While Tokyo’s cherry blossoms were in full bloom in early April, Hokkaido was devoid of color. The trees that lined the streets were bare, sidewalks were covered in melting snow, and buds were yet to break. To make things more drab, I ventured into the industrial part of Otaru Port – the eery atmosphere created by the vine-covered walls, peculiar steel structures, and cracked concrete were all too mysterious to resist. I took a turn after the weighing station and a cluster of Giant Butterbur (Petasites japonicus) shoots instantly caught my eye. The pastel green and yellow contrasted so nicely against the snow and dirt – the first sign that winter truly was coming to an end. Otaru Port wasn’t the only place I spotted the herbaceous plant – they were omnipresent. I even found it in my oden stew later that evening!