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  • (John Daub): Welcome to Kitami, here in the very north of Hokkaido.

  • This is one of the coldest days of the year

  • and you can see behind me, all the smoke

  • because there's a massive yakiniku event going on here in Kitami.

  • This place is famous for yakiniku.

  • It's grilled beef.

  • 2000.. over 2000 people come here for the last 21 years

  • to eat meat together.

  • Wanted to do it on this frozen day in the middle of February, outside.

  • I'm not really sure,

  • but I've always wanted to come here to experience this event.

  • Now you are too.

  • So let's go have some yakiniku and learn why the heck these people are out here.

  • Let's go eat some meat! C'mon!

  • Intro music

  • Irrashaimase! (Welcome!)

  • Peter von Gomm: ONLY in Japan!

  • John: I rented a car from Sapporo's Chitose Airport and drove the snowy roads

  • to the northern extremes of Hokkaido through very peaceful scenery.

  • Which was much needed after another extreme experience in Hokkaido just 24 hours before.

  • I participated in a Hadaka Matsuri, or Naked Man Festival,

  • in Noboribetsu dressed only in a fudoshi thong.

  • A group of local warriors set to do battle in sub-zero temperatures,

  • snow, and lots of hot spring water.

  • (Screaming): I see in the mist! I see in the mist!

  • It had a lot of spiritual meaning, as you can see,

  • and it got me pretty amped up.

  • (Screaming)

  • The drive up to another sub-zero Hokkaido festival was really calming.

  • [Calm music]

  • So where exactly are we heading in Japan's extreme north?

  • From Chitose Airport it's a 300 km, 4 hour drive, via Obihiro to Kitami station.

  • 120,000 people living in sub-zero temperatures for 4 months of the year call this home.

  • And it's a peaceful home covered in snow just like the North Pole.

  • My destination tonight was a parking lot behind Kitami station right here.

  • Kitami Station.

  • The station sign with snow and icicles.

  • It wasn't hard to find this event.

  • Just head towards the smoke.

  • Despite the temperatures heading towards -20°C,

  • over 2,000 people showed up for the coldest barbecue festival in the world, that I know of.

  • Fire and smoke from grilling meat.

  • It was quite a surreal sight in the middle of winter and it smelled wonderful.

  • People huddled around the fire like this just seemed so awesome to me.

  • Normally people would be inside doing anything they could to stay warm.

  • Tonight was special.

  • John: Why do you hold this event every year?

  • Why Kitami - at night - in the middle of winter?

  • Yamamoto: Kitami is famous for yakiniku

  • and also for being extremely cold

  • so you put those two together

  • people here have a great time!

  • People are either happy - or in pain from the cold

  • We're not sure which.

  • This city is an extremely cold place in Hokkaido

  • so in this situation, we grill meat and have fun.

  • Every year the festival gets more popular

  • this year 2,100 people.

  • Yesterday it was about -20°C / -4°F

  • From yesterday and for the next 2 days

  • are the coldest nights.

  • Tonight, it's going to drop to around -20°C again.

  • John: I drove through Japan's coldest town to get here, Rikubetsu.

  • The town's sign says it all:

  • "Japan's coldest town" proclaimed at the town's central roadhouse.

  • A warm -12°C when I arrived.

  • The town is in a valley in north central Hokkaido so the cold air just sort of builds up here.

  • Continentality, all the Hokkaido chill sweeps in and settles.

  • And the record here is -38.4°C which is just crazy.

  • I went out here at 11 pm to check and it hit -27°C.

  • You think maybe my light warmed it up a degree?

  • North of Kitami is Abashiri city right on the Sea of Okhotsk.

  • Yeah the sea up here freezes over

  • so one attraction is to jump on an icebreaker cruise.

  • It's very therapeutic to see the massive chunks of ice get destroyed.

  • Crushed under the ship's hull.

  • [Rock music]

  • Man over speaker: Do you want to eat Yakiniku!?!

  • Is yakiniku delicious?!?

