Hokkaido

Rice field art: Star of Ted 2 appears in Japanese rice field this summer

Summer in Japan means festivals, fireworks and a host of annual events designed to bring people together despite the searing heat. And as the sun beats down on fields across the nation, there’s one special rice paddy that’s slowly taking shape, transforming into a very unique piece of art ready to greet crowds of adoring admirers over the next two months.

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Our 7 best conveyor-belt sushi restaurants in Sapporo

When you think of the Hokkaido city of Sapporo, you probably think of winter. After all, this is the city that hosts the annual Yuki Matsuri snow festival where massive ice sculptures line its bustling streets, and millions of people stop by the city every year while en route to Niseko for some ski or snowboarding fun.

But when Japanese people think of Sapporo, they tend to think summer, when the far-north metropolis boasts cool, mild weather and abundant nature in a season where much of Honshu is blanketed in oppressive heat and humidity; the kind that makes you physically angry every time you step out the door.

Anticipating an influx of Japanese tourists to the area, our Japanese sister site recently put together its top picks for the best conveyor belt sushi restaurants in Sapporo, and we thought we’d share, since, honestly, Sapporo is a really, really nice place to visit this time of year and their seafood is to die for.

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Looking for great sushi near Sapporo? Try this hidden restaurant in an airport souvenir shop

Even in a country of unabashedly passionate foodies, Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s major islands, holds a special place in diners’ hearts and appetites. No trip to Hokkaido is complete without sampling some of its famous seafood, but most travelers arrive by plane. That means having to get to the airport ahead of time for your flight home, and between that and taking care of any last-minute souvenir shopping, sometimes you have to make the heart-wrenching decision to give up on one last Hokkaido sushi meal.

Unless, of course, you hit this amazing sushi restaurant that’s not only inside Hokkaido’s principal airport, but also inside a souvenir shop!

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Japan Bucket List II: 8 places you need to visit to really understand Japan

We at RocketNews24 believe that to truly understand a country’s people you need to know something about their history and where they came from. So following last week’s popular Japan Bucket List: Things you need to do to really understand Japan, this week we offer you eight places that contributed greatly to the development of Japan, its culture, and people.

Get ready to take your understanding of the Japanese people a step further with eight historical places that have helped shaped them into the people they are today. Let’s go!

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2015 best Japanese hotels, based on their breakfasts

Soft beds, nice views, good location; sure, these are all important factors when choosing a hotel, but what really makes a hotel, or even a trip, memorable is the food, more specifically, the breakfast.

Everyone needs a good breakfast to start their day, so why not eat the best of the best? Next time you’re in the area, you should probably check out one of the Japanese hotels with the most delicious breakfasts.

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Proof that booze makes you more beautiful: Suntory releases new beer full of collagen

Japanese women have been nomming on collagen for quite a while now. Collagen is the main structural protein of the various connective tissues of animals, and advocates believe that chowing down on plenty of the stuff leads to beautiful skin. This belief is so pervasive in Japan that store shelves are practically groaning under the weight of products with added collagen.

Dumping spoonfuls of the powdered stuff into our protein shakes and slurping down hotpots with balls of the stuff floating in isn’t enough, though! Now we can get drunk AND beautiful at the same time with this new collagen-infused happoshu beer from Suntory!

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We sample blue Drift Ice Curry from the India of the Okhotsk Sea

Earlier this month our reporter Mr. Sato paid a visit to the northern land of Hokkaido and their Adashiri Prison Museum. There he sampled of their pickles and prison beer but also found a bevy of other souvenirs for the region.

One item in particular stood out among those various trinkets and snacks. Its name is Drift Ice Curry and it was inspired by the tranquil beauty of ice that flows through the Okhotsk Sea from mid-February to early March. It’s a phenomenon that’s you’d probably least expect be depicted in a curry, which is exactly why Mr. Sato had to try it.

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Woman loses an eye from foul ball at Sapporo Dome, sues team for millions of yen

Imagine you’re sitting in the Sapporo Dome, cheering for the Nippon Ham Fighters home team, when suddenly you hear the unmistakable crack of a bat. You look up to see where the ball is, only to have it come crashing down right in your eye. Quite the painful end to your evening, sure, but that’s barely the tip of the iceberg; you’re now blind in that eye.

That’s exactly what happened to one woman back in 2010 when a foul ball hit her full in the face, blinding her in one eye. And after years of deliberation, the Sapporo courts have finally reached a decision on her case against the stadium and team.

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Looking for a new favourite animal? Take your pick from these six adorable Hokkaido natives

We all know the truth about cats and dogs. They’re secretly plotting our demise with adorable antics that keep us distracted from our lives, both online and in the real world.

But what about wild animals? Usually the subject of serious documentaries, nature’s fauna seem to have a more mature approach to life than your average piano-playing cat or yoga-loving dog. But that doesn’t mean they’re not adorable!

Meet six of the cutest wild animals you’ve seen, all hailing from the cold upper reaches of Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido. From fluffy carnivores to a genuine Pikachu lookalike, these little critters will melt your heart!

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Butter-flavored Kit Kats come to Japan as new specialty store opens in Hokkaido

In the year since it opened in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro, we’ve become big fans of the Kit Kat Chocolatory, the specialty store for the chocolate-covered wafers that’re especially popular in Japan. As a matter of fact, somewhere in the course of our multiple visits to procure the latest and greatest Kit Kat flavors, we’ve forgotten what life was like before the shop opened.

