Rachel Davidson

カナダ出身で英語講師をしています。札幌近郊に住んでいて、授業がない日は友達と過ごしたり、北海道の探検や、新しいレストランに行ってSalmon & Sobaというブログにアップしています。出来たら全部一緒にやりたいくらい! よろしくね!

I'm a Canadian English teacher living just outside of Sapporo. When I'm not in the classroom, I love spending time with friends, exploring Hokkaido, trying out new restaurants, and taking pictures for my blog,Salmon & Soba – preferably doing all of those things at the same time! Nice to meet you!
Salmon & Soba http://salmonsoba.wordpress.com

The Epitome of Charm: Otaru's Snow Light Path

魅力満載 小樽雪あかりの路



Rachel Davidson wrote this on Feb 29

When you live in a place where it snows for nearly 6 months every year, why not make it pretty? This seems to be the guiding principle for the many snow and ice festivals across Hokkaido. While I have yet to make it to the ones farther away from Sapporo, such as Sounkyo, Shikotsuko, and the ice village in Tomamu, this year I was lucky enough to see Otaru’s Yuki Akari no Michi (Snow Light Path). Around a half-hour seaside train ride from Sapporo Station, the old-style European streets of Otaru are impossibly picturesque, and especially romantic in the evening. The charm factor is multiplied a thousand times when the streets are lined with snowmen and countless little lights made of snow and ice.


This year’s Yuki Akari no Michi was held from February 5-14, and I went for a few hours on Sunday, February 7. The two main sites for evening illumination are the famous canal, and the old railway tracks halfway between the canal and Otaru Station. As my companions and I wandered closer to the canal, we found that there are also snow sculptures and lights throughout the main touristy streets and covered shopping arcade. Even some surprising ones, like Colonel Sanders outside KFC!



About halfway down the canal, I was overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of lanterns and sculptures. There is a small, homemade feel to many of them, and only at the end of the line did I discover the reason for that. You can buy lanterns, write your own messages, and place them anywhere along the path! What a cute idea, and a memorable way to personalize your trip to Otaru.

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The train tracks are also packed with sculptures, many more than I expected. Everything from the Sapporo Beer star, to a mini maze of snow tunnels, to a happy snowman family seems tailored specifically to melt your heart. It reminded me that life is all about the little things – the small joys we make and share with our loved ones.


As part of a day trip to Otaru from Sapporo, you could easily spend a few hours perusing the streets and snapping photos of each beautiful display. However, I recommend making time for a rest stop as well, since you’ll need to warm up your freezing extremities!


Otaru Yuki Akari no Michi happens in early February every year.
Lights are on from 17:00-21:00 each day of the festival.

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Sapporo’s New Alice-Themed Buffet: A Culinary Wonderland




Rachel Davidson wrote this on Dec 25


“Yes, that’s it! Said the Hatter with a sigh, it’s always tea time.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland


And who wouldn’t want to live in a world where it’s always tea time? This fantasy can be your reality at the newly opened “& sweets! sweets! buffet! Alice,” a stone’s throw from Odori Park’s famous TV Tower.

Back in October, I passed by this second-floor restaurant and took note of the bright lights and cute decorations, but I didn’t have the opportunity to dine there until recently.
The Le Trois department store building is clean and fresh, and entering the restaurant was a little like falling down the rabbit hole.
It’s a wonderland unto itself where visitors are captivated by adorable decorations, and more Japanese & western-style culinary options than the Alice of Lewis Carroll’s story could have imagined.


It goes without saying that the Alice in Wonderland aesthetic is fun and appealing, especially to a female clientele. The expected motifs – cards, clocks, rabbits, mad queens, and historical British fashion – all appear in creative places throughout the restaurant.

The English major part of me hopes that this decor inspires diners to read Lewis Carroll’s classic book, if they haven’t already!
All this ornamentation would be less exciting if the food wasn’t up to par, but I think that there is good variety and quality for all-you-can-eat fare.
The restaurant definitely earns the title of “sweets buffet” with tons of desserts on offer, including made-to-order waffles, crepes and pancakes; chocolate and strawberry chocolate fondue; both scoop and soft serve forms of ice cream; and over 30 types of cake and pudding.
On the savory side, there’s fresh salad, curry, omelette rice, pizza, pasta and more. Soft drinks, coffee, and a generous selection of teas can quench your thirst as well.

