Otaru and Aomori
Trip Start Apr 30, 2009
17Trip End Jun 05, 2009
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Besides looking around admiringly, this chapter of the journey was also about food. We have become a little obsessed with finding out what and how the locals eat in this part of the world. We thought that people were really small in the south of Japan, but they're positively gigantic compared to these little northern munchkins. Why? Well, we reckon it's got to do with their lifestyle. They ride their little bikes and walk everywhere, eat little bowls of sea creatures and sea vegetables and rarely breed with the outside world. AND, they seem excruciatingly happy. They certainly put a lot of effort into promoting happiness. There are 'happy buns', 'happy stores' and smiley faces on each corner. Oh happy day.
In Otaru we sought out a supermarket (not a convenience store) where the locals would shop. As those of you who know Asia would realise, supermarkets are generally in the basement of a building. So we found one with a complicated name (let's just call it 'supermarket') and went in to observe (and try to buy some Pepsi Max and lunch). There are lots of similarities to our local Woolies in Tuggeranong and some that make your toes curl a little. There's the fruit & veg section, dry goods, drinks, dried sea vegetable section, sushi section, prepared 'seal-meal' chill cabinet, self-serve slop-in-a-bowl section...
The trolleys are really small. To compare this with last year's sojourn into a San Diego supermarket where the trolley just about requires its own postcode and the supermarket has an in-built Starbucks and fast-food kiosk provides an insight into the western obesity epidemic. Add up the difference in calories between a bucket-o-latte & cheesy hamburger as compared to a sea-veg & seal sushi roll with green tea.
An apple a day is one area where our cultures seem to coincide. We found an enormous fuji apple in the supermarket to share for lunch (seemed more ethical than the seal...) Whilst walking around exploring we finally decided to have some Japanese ice-cream. They love their ice-cream, especially soft-serve (don't tell me it's got seal-fat in it, I don't want to know). They even seem to eat it for morning tea. In fact, the kiosk we went to went to the length of writing a sign letting us hungry, calorie-foraging foreigners know that they'd run out of lavender ice-cream. Sigh..., we had to make do with mixed melon ice-cream instead. Whilst frustrated in looking for a bin for the serviette, we did some research and discovered that it's rude in Japan to eat or drink whilst walking down the street, and that one is supposed to take one's rubbish home with them, not look for a public bin. Right then. We'll hold onto the serviette.
The next discovery in Otaru is not directly related to food, but did occur after a couple of bottles of yummy catnip water (we LOVE it!) There weren't a great deal of public loos in Otaru and we couldn't find the Golden Arches, so we had to make do at a 'canal terminal'. Yep, there it was...the squat dunny. Nope, still can't do it. I'll hold thanks.