Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Juice of Bear

Originally posted on facebook on 14th August:

In the guides I had read it sounded like Sapporo Beer had a big complex in this city where the factory museum and beer garden had sort of expanded into a shopping mall and general entertainment suplex. This is not quite the case. There are actually two different locations, the old factory which is now the Sapporo museum and beer garden (apparently great for lots of free samples and cheap beer at the end), and the new complex, called the Sapporo Factory, which is a sort of family SUPER MALL. I don’t really mind malls, but building a huge building with lots of shops is not something that ranks all that high on the scale of human achievements for me, so I could take it or leave it. Certainly the size was pretty impressive, and I got a bit turned around and lost a few times, and the shops showed a strange slant towards outdoor pursuits, and there were wind turbine things (that since they were located indoors, must’ve gobbled up electricity instead of producing it, making them slightly chilling mockeries of real wind turbines), and there was a Sapporo Beer Keller, but in the end it was just a big mall. The concession to the “factory” was a sort of mini demo brewery that I’m ashamed to say I didn’t check out except to see some guys hefting metal barrels through an open doorway. It’s not that big though, so I somehow doubt that all that beer is brewed there. It’s probably not brewed at the old factory either coz it’s a museum now… so where is it brewed? My guess: either at some massive factory in the wilds of Hokkaido that’s staffed by bears, or perhaps… Belgium? So, I didn’t visit the Sapporo Museum, I visited the Sapporo Mall. Not all that great, but that doesn’t detract in the slightest from what a great beer they make. I had a can tonight with dried squid from Hakodate whilst watching SMAPXSMAP. It RULED, except that SMAPXSMAP was a clip show and sort of sucked. The beer and squid RULED though!

But, but, but on a whim, and since the day had been all blue skies and searing heat again I headed up the JR Tower, Sapporo’s obligatory tall-building-with-observation-floor (actually Sapporo also has the TV tower, but that isn’t meant to be as good). Oh my god! So worth it! So beautiful! Sunset over the mountains, turning the sea red! You can see the sea from there! It looks so close, I estimated where I lived to the North of Sapporo and started thinking “surely I can walk to the sea from my house!” (I’m pretty sure that I can do no such thing). The neon walls of downtown, the Sapporo Factory, even that absurd Ferris Wheel on top of a building looks awesome all lit up. If you come to visit me I WILL take you up there, and I can only imagine how cool everything looks in the snow.
I also found a couple of import food deli places which stock lots of American brands and a few British ones too. Nothing to get too excited about really, then again I’m not sure if I would have got that excited about anything since I’m not really craving any products that I can’t get here. Maybe some Reece’s stuff? Anyway one of the shops was in the Sapporo Factory complex which is a little out of the way and I don’t imagine I’ll be going back soon; while the other one is in the labyrinthine tunnels beneath Sapporo Station. Above ground Sapporo is super easy to navigate around, below ground… well I may never see that place again. I have no idea where I was in relation to anywhere else when I found it, I had certainly never been there before and may never be there again. I love this place.
In other news, I bought a guitar! So probably no proper camera for a while, you'll have to make do with these shonky phone pics. They would be better too, but I can't transfer them straight onto computer via USB (probably to do with the Japanese driver) I have to resize them and email them from my phone to my gmail. Oh well.

"So first of all what we do is we lure the bear into a clearing, somwhere quiet, then we send in Big Kenichi. Big Kenichi, he hates bears somethin' awful ever since one stole his pic-er-nic basket when he was a youngling. So the bear starts all gripin' and growlin', but Big Kenichi just strolls up and punches that big ol' bear so hard that it straight up evapourates. So we suck up the bear vapour, run it through a condenser and ship it down to Sapporo. The white bear juice is a bit trickier, we have to filter that stuff but good to get all the brown out of it."

I probably should have bought some of this, I have no idea what it was. More on bears soon, they feature pretty heavily up here.

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