The first time I went to Japan was about 1.5 years ago to Niseko, where it was also the first time I’ve learnt how to snowboard. I’ve never been a winter/snow baby - I’ve always been a water baby and a sun-lover. Nonetheless, I remember the pure joy of waking up in the mornings to see a thick layer of powder snow that fell overnight. This was quickly taken over by the exhilarating thrill of the speed and cold of snowboarding through the slopes. Us being us, we also foolishly attempted 2 black diamond slopes within 4 days of learning how to snowboard - no regrets though.
Other than snowboarding being the main activity, I could not forget the moments of piping hot ramen in the midst of the dying winter, and the freshest Otoro we had at Tsukiji fish market (after our Niseko leg, we headed over to Tokyo to celebrate the new year). It was safe to say that our little trip to Japan that year was split into 2 obvious legs - Niseko for some hardcore exercise (we snowboarded for 10 hours a day for 4-5 days in a row) and Tokyo for some hardcore eating (think: 6 meals a day). This time, I spent about 5 days in Hokkaido with my dad (after Taipei City, Taiwan). Namely, we spent most of our time in a quiet little town called Ishikari, where the weather was crisp, food was simple and fresh and people were kind.
I loved Ishikari in a different way from how I adored Niseko and Tokyo. Ishikari was quiet, cosy, with one of the smallest population densities amongst the various cities in Japan. We spent some time in an onsen, had cheap black coffee while watching the mountains, visited an organic cherry tomato farm and a free-range newly-started up poultry and egg farm (the farms were definitely my idea). Unlike Tokyo where technology was abuzz and everything was fast and furious, I was licking fresh mountain bee honeys off the honeycomb that was harvested a day ago.
A part of me feels that I belong to an Ishikari-like life. On somedays I really do believe it, and perhaps one day I will live it.
So much food, so much fresh produce, and so many wonderful kind simple folk. Missing Japan already.