Hokkaido, Japan 2007







                 
                          
Itinerary and Travel Map


12 Dec 2007
Singapore -> 札幌 sapporo
2355 JL0722 SIN - KIX

0700 Arrive Kansai International Airport
0805 Check-in for domestic flight to 新千岁空 港 shin-chitose airport
1120 JL2507 KIX - CTS
1310 Arrive 新千岁空港 shin-chitose airport
JR Airport Rapid Express -> Sapporo Station (36 mins)

1400 Check-in Sapporo Aspen Hotel
- The hotel is nice, spacious and the staff there are all very helpful. Location is also very near the JR Station. We had 2 luggage and had no problems getting there on foot even in the ice and snow.
- Undergound walk ways from the JR station gets you to within 50m of the hotel. OK if you do not have heavy luggage as there is no lift at the exit, else probably better off on street-level if you do not want to carry your luggage up the stairs.

1500 Lunch @ 白 樺山荘
- Ramen street at ESTA Shopping mall, where they "consolidated" 10 different ramen stalls from different parts of Hokkaido. We decided to try the above as it was "Sapporo Style" ... since we are in Sapporo

- ESTA basement has a large supermarket and of course we had to pick up some "post-lunch snacks", my favourite Azuki snack "Yaki-Fish"

1800 Sapporo Factory Shopping Mall - good place to shop for ski wear as almost all major brands are in the same building

13 Dec 2007
札幌 sapporo - walking and shopping around sapporo
0930 二条市场 nijo market
- Compared to other markets in Hokkaido (e.g. washio market in Kushiro), this is relatively small

1000 Brunch @ 近藤升商店

- Located at corner of 二条市场 (南3条 東1丁目) 
- Ordered the famous set 北海五膳 which is basically a set of 5 bowls of rices with いくら ikura (seasoned fish roe), うに uni (sea urchin), ほたてhotate (scallop), たこtako (octopus), かにすけcrab soup


狸小路の歩み Tannukikoji strolled from 6 to 4

Bought gloves and goggles from 川中スポーツ kawanakasports (South3 West3) ,pretty reasonable selection at reasonable prices. Bought some closeout items at good price

すすきの susukino area - shopping at Robinson's and Tokyu Hands (my favourite place for all sort of stuff)

1630 Dinner @ 鸟金 南一条店
- typical 焼 き物 place, food was great.. plus the fact that we were both very cold and hungry.
- まくら串 - minced pork skewer bar with soft boiled egg ...  must try !

-
Other good stuff like grilled squid, もつmotsu (Beef Stew), chicken skin, chicken catilage were yummy

They serve a type of cloudy white DRY (not the sweet type) sake 久保本家
生もとのど. It is not a hokkaido product, probably from Nara, but I like this type of sake a lot since the first time I tried it in Shiragawo-go ... not possible to get back home as it needs to be stored/transported cold and usually expires in 1 week ... very powerful stuff at 17% alcohol rating !

14 Dec 2007
札幌sapporo -> 登別温泉noboribetsu
Snowed the entire night, side walks are getting slushy, icy and very slippery

Breakfast @ Cafe Danmark in Sapporo JR Station - Stellar Place
The katsu sandwiches are worth a try, both the fish and chicken version are good ...of course I had both to know that :>

1220 JR Sapporo -> JR Noboribetsu (70mins)
   
Lunch @ Bento from JR Station
- Got the Ikura bento and the Kaki Bento. The Kaki bento has a heating mechanism, was quite worried when a lot of steam started to come out of the bento box after I pulled the string


Local bus from JR Noboribetsu to 清水屋 kiyomizu-ya
Note that only selected bus has extended runs which stops at Park Hotel bus stop which is 20m away from
清水屋 kiyomizu-ya. Normally the bus would ends at the Noboribetsu Onsen bus terminal only and it is another 10 mins up-hill walk to 清水屋 kiyomizu-ya

1500 Check-in 清水屋 kiyomizu-ya
- Small ryokan hotel in a more quite part in Noboribetsu.
- Room was large with both western bedroom, a seperate tatami room, of course we opted to sleep on futon.
- Chilled out with the welcome snacks and hot green tea

First real onsen for this trip @ kiyomizu-ya onsen. Milky white, sulphur-based water about 40°C ... hotspring feels wonderful especially when air temperatures are of 0 to -2
°C.

