Information on recommended seasonal gourmet eats for trips to Sapporo in the spring
Hokkaido's spring foods that signal the end of the long winter
Spring in Hokkaido is the time to eat edible wild plants from the mountains and asparagus from the fields, and seasonal seafood caught after the drift ice recedes. A Hokkaido-style spring is not complete without eating jingisukan while watching the cherry blossoms, once the cherry trees bloom at the beginning of May after the rest of Honshu to the south. We invite you, too, to savor these spring foods that signal the end of the long winter.
Spring time gourmet that Hokkaido residents pine for
Freshly budded edible wild plants and asparagus
Spring is a much-anticipated time of the year for the people of Hokkaido marking the end of the long winter. Foods that are eaten with the same sense of joy at spring’s arrival include edible wild plants and asparagus. Edible wild plants newly budded in the mountains, such as alpine leek, butterbur sprout, udo, butterbur, and eagle fern, are known for their soft texture and slightly bitter, yet simple taste. During the spring time, the sight of people heading into the mountains in search of edible wild plants is common even in Sapporo. Sometimes edible wild plants can be found at produce stands or greengrocers. Alpine leek offers a similar bite as garlic and it often appears on the dinner table after it is pickled in soy sauce to be eaten with rice. Alpine leek is also often eaten at home as tempura or in simmered dishes. You can also encounter this edible wild plant at onsen hotels and izakaya when in season.
Asparagus is another vegetable that symbolizes spring in Hokkaido. Asparagus must be fresh, so much so that water drips out after its cut. If you spot an asparagus menu item at a restaurant in early spring when this vegetable is freshly picked, don’t hesitate to order it. You’ll thank yourself for experiencing the unique fragrance and sweetness of freshly cut asparagus.
Fishing season begins once the drift ice recedes,
including horsehair crab from Okhotsk
In Hokkaido, horsehair crab is in season throughout the year thanks to the three surrounding seas. One type that is particularly worth recommending is spring horsehair crab from the Okhotsk Sea. Horsehair crab season in the Okhotsk Sea begins every year in March, when the drift ice recedes. This is a time referred to as umiake, or opening of the sea. Spring horsehair crab that feed on nutrition-rich plankton found in the region is rich in fat, and particularly delicious as a seasonal cuisine. If you come across Okhotsk horsehair crab in the spring, be sure to think of the drift ice while enjoying your dish.
Spring time gourmet of Hokkaido
Flower blossom viewing with jingisukan
Spring time in Hokkaido arrives more than one month after Honshu to the south. Normally, the cherry blossoms begin to bloom in Sapporo around the beginning of May. You can still feel the cold this time of year, but regardless the people of Hokkaido enjoy viewing the cherry blossoms while cooking jingisukan outdoors. Maruyama Park allows open fires for barbequing in a designated area only in the spring when the cherry blossoms bloom, while at Hokkaido University’s campus students enjoy what’s known as jinpa, or short for jingisukan parties. If you want to enjoy jingisukan casually, while viewing the cherry blossoms, we recommend Tsukisappu Jingisukan Club, a restaurant specializing in this dish located at Hakkou Gakuen, an agricultural vocational school in Sapporo. Matsuo Jingisukan Sapporo Kita 19-jo restaurant offers a jingisukan delivery plan (for groups of 10 or more) in which the restaurant provides the food as well as cooking and eating utensils, so you can enjoy a flower viewing jingisukan party without having to bring your own.
- Tsukisappu Jingisukan Club20-minute walk from Fukuzumi Station on the Subway Toho Line
- Maruyama Park5-minute walk from Maruyama Koen Station on the Subway Tozai Line
- Gotenzan ParkAround 30 minutes by car from central Sapporo
- Takino Suzuran Hillside National ParkFrom Makomanai Station on the Subway Namboku Line, take the Chuo Bus and get off at "Suzuran koen chuoguchi" bus stops, walk 5 minutes
- Matsuo Jingisukan Sapporo Kita 19-jo higashiHome page