Saturday, 27 February 2016

Hokkaido 5-Day Itinerary: Day Three

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

It was an almost full day on the mountain today. I had heard about the amazing quality of snow in Hokkaido and can now attest to it. We went to Mount Teine (手稻山), one of the homes of the Sapporo 1972 Winter Olympics. The snow was powdery, soft and gripped well onto your skis/snowboard.

To get there, we took the train from JR Sapporo (札幌) to JR Teine Station (手稲) then we waited for the bus up to the slope. The bus doesn’t come frequently, so I suggest you to go on their website and check the times for going to and leaving Mt Teine.

Mount Teine
We had called two days before to book a beginners ski lesson. You can call as late as 5pm the day before. It cost 12,000 yen per person including three hours of lesson, skis, poles, boots and snow gear such as jacket, pants, and goggles if you need them. On the website it says you can request for an English speaking instructor and we thought we had asked for that but turns out that our instructor spoke only simple English at best. He spoke Japanese the majority of the time and fortunately there were people in our ski group who could translate into English.

Our ski group
I know how to snowboard but this was my first time skiing and the great snow conditions at Mount Teine made it easier to learn. In the afternoon it was sunny and didn’t even feel cold at all while we were learning the basics on the shallow slope.

After lunch, we took the gondola up to the easy run. The ride was scenic with a view of Sapporo city below. There were long stretches of gentle descend which was great for a group of learners! From the gondola we could see a difficult slope that looked like it was at a 70 or 80 degrees angle.

Mount Teine
Most of the lifts close at 5pm except for two left opened for night skiing. Since our lesson ended around 4:30pm, we didn’t opt to buy another lift pass. It was too bad that we had run out of time because it would be great to practise on our own after the lesson.

We waited for about an hour for the next bus down to JR Teine Station. Of course, the bus was completely packed since it came so infrequently. By that time, the sun was setting and it was significantly colder than in the afternoon. Overall it was a fun and successful ski day!

BBQ dinner
We went to eat the Hokkaido famous Jingisukan for dinner which is BBQ mutton named after Genghis Khan. Bean sprouts, green onion and leaks were placed under the meat on the grill with sauce poured over top. This was not the type of BBQ where they aimed for charred grill marks. The meat was tender, slightly sweet from the sauce and not gamey. Personally I like the taste of lamb so I would not be bothered even if it was slightly gamey. Other than smelling intensely of BBQ in your hair and clothing afterward, this was a great warm meal after a day out in the snow.

Jingisukan
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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