finished shishamo.

むかわ町 カネダイ大野商店ししゃも

Topped with fat, the skin is crisp and the meat succulent.

The flavors vary between male and female shishamo. There tend to be strong preferences toward one or the other for each person, so it is advised that you ask the store employees for more details before purchasing.

What it lacks in its inability to carry eggs, the male shishamo makes up for with more fat.
On the other hand, the texture of the female’s eggs is irresistible… The chewy meat is full and rich in flavor.

As made obvious in my writing, my favorite is the female shishamo.

There are varying sizes for both female and male shishamo.

Frying up one fish then going back to purchase an even fattier one is another way of enjoying shishamo.
 
 

3-2.Shishamo sushi that can only be found here and now

むかわ町 ししゃも寿司

The one dish that visitors in Mukawa during the shishamo fishing season must try is the shishamo sushi.

To start, have you ever seen shishamo sushi or sashimi at any sushi restaurant?
There probably are not many who have.

The reason being, raw shishamo spoils quickly, making it unsuitable for distribution, which in turn means it never leaves the vicinity of Mukawa.
Further, it cannot be eaten at just any time in Mukawa; it is only available during the fishing season, which takes place from October to November.

むかわ町 ししゃも寿司

Masses congregate in Mukawa to get their hands on this time and region exclusive shishamo sushi.
Male shishamo are used in shishamo sashimi and sushi. They are light and have a sophisticated sweetness.

The sushi can be enjoyed dipped in soy sauce or topped with sansho (Japanese pepper), both of which brings out the sweetness of the shishamo.

むかわ町 看板イメージ

Along with the shishamo sushi, there is an abundance of other shishamo dishes.

However, products and dishes may sell out depending on how far you are into the fishing season.

If there is a dish that you absolutely want to try, it is highly encouraged that you make your way to Mukawa as early in the season as possible.
 
 

Conclusion

Did you enjoy the Mukawa shishamo?

It may have come as a complete shock that the “shishamo” that you usually have is not true shishamo; however, once you take your first bite of real shishamo, you may never be able to eat the imitation “shishamo” again.
 

Shishamo Specialty Store - Kanedai Ohno Store
Address 2 Chome-42 Miyuki, Mukawa-chō, Yūfutsu-gun, Hokkaidō 054-0042
Opening hours 9:00 – 17:00
Dayoffs Every Sunday from January to April

 
 

Downtown Retro – Gourmet Stroll Best 8: Sapporo Tanukikoji District

 狸小路グルメイメージ

Located in central Sapporo near Odori Park, the Tanukikoji district is famously known for its many new fashion buildings. In actuality, it is a location with many retro-style buildings leftover from the Showa period, which makes it the perfect area for this “stroll around town.”

On this occasion, we shine a spotlight on the Tanukikoji district ―particularly the West 2nd block to the West 8th block ― as we take breaks, eat loads of food, and close with tasty yakitori (grilled chicken). We selected the best 8 discoveries that only a local writer could recommend.

Please enjoy!
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8 budget seafood bowls you can enjoy in Otaru!

海鮮丼 イメージ

Otaru is decidedly one of the most popular tourist sites in Hokkaido.
It has glassworks as well as canals, but most of all, it has wonderful seafood that we would like you to enjoy.

So, will we be introducing you to sushi restaurants? Not quite. It’s something like sushi, but still different.

This time, we would like to show you 8 places we picked that serve reasonably-priced seafood bowls that even locals love!

Now then, have you got a notepad and a pen ready? Let’s begin.

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Hokkaido’s Top 10 Cheeses!

 

Hokkaido is the home of a variety of delicious cheeses.

Made from milk, cheese is a healthy and delicious food, safely retaining the milk’s protein and calcium content while also acting as a source of vitamin A and vitamin B2.

In addition to its health benefits, cheese is also said to be beneficial for beauty purposes. Out of the huge number of cheeses produced in Hokkaido, we would like to present our 10 local favorites.

Come visit and take home one of these Hokkaido star cheeses!

Read more

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