Sunday, August 18, 2019

Hokkaido Travel: Sapporo with Children - What to Do and See at Sapporo

Sapporo is the largest city in Hokkaido (Japan). With many places of interest, as well as the network of trains and buses to other parts of Hokkaido, Sapporo is a place where many people would visit when they travel to Hokkaido.

Let us share with you what you can do and see at Sapporo!


Sapporo Clock Tower 時計台

A symbol of Sapporo, Sapporo Clock Tower serves as a museum that displays the building's history. A photo-taking point is at the corner of premise.



Sapporo Clock Tower
Address: North 1, West 2, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0001
Admission fee: 200 yen for adult, free for children below 19-year-old
Opening hours: 8.45 a.m. - 5.15 p.m. (last entry at 5 p.m.)
How to get there: 10 minutes on foot from JR Sapporo Station Southern entrance, or 5 minutes walk from Odori Station exit number 7


Odori Park 大通公園 

Odori Park is a huge park that spans 1.5 km in the centre of Sapporo city. The park is a vibrant place with different events during different time of the year - Snow Festival in Februray, Sapporo Lilac Festival in May, Yosakoi Soran Festival (a dance event) in June, Beer Festival in July, and so on. Odori Park is also a great place to view the parade of Hokkaido Shrine Festival on 16 June annually.

We relaxed near the fountain and enjoyed a sweet corn. This should be the way how to enjoy the slower pace in Hokkaido!




After I asked for permission to take a photo of the grilled corn, the nice lady at the stall actually asked me to wait a while as she wanted to turn the corns for me to take a nicer photo!



The highlight of the visit to Odori Park for our children was actually the playgound at Nishi 8 and 9 Chome. The Black Slide Manta is not just a slide, it looks like an art piece!



Our children were contented to play at the simple playground with  swings, slides and climbing structures.



Odori Park
Address: Odori Nishi 1-chome ~ Odori Nishi 12-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
How to get there: Take exit 27 from the underground mall connecting between Sapporo to Susukino, or 1 minute walk from Odori Station


Sapporo TV Tower

On the eastern end is Sapporo TV Tower, another iconic place at Sapporo. It offers a great view of Sapporo, and you can see how well the streets are organised.



Sapporo TV Tower
Address: Odori Nishi 1-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo-shi, 060-0042
Admission fee:
Adult 720 yen, senior high school student 600 yen, high school student 400 yen, elementary school student 300 yen, child above 3 years old 100 yen.
If you are also visiting Sapporo Clock Tower, you can purchase combo discount ticket at 800 yen for adult at 19-year-old and above.
Opening hours: 9 a.m. - 10 p.m.
How to get there: Take exit 27 from the underground mall connecting between Sapporo to Susukino, or 1 minute walk from Odori Station


Former Hokkaido Government Office 北海道道庁旧本庁舎

Former Hokkaido Government Office building has a nickname Akarenga Chosha (Red Brick Building). The architecture is unique, and you can go into the museum to learn more about this history of the building. The best time of the year to visit this place is during autumn when the leaves of Gingko trees lining along the road turn yellow.



We were there in the evening, and the sun was behind the building. So I would suggest that you visit the place in the morning to take nicer photos.

Former Hokkaido Government Office 
Address: North 3, West 6, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, 060-8588
Admission fee: free
Opening hours: 8.45 a.m. - 6 p.m.
How to get there: 7 minutes walk from Sapporo Station South entrance


Sapporo Station and Sapporo Chikagai (Underground Shopping Mall)

Sapporo Station is not just a transport hub. It is also a giant shopping and dining area, comprises of Apia underground shopping mall, Paseo mall, Daimaru departmental store, and ESTA with Bic Camera and Sapporo Ramen Republic. There is also tourist attraction JR Tower Observation Deck T38, which offers great view of Sapporo.

Sapporo Chikagai is a long stretch of shopping street from Odori Station to Susukino area. It consists of Pole Town to the south of Odori Station, and Aurora Town to the east of Odori Station. You can walk from Sapporo Station there via underground connecting road. It is so convenient to do your shopping even during the snowy winter!


Susukino すすきの

A busy shopping and dining district in Sapporo, Susukino is also known as a large entertainment district with vibrant nightlife.

Tanukikoji Shopping Street 狸小路 is 900 m long and is divided into 7 sections. You can find many eateries, souvenir shops and drug stores here.



We spotted an interesting little shrine at 5 Chome.



We also went shopping at 100 yen shop Daiso (Sapporo Chuo) and Business Supermarket near Tanukikoji.

Another famous tourist attraction is Ramen Alley with numerous ramen eateries.



Susukino
How to get there: Take Sapporo Subway to Susukino Station on Namboku Line.


Hokkaido Shrine (Hokkaido Jingu) 北海道神宮

We visited Hokkaido Shrine on the last day of Hokkaido Shrine Festival that is held from 14 to 16 June annually.



