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How Japan’s North is Like Canada… But Not

How Japan’s North is Like Canada… But Not


Hello world. When I was twenty, I visited
Japan for the first time and was gobsmacked. To me, Japan was nothing at all like my home country, Canada. (“O Canada”) I had never seen rice fields before, and the skyscrapers and
neon lights of Tokyo, they were magnificent. However, after almost a
couple decades of visiting and living in Japan, I finally went to Japan’s
Northernmost prefecture, Hokkaido. As the plane was descending,
I thought to myself, “Huh, this looks a bit like Canada.” I mean, Manitoba’s fields are much bigger, that’s where I grew up by the way, hence why I have the photographs, but in comparison to the rest of Japan, seeing big, open flat
fields like this, is rare. Actually, as my wife and I
were driving around Hokkaido, we kept on using the saying,
“Hokkaido wa dekkaido.” In Japanese, dekkaido
literally means big road, while Hokkaido means Northern Sea Road. It’s just a play on words that is trying to say, “Hokkaido is big.” Hokkaido dwarfs other
Japanese prefectures in size, by a lot. The next closest prefecture of Iwate is over five times smaller. Japan Rail, JR, actually made this neat
overlay of Hokkaido that you can move around
other prefectures. If you know Japan, then
you’ll be surprised to see that Hokkaido spans from Osaka to Tokyo. But if I move Hokkaido
over to Canada, yeah, tiny. In any case, the roads
were big enough over here that my wife even drove, which she refuses to do around Tokyo, because the roads can get very
narrow, to say the least. What we drove were two RVs from
Hokkaido Nomad Car Rental, which seemed like a very Canadian, or maybe it’s an American, thing to do. However, again, like the size
of the fields and landmass, Canada once again outdid Japan. Whereas this compact
Japanese RV sleeps five, this compact Canadian RV, which is one meter
longer, only sleeps three. You can get bigger RVs in Japan, but I thought this comparison most apt. In Japan, they’re used to
making do with smaller spaces, that’s why the five sleeping
spaces instead of three. But if you consider other amenities, you see the difference in lifestyle. One thing the Japanese RV had was a non-flush toilet. We could have used it, but since there are nice toilets at roadside stops and campsites, a flushing toilet is less of a priority. I mean, this is the washlet from the campground we stayed at. Another thing, is that no matter the size of
the Japanese RVs we looked at, there were no showers, whereas this was a common feature in standard-size Canadian RVs; why? It’s probably because
Japan has many sentos, or public baths. I especially like the
ones that are onsens, or hot springs. Unlike Canada, Hokkaido
has many volcanoes. And a quick note, yes,
Canada has volcanoes, but they’re not nearly as densely packed near population centers
as in Hokkaido or Japan. And with volcanoes,
comes many hot springs. There is a stove in the RV, but we also never had a need to touch it. You’ll soon see why. And thinking of food, Hokkaido has an almost identical
food self-sufficiency ratio to Canada. While Hokkaido produces
185% of its caloric needs, in Canada, it’s 183%. These are big league numbers, as many countries nowadays are
not self-sufficient at all, with Japan’s rate at a dismal 37%. But again, in Hokkaido, they can almost feed
themselves twice over, and trust me, they tried to do that to us while we were there. What surprised me was how much the food
I ate at our farm stay was similar to what I ate in Canada. Tomatoes, peppers,
cucumbers, potatoes, corn. Now, this could just be because
the farmer I stayed with actually lived in Canada for a year. I was asking you, how
come you know English? (laughing) I was staying in Canada, 30 years ago. But if you look at the
types of agricultural and livestock products of which Hokkaido produces
the largest volume in Japan, you’ll find a lot of similarities. Wheat, beans, potatoes, sweet corn. Bloodhorses? Okay, so some differences. We happened to go to the
Kitchen Garden Farm Stay at a great time of the year, during the fall harvest in September. And did I say great? Because I meant incredible. Not only in the volume made, it was a mini-Thanksgiving,
minus the turkey, but the freshness. I cannot emphasize this enough. So this is fresh corn,
not cooked, no salt, no butter, no pepper, nothing. It’s so sweet, I can’t believe this! (corn crunching) This is like the best
fresh corn I’ve ever had. The only fresh corn I
ever had, not cooked. Crazy! What’s it taste like? Tastes like an apple. Although apparently, I’ve never had Taber corn from Alberta. (corn crunching) I love corn, I can eat it all day. So anyways, back in Hokkaido,
the farmers had a greenhouse that we could harvest
various produce from. No, it’s a bit soft. – Oh, there’s a hole.
– There’s a hole. The bugs really chewed on it. (laughter) This is small. They also had fields where we
had to work them old school. (screaming) Shin got a lot of big ones! Yeah! I got three big potatoes! After that got tiring, we
decided to modernize things. (metal bars clacking) How much is that blue bucket? The twice of this bucket. The price is about 600 yen for 20 kilograms. This one is going to the starch factory. I think 500 yen per 100 kilograms. It’s terrible (laughing), the farm, the Japanese farm. Cannot make the money. Enough money for life. But my daughter will be better. And the people is good. He told me that when they
