Ever since we traveled to Japan for the first time in 2016, we’ve always wanted to go back. There was no doubt in our minds that when we get married, we will have our honeymoon there. In all honesty, we were very laid back on this trip. We’ve actually just booked the hotels and finish other arrangements (pocket wifi, JR pass, etc) a week before our departure, though we have set an itinerary, sort of.
The first city that we chose is Sapporo!
We departed from Jakarta to Tokyo (Haneda), before continuing our flight to Sapporo. The trick here was we had to change from international to domestic terminal. We picked up our baggage, boarded the airport bus then dropped them off at the transit counter and were set to go.
Except, there was a delay with the flight. A two hour one. We grabbed something to eat at the airport because it was getting late, we were hungry and tired. The flight took about 1 1/2 hour and we’re glad we did eat because as it turned out, there were no meals provided; just water and a packet of snack. The flight had a little bit of turbulence too. Whew, what a start!
The entire Nakajima Park was covered in snow.
It all paid off once we arrived because as soon as we get off the plane, we can feel the cold. Good thing, I already carried my coat. The train to the hotel took about an hour. Off the station, we were welcomed by well, snow. The street that trails along Nakajima Park and the whole area were covered snow. Right then and there, I was glad I had worn my heat tech clothing underneath because it was freezing. We walked and arrived at the hotel around 10 PM. It was a very warm welcome to Sapporo’s winter.
Once we checked into the hotel, the first thing that we do was finding the nearest convenience store and replenished ourselves with food. We picked out a few things and also some for breakfast. The obvious choice? Onigiri!
The next morning, we set ourselves to Odori Park and walked alongside it. There wasn’t much to see because there was some construction to take down the Sapporo Snow Festival sculptures that had been held a week before. After lunch at one of the restaurants in Odori Bisse, we headed for the Historic Village of Hokkaido. It’s an open-air museum filled with different types of buildings from all over Hokkaido from different periods. The entire area was covered in snow, naturally. Some areas were closed in the winter due to the snow. It was cold but we got to see some beautiful scenes and got into a few of the unique buildings. The only downside was they didn’t have any English description.
We didn’t get the chance to visit Hokkaido Museum which was nearby because we were pressed for time. The bus was limited so we had to make sure that we can get back to the station in time. As the sun set lower, the temperature dropped too.
We went to Susukino area, a large entertainment district filled with restaurants, shops, and pachinko. We walked along there for quite a bit before finding ourselves hungry again. This time we went to Ramen Yokocho, a narrow alley in Susukino filled with different ramen joints and tried one of them. We tried the Miso Ramen which is a famous ramen style from Sapporo. Quite a unique taste and I’m glad I’ve tried it!
We were really full so we decided to walk back to Nakajima Park which is a station away from Susukino. I kind of regret it a little bit because halfway along the street were covered in snow and it was slippery! We tried to keep our focus because we slipped a few times and it took us a lot longer to get back to the hotel 😀
The next day, we went to Shiroi Koibito Park. It’s created by Ishiya, a local chocolate company who’s famous for the Shiroi Koibito cookies! Upon entrance, we get to see the area filled with miniature houses for the kids to play around. We went inside the building and saw the production process of the cookies too. Overall, it was a fun experience. We bought the cookies to be brought home for our families and ate the incredibly delicious chocolate and vanilla ice cream.
Then we headed to Jyogai Ichiba (Sapporo Central Wholesale Market). Just like Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Sapporo has a couple of them. There was one called Nijo Market nearby Odori area. But I’ve heard the place is more touristy than Jyogai Ichiba and yes, we prefer less touristy areas. Plus, it was already quite nearby to Shiroi Koibito Park. There were a lot of seafood offerings and restaurants as well. We just chose the one that suits our budget. Of course, I had to try the Salmon Don with the oh-so-sweet crab and ikura (salmon roe). YUM! I want seconds!
We were being ambitious and still had the time to go to Otaru, a small harbor city outside of Sapporo. We were amazed at the train trip as it passes the seaside. The sight was unbelievably beautiful. We checked out the famous canal but there wasn’t much to see due to the thick snow and copious amount of tourists. But we still enjoyed our time there and as it gets colder, it’s time to go back. LOL!
We’ve planned to go to the Jozankei Onsen before but I chickened out at the last minute. The weather was really cold and the onsen that we wanted to visit was an outdoor one. I was concerned that we might get sick. And since we still have a long way to go on the trip, we needed to keep our body in tip-top condition.
Funny thing was, I’ve also messed up the itinerary a little bit. We were supposed to go to Sapporo Beer Museum but it was closed on Monday and I forgot about it. No worries, there are still places we can visit. We chose to go to Maruyama Park. Yet again another park. For me, one of the best parts of Japan is their parks and gardens. Whether it’s small or big, it’s a place where we can just walk around have some zen time.
I think we’ve spent about 2 hours or so enjoying the park. It’s full of high trees (sans the leaves). There’s Hokkaido Shrine in the middle of the park too. We stopped by a small tea shop in the park area and have ourselves some nice hot cup of Hōjicha (roasted green tea). I bought several snacks and sweets too for sustenance.
We went back to Sapporo Station, walked the underground passage and came across Colombo Curry. I couldn’t remember exactly where it was. We were just walking and found a small alley nearby the convenient store, rode up the escalator and found this place accidentally. The Tonkatsu Curry was so scrumptious! For such a generous portion, it was just under ¥1000 per person. We loved it so much!
Sapporo isn’t any like other cities in Japan. It doesn’t feel too Japanese if that makes sense. Because of the history of the city itself, the western influence is strong, shown from the architecture down to the cuisine. But, it’s still isn’t as metropolitan as Osaka (FYI, I don’t like this city as it’s too busy).
During our visit there, there’s no doubt the weather was very cold. We experienced pretty much under 3°C on average and under zero with the wind chill. The snow fell a few times too. I love winter in general but Sapporo’s can get tough and I’m not as young as I used to be. Our hands were freezing half of the time. LOL!
I would love to go back to Sapporo and Hokkaido in general during the warmer season. There are many other areas we haven’t explored yet because it’s best visited during the summer such as the park and lavender fields in Furano. I’ve heard Hokkaido’s summertime isn’t as harsh as in Tokyo so I’m really looking forward to it.
Sayonara for now, Sapporo!
Now, where did we go next? Stay tuned!