Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Obihiro 帯広

Nowadays with so much written on every place imaginable, you often feel like you've already been there before you set off on your journey. Using Google map, you can see every shop front along a busy street and with all the online travel guides and blogs you can even get a feel of what the place is like. But once in a while, you get surprises when you arrived at the actual destination. Mum and dad just could not forget the bugs in Shiretoko Five Lakes and the sight of dozens of chimneys covered by dense fog just before sunset driving into the city of Kushiro. The fog reminded them of San Francisco.

Obihiro 帯広 was probably the city with the highest non-construction related noise pollution that they have ever visited. Every street corner, no matter where you were and what time of the day, you would hear a continuous stream of public broadcast which covered everything from road safety to commercial ads. This was a strange contrast to the sparsely populated street in early evening. The city seemed to liven up as it got deeper into the night. Kita no Yatai 北の屋台 (Food stalls of the North) with two rows of open-air food stalls along a small stretch of street was jam packed with customers. Perhaps it was the long weekend 三連休 which drew the crowd out.

Kitanoyatai 北の屋台

Instead of rubbing shoulders with the locals, they decided to have dinner in another famous Obihiro offering, Butadon 豚丼 (pork bowl). As you can see from the Wikipedia entry, this dish originated from Obihiro and Banchou ばんちょう is the original butadon store. A photo just would not do justice to a simple dish like this. Highly recommended if you ever visit Obihiro.

The queue outside Banchou Butadon 豚丼のばんちょう
Shops selling Butadon were everywhere. They also tried the shop within Obihiro JR station. This shop was established just 1 year after Banchou, which opened in Showa 8 year. The meat was not as fatty and perhaps why it lost out just that little bit.

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