Today, we’re going to check out Nemuro Hanamaru, a sushi chain popular with locals, that originated in the fishing village of Nemuro. As it’s surrounded by water on all sides, Hokkaido is where you can find exquisite sushi at great prices – even in conveyor belt sushi restaurants.
But great prices aren’t all that makes Nemuro Hanamaru special! Read on as we take you inside.

1. What’s Nemuro Hanamaru all about?

The area of Nemuro, where Nemuro Hanamaru originated, faces the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Okhotsk and is where the fishing industry thrives. The public was called on to suggest names for the restaurant, and Nemuro Hanamaru eventually got its name from a submission by an older adult living in Nemuro! How, then, did this name come about?
First, Nemuro is home to many places like “Hanasakiminato” and “Hanasaki Kaidō” that have in their names ‘hana,’ which means flower in Japanese. Second, the ‘hanamaru’ is a circular hand-drawn symbol that signifies affirmation and means “very good,” often used when grading in school or calligraphy. The elderly customer had hoped his beloved restaurant would receive ‘hanamaru’ from its other customers. This beautiful and heartwarming story behind the name is indeed proof of how well-loved the restaurant is locally.
Nemuro Hanamaru’s name has reached out far and wide outside of Hokkaido, with branches popping up in Ginza and Marunouchi. Out of all the stores within and outside Hokkaido, the one we are focusing on this time is “Kaitenzushi Nemuro Hanamaru JR Tower Stellar Place,” located on the sixth floor of Sapporo Stellar Place, a shopping mall directly connected to Sapporo Station. Even with the abundance of dining establishments and cafes on the same floor, there is usually a queue outside this restaurant – a testament to its enormous popularity.

2. From Entering the Restaurant to Ordering

Because the food preparation area is situated in the center, you will be able to watch the sushi professionals at work regardless of whether you are seated at the counter or in the booths.
At the counter, between the kitchen and the seats, is a conveyor belt from which you can pick up the sushi of your choice. Due to the current COVID-19 situation, various precautionary measures have been put in place, including the placement of vinyl sheets between the kitchen and the seats, alternate seating at the counter, and transparent partitions set up on the table between seats.
In addition to some old-fashioned fishing gear, handcrafted goods made using crab shells, and seashells make up the interior…

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