I gave the Hokkaido Gifts Home Delivery Service a try!

Smiles over my first walk in the snowy Hokkaido.

The snowy town of Sapporo was everything I had expected. There are no snowy towns in Singapore, where I was born and raised, and so I could not wait to walk on the snow. But I first had to stop by the shoe store in front of the train station to get the soles of my shoes fixed. I needed them to be non-slip soles so that even though it was my first time, I could safely walk on the snowy pavement without having to worry about slipping.

The place where the citizens of Sapporo go to relax – Odori Park, can be reached by subway from Sapporo Station, but it only takes fifteen minutes on foot so I decided to walk because the sky was clear. The sensation of stepping on the snow and making it squeak was amusing. Odori Park is more spacious than it looks in photos and it feels liberating to be there. The contrast between the white snow that was stacked on the roadside trees and the clear blue sky was vivid. Next, I visited the Former Hokkaido Government Office Building with its beautiful red brick structure. I then went back to my hotel to get some rest before dinner with my cousin. He was in Sapporo on assignment and had invited me out to dinner.

Odori Park

Address:Odori Nishi 1-chome to 12-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
TEL:011-251-0438 (Administrative Office, Odori Park)
Access:Odori Station on the Subway Tozai Line, Namboku Line, or Toho Line

Former Hokkaido Government Office Building

Address:Kita 3-jo Nishi 6-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Open:8:45 – 18:00 
Access:About 5 mins. by walk from Odori Station on the Subway Namboku Line / About 10 mins. by walk from JR Sapporo Station (South Exit)

Plenty of crab at a Japanese restaurant and being delighted by great news and crab-related goods.

My cousin took me to a Japanese restaurant in Sapporo as I had for a long time been looking forward to trying food of the northern areas, which are not available in southern countries. We decided to have potted crab and boiled crab, which are famous Hokkaido dishes. The plumpness and taste of the potted crabmeat was even better than I had expected, but what really surprised me was the meltingly sweet flavor of the vegetables such as the Chinese cabbage and green onion. The crisp salad filled with broccoli and cauliflower was also exquisite. The blog entry I came across once by a Westerner living in Sapporo stating that Hokkaido’s food is delicious and that ingredients from Hokkaido are particularly fresh and healthful was totally right.

The snow crab and crab forks.

What made me shout “Wow!” was the boiled crab. We have the chili crab eaten with chili sauce in Singapore, but I could not get enough of the Hokkaido crab, which produced such a juicy sweetness and rich flavor that spread throughout my mouth with just simple boiling. I was also impressed with how convenient the scissors and fork for eating crab that the staff brought us were. The scissors let me cut open the shell with ease and the fork let me get every bit of meat there was.

Hokkaido is surrounded by three ocean waters so I really envy the people there because they are able to enjoy all kinds of crab just about any day of the year. When I told my cousin that I wanted to give my mother some of this crab, since she likes crab so much, he gave me some great news. He told me that there was the “Overseas Gifts Home Delivery Service”, which would let me send it frozen and that it was available at the Sapporo crab market. I knew then and there that my souvenir would be crab sent by a home delivery service.

Sapporo crab market

Address:2-3 North 11, West 21, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
Open hours:6:00 – 17:00 (restaurants are open from 7:00), open every day of the year
Access:8 mins. by walk from Nijuyonken Station on Municipal Subway Tozai Line / 10 mins. by walk from JR Soen Station

Convenient home delivery services for travelers who want their souvenirs shipped frozen directly to their homes.

The Sapporo crab market is located right next to the wholesalers’ market, where fresh seafood that is caught from all over Hokkaido as well as fresh vegetables and fruit are sent. It is a wonderful market that lets individuals buy products that are fit for professionals. I was drawn into the array of the various kinds of fish and huge shellfish such as oysters and scallops. The scales on all the fish were shining so brightly that I thought they would start swimming again at any moment.

I found the labels and posters that indicated shops that offered the Overseas Gifts Home Delivery Service and immediately started to look for souvenirs. What I liked about the Overseas Gifts Home Delivery Service is that it lets me send items chilled. Food items keep their flavor when they are chilled, but it is important to see to it that they are shipped as quickly as possible and that temperatures are being regulated properly during shipment. I heard that travelers were not able to bring such items home in the past no matter how much they wanted to because the law did not allow them to or because it was difficult to keep them fresh. It is great that individuals can now send things home chilled and I am glad that I went to Hokkaido after this service became available.

The souvenir that I chose was an assortment of a 3 kilogram-class king crab that is enough for five or six people, a king crab leg weighing about 1 kilogram, and a horsehair crab. Using a home delivery service by sending a souvenir in a cardboard box for a bundle of 5 kilograms or less is a great bargain at just 30,000 yen, which includes the cost of the products, shipping costs, and Singapore duty*. It is a system where products that are ordered by Thursday every week are gathered on the following Tuesday to be sent from Hokkaido directly by plane on Wednesday and delivered to your home on Thursday. All you have to do is basically fill in the application form with the address of destination.
*When shipping to Singapore, the cost of the products plus logistical expenses times 7% as is required as value-added tax.

On the way back to my hotel, I stopped at a department store and found some scissors and forks for eating crab. I decided to purchase and bring them home. My plan for tomorrow is to spend the night at a nearby hot springs resort before I head back to Singapore. I am really looking forward to seeing how things will go.

Features of the convenient and money-saving Overseas Gifts Home Delivery Service

The Overseas Gifts Home Delivery Service is a system that utilizes the “HOP (Hokkaido export Platform)”, which was jointly developed by Sapporo University and the Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Everything from the picking up of products to the creating of export documents, customs clearance, and shipping is consistently taken care of, and the users do not need to go through any complicated processing at all.

Items can be sent chilled or frozen from HOP-affiliated shops in Hokkaido. This is the first system where items can be sent frozen directly from an airport in Hokkaido, and it allows food to be enjoyed with its freshness and flavor still kept.

It is also the first “consolidated” system where low quantities of products are gathered from multiple shippers to be shipped by a single container. This makes shipping souvenirs overseas at reasonable transportation costs possible.

Transportation is handled by couriers that can control temperatures at the local areas.

*As of March 2014, the “Overseas Gifts Home Delivery Service” is available for deliveries to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, but plans to expand to other regions in the future are being made.

The Hop Secretariat (“Yamato Transport Co,.Ltd, Hokkaido branch office”
Address:1-2-30 Atsubetsu-chuo-3jo, Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido

Enjoying the same flavors and making plans for a home party.

Today is the first Thursday back home from my trip to Hokkaido and I have been excited since the morning about the arriving souvenirs. My mother, who told me to calm down, also seemed happy.

Then, the package arrives at last. When I opened the box that the deliveryman handed me, there were the crabs that I bought – just as they were when I sent them from Sapporo. They were completely intact and I took a little bite of the leg of the crab. It tasted just the same as it did in Sapporo.

My mother and I immediately started making plans for our meal. It was decided that the whole family would eat the leg of the crab with the horsehair crab. Although it would be one day too early before the weekend, we decided to have our friends over tomorrow night for a crab party. They would surely be surprised at the wonderful tastes of Japan. Hokkaido has many distinct seasonal flavors. I don’t mean to rush into things, but I have already begun to look forward to spending my next summer vacation enjoying spacious natural areas and hot springs. Of course when it is time for me to return, I will have the Overseas Gifts Home Delivery Service send me back delicacies of the season such as sea urchins, surf clams, and melons.