Last Ever Hokkaido Food Fair (北海道物産展) at Tsukuba`s Soon-to-Close-Down Seibu Department Store – on the 6th floor, Thru Monday January 16th
By Avi Landau
When you mention one of their county`s prefectures or certain of its cities, more than anything else it seems, the Japanese think of FOOD. Here are some typical dialogues which can be heard between two Japanese, or a Japanese and a foreigner ( in which speaker B is the Japanese):
A) I was in Sendai last weekend. B) Oh ! Did you have GYUTAN (tongue)?
A) I am going to Fukui Prefecture tomorrow! B) I envy you ! The crabs there are delicious!
A) I used to live in Kukamoto Prefecture. B) Really. I just love BASASHI (raw horse-meat).
A) Have you ever been to Niigata ? Yes. The fish and rice are delicious. So is the Sake.
A) Let`s go skiing in Nagano. B) Good idea ! Then we can have some soba (buckwheat noddles) !
I could go on and on recreating such conversations- All giving proof to the fact that in Japan, place names most often evoke images of food or drink – the result of prefectural and municipal efforts to establish and promote a famous local product.
But while so many places in Japan are connected in people minds with certain individual foods, the one place that has probably now become most famous for food in general - is the largest and northernmost of Japan`s prefectures: Hokkaido.
Seafood, seaweed, vegetables, dairy products,croquettes, ramen, beef, chicken and pork, beer and whiskey, and a whole slew of sweets and confections.
That is why conversation is so lively when someone who has just been to Hokkaido is involved (since food IS the most most comfortable subject of conversation in Japan)- there is so much to talk about !
Did you have ramen? How about the sushi? Did you try soup curry? Was the squid in season?
A few times a year, Tsukuba`s Seibu Department Store holds special events that feature many of Hokkaido`s most famous products. These Hokkaido Food Fairs are probably the most successful of the many special events held on the department store`s 6th floor- and that is surely why they have come to be held 3 or 4 times a year.
These fairs last about 2 weeks each (sorry to be posting this with only 2 days remaining to the current one) and I find myself going ALMOST EVERY DAY when they are on – growing friendly with the sales staff, and growing bigger around the waistline from all my purchases (and tasting samples)!
With so much to taste- at one booth you might get a whole meal`s worth of samples-, and so many different lunches and dinners to be had – I just can`t help but come back again and again. I plan on being there again today ( another seafood sushi lunch-box?) since I`ll be in the neighborhood anyway.
There are three different booths selling these sushi lunch-boxes- which by the way don`t fit most people image of Japan`s most famous food.
The square lunch boxes are piled so high with heaps of seafood- scallops, crab-meat, sea-urchin, salmon roe, etc. that you cant even sea the sushi rice (vinegared rice) with which they are filled.
One of the booths is set up more like a little restaurant serving another of Hokkaido`s most famous foods – ramen, served in a miso based broth. Besides this ‘restaurant’ there are other ramen booth (which give out little sample bowls).
To be continued……………………..
More information at bottom
On February 28th, Seibu will be closing down permanently – after more than thirty years of being a Tsukuba icon. So this is your last chance to enjoy what has long been one of its most popular regular events!