Upon arriving in Hokkaido, Japan from Hong Kong, the first thing I noticed was the difference in temperature. Compared to Hong Kong which was at a comfortable 26° Celsius, 0° degrees Celsius was a big shock to me. It was only on the 2nd day that I was able to adjust to it gradually and it wasn’t so bad.
The first stop was at the famous Sapporo Ramen Yokocho which all noodle lovers should visit. It’s a narrow lane that is lined with small shops which only serve delicious ramen. It doesn’t really matter which shop you decide to venture into as the ramen is guaranteed to be better than the ones in Australia.
Accommodation for tonight was at the Keio Plaza Hotel (#23 of 162 Sapporo hotels in TripAdvisor). The room that I stayed in had only just been renovated recently so everything was new and modern. It was a bit small but the service was excellent and the bed was very comfy! It is ideally situated within 10 minutes walking distance to the Sapporo Station and is very central. Some tourist spots and shopping malls can be found quite close.
Did someone say penguins?! 😀 Amidst a chilly morning, we paid a visit to the Noboribetsu Marine Park which had: a dolphin show, a seal show and most importantly, a penguin parade! It also has its own aquarium that is found within a castle. It’s a nice, small scale park which seems to be made for tourists. As soon as you finish the dolphin show, everyone starts walking to the seal show, followed lastly by the penguin parade.
It was around midday when we arrived at the Kani Goten fish market. People that appreciate seafood will like this place but I am not one of them. It was the set meal that we had with unagi bought from the fish market next door supplementing our lunch.
The next stop was at Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura, which is a cultural village that is representative of the Edo Period. Within the village there are a few plays to watch, ninjas to pose with, a ninja maze, cat temple and haunted house. I would highly recommend visiting this place but it’s probably a bad idea to travel here via public transport which is sparse. The admission price is 2900 Yen ($33.84 AUD).
Jigokudani (Hell Valley) is a spectacular valley which displays hot steam vents, sulphurous streams and other volcanic activity. It’s a unique sight to behold and there are enjoyable nature walks that bring you up close to the sulphur hills. Unfortunately, we had limited time and it was starting to rain so it turned out to be a brief stopover for photo-taking.
The night’s accommodation was situated close by at Hotel Mahoroba which had an onsen (hot spring)! Complimentary yukatas (bathing robes) were provided so I took full advantage of this opportunity. The room did not disappoint with its modern Japanese style décor. I had to open the window a bit though to let some cool air seep in as the hotel heating was a bit too warm for my liking.