found out one of his daughter’s had a mental disability, his wife and him decided
to go into farming, to get the best food for her. That was twenty years ago. (insects chirping) Now this is the morning spread. Again, it’s something
I can’t show on video, but these were honestly the meals with the freshest produce
I’ve ever eaten in my life. Yes, those bacon and sausages
are a bit weak sauce, but look at these hash browns! I’ve never once seen these made in Japan, so seeing this familiar
dish brought back memories of my oldest brother making
this very dish for me. I was honestly nostalgic. Okay, where was I, yes,
talking about why Hokkaido is like Canada, but not. Well, the not part would be
the sleeping arrangements. In this farm house, we slept in the loft, using futons laid out on the ground. Not everyone in Hokkaido, or Japan for that matter,
sleep on the ground though; beds do exist, as well
as hammocks apparently. But before we went to bed, we did what seems a very
Japanese thing to me and played with hanabi, or fireworks. (fireworks sizzling) Do you want to know something funny? Oikawa-san is actually
young for a Japanese farmer. Now I am, and my wife, is 58. In Japan, 63.5% of farmers are over 65. In Canada, most farmers are
no spring chickens either, with 54.5% over the age of 55. Canada has younger farmers, but the average age of both
Japanese and Canadian farmers are similarly, getting older. After leaving the farm stay, we decided that for lunch we’d have ice cream. That’s not a joke. We literally went to a
specialty dairy producer and ate ice cream for lunch. This is partly because
we knew a huge feast was coming our way for dinner, but also simply because
Hokkaido is known for its dairy and its soft cream, so you need to try it while there. Hokkaido produces half of Japan’s dairy. Although for some reason, Japanese cheese leaves much to be desired. My recommendation is get
your soft cream in Hokkaido, but your cheese in Canada. Right now in Japan I’m currently making do with shopping at Costco and
getting Gouda from Holland. So back on the road again, I
noticed some other differences. The size of vehicles. Simply compare this
Japanese farmer’s truck to Canadian ones. But what surprised me
about Hokkaido’s roads were these arrows. They mark the lanes, which I can tell you from
experiencing Canadian winters, would come in really handy, especially during snow
storms and at night. Something else you
can’t miss while driving is these collapsible barriers that protect the road from wind and snow. I think we could use this around
my birthplace in Winnipeg, since we’re known as the windy
city, kinda like Chicago. We Winnipeggers also think
we have a snowy city, but we only get 114 centimeters a year, which is less than Toronto. However, unlike that city which shuts down and declares emergency after a few centimeters hit the ground, we just go about our day. Sorry, got distracted (chuckling)
making fun of Toronto, a favourite Canadian pastime. However, when it comes to snow, Sapporo, Hokkaido’s capital
city, takes the cake with an average of 597
centimeters of snowfall a year. That’s 20 feet, in American. I think the reason why Winnipegers believe we’re a snowy city is
because when it does snow, it’s consistently cold
enough, that it stays. So there is some truth to that
nickname of ours, Winterpeg. While cramming in a lot talk
about my hometown is fun, let’s get to the camping. On our way in, we stopped
by this site on a lake, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen
such a staggering amount of on-shore lake camping before in Canada. However, where we camped
at was this glamping site. There was a single tent pitched here, but most of the spots
were reserved for RVs and other more swanky abodes. I mean, there’s an oil heater in here. And you have a table, and all your beddings. And look at these fancy fire pits. And, well, like in Vancouver, they also have container housing. I like this massive window in the front where you can sit down and have a nice cup of tea, coffee, or in the kids’ case, hot chocolate. Whereas in Canada it’s for the homeless, in Japan, it’s a luxury. Although, these modular
homes in BC look nice and they’re trying to solve
a complicated problem, so no disrespect. Takibi Camp provided everything
related to cooking, including chopping up all the
ingredients for our BBQ. Even though there was a firepit, they also lit up a charcoal BBQ, that provided nice, even heat. Although, that didn’t stop the kids
from causing a few flare-ups. It’s OK that there’s lots of flames. But hey, they took charge of the BBQing,
so that was good. Honestly, the grilled vegetables and meat
would have been enough food, but they also made us a pot roast chicken. And do you see this dark thing
hanging over the fire pit? Yes, that’s a rack of pork ribs. It was good, trust me. And because this is Japan, we of course also had a hot pail of rice at the ready. I’ve made videos about glamping
in Japan and in Canada, and while Canada’s food was great, this is bringing it to
a whole other level. Want to put wood on the fire? When the kids wanted to get even warmer than what the heat from
the fire could provide, they went to the bar to play games. And when the adults wanted to
shelter themselves from the cold, they sat at the bar and drank. Thanks for watching,
see you next time, bye! What comparisons did I miss or mess up? I look forward to your
constructive comments!

