Top recommendations in Around Niseko! Introducing tours where you can have fun meeting and interacting with local people!
by HTIT team
Most people know Niseko for its thriving nature and a place with an abundance of outdoor activities. In this blog where going to have a look at a fun tour recently taken by a group of 16 travelers from Singapore. We’ll follow them as they visit a few small villages around the Niseko area including Tomari Village and Kamoenai Village. We’ll also check out some highlights of this carefully crafted tour where you get to enjoy meeting and interacting with local people!
The flow of the tour consists of two parts, a morning activity where you get to meet with a group of local mothers and learn how to make authentic Japanese food, as well as an afternoon segment, where you’ll have the opportunity to take part in a fun activity that’s been practiced for over a hundred years!
Enjoy a fun cooking activity in Tomari Village at a place called, “Sakazuki Terrace!”
Tomari Village is located near the Sea of Japan and has a small countryside atmosphere with a population of about 1,700 people. “Sakazuki Terrace” is located in the picturesque district of Sakazuki. The unique building is an old garden house that has been remodeled into a café and is located in a serene area surrounded by an abundance of nature. A group of local mothers reserve this space and hold wonderful cooking classes! You can make and taste fresh authentic local food while having fun laughing and getting to know each other!
The picture above is a front view of “Sakazuki Terrace.” It’s a popular hole-in-the-wall café that serves drinks and light meals.
The shop’s location is quite unique offering a beautiful picturesque ocean view with the majestic Benten Island standing right before your eyes!
It looks like the local mothers have put some beautifuly crafted Kimonos on display for you to see! You can really feel the warm welcoming hearts of the local people!
Upon entering the main room, you’ll see that there are postcard menus for each guest, each one carefully handwritten by a local calligraphy instructor. This style of menu is common for restaurants that serve simple light meals and drinks.
The cooking class has begun! Get ready to have lots of fun learning some new cooking skills from the local mothers! Maybe even some Japanese too! Today’s menu is a local homecooked favorite called, “Chan Chan Yaki,” a simple fishermans dish made with grilled fish and fresh vegetables. You’ll also get to make “Onigiri,” which is a kind of rice ball! In May, there’s a holiday in Japan called, “Children’s Day,” which traditionally calls for a season of Bekomochi making (Japanese rice cakes)! Today you’ll have a chance to try making Bekomochi using that traditional woodenware!
After finishing the first stage of cooking, you’ll get to learn about and try making your own Matcha (powdered green tea) while being guided by a local Matcha specialist! Our staff and the travelers from Singapore were swift to get the hang of it!
Here’s a photo taken after dinner. We all had a great time getting to know each other over a delicious meal!
In the afternoon, make your way to Kamoenai Mura, a neighboring town where you’ll get to try “Hobiki!”
The town of Kamoenai is known as the town with lowest population as of May 2018. The entire town consists of 900 people. It’s hard to imagine that this very same town was once flourishing during the early 1900’s with a very prosperous fishing industry. The history still lives on and there’s a fun pastime that has been handed down by the older generations. It’s a kind of prize game called, “Hobiki.” A man who works for the local town hall by the name of Koji Igarashi is kind enough to open his house for guests to come in and experience this traditional local game.
The space provided is on the second floor of Mr. Igarashi’s house. The game begins! First, he has everyone sit in a big circle and then casts out a large rope, which is made up of many thin ropes.
The rules are quite simple. Basically, each person takes a turn pulling a rope that they think is the winning rope!
After each person has chosen a rope, everyone does a countdown in sync and tugs their ropes! Whoever gets the rope with the knot tied at the end wins! The winner then gets to choose a prize!
The game is pretty straight forward but can actually get quite intense! It’s said that this game began among the local fisherman as a pastime to keep their minds of their loved one’s while out at sea. In those days, the fisherman used to throw money in and play it as a kind of gambling game. The game lives on and has become quite popular whenever people get together in the local community. Especially during New Year’s!
As you can see in the picture above, the tour driver was the most enthusiastic about playing the game! Our tour drivers have great personalities and give their best to make your trip as enjoyable as can be. Even on the road!
Despite some language barriers, the atmosphere was great and everyone was able to bond and have a wonderful experience!
We heard a story from the person whom it was participated in after a trip was over.
Everyone in the group agreed that it was an enjoyable trip. It was made possible with a safe driver and a bus kept clean at all times and a knowledgeable, patient and easily comprehensible English speaking guide. While the trip was long over 12 days, it was made relaxing with little pressure on time to visit places. Some of the activities like BBQ lunch under Sakura trees in the picnic park; Ainu lunch by the lake side and cooking lunch with the women folk in the fishing village and playing “rope games” were highlights of the trip that will be remembered for a long time.
We had a wonderful time laughing and interacting with the local people of Kamoenai Town. This is truly a wonderful tour giving you a rare opportunity to meet and have fun with the locals giving your travels in Hokkaido a fresh twist!