Hokkaido Trip 2006 Day 2: Sapporo (札幌) and Otaru (小樽)

(Updated: November 2, 2013 with high resolution photos and updated descriptions)

On February 21, 2006, on the second day of my Hokkaido trip, I explored Sapporo and Otaru.

I was surprised that the breakfast offered at this “business hotel” that I was staying at was a breakfast buffet. Here “business hotel” means inn or motel, but way newer and cleaner than anything found in American or Canadian roadside “motels” with doors facing an outdoor hallway. I was surprised that the buffet had grilled fish, meatballs, Japanese-style congee, Hokkaido potatoes, croissants, and soup. And this was a budget style hotel.

One of the highlights from that day was the view from the Sapporo TV Tower.

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I started the day from JR Sapporo Station. Here you can really see the fresh snow that had accumulated on top of the bus shelters.

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Next I walked to Hokkaido University, it was very nice, and very American looking. Most of the campus buildings were very American looking, I guess that is what happens when the founder of the university was an American.

It is one of the former Imperial Universities of Japan and hence is quite well known.

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The main building of Hokkaido University. Looks a lot like the main building of the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University...

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The campus was completely covered with snow.

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Statue of the founder of Hokkaido University.

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Some typical streets of Sapporo.

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After that I walked to the Old Prefectural Government Building, inside this building were exhibits showing the history of Hokkaido and Sapporo. I found it very interesting as Sapporo was only founded in the late 19th century and when it was built there was nothing but this building.

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Walking by the Sapporo Clock Tower during the daytime.

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Next I went up the Sapporo TV Tower, it offered great views of Sapporo.

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Looking towards the tall building at JR Sapporo Station.

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Next I went to the subway and bought a 1000 yen day pass for subway and streetcar, I took the subway to the suburbs of Sapporo to visit the chocolate factory where they made the “famous”, “Shiroi no Koibito” chocolates, which is just two thin pieces of biscuit sandwiched with chocolate. I actually got lost finding this factory because I thought I could find it without looking closely at the map, but I overestimated the effect of snow. Because of the large amounts of snow, everything looked the same so I had no idea which direction I was walking in. I ended up walking to some industrial area and I had to ask someone to point me in the right direction.

The chocolate factory charged a 600 yen admission fee and it was kind of a rip off because there wasn’t much to see although I got to see the production line behind glass. Inside was a sort of museum showing how chocolate was invented and how it came to Japan and also had displays like various hot chocolate mugs used by Europeans over hundreds of years.

A Pokemon jet display inside the subway station.

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The Sapporo subway system.

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The interesting subway cars with the pentagon-shaped connectors between the train cars.

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Getting lost in the snow...

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The “Shiroi no Koibito” chocolate factory.

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The factory tour.

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At the end there was a gift shop selling the chocolate and I ended up buying a box of 36 packs for 2100 yen. Also I bought one of their ice cream sticks for 158 yen which I didn’t find to be that impressive.

That day there were many tour groups from Hong Kong and Taiwan there.

Astro Boy statue inside the gift shop area.

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The fancy gift shop.

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I traveled from the chocolate factory to the Sapporo Beer Museum near the central train station next. The Sapporo Beer Museum was the original factory of Sapporo Beer, the first beer brand in Japan when beer was introduced to Japan from Germany. Inside there was not very much to see unless you were obsessed with beer history and the Sapporo Beer brand because they had all their packaging throughout the times on display. At the Beer Garden restaurant, they had this “Genghis Khan” grilled lamb dish that’s supposed to be a specialty of Sapporo, but I found it to be too expensive so I did not try, plus I don’t really like the taste of lamb.

Back on the subway to the Sapporo Beer Museum.

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The Sapporo Beer Museum.

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Men shovelling snow in their SUITS.

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After that I decided to take the train to the nearby city of Otaru, a 30 min train ride away.

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Tons of accumulated snow on the roadside!

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Arrival in Otaru.

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Otaru was famous for its canal with the reflections of old warehouses and lots of old Western-style buildings from when it was an important commercial center.

I made one loop of the city and walked from the station to the canal and back to the station, I think at night they are supposed to have candles placed at the canal and inside the hardened snow to give the effect of illumination at night. I didn’t want to stay because there was nothing else to do so I took the train back to Sapporo.

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Back at the Otaru train station.

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Otaru has a lot of exchanges with Russia.

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Next I headed back to Sapporo.

The train ride was pretty spectacular because it went along the coastline next to the sea (when I was heading to Otaru, I fell asleep in the train so I didn’t notice this when I went there).

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Back in Sapporo, the sun was almost about to set so I went to the Mt. Moiwa ropeway to see the city at night from the mountain. I had to take the streetcar to the ropeway station and the ropeway station looked close to the streetcar stop on the map but in reality was located on a hill which I had to walk up in the dark.

It took me 10 minutes to walk from the streetcar stop to the ropeway station. The ropeway does not go all the way up to the observation deck. After you alight at the ropeway station on the mountain, I had to take a sleigh pulled by a giant-sized “snowmobile” to get to the top.

It was very cold but the view was spectacular, from the top you could see the entire city of Sapporo and also the Sea of Japan.

Where the lights end is the Sea of Japan.

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Towards Sapporo and the Sapporo TV Tower.

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The observation deck at Mt. Moiwa is 531.03 m above sea level.

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4 comments:

kinkinsoba said...

Wow, you certainly had a busy day. I laughed when I saw the guy in the picture shoveling snow in his suit. Great views too, of course all the snow in Vancouver has melted.

Anonymous said...

Sapporo seems to have a lot of history behind it, but seems really dead now from those pictures. Like the university, the commercial district, and even the subway look empty. The other strange thing was the chocolate factory workers. They look like they're dressed to handle nuclear waste or something.
Anyways, the city does look nice in those city-wide pictures. We still have a better mountain range though. ;)

-CV

DBrane said...

Hi may I ask you which hotel you stayed in Sapporo? Thanks.

en said...

Toyoko Inn, business hotel chain, very affordable.

http://www.toyoko-inn.com/eng/