Travel Japan: Hokkaido during Summer

Hokkaido is one of the more famous places in Japan aside from Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.
It is the topmost island of Japan where the cold wind still blows even when the summer breeze is already in Tokyo.

Usually when people talk about Hokkaido, it’s about the snow festival and the cold weather. Being the topmost island of Japan, the temperature can go below zero degrees Celsius during winter days.

So last August, me and two friends decided to spend our summer break in Hokkaido; splitting our 6 days (5 nights) adventure between 3 nights in Furano & Biei and the remaining 2 nights in Sapporo.

The summary of our plan:

  1. Fly from Tokyo to Asahikawa Airport
  2. Stay in a Furano hotel / airbnb
  3. Roam around Furano and Biei
  4. Travel to Sapporo area with bus or train
  5. Stay in a Sapporo hotel / airbnb
  6. Roam around Sapporo area
  7. Fly from New Chitose Airport back to Tokyo

Accommodations:

We kinda wasted a lot of time before doing our hotel booking so most of the cheap and good ones are already booked. If I remember it correctly, we’re almost a month away from the trip before we did the booking. Luckily, we were still able to find some good deals.

B&B Furano

First, B&B Furano. This pension house might not be a luxury hotel but the rooms are good enough for travelers like us. The house is near bus stations and it’s walking distance from some restaurants and 7eleven. The breakfast meals are also great.

For 2 rooms, we paid 75,000 yen for 3 nights.

MYSTAYS PREMIER Hotel

Next, Mystays Premier Hotel in Sapporo. This one is a really nice hotel. Complete with amenities like restaurants and hot spring bath inside the building. The hotel is within walking distance from the city center.

For 2 rooms, we paid 57,000 yen for 2 nights.

The Tourist Spots:

Me and my friends didn’t really stick on a fixed itinerary and schedule. Here is the list of the places we checked out during our trip.

Farm Tomita (Furano)

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Flower Land Kamifurano (Furano)

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Zerebu Hill (Biei)

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Furano Cheese Factory (Furano)

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Patchwork no Michi (Biei)

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Ken and Mary Tree

 

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View in the Patchwork Road

 

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Another View in the Patchwork Road

Shirogane Blue Pond (Biei)

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Otaru (near Sapporo)

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Shiroi Koibito Park (Sapporo)

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Sapporo Beer Museum (Sapporo)

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Soup Curry GARAKU (Sapporo)

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Chicken Leg Soup Curry + Broiled Cheese on Rice

Genghis Khan Restaurant (Sapporo)

This restaurant serves lamb meat for Yakinuku. We waited over 2 hours just to be seated in this famous restaurant and maybe that’s the reason I was too hungry to take pictures. 🙂

Final Thoughts

Our Hokkaido trip last Summer will definitely be on the list of my favorite trips even though we were kind of relax in our itinerary and weren’t able to go to other tourist spots.

Hopefully in the future, I’ll get visit this place again and enjoy the food and places we weren’t able to try. Maybe during winter for a change. 🙂

 

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Filipino Food: Japan’s first Jollibee store by 2019

For us Filipinos, nothing beats the taste of our own Jollibee chickenjoy. The crispy chicken skin and the juiciness of the meat (with the gravy) is still better than any other fast food fried chicken in the Philippines.

I’ve been here in Japan for more than 4 years now and one thing that I really wanted to have here is a Jollibee store. So I’m really excited after a friend of mine shared me a link with the news about the plan.

2019 is still a long wait but hopefully I will be able to taste Japan’s version of our own Jollibee chickenjoy.

Btw, here is the link to the original news post

Japanese Food Guide: Yakitori

焼き鳥 (Yakitori; やきとり) is my favorite Japanese food.

The Japanese word yakitori literally means grilled chicken. It resembles barbecue since the cooking style similarly involves skewering the (chicken) meat on stick and grilling it on top of charcoal fire.

Strictly speaking, yakitori is the word specifically use for skewered chicken meat. If we are to refer to all kind of meat including beef and pork which are grilled on a stick, the formal term to use is 串焼き (Kushiyaki; くしやき). Because of the variety of chicken meat cuts and preparation, there are a lot of kinds of yakitori.

Types of yakitori
  • もも (momo) – chicken thigh
  • ねぎま (negima) – chicken (usually thigh meat) with spring onions
  • つくね (tsukune) – meatballs (made of chicken, egg and vegatables)
  • とりかわ (torikawa) – or just かわ (kawa) is (crispy) chicken skin
  • 手羽先 (tebasaki – chicken wings
  • レバー (reba) – chicken liver
  • なんこつ (nankotsu) – chicken cartilage
Here is the list of less popular types
  • ぼんじり (bonjiri) – chicken tail
  • シロ (shiro) – chicken small intestines
  • こころ (kokoro) – chicken heart (also hatsu (ハツ) or haato (ハート))
  • ずり (zuri) – chicken gizzard (also 砂肝 (sunagimo; すなぎも))

Yakitori are usually served with しお (shio; salt) or 垂れ (tare (たれ); sauce). Since they are on stick, we can eat them directly without the use of chopstick.