But while we’re living in the land of plenty with two different Chocolatory locations in Tokyo (the second is near Tokyo Station), not all of Japan is so fortunate. Until now, only residents of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nagoya could claim their town had its own Kit Kat paradise.

That’s about to change, though, as a new Kit Kat Chocolatory is opening soon in Hokkaido, and bringing a new flavor with it: butter.

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Mr. Sato channels his inner Elsa, books a night at a Hokkaido ice hotel 【Photos】

February: the time when most of us in the northern hemisphere look at the calendar in despair as spring takes its sweet time to arrive. It’s also the perfect month to get away to a warmer locale, soak up some sun and recharge yourself to be able to get through the last (hopefully) weeks of winter.

But instead of packing a swimsuit and sunscreen for that trip to the beach, our beloved reporter Mr. Sato instead decided to fully embrace winter and booked a stay at an ice hotel in Hokkaido for a vacation he’ll never forget or let (it) go.

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Mr. Sato visits the Retro Space Saka Hall, full of syringes, Mediocrity, and bittersweet memories

While visiting the city of Sapporo, our adventurous reporter Mr. Sato stumbled upon this bizarre looking complex called the Retro Space Saka Hall. The whole place looked incredibly sketchy, but that was right up his alley.

Little did he know, however, that this dingy-looking industrial complex nestled in snow would almost move him to tears.

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Say “I love you” with seaweed: Message kombu is the tastiest way to tell her you care

As you may have noticed, Japan has pretty much mastered the art of sprucing up food. We’ve already seen a plethora of tools to create bear-shaped rice or smiley face sausages, but we’re particularly excited about a certain product we just discovered up north in Hokkaido. They’re called “message kombu” and the heartfelt messages made out of seaweed are sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.

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As foreign tourists come streaming in, Hokkaido’s New Chitose Airport nears breaking point

World-class skiing; Japan’s largest national park; even ice hotels. For those who are looking to experience Japan outside of Tokyo or Kyoto, Hokkaido remains a prime destination. Indeed, as the last major island to be settled by the Japanese, Hokkaido arguably stands out from the rest of the nation in everything from topography to daily life.

It seems the secret is out of the bag. Taking advantage of a weak yen, travelers from Southeast Asia are flying en masse to the island of Hokkaido. However, this influx has proved to be a double-edged sword. While the tourist boom is certainly bringing money into local economies, it is also straining transportation resources–perhaps nowhere more than at New Chitose Airport.

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The 2015 Sapporo Snow Festival! 【Pics & Video】

Every February brings another amazing display of artful snow and ice carvings, and RocketNews24 loves to bring you the details for those who aren’t able to make the trip up to Hokkaido. While we weren’t able be there ourselves last year, we are pleased to bring you the firsthand account of the 66th annual Sapporo Snow Festival. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and join us for a photo tour!

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To hike or hibernate for the winter? The woes of a Hokkaido University student

Heavy winds, low visibility and snow drifts the size of houses. What do you do? Go to that lecture at 8:30 or grab as many blankets as you can and binge watch Dragon Ball? Although the answer might be pretty simple for some university students in Japan, the ones in Hokkaido know there is no such thing as a snow day. Freshman students at Hokkaido University are sometimes amazed to encounter the incredibly snowy weather conditions that face them on their way to class. There is not much else they can do but bundle up, snap a few pictures and share them with the Internet.

We’ve collected some of the best pics taken by Hokkaido’s students this winter. Would you go to class in this weather?

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Low crime in Japan means police officers create ridiculous snow sculptures instead

It snows a lot in Hokkaido. Like, a lot. No seriously, they have a hotel made out of ice and snow and just take a look at this poor Lawson convenience store that was devoured by snowfall.

So with all that snow around you can either grumble as you shovel your driveway for the third time that day, or you can make the best of it. One police officer in Hokkaido did just that, creating an amazing snow-sculpture of a Japanese police car right outside the station.

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Cold never bothered you anyway? Then spend a night at this Hokkaido ice hotel!

There’s no shortage of unique hotels in Japan. Aside from the well-known capsule hotels and love hotels, there’s Gundam and Hello Kitty hotels, a toilet hotel, a so-cheap-it’s-scary hotel, and much more.

But the latest hotel that just opened up in Hokkaido is definitely the coolest of them all. It’s a hotel made entirely of snow and ice where you can spend the night in below-freezing temperatures!

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Evacuation orders issued as town in northern Japan is flooded by rising tidewaters

Residents of Nemuro City, the easternmost point on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, have a close relationship with the sea. Fishing is an important industry for the town, which is known for its salmon, saury, and shellfish, and being located on a long, thin peninsula means at any spot in Nemuro, you’re never far from at least two coastlines.

Unfortunately, this also means Nemuro has more angles from which to be flooded, and huge stretches of it are currently underwater due to rapidly rising tides, as dramatic photos from the city show.

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In Hokkaido there’s weed, weed everywhere, but not a drop to smoke

Japan tends to be a very drug-shy country. Most people you talk to will say that they’ve never gone anywhere near substances like marijuana, and according to a Public Library of Science survey, 98 times out of 100 they’re telling you the truth.

And yet you might be surprised to hear that there is an abundance of cannabis growing wild all over the northern island of Hokkaido. But before you go booking a ticket, you may want to learn why.

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