ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “Japan

RED STAR & GENGKIS KHAN, Sapporo Beer Museum (サッポロビール株式会社), Sapporo (札幌), Hokkaido (北海道), Japan, 2019.06.25

Day 11 (2/2).

When people mention “Sapporo” many will immediately think of beer.  Established in 1876 as Kaitakushi Brewery (Pioneer Brewery, 開拓使麦酒醸造所), Sapporo Beer is the oldest Japanese beer.  It was the pioneer period when the Meiji government raced to settle on the Island of Hokkaido ahead of the expanding Russians.  A regional government known as Kaitakushi (開拓使) or Hokkaido Development Commission was set up in Sapporo to oversee the island’s pioneer development .  Reference to the northern Pole Star, a red star is used as the symbol of the Kaitakushi.  This Kaitakushi red star appeared throughout the old Hokkaido, from building facades such as the Sapporo Clock Tower to bottle labels of Sapporo Beer.

After visiting the Former Hokkaido Government Building, we made our way to the Sapporo Beer Museum (サッポロビール博物館), the historical brewery about half an hour walk from Sapporo Clock Tower.  We have decided to spend the last few hours of our trip to learn more about beer making in Hokkaido.  We also planned to fill our stomach at the museum’s Beer Garden with a Genghis Khan or (Jingisukan, ジンギスカン) lunch.  Not sure if it has anything to do with Mongolia, the Genghis Khan is a local Hokkaido dish serving grilled lamb and local vegetables on a special round grill.  Perhaps in reference to the lamb eating custom of Mongolian soldiers back in the prewar years, Genghis Khan (Jingisukan, ジンギスカン) has become a popular local dish after a sheep farm was set up in Hokkaido in 1918.  The first Genghis Khan (Jingisukan) restaurant opened in Tokyo in 1936.  Decades after Genghis Khan restaurants continue to flourish in Hokkaido.  For our 2019 Hokkaido trip, a hearty meal of grill lamb and draught beer at the historical brewery of Sapporo Beer offered us a satisfying closure.

IMG_1012On our way to Sapporo Beer Museum, we passed by Sapporo Factory (サッポロファクトリー), a shopping and entertainment complex housed in a former brewery of Kaitakushi Brewery, the predecessor of Sapporo Beer.

IMG_1014The building of Sapporo Factory was renovated and converted into a commercial complex in 1993.

DSC_6612At Sapporo Factory Hall, there is a small exhibition house that tells the story of beer making in Hokkaido.  The Kaitakushi star can be seen at the small exhibition house.

DSC_6619We arrived at Sapporo Beer Museum after another 15 minute walk from Sapporo Factory.

DSC_6620Visitors gathered at the entrance to wait for the museum to open its door.

DSC_6623An enormous brew kettle greet all museum visitors at the entry hall.

IMG_1033On display are some of the earliest beer bottles from the late 19th century.

DSC_6627No matter how the label design has evolved throughout the past century, the star of Kaitakushi remains as a visual focus.

DSC_6630The evolution of marketing posters reflects the social and cultural changes in the past century.

DSC_6641Since 1966, the Beer Hall at Sapporo Beer Museum has been a popular restaurant serving the Mongolian barbecue Genghis Khan.

IMG_1056Genghis Khan is self served on a special round grill.

IMG_1058We ordered different kinds of lamb meat.

IMG_8113Not to be missed were the special draught beer at the Beer Hall.

IMG_8119The bear sculpture in the gift shop reminded us of the wilderness of Eastern Hokkaido.

DSC_6647After the hearty lunch, we walked around the museum ground for a bit.

DSC_6651Until it was time for us to pick up our backpacks at Cross Hotel and headed for New Chitose Airport. This concludes our 11-day Hokkaido journey.

FORMER HOKKAIDO GOVERNMENT OFFICE (北海道庁旧本庁舎), Sapporo (札幌), Hokkaido (北海道), Japan, 2019.06.25

Day 11 (1/2).