Dinner @
清水屋 kiyomizu-ya
- menu for かいせき kaiseki dinner course




Wonderful kaiseki meal in room with my favourite hokkaido sake 木绵酒男山 otokoyama

15 Dec 2007 登別温泉 noboribetsu - trekking in Shikotsu-Toya National Park
- 大湯沼川天然足湯 natural hot spring foot bath


- 大正地獄 - hot spring pool that keeps change color due to mineral reaction

- 奥の湯 oyunuma - bubbling pool of hot mud

- 大湯沼 okunoyu . 日和山


- 地獄谷 jigoku-dani valley (hell valley)


Took us a leisurely 3 hours to complete the course

Lunch @ 福庵(登別温泉町30)
- 天セイロ ten-seiro - Mixed tempura with cold noodles was very good
- 山かけそば

Post lunch snack - milky soft ice-cream and 団子 dango - japanese red bean and japanese sweet potato wrapped in steamed hot mochi .. really good!


Dinner @ 清水屋 kiyomizu-ya
After onsen, another "big" dinner in the room.
Decided to try a different hokkaido sake  千歳鶴 「吟翔」 ginshou - as full bodied as otokoyama.
The final dish was a bowl of rice with Ikura (season fish roe), although we were very full from the preceeding 10+ items, it was so good we just had to finish the entire bowl of rice.



After a hotspring bath and a big meal, now it is time to sleep to recuperate from a full day of "work" ... zzz
16 Dec 2007 登別温泉 noboribetsu -> 定山渓 jyozankei
Got a lift from the ryokan to the bus terminal, caught a bus to the JR Noboribetsu station.
JR Noboribetsu -> JR Sapporo

Had some spare time, so popped over to Yobobashi next to the sapporo JR station ... a mega chain store for electronics & gadgets.

Lunch @ スープカレーの店 ぼるつ 札幌パセオ店
- Japanese soup curry place at Paseo basement
- I liked the beef goulash with rice, Sock had the soup curry with pork ...


1430 Free pickup service provided from sapporo by 定山渓 第一寶亭留 jozankei-daiichi hotel
- 大通西5丁目昭和ビル前発着
- Exit 1 of Odori subway station was so far that although I got about 20 mins buffer, walking at an accelerated pace, we got to the pickup point with only less that 3 mins to spare ... phew! Good thing I have already takkyubin  (courier) my bigger luggage to Niseko and did not have to drag it along

After a 60mins+ bus ride, checked-in to the 定山渓 第一寶亭留 jozankei-daiichi hotel.
Had a nice big room with a balcony that over-look the jyozankei town with the snow covered mountains as a back-drop. Very pretty



-Panoromic view from the balcony


After having our afternoon tea and snack, rested a bit and it was time to check-on the onsen, the very reason you are in jyozankei in the first place. The onsen had 4 indoor pools (large and small pool, bubble bath, cold pool) and 2 outdoor pools (1 outdoor and 1 bubble pool). The outdoor bath has a nice snow-covered garden. Nothing beats relaxing in natural hotspring water and watching snow fall.

Dinner was not served in the room as per most ryokan. Our stay included dinner @ 桑 の木 kuwa-no-ki.
- This is the hotel's in-house grill restaurant. The chef's grilling skills is fantastic. Everything from grilled meat to seafood was brillantly done.


- It was a 14 course dinner with the highlights being スープーイル富良野豚 (Superior pork from Furano) and 八角魚 (Octagen fish)



- The pork was so well grilled and quality of the meat was very good. The fish has a very firm texture, sweet and rich taste
- Tried one of the 2 hokkaido sake 国稀 北海鬼that they had on menu

If you happen to be in Jyozankei, even if you do not stay here, would highly recommend you try the grills here. Everything from food, service and presentation are all excellent !

17 Dec 2007 定山渓 jyozankei - walking around the onsen town
- 足のふれあい太郎の湯 - free outdoor foot bath


- 岩戸観音 - temple with a 130m tunnel with 33 stone kanon (guan yin)


- 二見公园。二見吊り橋 managed to view the bridge from the futami park. Did not get far into the park as it was in at least 0.5m of snow already


- 湯の滝 onsen waterfall
- Tried to visit the Jyozankei shrine but the snow was too deep, could not reach it


- かっぱ家族の願かけ手湯 - outdoor hotspring hand bath


- 太郎の湯 taro-no-yu  footbath for friendship

Seem like we are the only ones on the streets ... wonder why no one wants to come out and take a walk in the blizzarding snow :> Good thing was got our windproof ski jackets with us, however  the fingers and toes were freezing.


Dinner @ 桑 の木 kuwa-no-ki
- Tonight we opted for the grilled beef and Hotate (Scallop) as the mains. As usual, food was good beyond expectation.

- Had 2 round of the other hokkaido sake 北の一番藏on the menu

18 Dec 2007 定山渓 jyozankei -> ニセコ ひらふ niseko hirafu
Hotel was kind to arrange a free car to tranfer us to the Donan bus stop in Jyozankei

1010 Donan bus from Jyozankei to Rusutsu
The bus was schedule for 1010hrs but was almost 15 minutes late, took us through the nakayama pass on highway 230. The white landscape and mountain passes were beautiful.




