Preparations: Flight Tickets and Packing
American friends’ family was visiting Japan, so I accompanied them on a trip to Hokkaido under the pretext of acting as an interpreter. I purchased the airline tickets in early December, but by the day before the flights, I hadn’t prepared any luggage and travel plans.
What I purchased this time is a 2-night, 3-day set that includes flight tickets, a hotel, and a JR pass from Shin-Chitose to Otaru. The price at the time was a little less than 80,000 yen. By the way, if I bought flight tickets with later dates even a little, the price will go up by tens of thousands of yen, so I was feared of the year-end sales season.
I had a wisdom tooth extraction on the Saturday and Sunday of the week after I purchased the ticket, and the week after that I caught a cold and was not feeling well. At school, there was a lot of things to do by the end of the semester, and the days went by in a hurry. Even so, during the week of the trip, I prepared myself little by little, asking about the highlights of Sapporo from a colleague who had been to Hokkaido. I was introduced to the Okurayama Jump Stadium, a place I would have never thought of.
I finally started packing my luggage the day before. I wanted to go with as little luggage as possible for 3 days and 2 nights, so I prepared. I decided to go with a change of clothes and a laptop. Hokkaido can be a cold place, but I was ready in no time with the coats and boots I had when I went to Russia and Kazakhstan. Especially the coat which would be used for the first time in 4 years. I prepared with a nostalgic feeling. Everything was ready and I went to bed around 11pm.
Day 1: Travel – Sightseeing in Sapporo – Dining and leisure in Susukino
I left my house at 5am and drove to the airport by car. I was worried about the weather as a strong cold wave, which is rare in recent years, was approaching, but fortunately the roads were not frozen and I was able to drive safely. We stopped at Hellows on the way to buy breakfast and drinks. It is convenient to have a 24-hour supermarket. We arrived at the airport around 6:00 and parked the car.
The flight ticket was not a direct flight, and I needed a transfer at Haneda Airport. It’s been about three years since I’ve been on an airplane, so it’s been a long time since I’ve been through a baggage check or security check. I didn’t have any problems, but I was nervous.
Due to the cold wave, the plane shook well. Also, due to the late arrival time in Tokyo, I had to rush for my connecting flight. However, other flights were also delayed, so the departure of the plane to New Chitose was also delayed.
As soon as I arrived at New Chitose Airport, I applied for a JR pass and headed to Sapporo. About 40 minutes by Rapid Airport to Sapporo. I researched lunch on the way and decided where to go. When you think of food in Sapporo, ramen, seafood, and Genghis Khan come to mind. I was hoping to eat some of them.
For ramen, I chose a place near Sapporo Station that has a good reputation on the internet. Also, when I think of Sapporo ramen, I think of miso ramen, so I chose a place where I could eat miso ramen, and ended up going to Sandaime Tsukimiken.
Luckily, the restaurant was busy, but we didn’t have to wait long and were able to get lunch right away. I had miso ramen and fried rice. The miso ramen was thick and curly noodles, and the fried rice was delicious.
After that, we walked to our hotel. It was about a 15-minute walk, but it was difficult to walk because the snow was piled up and there were puddles in places. On the way, I passed by the Hokkaido University Botanical Garden. It was said that it is not open in winter, but it was nice to be able to feel the size and see the trees just by walking beside it.
It was before 14:00 when we arrived at the hotel. I had some time before check-in at 15:00, so I left my luggage in the self-locker at the hotel and decided to go sightseeing.
The hotel was on the main street, about 10th west, so I decided to go to the Former Hokkaido Government Office and the Clock Tower as nearby tourist attractions. Once again, we arrived at the Hokkaido Government Office after walking along a difficult road that was still thawed. After that, we went to the clock tower. The clock tower looks like a small building, so it may be a little difficult to understand what the highlight is. I remember feeling that way when I went on my university graduation trip. I also went into the museum inside. There, I was able to hear and compare the sounds of bells from around the world and learn about the history of clock towers. It was interesting to see that there are differences in the pitch of the sound, the depth of the reverberation, and the sensation of each sound, and the atmosphere is different, even if it is lumped together with the sound of the bell. Also, when I learned about the history of the clock tower, I was able to feel how it was preserved even though it was small. I learned that in order to develop Hokkaido, mainly agriculture, many experts from the United States have been brought together and the region has been developed together with promising students. When I saw a copy of Inazo Nitobe’s handwritten notebook, I wondered if I was on the same level as him… and wanted to learn more.
After seeing the clock tower, we went back to the hotel and checked in. Since we had to leave early and the distance to walk was long, we decided to rest for a while at the hotel. I decided to leave around dinner time. In addition, I received a Hokkaido regional sightseeing coupon worth 12,000 yen.
It seems that my body was more tired than I thought, and I woke up around 20:00. Since it was not so far from the hotel to Susukino, I decided to walk to eat Genghis Khan. This time as well, I headed to a shop called “Daruma” that had a good reputation on the internet. However, it seems that it was a very popular store, and people lined up halfway around the store. The temperature was close to 0 degrees Celsius, and waiting for over an hour was physically demanding, so I decided to go to a nearby restaurant that served Genghis Khan. Its name is “Snowman”. It was a Genghis Khan restaurant with many foreigners. There was also an English menu available, but one of the two English translations of Genghis Khan was a very “weird” one. I’m pretty sure they used machine translation. On the other hand, I think that the reason why English translation became common is because of progress in machine translation. I felt the progress of technology and the limits of the present time because there were parts where strangely difficult English words were used even in ordinary ones. The taste was of course delicious. It may be the first time in four years since I went to Russia that I ate lamb. When I go to Hokkaido, I often think of Russia.
After that, I decided to play around Susukino’s red-light district. We rode the Ferris wheel and saw the famous Suntory Whiskey logo. Also, as a second meal, I ate gyoza at the gyoza Yamaokaya. I didn’t know much about it because I chose it while passing by, but it seems that Yamaokaya was a ramen chain store that opened as an affiliated store specializing in gyoza.
We were back at the hotel around 12:00. I bought guarana and vitamins at Seicomart on the way home. Both of these drinks are limited to Hokkaido, and I had heard of guarana, so I tried it out. Guarana looked like cola, smelled like Dr. Pepper and had a unique flavor. When I looked it up, it seemed to contain a lot of caffeine, so I drank it while thinking that it wasn’t something to drink at night. However, I was so tired that night that I fell asleep immediately.