Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Sake Factory and Ramen Alley

Yet another post that should have gone up about 3 weeks ago. Kudos to all my faithful readers. I REALLY PROMISE this time to keep up with things.

Most educated people in the world know that the Japanese make and drink a very unique and distinctive type of alcohol that is commonly referred to as Sake. In Japan, sake is also a general term for alcohol, and the smooth, usually clear rice wine is often called Nihonshu (Japanese liquor). While we were in Sapporo, Brenden, Denise and I decided to stop in at a factory that gives free tours of their facilities. It was quite fun, as they showed us where they polish and mash the rice, where they let it ferment, and the big tanks where the substance is distilled. They also showed us some big industrial thingamajig which the guy explained was the filtration system. It looked like some enormous version of a contraption I remember from the children’s board game, “Mouse Trap.” In fact the only thing that looked as though it belonged in the factory were the distillery tanks and the rice equipment. Everything else appeared amateurish.

I can now say I have been to the manufacturing facilities of four different types of alcohol.
1. A Budweiser Brewery in Florida when I was a kid and the Coors Brewery in Golden Colorado when I was older. The Coors Brewery was the most memorable because: 1. I like Coors better than Bud. 2: They give away free beer and 3. I was old enough to drink it when I went.
2. A winery in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia. It was a tiny place that was only memorable because it was in a beautiful location on a hill overlooking some mountains. They made a delicious Gewürztraminer.
3. The Nikka Whiskey Distillery in Sendai. I actually blogged about this one. They gave away lots of free samples of whiskey (which made for a lively tour bus on the way back).
4. A Sake Distillery in Hokkaido

After wandering around aimlessly through a retail arcade, we found ourselves getting rather sick of each other and we each wanted to do our own separate things. I went to an onsen (hot spring spa) to warm up and recharge before photographing the snow sculptures once more in the evening twilight. Debbie hunted different souvenir stores for a rare, special, coveted kind of candy found only in Hokkaido. She reasoned that this candy was so delicious, it would compensate for all the resentment and ill will she created with her supervisor and office staff after failing to mention she was taking the day off to see the snow festival. Brenden went to McDonalds.

As Debbie was too tired, I met Brenden for dinner that night at “Ramen Alley” which is a little passageway through some buildings filled with about forty different ramen shops. As Hokkaido is famous for its unique ramen, (every other town in Japan professes to be famous for its ramen) we decided we had to have the local variety. This is the first time I’ve eaten ramen with crab though. It was mighty delicious.

1 comment:

noelle said...

Ramen and crab sound wonderful!