1130 Arrived at Rusutsu. Liam from Captain Hirafu was already waiting there with his orange and white 550cc Volkwagen minivan. We could not find a direct bus from Jyozankei to Hirafu, so Liam agreed to pick us up from Rusutsu. Thanks Liam, much appreciate your help with all the logistics.

Beautful ride to Hirafu ... the sun decided to break out of the clouds to show us the beatiful Niseko mountain in full light





Arrvied at Hirafu after a 60 mins ride. Wasted no time and immediately picked-up ski rentals at Niseko 343 opposite Captain Hirafu. The ski were K2 and ski boots fitted very well ... believe it or not, we did not experience any pain from the ski boots at all.

1330 Ski lessons with NOSAC.
The instructor was obviously "very confident" of the both of us. We are both first-timers skiers and before we know it, we were up the ski lift within the first 20 mins of our "skiing career"

Continue our practise on the ACE Lift "Family" slope for the rest of the day after the 2 hour lesson

1800 We got to stay in Niseko Scot Hotel as there was a double booking at Captain Hirafu for the night. The Scot hotel is suppose to be a "ski-in" hotel. The catch to that is that to really ski-in, you got to be on the higher slopes and break-off the trail halfway as the hotel is pretty high up on the slope. If you are on the beginner slope (family), you would still have to carry your skis and climb halfway up the slope to reach the hotel

The hotel gave us free passes to ぽぽろ popolo onsen in the neighbouring building. Brownish/gold colored water. Facilities in the onsen were not the best we have seen but it was nice in the outdoor pool with the snow coming down and recovering from muscle aches for first time skiers

Dinner: A quick ramen dinner at the small japanese restuarant in Scot hotel. They got this super-size ramen ...really huge. We did not order that as we only saw it after we have already placed our orders

We were put up in the most corner room facing the ski slopes. We were quite tired from the day and totally knocked out after watching night skiers for awhile from our hotel window
19 Dec 2007 ニセコ ひらふ niseko hirafu - Ski
1000 Met up with Liam to transfer our luggage to Captain Hirafu
Off skiing for the rest of the day, I decided to get a 2-day ski pass while sock settled for a 5-hr pass for today.

After a few runs on the "Family Slope", feeling slightly more confident, we decided to venture the rest of the Hirafu Ski Slopes (Hirafu Ski Map)
- Ace Pari Lift  - "Family" slope
- Ace Quad Lift #2 "Center 4" to Ace Hill Rest House
- Ace Pair Lift #3 to try the Shirakaba (White Birch) slope
As first-timer, we did not know what to expect and was basically flying down this slope.  It was rated as beginner but was much more challenging compared to the Family slope ... kept flying off drops because we were not familiar with the trail and always ending up in a puff of powder snow. Luckily there is a lot of POWDER SNOW way up here.

- Lunch @ Ace Hill Rest House
- Another run on the Shirakaba
- Ski to Hirafu Gondola
- Took the Gondola down to Onigiri Cafe. Sock ate more origini while waiting for me to finish a few more runs on the Holiday Pair Lift #1

Dinner @ Big Cliff
- Japanese izakaya style restaurant serving good grilled skewer dishes. Besides the grilled dish, we also liked the daigon salad.

Back to lodge, soaked in the hot tub and chilled out for the night in the lounge area in Captain Hirafu. Captain Hirafu is a nice cosy Bed and Breakfast lodge ran by Liam and Mika. Thank you for your hospitality, we felt much at home.

20 Dec 2007 ニセコ ひらふ niseko hirafu - Ski
0730 Nice leisurely breakfast at Captain Hirafu. It was snowing as usual, such a lazy and relaxed feeling having warm breakfast, watching the snow flakes through the window


0930 Walked to Ace Family Pair Lift and stayed out on the ski slopes for the rest of the day.


Decided to do the same routine as previous day, but spent more time on the Shirakaba slope.




1830 ゆころ yukoro onsen, a famous Rotemburo (outdoor onsen) in Niseko

Dinner @ A-Bu-Cha
- another Japanese izakaya style restaurant, the menu looked pretty similar to Big Cliff. Food was good though and we decided to have a nabe (hotpot), in additional to grilled fatty salmon and gyoza chicken wings.
21 Dec 2007 ニセコ ひらふ niseko hirafu -> 小樽 otaru
1017 Donan Bus to Kutchan JR Station
Had a bowl of hot Soda at old noodle store inJR Kutchan Station while waiting for the train


1117 JR: Kutchan to Otaru

1330 Check-in to Authent Hotel Otaru
Nice european-styled hotel. Very accessible from JR Otaru via the covered walkways of  都通り
 
Lunch @ 喜多二すし sushi shop
- Nigiri sushi set with a combination of 12 pieces and additional orders of otoro, salmon and uni
- One of the best sushi we had to-date. The shop is of a old merchant house, so filled with character. Highly recommended !



