Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"He mixes it with love and makes the world taste good..."

With only a couple of days to spend in Sapporo, I got just a sampling of Japan's fifth largest city.

But l liked what I saw. (and ate!)

Before taking the six-hour train ride north to Sapporo, I knew that the city was well known internationally for hosting the Winter Olympics (in 1972 -- just looked it up), and for holding the annual Sapporo Snow Festival (which is in February). So it came as no surprise that the weather over the weekend was cold and snowy.

I also knew about Sapporo beer, one of the leading brands in Japan. I've never really written about how beer is a big part of Japanese culture, but it definitely is. It's especially popular for Japanese businessmen to drink beer and sake together after putting in long hours at the office.

Even though beer is not my cup of tea (haha), it was still interesting to tour the Sapporo Brewery and see how it's made.

But without a doubt, I preferred the chocolate factory tour the following day...

(Even though I gave up chocolate for Lent, and the amazing smell in and around the building about drove me crazy..aaah!)

This factory is famous for its white chocolate cookies, called shiroi koibito 白い恋人, that are available only in Hokkaido.

These cookies make the perfect omiyage -- which is another aspect of Japanese culture that I haven't mentioned before. Omiyage means "souvenir," and it's customary to bring back enough omiyage (usually food) for everyone you work with whenever you travel somewhere.

I passed out these cookies in the office earlier today, and everyone was pretty excited about them.

The movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory kept coming to mind during the factory tour. :)

Besides touring factories, I visited a shrine (pictured below), the Maruyama Zoo, and a shopping mall.

Experiencing the Sapporo night life was fun...

Kuji doesn't look quite like this, haha.

It was also good to try a local specialty called jingisukan -- roasted lamb meat with onions that you grill.

Back in Kuji on Monday night, I tried a different kind of Japanese cuisine, which I'll write about next time. :)

Stay tuned....


Lauren said...

I love the title of this post! I am so proud of you for going through the whole tour without having any chocolate! Looks like you are having a good time yet again!

Anonymous said...

I actually had my wedding ceremony at the old Sapporo factory ;)
Oh and the shiroi koibito cokkies were on the news a year or two ago because they were selling expired products with new expiry dates... I think they're pretty good, tho.