Our next destination is the largest city and the capital of the mountainous northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, Sapporo. I heard so much about this place since this is one of the major cities that is frequently visited by tourists. This place is known for beer, skiing, snow festival featuring big ice sculptures and ski hills and jumps.
From Otaru to Sapporo, there are multiple trains per hour along the JR Hakodate Main Line. One way trip costs 640 yen and takes 30 minutes by rapid train or 45 minutes by local train. We took the local train. We immediately checked in at Toyoko Inn Sapporo upon arrival and went out for dinner. What better way to start our Sapporo journey is to try the Sapporo Ramen Republic. Located at the 10th floor of the ESTA complex, Sapporo Ramen Republic (Sapporo Ramen Kyowakoku), offers a selection of top Hokkaido ramen restaurants in one place. Here is a list of the participating Ramen shops:
- Shirakaba Sansou specializes in rich miso ramen infused with sesame oil and garlic
- Misono – Miso ramen with pork and grated ginger
- Ajisai – Hakodate style ramen with clear soup
- Yoshiyama Shouten – Flavorful sesame rich taste
- Shodai – Otaru style soy sauce based ramen
- Sora – Miso ramen Hokkaido Mochi pork soup
- Jirochou – Hokkaido style miso ramen
- Baikouken – Asahikawa style soy sauce ramen
We tried Sora which also has a branch in Cebu so we were really curious if they have the same taste. It was okay not particularly impressive, the soup was very salty just like the Sora miso ramen i tried in Cebu but this one is tastier than that of Cebu. Since we were very hungry already, we chose the stall near the entrance (Sora) only to find out after we had our dinner, that we could have chosen other stalls. It was still a sumptuous dinner!
Went back to our hotel and had a good night sleep. What i like about Toyoko Inn is that their room is spacious and the bed is is so comfortable despite being a business hotel. Also, the shampoo, conditioner, facial wash and body wash are all Shiseido. They even have a complimentary Shiseido Body Care Set given upon check in. This is in addition to the amenities available inside the room.
Our call time every morning for this trip is 6:30 am if i will eat breakfast and 7:30 am if i will not eat breakfast. I am actually a coffee-only-for breakfast kind of girl and i badly want an extra hour of sleep so you know what happened. Me, sleeping while JT ate breakfast. I only make an effort of waking up early to eat breakfast at the hotel if the buffet spread is really impressive like that of Ki Niseko and Park Miyabetei in Noboribetsu(which i will blog soon).
Our first stop the next day was the former Hokkaido Government Office. The facilities includes a conference room, a museum shop, a tourist information office, and a few historical exhibition rooms and libraries. Visitors can enter the building for free.
Just across the Tower Clock is a bus station going to our next stop which is the Sapporo Beer Museum. In front of the bus stop was Sunkus, a convenience store where we grabbed sandwich and drinks while waiting for our bus.
It was just a short bus ride (15 minutes) to the Sapporo Beer Museum.Hokkaido is the birthplace of beer in Japan. Sapporo beer is one of the oldest beer brands in Japan which started brewing since 1877. Admission is free and a fee of 500 yen will be collected for guided tour.
We toured the museum on our own. Same with the Nikka Whisky Museum, it is not difficult to read and understand since there are videos and photo illustrations all throughout the place.
After the museum, going down the stairs, you will find a restaurant that offers beer tasting. You will order using the machine and the machine will produce a paper that you will present to the counter. Freshly brewed beer is being served!
Beside Sapporo Beer Museum is Sapporo Beer Garden which consists of restaurants. Popular in the beer halls are all-you-can-drink beer and all-you-can-eat mutton BBQ, a popular local dish named after the great Mongolian ruler Genghis Khan (Jingisukan in Japanese). We did not go to Sapporo Beer Garden as we will be having a taste of mutton BBQ later in the evening on our food trip.
We went back to ESTA where the ticket and station of Chuo Bus Sightseeing Tour is located. We took an afternoon Sapporo Sightseeing tour.
The tour started at 1:00 PM. They provide headsets and they ask what language you want to hear. The bus was very comfortable similar to that of Yeha Bus in Jeju Island, South Korea. Seats were assigned according to who bought ticket first. Our seat was 1 and 2 so we really enjoyed the view.
First stop was the Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium. It was the stage for the 90 meter jump (currently referred to as “large hill”) competition at the 1972 Winter Olympics held in Sapporo. It features modern facilities that makes it possible to practice ski jumping in the summer or at night in addition to winter jumping. The Okurayama Ski Jump is the seasonal home of many international competitions, and top class jumpers from all over the world have set records here.
This is open to the public on days when competitions and official practices are not being held and visitors can ascend to the peak of the mountain on the double lift. There, they can experience the unimaginable steep approach and the intensity of the sport while also enjoying spectacular scenery. Unfortunately during our our visit, double lifts were under maintenance. There is supposedly a viewing lounge on top with the view of the Odori Park and see famous Sapporo landmarks such as Sapporo Dome and Hokaido University. It will supposedly have a panoramic view like that of Mount Hakodate.
Our next stop was Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill which is a famous scenic spot located in Toyohira-ku, Sapporo. The bronze statue of Dr. William S. Clark, which stands on the hill, is well known as the symbol of frontier spirit of Hokkaidō.
Dr. William Smith Clark, the father of pioneers in Hokkaido and man who left the famous words “boys be ambitious”, is the model of the sculpture created by sculptor Tando Saka.
His right arm is raised in his characteristic pose as he points “toward the eternal truth which lies far in the distance”, with a deep feeling of ambition towards that goal.
There are shops, chapel and restaurants in the observation hill.
You can also write down your “vow for ambition” concerning your dreams or hopes on paper and drop it into the box provided on Dr. Clark’s Statue stand. Sapporo Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill will store it for you until you come again to see your vow one day. In order to see your “vow for ambition” again, please do not forget the date you drop it into the box. One sheet costs ￥100 (tax included).
We then roamed around the city and the English speaking guide pointed out interesting places and shared facts and stories about Sapporo.
There are few drop off points and you have the freedom to go down from the drop off points. The exciting part of our Sapporo tour is our food trip tonight.
Stop 1: Sumire Ramen
Stop 2: Daruma Honten Genghis Khan
This meal originates from Hokkaido and it is all about grilling a lamb meat with other vegetables like onions and bean sprouts. It is eaten with a special dipping sauce. I should say that this is a must try when in Sapporo. The lamb do not have a smell and the it totally melts in our mouth. The sauce was something different too. Initially ordered for one person but eventually ordered more.
Third Stop: Zushi Zanmai is the home of the freshest tuna and salmon. They make your sushi right in front of you. The staff here were very hospitable and the service was really fast.
Went back to the hotel full of wonderful memories and a happy tummy!
The next day we went back to ESTA to have breakfast. I was craving for some authentic Japanese Soba and Ebi Tempura and the heart of ESTA was a foodcourt sprawling with so much food choices.
And the food trip continues when we went up to the 10th floor and eat at Sapporo Ramen Republic.
After a sumptuous brunch, Sapporo made a very memorable take home gift for us, our very first snow experience! I was bursting with joy!
Thank you Sapporo for the wonderful time, i cannot wait to share to all of you my experiences in another exciting city! Stay tuned!♥