Along the way, had a giant taco ball , yaki-corn and free sampling of dried seafood items
Shopping along Kitaichi Glass

Coffee house @ 北一硝子 kitaichi-glass
- Another nostalgic-atmosphered old warehouse with lit with 167 kerosene lamp
- Order a macha latte and ice cream (pumpkin and sweet potato flavour)



Dinner @ 石水 (出拔小路)
- Shop probably only got 8 seat and serves freshly cook tempura over-the-counter style
- We opted for 2 different set meals. Had the option to finish the meal with either a ten-don (rice) or  ocha-zuke (green tea rice soup) as part of the set. Very yummy tempura !



22 Dec 2007 小樽 otaru - sightseeing and shopping
Breakfast @ Maison de Cafe Etoile
- Morning set which is basically thick toast, hard boil eggs and coffee

三角市场
- had a freshly steamed snow carb for ¥6000 (was about ¥700 per 100grams)



Lunch @ 藪半 yabuhan
- A 100-old year house converted to a soba restaurant
- We had the かきそばoyster soba and the 鴨そばduck meat soba. Also has a side order of their 雪見どふsnow tofu

More snack along the way, ぽんじゅう (red bean snack), amanto ice cream @ Otaru Canal Terminal, steamed hokkaido potato, giant Hotate (scallop) for Y350




Walked up to 水天宫. Could only walk on the outside of the temple grounds as the temple building itself was closed

Bought more chocolate and snacks from 六花亭 and 北国果

Dinner @ ふじ鮨 fuji sushi restaurant
- きんき鍋 Kinki Nabe - hotpot with kinki fish
- 北海 三色丼 - 3 bowl hokkaido seafood (Uni, Ikura, shredded crab meat)

23 Dec 2007 札幌 sapporo - eating and shopping
JR Otaru to JR Sapporo
Breakfast @ Prince Fournil cafe (inside sapporo station)
- Thick toast with bacon, omelette, yogurt and coffee
- 3 cheese hot sandwich
- Tonkatsu sandwich

Had to make a trip to Sapporo Factory as Sock's new ski jacket has some loose threads. Luckily the shop allowed us to exchange for a new piece, now she has a "brand new never used before" ski jacket.



Visited PetLand, a pets mega store ...fresh baked cookies for dogs anyone ?

Lunch @ かど屋 炭焼鳗鱼 eel speciality shop
We felt like something different after all the crabs, uni and ikura, so decided on this grilled eel speciality store.

- ひつまふじ膳
This is a nagoya originated dish, charcoal grilled eel ate in 3 different ways. Eel with rice, Eel with rice and garnishings. For the last bowl green tea is used to make a eel porridge
- 鳗鱼と海の子
Quite the same as above, but with additional fish roes
The eel was very thick and heavily smoked, sauce was not too sweet and also smoky tasting
- Had the Otaru draft beer, a bit too light for my liking


Nissan Sapporo Motor Show
- Pivot with an onboard robot with face / emotion detection


- The Scuba Van with a full fledge video editing station


- The SKYLINE GTR - the dream DRIFT machine


Dinner @ 八雪 ごまそば goma soba at ESTA basement
- we were very full but need to find something to eat before getting on the train back to Otaru. Both of us did not finish our portion. The soba was a bit too hard for our liking and the serving was relatively huge

24 Dec 2007 Otaru -> Chitose -> Narita -> Singapore
0934 JR Airport Express
Reservation seat were full, good thing the train starts at Otaru, so we did not have any problem getting a seat in the Unreserved cabins

1046 Arrive at 新千岁空港 shin-chitose airport for last minute shopping


- Royce milk pudding and Cafe Royce chocolate drink - one of the best chocolate milk drink


- Bought seafood bento from one of the fresh seafood stalls at airport for lunch
- Cheese made from hokkaido fresh milk

1415 JL3042 Chitose Airport
1750 JL 0711 Narita Airport
Found a shop selling fresh Daifuku
Had Curry udon at Narita Terminal 2

25 Dec 2007
0030 Arrived Singapore



Hokkaido 2007
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Trip Information
11 Dec to 25 Dec 2007
Raymond, Sock Ling

13 day winter trip - Skiing in Niseko, wonderful onsen of Jyozankai and Noboribetsu, Shopping in Sapporo

Typical temperature in city was around 1 to -2C

Up in the Niseko mountains, it is usually -8 to -10C ... with really strong winds and mini snow blizzards


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