Finally, I managed to finished my travelogue to Japan.. Really having difficulties to write since I really caught up with works. Although it has been half year ago, the sweet memories during my visit there seems like few days ago. I really love to visit Japan again. And this November, I’ll be visiting Japan again.. !! Yeay !!!
Today, we will be going to Sapporo by AirAsia flight… Yeay!!!. Early morning before the sunrise, we already check-out from the hotel at proceed to the train station to take Narita Skyliner Express to Narita Airport.. Yeah.. I don’t sleep at all the night before… busy packing, and also worried we overslept and missed our early flight to Sapporo… hehehe.. Luckily the hotel allow us to storage our luggage at the storage room during our trip to Sapporo, so we don’t need to drag our heavy luggage to Sapporo.. Yeah, two thumbs up for this hotel for its excellent service… The skyliner train station also located just beside the Ueno Station.. another added bonus so we don’t need any transfer and can go straight to Narita Airport.
We decided to buy the express ticket which cost us 2400y but more direct and faster train. The normal train will cost only 1000y but much slower and stop at few stations. Once we reached the Narita Airport, we straight away check-in ourselves and our luggage. We had quite ample time before the boarding time, so we decided to explore the Narita Airport terminal. The airport terminal was quite big.. they even had 2levels of nice shopping area at the international terminal that sell lots of things and even souvenirs. The departure gate for Airasia actually located outside the main building, very small and look like a temporary building. The plane was park quite far, so, we need to board a bus that brought us to the plane.
Sharp at 11am, we depart to Sapporo. The whole journey to Sapporo was amazing, the sky was clear and I could see the beautiful landscape of Japan from the plane, from green to full with snow.. Once we reached the Sapporo Chitose Airport, we went to the tourist information center to buy the Sapporo-Otaru welcome pass as we planned to use it the next day. Then, we took the rapid airport express to Sapporo Station, a journey of 30mins. Our hotel, the Hotel Sunroute New Sapporo, located nearby Susukino Station, so we had to change to subway line to go to the Susukino station.
What I really loved about Japan railway network is most of the main station was located underground. Although we need to walk quite far to transfer from Sapporo JR station to Sapporo subway station, we barely noticed it because it all happens underground with lots of shops like a whole shopping complex.. Even the Susukino station was connected to a long underground shopping street. Once we exit the Susukino station, we excited to see the whole area was covered by thick snow, except for the roads. Although our hotel located just 3 blocks from the station, walking on the walkway full with ice and snow, while dragging our luggage was not that easy. We reached the hotel half an hour later, check-in and decided have a good rest before went out to explore the city.
After a short break, and nap, we went out to visit the Nijo market and the Odari Park. We were quite surprised to see that there is actually a very long covered shopping street located just beside our hotel that ended until Nijo Market area.. As usual, we distracted from our original plan and when for shopping instead… hahaha… The stuff sold here was definitely cheaper than Tokyo. We walked slowly while browsing the shops until we reached the Nijo Market, and its already dark. But unfortunately, the market already closed. So, we decided to walk towards the Sapporo Tower located 2blocks away. The night was freezing cold at -1 degree.
The view of Sapporo Tower at night was really nice, in addition to the white snow surrounding it. And the Sapporo Ice festival venue along the Odari Park started from here.. I was very excited to see some of the construction site, even the festival haven’t started yet.. I know the snow festival only started in few days later, but I’m hoping to see a glimpse of it during my visit to Sapporo. As its already late night, most of the event site was closed, so, we decided to warm ourselves at a nearby coffee shop before heading back to our hotel for rest.
Today, we went for a daytrip to Otaru, a port city located an hour by train from Sapporo. Luckily we had bought the Otaru-welcome-day-pass the day before, so we just take our time leisurely. We walk through the underground shopping street, The Pole Town and The Aurora Town, but unfortunately its still too early and the most of the shops still closed, so we decided to proceed straight to Otaru as it will took about an hour to reached there.. We board the JR line train from Sapporo JR Station and stop directly at Otaru Station, located just few minutes walk to the excitement area of Otaru City.
After getting the local tourist map from the tourist center just in front of the station, we walked leisurely towards the Otaru town. As expected, the whole town was very beautiful, no wonder this place called ‘The Romantic City of Otaru’. We spend the whole day walking through the Sakaimachi street, and attractive preserve merchant streets line with nice and cute buildings and shops and stroll along the canal full with the preserved old warehouse at night. The whole town was realy laid back and wonderful until we lost track of time while wondering around the streets in Otaru.. I also ate the most delicious crab and corn here.. There is lots of thing that I want to write and share about our trip to Otaru, but I think I’ll write in another post just about our day trip to Otaru..
Its already 9pm when we reached back to Sapporo. Luckily the shops at the shopping street still open, so we spend the rest of the night doing some souvenir shopping at the Tanuki-Koji Shopping arcade until the shops closed. I was surprised to see sweater and jackets is selling quite cheap here, and I bought some nice sweater for each of my family member here. We spend the rest of the night packing our luggage as we will going back to Tokyo tomorrow.
