Release | Yoko Sasaki
Would you like a market-like shopping experience in Maruyama, the fashionable district in Sapporo (1)
It is nice to visit around standard tourist spots, but sometimes we want to walk around the city as if we live there. If you feel like that, you should visit local stores in Maruyama, the fashionable district in Sapporo.
In the part one of this series, I will introduce the attraction and stories of Maruyama area which continues from the morning market.
Maruyama is a fashionable district where people dream of living here once in a lifetimeMaruyama District in Sapporo is the area spreads from Maruyama-Koen Station which is three stops away from Metro Odori Station via Tozai Line. The area is famous as a residential district and popular foodie area where people can enjoy eating at nice restaurants.
The name Maruyama has given by the first secretary of Hokkaido, Michitoshi Iwamura. It is said that he took the name from Maruyama area in Kyoto.
Maruyama in Sapporo is a small mountain which is 226 meters high above sea level and the primary forest around the mountain is designated as one of the Special Natural Monuments. There is often a rumor that some people have seen wild Hokkaido squirrel, but actually, it is common for local people who live in the area. It proves that the area is filled with nature.
▲“Maruyama Park” is a famous sight for cherry blossoms and autumn foliage.
▲Hokkaido squirrels are active during the day in autumn and morning in winter. They are sometimes seen in mid-winter because they don’t enter in hibernation.
Turning into “Maruyama Market” from the morning market and then…Maruyama District developed as a farm village. Many morning markets started to appear in the mid-Meiji era, and farmers in the neighborhood carried their vegetables with carts, operator bought them and worked as retail dealers.
▲Provided photo: “Vegetables in the neighborhood gathered at Maruyama morning market (Taisho Era)” owned by Sapporo Archives.
After the war, unions were organized, and they divided the area into districts for shops. It was the establishment of the style of a market which producers directly sell crops to customers. That turned into “Maruyama Market” later.
“Maruyama Market” was established in 1970, before the Metro came to the area, in a two stories steel building. It was like a supermarket with 55 shops selling a variety of things.
“When the market was great, it sold very well - many 40-kilogram pickles barrel got empty every day. I never had time to eat.” The owner of “Konno Tsukemonoya,” Yoshinobu Konno, who was involved in the business at “Maruyama Market” told me. He is a pure Maruyama person born and raised here and owns pickles shop from 50 years ago after he took over the food shop established by his father about 70 years ago.
▲Mr. Konno is admired as the boss of Maruyama Shotengai (Shopping Street) or the walking dictionary of Maruyama.
▲Mr. Konno’s shop when “Maruyama Market” was still there. He said that there were lots of coverages. at that time
However, as the time changes, such as the opening of a large supermarket in the neighborhood, “Maruyama Market” closed in 2010. The market closed while locals still supported its attractions of chatting with sellers and unique product lineups differing in each shop.
Some people still wanted to continue their business in Maruyama, and they still protect the spirit of markets: some people established themselves in business and opened stores, and some people gather in a group to host “Mini-Maruyama Market.” And there are some new stores opened in the area which values face-to-face selling with that history in Maruyama.
Make what they like and sell - “Konno Tsukemonoya”I visited Mr. Konno’s store as the first stop of my shopping tour in Maruyama.
They continued business for a long time in “Maruyama Market” and 10 years have passed since they moved the store to the current location. When Mr. Konno said “I think I am having more fun now than the past,” his wife Emiko said “Yeah, we now make what we like and sell. We were too busy to just stock ready-made products and sell them.” It seems like their business was very well, but they did not have time to rest.
▲Yoshinobu Konno stands in front of homemade pickles. Emiko smiled and said, “I will stand in the back of him.”
The most popular homemade pickles from “Konno Tsukemonoya” is Nukazuke. They kept Nukazuke with great care for 33 years - they mix the bran from the bottom of the barrel and take away extra bran around the barrel every day.
“Long time ago, I had Tendon at a Tempura restaurant in Sapporo, and the Nukazuke came with it was very delicious. I asked the chef how to make it, but he did not tell me. So I studied how to make it from TV and magazines and started to make by myself.” Emiko told as if it happened yesterday.
As Mr. Konno said, “there are many young people ask you how to make one, right?” Emiko said “I tell them my methods if they are okay with my way. I put red pepper and chopped kelp in bran and put whatever others I like.”
However, she does have one secret. When Mr. Konno said, “that is her top secret” as he smiled, Emiko nodded with her mouth closed. They are really a lovely couple.
▲Emiko’s Nukazuke. “It becomes the best after two to three days after putting in the barrel. When customers purchase them, I always taste a little piece of cucumbers and tell them that it’s the best time or they have to wait for a day, etc.”
Herring pickles will come out soon, but it’s sold out already from reservations!When it becomes cold, “Konno’s herring pickles” which are known by few people come out. Herring pickles are the comfort food of Hokkaido people. However, not many people make it at home recently because it takes a long time to prepare.
Emiko makes the pickles in the traditional method. “I pickle cabbage, dried radish, and traditional hard-dried herrings with fermentation starter and salt. It turns out the traditional rural flavor, not into light flavor you often see recently. So many people feel nostalgy from our herring pickles.”
However, herring pickles are very popular, and we cannot find at the shop. The amount they can make is sold out by reservations.
“We offer various homemade pickles such as bran radish pickles, sweet and sour red radish pickles, etc. Other than Nukazuke, you can find about 10 kinds every time you visit our store.” Mr. Konno told me. They don’t make too much amount although they know they can sell more.
▲There are Kimchi, miso pickled pokeweed, small eggplant cucumbers, etc. Everything is small as we can finish in two or three meals.
There is a bench for two or three people on the right of the entrance. Mr. Konno sits on the bench when he has time to watch the street.
If he sees someone he knows, he goes outside and talks to them. Whoever was on the street come in the store and sits on the bench to chat with Mr. Konno. This interaction between people is making a great atmosphere in Maruyama.
I will introduce the fish shop and meat shop which continue from “Maruyama Market” and a Daifuku shop opened in Maruyama area three years ago in part two.
Hokkaido Likers writer Yoko Sasaki
Photo / Kei Furuse GAZEfotographica