Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Memorable Recollections - Spring Cleaning My Stuff at My Parents' House

The Home Improvement Programme (HIP) scheduled for my parents' flat kind of forced me to spring clean the items i still kept stored in their house and while a tiring chore; the session was definitely filled with memorable recollections of the past! 

There were just so many things like the three bookcases at my dad's room, the pile of things in my old room (now belonging to my sister) and items in the super messy store room.

Despite my apparently poor writing skills, i am actually quite an avid reader in the past and love books written by Jeffrey Archer, Matthew Reilly, Lesley Pearse etc. Pity i no longer read and prefer to spend my free time on Facebook instead. :(

Aside from English novels, i enjoyed reading Chinese language comic books too! As the series can get really long, i often forgot about the content and had to read from the start. My solution was not to buy until the whole series was completed. Favourite comic has to be Crayon Shinchan where i had almost the entire translated collection that i couldn't bear to part. 

I used to wear accessories like necklaces, rings etc. That was during the rebellious stage and now, i believe it's hard for you to find any accessory on my body, except for maybe the lanyard carrying my staff pass. 

Anyone still remembers this?! Friends might recall that i used to drive an off-peak car (known generally as red-plate) and the above was the day license coupon that would allow us to drive in the day (from 7am to 7pm on weekdays). I amassed a stack of them and no, they don't come cheap at S$20 apiece! 

My personal 'corner'; a shelving that housed the items with memorial value like my berets from the air force, my first stack of name cards, old wallets etc. 

Smoking was a social pastime for me before i entered the national service (NS) at age 21 and the above was supposedly my last pack of cigarettes that i didn't even manage to open and decided to call it quits! 

Love peas that i diligently picked from the compound of Saint Andrews Cathedral (next to City Hall MRT station). Commonly known as jequirity, the seeds are actually toxic and just one could kill an adult. 

I was a dental orderly in my NS days and the best physical memory that i brought home was the many wisdom teeth extracted in the clinic i was attached to! Please be assured that all of them were sterilized and taken from patients who didn't want to keep their extracted tooth. Why not right?! 

Lastly, a piggy bank that my parents didn't want and i gladly decided to 'adopt' it for my family of pigs at home! Maybe i should come out with a separate posting on the number of pigs i have in my possession; friends who visited were often shocked of my collection!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My Disappointing Last Meal @ Food Court Wing in the International Terminal Building of New Chitose Airport [Hokkaido, Japan]

In my eight days in Hokkaido, the meals i had were generally pretty good with the exception of a minority few that although didn't make the cut; could still make their way down my stomach. 

Therefore, i was just hoping to get something decent for my last meal in Hokkaido before taking the plane and finally decided on a bowl of miso ramen from the food court in the departure terminal of New Chitose airport. 

It didn't come cheap at 850 yen (more than S$10) but i wouldn't have expected things to be cheap in the airport, except for maybe duty-free snacks.  And why did i choose miso ramen? Because this particular ramen style actually originates from Hokkaido

Food pager rang in about five minutes and i happily carried my bowl of miso ramen to my table and as with all soup ramen, i took a generous sip of the broth. While okay tasting, the broth was a bit too weak for the palate and that's disappointing. 

In addition to the obviously fully cooked half egg, the ramen had a hard texture and even the meat was too tough for my liking. It's actually rare for me not to clean up the entire bowl of ramen but in this particular case, i left more than a half bowl untouched and that said a lot about how i felt about the ramen.

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Location
Food Court Wing, (restricted to international passengers only) 
International Terminal Building, New Chitose Airport, 
Hokkaido, Japan

Menu
As above.

Pricing
Miso Ramen - 850 yen


Monday, June 18, 2018

The Factory Tour of Shiroi Koibito Park (白色恋人) - Well Worth the 600 Yen Admission @ Sapporo [Hokkaido, Japan]

Planning to visit Shiroi Koibito Park in Sapporo at Hokkaido yet balk at the admission fees (600 yen per adult / 200 yen per child) for the chargeable factory tour? Don't be a miser and just pay for it!

I did and aside from getting a pack of their signature sandwiched biscuits and passports (in both native Japanese and English language), i must say my visitation wasn't as bored as i expected and i felt like i was brought to an aristocrat's dwelling in the golden era of Queen Victoria.

It's a self-serviced factory tour and i spent like close to two hours, which also included a sweetness-overloaded relaxation at the Chocolate Lounge on the 4th floor. 

Let's take a picture with the iconic packaging, in its humongous form! 

Want a nicer, personalized souvenir? Get your photo imprinted onto the old-school biscuit tins of Shiroi Koibito! This exclusivity came at a price of course! 

Details as above! You can choose from three backgrounds and imprint the photo (takes 20 minutes) on either the 36-cookie box or 54-cookie box. Prices as reflected had already included the photo cost.

The fireplace that's made of 19th century Baronial-style oak. 

Aurora Fountain - as if walking into a solemn place, the standalone fountain, manufactured back in the 1870s, was a beautiful sight to behold with its ceramic tiles and good placement of lights.

Going up one level to the passage where the ambience and decoration continued to marvel me. If not for the many Asians in the building, you would be forgiven for assuming you are in Europe. 

Hot-Chocolate Cup Room - come to think about it, cups are now mainly used for any beverage although back in the 'old' days, chocolate was a luxury item and it's only right to accord it the appropriate vessel to signify its extravagance.

