Where can I go in Japan in winter? Of course, Hokkaido to see the snow! If you’re tired of Niseko and don’t want to go to the mountains of Doto to be frozen in nature, then we recommend you to take a short trip to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido and the closest city to New Chitose Airport. The city of Otaru, which is only 30 minutes away from Sapporo by train, is also full of the Hokkaido atmosphere!
In the previous section, we will focus on itinerary planning and the recommended sightseeing spots in Sapporo. Next, we will introduce you to Otaru, the gateway to Japan by sea.
Day 1: 9:30am departure from Tokyo Narita Airport, 11:20am arrival at New Chitose Airport in Sapporo, Hokkaido
Sapporo: Lunch → Sapporo Clock Tower → Hokkaido Red Brick Hall → White Lovers Park → Sapporo TV Tower (night view of Odori Park)
Otaru: Fairy Tale Crossroads (permanent night light, steam clock) → Otaru Art Village (Flower Window Glass Museum (Old Takahashi Warehouse))
Nitori Art Museum (Old Hokkaido Takushoku Bank Otaru Branch)} →Otaru Canal (40-minute boat tour)
→Triangle Market →Tengu Mountain
Next day: 19:45pm from New Chitose Airport, Hokkaido to Narita Airport, Tokyo at 21:35pm
Hokkaido is rich in products, and there are countless cuisines. In addition to the three french fries and white lover biscuits, the most well-known ones include Genghis Khan roast lamb, Sapporo soup curry, Yubari cantaloupe, Hakodate local lucky clown burger, and Otaru seafood topped rice, among other delicacies.
This time we tried Sapporo’s soup curry and Otaru’s seafood rice bowl.
Sapporo’s Soup Curry
The origin of soup curry is Sapporo, Hokkaido, inspired by Japanese curry and European curry. Unlike other curries that have a thick texture, soup curry is made from chicken bones, beef bones or pork bones, with a variety of vegetables and a lot of water, and then curry and spices are added to the soup base. In addition, besides the regular meat ingredients, potatoes and carrots, the soup curry also includes pumpkin, peppers, okra and various mushrooms as side dishes.
Hokkaido’s soup curry is served separately from the rice, so it’s delicious either with the soup or served separately. I don’t usually like Japanese curry, and I think it tastes very simple, but when I walked into the store from the snowy streets of Sapporo and drank the hot and rich soup curry, I still felt very warm.
Seafood Donburi in Otaru
Otaru is a city that was developed as a sea gateway to Hokkaido, so seafood is especially abundant and fresh. When you walk through the streets of Otaru, you can find a restaurant that sells seafood over rice, and you can walk in and get a delicious and fresh seafood.
We chose the Triangle Market near Otaru Station, which is famous for its seafood and crab.
This restaurant not only has a selection of seafood over rice with the required ingredients, but you can also choose from three to four of the dozen ingredients to make your own seafood over rice. In addition, free miso soup and grilled fish are also available. If you have a small appetite, there are also smaller portions of seafood rice available at reduced prices.
We chose a bowl of crab (かに) + sea urchin (うに) + salmon roe (いくら), and it was a bowl full of delicious crab meat, juicy salmon roe, and sweet sea urchin.
Recommendations of Sapporo Attractions
Sapporo Clock Tower
A must-see attraction in Sapporo is the Sapporo Clock Tower.
Although it has been rated as one of the most disappointing attractions in Hokkaido, as the oldest surviving clock tower in Japan and a landmark of Sapporo, it is still recommended to come here for a souvenir.
The clock tower is located between the most popular stations, Odori Subway Station and JR Sapporo Station, and is within walking distance. Moreover, as if the government knows that people come to Sapporo Clock Tower with the intention of taking pictures, it has set up two photo spots under the Clock Tower and on the second floor of the building across the street. If you stand up there, you can take a picture of people and the entire clock tower, so try it out.
Hokkaido Red Brick Hall
Hokkaido Red Brick Hall, also known as Hokkaido Old Main Hall, used to be the seat of Hokkaido’s highest administrative authority. Now that the Hokkaido Agency has moved into a new administrative building, the old building has been preserved as an important national cultural property and has become one of the famous tourist attractions in Sapporo.
The red brick facade of the building, as the name suggests, is baroque in red brick color, and you can feel the exotic beauty of the building just by looking at the outside. Admission is free, and you can read historical materials and see the old furnishings inside the hall.
The red-brick hall is just a few minutes’ walk from the Sapporo Clock Tower, so you can visit it as well.
White Lovers Park
When it comes to Hokkaido’s famous souvenir, you can’t miss the White Lovers chocolate biscuits. Ishaya Confectionery, which produces them, has set up a special factory in the west side of Sapporo, called White Lovers Park. Visitors can make White Lovers cookies in the European-style castle, buy White Lovers Park limited products, and learn about the history of White Lovers cookies.
In addition, visitors can observe the production process of White Lovers cookies through the glass.
To get to White Lovers Park, take the Sapporo Subway East-West Line to Miyazawa Station and walk for about six minutes.
quare”>Night view of Sapporo TV Tower + Odori Park</h4
Every year in early February, Sapporo hosts an ice festival consisting of snow sculptures and colored lights, and the main venue is in Odori Park in the center of the city.
You can take any subway line in Hokkaido to Odori Station and go up to the ground level to Odori Park. At the eastern end of the park stands the 90-meter tall Sapporo TV Tower, which has an observation deck that offers a full view of Sapporo City at night and the Snow Festival.
Susukino is the busiest district in Sapporo and one of the three biggest red-light districts in Japan, along with Kabukicho in Shinjuku, Tokyo, and Nakasu in Fukuoka, Kyushu. If you are visiting Sapporo, a night out in Hakata has become a regular part of your itinerary.
However, it’s not just for the red light district that you come here.
You can find everything you want to enjoy in Hokkaido here. Food, drink, and fun are the specialties of Susukino. Here, you can eat Genghis Khan roast lamb, Sapporo ramen, soup curry, and the busiest shopping malls and shopping centers in Sapporo are also located in this generation. It’s like you’ve been transported back to Tokyo with its red lights and greenery.
The Hokkaido Jingu is also worth a visit, but we had to give up this time because of the time constraint. I would love to visit it next time if I have the chance.
Hokkaido Jingu Shrine is the largest shrine in Hokkaido and the oldest shrine in Hokkaido. The shrine is filled with large trees and there are about 1,560 cherry trees along the Shinto path, making it one of Hokkaido’s most sacred places for cherry blossom viewing.
To get to the shrine, take the subway East-West line to the station of Maruyama Park.
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