January 30, 2017

ItsBeryllicious Travels: Sapporo in Hokkaido, Japan (October 22-26, 2016)

Happy New Year!! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday with your family and loved ones. As for me, I had an awesome Christmas in China with the parents last year. Sadly, the siblings weren't able to join and celebrate Christmas with us due to work schedules, but I know we were all together in spirit :)

A new year has come and what better way to start the year than a post that documents one thing I love to do other than to eat- Travel!

This is quite an overdue post, but I just wanted to write about it on the blog so I could always go back and remember my travel experiences in Japan next time. One of my New Year's resolution is to blog more about my travels and adventures, even if it means writing longer posts and editing more photos. 

Starting off with my travel to Hokkaido,Japan October of last year, courtesy of Brother Philippines. 

We boarded Japan Airlines from Manila to Narita, and transferred to another flight to New Chitose Airport. We arrived in Sapporo past 10pm, so we headed straight for dinner before checking in at the hotel.

We were brought to Syun-Syoku Kita No Suiren for a welcoming dinner of Hokkaido's specialty- SEAFOOD.

Everyone enjoyed a set meal of seafood and noodles hotpot with mixed tempura, and dessert, while dining on tatami-style tables.

After dinner, we finally checked in at the hotel to rest and prepare for next day.

First on our itinerary was a visit to Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura or Ninja Village.


Before anything else, lunch at the nearby restaurant for yet another hotpot meal.

This time, we enjoyed an eat-all-you-can pork shabu-shabu with noodles and vegetables.

The restaurant was big enough to accommodate large groups. I'm guessing this is the usual place where travel agencies arrange for their group tours' lunch or dinner.

Since I was still full from the buffet breakfast at the hotel, I did not enjoyed this lunch so much. Plus, I personally found the broth too bland and plain for my liking. I would rather have unlimited slices of beef than pork too.

Once we finished our meal, we were led inside the village to watch a Ninja show at Kasumi Ninja House.

It was a fun and entertaining show even though the acts and scripts were in Japanese. We were given this small piece of paper before the show, wherein viewers are encouraged to put anything (money, coins, candy) and throw it on stage afterwards as an act of gratitude of being entertained.

We didn't had enough time to stay and go around the village as we were following a strict schedule, but fortunately, I managed to take some photos of the scenery.

Next, we dropped by Noboribetsu Jigokudani or Hell Valley in Shikotsu-Toya National Park, that displays hot steam vents and sulfurous streams for Noboribetsu's hot spring waters and thermal baths (onsen).

Again, it was a quick visit as we still have to go to Noboribetsu Bear Park.

The bear park is located at the summit of Mt. Shihorei, so one must take a short cable car ride to the top of the mountain.

Here, you can see the bears and feed them some snacks. There is also a mini duck race track where you can place some bets and watch the ducks race against each other.

Enjoy a panoramic view of Lake Kuttara, one of the clearest lakes in Japan, at the observation deck.

Our last stop before heading back to Sapporo for a local "genghis khan" dinner was at the Sapporo Beer Garden.

Genghis Khan is a mongolian-style barbecue of lamb meat grilled in a dome-shaped skillet.

And what better way to enjoy the meal than with a bottle of Sapporo Beer.

Since I am no beer drinker, I tried the alcohol-free version of Sapporo Beer.

It was an eat-all-you-can dinner where we enjoyed unlimited refills of chicken, pork, and lamb meat.

I enjoyed the whole experience, but I must say it was a heavy and very filling dinner. Our table of 2 managed to finish the first serving of meats, plus another serving of lamb. Everyone went back to the hotel with full and happy tummies!

The next day, we set an early visit to the Old Hokkaido Government Building for a quick photo ops.

Then off we went to Ishiya Factory, home of the famous Shiroi Koibito langue de chat cookie.

We toured around the rose garden and watched a musical show before heading inside the building for the factory tour.

It showed the process of making their best-selling Shiroi Koibito and everyone got a free cookie sample.

After the tour comes the best part- shopping for some sweet treats! Note that retail prices for their products are basically the same compared to buying in malls and specialty stores. It's just that here, you are assured of its freshness since they produce fresh batches everyday.

Since some of us wanted to experience the wet market in Hokkaido, we drove by a local fish market for a quick visit. Here, you can buy the freshest seafood in Hokkaido like king crab, salmon, hairy crabs, scallops and other premium seafood selections.

Our lunch was at Gyuya Edohachi, which specializes in traditional beef sukiyaki. It is not too far from Mitsui Outlet, which was our next destination after our lunch.

Once again, we dined tatami-style, while enjoying our own sukiyaki hotpot with complementing onigiri. This lunch was one of my favorite meals in Hokkaido. Aside from learning how to cook our own sukiyaki, the beef was really good and tender.

After lunch, we finally went to Mitsui Outlet Park for some shopping. I was able to buy a pair of Onitsuka Tiger shoes for my dad, some glass coasters from a local shop, and a pair of Nike rubber shoes for me.

Another highlight of my trip was our dinner at a local restaurant that offers unlimited king crab legs, pork barbecue and shabu-shabu.

You can tell that they're fresh because they are easy to peel. The restaurant provides you with the necessary tools you'll need like scissors, tongs and laddle for the bbq and shabu-shabu, and buckets for the shells.

While I still prefer the sweet taste of our local crabs, Hokkaido's version is meatier and less messy to eat.

Our last day in Sapporo was a free day, so we were able to go around the city and finally have some Hokkaido-style ramen.

We visited Sapporo Factory, passed by Sapporo TV Tower, and had our late lunch at Sapporo Kyowakoku or Ramen Republic at ESTA Shopping Complex.

Sapporo Kyowakoku or Ramen Republic is a food hall at the 10th floor of ESTA JR Tower, that gathers all the famous ramen restaurants in Hokkaido.

There are 8 ramen shops in Ramen Republic, each offering different specialties of Miso, Shio and Shoyu ramen.

We went to Shirakaba Sansou, just because it was first listed on the pamphlets near the entrance.

Their best-seller is the Miso Ramen with Hokkaido Roast Pork (¥1150, approx. ₱490)

But I opted for the Spicy Miso Ramen (¥880, approx. ₱375)

They also have Miso Ramen with Chinese Roast Pork (¥980, approx. ₱420)

Price of ramen in Sapporo is more or less the same in Manila, but serving size is way way bigger.

An order could already be shared by 2 people or even 3 light eaters.

I'm no ramen addict, but I managed to finish my big bowl of ramen to the last drop.

A unique selling point of Shirakaba Sansou is that you can enjoy unlimited servings of hard boiled eggs to complement your ramen.

After our heavy lunch/merienda, we decided to walk it off by visiting the famous Odori Park and Sapporo Clock Tower. Our tour guide mentioned that Sapporo Clock Tower is often joked as one of the most disappointing attractions in Sapporo, because of its short size. We still dropped by despite the warning since we were already in the area.

We had our last minute shopping around Tanukikoji Shopping Street, specifically in Don Quijote, and went back to the hotel passing by Susukino- one of the major red-light districts in Japan.

My trip and experience in Hokkaido was quick yet memorable, since it was my first time to visit Japan.

Looking forward to going back and exploring more places and trying more activities like winter sports, onsen bath, and other sightseeing tours.

Stay tuned for my post about the different snacks to try and buy in Japan.

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