On our second day, we travelled from Sapporo to nearby Yoichi to tour the Nikka Whisky Yoichi Factory. The founder, Masakata Taketsuru, hails from a family of sake brewers. Given his family’s business, he studied to be a chemist and travelled to Scotland to learn how to make something new (in Japan), whiskey. While there, he learned from the best whiskey distillers until he, too, became a master blender. He became the first Japanese man to do so. He fell in love with Scottish woman named Rita whose parents did not agree of him. Despite this, they still got married and moved back to Japan where Masaka established a local company’s whiskey distillery. Later on, he resigned and set up his own distillery in Hokkaido where the climate is similar to that of Scotland’s.
We were led by the tour guide to the entrance where she left us to roam the property. We were able to see the history of the distillery and the different stages of whiskey making.
Our tour included complimentary whiskey taste test at the end. We lined up cafeteria style and took one glass each of the drinks: Pure Malt Whiskey, Blended Whiskey and Apple Wine. I seldom drink and when I do, I usually gravitate towards the sweet-flavored drinks so I guess it was natural for me to not like the whiskeys. One sip of each and I couldn’t take any more. They tasted like gasoline and felt hot from my throat down to my stomach. I did like the Apple Wine but like the others I only took one sip because allergies. 😛
After that interesting stop at the factory, time for lunch Otaru Kihinkan, an old-villa turned-restaurant of the Aoyama clan who gained fortune from herring (or Tawilis as per Google) fishery. Full disclosure, that info is from the internet. I had no clue about the place’s culture when I was there! 😛 I just took pictures because the views were insta-worthy =))
We left the restaurant for more shopping. The bus dropped us off in Otaru’s center to try out the local products. I had a list of everything I wanted to buy in Sapporo which I lifted from this website https://www.tsunagujapan.com/25-must-buy-souvenirs-from-sapporo/. I found most of them in Otaru! We also tried Kitakaro’s freshly-made cream puff and by freshly-made, I mean I couldn’t bring it home as pasalubong; it’s only good for 24 hours. It was heaven in a bun! The cream wasn’t too sweet and just the right consistency plus they weren’t stingy with the cream! Did I tell you that Hokkaido is known for its dairy? No? Well, now I’ve told you. Every product that boasts of “MADE WITH HOKKAIDO MILK” is now a to-eat for me. Hahahaha. I also tried their soft serve ice cream but it was just okay. Maybe I should’ve ordered the rainbow one that had eight flavors 😦 I’m sorry, I didn’t take any photos because it was so cold, my hands would freeze instantly if I took them out from my pockets. #badblogger
Our next stop for the day was the Shiroi Koibito Park. Shiroi Koibito is a famous Japanese cookie with white or milk chocolate filling. Honestly, this place was just meh. We went inside the building where again, the brand’s history was told. It also gave us a glimpse of the cookie factory but because of the crowd looking in, you wouldn’t really see anything unless you waited for the crowd to disappear. Iyong iba tumatambay na lang sa hagdanan! I guess the best part of this place would be the outdoor park where they installed colorful lights but again, super daming tao.
When we got back to the hotel, my sister and I visited the Sapporo Ice Festival. It was opening the next day but the park was already open to the public the night before. We figured we’d have more time that night than the next day because it was shopping day 😛 It was spread throughout,maybe, seven to ten blocks? Comparing to the one in Harbin, this festival is smaller but what I love about this one is the line of food stands and stores.