“Ohayou Gozaimasu,” which means “Good Morning” in Japanese!
Arrived at the Narita International Airport early in the morning by MAS. It was a real smooth flight without any turbulence for the entire 6 hours flight. It was winter and it was cold outside. Immediately we rushed to terminal 3 to catch a domestic flight to Chitose, Hokkaido. My gosh, from terminal 1 to terminal 3 you need to walk few kilometres!
After another 1 hour 40 minutes by Jetstar Airways, we were at the Chitose Airport, Hokkaido. Tell you what, this flight was real horrible, air-con was not cold and there’s a foul smell inside the plane!
When we arrived at the airport, the excursion coach was there to fetch us and soon we were on our way to our first destination in Hokkaido, Jigokudani, the Hell Valley National Park at Noboribetsu! Here you get to see columns of steam incessantly rising from the numerous fissures in the rocks. Stench of sulphur was very strong. En-route to Hell Valley, we stopped at a Japanese Restaurant for our first lunch in Japan. “Oishi” not bad, I would say.
We arrived at Hell Valley in the afternoon. Took a visit to the geysers and hot-spring before we checked in at Hotel Mahoroba, Noboribetsu. Here you can see a massive crater surrounded by red cliffs with holes where boiling water sprouting out with a roar resembling hell! I think that’s why it is called Hell Valley! Nice weather and no snow yet although it was really cold.
Actually, our hotel is situated at the Hell Valley. The hotel is famous for its hot-spring spa. Of course nobody wants to miss the chance of relaxing in the hot-spring spa at the hotel even though you are not allowed to have any clothing on your body! Luckily, it was not peak season yet, so not many people at the hot-spring spa.
At night we had a gala seafood buffet dinner at the hotel restaurant with 3 types of king crabs.
The first night we got to experience sleeping on tatami.
Checked out at 8.45 am. The hotel staffs are so polite and friendly and they showed their hospitality by sending us off until the bus disappeared from sight! Soon we were on the way to Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura which is a historical theme park which highlights the Edo Period, one of the most attractive era in the Japanese history, dated back to 150 years! At this park, we watched the life ninja and also the geisha show. Too bad, they only speak Japanese without any interpretation. At this park, there are also ninja maze and a ghost house of Edo. But we had to miss these two due to time constraint!
When we came out, it started to snow! Everywhere was white, a beautiful scene in deed for us who come from the tropics. Then we proceeded to the bear ranch to see the rare species of Hokkaido bear. The bears were too lazy to move around as it was snowing heavily!
Lunch was at the base of Mt Usuzan. After lunch, we were supposed to take a ropeway up Mt Usuzan to a have panoramic view of Lake Toya, a volcanic caldera lake which never freeze even during winter when the temperature falls drastically. Too bad again as it was closed due to heavy snow. The ropeway may not be safe to move up. Instead we switched our itinerary to taking a cruise at the lake. In fact it was real relaxing to cruise around the beautiful lake. Here we also get to see Mt Showa Shinza which was formed from the upheaval of the ground after the earthquake in 1943.
The day ended when we finally checked into Yubari Mount Racey Hotel which is a ski resort. This is not ski season, so there were not many hotel guests that day.
After checking out at around 8.45 am, we were on our way to Yubari Coal Mine Museum. Actually Yubari was a coal mine town in the nineteen forties. After closing down in 1980, it was turned into a museum. Here you get to see giant lumps of coal, coal mining tools and you will be allowed to enter the mine tunnel to see how the miners extract coal! It was snowing heavily.
After that, we proceeded to Otaru Canal. Otaru is a small harbour city located northwest of Sapporo City. Otaru Canal is a short and narrow waterway. It is also famous for its abundance of seafood especially king crabs. Nearby, there’s the Otaru Handicraft Street selling glass handicraft, music box, and souvenir. Not to miss is the famous ice cream. In fact the Japanese like ice cream very much. You can find ice cream everywhere you go. But I find that the ice cream here is not so creamy and smooth. In fact I tried many types of ice cream there! We also tried the famous Kitakaro puff and cheese cake.
After that we proceeded to the famous chocolate outlet (白色恋人). This outlet has a small brightly decorated park in front of it. Of course we didn’t miss to snap some photos for remembrance!
For dinner, we went to Ramen Yokocho Street to try the famous Japanese ramen (一凤堂)。
We arrived at Sapporo City in the evening and checked in Sapporo Tokyo Dome Hotel which is situated at the city centre. After that a few of us walked to Odori Park which is not far from the hotel. The park was brightly decorated with colour lights preparing for coming Christmas. From here you can see the Sapporo TV Tower and the clock house.
After breakfast, we went to Odori Park again to take some pictures before going to Hokkaido Shrine to seek for good health and fortune.
After that we went to visit Okurayama Olympic Ski jump where 1972 Winter Olympic Games ski jump event was held here. For lunch we had buffet seafood at Kitagurume seafood market.
After lunch, it was shopping time for the ladies as we stopped at Rera Factory Outlet en-route to Chitose Airport to catch a flight back to Tokyo. This outlet has not much to offer. It’s even smaller in size compared to Johor Premium Outlet.
Checked in at Tokyo Dome Hotel, Tokyo.
The journey continued with a tour to Asakusa Kannon Temple, the oldest Buddhist temple in the region. It is one of the most colourful and popular temple. Here you can see a lot of Japanese students doing excursion here. It is also famous for Japanese snacks and souvenirs.
Then we proceeded to Ginza, the most famous shopping area in Tokyo where you can find all types of branded goods. In the evening, we went to Shinjuku for another round of shopping.
Today is the happiest day for the kids as we would be visiting Disneyland Tokyo.
As it was a week end, there were lot of visitors at the park. Entry was smooth. We only managed to get one fast pass. We took the first one Pirates of the Caribbean’s, fun but not adventurous. The next one we queued up for almost 2 hours to take the Thunder Mountains. This is more exciting and adventurous. We managed to try one more i.e. Space Mountain which is indoor.
I found the ride really exhilarating!
This one is not suitable for those with weak heart! We didn’t get to witness the procession of Disney cartoon in full, only a glimpse of it as we were rushing for time!
Dinner was Japanese buffet BBQ and we also ordered Kobe beef which is soft and succulent. It cost us RM 370 for 200g!
After dinner, we checked into Excel Hotel Tokyu, Narita as we would be leaving for home the next morning!
“Sayonara” Tokyo. I will sure come back again some other time as Japan really impressed me with their clean environment, nice weather and good hospitality!