Destination Niseko: An Interview with Chopsticks on the Loose
Globe-trotters, Niseko-lovers and 2019 Experience Niseko Summer Magazine cover photo creators, Sarah and Eric of the blog and Instagram, Chopsticks on the Loose, tell us about their 2018 summer trip in Niseko.
So, tell us how your travel blog all began?
Chopsticks on the Loose started back in 2015. At the time we had just decided to leave our 9-5 jobs and start travelling. We came up with the idea of starting a blog as a way for our family and friends back at home to keep up with where we were and the things we got up to. It was also a great creative outlet for our photography and writing.
Where are you both from originally?
Sarah was originally born in Hong Kong but came over to the UK when she was around seven years old where she subsequently stayed all the way up until we left to travel. Eric was born and raised in the UK.
When did you visit Niseko and what brought you here?
Our visit to Niseko was around the start of June 2018. We were already a month in to our year of travelling through Japan and had planned to spend one month in Hokkaido. The idea to visit Niseko came about after we heard of Mt Yotei from a fellow traveller we met. We’re big lovers of outdoors and hiking and when he told us the mountain was nicknamed Ezo Fuji, we knew we had to visit.
We just loved the photo of Sarah with Mt Yotei featured on our magazine cover, where exactly was that shot taken?
Thank you so much! That particular photo was taken at Mr Mishima’s Shibazakura Garden. Mr Mishima’s garden features a carpet of vibrant pink Shibazakura flowers alongside a field of yellow canola flowers; seeing it with our own eyes was magical. It’s also moving to know Mr Mishima has been tending to his garden for 18 years which he opens to the public for free. We were told he does it purely because he’s passionate about the flowers.
What are your top five picture-perfect spots in Niseko in summer?
- Mr Mishima’s Shibazakura Garden
- Half Moon Lake (Hangetsu)
- Grand Hirafu mountain
- Potato fields of Kutchan
- Lawson in Hirafu (awesome view of Mt Yotei)
What was the most memorable part of your Niseko trip?
Getting to see the beautiful scenery of Niseko was amazing but it’s the warmth we received from locals that was the most memorable. Niseko seemed to have a very open and friendly community, we were greeted with smiles wherever we went and passersby would always strike up a conversation. It reminded us of our friendly countryside neighbourhoods we grew up in back in the UK.
What do you think makes Niseko a great place to visit in summer?
Niseko is known all around the world for its legendary winter wonderland scenes but it was the fields of multicoloured flowers and hiking trails which captivated us. In summer the roads are also much safer to drive on, coupled with perfect temperatures, this makes it the best time to rent a car and go on a road trip around the region.
What are your top tips for visitors to Niseko in summer?
Definitely think about renting a car or a bike as the summer is Niseko’s off-season which means public transport will be much more infrequent. Bear bells will also be helpful if you’re considering hitting some hiking trails–always better to be safe than sorry.
What are some of your favourite Hokkaido foods?
Hokkaido has so many great foods to choose from but it has to be the fresh seafood which takes top spot, we’d highly recommend making a trip to Shakotan where you’ll find the best uni-don. If you’re not so into seafood then Asahikawa has some awesome ramen shops including Aoba and Ramen Santouka.
What's it like to be travelling the world non-stop?
It's incredibly exciting, we’ve been travelling for four years now and there’s hardly a day that goes by which feels dull–new destinations, new cultures, new foods, new friends, new experience. We feel very lucky to be able to live the life we’ve always wanted. On the flip side, it can be very tiring.
Where are you both headed next?
We've just completed our 10th month in Japan which has seen us travel from Hokkaido to Okinawa. We’re heading back to Europe next with trips to Hungary, Luxembourg and the UK.
Follow Sarah and Eric’s travels on Instagram @chopsticksontheloos or visit www.chopsticksontheloose.com
This article was first published in the 2019 Summer edition of the Experience Niseko Magazine.