I Love Hokkaido

I’ve traveled all over Japan and all over the world.

Besides my home state of New Jersey in the US, Hokkaido remains my favorite part of Japan.

I love flying into Chitose Airport. I breathe in the (usually) cool air as I walk down the plank and into the terminal.

My heart settles. I am home.

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A snowy night at our local library

When I’m lucky enough to have a window seat in the plane, I’m usually craning my neck to look outside and over the farms and mountains. From above, I can see the distinct shape of the handle that makes up Hakodate and Yakumo areas.

Hokkaido has become such a big part of who I am that I want to share it with the world. If you have any interest at all in this small part of Japan, welcome. I hope you find it interesting.

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The ginko leaves carpet a portion of Hokkaido University

I started a blog when I first came here in 2004 but I never gained consistency with the writing. Because the first two years were a blur of constant activity, I never had time to properly write about my experiences. Everything was just too new and exciting–I couldn’t keep up. There were too many things to write about so I just let things remain in my memory.

Now though, part of me is more reflective, so I’m starting to compare what it was like then to now, fifteen years later.

The first installation of this blog/site started two years ago. I was consistent with that one and gained some followers. Due to my own mistake, I lost all the blog posts I’d created. This time around, though, I will be much more vigilant. I promise to post some interesting insights into what living in Hokkaido is like.

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Early morning at Lake Shikotsu

As such, I love writing about my unique life here. It’s definitely different from other parts of Japan. The culture isn’t as deeply embedded. I feel like people here are a lot looser with Japanese customs and are not as bound to traditions.

Granted, this can be a disadvantage if you’re coming here specifically seeking traditional Japanese culture. Many people have likened Hokkaido to the Frontier West of the United States. If the US was formed on the East Coast, the West is where the wilds are and where the new culture was formed.

There is definitely a frontier spirit that permeates the island. In 2018, Hokkaido celebrated it’s 150th year as a Prefecture since it was opened for development.

Think about that. For Japan, whose traditions are steeped in centuries of mythicism and legend, Hokkaido’s history is not as deep.

But I love it. It’s easy to live here. There’s so much space compared to other parts of Japan. The people are kind and friendly. They tend to be shy, sometimes, but they’re always very warm-hearted. You’re surrounded by nature everywhere you look.

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Mountains by the Sapporo Chuo Library

And finally, what I live for: the food is fantastic!

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Unidon eaten at Shakotan Peninsula

Let me say that again: The. food. is. amazing.

Yes, it’s so good that I need to say that twice. In fact, many people who travel here come looking specifically for food and not the culture.

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Soup Curry

And one more photo for the final effect: Hokkaido is home to the best desserts ever. Aside from being the bread basket of Japan, it is also known as a Paradise for Sweets.

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Soft-serve ice cream from the iconic Hokkaido souvenir maker, Ishiya

If you want culture, Kyoto is the place to go. If you want to gorge yourself on some amazing culinary dishes, then Hokkaido is the place to be. If you want to live somewhere cold and snowy because you enjoy winter sports, no place tops Hokkaido.

I only hope I can do justice to this place in my writings.

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