  • John: Back in neighboring Kitami the event was warming up

  • but the temperatures were still dropping.

  • They really love their grilling meat here.

  • The first Kitami Extreme Cold Yakiniku Festival was in 2000 with just 100 people.

  • It's grown a lot over the years with talk of increasing entry numbers.

  • A ticket is 2,000 yen.

  • Demand is high to attend.

  • Purchase in advance.

  • Let's see what's inside the meat bag I got at the entrance.

  • Sliced pork parts.

  • Local cuts of pork karubi, or boneless short rib.

  • Some cabbage and shio kosho, salty dipping sauce.

  • It got colder as the event got later.

  • The fire really helps.

  • Volunteers help keep the grills going.

  • It's time to get mine going too.

  • Yakiniku in Japanese means "grilled meat."

  • Bite-sized pieces cooked over a charcoal grill or gas fire.

  • It's super popular in Japan.

  • Yakiniku restaurants can be found everywhere,

  • hundreds of them around Kitami city.

  • Many families also cook it at home.

  • John: Isn't it cold out here?

  • Man: It's cold!

  • (John laughs)

  • There aren't too many mid-winter events in the cold, especially at night.

  • But days are shorter and people still need to have some fun.

  • This helps get over the coldest parts of the almost five months of winter here.

  • John: Aren't you cold?

  • Man: ... cold!

  • (John laughs again)

  • Even around the fire it's still pretty cold

  • One form of yakiniku grilled meat famous here is "horumon."

  • It's organ meat, or innards.

  • Originating in Osaka in 1940, it's grown in popularity especially here in Kitami.

  • Many told me it helps with stamina

  • getting through the long cold winter nights by eating it.

  • Would you try horumonyaki?

  • Kitami has some history with it.

  • Nishino: Right near Kitami Station was

  • a meat processing plant run by the city.

  • Because the meat processing plant was right here,

  • we have excellent pork parts here

  • really cheap, really fresh

  • That's the reason.

  • Also, right around Kitami Station

  • many Japanese National Railway (JNR) workers

  • went out to eat yakiniku at restaurants right here,

  • behind the station.

  • Many office workers here also eat "horumon" yakiniku

  • at their offices after work

  • that's part of the culture here,

  • history that make this a "horumon" yakiniku town.

  • I believe this is the 7th time to come for me.

  • John: And is this time the coldest?

  • Nishino: Yes, the coldest.

  • It really is!

  • Tonight is the coldest.

  • It was a lot warmer until now.

  • John: It's very easy to make friends at events like this.

  • Barbecues have a way of bringing people together even in mid-winter.

  • The pork karubi cuts were really good.

  • [Music]

  • (laughs and nods in bliss)

  • It's so great to be sitting out in front of the fire.

  • Because it's so cold, the fire is the best place to be so

  • sitting in front of, uh the fire, with friends eating meat.

  • That's what it's all about.

  • Kanpai! (Cheers!)

  • Wait, there's ice in here?

  • There's some ice in here. (Laughs)

  • Man: It's frozen, it's frozen.

  • John: Typically you're just huddled up inside in a warm place in front of the fireplace.

  • This is your fireplace.

  • (John laughs)

  • John: Kitami! Yakiniku!

  • A public service announcement at the end.

  • So what do locals do when it hits -20°C at night?

  • John: Huh? You're eating an ice cream?

  • Buy ice cream.

  • Kitami residents here are pretty hardcore.

  • (clapping) Man on stage: Do it again!

  • One more time!

  • Thank you! See you next year!

  • John: This 2020 event ends in success.

  • Thanks for subscribing to ONLY in Japan for adventures around Japan.

  • And before I burn my meat here, click and watch another episode from the far corners of Japan.

  • Mata ne! (See you again!)

  • (Evil laugh)

(John Daub): Welcome to Kitami, here in the very north of Hokkaido.

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B1 US coldest john meat hokkaido festival event

World's Coldest BBQ Festival | Hokkaido ★ ONLY in JAPAN

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    Yiu Fung Chow posted on 2021/10/31
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