Our flight back to Tokyo will be late evening, however, we decided to check out early in the morning as we want to utilized the available time to explore the Sapporo city. We stored our luggage at the hotel reception. First we went for last minutes shopping at the Tanuki-Koji before we went to Nijo Market to see the seafoods and big crabs. I was very excited to see many fresh hokkaido crabs were sold here. We tasted fresh uncooked hokaido crab from one of the stall and it tasted sooo good. I can’t resist myself to buy one big hokkaido crab for a good bargain cause I know I can’t afford to buy it in Malaysia. The nice seller even helped me to wrap the crab properly with ice bags in the ice box, and my crab had survived after 3days and even survived 2 flight journey. Nyumm.. nyum…
Oh ya… enough about the hokkaido crab.. After Nijo Market, we walked to the nearby Odari Park to see the Sapporo Ice festival area. Although the festival haven’t started yet, we could see Ice sculpture and snow sculpture been carved, and some of them had already completed. It was amazing.. I feel very happy as our main objective to Sapporo had been full-filled. The festival site at Odari Park stretch from the Sapporo Tower until few blocks away, but due to the limited time available, we only managed to see few blocks of it. Luckily the 3kg’s hokkaido crab that I bought earlier is properly wrapped in a trolley bag that make it easier for me to drag the stuff across the city on the snowy walkway.
After that, we went back to the hotel to collect our luggages. Due to the additional luggage from our shopping spree in Sapporo (and of cause the big crab)… we decided to take the airport shuttle bus straight to the airport. Luckily the airport shuttle bus stop was just opposite the hotel entrance and few minutes later, the bus arrive. The airport shuttle bus is very comfortable and it’s only five person including us in the bus until we arrived at the airport about 1 hour later. We hang around the airport until we boarded the flight at 7pm.
It’s already late night when we landed at the Narita Airport, and most of the airport shop already closed. We decided to take the cheaper train to Tokyo to save some money as we are not rushing as earlier. Of course the normal train took longer time, more than 1hour, as it stop at many stations before reaching the Ueno Station. When we reached the Ueno Station, we drag our heavy bags to the same hotel that we stayed earlier. Luckily the staff had already locate our storage bags into our room, so we just check-in and straight when up to the room. We spent the whole night packing our stuff because we will return back to KL tomorrow. I don’t even sleep as we had planned to visit the Tsukiji Market again for tuna auction in the early morning.
Early at 5.10am, we already board the first train to the Tsukiji Market. Again, luck wasn’t in our side as the Tuna auction spot had already full when we arrived at the registration area at 5.30am. We were quite surprised when the guard told us all 120 spot for tuna auction for the day had been grab as early as 4am.. Whattt !!! 4am ???.. That’s mean we need to either get the taxi or stay at nearby hotel because the first train only available at 5am. Feeling a bit frustrated because our second attempt unsuccessful, we walk to the sushizenmai shop to cheer ourselves with fresh breakfast sushi.
After the delicious sushi breakfast, we return to the hotel. We had a short nap and rest before we check-out from the hotel. Since our flight will be late night, we decided to store our luggage at the Ueno Station locker, as we want to utilize the available time to explore other part of Tokyo city. Luckily they had lots of big sizes locker that can fit in our cabin-size luggage, so we don’t need to drag our luggage around the city. We took the Ginza line to Asakusa, just one stop from Ueno. We were excited to see the Nakamise street towards the Sensoji Temple was full with stalls selling cheap souvenirs. We can’t resist ourselves to hop into these stalls and ended spending more than an hour at the shopping street before we reached the Sensoji Temple. We just took pictures outside the temple as most of us did’nt keen to enter the temple. After that, we talk aimlessly at the streets around Asakusa before we return back to the Asakusa subway station. We also walk along the Shin-nakamise covered shopping street and took some pictures at the Sumida rivers facing the famous Asahi Beer building and the Tokyo Skytree towers.
We took the subway to Ginza. Ginza, the upscale shopping distrist had always been in my top list of place to visit in Tokyo. Not because of shopping, but due to lots of nice building design occupying this area. The whole place was amazing, most of the retail lots have nice facade design and the bigger chain brand have its own building with character suiting its branding. We also excited to see the whole Chuo Dori street was closed to traffic and turned into the pedestrian street. We hang around this area for few hours and decided to spend the leftover time at Harajuku area.
At Harajuku, we strolled along the small lane around the Harajuku area, since we had already visited the main street of Takeshi-Dori during our previous visit here. Some of the small shops at the smaller lane were selling nice stuff and again, we can’t resist ourselves to buy it. We hang around Harajuku until dawn, and proceed back to Ueno Station to collect our luggages at the storage locker.
After repacking our stuff, we took the train to the Haneda Airport. The Airport was huge !!!.. It was a long walk from the train station to the Airasia counter, however we were glad the Airasia staff was kind enough to assist us during our check-in. Since we had ample time before the boarding time, we hang around exploring the airport. Sharp at 12 midnite, our flight departed from Tokyo to bring us home…