05 December 2013

Hokkaido (Sapporo/Otaru/Jozankei) Nov 2013 - Day 1

And so, hubby and I finally made it to Hokkaido!! Hokkaido has been on my must-visit list for the longest time; in fact I had hope to visit during summer season for the beautiful fields of blooming lavenders and sunflowers. To fully explore Hokkaido, I reckon we would need at least 8 to 12 days, unfortunately we do not have the luxury of time.

Then hubby suggested that we do a recce trip around Sapporo area first, and plan for longer trips in future. That sounded feasible and so we planned for a 6D5N rest & relax itinerary covering only Sapporo, Otaru and Jozankei during the 1st week of November. Another couple P and N joined us and the 4 of us literally ate our way through the whole journey! Be forewarned, this post and the upcoming few would consist of more food photos than anything else. LOL!

We took the red-eye flight onboard the new ANA 787 Dreamliner from Singapore to Narita Airport for transit to New Chitose Airport. Both hubby and I agreed that although the aircraft looks swanky (the uber cool window shield that can be automated with touch of a button, spacious toilets with view), the seats are totally uncomfortable! Unlike other aircraft, the seat cannot recline, instead it slides forward. We couldn't rest properly throughout the night :(

The outbound flight from Singapore was also delayed and by the time we reached Narita, we had only less than an hour for transit! It was a mad rush as we had to go through the customs, collect our luggage and then check-in for the domestic flight. Luckily there was a ground staff who hustled and guided us through the entire process so that we did not miss the flight. I think she was more flustered and worried than us. Haha. Didn't manage to take any photos due to the mad rush.

We reached New Chitose Aiport as scheduled around noon and after clearing customs and collected our luggage, we promptly hopped onto the next JR rapid train bound for JR Sapporo Station (JR Chitose Line, one service every 15 mins, cost 1040 yen one way, takes about 35 mins from New Chitose Airport to JR Sapporo Station). Upon reaching JR Sapporo Station, we followed signage that guided us to our hotel for the next 3 nights, Hotel Gracery Sapporo which is connected to the JR station via the underground mall/walkway, about 5-10 mins walk. Actually it was fairly easy to locate the hotel but we were lost when we took a wrong turn :p

Anyways, we were half an hour too early for check-in so we left our luggage and proceeded for lunch first since we were all famished. There's an underground restaurant street (Apia) just around the corner from our hotel and we randomly selected this Japanese restaurant.

The menu itself already looked tantalizing! We ordered individual meals and also some ala-carte items to share.

Tamagoyaki, tender and sweet.

Asari soup, could taste the ocean!

Tori Karaage, couldn't go wrong with fried chicken, crispy and savoury :p

I ordered tendon for myself. The tempura was so light and crisp and the sauce made me ate more rice than I should.

I think this was hubby's set meal, consisted of appetiser, udon, salad, tempura and assorted nigiri sushi.

I think this was P or N's set, salmon and ikura donburi.

The grilled hotate with butter was sooooo sweet and yummy!!

After the satisfying lunch, we went back to the hotel for check-in and experienced slight hiccup once again :( Had booked 1 double room (for P & N) and 1 twin room for ourselves. We usually book twin room in Japan because hotel room sizes are very small, and twin room is slightly bigger. Somehow they were sold out on twin rooms on our second night and the reservations manager implored us to take a double room instead for all 3 nights or we could shift room in between. Naturally we were unhappy and didn't want the hassle of having to change room. In the end, we agreed to the double room reluctantly. The manager "compensated" us with 8 vending machine drink coupons and breakfast for 4 the next morning. We've been travelling to Japan for many years and this was the first time we came across such issue :(

Finally we checked into our rooms, freshened up a bit and headed out to Odori Park.

It's beginning of winter already and end of autumn foliage. Nevertheless, the park still looked so serene and pretty.

From Odori Park, we walked about 5mins and reached the Sapporo Clock Tower, Tokeidai, symbolic landmark and important cultural property of Sapporo built in 1878.

The building now serves as a museum cum ceremony hall. Entrance fee to the museum is 200 yen per adult, we didn't go in though.

After taking some photos, we headed towards Tanukikoji Shopping Street and walked around a bit. Initially we wanted to find the Ramen Alley for a bowl of hot ramen, but chanced upon this grilled beef restaurant. The aroma of grilled beef (especially during winter) was so enticing that we decided to drop in for an early dinner.

The shop used charcoal for the bbq!

Couldn't remember what we ordered. I think a mix platter of beef and lamb, which came with some veggie.

The chargrilled meat was juicy and succulent, especially the slightly charred pieces! And surprisingly the grilled veggies like pumpkin and cabbage tasted so sweet and juicy.

Second plate that came with intestines as well. After the early dinner, it was close to 7pm, we headed back to JR Sapporo station for OTOT shopping till about 8.30pm (closing time for most shops).

Everyone was hungry again, so hubby brought us to this ramen shop that he found nearby the hotel for supper.

I shared a bowl of miso ramen with him as I could never finish such a big bowl of ramen by myself.

We also ordered some gyoza and braised pork belly to share.

With that, we headed to a convenience store near the hotel to get some drinks and snacks, and headed back to the hotel for much needed rest.

Day 2, we would be heading to Otaru. Stay tune for my next post!

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  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Great help for my travel planning to Hokkaido!

  2. Hokkaido is lovely! I'll definitely going back again!

  3. hi, may i know which site did u book for hotel gracery?
    I booked agoda for semi double but was told to pay additional for 2 occupancy. :(

  4. Hi,
    I booked directly from hotel website.

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  6. Hi, its very interesting. My family is keen to go on a free and easy trip to Hokkaido. Could you share your experience of how could I plan the trip in Dec to my email at mycatz88@yahoo.com.

  7. Hi! Do you remember where that grilled beef restaurant is located?

  8. Hi,
    Sorry, didn't note the address. It was a corner shop when we were walking towards Tanukikoji Shopping Street from Odori Park. Actually there are many grill beef restaurants around, shouldn't be a problem finding one.