Tanukikoji, 2007

hokkaidoshrineyakimochiSo we’re back in Sapporo. But for different things! Like the Hokkaido Shrine 北海道神宮, for one. It’s home to four gods, kami, in Shintoism–including the soul of Emperor Meiji. I believe there was a ceremony that day, since we saw so many priests, kannushi 神主, and priestesses, miko 巫女. So we really couldn’t see much while we were there. A lot was blocked off out of respect. What to do? Eat, of course! We got baked mochi at a store nearby. It was so warm and kind of crispy on the outside, but still squishy and chewy like mochi. 🙂

xcskiWe also made a return trip to the Okurayama Sapporo Winter Sport Museum ‘大倉山札幌冬季運動博物館’. This time, my mom and I spent a lot of time getting a workout in by trying all the Winter Olympic Sports. Simulations for cross-country skiing, speed skating, figure skating, bobsledding and biathlon, to name a few. Gotta admit that I was pretty sore the next day. The cross-country skiing simulator put on a lot of resistance, and the biathlon rifles are mad heavy! Memories of this place are wonderfully ironic in retrospect. That speed skating station? I thought it was the stupidest thing ever. The idea that skating fast in circles should be considered a sport. Yet 5 years later, I fell in love with short track speed skating after watching the 2010 Winter Olympics and dived into the sport myself. Even took a year off college just to get the full training experience. Strange how life works.

sapramen

This time we finally got to fully experience the famous Sapporo Ramen. Sapporo is where miso-flavored ramen first started and the Japanese love Sapporo ramen so much that businessmen from Tokyo fly all the way to Hokkaido for a day trip to eat Sapporo ramen. It absolutely lived up to its reputation. While we couldn’t have the soup ramen, since the broth wasn’t vegetarian, we had yakiramen–stir fried ramen–which was still out of this world. The noodles were the perfect thickness for soaking up the sauces and flavors of the vegetables and so chewy and slippery at the same time. The Taiwanese call this type of textural ecstasy “QQ”.

mochi

tanukikoji

Then we just kind of walked around the city; I can’t quite remember. Lots of delicious ice cream mochi though! And Juchheim Baumkuchen. And cakes. Kekeke. We then stumbled into Tanuki Koji ‘狸小路商店街’: 10 blocks of outdoor shopping arcade with the whole spectrum of retail. Clothing, jewelry, souvenirs, nightclubs, cafes, restaurants. The arcade has been around since 1873. There must have been a festival going on (I think the Tanuki Matsuri Festival) since there were raccoons everywhere. Tanuki Matsuri 狸まつり has been going on for over 60 years!

hotpot

And we feasted! It was a meal many in our group had been salivating over since the start: fresh Hokkaido king crabs. Even the name sounds magnificent. Ours included a fantastic rice dish that was steamed in a chawanmushi bowl with vegetables, shiitake, and some fried bean curd marinated in soy sauce. Mouthwatering.

crabsBut check out the size of those crabs! Not only did they have king crabs, but they had the hairy crabs and snow crabs too. I can’t tell you how many eyes lit up at the sight of them when we walked into the restaurant. Haha. Even my mom started reminiscing about way back when she ate meat–her favorite seafood was Alaskin snow crab legs.

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