Saturday, 27 February 2016

Hokkaido 5-Day Itinerary: Day One

Read Day 1 here - Sapporo Snow Festival, Ramen Theme Park
Read Day 2 here - Sapporo TV Tower, Otaru Lantern Festival
Read Day 3 here - Mount Teine, Jingisukan
Read Day 4 here - Odori Park, Susukino Ice Festival
Read Day 5 here - Ishiya Chocolate Factory
Read Day 6 here - Bonus Day! Strawberry Farm

Flying into Shin-Chitose Airport (新千歳空港), we were met with heavy tourist traffic in the building presumably for the Sapporo Snow Festival (さっぽろ雪まつり). We arrived the Saturday of the famous snow festival and had to book our accommodation back in November to secure a spot. The main festival took place February 5-11 this year. The direct train from Shin-Chitose Airport to JR Sapporo Station (札幌) took about 40 mins (1380 yen).

It was about -4C that day in the late afternoon and snow covered patches of the sidewalk but most of it was shovelled off or kept at bay with the heated sidewalks of Sapporo. I packed a camping backpack as my baggage because I didn’t know what the snow situation would be like and I didn’t want to drag my wheeled luggage through the snow. Turns out that it would have been completely fine in the city of Sapporo but maybe not as convenient elsewhere in Hokkaido (北海道) where the snow does pile up on the sidewalks.

Macau's Ruins of St Paul's in snow form
After dropping our things off at the hostel, we went to explore Odori Park (大通公園) where the main snow festival sculptures were. Since it was cold out, I split up exploring the long 1.5 km park over a few days in the day and night. Mostly it is your hands and feet that will feel cold. The sculptures look different by day and night and at night there are superb light shows projected onto the largest snow structures running about once every 15 minutes.

Ruin's of St Paul's by night
There are food stalls sprinkled throughout the park and a main eating area with famous foods from around Hokkaido. There is a heated tent area to shield visitors from the wind while they indulge.

Ramen kyowakoku (republic)
Hokkaido miso ramen
For dinner that night, we went to the ramen kyowakoku (札幌らーめん共和国) in a building called ESTA right next to JR Sapporo Station. On the 10th floor, many famous ramen restaurants were situated and I tried the signature Hokkaido Miso Ramen with butter. The seasoned broth had a smokey flavour and paired great with butter that made the bowl of noodles so smooth. It definitely was on the greasier side with the fatty pork and butter but it was fantastic comfort food before walking out into the cold night back to the hostel.

Read Day 1 here - Sapporo Snow Festival, Ramen Theme Park
Read Day 2 here - Sapporo TV Tower, Otaru Lantern Festival
Read Day 3 here - Mount Teine, Jingisukan
Read Day 4 here - Odori Park, Susukino Ice Festival
Read Day 5 here - Ishiya Chocolate Factory
Read Day 6 here - Bonus Day! Strawberry Farm
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