Maybe it was the city’s grid road system, or the influence of Massachusetts Professor William Clark who came to set up Sapporo Agricultural College and whose teaching “boys, be ambitious” has become a motto for not just Sapporo but the entire Hokkaido, or the pioneer heritage developed in the 19th century when Japanese came to settle on this northern island of native Ainu, or an ambience generated by the many Western buildings in Downtown Sapporo, Sapporo does to a certain extent resemble the United States of America.  Looking at some of the city’s most well known buildings, such as the Clock Tower (時計台) and the Former Hokkaido Government Office (北海道庁旧本庁舎), a strong sense of Western touches reveal a pristine version of the American dream enrooted in the Japanese soil over half a century before the end of WWII.

It was the last day of our Hokkaido journey.  We had half day of time before leaving for the airport.  Leaving behind our luggage at Cross Hotel, we headed two blocks west to the forecourt of the Former Hokkaido Government Office.  Nicknamed the “red brick building”, the American Neo-Baroque building has housed the seat of Hokkaido’s government for over 80 years.  Through its display of artefacts and old photographs, the Former Hokkaido Government Office is a popular attraction for tourists to get a brief understanding of Hokkaido’s history.

DSC_6494The famous Sapporo Clock Tower reminded us of the American Midwest.

DSC_6588Nicknamed the “red brick building”, the American Neo-Baroque building has housed the seat of Hokkaido’s government for over 80 years.

IMG_1003The building has gone through a few renovations throughout history until the current red brick appearance.

DSC_6594Inside the building, the beautiful wooden staircase is one of the biggest features of the architecture.

DSC_6598The wooden details of the stair at the Former Hokkaido Government Office.

DSC_6600Not the most ornate wooden stair, the building interior reveals a certain simplicity and rawness of the pioneer era.

DSC_6602The building was the seat of Hokkaido for over 80 years.

IMG_8070For us, old photographs in the building which told the pioneer story of Sapporo were perhaps the most interesting display.

IMG_1007The “pioneer” train carriage was once filled with the dreams and stories of the early Japanese pioneers in the nation’s wild wild west.

MOUNT MOIWA (藻岩山) & RAMEN HARUKA (ラーメン悠), Sapporo (札幌), Hokkaido (北海道), Japan, 2019.06.24

Day 10 (6/6).

To end our Sapporo foodie day, we decided to get up Mount Moiwa (藻岩山, Moiwa-yama) for the famous night view of the city.

IMG_0923From Susukino, we hopped onto Sapporo’s only streetcar towards “Ropeway Iriguchi” station.

IMG_8005Sapporo’s only streetcar line has trains running clockwise and counterclockwise in a loop.

IMG_0925After getting off the streetcar, we didn’t bother to wait for the connection bus, but instead, we took 10 minutes to walk up to the Mount Moiwa Ropeway station.

IMG_0926Nagasaki, Kitayushu and Sapporo are considered the three new greatest urban night views in Japan.

IMG_0928The cable car slowly left the Mount Moiwa Ropeway station.

IMG_0939Our cable car passed by a white Buddhist stupa halfway up.  Built in 1959 to commemorate peace after World War II, the Sapporo Peace Pagoda supposedly housed some ashes of the Buddha, a gift given by India to the Emperor of Japan in 1954.

IMG_0943Another cable car passed by in the opposite direction.

DSC_6554We arrived at the observation deck on Mount Moiwa right at the magic hour just before dusk.

DSC_6574At 531m above sea level, Downtown Sapporo was right below us.

IMG_8021The Koibito Sanctuary (Lover’s Sanctuary) atop Mount Moiwa is a popular photo spot.

IMG_0980After Mount Moiwa, we returned to the vibrant Susukino.

IMG_0982Known as one of the most famous entertainment districts in Japan, we came to search for a late night meal.

IMG_0990In an alleyway, we picked Haruka Ramen (ラーメン悠) for our late night meal.

IMG_0983The owner must be a fan of hard rock and metal music.  The small ramen shop is decorated with t-shirts, badges and album covers of rock bands.

IMG_0987We knew it was unhealthy to have late night meal, but we just couldn’t leave Sapporo without having a bowl of Sapporo ramen.

SATURDAYS CHOCOLATE, Sapporo (札幌), Hokkaido (北海道), Japan, 2019.06.24

Day 10 (4/6).

