Autumn in Japan Food Travel


Hokkaido distinctively has its own merits for each season not just its well-known fluffy snow in winter. As we ended up spending our trip in autumn, we were greeted by beautiful autumn foliages and very fewer tourists.

I had learned from my first Hokkaido visit that it is truly vast with immense nature and untamed landscape. The island does offer pretty well transportation in terms of trains and buses into urban areas. Nonetheless, they still limit your freedom of exploration. This is what makes a self-driving the ideal way to plunge into the beauty of Hokkaido wilderness.

With a group of 11 people, we rented two 6-passenger vehicles from Niconico Rentacar with full insurance coverage and ETC (Electric Toll Collection System).

Day 4 (2019-Oct-16): Otaru – Sapporo

On the 4th day of our trip, we did dedicate the entire day plunging into the charm of Otaru, a small port city northwest of Sapporo. 

Takinami Shokudo

It would be pleasant to preface the day with a palatable brunch. Because of its enviable advantage of location, many say that the best kaisendon (a bowl of rice topped with different types of sashimi) can be found right here in Otaru. One of the most recommended places for this delicacy is this small place in Sankaku Market called Takinami Shohudo.

It seemed to be the most popular shop to eat at the market justified by the sea of people waiting to get called in. Menus were all in Japanese but they were well displayed in big pictures all over the walls. With this, the language barrier will no longer be a problem. When we were in the line waiting with high expectations, a staff came and took our order so the food would be ready at the time we were seated. If you come with such a big number of people like ours (11 heads), you will have to divide it into groups of 3-4 as the restaurant was pretty small. 

At our table, we ordered two regular bowls of kaisendon (roughly 4000JY), a grilled salmon set (800JY), amaebi (sweet shrimp) (500JY), salmon and scallop sashimi (roughly 1000JY). For the choices of kaisendon topping we went for uni (sea urchin) and ikura (salmon roe). Everything was exquisite. My high expectation was instantly exceeded when their naturally sweet and succulent amaebi touched my taste-bud. Scallop and every single piece of neatly sliced salmon were amazingly fresh and delicious. And not to mention of their sea urchin, it was indescribable. This’d probably be the highest uni quality I’ve ever tried.

Otaru Canal

After the most delightful brunch, we began our small quest around town on foot since most of the main attractions in Otaru are within walking distance. And its beautifully preserved canal were the first stop we headed off to. There was nothing very exaggerating from the photos of the canal that have being displayed all over the internet. The channel was pretty short but still worth for your iPhone’s geotag.

Sakaimachi Street

Nearby the famous Otaru canal is another main attraction you should not miss. It is Sakaimachi Street where all the popular check-in spots are located such as LeTao Cafe and its main store, Music Box Museum, Marchen Square, Kitakaro, etc. After emptying our tummy by a half-an-hour walk, we were again ready to be eating non stop throughout the afternoon here.

Gyu no Ishizaki (Wahyu Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki)

Because Otaru is easily visited as a day trip from Sapporo by all sorts of transportations so it allowed us to return to the city at the time of dinner. Back to Susukino entertainment district, eight of us agreed to indulge in sukiyaki, another staple dish in Japan, while the rest bailed to other kinds of cuisine. Gyu-no Ishizaki was the place we opted for our perfect dinner.

The restaurant specializes in all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu and sukiyaki courses. Upon arrival, we were impressively greeted with great hospitality. All rooms were private but even so, the very loud background noise could still slip in during the busiest dinner time like this.  We were trying to make some inquiries regarding the order of our course. However, a failed communication ended us up with seven portions of sukiyaki beef set which costed us over 44,000JY. It was stated that only top-notch beef is vigilantly selected here so the taste was unquestionably superb. 

The food was incredible and finely crafted, but every person left still hungry and astounded at the price we paid over the quantity we got. Making sure that you are well informed of the price for the portion you are getting is highly recommended when visit Gyu no Ishizaki. Nonetheless, this was the best quality of meat we had during this trip.

Day 5 (2019-Oct-17): Sapporo – Seoul

Hokkaido University Gingo Avenue

Fortunately, our Airbnb accommodation was super close to Hokkaido University so we could have the last minute to do one a must on any tour of Sapporo, visit Hokkaido University Ginkgo Avenue. So first thing in the morning we drove to the place which is located on the North 13th gate avenue. One tip is if you plan on bringing the wheels inside, be prepared for the parking fee. There was a slight drizzle making the atmosphere a tad gloomy but still, we had the avenue to ourselves. It was probably too early and the leaves of all the (approximately) 70 gingko trees were still at their early state of color changing. Nonetheless, this 380-meter-long arch still gave out the most beautiful scenery of the campus.

Now our pleasant autumn moment in Hokkaido has come to an end. It’s time to make our way back home.

We had to return the cars before running to the New Chitose Airport. If your rented car is from Niconico like ours, make sure you fill up the gas tank before dropping it back at the shop. Then grab a shuttle bus service to the airport.

Goodbye Hokkaido! I’ll definitely be back and discover more in a heartbeat!

Also, see the stories of our trip from the first three days of arrival in the links below:

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