Hokkaido Trip Day 3 of 6: Sapporo to Abashiri (網走)

Feb. 22, 06

Location of Abashiri:

On this day I rushed to the train station to catch the 1st train because I woke up a little late and if I missed this train I would have had to wait for 1 hour for the next one, and that would have wasted a lot of time because it takes 5 hours by train to go to Abashiri.

I left Sapporo at 7:24 am and arrived at Abashiri at 12:45 pm. During the trip, the train traveled through the Hokkaido countryside which looks more like North America than Japan. You see so many mountains and natural rivers, unlike the endless amounts of grey and concrete in the rest of Japan.

Also the train was pretty slow. There was “wagon service” on the train but it was expensive, a “sandwich and coffee set” cost 600 yen.

Abashiri Train Station:

When I arrived in Abashiri, I immediately went to check in to the hotel, it was old and kind of lousy but was functional. Also when I first got out of the train station, I was surprised how lousy this town looked like. It looked like any depressed small town in the interior of B.C. Maybe this was because Hokkaido was only settled in the late 19th century and so it doesn’t not have any of the traditional neighbourhoods that you see in old small towns in central Japan. There were no Japanese style houses anywhere in town, it just looked like your typical North American small town with parking lots, and buildings scattered everywhere.

When I first arrived at the airport in Sapporo, I made a reservation to go on the icebreaker at Abashiri, but I made the mistake of making the reservation too close to my train arrival time in Abarashi. And since I already paid for the tickets for the icebreaker tour, which was 3000 yen, I needed to get to the ferry terminal quick and I had missed the public bus, so I decided to take the taxi. I had never taken the taxi in Japan before and its really expensive, it only took 10 minutes to get to the ferry terminal from the train station and it cost me 1170 yen.

When I got to the terminal, I was surprised that there was so many tour groups there, lots of domestic Japanese tours and lots from Taiwan.

How its *supposed* to look like:

What I saw, NO ICE:

Girl feeding corn snack to bird:

I was really disappointed that there was NO ICE in the Sea of Okhotsk, it seemed that it had all melted, I assumed that late February was still cold enough for the sea to be frozen because it was still really cold. Since there was no ice, it was like a cruise for 1 hour around the sea. There were lots of birds following the boat, and lots of tourists were buying snacks from the gift shop and feeding it birds and then photographing the birds eating the snacks.

(Depressing) Town:

Main Shopping Area (note that this is in the afternoon):

The only "drift ice" I saw was this lump on display in main shopping area:

After that I decided to walk back towards the station because it wasn’t that far and I wanted to see what the rest of the town looked like. It was a really depressing town, almost no one on the streets, and the main shopping street was really deserted and this was in the afternoon.

Also there was nothing to eat, I wanted to find a McDonalds to get something cheap to eat but I could not find one (surprising since in Tokyo, almost everywhere you go, there is a McDonalds!) so I ended up eating at expensive KFC. I ordered 6 pieces of chicken for 980 yen.

Since there was much less to see than I anticipated, I went to the train station to reserve a ticket for an earlier departure the next day. That night I went to a family restaurant (in Japan “family restaurant” is like Dennys-style type restaurant). I went there because there was nothing to eat near the train station except for this place. This family restaurant was unusual in that it served almost all meat dishes.

For those interested in seeing how much it cost those people in Hong Kong to come for a tour here click here.

The Hong Kong tours costs HK $6699...


kinkinsoba said...

Wow, I'm shocked at how there are no people on the streets at all!

I just found your comment on not seeing any ice when you were on the icebreaker funny.

DBrane said...

Do you mean Abashiri instead of "Abarashi"?

DBrane said...

Btw do you happen to be staying at Pension Lamp? I will be making a trip down there in May.

Nobu said...

That.. doesn't look like a place I want to visit in Japan. Looks like a boring Norwegian coastal town, only less interesting.

en said...

"Btw do you happen to be staying at Pension Lamp? I will be making a trip down there in May."

I stayed at some hotel "Abashiri Green Hotel" I think near the train station.

And thanks for correcting me on the spelling.

andrewjgrimm said...

You should have visited the prison. That would have cheered you up no end!

Unknown said...

Hi I'm in Abashiri now. I understand what you mean by a depressing town. It's like a 鸟不生蛋的地方。I'm not here to see the drift ice. In fact, I'm not even making a trip to sheiretoko which is world famous. Hence, I'm just doing nothing very much in this (depressing) town.