Japanese Culture and Food: Hokkaido
In this new series of blogs, we’re going to learn about the real Japan – we’re going beyond the tourism and looking at Japan’s amazing variety from one prefecture to the next, in both food and culture. You might even spot a few regional favourites that are present on our own menus, although you will have to visit our sushi bar in Manchester or our sushi bar in Liverpool for the full teppanyaki entertainment experience.
It is only right that we start this blog series in Hokkaido, the prefecture which is home to the bustling city of Sapporo after which our restaurant is named. It is the northernmost of Japan’s 43 prefectures, as well as the largest in land mass, it is one island which comprises of 22% of Japan’s land area.
Hokkaido is a mountainous region, so it is popular for winter activities like skiing, ice sculpting and a grandiose Snow Festival that is as impressive as it is cold. This differs greatly from Japan’s capital, Tokyo, which rarely experiences snow in the way that Hokkaido does. Tokyo also suffers from typhoons, but these rarely threaten Hokkaido. Overall, Hokkaido is considered quite cold, but generally safer from freak weather. On the other hand, the colder temperatures surely make a trip to any of Hokkaido’s hot springs a fantastic experience.
Hokkaido has a fairly low human population density which allows for nature to thrive in humanity’s absence. Some native animals present on Hokkaido include brown bears, yezo sika deer, red-crowned cranes, fish owls, whales, red squirrels and even the ezo red fox. Red-crowned cranes are especially important to Japan and are nationally protected, but they live in Hokkaido all year round.
Sapporo is the capital of the prefecture and is well known for its beer museum which details the city’s history through brewing, and even offers tasting sessions and a beer garden. As well as the snow festival, tourists often visit the capital for the Sapporo Ramen Show in May which is another well-known festival.
Food from Hokkaido
When visiting Hokkaido, you should make a special exception in your agenda to find room for the following dishes discussed in this section. However, if you won’t be visiting Japan any time soon, you should look out for some of these items on our menu or try making them yourself. Hokkaido is best known for its sweet dairy products and fresh seafood, but there are lots to discover so let’s learn about some Hokkaido dishes together.
Kaisen don is a special seafood rice bowl – unlike many rice bowls which only have two tasty extras, the kaisen don Is overflowing with luxurious flavours including crab, shrimp, sea urchin, caviar, salmon and tuna. The kaisen don is a hearty meal that should be sampled by anyone visiting Hokkaido.
Like Hokkaido, we also love our seafood and have many fish dishes available on our menu including ingredients such as lobster, jumbo prawns, tuna, sea bass, and scallops.
Perhaps due to the cold climate, the citizens of Hokkaido are very positive about a good hot pot. Ishikari Nabe is a hot pot named after the longest river in Hokkaido. It is constructed from winter vegetables, salmon, tofu and miso – all ingredients that we use on our menu at Sapporo Teppanyaki!
Many people think that summer is the climate for ice cream, but not in Hokkaido! Ice cream is loved all year round here, despite the chilly temperatures in winter, and the locals have tried and tested a variety of unusual flavours.
The secret to their delicious ice cream is, as any chef might guess, down to their superbly fresh ingredients. Hokkaido’s climate is perfect for dairy farming, so they have some of the best butter, milk and cream in the country which results in ice cream which is both soft and luxurious.
At our Japanese restaurants in Manchester and Liverpool, we offer our own homemade selections of ice cream too, including standard flavours such as vanilla and chocolate, as well as some more curious flavours like green tea and banoffee.
Hokkaido is a truly unique and beautiful part of Japan, so we can only recommend that you try to visit it for yourself one day. Until then, though, why not satiate yourself with a few visits to our Japanese restaurant in Manchester or our Japanese restaurant in Liverpool? We have plenty of authentic dishes for you to try.