After having curry omurice, we headed off on a 2 hours drive from Furano back to Sapporo city. The drive was done on the tolled Doto expressway was approximately 1,200 or 1,400Y, can’t really remember.
Our stay in Sapporo was planned to be a short and quick one since it is likely that we will return here on our next visit.
For the night, we stayed at Cross Hotel Sapporo, which was situated right in the heart of the city. It was somewhat a hipster hotel with live music and band performances happening on some nights. Room wise – it was a very small quadruple room – 2 super-single bed with a queen mattress on the sofa-bed – given the hefty price of almost $500 (no breakfast) for a night. There was barely any walking space after we open our luggage. Thankfully it was only for one night.
Well, it was a price we had to pay for convenience. Our hotel was a 1 minute walk from the Sapporo Clock Tower – an iconic building of long history (1800s) featured on the nanoblock series. On the next junction, you should be able to spot the Sapporo Tower.
We spent the night walking approximately 10 minutes to the Susukino district where there were rows of shops with covered walkways (photo taken in 2011). Sadly, there were not much shops open at night.
We entered the Pachinko Parlour to fulfill my “Things to do in Japan list” and I donate 2,000Y to their grey-area-gambling operations. Read more about my experience here.
After which, we proceeded to the famous Ramen Street – Ramen Yokocho for a meal. Didn’t have enough space in my stomach to eat a bowl of Ramen but I shall assume that every single ramen in Japan is delicious.
There wasn’t much night activity despite it being Friday night. Walked back to the hotel after the ramen supper.
The next morning was supposed to start off with a morning run around the city (I brought two sets of clothes which could be used for run/sleep), however, my dear friends decided to sleep in. For me, I couldn’t just sleep in because my mum asked me to buy one thing back from Hokkaido and I just had to buy it – scallops.
In my sloppy running clothes (track pants and cotton shirt with sports shoes – yes I was fully changed before my friends decide to skip the run), I made my way in brisk walk fashion to Nijo Market (15 mins walk).
Bright, early and empty – I guess nobody wants to wake up early on a Saturday morning.
There were so much food choices but being alone didn’t give me much choices at all.
Was scouting through shops of scallops that I had to buy back for my mum. Thanks to my mobile wifi, I could whatsapp the photos back to my mum and asking her to make a decision since I have no idea what is the market rate of scallops.
* Don’t forget to bring your passport as there are shops which offer tax-free shopping * Nevertheless, the shop I bought a lot at gave me tax-free prices without my passport. However, to enjoy the discounts, you have to pay in cash which made me really broke after that. If you plan to buy a lot from the same shop, don’t forget to ask for discount or freebies. I didn’t think that bargaining/giving discounts was the norm in Japan but I guess the high influx of tourists might resulted in them raising their prices in anticipation of potential tourist bargaining..
I don’t know why I chose to enter a random alley for breakfast when there were other shops on the outside which displayed prices. It was a rash decision and I entered the shop and became the only (and perhaps first) customer.
I entered the shop and the first words I said to the owner/sushi chef was “English?” He said “a/little bit” and then whipped out his awesome iPad with Google Translate app. He spoke to the iPad in Japanese and the words get translated into Japanese instantly! If I’m not wrong it was “What would you like to have?”
I showed him a picture of uni-ikura don. I don’t know why I didn’t remember to eat my all-time favourite sashimi but how could I resist not eating Sea Urchin in Japan? A small sushi with like a spoon of Uni is like $9 in Singapore. I only paid 3,000Y (he gave me a slight discount off the initial price he quoted me) for this bowl of goodness. It’s so funny because after he delivered the food to me, he insisted on taking a photo of me. Didn’t want to spoil his enthusiasm so I obligingly gave an awkward half-awake smile as I had pretty bad eyebags and I don’t enjoy taking photos with me in it. Maybe he must be thinking of how lonely I must have been since I was alone.
Words can’t describe the taste of Uni – some people like it, some people don’t and I describe it as tasting like the sea. Ikura – on the other hand – tastes pretty much the same. The only difference is that the amount of Ikura I had in my bowl was never-ending. It took me so long to finish the food because there was simply too much. The fresh wasabi was also a good addition to the bowl. Only redundant thing was the leaf which I didn’t eat. There was free soup and ice water too.
The only regret I had in this shop was that I became so full that I can’t eat the fresh oysters and clams (which I had back n 2011).
If u had only time for one place in Sapporo – please don’t miss out on the fresh seafood at Nijo Market.
Another tip – buying snacks (like potato farm) and souvenirs may be cheaper than the airport as some shop owners really give a bigger discount! *** Potato Farm was sold out in Tokyo Airport during my trip so if you really want it, just buy in Sapporo instead of risking it out.
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After checking out of the hotel, we continued our day by visiting Shiro Kobito Park, famed for this White Chocolate biscuit which is a must-buy souvenir if you visit Hokkaido/Japan (Item is available in most major airports).
It is a popular place for tourists as the exterior/gift shop/toy museum is free of charge. We opted for the less-crowed option of chocolate factory tour (think willy wonka; just kidding) which was 600Y. There’s a piece of biscuit which comes free with the ticket.
The factory was beautifully decorated in European style – Mosaic tiles and ceiling paintings.
You get to see a real production line of the making of the famed white chocolate biscuit.
There were also workshops available – where you could design your own biscuit or something along the line. It is a popular workshop which needs early registration as it has limited spaces for each time slot.
You can also see their workers working on err.. inedible but pretty designs. Initially I thought it was edible fondant but there’s a sign which says they are inedible. What’s the purpose? I really don’t know >_<
Don’t forget to grab some food at the cafe before going down to the public area. You can also catch the performance which happens every hour.
Request for a window seat and watch all the buzz and action away from the crowd. You could watch a second round of the performance the next hour.
The prices were fine, not super exorbitant despite the classy setting. However, none of the food was significantly delicious enough for me to remember anything descriptive (It’s been more than 2 months..)
In the public area, there were rooms of (vintage) toy collection which would definitely stir up some memories. We also spotted a couple trying (very hard) to take their wedding photos as they struggle to keep everyone else out of their frame. They should have done this like early in the morning or on a weekday morning. Saturday’s crowd ain’t a good timing.
The exterior garden was beautifully decorated and the greens and the blooms were neatly manicured.
More photos from my 2011 trip:
Kids will definitely love this place; parents too – as there’s free parking!
Anyway, the famous white chocolate biscuit is readily available in Chitose and Tokyo’s airport. No rush and hassle to purchase them from the original shop.
We drove off to Otaru after an approximately 2 to 2.5 hours in this park.
Next entry – Otaru