Steel Museum on the move

I always drive my shabby Toyota. But when I have a chance to catch a local train, I realise how much I love the design of many small parts or areas in the old train. Sharp, cold, precise, organised....I find this old fashioned style very beautiful.

There is an distinctive smell in the train, probably the old ciggy smell from the time when smoking was acceptable...ahhh, good and old time when majority of adult was puffing away....it was a part of the train travel when I was a kid.

Join me to sit down on the blue velvet like seat and take a short trip  around the local for the "rediscovery". Yes, you can find yourself too....I do.


Time travel around Noboribetsu station area??

Many visitors may hop on a bus from Noboribesu station for hot spring, but mind you it is worthwhile to stroll on the main street in front of the station for 10 minutes. Don't expect to find fancy stuff, however, there are some that would make you feel somewhat nostalgia. If you love a nice Japanese sweet, try "Kato" san. The presentation is very subtle but I can assure you the quality.  


Snow white Noboribetsu ALREADY!!!

Man! We had our first serious snow this morning! Me,with sweaty hands gripping the wheel tightly, was scared but amazed at the same time at the magic the nature has done over night!
The deer on the yellow sign also looks freezing.

Towards the Noboribetsu Shin Ohashi (New Big Bridge), it gets better!
Brizzard made me focus on driving only and no way I enjoy the view from the bridge like I normally do...


First Lady back to Noboribetsu

Today Japan's first lady, Miyuki san, finally came back to her home planet, NOBORIBETSU!!!We had the function to congrat Miyuki san to return home to Noboribetsu.
Absolutely charming!!


Where can you eat "yummy sushi" with a "good price" in Noboribetsu??

Hokkaido Walker introduces my sushi restaurant, Kiyozushi,  as a part of feature article about "yummy sushi with good price" in central Hokkaido area in November edition! Arigato!

Kiyozushi is a small and old restraurant run by a small family of me. We're quite stubborn about sticking with Hokkaido local seafood when we can get anything from everywhere in the world. Dad participates the auction at a local wholesale market and carefully selects seafood for his sushi.

If you wish to try some good local seafood with a reasonable price, you're required to travel a bit from Noboribetsu Onsen area. Believe me, it is worth doing a 15 minutes trip to the other side of Noboribetsu for some sushi! The best value is a 2,500 yen "Banshaku" set (evening dinner & drink set menu), which offers a set of sushi, a plate of seasonal fresh sashimi, a small plate of seasonal homemade dish, and 2 drinks (choose from beer jug and sake).

Wanna know how to get there?
Ask Noboribetsu Gateway Center at Noboribetsu Onsen Bus Terminal (0143-84-2200)

(Tel&Fax: 0143-85-4545)
2-12-2 Chuo-cho, Noboribetsu HOKKAIDO


Noboribetsu in color #2 (actually...on FIRE!!!)

Today was definately the best day to bright your eyes with autumn leaves ("momiji") in Noboribetsu.
No word can decribe the true beauty of nature's work......

"Kuma Yama" ("Bear Mountain" where our famous Bear Park sits on) changes the color dramaticaly only in 5 days!
Click and enlarge the size of the image for a better look.


Not alone on wheels

Just wanna share what I found...Somebody has got a wacky sense of humour lol


Noboribetsu in color #1

Overlooking "Oyunuma Lake" (Hot Spring Lake) on 3 October

Time flies! Can't believe it's already October. Where did summer go?!
This weekend I drove up to the outlook to check out "Oyunuma Lake" and found that leaves start changing colors! Will be more bright in a week or so. Stay tuned!


Beautiful Day in Noboribetsu

Was a beautiful day in Noboribetsu and there was no way that I  could stay inside.
Look at the above photo and guess where I was today..

The answer is "park golf" field in dairy farm area of Noboribetsu.
It was my first time to play a mini golf.

I can say this with confidence that you can view the absolute beautiful scenery with the wide ocean view.

A hang-glider was flying over the field.
Super cool to look at!

I won't mention my score...
coz' don't wanna spoil those beautiful photos, he he... :P


Backstage of Noboribetsu Hot Spring

We, Noboribetsu locals, are very proud of our Hot Spring for its quality and volume, however, many of us don't have any idea about how it works behind the scene. I had a rare opportunity to be guided to the backstage of Noboribetsu Hot Spring.

There is a hot spring keeper's company who manages, controls, provides, maintains the hot spring. With their dairy effort, Noboribetsu remains as No.1 hot spring town.