For 90 minutes in this gourmet dreamland, adults pay around ¥1700 for lunch and ¥2000 for dinner; children can visit for about a third of those prices.

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This is arguably a fair price for the experience, especially if you have a seat near the window with a prime view of the park and TV Tower, as I did. So the next time you’re near Odori, go forth and indulge your inner tea party fanatic!
& sweets! sweets! buffet! Alice
Address: Sapporo Chuo-ku Odori Nishi 1 Chome 11, Le Trois 2F
Open: 10:00~21:00 every day
Tel: 011-223-7729

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Fall Colors at Hokkaido Shrine




Rachel Davidson wrote this on Nov 17

In Japan, every season provides fresh incentive to celebrate nature. Hokkaido winter is of course synonymous with the famous Sapporo Snow Festival; spring heralds cherry blossoms; summer is perfect for beach barbecues; and fall brings the changing leaves.


Despite my futile wish for mild weather to continue indefinitely, autumn has quickly swept over the prefecture, and as the temperature drops, we may as well warm our spirits with the beauty outside.


When my parents visited me in early October, I showed them around Sapporo, one day whisking them through Maruyama Park to the grand, 140+ year old Hokkaido Shrine.
I had visited the shrine in every other season, but I didn’t expect that fall would be my favorite. The lush forest surrounding the main shrine turned all shades of yellow, red, brown and green, and dusk gave the landscape a mysterious glow.

Although we visited just before closing time at 5pm, there was still much to see, including the beginning of a wedding procession, and some adorable children making their shichigosan* shrine visit in traditional clothing. Not to mention there are food stalls along the main road, and a Rokkatei tea room for your sweets craving!


Hokkaido Shrine and Maruyama Park are well-publicized destinations within the city, but I think it never hurts to appreciate them anew. They are only a few minutes’ subway ride from Odori Park, yet once you arrive, you feel as if you’ve entered a calm woodland sanctuary. I suggest stopping by soon if you wish to glimpse the colorful leaves before they fall and snow covers the shrine. That said, no matter what time of year you visit, there’s always something to enjoy.
* Shichigosan is a celebration for children who turn seven (shichi), five (go), or three (san) years old. Typically a mid-November event, it is observed as early as October in Hokkaido.

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Play With Your Food at Conveyor Belt Sushi Restaurants




Rachel Davidson wrote this on Sep 16

One of my favorite culinary discoveries from family trips to Bellevue, Washington* was Blue C Sushi, a hip conveyor belt sushi restaurant. While sushi has been popular in Western countries since the tuna boom of the 1980s, for my family, it was such a wild new concept to see chefs creating nigiri and maki right before our eyes, and to choose whatever we liked from a variety of tiny, colorful plates.

Little did I know that Blue C Sushi was just one imported version of an idea that has existed in Japan since 1958. Sitting in that fun little restaurant, I did not imagine that I would later enjoy conveyor belt sushi in the country of its genesis – never mind in Hokkaido, a prefecture known to many as a paradise for fresh food. Talk about a miracle!


There are so many benefits to the kaitenzushi experience. If you’re starving, you can begin to eat right after you’re seated. If you go with friends, there’s always a conversation topic rolling by: a regional special, or a funny-looking type of sushi that you’ve never seen before. It’s a perfect opportunity to try new kinds of seafood, as you only have to invest in a small portion to see if you like it. Plus, most times I come out feeling full for only ¥1000!


Conveyor belt sushi is bound to be good anywhere in Japan, but I especially recommend the following restaurants in the Sapporo area:

Toriton (locations in Sapporo, Asahikagura and Kitami) A popular chain buzzing with customers during my Saturday afternoon visit. The wait was worth it for great quality! The miso soups are delicious, but beware of becoming too full from soup and not being able to enjoy more sushi.


Matsuriya (locations in Sapporo, Kushiro, Tokachi, and Nemuro) Matsuriya features the most family-friendly atmosphere, with summery decorations hanging from the ceiling; candies and soft-serve ice cream for sale at the counter; and festival music. I tried the whale nigiri for around ¥260.



Waraku (locations in Sapporo, Otaru and Ishikari) The calmest atmosphere of the four, with traditional Japanese decor and soft music. I recommend trying the seasonal specials.


