“Why is Hokkaido?” seems to be a must-be-asked question when I told someone that I would change my job to Hokkaido. Even in the interview for the new job, the same question was asked, too. “Why do you want to go to Hokkaido?”
At that time, I could only answer like “I don’t know exactly the reason; just because I like Hokkaido and follow my feeling.” After moving to Omu (a small town in Mombetsu District, northeast of Hokkaido), I’ve found out the proper answer to that question.
Firstly, fresh and delicious food
“Betting that you will get fat after moving to Hokkaido.”, one of my former colleagues said, and this prediction seems to come true shortly. Such fresh and delicious food here makes me want to eat, eat and eat all the time, especially the seafood. Omu town is famous for its hairy crab, you don’t need to be a great chef or any special recipe to cook the crab, just boil it and enjoy. My colleagues bought a boiled crab for me in the welcome party, and my superior guided me on how to eat the crab without using any utensils. The tip is “push push push and yummy”.
Besides the seafood, dairy products from soft ice-cream, yogurt to butter are highly recommended. After trying yogurt here, I don’t want to drink yogurt sold in the supermarket anymore.
Secondly, a safe and sound place
That’s my first impression. Omu Town is quiet and peaceful. The white waves dance in the deep blue sea is so scenic that I have to take a lot of pics even my hands are freezing. Especially, when I see the seagulls spread their wings and fly freely through the blue sky, I feel free too and seem to be fully charged for the new day.
I love this feeling because before coming to Japan in March 2019, I had lived and worked in Hochiminh City, a crowded and non-sleeping city for more than 13 years. I need more breathing room, so I’m not interested in Japanese big cities such as Tokyo, Osaka or Nagoya.
Thirdly, land of nature and festival
One of my Japanese acquaintances told me that “There is nothing in Mombetsu except for cow”, but after coming here, I realize that this place is different from what I and other people thought.
There’re many places for sightseeing and getting knowledge. I can understand how drift ice forms, see “the sea angel” Clione, experience -20°C extreme cold room where exhibits a variety of small sea animals frozen in ice at Okhotsk Sea Ice Museum of Hokkaido Giza; enjoy the magnificent sunset; eager to visit Takinoue Park carpeted in pink with Moss Phlox and tulip at KamiYubetsu Tulip Park…
Besides, this area may be a good option for those who love festivals. I am quite surprised to know that three or four festivals are celebrated in different towns each month, throughout a year. For example, in Omu town where I’m living, there’re Local sightseeing festival in June or Candle night in February.
Finally, “do the best that we can” spirit
Omu is a small town populating around 4,200 people, and in line with the current situation of Japan, the population here is aging and shrinking.
Tourism plays an important role to make the town more vital. I have chances to go out with my colleague and discuss with some people about the plan on how to make the town more attractive and lively. Looking into their faces and their eyes, I can strongly feel their “do the best that we can” determination to develop their beloved town, that moves me a lot.
I also like the daily chats sometimes interfering with the formal discussion. It’s so nostalgic, brings back my memory on Vietnamese old days.
Of course, no place in this world is perfect. Omu town also has its disadvantages.
For example, the prices are slightly higher than Toyama Prefecture where I lived one year before moving to Hokkaido, public transportation is inconvenient, and it comes to complicated with garbage separation – a nightmare of foreigners like me. Garbage needs sorting into 7 types, putting into 7 different colored plastic bags and throwing in different decided weekdays. Besides, there are continuing cold days and driving on a snowy road is scary. However, for somebody, Omu may be a lonely town in such a countryside, but for those who want to commune with nature and have a chance to know more about rural Japanese life like me, it’s a pretty good place. So, why not go to Hokkaido?