Dynasty Travels: 8D6N Colourful Hokkaido Tour, Day 7 (Part 1)

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Today's post is going to be a pretty short one actually. For one, I'm tied up helping my friend prepare props for her upcoming bunny photo shoot. Yup, she has several rabbits and she gets professional studio shots done for them! How amazing is that! But before I digress, another reason is also because I've been busy doing my "homework" for another trip! Hurray (for me)!

So anyway, back to this Hokkaido series, thank goodness I'm finally on Day 7. I really hope (or maybe more like have to) finish this series before the next trip!

By the time we got to Day 7, the official itinerary given by Dynasty Travels is almost moot:
Central Wholesale Market --> Hokkaido Shrine (done on Day 6) + Maruyama Park (park next to Hokkaido Shrine which we completely skipped!) --> Odori Park (done of Day 6 which obviously did not register much on me) --> Asahi Beer Factory --> Tokeidai (that's the clock tower done on Day 6) --> Mitsui Factory Outlet.

See what I meant by moot?

Which means in reality, what we had left by Day 7  to cover:
Central Wholesale Market (札幌場外市場) --> Ishiya White Chocolate Factory --> Asahi Beer Factory --> Mitsui Factory Outlet.

Unfortunately, I think the itinerary is a little mis-leading. Where we actually visited (or where you would visit) was the Curb Market or Crab Market (depending on which website you read) that's next to the Central Wholesale Market. In reality, fresh produce is delivered daily to the Central Wholesale Market but then these are sold via bidding. Products are then made available at the Curb/Crab Market once the bidding ends, and that's what's open to the public. 

The Curb/Crab Market hence is really the 60+ shops that line the 2 sides of the street. What we found in abundance were vegetables (depending on what is in season) and seafood, especially crabs! No brain-er then why Crab market became a moniker.

Given that it's 60+ shops between 2 sides of a street, it's not that huge a place. So if you want to compare prices, it's not difficult to do so. 
However, I have to say this after experiencing Japan on several trips: the Japanese price their products according to quality. So in a way, you get what you pay for. They also take quite a lot of pride in the quality of their produce. Hence, I personally do not bother to do price comparisons and I'll just pay whatever they tell me. In fact, I've also had enough encounters where the stall owners would on their own accord, extend their hospitality in ways such as a drink or a freebie or even a recipe. Admittedly, less so in the more touristy places, but it still happened enough times for me to be mightily impressed.

Another interesting fact I came to learn, the best in Japan is oftentimes also not exported. While in the Curb/Crab market, it's actually a pretty common sight to see locals purchasing produce to be sent to someone else who might even be in another prefecture. However, they stop short of shipping their goods internationally. But that doesn't stop you from carrying them home in your own luggage! Of course, you have to check your own country's restrictions as to what can be brought in! I've seen people throw away food at customs just because they failed to do that. 

Another tip if you intend to bring produce home, put the Curb/Crab Market on the last/second last day of your trip if possible. You'll want to bring back the produce you bought as fresh as possible. Some items may not last the journey home if this was one of your initial stops on your vacation. 

So, on that note, let me just give you some tips as to what are the good stuff you can bring back with you. 
Disclaimer though, I traveled in July, so some produce might be seasonal.

If you like asparagus, you can get them easily at the Curb/Crab Market. I didn't bring them home this trip but the last time I did, they were seriously awesome. 

I didn't get a picture as I was too busy devouring samples, but melons are also great to bring home for the family, especially since Japan doesn't export the quality ones. You can let the stall owner know that you intend to carry them home on the aircraft, and he'll pack it up nicely for you. We brought 2 melons home with us (mostly for the brother who didn't come along this trip), and the melons survived the plane journey unscathed. 

However, please note that the melons can ripen very quickly, which was why I mentioned earlier, that you should time your visit to the market carefully. Let the stall owner know when your flight home is. He/she should then be able to help you pick the melons accordingly. The one where we purchased our melons from refused to sell his melons to some tourists who were flying home only a week later as the melons would have rotted by then. Instead, he cut them slices to eat, free of charge! 
Love that hospitality. Absolutely love it!

Another must-buy in my opinion: corn. My luggage was getting too heavy so we only bought a few ears but another family in my tour group bought an entire carton of them. Yup, you heard (read) me right. A carton of corn ears.

Get your hands on the albino ones (that's what I called those white ones). If you don't believe me, just get one first, eat them raw on the spot. Yes, you can and in fact should eat them raw. In my mother's and my opinions, they are absolutely wasted if cooked. The local tour guide Ms Reikko backed us up on that claim too. These albino corns are to-date, the sweetest corn I have ever tasted. It was so good that when we returned to Singapore, my mother just lamented about the lack of luggage weight. 

Don't just take my words for it, go try it yourself.

Like I said, crabs are plentiful here. Plus, they're huge-assed. Seriously plus-sized. Some were even bigger than both my hands put together. They'll probably taste super yummy (since I didn't have any, I can't say for sure), but I sure as hell wouldn't want to meet these monsters on the beach or in the sea ever. I'll just see them on the dinner table and that'll be great,

There are also restaurants in the market. So you can actually purchase your seafood and have them prepared by these restaurants. Some of these stalls were even slicing them crab legs up as sashimi. Yup, you can't get them any fresher than that!

Heh. And this picture is just so I can prove that there were other seafood available and not just crabs.

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