Hamazushi (a large nationwide chain; I went to the one in Ishikari) The ¥90 plate deal on weekdays makes Hamazushi the cheapest of these four. Ordering from the touch screen is a lot of fun, because a little tune plays when your food is about to arrive on the conveyor belt! The restaurant is noisy, but ideal for a quick fix of sushi.


Mmm, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it… let’s all go for conveyor belt sushi sometime!

* Bellevue is a neighborhood near Seattle with modern office buildings and lots of shopping malls.


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Summer Fun in Seaside Ishikari




Rachel Davidson wrote this on Jul 31

Hokkaido may be best known for winter fun, but that doesn’t mean that summer is boring in comparison. In fact, some of the best memories of my time here are from fairweather festivals: specifically, events in Ishikari.


If you travel north of Sapporo to the beautiful Ishikari Bay, you’ll find a wide variety of summer festivities. From local temple and community association events to seaside sand castles, the city lights up with activity. There’s the usual fare of food and cold treats to beat the heat, as well as the freshest seafood around, thanks to Ishikari’s extra-close proximity to the ocean. For example, the scallops are grilled right before your eyes, and the flavor is unbeatable!


Perhaps the most well-attended Ishikari event is the series of autumn festivals in September. Local events in each of the municipality’s three districts – Ishikari Honcho, Atsuta and Hamamasu – span the last two weeks of the month. The largest is the Salmon Festival, a two-day extravaganza near the Aso-Beach and the Banya no Yu onsen. There are performances, games, raffles, and of course, appearances by Ishikari’s fishy mascots, Saketarou and Sakeko. When I attended last year, I saw a magic show, got up close and personal with a mikoshi carried through the main plaza, and ate Ishikari’s famous nabe (miso salmon stew) before having some refreshing ice cream for dessert. To this day, that experience is my mental picture of “summer in Hokkaido.”


If you’re in the mood for a day trip involving delicious seafood, the ocean breeze, and local community flair, I highly recommend giving Ishikari a try smile emoticon

The next big festival is Ishikari Marugoto Festa 2015
August 29 (Sat.), 10:00~21:00
August 30 (Sun.), 10:00~15:00
Ishikari New Port, Center, 1 Chome 264-7

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Simple Sophistication at Pippin Cafe

シンプルで洗練されているカフェ ~ ピピン



Rachel Davidson wrote this on May 28

One Sunday, on my way back to Nishi 18 chome station from the Hokkaido Modern Art Museum, it was raining outside, so I decided to hop into the first cafe I saw for some shelter and a warm drink.


As luck would have it, I stopped at Pippin, a cafe on the first floor of the D&Department Project furniture & lifestyle goods store. Complementing the D&D aesthetic, Pippin’s modern decor is minimalist yet cozy, airy yet warm. My ginger chai was rich in flavor, served in a handmade bowl with a gorgeous little meringue on the side. Between sips, I perused Kinfolk and Bird, lifetstyle and travel magazines with gorgeous photos on high-quality paper. I selected those stylish issues from Pippin’s shelves of both English and Japanese language books. They offer everything from novels to a compendium of Japanese-style sweets, and are sure to match any literary taste.



More recently, I visited Pippin again for lunch with my friend. She chose an open-face sandwich and nagaimo soup, and I had the “shikkari gohan” (“proper meal”) set lunch. Granted, it was hard for us to decide what to order, when there were also other soups, salads and bruschetta; monthly curry specials; alcohol/snack combinations; and especially tempting desserts! However, our portions were generous, satisfying, and made with the finest, freshest ingredients. The ume furikake for my rice was especially memorable, since it had a sophisticated combination of sour and savory notes; my friend’s sandwich was also delicious, piled high with ham and cheese.


pippin_4So if you find yourself in the neighborhood of the Hokkaido Modern Art and Migishi Kotaro Museums – which happen to be two of my favorites in the city – why not continue to immerse yourself in style and good taste (both visual and culinary) at Pippin? If you don’t have time to sit and eat, there’s also a deli with fresh salads and pastries to go. But I look forward to taking my time when I visit again: savoring each bite, sip, and magazine page.


Address: Sapporo Chuo-ku Odori-nishi 17 chome 1-7
Open: Tuesday-Saturday, 12:00-22:00; Sundays and holidays, 12:00-21:00
Tel: 011-643-6638

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