Seeing is believing, hey....

This is a photo of one of the sources. The water is actually boiling and the place is extremely hot with steamy sulfurous mist. The temperature was 90C degree at the time I visited.

The pipes are used to provide 100% pure hot spring to each hotel. Inside the pipe, the minerals contained in the water make chemical reaction and turn into iron sulfide and that causes the pipe to be blocked. The hot spring keepers ensure to remove what-they-call "hot spring scale" so that the water is provided to each hotel without any worries.

Here's another photo of the very rare spot. This is the inside of control room in one of the famous hot spring provider. The water temperature keeps changing depending on the volcano activities. With those temperature indicators, keepers can tell how to control the temperature and bathers can enjoy the nice hot water.

The opportunity itself was a treat, however, I had this special treat too! The keeper kindly boiled egg in the hot spring and gave it to me. I of course enjoyed it on the spot overlooking the source of hot spring, and the taste was just exceptional!!


Favorite Lunch-time Hang-outs

"Kuma san" is the name of this place, locating on the road to Noboribetsu Onsen, approx. 7min. drive away.  I always thought negatively that the place is nothing but a low-grade joint trying to attract tourists who are too hungry to eat anything.  My mate, Abe-chan and I decided to be brave to pay a visit. Because we're sort of bored with all those place we regularly go eat lunch and needed something new. With too many signs in front, we were quite suspicious as well as curious, however, no expectation....... 
The place sellls all sorts of second hand stuff and there is a small space for eating. Whilst waiting for our order, it is fun to walk around in a shop and look at old fashioned items such  as old music records and magazines. All those gadgets are quite a taste and are neatly displayed and makes me feel that I am in a candy store and have too many to choose from.

I truly love to be in this place with so many bric-a-bracs surrounding me :)
Here's my lunch, curry with rice. Not bad at all for 500yen.
Strongly recommended for curry lovers!
Also had my afternoon tea :P
Had a really nice herb tea with a yummy sweet potato.

This big guy hangs around and entertains you if you need a company........


"Hell" Festival

Over the weekend, we had the exciting "Hell" Festival in Noboribetsu Onsen area!

Stands with sizzling foods and beer, scary looking ogres (we call them "oni") wandering around, march band parading on the main street, dance craze, fun, fun, fun!

Red Ogres and Blue Ogres , "Noboribetsu Hot Spring Keepers", come out from "Hell" Valley to greet locals once a year. We held the festival to demonstrate our appreciation that we still have a rich hot spring in Noboribetsu.

is the story we draw so we have a reason ( or excuse?) to have a ball for both visitors and locals, he he....


Soup Curry with the ocean view

All the visitors praise how good Hokkaido foods tastes.

"Soup Curry" is the newest icon of Hokkaido dish. The principal is to use the fresh ingredients and to be able to taste the ingredients themselves.

Just 10 min. drive away from Noboribetsu Train Station, you can enjoy the soup looking over the great view of wild Pacific Ocean.
Ask the hot expert more about "Soup Curry" at Noboribetsu Gateway Center (0143-84-2200)


What a feast!

Hokkaido is the Kingdom of dairy products in Japan.

Here is my favorite custard creamy pudding only available in Noboribetsu.

"Gochiso Purin" (Feast Pudding??) is the name and can be found at selective shops around my local.

The rich creamy custard melts into your mouth and caramel source down the bottom of the jar accentuates the aroma of vanilla.

If you try a jar, you must have another....

Cannot find a shop to buy?

Come ask me at Noboribetsu Gateway Center.


Fill up your hungry tummy

I must admit that I am a big eater even though in Japan girls shouldn't. This eating joint located just outside of the local fresh whole market is not the place for a romantic date but great for a hungry tummy.

I still have a great memory from my childhood that my dad sometimes took me with him for brekky after bidding to get the best fish for his business. It was such a treat for a young girl because the place was always crowded and noisy with full of adults with a huge appetite.

Good that I was starving then. From mackerel to salmon, there are different kind of grilled or deep-fried fish to choose from.

Guess how much I paid for this big meal?

Answer is only 650 yen. Quite reasonable and satisfying as well...

No guide book mentions the area, however, the place is for a traveller who wishes to experience local homey-style meal.

