Asahikawa day 2

February 16th, 2011

We woke up the next day to a beautiful morning. We had some surprisingly good hotel breakfast and everyone gathered in the lobby to wait for Naoto to come pick us up in his van. Where were we traveling to?

We thought we would start the morning right with some SAKE! But not just any sake, special igloo sake!

One of the shop keepers at the brewery met us out front (I think someone called ahead to make this appointment, because in the car we weren’t sure if we would be able to see the igloo or not.)

They create this little snow cave by inflating a large balloon and when the temperature hits a certain low, they pour water on it, over and over again until they build up a thick layer before deflating the balloon.

Inside is a grass roots version of a sake brewing. The sacks are filled with fermenting rice which liquidates and then drop by drop, drips into that little stainless pot. No filter, completely unpasteurized ice sake!

Samples? Yes Please!

Bottoms up! It was really delicious we bought a tiny bottle to take home with us.

The old brewery was really beautiful on the outside.

Vintage sake ads.

A collection of old Japanese water buckets. The vintage Jens Quistgaard ice bucket I have was inspired by these shapes.

After the sake tasting we headed over to Iba Takahito’s house.

Iba Takahito’s work is a pure form of wood working. He uses techniques from the Showa period and produces all his work by hand at his farm house just outside Asahikawa. Not only is he a young designer working with traditional methods, he is also known for using traditional Japanese lacquer in his work.

We were invited into his beautiful farmhouse where he and his wife live.

The fire place is the heart of the home, here in Asahkawa.

Cat shelf!

This beautiful handmade shelf, designed for one purpose–holding these glasses–was very poetic.

Hand bound brushes.

Not only did the couple let us bombard their home with a mob of people, they even served us tea. We appreciate the hospitality so much.

Oji Masanori talking shop.

Next Iba Takahito offered to show us his workshop.

This is where Iba Takahito mixes his lacquer.

A wall of chisels and planers.

Iba san showing us his traditional wood planer.

We decided to grab some lunch at “Gosh“, a really popular lunch spot. Oji Masanori attempted to visit here on his last trip to Asahikawa but because the restaurant doesn’t take any reservations, the place was packed and he couldn’t get a table.

We had a lot more luck this time.

Juli had the tuna melt.

I (and nearly everyone else) had the beef stew. It was delicious.

Dueling cameras.

After touring about Furano town and checking out the scenery we headed for our next meal (we have been eating A LOT).

Furano Burger, a little burger house in the middle of nowhere. I read about this place in my D&Department guide and was instantly charmed by it, their farm produced burgers and sausages are well worth the long drive from Asahikawa.

The inside has a simple pine interior, we ordered a couple of beers while we waited for our food. We weren’t too hungry when we arrived but after sitting for a couple of minutes and smelling the grill, we were anticipating our burgers.

There was a little glass fridge display where you could purchase their farm sausages or bacon.

Our burger arrives with bacon, cheese, fried Hokkkaido potatoes, and a side sausage. It was amazing, it sets a whole new standard for eating burgers in Japan.

We were invited to Sato san’s home near Furano, a beautiful property on the mountains surrounded by wilderness. I’m told they get a lot of bears and deer around here. Mr. Sato is a distributor of fine Japanese products, he says there are three types of real design.

1 – Single produced art pieces that are displayed in art galleries.
2 – Mass produced designs that are found in many shops.
3 – Artisan designs that can be produced in small batches and sold to specialty design stores.

He fits the latter, and he has a beautiful collection to prove it. Everything from antique Japanese lacquer ware to contemporary technical wood working craft, it was a real treat to see everything and Mr. Sato graciously let me touch everything.

Oji san testing out the snow blower, he started getting adventurous and blasted everyone with snow.

Now, time for revenge!

In Hokkaido it is a tradition to build ice huts to sit in and cook rice cakes. Mr. Sato piled up snow and created the interior with a chainsaw.

The rice cakes were cooked over an open flame and then wrapped in seaweed and dipped in soy sauce.

It was very tasty, and such a treat to hang out in an igloo!


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