Just a stone throw north of Nijo Market (二条市場), a local artisan chocolate maker has become very popular in recent years .  Claimed to be “from bean to bar”, the shop of Saturdays Chocolate includes a small workshop display area where chocolate bars are made.  Wrapped in beautiful papers that represent the origin of the cacao beans used,  all chocolate bars are made with cacao beans of single origin and cane sugar.  Chocolate snacks and drinks are also available at the cafe in the shop.

DSC_6539Most shops in Nijo Market (二条市場) were already closed in the late afternoon as we headed to Saturdays Chocolate.

DSC_6538Warm lighting, wooden porch, pot plants and a chocolate bar sculpture make up the shopfront of Saturdays Chocolate.

IMG_7994The shop interior is filled with a relaxing ambience.

IMG_0869A feature table right by the entrance showcases the shop’s variety of chocolate bars.

IMG_0874A fake monkey and cacao bean form the centrepiece on the feature table.

IMG_7985The wrapping paper of each bar is inspired by designs from the origin country of the cacao beans.

IMG_0884There is also a cafe in the shop offering chocolate drinks and snacks.

IMG_0870Display at the seating area introduces the origin countries of the cacao beans.

IMG_0880After purchasing a few chocolate bars, we ordered a chocolate drink and sat at the seating area to take a relaxing break.

KITAKARO SAPPORO HONKAN (北菓楼札幌本館), Sapporo (札幌), Hokkaido (北海道), Japan, 2019.06.24

Day 10 (3/6).

During our Hokkaido trip, we visited three works by Japanese architect Tadao Ando (安藤 忠雄): the Chapel on the Water in Tomamu, the Hill of the Buddha in Makomanai Takino Cemetery, and in Sapporo, the Kitakaro Sapporo Honkan (北菓楼札幌本館).  The Japanese confectionery store is housed in the two-storey brick masonry building that was once the first library (北海道庁立図書館) and the first ever art museum in Hokkaido.  Then, after being used as an archive of public records, the most recent renewal by Tadao Ando opened the building to the public once again.  Ando’s team has done a great job in preserving the masonry structure and interior features of the original building such as the elegant stair at the building corner.  They also created an airy atrium space with white cross vault ceiling and large bookcases on the upper level to remind visitors the building’s history as a library.  Today, the lower level serves as a flagship store selling Kitakaro’s confectionery while the upper level is a popular cafe.

IMG_0853The historical library building (北海道庁立図書館) is a beautiful piece of architecture dated to 1920’s.

IMG_0842The original masonry facades are well preserved.

IMG_0845Little contemporary touches give new life to the former library building.

IMG_0794The main entrance of the confectionery shop, a glazed box attached to the side of the history building, presents a visual contrast to the original structure and suggests a sense of respect to the heritage building by not mingling a “fake antique” with the old.

IMG_0810The original stone stair is well kept.  It leads visitors up to the cafe on the upper level.

IMG_0835This stone stair has become a popular photo shooting spot for visitors.

IMG_0837The ground level is occupied by the confectionery store.  Here visitors can appreciate the white vaulted ceiling overhead and the airy atrium.

IMG_0809The red brick walls are well preserved, while the new vaulted structure is completely detached from the old masonry facade.

IMG_0831From the upper level visitors can appreciate the variety of the colourful boxes of sweets available.

IMG_0808The interior design of the cafe is inspired by the building’s former use as a library.  Bookcases are used as feature walls that stand out from the white surroundings.

IMG_0830The cafe is popular with both locals and tourists .

IMG_0822It is pleasant to dine in such an airy environment with super high ceiling.

IMG_0824Spaghetti with scallop in cream sauce.  The cream sauce is surprisingly light but rich in scallop flavour.  The cream sauce has the subtle sweetness of the fresh scallops.

IMG_7943This is Kitakaro’s Special Omelet Rice. What lies underneath the layer of fresh and soft omelet is a combination of rice and Hokkaido beef.  It is served with a rich sweet sauce. This dish might look simple but the combined aromatic flavor from the fresh Hokkaido ingredients is really remarkable.

IMG_7944The famous cream puff with smooth and silky cream that melts in the mouth, leaving behind a milky aftertaste that lingers.

IMG_7968Hokkaido is famous for its lavender fields in the summer.  Just like Ando’s Hill of the Buddha, lavender is used at the Kitakaro Sapporo Honkan (北菓楼札幌本館) to give some pleasant colours to the historical structure.


