Sunday, February 24, 2008
One of our goals this year is to try and do as much Japan travel as we can. We decided to visit Hokkaido first. Next on the agenda are Hakone, Okinawa, Niigata, Nagano, Kyoto (again) and Hiroshima. Of course the whole work thing as well as visits to The States get in the way; we can still dream. What is it about living abroad that makes us want to travel, travel, travel? It’s like we’ve opened a box of cookies and one or two cookies just isn’t doing it. We want to eat the whole freaking box.
Hokkaido is the largest of Japan’s most northern islands. In addition to being known for its produce, dairy farms and Sapporo beer, the island is famous for incredible skiing and snowboarding. It’s become an international destination for winter sport, with loads of Australians buying real estate and taking 12-hour (or longer) flights to spend their holidays skiing at Hokkaido resorts. Siberian storms blow over Hokkaido’s mountains coating them with fresh powder snow all winter long. And while there are tons of places to ski in Japan, we kept hearing that Niseko in Hokkaido was ranked #1. We couldn’t wait to check it out. We decided to go during February so that we could simultaneously see Sapporo’s annual snow and ice sculpture festival. One of the days/nights we stayed at an onsen. We also took a day trip to the small town of Otaru, walked along its famous canal, made a pit stop at the Otaru brewery, and tried Hokkaido’s famous butter corn ramen. This trip was really special. Definitely one of our favorites. We’re hoping to fly to Hokkaido again this summer. I’ve heard that the summer months stay nice, sunny and cool, while Tokyo turns into a muggy hot-hole.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Our friends, Shig and Shurei had us over on Sunday night to check out their new apartment near Shinjuku. They surprised us with a home cooked sukiyaki dinner. Sukiyaki is a Japanese meal using an oversized pot to cook thinly sliced steak, veggies and tofu in a savory broth. You cook the food bit by bit as you eat it. With your chopsticks, you take your piece of meat or vegetable, dip it in your very own bowl of raw egg, and then stick it in your mouth. This was our first sukiyaki experience. The raw egg step was a little funny at first, but the food tasted great.