As I talked about myself earlier in this article, I am a foodie grown up in a foodie family.
So I talked about this in my intro article but I was born near Tokyo but has been raised in San Francisco.
I have lived in Chiba, Tokyo and Kyoto, and decided to settle in Hokkaido after working in Singapore, San Francisco, Vancouver and made visits everywhere in the world. Well, at least for awhile.
Today I want to talk about why I felt Hokkaido was the perfect fit for me out of all the nicest areas to settle around the world!
The food is actually the main reason why I settled in Hokkaido.
Of course in my opinion but I am pretty sure many other friends that has been around everywhere would agree that the ingredients are seriously the best quality in the world!
Seafood, meat, vegetables, and fruits. They all grow very well here, and now the most expensive rice is even from Hokkaido.
This is due to the fertile land but also global warming as well.
Skillful chefs, of course, gather in Tokyo. Tsukiji market is the central market for all seafood in Japan, and if you talk about the skills and techniques these market people have to enhance the flavor, and most importantly preserve it as long as possible are undoubtedly the best you get in Japan.
But for the freshness, you cannot beat Hokkaido... You will really taste the difference in how fresh the food is in Hokkaido, even the ones from the supermarket or chained rotating sushi restaurants.
Let me give you an example. A banker in Singapore once told me he attended a tuna cutting event held by the Japanese government in Singapore, but the tuna was close to rotten, probably because the weather was so hot at that time.
In the straight of Tsugaru, the sea in between Ohma in Aomori and Toi in Hokkaido is where one of the best tunas are fished in Japan.
Well, actually the most widely known is the ones from the Ohma side.
But what interested me when I was at a sushi restaurant in Sapporo is the sushi chef told me that he preferred the tunas from Toi.
The reason was that the Toi fishermen will fish tuna with a net, and drag them to the fishing port in order not to let the tuna touch air temperature.
The tuna's meat "burns" and wears out when it touches the outside air.
Ohma tuna is single fished, thus it will not be able to resist the tuna to be left on air til it is put into an iced water tank.
If that's the case, cutting up tuna in a hotter climate like Singapore shouldn't be ideal at all.
Same goes for all the other warmer areas in Japan that are south of Hokkaido.
In winter, if you leave food in Hokkaido outside, it will soon freeze.
The outside temperature really helps the ingredients to stay fresh in Hokkaido.
The spectacular view of Hokkaido is really something that is breathtaking and what I really like to explore during my times off.
I think people would never imagine that Japan, where we have the image of Tokyo Tower, the famous cross in Shibuya and the industrial skyscrapers throughout the city would have an area that is just nature.
I think a pile of pictures would give you a better idea how it is in Hokkaido rather than to talk about it.
I think the number 1 important thing especially for millennials and the younger generations, is that you feel comfortable being in that place.
In Niseko for example, the town is so diverse full of many backgrounds and you hear more English than you would hear Japanese.
Even a Japanese that are here would try its best to use and learn English, as the number of internationals are so large of a proportion of the population here that they need it in order to survive.
Thanks to the world-class powder snow that falls during winter, Niseko has grown to become a global city and people tend to be more open to differences an individual has.
This is definitely why living near Niseko is definitely more comfortable for someone that is Japanese born but has grown up in San Francisco.
Out of all the places in Hokkaido, Otaru is the right fit for me. Niseko is getting crowded and expensive and it's just too snowy for me...lol
I love the way it is surrounded by mountains, vegetables grow especially tasty in Niseko during the summer.
I love driving 30 minutes from Niseko to Lake Toya which is one of my favorite places to visit in Hokkaido, which I can rarely do living in Otaru...
But all you have in the winter is snow in Niseko, just too much snow!!
Of course, that's what everybody is there for but for me, I'm in Hokkaido more for the food😎
Otaru is a historical city that used to flourish for goods to go in and out of Sapporo. It still is, it is in between Sapporo and Niseko, just 40 minutes to Sapporo and 1.5 hours to Niseko.
The rapid train stops in Otaru, so it is a less crowded station than Sapporo, but convenient.
The city stretches along the Japan Sea, and central Otaru is a classical looking city that has various places to buy groceries, other necessities, and varieties of entertainment.
Just south of the city are all mountains, so it has all the nature you could ask for, with good hiking spots and snow resorts like Kiroro, Asarigawa, and Tenguyama.
I was born in Shonan by the sea, and grew up in the Bay Area just next to the sea. I guess being near the sea makes me more comfortable than I am in the mountain.
To be honest, I really liked staying in Tokyo, but maybe only for 3 months... After that, it somehow gets depressing and I am sure people living in big cities would know what I mean.
Tokyo is full of exciting things, and what I still like the most about it is that I have my best friends living there.
It's always one of my happiest moments when I get to see my friends, but I would never be able to live there.
There are planes and ferry rides that will give me good access to Tokyo in a few hours, thanks to LCCs and cheap transportation systems that improve year after year.
All these small stresses add up and at least for me, Tokyo is a good visit city but not my settle city.
And that's how I traveled across the world looking for the place that suits me, and here I am in Otaru.
I really love my life in Hokkaido and would be promoting life here, how it's good and how probably a lot of people from overseas have decided to settle here as well.
But for people from overseas, Japan could be a difficult place to adapt.
We have xenophobia towards people from overseas, and it is just that we are an island and tend to be more monocultural than other countries, so it just has a gap that both sides have a hard time understanding and what makes it uncomfortable at first.
Our team will be providing tips to help you understand this country better and we hope that it helps you to live here more comfortably!
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