The next morning we packed again, went to the train station and boarded a train to Hokkaido! Yei!
Beautiful view of the sea from the train
Trains to Hokkaido cross from Aomori to Hakodate through an underwater passage, it’s really awesome, well, this is, if you’re not somewhat reluctant as was my sweet friend at that time. Eventually we did cross and we laughed about it for hours.
Information on how the train goes under water between the two islands
In Hakodate, the train stopped and we had to get off. We then, as we had already learned from previous travels, proceeded to do as everyone else and we started queuing having no idea of what was happening.
Turns out that because of maintenance on the tracks we were to do part of the way by bus. So well, we were distributed into buses, driven to some place really beautiful where I swore I would have my honey moon once I got married (we’re still having it in Iceland).
This place was Onuma near the Onuma National Park and the beautiful Onuma Lake.
Changing For the bus in Hakkodate, view of the Onuma lake and train lines of Hokkaido
In Onuma we again queued up and boarded the new train to Sapporo. It was a long, long, long, 3 hour train journey after which we were really exhausted. The best thing about this train trip and why I recommend it dearly, it’s the view. Most of the way, the train will take you by the shoreline and it’s Hokkaido, it’s beautiful!
Arriving in Sapporo where do we sleep?
Hello Sapporo! We’re ready to dump our asses somewhere, where can we sleep?
Arriving in Sapporo
Well, we went to the information office and asked the lady to point us to a place where we could stay for two nights. I’m not sure at what point did we realize that this was a national holiday and that Japanese people plan their holidays, really well and really in advance. It must have been around the time she called the youth hostel, hung up and told us there were only two beds available and that we should run there.
It was hilarious, luckily it was just around the corner but we got there and raised our conquering flag.
Wandering around the city center
So we did get there on time and got settled in this Sapporo youth hostel. We had a bedroom for 6 girls, Vera and me shared a bunk bed – I just realised this was actually my first hostel experience.
By the time we were ready to see things, it was already dark but still we went to explore and wander around in the city.
Wandering around the city center
Sapporo Day 1 – Food, Giant Wheel and… Food
As we walked up and down the streets we realised that there was a food festival happening, we though that this was a massive coincidence, but also realised why the city was fully booked.
Food Festival in Odori Park. Miso ramen is a favourite among people in Hokkaido, churros with ice cream was an unexpected surprise
The food festival was happening in Odori Park, a place also known for the giant ice sculptures and where the Sapporo tower is also located.
It was a unique experience, there were so many people all cramped up in one single place. The most amazing thing for us was that no one ever touched us, there was no bumping, no touching, no pushing. People just flowed through each other unbelievably.
After we got our food, we carried on walking and we had a hysterical little girl moment when we saw a giant ferries wheel at the top of the tallest building around. Yeah, ferries wheels, at this point I had never entered in one, hence the hysterical moment.
View of the Entertainment district from the giant Ferris Wheel
When we came down we kept walking and found ourselves inside the covered shopping area. Stores were already closing down for the day but we still found a shop for some sweets. We bought little fluffy cubes sprinkled with coconut. Needless to say, they were delicious.
The covered area and our delicious cakes
By this time, the day was coming to an end and we walked back to the hostel. On the way I remember a Japanese mom on a bicycle with a little girl sitting in the chair in the back giggling all the way really loud, this moment brought a smile to my face.
Sapporo Day 2 – Sapporo in one day
Looking back on day 2 and seeing all that we did in one single day, it feels unbelievable!
We rented bicycles, there was too much to cover in one day so this seemed the most appropriate way to do it.
First stop was the old Government building. A western looking building that holds inside an exhibition on the current Russian – Japanese relations. We also tried to see the botanical gardens but when we went there was too early and it was still closed.
The government building and the botanical gardens
From here we cycled in a straight line to Nakajima park. Here we spent most of our morning walking, taking pictures and also sitting down by the riverside relaxing.
Nakajima park and the river side for a peaceful morning
On our way back we stopped by the famous clock tower, it seems also built in a western style and has an imported American clock. I love how bad we were at taking pictures at this time, none of us got a full picture of the house!
The clock house and the giant ferris wheel
At around 11 am we had planned to see the Nijo market. Eating sushi in the market during the morning, when fish is at it’s freshest was one of the most recommended things to do in Sapporo.
The Nijo market
So we decided to make the great sacrifice of eating delicious Japanese sushi in the morning (sarcasm) and here is a picture of our great suffering.
The sushi restaurant inside the market
After lunch and on our way to Mount Moiwa we stopped by the building of the ferries wheel to see the shops inside. This was anime and manga heaven, how did I not buy all of these Evangelion and Sailor Moon figurines is something I will never understand. Note that this is was the best place for these types of articles I found in Japan.
Manga section of one of the floors of the building
Mount Moiwa is one of the best stops in Sapporo. In almost every town in Japan you will find a mountain with a ropeway and a clear view over the city from the top. I took this for granted when I was there, but it is not that common in Europe for there to be a high view point over a city (from a mountain) and for it to be so well commercially explored and taken care of.
Anyway, a trip to Sapporo cannot be complete without a visit to Mount Moiwa. Prepare your camera and your mind, because it is as beautiful as it peaceful.
Moiwa san and Sapporo view
On our way back to the city centre we passed through the entertainment district Susukino, and I don’t know how we did it, but we found an underground shopping centre by complete chance.
I’ve seen this on NHK very recently described as a way for the people in Sapporo to shop and go through the city protected from the cold and I must say it’s genius!
And of course, no small exploration can go unrewarded and so we went to relax at a tea shop and got ourselves some very cute cookies with some very perfect tea and milk like the old grandmas we are.
Tea and cookies
Needless to say that at this point we were dying. We went to get food again at the food festival in Odori park and went home. Of this day, after this tea, combined we have no more pictures. I guess we were done with tourism.
Vera, looking at this day, I think we mastered traveling. You and me together (with enough food) we could conquer the world.
Sapporo Day 3 – Packed for travel again
Sunday was our last travel day and we needed it to go back. We packed ourselves as neatly as we could and took the train back to Aomori.
In Aomori we had time for obento and then took the bus back to Sendai.
O bento for our last trip back home
Of the rest of the trip combined there are only 4 pictures, I bet we just slept and snored our entire way back.
The best option to get to Sapporo if you are coming from center or south Honshu is by plane. There is a low cost company Peach Airways that you can check for good prices.
Since last year you can also take the Hokkaido Shinkansen, but it will still take you 8 hours and 270 Dollars.
Once there, the city is completely doable by bicycle, at that time we were able to park our bicycles almost anywhere without restriction which was even better.
Sapporo will be crowded during February because of the ice statues festival. A well known festival around the world, where giant ice sculptures are created for exhibition for millions of people.
Make sure to visit mount Moiwa, you can take a tram from the centre to the ropeway which you can take to get up there. However you can also climb on foot, whatever tickles your fancy.
Odori park, Susukino entertainment district and the Market are my favourites after mount Moiwa, especially the market. If you can, make sure to go through these local markets as they have the freshest fish on earth.
That’s all from me for now! Next stop will be Matsushima, one of the three views of Japan!