They came in stunning designs with many of them commanding an age that was even older than the discovery of Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles in year 1819. 

Stained glass ceiling, letting in natural sunlight, lighted up the passage.

Mom would have requested to take a picture while seated on the above chairs in front of stained glass panels. She might already have as fortunate her had been to Hokkaido on a tour package with my sister a few years ago! 

A mannequin blowing a trumpet - if i recall correctly, the robotic mannequins will move to music every hour; you would have a better look of it outside the building.

Nicely decorated chocolate boxes before the popular use of paper and plastic as containers! 

And the labels! 

Climbing up to the third floor; think the nets were a safety measure but can't help feeling they were an eyesore to the otherwise pretty historical concept. 

While Alex went to the washroom, i couldn't resist and devour a pack of the Shiroi Koibito biscuits even though i don't fancy sweet stuff as much as before.

Cat-paw-prints on the floor for ease of navigation!

'3-D' painting adorned the stairway.

The 3rd floor where you can go back in time to check out the working conditions of a chocolate factory in 19th century United Kingdom and at the same time, see with your own eyes the present conditions via the actual production line for Shiroi Koibito biscuits! 

Chocolate Time Tunnel - miniature showcasing of conditions in a chocolate factory a few centuries ago. Is it just me or that such showcase is quite popular in Japan? I recalled seeing the same format at the music box museum in Otaru

Now the highlight - the Shiroi Koibito Cookie Production Line. 

There's a piece of bad news that i just read about on the website of Shiroi Kobito Park; the production line is closed until 31st May 2019. The rest of the park remains open and you may refer to here for more information. The good news? Admission for this factory tour would not be charged from now till March (estimation) 2019. 

Guess i can use this posting to show the before-renovation which can be used as comparison should i visit again in the future. Anyway, some basic information of chocolates as above.

I am way more interested in the ingredients that go into making the Shiroi Koibito cookie! *jotting down egg white, beet sugar, milk and wheat flour*

Of course the recipe remains a secret and knowing the basic ingredients without knowing the ratio, the process and the nitty-gritty would not help much in replicating the actual product! Maybe looking through the glass would help!

Not really as most processes were replaced, unsurprisingly, by machines! There were some pretty useful information on the panels though; like the liquid chocolate needing a 6-hour mix for a smooth, velvety finish and has to mature for 12 hours at 20 degrees celcius before it can be used! 

I love the langue de chat biscuits best (also known as cat tongue) though and each of them goes through a conveyor belt that starts with 130 degrees celcius, tips at 190 in the middle and ends at 130 at the end.

How to make the chocolate middle stick to the biscuits? By putting in the slice of chocolate between the two biscuits while they were being cooled down; the remnant heat would make them stick together! 

Video as above for your viewing pleasure. With machines, everything is done to precision and i guess it would be hard for me to replicate with just a household oven in my house. :(

The journey continues with Alex posing for a picture with the artwork i showed earlier.


4th floor of the factory - comprising the Chocolate Lounge Cafe where you can chill over a cup of delicious hot chocolate, and the Cookiecraft Studio! 

Cookiecraft Studio is a place where you can make cookies or even decorate them depending on which course you choose. There's a fee for each course and i am unwilling to spend my precious time making cookies while i can do it in the comfort of my home. Nevertheless, i think kids would love it!

A massive display of cakes, including traditional stacked wedding cakes! They looked so unreal; i am not sure if they were even edible in the first place!  

For my review on the Chocolate Lounge (Ishiya Original Tea Set), click here! 

Quality Control Division Inspection Room - as the name suggests, this room does all the ingredient and product testing, including inspections of factory machinery.

Ishiya Gramophone Theatre - think there's a gramophone gallery music and exhibition halls (they were listed in the English passport) but strangely, i don't remember i walk past any gramophone related place except for the above. 

Souvenir shop where you can buy many things related to the Shiroi Koibito trademark; from tee shirts, keychains, phone covers to even bags! 

I was more taken in by the gold and silver lucky charms known as 'fuku no tane' which is supposed to bring happiness and protect the carrier from bad things. My friend actually got one for me a few years ago when she toured Hokkaido.

Visiting the children's toy box! Click here for more photos! 

Grand staircase that would bring us down to the ground level. Thought the lady struck a rather nice pose for me even though i was waiting, desperately, for her to finish up her photo shoot so that i can take mine with anyone! 

Know what this is? Use the magnifying glass to take a closer look! 

Sea angels which are in fact shellfish that have lost 'their shells in the course of evolution'! I think i saw them in some aquariums before; hm... maybe the SEA Aquarium or the now closed Underwater World.

Ground floor would also be the place where you can get your hands on many delicious delicacies from the Ishiya's brand, including the Shiroi Koibito biscuits! Furthermore, you can also claim for tax rebates as a tourist if you spend a specific amount (think it's 5,000 yen or something).

Exited via the revolving door! 

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Location
Shiroi Koibito Park, 
Miyanosawa 2-jo 2-chome, Nishi-ku, 
Sapporo 063-0052, Hokkaido, Japan

Nearest Subway Station 
Miyanosawa Subway Station (Tozai Line) 

Website 

IMPORTANT NOTICE

The Shiroi Koibito cookie production line is closed until end of May 2019 whereas the CookieCraft Studio and Chocolate Lounge are scheduled for closure from 01 November 2018. Good news is that the factory will have free admission during this period until end May 2019! 


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