Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Hokkaido round three

One of the best parts of Japan is the steady stream of bank holidays. Although Japanese people are hesitant to ever leave work early or actually relax on the traditional weekend, they have a ton of long weekends where many people actually take time off to travel within Japan. Last weekend I headed to Kobe, but this weekend I was back in Hokkaido. I have been there in both winter (February) and in early summer(June), but I think that this visit was the best weather wise. すぞし is what they call it in Japan, when the weather is nice but there is a crisp breeze.
Arriving in Sapporo the first thing I checked off my list was to drink a caramel machiatto and go to Costco. Costco in Japan totally beats North American Costco. It is quieter, the prices are good and it is quieter. Although it is  still crowded(it is Japan after all) people are polite and there is less of a sense of urgency then what is often found among shoppers at discount stores at home. I stocked up on bagels, peanut butter and coffee. Well worth it!
After Costco we walked through the park in downtown Sapporo and enjoyed people watching at the Autumn festival. We ate some okonomiyaki in downtown Sapporo before heading back for an early night.
The next day Dan took me to some of the most famous spots in Hokkaido to celebrate our anniversary(yay!). To start we drove to the Furano Lavender fields. Along the way we pulled off to check out a local waterfall, and it was gorgeous! We arrived in Furano after about two hours and although we missed the prime of the lavender the fields were glowing in the sunshine and I was astounded at how beautiful the location was. Japan loves to highlight the features of prefectures, so in Tottori station there is a giant poster of the Lavender Fields, and after seeing it in person I can definitely say it lives up to the poster! Rows upon rows of coloured flowers, and some really cute restaurants and gift shops sprinkled throughout the property. It is free to visit and totally worth the drive. It seems a little out of the way though if you didn't have access to a car.


After the fields Dan took me to a Michelin rated restaurant called Ausperges. It was so amazing!! The restaurant was in a modern, white walled, open room. We had the beef course dinner and it was incredible. It started with a vegetable salad using twenty fresh vegetables, followed by a corn soup, broccoli and carrots, mashed potatoes, the main course, a melon soup and then chocolate anko beans and coffee for dessert. It was definitely a 4-star restaurant for the taste and the experience. So cute! A really romantic place, and a nice follow up to the Lavender fields.

                Enjoying my 20 vegetable salad!! #delic
restaurant selfie
Next we drove to the famous blue pond, which has been used as an image for Apple.  The pond is in Biei and is a little out of the way, especially without a car. The pond is absolutely stunning! It was a perfect backdrop for some surreal looking pictures and we arrived around 4pm which gave us some perfect lighting. Overall it is an enchanting spot to see.

We finished our night with 100 Yen revolving sushi in Iwamizawa. It was really delicious and there was even a Philly roll on the menu which I have not seen since being home! I will definitely miss the fun (and cheap cost) of revolving sushi when I leave Japan next year.
On Monday we decided to go into Sapporo for a day in the city (since Dan lives in a village with a population of about 20 people). We decided to check out the Sapporo art park and it was fantastic! We arrived and it was raining so we started by eating at the lunch buffet that overlooks the park. The food was delicious (ohmy Hokkaido softcream. much wow) and then we headed into the park. It cost about 700 Yen a person to just wander through the park so we opted out of the upgrade which would have given us access to a small museum. The park itself is a nice leisurly walk with some really cool installations. One in particular featured haunting music that played when you walked through a section of forest, it was both creepy and intriguing. I have been wanting to visit the art island Naoshima for a while but I think that Sapporo art park did the trick for me - it was just enough art, and a shorter trip!
Next we headed into Sapporo but made a stop off at Mt. Moiwa. Although it is possible to hike up, or take a cable car, we parked and walked about 700m to the top. It has a  beautiful view and a spot to 'lock up your love'. Japan loves 'lock up your love' places, and the view at this one was spectacular. 
After soaking up the amazing view of the city and mountains we walked down and headed back into the city. Originally we planned to go to the cinema since Tottori never plays English films, but then because the weather was so nice we decided to just relax downtown instead. We drank coffee, shopped, rode the ferris wheel and then ate dinner at Jacksonville Burger. The feel of the restaurant was completely American and the burger was outstanding. I was shocked to find out an old JET who lived nearby used to eat there so often he had a tab!! It was so delicious though, I would definitely go back to Jacksonville Burger.
 <<- Sooooo good! 

I plan on heading back to Hokkaido again in November when winter is in full force, so I will experience the true Hokkaido winter. I really hope to snow shoe or maybe take on a small hike in a less snowy area. Hokkaido is definitely one of the best travel spots in all of Japan, but it becomes much more difficult to access without a car. If you are OK with staying within the city you are fine, but otherwise it might be a tricky venture to enjoy all the things I got to experience this weekend.

No comments:

Post a Comment