Konnichiwa, I’m back! In this entry, the beautiful region of Hokkaido will be featured. Aren’t you excited 😛 At least I am, because Hokkaido is truly my favourite place in Japan. Here are the top 5 places to visit in Hokkaido!
PS: I’ve been a little occupied with my thesis recently, so there wasn’t really enough time to post this very last part of my Japan adventures. But here goes 😀
I flew to Sapporo after my short trip in the Tokyo area. I chose Sapporo as a base, and anyway my flights were all to and fro the city’s New Chitose Airport. Sapporo is the capital city of the Hokkaido prefecture and is one of the most visited metropolises of Japan. When one hears about Sapporo, the first thing that comes to mind is probably Sapporo beer, and yes! I did visit the Sapporo brewery and it’s featured here as well. Sapporo is a good base for backpacking in Hokkaido because there are many famous attractions nearby like Otaru, Furano or a little further, Niseko ski resort. Most of these trips take less than 3 hours. And I did travel in and out of Sapporo almost everyday!
Nijo Fish Market
Tokyo is famous for its Tsukiji Fish Market. Despite having visited the fish market in Tokyo, I thought I should also pay a visit to this little one in Sapporo – Nijo Fish Market. It is very similar to the one in Tokyo, only smaller and without the tuna auction. But, still, Hokkaido is famous for its sea produce! There were so many kinds of seafood available in the market. I visited a small restaurant and had my first ever Donburi in my life 😀
Shiroi Koibito Park
If you ever have friends who brought you souvenirs after they visited Japan, the loot usually includes Shiroi Koibito Chocolate Cookie. It’s really the most famous souvenir visitors to Japan would buy when they leave. And beyond the hype, they are indeed VERY NICE! Probably the best chocolate cookie I have ever eaten in my life. I still have 3 pieces in my room which I am trying very hard to cherish 😀
If you are a fan of this cookie, or you have children during your trip, you should consider visiting the Shiroi Koibito Park, a related theme park cum museum in Sapporo. From Oodori station, I took the Tozai subway to Miyanosawa station, where the park is a stone’s throw away. Admission is JPY 600 (~SGD 7).
Sapporo Beer Factory Museum
I have never visited a beer factory before, so I decided to check this one out. It has free admission anyway! To be honest, I am not a great fan of beer but I’ve heard good reviews about the Sapporo beer.
After hanging around Sapporo for a day, I took my first day-trip out, to Otaru! It is a small harbor city, located half an hour from Sapporo. Without a JR Pass, it costs JPY 640 (~SGD 7) to get to Otaru from Sapporo. It snowed so heavily that day, and the snow on the ground was above knee-height! Still, loved the snow 😀
Otaru is famous for being the Venice of Japan with its nicely-preserved Otaru Canal. I had a great time here and it’s a must-go when you visit Hokkaido! It’s just a 10-minute walk from the Otaru JR station. It is very picturesque here at the canals, especially when white snow covers up the ground and roofs. Gorgeous!
Sakaimachi Street is one of the main streets in Otaru, where there are many merchants selling different products ranging from food to souvenirs. The street is just a stone’s throw away from the canal area. Here at Sakaimachi Street, I had the best claypot udon in my life. Shiok!
Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery
After spending the day in Otaru, I took a short trip further up from Otaru to Yoichi and visited the Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery. From Otaru, the JR ride costs JPY360 (SGD4.12). Nikka Whisky is one of Japan’s top whisky makers and the distillery in Yoichi is the main one. Here, there is no admission charge and you get to understand how whisky is made in Japan. Furthermore, you can also learn a little something about Nikka’s history in whiskymaking. At the end of the tour, there was a tasting session of the different alcohols that Nikka offers.
Biei is a small town that is surrounded by beautiful landscapes like rolling hills and fields as well as lakes and waterfalls. It’s really perfect for nature enthusiasts 😀 It’s located near Furano, which is famous for its lavender fields in summer.
I wanted to visit an interesting attraction in Biei – the Blue Pond. To my disappointment, the Blue Pond was frozen and the local tourist center advised against going. They suggested going to a waterfall instead. I went ahead anyway, together with a Thai couple, and it was still so pretty.
Blue Shirahige Waterfall
After the pond we then decided to follow the suggestion from the tourist center, and walked for around 20 minutes to get to the Blue Shirahige Waterfall. This waterfall supplies water to the Blue Pond, and it was so beautiful. It was the biggest surprise ever!
It was kind of sad that my visit to Furano was not during the lavender season. I’m so coming back during summer! But anyway even in winter Furano was still beautiful, with great photo-taking spots. It’s best to enjoy the city and surrounding landscapes by car – hire one and drive yourself around!
Photo Point Tour
That day I was the only one joining the Photo Point Tour and had to pay for two paxes. Well, it was my birthday, so heck care! The tour guide brought me, the only member of the tour, to quite a number of different photo-taking points.
Furano Flower Fields
If you are lucky to be in Hokkaido during the summer, please pay a visit to their flower fields. Photos from friends who have been there just keep me wanting to be back to Hokkaido during the summer. Soon! Soon!
Noboribetsu is a hot spring resort in Hokkaido, at least an hour away by JR train from Sapporo. The ride costs JPY 2,160 (~SGD 25) for a one-way trip. Upon arrival, the onsen town greets its visitors with statues of demons called yukijin. These yukijins are supposed to protect the hot springs. Rather creepy but I still looked forward to taking a dip in one of the famous onsens in Noboribetsu. After some consultation with the local tourist center, I settled for the Noboribetsu Grand Hotel. It was my third, and last, onsen experience of the trip. An entry to the onsen costs JPY 1,500 (~SGD 17) and it was definitely the best way to end this trip to Hokkaido.
After a good 2-hour spent relaxing at the onsen, I took a walk to visit Hell Valley. Hell Valley is dotted with hot steam vents spouting sulphur-containing steam. You can really smell the sulphur from afar. But this natural phenomenon is quite something to witness with your own eyes (or rather to smell with your own nose)!
I guess here’s the last entry from me for Japan! Thank you so much for reading my posts so far 🙂 Appreciate all the kind comments! Do give me feedback if you think there can be any improvement to my writing, or if you spot any factual mistake. For now, I need a long break. Eh, wait, I promised O & A to write another post on Cambodia. BRB!