Oh I Just Can’t Wait to See Sapporo

Last weekend, I went into Sapporo with Lynn and a teacher from my school to see the Lion King. My introduction to the Lion King was sixteen years ago when my family and I went into New York for a night to see the show. We had nosebleed seats behind a pole, and all I remembered was Mufasa dying. And later that night, my sisters made farting noises in the hotel room. When I heard that the show was coming to Sapporo this year, I was intrigued by the chance to see a show in Japanese.

Once we arrived at Sapporo Station, we headed downstairs to the Apia shopping mall for lunch at Horyu, a classic Sapporo ramen shop. Hokkaido is famous for three types of ramen: salt (shio) in Hakodate, soy sauce (shoyu) in Asahikawa, and miso in Sapporo. On previous trips to Sapporo, I’d opted for spicy and tonkotsu ramen, and I was eager to give Sapporo’s famous variety a try. Hokkaido is also famous for its agriculture, particularly corn, so I also added corn to my order. The ramen was good: not too heavy, and the corn was a nice touch, but I think I prefer tonkotsu ramen.

After lunch, we saw an ad across the way for a Cremia soft cream affogato at Cafe Croissant and decided to stop there as well. Once inside, I saw that they also had unreal looking brownies, which I wanted to try, but I decided to go for the affogato instead. I felt like I was betraying Italy by eating an affogato with soft cream and not gelato, but it was nice to have some decent espresso, and the soft cream was really good.

On previous trips to Sapporo, it’s been overcast, snowing, or pouring rain, so I’ve used the underground passage from the station to Odori Park, but this time it was finally sunny and the walk to the theater was pleasant.

The show itself was a lot of fun. The sets, costumes, and music were beautiful. Most interesting was the applause at the end. There were no hoots or instant standing ovations, but people continued clapping at a respectable volume for a long time, and the curtain reopened maybe seven times for the cast to step back out and bow again.

After the show, we went to the Marui department store by Odori Park where our teacher friend wanted to check out some creams made by Italian nuns from the Santa Maria Novella store. Downstairs, we visited some of the confectionery shops for things to bring home (from Bebenya) and to snack on before dinner (the pistachio soft cream from Babbi is amazing and comes in a coffee flavored cone).

We walked back to the station and caught a shuttle from bus stop two outside the station’s north exit. Buses are pretty frequent, cost about 200 yen, and it’s okay to use Pasmo to pay. After a ten minute ride, we were at the factory.

The brewery’s campus is pleasant for a walk, and it’s western looking in a way typical to Hokkaido. The museum details the history of Sapporo Beer and how it came into popularity in Japan. All of the hops and crops needed for the beer are grown in Hokkaido as well, which distinguishes the beer from others.

We had dinner at the Sapporo Beer Garden. The menu is confusing as there are many add-ons to the all-you-can-eat and -drink plans. In any case, it does get expensive, but we opted for both so we could sample different Sapporo beers and have lots of food to use for jingisukan. The beers were all underwhelming, as most Japanese beer is, but the Sapporo-style jingisukan was really tasty. Takikawa-style jingisukan is marinated and cooked with the sauce, so the meat is often poor quality. With Sapporo-style, people dip the meat in sauce once it’s cooked, so the quality is often much better.

The restaurant has a good atmosphere with high ceilings, wooden tables, and staff running around to get more beer and deliver platters of meat and veggies to tables, and it almost felt like we could’ve been in a European beer garden for a bit.

After dinner, we took the shuttle back to the station and got coffee at Tully’s while we waited for our train back to Takikawa. From the cafe, we could see over Ekimae at night, and it was a good breather after a day full of food and exploring in Sapporo.

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