Return to Sapporo (2/6)

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Greetings. This is Nazrul from the Hokkaido Government Representative Office.

Map route (map source: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism)

For my next stop, I dropped by the capital city Sapporo again. This is my fourth time here, and it’s always a pleasure to come here. Even though it’s the end of October, I could still see the whole city being enveloped in auburn autumn foliage.

Former Hokkaido Government Office Building (Red Brick Office)
Blooming tree outside Hokkaido Government building the next morning

After an obligatory meeting at the Hokkaido Government head office, I headed out to the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market. Many visitors would love to buy (in bulk, especially) all the Hokkaido goodies to bring back home, and it is said that this market is a must-visit for this. From my personal experience, people usually imagine the famous Hakodate Morning Market, and this market is perhaps Sapporo’s answer to it. Plus, getting to the market from central Sapporo is fairly easy by subway.

Sapporo Central Wholesale Market (7-minute walk from Subway Tozai-Line ‘Niju-Yonken’ station)

From humongous king crab legs and premium dried scallops to copious cut melons, the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market is a haven for visitors who would like to experience the best of Hokkaido food in a single place. All the stall keepers would gregariously invite you to even have a taste of their fine products, and they are more than happy to allow visitors to take photo of them.

Hokkaido melons on sale
Visitors would be spoilt for choice on which shops to choose melons from!
Dried scallops are prized commodities in Hokkaido
Hairy crabs are a seasonal specialty in the region

Of course, many people would flock here simply for a quick breakfast or lunch and it goes without saying that seafood is the main item on the menu of every eatery. Depending on one’s budget, one can choose either the usual year-round menu items – tuna, squid, salmon roe, etc. – or ask for the staff’s seasonal recommendation.

Mixed seafood bowl

Next up is the Sapporo Beer Museum/Garden. Located east from JR Sapporo station, it’s one of the most popular tourist spots in Sapporo, and without a doubt an obligatory visit for all beer lovers. The Sapporo Beer brand has a long history in the city, spanning all the way as early as 1876! Since its inception, the brand has become synonymous with high-quality lager and is a staple for the locals. Better yet, the entry fee to the museum is free!

Sapporo Beer Museum (free entry, JPY 500 for guided tour)

The neighbouring garden enjoys its peak guest arrival during the summer, where the outdoor compound turns into a huge barbecue garden. ‘Jingisukan’, a mutton-based Hokkaido local specialty, is the staple menu for that season, and needless to say, it goes perfectly well with Sapporo beer. Fun fact: as I learned firsthand at the beer parlour inside the museum, Sapporo beer goes surprisingly well with cheddar cheese!

Sapporo Beer ‘Kaitakushi’: JPY 300

It started to rain (again) en route to my next destination: Mount Moiwa. While waiting for my cable car up the mountain, I walked around the foot and found some picturesque scenes.

Foot of Mount Moiwa (sign: ‘Forestry Plaza’)
Overlooking the Sapporo city skyline

On my way up to the peak of Mount Moiwa, I gazed at the panoramic view the Sapporo city skyline. It’s astounding to see how vast the city is, and on a clear weather visitors can see up to several kilometres away in the horizon. As the rain began to lighten up, lady luck came in the form of a huge rainbow stretching over the skyline!

Sapporo city skyline from inside cable car en route up Mount Moiwa
Rainbow after the rain

However, Mother Nature caught me by surprise when I reached the peak. It began to snow heavily and I could see the snow beginning to carpet the city down below. It’s definitely something I could never witness back home in Singapore, and it’s quite a spectacle to watch with my own eyes.

Snow creeping towards the city

Jozankei is up next on my itinerary. It’s a strange feeling for me to visit the hot spring resort; I’ve been recommending it to my Singaporean walk-in guests, yet I’ve never been there before. Jozankei is one of the ‘Big Four’ of hot spring resorts in Central Hokkaido, the other three being Lake Shikotsu, Noboribetsu and Lake Toya. It’s the one closest to Sapporo so location is its strongest point, and access is fairly easy from Sapporo: public buses depart very frequently.

A footbath in Jozankei: Kokoro-no-Sato Jouzan

Amongst the famous hot spring hotels found in Jozankei, one of the smaller gems I found was a footbath cafeteria named Kokoro-no-Sato Jouzan. Here guests can dip their feet into the hot spring, and relax inside the cafeteria where hot beverages are served. There’s even a mini-library where visitors can browse through the books written by authors both local and foreign.

Cafeteria at Kokoro-no-Sato Jouzan
Coffee and beverages are available
Dipping my feet into the hot spring is a heavenly experience

I’d love to stay at one of the hot spring hotels in the area, but unfortunately my next stop for the day is Lake Toya, which is a two-hour bus ride. Another adventure beckons the next day, and my preview came in the form of a fireworks display right from the comfort of my hotel room at Lake Toya.

Fireworks display at Lake Toya, taken from my bedroom window

What discoveries did I encounter in Lake Toya? Stay tuned for my next blog entry!

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