When you think of Hokkaido, I’m sure what comes to mind is Genghis Khan and chocolate-covered potato chips. After spending the past few days at Sapporo, Furano, and Asahikawa, I can assure you that there is a lot more to Hokkaido than that. Here are a few of the highlights.
How about some of the best shirako you will find anywhere? How about epic powder on mountains so good that it always amazes me to find so few people there? How’s this for Furano on a Sunday afternoon? It was a pity, actually, that there weren’t more people there to see me take some wicked lines down the mountain.
Everyone knows Sapporo Beer and Nikka Whisky. But you may not be aware of Otakayama sake and the sake museum and brewery at Asahikawa. And then there is the shochu.
I have a general and well-considered policy of not drinking shochu, but after some prompting following an epic day on the slopes at Furano, the shochu I had was as mild and fragrant as a lavender field in July. Distilled from sweet potatoes, I was expecting a Kagoshima-style imojochu but found something rather more subtle and complex.
I was at Hokkaido for seminars about turfgrass management. I guess that explains how I came to be photographed at the lobby of the Jozankei View Hotel with a vicious bear while my appurtenances were only a bow tie and a small carry bag.
In this rakish guide, perhaps you were expecting more details about the nightlife of these cities. If only I hadn’t been working so hard, perhaps I would have been able to experience more of the nightlife. Sure, I had ramen at midnight and soba at 01:30, but who doesn’t take time for a bowl of steaming noodles on a snowy night? Perhaps people who are at home in their beds.
But that would not be very rakish at all.