MORIHICO COFFEE (森彦珈琲本店), Sapporo (札幌), Hokkaido (北海道), Japan, 2019.06.24

Day 10 (2/6).

Not far from the Maruyama Park, we arrived at an old wooden house with white sidings and red shingles.  This is the original Morihico Coffee established in 1996.  Now, Morihico has become one of the most successful coffee shop brand in Sapporo.  Despite all the new and sleek shops in other areas of the city, we preferred to visit the original Morihico Coffee: home made pastries and home roasted coffee in a mellow timber house covered with lush green ivy in the old Maruyama neighborhood.

DSC_6530Timber signage of Morihico Coffee mingles with the lush green ivy.

DSC_6531Located in an old timber house in Maruyama, the origin shop of Morihico Coffee has been around since 1996.

IMG_0758The coffee shop seems like a small barn house in the countryside somewhere in the North America.

DSC_6534The signage, ivy and fire wood go well together.

IMG_0789The shop is two storey high with most seating on the upper floor.

IMG_0785The lower floor is dominated by the cafe counter.

IMG_0763Though small, the upper floor is well lit with natural light through the lush green ivy.

IMG_0767Everything in the cafe look vintage.

IMG_0781Interesting artwork on the wall.

IMG_0780Interior decorations at Cafe Morihico.

IMG_7921Signs on the wall remind tourists of the cafe etiquette.

IMG_7922The homemade pastries were delicious and fresh.

IMG_7920The coffee was good as expected.

IMG_0770We had an enjoyable breakfast at Cafe Morihico.  We were quite impressed and purchased a pack of coffee when we left.

HOKKAIDO SHRINE (北海道神宮 ), Sapporo (札幌), Hokkaido (北海道), Japan, 2019.06.24

Day 10 (1/6).

Under the Meiji Government, the Hokkaido Development Commission was established in 1869, and the pioneer movement in Japan’s northernmost and second largest island, Hokkaido, officially began.  The Japanese pioneers brought over their living culture, farming techniques, and faith of Shintoism.  Emperor Meiji in Tokyo enshrined three deities Ōkunitama, Ōkuninushi, and Sukunahikona as the deities of Hokkaido reclamation (開拓三神) to support the pioneer movement.  These deities were then moved to Sapporo from Tokyo.  The shrine housing these Shinto deities was first named as Sapporo Shrine, and then in 1964 renamed as Hokkaido Shrine (北海道神宮) along with the enshrinement of Emperor Meiji into the same shrine.  Today, the 150-year Hokkaido Shrine continues to play a crucial role in the lives of the locals, from New Year celebration to wedding ceremonies.  The shrine is also a popular spot for hanami (花見), the spring cherry blossom festival.  To start off our second last day of the trip, we spent a peaceful morning at the Hokkaido Shrine in Maruyama Park (円山公園) while most shops and cafes had yet opened for business.

DSC_6497In the shade of magnolias, maple, oak, Japanese Judas, and cherry of Maruyama Park, we arrived at the Torii gate of Hokkaido Shrine (北海道神宮).

DSC_65062019 marked the beginning of the Reiwa era (令和) and the accession of Emperor Naruhito (徳仁).

DSC_6499Before entering the main shrine complex, we arrived at the first shrine building called Kaitaku Jinja (開拓神社), the pioneer shrine.

DSC_6510We washed our hands at the chozuya (手水舎) before entering the main shrine.

IMG_0727The current Hokkaido Shrine was restored in 1978, after a fire destroyed the earlier structure in 1974.

DSC_6516Inside the main complex, we arrived at the courtyard in front of the main shrine.

DSC_6521Just like many Shinto shrines around Japan, the main shrine of the Hokkaido Shrine is a beautiful timber structure.

IMG_0745We had a quick peek into the main shrine as we left our offering coins and clapped our hands at the entrance veranda.

IMG_0734We also picked up an O-mikuji (御御籤) or sacred fortune slip from a wooden box.

DSC_6518There are a number of racks for visitors to leave behind their undesirable O-mikuji (御御籤), as well as wooden ema (絵馬), or wooden plaques with written wishes.

IMG_0748After the main shrine, we paid respect to the other small shrines before leaving the shrine complex.