TsukuBlog

A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

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

 

Scallops, sea-urchin (uni) and crab-meat (with some seaweed and pickles on the side) on a bed of sushi rice- for between 1,000 and 2,000 Yen at the Hokkaido Food Fair at Tsukuba`s Seibu Department Store

Scallops, sea-urchin (uni) and crab-meat (with some seaweed and pickles on the side) on a bed of sushi rice- to be had for between 1,000 and 2,000 Yen at the Hokkaido Food Fair at Tsukuba`s Seibu Department Store- which will be shutting its doors for the last time on Tuesday February 28, 2017

Crowds checking out the seafood at the Hokkaido Food Fair- because it is such a big hit, this event is held a few times every year.So have no fear- If you can`t make it there by Tuesday you can come back again in April.

Crowds checking out the seafood at the Hokkaido Food Fair- because it is such a big hit, this event is held a few times every year.So have no fear- If you can`t make it there by the 16th, you won`t get another chance. Next month (Feb. 2017) Tsukuba`s Seibu Department Store will be closing down permanently after having been the commercial center of Tsukuba for more than 30 years

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.

Its hard to resist buying one of these sushi bento-boxes for lunch (or dinner) despite the hefty prices

Its hard to resist buying one of these sushi bento-boxes for lunch (or dinner) despite the hefty prices

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?

My personal favorite- MENTAIKO (cod roe) - you can have a taste of all the different varieties and levels of spiciness)

My personal favorite- MENTAIKO (cod roe) – you can have a taste of all the different varieties and levels of spiciness)

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.

For making the perfect DASHI - Konbu (kelp) from Rishiri Island (off the tip of the Hokkaido mainland)

For making the perfect DASHI – Konbu (kelp) from Rishiri Island (off the tip of the Hokkaido mainland)

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)!

A variety of smoked seafoods from Rishiri Island- you can have a taste of each.

A variety of smoked seafoods from Rishiri Island- you can have a taste of each.

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.

Herring

You can have a taste of almost anything you see at the fair- like some of this delicious herring

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.

As Japan`s DAIRY-LAND Hokkaido produces some nice cheeses and other dairy products- popular with the kids: ice milk in plain and pumpkin.

As Japan`s DAIRY-LAND Hokkaido produces some nice cheeses and other dairy products- popular with the kids: ice milk in plain and pumpkin.

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).

Cheeses

Hokkaido cheeses

 

To be continued……………………..

More information at bottom

Croquettes with various fillings - you can have a taste before you buy ( but just tasting is alright, as well !)

Hokkaido croquettes with various fillings – you can have a taste before you buy ( but just tasting is alright, as well !)

 

Fried chicken

This fried chicken is very popular- a friend of mine from Hokkaido told me that Hokkaido-born residents of Tsukuba would probably want to eat this more than anything else at the fair!

 

You can have a taste of about ten different types of fried fishcake

You can have a taste of about ten different types of fried fishcake

 

Friendly saleman

This friendly salesman gave me so many tasting samples I was able to forego lunch!

 

Fresh slamon at the Hokkaido Food Fair

Fresh salmon at the Hokkaido Food Fair

 

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!

Speaking of Hokkaido - if hte food fair stimulates your interest in the prefectures food culture, head down one evening to Shin-Okubo in Tokyo. Harkuor is the capital`s only Ainu restaurant, and serves tasty and very interesting dishes which were eaten long before the WAJIN (as the Ainu call the Japanese) settles their island.

Speaking of Hokkaido – if the Hokkaido food fair stimulates your interest in the prefecture`s food culture, head down one evening to Shin-Okubo in Tokyo. There you will find Harkuor, the capital`s only Ainu restaurant, which serves tasty and very interesting dishes which were eaten in Hokkaido LONG before the WAJIN (as the Ainu call the Japanese) settled there.

 

 



2 Comments

  • alice says:

    Everything looks so yummy! I saw Hokkaido rice (10kg) being sold at a supermarket and it was only 1098yen albeit unbranded. I wanted to buy it to try but my husband refused. The reason behind his thinking is that cheaply priced rice are not of good quality. Hmmm…..

  • Makarova says:

    It looks so tasty! I especially like dried salmon.
    And I am happy to hear that you and your family are safe after the typhoon.