My Flipboard feed turned up an article on ekinaka at nippon.com. It was not a new idea me because I’ve seen such ekinaka first-hand on my visits to Japan. However, the term is new to me. Ekinaka literally means “inside the station.”
It’s been exactly one year since I flew off to Sapporo, Japan to spend 1 month there. Not only were there great memories from my month in Japan, but I also started a few new friendships while there. In the age of the Internet, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with everyone. I’m now in touch with people in Japan, Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Montreal. It was a lot of great memories and a lot of great fun.
I’m a little jealous of those who are actually returning this year to Sapporo and the Hokkaido Japanese Language School (JaLS). I know of at least a couple of people going back. I even see photos of other schoolmates who are travelling in Japan again. They’re not necessarily going to Sapporo, but they are visiting other parts of the country.
Here are some photos from last summer while I walk back down memory lane.
This may (or may not) be the last entry in Eating my way around Hokkaido. This time around I look more at some of the last of my random meals across this northern Japanese island.
Sukiya is a “fast-food” Japanese restaurant in the same vein as Matsuya and Yoshinoya. Sukiya is best known to me for their beef rice bowls. My wife had an obsession to eat at these type of restaurants while we were in Sapporo. It’s not fancy food by any stretch, but it is filling and economical to eat at Sukiya. Just look at the side dishes that came along with my simple beef rice bowl. Tasty, cheap and quick.
Eating my way around Hokkaido continues with another round of meals. It’s a review of things eaten within my fourth and last week in Sapporo.
Genghis Khan BBQ (Jingisukan)
After our onsen day trip up at Jozankei, we had returned to Sapporo and hopped off the bus in Susukino in search of dinner. We had wandered for quite a bit looking for food when we stumbled upon a place serving Genghis Khan BBQ, or jingisukan, as it is known in Japanese. It’s basically mutton grilled on a large convex dome grill along with other veggies and meat. Mutton, though, is the primary ingredient in the set up.
We couldn’t have picked a better day to end our 4 weeks of classes at Hokkaido Japanese Language School. It was our last day and we would be going to see fireworks in the evening. However, along with fireworks, comes yukata. Yukata are traditional Japanese clothing similar to kimono, but they are much lighter and less complex to put on. However, to us, the uninitiated, we needed help to put on these wonderful traditional pieces of clothing.
Let me start by saying I thought that we were going to be making fans from scratch for my last workshop at Hokkaido Japanese Language School, or JaLS. Maybe I read the itinerary wrong. In any case, we didn’t make fans. However, we did get to do some neat stuff with our fans.
Here’s number 4 in my posts on Eating my way around Hokkaido. This time, I’m focusing on the food places that I went to with my shared house mates.
Butadon Ippin [十勝豚丼いっぴん]
One of the great things about staying at our shared house was meeting all the different people. Luckily, most of us got along really well. So a big group of us went out for dinner one night at this pork rice bowl restaurant called Kotachi Butadon Ippin, or 十勝豚丼いっぴん in Japanese. It’s a chain of restaurants in Hokkaido specializing in just pork rice bowls.
Apart from our first night at Chitose Airport, we hadn’t been to an onsen during the month in Hokkaido. We had discovered that there was a nearby onsen resort town called Jozankei (定山渓). The first time we heard about this place was through the lovely green mascot below.
That cute green mascot, my friends, is a kappa. Kappas are supernatural frogs of Japanese folklore. This particular kappa is using her powers of cuteness to reel in customers to the Jozankei onsen area. Just look at the wooden tub that she has to carry around with her to protect her modesty.
Time for the third installment of Eating my way around Hokkaido.
Afternoon dessert at the Sapporo Sweets Cafe
I heard about this wonderful underground dessert cafe on YouTube just before I left for Sapporo. Somebody had posted an entire episode of Journeys in Japan featuring Sapporo. The Sapporo guide for this episode is a fellow Canadian, Isis, who moved to Sapporo many years ago and is now a DJ and a TV show host.
My wife and I ended up going one afternoon after classes with one of our classmates. We had a free afternoon and I had wanted to visit the Sapporo Sweets Cafe. I had a little trouble finding the place. The underground city in Sapporo is quite large and all the shops seem to look the same. When I could finally find a WiFi hotspot, we were able to locate exactly where the Sweets Cafe was.
Bicycles are pretty ubiquitous in Japan and a part of the everyday fabric. Kids, salarymen, sales ladies, and seniors all seem to ride bikes everywhere in Japan. Bikes are on sidewalks and on the street and nobody thinks anything of them. There isn’t the hyped up car versus bicycle antagonism that exists here in Vancouver. So I really wanted to experience what riding a bike was like in Japan.