Pack A Piece Of Hokkaido

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DISCOVER: Pack a piece of Hokkaido

Japan is home to 47 prefectures, each with its own distinct character. Travel to any one and you’ll discover a unique culture, local crafts honed over centuries, and food unlike anything you’ve tasted before. Souvenirs made in celebration of the local area are the perfect way to remember your trip. Here are eight things to slip into your suitcase whilst in chilly Hokkaido.

1. Shiro Koibito

Literally translating as ‘white lover’, Shiroi Koibito are a well-known Hokkaido treat, produced in Sapporo by local confectioners Ishiya Co. since the 1970s. A western-style cookie consisting of a layer of white chocolate sandwiched between two white langue de chat biscuits, Shiroi Koibito were created to resemble Hokkaido’s snowy scenery. With sales limited to Hokkaido only, these little white biscuits quickly became the prefecture’s most popular souvenir.

2. Seaweed

Hokkaido is known locally as the ‘kingdom of food’ – a well-earned moniker with more fresh produce than any other prefecture in Japan. So a few hours spent perusing the supermarket aisles during your trip to the northern isle is time well spent – you’ll be able to pick up a wealth of locally-sourced ingredients to add to your pantry. We recommend taking home some Hokkaido seaweed, which you’ll find in huge variety – from nori to kombu, dried, ground, or as an umami-packed paste.

3. Aramaki Homewares

Innovative makers Aramaki craft homewares that are embedded in Hokkaido life – by recycling wooden crates used for transporting Aramaki Sake – a traditional salted salmon – from port to market. Hard-wearing and sporting the crate’s original graphics, Aramaki’s homewares, which include mirrors, furniture and storage boxes, make for a unique and long-lasting souvenir.

4. Canned Crab

No trip to Hokkaido is complete without tasting local-favourite kani, or crab. Harbouring an abundance of seafood, the chilly waters of the Sea of Japan are home to a vast array of crab, which visitors will find top of the menu from street stalls to high-end restaurants. When you’ve got to know your Horsehair from your Hanasaki and want to take a taste of Hokkaido home, look out for your favourite variety, conveniently canned and ready to slip into your suitcase.

5. Hokkaido Coffee

With an outdoorsy spirit and endless comparisons with America’s laid-back west coast, it’s no wonder that along with a booming craft industry, Hokkaido is home to a thriving third-wave coffee scene. Visit Sapporo and where you might have found teahouses, you’ll spot coffee stands and cafes taking the art of brewing the perfect cup very seriously indeed. Take the tradition home by picking up a bag of locally-roasted beans, such as these – lovingly toasted by Toutou in the small town on Bihoro.

6. Bento box

Hokkaido-lifestyle is geared towards the great outdoors, so it’s no surprise that it’s home to some of Japan’s best outdoor-stores, selling Japan-made gear which is (naturally) a cut-above your usual kit, both in design and quality of craftsmanship. No one makes cleverly-conceived lunchboxes better than the Japanese, and this stacking bento box, Hokkaido-made and built to last, is an instant packed-lunch upgrade.

7. Fermented Butter

Thanks to vast swathes of lush countryside, Hokkaido is home to a thriving dairy industry, producing half of the country’s milk, 40% of which is churned into cheese, yoghurt and of course, butter. But whilst most dairy products don’t travel well, fermented butter is one Hokkaido speciality that won’t go sour in your suitcase. Made using raw Hokkaido milk, fermented butter has a tangy flavour not unlike yoghurt, and with a long shelf life and sturdy packaging makes for a popular edible souvenir.

8. Hand-printed postcards

Finally, there’s no souvenir more traditional than a postcard, and these hand-printed scenes of Hokkaido’s wild open landscapes were hard to resist. Specialising in local design, D & Department is one of Sapporo’s must-see stores, and the perfect place to pick up hand-crafted souvenirs, from pretty postcards to locally-thrown ceramics.

Images: Alex Rebbeck for ANA

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