Summer’s End

Hey all! Summer has flown by. I think it always feels short in Hokkaido, like the cold weather wants to crowd out warmer days. But I and the rest of the dosanko made the best of it, and really enjoyed the time we had. Here’s a few shots of classic Hokkaido summer here in Takinoue, as we start to shift to autumn.

 

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Grilled scallops at an oustide yakiniku party, yum.
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The hydrangeas were especially beautiful this year! I’m still delighted they grow wild.
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Me in a yukata on the way to Takinoue’s summer festival… excuse the messy genkan.
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Sunset from the top of Rainbow Bridge. I was actually chilly when I took this!

 

Right now I’m bundled up, because it actually reached 8C last night (46F).  Yesterday it snowed on Asahidake, the highest mountain in Hokkaido. I expect the leaves to start changing soon, and when they do I’ll be back with some more pictures!

 

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Where to Eat- Restaurant Alice

There are a couple of really amazing restaurants to visit in Takinoue, and I’d like to tell you about Restaurant Alice!

Restaurant Alice is in Asahi-machi, only a few blocks from the Shibazakura Park. Restaurant Alice is very recognizable from the outside- it’s a vibrant green- and inside is quiet and comfortable.

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Most of the food from Alice is local, produced on an organic farm here in Takinoue.  Their menu stays pretty consistent year-round, with a lot of Japanese foods that are really delicious.

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From top right, clockwise: miso ramen, omu-spice curry, salad, kitsune udon, seasonal set, gyoza set meal

 

At Alice, they even make their own liqueurs from local fruits. I really like the ume, but the other flavors are really great too. There are some interesting ones that I haven’t seen anywhere else!

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Restaurant Alice is open for lunch and dinner. They also offer locally-produced items, such as foods, sauces and dressings, and even organic bug-repellent incense.

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Come drop by!

 

 

Where to Eat- Le Bella at Suehiro Inn

There are a couple of really amazing restaurants to visit in Takinoue, and I’d like to tell you about Le Bella!

Le Bella is the restaurant attached to the Suehiro Inn, very close to the Shibazakura Hill. The inside is really cute and warm, and there’s even a deck that sits overlooking the Shokotsu River. The deck even has standing heaters, to stay warm in the chilly evenings.

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The dining room

 

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The outside deck

They have a party room, which you can reserve for dinner. I have been to Le Bella many times for parties with friends and coworkers!

Le Bella’s food is amazing! While a lot of traditional Japanese food is available, the owner of Le Bella incorporates western cooking into her meals, so you can taste some amazing Japanese-fusion food! The menu changes seasonally, so there’s always what is best at that time of year available. You can even eat deer here!

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Clockwise from the top: Seasonal foods (deer-meat ajillo, avocado and prosciutto salad, bread, asparagus); deer meat katsu- curry; cold soba

Le Bella is typically open for lunch, but is available for dinner upon reservation. Come visit!

 

Springtime Flowers!

This past week spring has hit full force here in Takinoue! Here’s a sampling of some of the flowers I’ve come across while walking around town in this lovely warm weather.

First, I took a trip to the shrine to check out, of course, the cherry blossoms!

These pictures were taken mostly at the Takinoue shrine, which is beautiful even without the sakura blooming!

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photo by Matthew Jones

Of course, the daffodils and tulips are gorgeous right now!

This white flowering tree is called kobushi, and it’s the first time in 10 years it has bloomed! They only bloom when we have a mild winter, so it’s very lucky to be able to see them this year!

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These are called ezoengosaku. They bloom very low to the ground, and I really love them.

There’s still a lot blooming, and this is only the start of spring! The shibazakura have started, too- I can’t wait for them to come in fully!

Spring is coming!

Monday was the first official day of spring, and Takinoue is really starting to show some headway in that direction. It’s still chilly, but for almost a week every day has been above zero- even though we got a little dusting of snow last night. Spring always takes a long time to settle in and for all of the snow to melt, but for now I’ve just been enjoying the (slightly) warmer weather and blue skies.

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I took the time to take a walk around, soak up the sun, and check out the Shokotsu river. This is one of the bigger waterfalls in town; in the summer, the spray reaches all the way to where I was standing to take this picture. The river is starting to thaw, and the waterfall is starting to flow again!

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This view is visible just down the road from my house, standing on the bridge near one of the local hotels. I love coming here and seeing how the seasons change; it’s gorgeous year-round. I feel really energized with the weather creeping warmer; the winter was wonderful, but I’m ready for spring!

Nighter at Sakuragaoka

Last night I hit the jackpot- during the day we had a little bit of snow, just enough to coat everything in a couple of centimeters of the super-fluffy stuff. It was very beautiful, but also a welcome change from the past week- it’s been very warm, and as a result everywhere the snow accumulated and hadn’t yet melted was solid ice. So, skiing for the past week hasn’t been a ton of fun.

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Sorry the bad quality pic- my iphone just wasn’t up to the challenge

But! Last night was awesome! The snow was dry and soft, it wasn’t bitterly cold, almost no wind. And, somehow, I managed to be the only person on the ski hill for almost the entire time I was there, so I got to goof off and use the entire hill. I even took some time to just stand there and look at our little town, and enjoy how quiet and peaceful it was.

The season is winding down, and soon spring will be here to stay- but for now, it’s nice to still squeeze in these little quiet moments.