Snowmobiles! A great start to a perfect day with nice weather and blue skies. This was the first time I went on one and they actually go pretty fast on the snow despite having only 250cc engines. When you first start off, make sure you don’t press down hard on the throttle lever with your right hand because that will actually send you flying. We went up to the top of a mountain on a winding trail and the view up there was exhilarating. While we were taking a break, we got up to various antics. Kitty started giving me more and more snow until it became too cumbersome….
Next up was the Noboribetsu Bear Ranch which is found at the summit of Mt Shihorei. It is home to a number of brown bears that are separated by age. When you enter the ranch, the oldest ones are held in an enclosed area on your right, with the age of the bears getting progressively younger as you continue walking down the path. This was the first time that I had seen a bear stand up on its hind legs and start clapping its paws together. That’s their signal for you to throw an apple to them which they’ll catch skilfully with their paws or even their mouth!
Otaru’s most well-known attraction is the Otaru Canal which is said to have an atmosphere of romance and nostalgia. During the evening, the canal’s gas lamps are lit and it becomes even more beautiful. In the past, goods were transported to the warehouses found along the canal by smaller ships. These warehouses have been transformed into cafes, museums and restaurants.
Nearby you can find the Otaru Orgel emporium which is full of music boxes of every shape and size. Once you step foot inside the beautiful heritage building, there are three floors to explore. It gets crowded quite easily as the musical box displays take up a large portion of the building and there are often tourists visiting (including myself!). I spent a good hour or more inside this place and I’m sure I could’ve stayed there for longer if I had the time. For all the music lovers, you need to definitely visit this magical place.
While I was there, I tried the extremely popular soft serve known as “premium soft cremia” in one of the cafes in the area. It’s 25% cream and 12.5% Hokkaido milk. As such, it has a very creamy, very rich flavour which is what makes it amazing and addictive. Another distinguishing feature is the type of cone that they use. Unlike the normal wafer cones used for ice cream, Cremia cones are made from thin cookies that are twisted into a cone shape. One soft serve costs 500 Yen which is equivalent to $5.83 AUD.
Despite the fun that was had today, I will still remember this day as the day when my IPhone was stolen… RIP.