"Machida" at Muroran Whole Fresh Market.
Need a guide to take you there?
Call us at Noboribetsu Gateway Center in Noboribetsu Onsen Bus Terminal
(Phone: 0143-84-2200)


Hell Valley and Fire Works in Summer

Nobody leaves Noboribetsu without seeing "Hell Valley". In 2008, Noboribetsu celebrated its 150th Anniversary since it was founded by Kinzo Takimoto. Hell Valley is the icon of Noboribetsu Hot Spring and visitors are amazed to see the smokes and different colors of minerals, and experience the strong sulfur smell....

"Tessen Pond" entertains visitors to show the earth making action approx. every 15 min.

Also if you find halls along the pathway, try to put your hand in there.(See the photo on the left) You can feel the warmth of the earth body temperature (be careful, sometimes it is very hot!)

Since Hell Valley itself is still an active volcano, the smoking spots, the color of the hot spring creeks, temperatures, are different everyday. Also it's probably unique to Noboribetsu that there are 9 different types of hot spring minerals in one spot.

I like to go see Hell Valley because I can enjoy feeling that the earth is alive and kicking.

And it is never be the same. Everytime I go, I discover something new. A milky sulfer hot spring creek meets a red iron creek and blends in to make larger creek...it's a nature wonderland.

"Oni-Hanabi" on fire!
During the summer time (between June and August), we have fireworks on Thursday and Friday, "Oni Hanabi". "Oni" is ogre and "Hanabi" is fireworks. Fireworks are not designer's artwork but it is wild and matches the ambiance of the Hell Vally. Wanna see something different? Then make sure to come and stay in Noboribetsu on either Thursday or Friday in the summer time. After it finishes, you can also take photos with your favorite (?) "Oni" (Ogre).

Have an exotic hot night in Noboribetsu.....

MYO Hokkaido's favorite sweets

Everybody knows that the quality of hot spring in Noboribetsu is the BEST. No doubt... However, how many knows that the quality of milk Noboribetsu produces is also the top grade?

You can prove that it is true by making your own "Nama Caramel" (probably "fresh cream caramel" would be an appropriate translation) with Noboribetsu Milk.

"Nama Caramel" has become everybody's favorite yet hard to get Hokkaido sweets. The most popular brand is always sold out while you blink your eyes. Their marketing strategy has been extremely successful.

But isn't it over the top? Don't ya wanna something different and unique?

I really need to brag (again!) about how yummy our "Nama Caramel" is!

What are the tips?
Because I am an excellent chef?.... Maybe.
Because the ingredient we use is the top grade?....that's definitely the reason!

This MYO (Make Your Own) program is 1,500yen per person and it is a great value.

It takes approx. 1 hour. Fun to make and you can take it home with you. Super great souvenir!
Wanna have fun yourself too?
Book at Noboribetsu Gateway Center (phone: 0143-84-2200)

It'd be an awesome experience!!


A bean says "I love you forever"

Treasure every encounter, for it will never recur.

At the counter of Noboribetsu Gateway Center, we sincerely treasure every encounter everyday. This pretty bean with the Chinese word "I love you forever" was given by a Taiwanese lady whom I assisted with choosing a day spa in the heavy rain. It was such a small thing I assisted, however, the lady appreciated and carefully choose this one and gave it to me with "Thank you very much".

We hugged each other as if we were old friends when we said goodbye.
Hope I left the lady at the place with her heart warmed up a little in a cold rainy day, because her smile made my heart warm.


Meet the origin of Hokkaido

Last night was the night you did not want to sleep.

One of our hotels, "Daiichi Takimotokan" (http://www.takimotokan.co.jp/) has its 151 years anniversary and held the Ainu's traditional performing arts at the foyer. The hotel has many programs to entertain the customers for 151 days from 1 June.

Here's me with Yamamaru-san, who is a symbolic figure of the local Ainu people. With the extremely strong feature and a gorgerous traditional outfit, he is very charismatic.

At 9pm, the hotel foyer was crowded with many audience who wore "Yukata" (After-bath cotton kimino) and the group of performers greeted with their own language and musical intruments.
Ainu is the indigenous people in Hokkaido and has a sad history similar to Australia aborigines, and try their best to pass their tradition down to the next generation.

They demostrated some different kind of dance and songs. Their musical instruments are made with bamboo and strings and the function is just so simple. However, it is very difficult to make a sound but once professionals can make any sort of sounds and tones. I know that because I have started practicing myself and can tell it'd be a long way!

The highlight of the night was at the very last when audience were invited to dance with them.
There is no rule to get funky!

You can meet them at "Shiraoi Porotokotan" (Ainu Museum): http://www.ainu-museum.or.jp/