Sunday, 19 April 2015

Hokkaido, again

I have been to Hokkaido a few times now and it is always worth it. It is the kind of place that all JETs should visit, kind of like Tokyo or Okinawa. It is probably not like any other prefecture you can think of. This time around I had three full days and we wanted to knock off some of the things I hadn't tried on previous trips. I came the weekend after the snow festival, which meant Sapporo was less crowded, but Odori park was filled with giant piles of snow rather than gorgeous ice carvings. We spent one day and night in Sapporo so we didn't need to worry about transport. We stayed at the Nest Hotel, right in the downtown area. Was only about $30 a night for each of us, including parking. So it was a good price and great location.

Our only Sapporo goal was to enjoy wandering and to go to the Sapporo Beer Hall. It is a giant Hall that features ghengis khan, which is grilled lamb. For about $40 you get a nomihoudai and tabehoudai. We arrived without a reservation and only waited about 30 minutes, so totally reasonable. The atmosphere inside is really warm and inviting and the service is crazy fast. The waitress never took longer than 90 seconds to fill our order and everytime she dropped off our beverages she prefaced it with, 'thank you for your waiting'. Too cute!!  Connected to the beer hall is the Sapporo Beer Museum, which was actually our first stop before dinner. The museum is three floors, with the top two as walk throughs, and the bottom floor being a tasting hall. For 500 Yen you get three glasses of beer to sample, so D and I split one set. It was delicious and a fun way to finish a museum tour.
The next morning we dropped in on an organic cafe for breaky. It was overpriced, but all organic if that is your thing. We heard rumors of breakfast sets but it was just your average cafe offerings, like fruit sandwiches and pancakes.  The coffee was good tho!
D lives in a small village that is famous for...probably not much. However recently the town onsen and community center has been plugging tourism, specifically to groups of Thai tourists.  They offer ice fishing, skidooing, banana boating and a delicious curry restaurant. We opted for the ice fishing! For around 1000 yen each we rented our own ice fishing tent, and were given poles and worms to (hopefully) catch some smelt. If you do catch something the restaurant will tempura it up for you!
This visit to Hokkaido may end up being my last, but it was a really fun experience. I feel lucky in some ways that D lives so far away, because it has given me the chance to experience a whole different side to Japan.
Enjoying the illuminated village of Shinshinotsu

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