Earlier Travels in Japan
We love Japan. I’ve visited Kyoto and Tokyo twice with my daughter. I’ve traveled round Hiroshima, the Iya Valley, Miyajima and Naoshima Island with Nationwide Geographic and I dove deeper into Tokyo with AFAR. After I had my household price the 60+ nations we’ve visited, Japan completed within the high 10.
As I had already skilled a variety of the extra well-liked Japanese locations, and have an excellent really feel for Japanese tradition and custom, I used to be excited to listen to that my favourite journey occasion, the Journey Journey World Summit (ATWS), would happen this 12 months in Hokkaido. An ideal excuse to see a brand new space of Japan!
Hokkaido is Japan’s largest and northernmost prefecture. Whereas there are a variety of cities, together with Sapporo, Hokkaido is extra about islands, forests, mountains and lakes than city areas. It could take months to see nearly all of Hokkaido, and sadly I solely had per week, so this weblog publish is barely supposed to offer you a style.
Sapporo is the best place to start out in Hokkaido. With nearly two million individuals, it’s Hokkaido’s largest metropolis by far. Sapporo hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics and is known for its namesake beer, and it’s a enjoyable metropolis – type of a mini-Tokyo. The airport is giant, with each home and worldwide flights. I arrived from Perth, Australia, through Singapore and Nagoya (Japan), after which departed on to Taipei, persevering with on to Los Angeles. There’s a speedy prepare that connects the airport to Sapporo Station – the journey takes 37 minutes. There are many JR workers within the stations that can assist you buy tickets.
Over the course of per week in Sapporo I walked rather a lot and rode the Subway rather a lot. As with most of Japan, there’s not a variety of English, both spoken or on indicators. When you turn into comfy with that, you’ll have a good time. Google Maps is wonderful relating to navigation, together with the Subway, and you may at all times determine find out how to order meals and find out how to pay with out talking the identical language.
My visited coincided with Sapporo Autumn Fest, a three-week celebration with a whole bunch of meals stalls in Odori Park. Sapporo doesn’t get a variety of vacationers, even for occasions like this, so we had been normally the one non-Japanese lining up for ice cream, curry, noodles and every little thing else. I really like being locations on the earth the place you get to leap into the actual tradition, somewhat than being served a vacationer model!
Maruyama Park was my favourite place in Sapporo, and it’s straightforward to succeed in, solely three stops from Odori (my base) on the orange Tozai line. Simply exit at Maruyama Koen Station and stroll proper – you possibly can see the park from the Subway exit. The park is an oasis within the metropolis, with a mountain (straightforward to climb at solely 225m), a picket walkway by the forest, a Shinto shrine, a number of smaller temples and shrines, and a zoo. I reached the highest of Mount Maruyama precisely one hour after leaving my Odori lodge, so go to/climb isn’t an enormous time dedication.
Sapporo Okurayama Ski Bounce Stadium
The convention I attended in Sapporo had its opening occasion on the Ski Bounce Stadium, in order that was a straightforward alternative to go to. Extremely really useful even outdoors of a convention setting, as you possibly can see one of many websites of the 1972 video games (there’s a museum) and you may take a ski elevate to the highest of the bounce for wonderful views over Sapporo. Take the Tozai line to the identical cease as Maruyama Park (Maruyama Koen Station) after which board the JR Hokkaido bus (Okurayama Line) to the stadium.
It could be a disservice to Hokkaido to spend per week in Sapporo and never see some what makes Hokkaido wonderful – the character outdoors of the cities. So I booked a one-day journey with North Star Journey to go to Lake Shikotsu, roughly an hour away. The prepare took us midway to the lake (to Chitose, simply earlier than the airport), after which North Star organized for a shuttle bus to take us the remainder of the best way.
We began on the Lake Shikotsu Customer Heart to study concerning the nationwide park and lake (it’s Japan’s second deepest lake and mentioned to have the purest water). We then rented e-bikes and cycled from the Customer’s Heart partway across the lake to the Moss Hall (10km).
The Moss Hall is precisely what it feels like – a canyon coated in moss. There are literally 30 several types of moss within the hall, and it was a shocking stroll – even within the rain. North Star supplied guides to stroll us by the hall, declaring the totally different volcanic layers and mosses. Considered one of my all-time Japan highlights!
We biked again to the Customer’s Heart, had lunch close by (actually good fish/sushi from the lake), after which rented see-through kayaks from Ocean Days. We kayaked out onto the lake, however with diminished visibility the lake wasn’t thrilling, so we kayaked by the river to the dam. My first time kayaking in Japan and it was an amazing couple hours – straightforward kayaking on nonetheless water.
The place To Keep in Sapporo
I booked the Tokyu Stay Sapporo Odori. I wished to be close to Odori, because the Tozai subway line stops there, the Autumn Pageant takes place there, and there’s a big pedestrian space, together with Ramen Alley. As a base in Sapporo, Odori is ideal! I discovered Tokyu Keep on TripAdvisor and it appeared ultimate. I paid round $90/evening. My room was small however comfy, and it had a full washer! On condition that I used to be visiting Sapporo after touring round with the world, with stops in Qatar, Zanzibar and Perth, I knew I’d wish to do laundry. There’s additionally a espresso machine within the foyer, which I used rather a lot – regardless that it doesn’t begin working till 6:30am.
I booked my room by Hotels.com. Due to my Lodge.com/Expedia standing, I used to be in a position to test in early and take a look at late. My associates who booked although different web sites didn’t have the identical perks. The room didn’t include breakfast. There’s a Starbucks a block away although, and I discovered a wonderful French bakery on the Maruyama Koen Subway station (Ache Au Traditionnel). Or you possibly can pay for breakfast on the lodge.
The place To Eat in Sapporo
For a really quick lunch/dinner in Sapporo, or wherever in Japan, head to a comfort retailer. Significantly. Lawson’s has good sandwiches, and seven/11 has good fried rice bowls and dumplings. In any other case simply go into the primary small place that you just stroll previous that appears good. In case you Google Ramen Alley, there are a dozen ramen locations there. We beloved Ramen Sora in Odori. However actually, it’s straightforward to seek out cheap, good meals all through Sapporo. And once more, don’t fear concerning the language barrier – simply level to photos on the menu to order.
Hokkaido – Abstract
I beloved Hokkaido and Sapporo. This isn’t touristy Japan – it’s the Japan for locals, and adventurers, and it’s an ideal addition to your Japan itinerary after you’ve visited the principle cities. After I return I wish to discover outdoors of Sapporo. There are sake distilleries that invite guests. There are islands to bike round. There’s snowboarding in winter. There’s kelp harvesting. There’s a variety of wonderful mountaineering. There’s greater than sufficient to do for a month!
I took the lengthy approach to Sapporo, stopping in Zanzibar and Perth first merely to finish my objective of visiting each continent in the identical 12 months. I used Qatar Airways factors for tickets from LA to Zanzibar to Perth. I booked Singapore Airways from Perth to Sapporo, and EVA Air from Sapporo to LA. It really works properly to e book around the globe tickets that method – as a number of one-way tickets, utilizing a mixture of factors and cash. 5 flights had been in enterprise class and 4 had been in financial system.
I bought by with a carry-on and a backpack. However most of the time the airways made me test my carry-on as a result of it weighed greater than 7kg, regardless that it simply match their measurements. Annoying! I took just a few shirts from Unbound Merino, two pairs of pants, two pairs of footwear, a sweatshirt and toiletries.
I at all times park at The Parking Spot at LAX.
Hokkaido – Your Flip
Have you ever visited Hokkaido? What had been your favourite adventures?