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100 thoughts on “How Japan’s North is Like Canada… But Not

  1. I'm a farmer in Canada, maybe one day I'll do a farm stay in Hokaido, I'm visiting Japan in a few months and I have researched some farm stay stuff.

  2. This whole video can basically be summed up as, northern Japan is a bit like the west because its climate is similar to that of Europe and North America and thus they grow and east similar foods.

  3. cheers good video. Made me laugh though, as I am from Vancouver, used to live in Winnipeg, and my family is from Hokkaido, Japan. Also my last name is the same as the farmer lol.

  4. I don't know how Japanese people are digesting dairy being that they are a mostly lactose intolerant group of people.

  5. You're called winterpeg because it's so cold. Not because of snow. I can say firsthand that standing out there, enjoying the sun on my face, the wind in my hair, for 8 hours in -40 before the windchill… I hated it. I hated it so much. Your city is so cold that Ladies of the Night are ordered by phonecall and delivered in dodge caravans and such. Like wowzers.

  6. AAAGRH!!!!
    I AM SO TIRED OF AMERICANS WORSHIPPING JAPAN!!!!11
    JUST TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN COUNTRY ALREADY!!!111111111?!?!?!?!?!?!!1111111111111

  7. That lake in the caldera looks absolutely beautiful. Japan seems like such a gorgeous country, I would love to see it sometime.

  8. Gentleman farmer was in Canada 30 years ago and still speaks the language. I think I could live in Japan for 30 years and still fail.

  9. Canada! I stand u ❣️❣️ but I'm sorry I live in the city like in Hamilton,Toronto and more. Never went out of it before and would want to tho❣️❣️ 🇨🇦🍁

  10. 10:37 if we’re talking about comparing regions, in my and BBQs home of the southern USA that is not barbecue. No smoke and 10 hour cooking periods, no barbecue. That is a grill.

  11. I really enjoyed this. It was nice to see all the beautiful nature, as well as the kids getting their hands dirty and doing some farm work. I still miss Aiko and Shin. If they were in the video I didn't see them. I'd like to try camping, but I feel like I'd need some kind of RV with plumbing, electricity, and Wi-Fi. At least the first two. I guess that's not really camping, but at least for my first time. Though whenever I go to Japan, I'll definitely want to make that part of my tourist destination.

  12. The video was phenomenal. Loved how you dipped in with a well rounded compare and contrast of two similar cultures. But bro, that outro was weak af.

  13. As a fellow Winnipeger, making fun of Toronto is also a favorite pastime. The -40 C with snow definately lives upto its name: Winterpeg. But definately dont want to deal with Hokaido snow either!!

  14. Okay, so now I REALLY want to go camping in Hokkaido! Staying on the farmstead looks like a great family experience. Here in Ontario I normally wait until August-September to go camping when the bloodthirsty insects are not an issue. In Hokkaido, is this the case as well? When is the best time to experience the outdoors there? BTW, my family and I are loving this series!

  15. '.' I feel like hokkaido is like another home on the other side of the world, I love so much about it & it feels so familiar, but it is also japan & has volcanoes, from an irishman away from home

  16. Learning English big whoop these are the people who could not break Native language the very same language that’s in Canada too lmao

  17. 7:42 that's a drone fly over of where my mother lives. on the left side. 8:35 is the ramp to the galena> shelter bay ferry north of Nakusp. Was there a road trip I'm unaware of?

  18. I was born and raised in Toronto, and now live a little north of there in Newmarket. I want to visit Japan so badly!! Probably since before you were born Greg! And Hokkaido always seemed so idyllic to me too, probably for the same rural aspect I know and love in Canada. Perhaps one day, one day…..

  19. Japanese cheese is garbage because of lactose, they're so lactose intolerant they mess with the milk beforehand so it just doesn't take like cheese is supposed to. Works for them I guess, so long as they don't spoil themselves eating real cheese.

  20. Hokkaido has the BEST corn I have ever tasted. I lived there for 18 months and love the fruits and vegetables they grow there. Even the corn in Osaka doesn’t compare to Hokkaido corn.

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