Asahikawa and Higashikawa: Things to Do, Food to Eat
After our stay at Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, we made our way to Asashidake (Mt Asahi) which is the the tallest peak in Hokkaido. Asahidake is part of the Daisetsuzan (Great Snowy Mountains) mountain range which consists of 20 peaks that are over 2000m in altitude.
Hoshino Resorts Tomamu is an integrated resort comprising of two hotels, 25 ski courses, restaurants, outdoor activities, ice village and even an indoor beach which is kept at 30°C all year round. In the summer, crowds make their way up to Unkai terrace to experience the "Sea of Clouds" and stay a few days to enjoy other summer activities like white water rafting, trekking, horse riding and hot air ballooning.
Akigawa Keikoku Valley: Akiruno, Hinohara and Hinode machi
Located just over an hour's train ride from central Tokyo is the beautiful Akigawa Valley which is located inside the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park. This is where Tokyo residents head for some respite from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis.
Asahikawa is the 2nd largest city in Hokkaido after Sapporo and the gateway to the central region of the island. It also has the distinction of being the coldest place in Hokkaido with a temperature of −41 °C in 1902, the lowest ever recorded in Japan. So if it is snow you are after, this is certainly the place to find it.
I soon found out that the signature food of Furano is omukare (omelette, rice and curry) after picking up a brochure in the hotel lobby which lists a dozen place in Furano which you can try the dish! One of the 12 places listed was Natural Dining which is the in-house restaurant at Natulux. I had the opportunity to learn how to make omurice from the chef there.
I have been planning to bring the family back to Hokkaido since my trip to Hakodate last year. The kids love the food and the culture of Japan but are only familiar with the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. I wanted them to experience the charms of driving through rural Hokkaido with its padi fields, […]
Hakka food of Miaoli, Featuring Onsen Papawaqa and ChooArt Villa
If you need an excuse to visit Taiwan, then Onsen Papawaqa is surely it. Rockett Girl and I fell in love with the place the moment it came into view along the mountainous road. The minimalistic wood and concrete building is located in a valley right next to a river and looks as if it had just grown out of the riverbank. It is one of many eco-friendly places in Taiwan where one can go to escape the stresses of city life.
The night markets are one of the big tourist attractions of Taiwan. I could spend the whole night just hopping from stall to stall looking to discover new taste sensations! Like our own hawker centres, each market will have its own specialities even though most of the popular items like fried chicken, oyster omelette, and stinky tofu will be available at most markets. Our reason for visiting Zhongli night market is for a particular stall that sells Mala Stinky Tofu.
Do you remember the Master Chef featured in the Taiwanese movie, “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman?”. The opening scene of the movie absolutely enthralled me. What seemed like a series dishes prepared for a banquet ended up being the everyday meal for a family of four! In the movie, the protagonist was a semi-retired Master Chef of Taipei’s Grand Hotel who has been responsible for showcasing Chinese cuisine to local and foreign dignitaries for decades. The movie went on to tell the story of his three daughters garnished with lavish food scenes in between.
I have long been intrigued by kombu. Like any other ingredient, the quality of kombu depends on terroir. 90% of the Kombu produced in Japan comes from the waters surrounding Hokkaido and there are many different types such as Rishiri kombu, Rausu kombu, Hidaka kombu and Misuishi kombu. Each type not only refers to the place where the kelp is harvested but also its variety.
One of the best things to do in Hakodate is to drive out to the beautiful Onuma Quasi National Park (Onuma Koen) where you can smell the green grass, pat a few cows and indulge in an ice cream or two, or three…
For lovers of Japanese food, Hokkaido is indeed the promised land, flowing with milk and uni! Ask your sushi chef where the best uni, hotate and kombu comes from and they will tell you it's Hokkaido. Where does the best milk and ice-cream come from? Hokkaido. With the effect of global warming, Hokkaido is now also producing some of the best rice in Japan.