The art of saying I don’t understand in Nihongo

4 years in Japan and probably one of the Japanese words I still use the most often when speaking to Japanese people is わかりません (wakarimasen).

There are two easy ways (or phrases) to convey that you don’t know how to answer a question; わかりません (wakarimasen) and しりません (shirimasen). With my limited knowledge of Japanese language, I believe that these are the difference of the two.

しりません (shirimasen)
しらない (shiranai)

Basically, しりません is use when you don’t have the knowledge to answer the question. Translation is literally, I don’t know.

Example:
Person A: What is the value of x as it approaches the value zero?
Person B: しりません (I don’t know)

わかりません (wakarimasen)
わからい (wakanai)

わかりません is use when you can’t understand or you don’t understand the question or what is happening (Translations are I can’t understand or I don’t understand). It can also be use when you don’t actually have a way of knowing the answer (like if it’s really raining tomorrow when the weather app says it’s 30% chance of rain).

Example:
Person A: <speaking Japanese I can’t understand>
Rowell: ごめなさい、わかりません (I’m sorry, I don’t understand)

 

There you have it. I hope things are clear about the difference of the two.
Next time someone ask you a question you can’t answer, I hope you remember this article. 🙂

Nihongo: How to respond to “thank you”

In work, my colleagues would sometimes request or ask me to help them. And more often than not, when they thank me by saying ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu), I’m not sure what the most appropriate reply is.

So here I compile the list of phrases we can use when responding to thank you:

どういたしまして (douitashimashite)

This is the textbook and safest reply to thank you but sounds robotic for me. It’s the equivalent of saying You’re welcome.

いいえ いいえ (iie iie)
いえいえ (ie ie)
いやいや (iya iya)

Literally saying No no (don’t mention it).
This one might not be good for formal situation and must be accompanied with a smile. 🙂

問題ない (もんだいない; mondainai)
問題なし (もんだいないし; mondainashi)

Translation: No problem.
The し (shi) makes it sound softer (and more polite but I might be wrong).
This one might not be good enough for formal situation too.

こちらこそ、ありがとう (kochira koso arigatou)

Translation: I am the one who should thank you.
Use this one if you also need to give a thank you to the one who said it.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I hope you can use the above phrases next time someone says thank you to you.

— Edit —
As pointed out in the comment, the above phrases are for casual and informal situation. Checkout まいける’s comment for more formal ways to reply for thank you.

Why I like here in Japan

I’ve been living here in Japan for almost 4 years now. I know that there are a lot of good reasons to live and stay here for good. These 5 reasons are on the top of my list.

1. No time wasted in traveling.

One of my biggest issue when I was still working in the Philippines is the amount of time wasted because of traffic jam.

Here in Japan, trains are almost never late. Riding trains to get to work and to travel for vacation is very easy and efficient. It can be very crowded during rush hours but it is still tolerable for me than to wait in a non moving vehicle.

2. Japan is a peaceful and safe country

Japan is consistently in the top 10 of most peaceful countries in the world.

3. Fast internet connection.

Japan has good internet speed compared to my home country.

This is very beneficial for me due to the nature of my work. And because I enjoy watching a lot of movie and tv series online.

4. Nice places to visit.

Japan has a lot of tourist destinations.

From Hokkaido to Okinawa, the tourist and adventure spots are very accessible.

5. Better career opportunities.

Not all people will agree with me on this; specially people who already had the chance to work on better countries. But compared to the Philippines, I have a better career in here.

Hello World

The title of this first blog post is self serving because I am a software engineer; “Hello world” is usually the first sample code snippet we see when learning a new programming language.

So basically, what I’m doing here is learning new skills; writing, basic photography and image editing. I need a platform where I can showcase (naks!) my new skills to my friends and collect feedbacks. And the easiest and cheapest platform that I thought was having my own blog site.

So in my next blog posts, you will likely see articles related to my favorite subjects; daily life in Japan, coffee (there are a lot of cool coffee shops here in Tokyo) and technology. I will also be posting articles with a lot of pictures whenever I go traveling around Japan or the Philippines.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I hope you will enjoy your time reading my posts. Thank you!

Note: Please don’t hesitate to call my attention if you see any problem with my post; be it grammar or factual errors.