Read our experience at Hokkaido Shrine in this post!

Hokkaido Shrine
Address: Miyagaoka 474, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Opening hours: Summer season 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Winter season 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission fee: Free
How to get there: Take Sapporo Subway to Maruyama Koen on Tozai Line. Walk towards Maruyama Park.


Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park 国営滝野すずらん丘陵公園

The highlight of the trip to our children was to visit the huge playground at Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park! And we visited there twice during our trip!




Read our experience at Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park in this post!

Do check out whether the park is opened from their website, because in July 2019, it was closed for almost a month due to appearance of bear.

Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park
Website: http://www.takinopark.com/
Address: 〒005-0862 札幌市南区滝野247番地
Opening hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in winter, 5 p.m. in spring and fall, 6 p.m. in summer

Admission fee:
One day pass - 420 yen for adult 15-year-old and above, free for children, 210 yen for seniors 65-year-old and above
Two-day pass (to be used for two consecutive days) - 500 yen for adult 15-year-old and above, free for children, 250 yen for seniors 65-year-old and above
Admission is free in winter (end December to March)

How to get there:
Take Sapporo Subway to Makomanai Station on Namboku Line, then take bus 106 and alight at the last stop. Take note that the bus frequency is only once every hour, so check the bus timetable here first.
6 car parks are available, with parking fee of 410 yen per entry.


Shiroi Koibito Park 白い恋人パーク

Shiroi Koibito is a famous cookies from Hokkaido. At Shiroikoibito Park is the factory, there are photo-taking spots at the garden, and you can sign up the factory tour to take a look at th eproduction line!

We visited this place during our honeymoon trip N years ago, but did not visit there during this trip as the interior of the building was undergoing renewal. It was re-opened in July 2019.



Shiroi Koibito Park 
Website: https://www.shiroikoibitopark.jp/en/
Address: 11-36 Miyanosawa 2-jo 2-chome, Nishi-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
Opening hours: 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Admission fee: free at the garden and some parts of the interior, fee applies for Premium or Standard Factory Tours, as well as Baking Courses
How to get there: Take subway to Miyanosawa Station on Tozai line, then walk about 7 minutes.


Sapporo Central Wholesale Market and Nijo Market

Both Sapporo Central Wholesale Market and Nijo Market offer a variety of fresh food and dried goods. There are also eateries that offer wide range of seafood. It was a pity that we did not have time to explore these two markets.

Sapporo Central Wholesale Market is larger than Nijo Market, but it is located further away from the city centre.

Sapporo Central Wholesale Market
Address: 2-3 North 11, West 21, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0011, Japan
How to get there: From Soen Station (JR) or Nijuyonken Station (Subway Tozai line), walk a few minutes

Nijo Market
Address: Minami 3-jo, Higashi 1-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido Japan
How to get there: Odori Station


How to Get Around Sapporo

It is convenient to get around Sapporo by Sapporo Subway and Sapporo Streetcar (See route maps here).

Check out our post Hokkaido Travel: 10 Tips for Planning Tips #5 on Money-saving for taking public transport in Sapporo.

We explored the places mentioned above by Sapporo Subway. In order to maximise savings, you can plan your visit to different parts of Sapporo, or to the further part of Sapporo on weekend, and purchase Donichika Ticket (One-day Subway Pass for Weekends and Holidays) - adult 520 yen, child 260 yen.



Our Hokkaido Summer Itinerary
Day 1: New Chitose Airport, Sapporo Clock Tower, Odori Park, Hokkaido Government Office
Day 2: Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park, Susukino
Day 3: Hokkaido Shrine, Otaru
Day 4: Asahiyama Zoo
Day 5: Furano - Farm Tomita, Tomita Melon House
Day 6: Biei - Blue Pond, Shirahige Waterfall, Shikisai no Oka , Shinei-no-oka Observatory Park, Ken and Mary Tree, Seven Stars Tree, Parent and Child Trees, Hokusei-no-oka Observatory Park  
Day 7: similar to Day 2 haha!


Our Hokkaido Travelogue June 2019


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Friday, August 9, 2019

Hokkaido Travel: Hokkaido Shrine (Hokkaido Jingu)

One way to get to know a country better is to experience their traditional festival. During our Japan trip in December 2018, we visited Nara to experience Kasuga Wakamiya On-Matsuri 春日若宮おん祭 at Nara (read our Nara travelogue here). During this trip to Hokkaido, we visited Hokkaido Shrine (Hokkaido Jingu) on the last day of Hokkaido Shrine Festival that is held from 14 to 16 June annually.

Throughout these 3 days, there are festive stalls at Hokkaido Shrine and Nakajima Park. At Hokkaido Shrine, there are traditional dedication ceremonies and various performances from 14 to 15 June. On 16 June, there is a large scale parade starting from Hokkaido Shrine, and it goes around Sapporo city.

To get to Hokkaido Shrine, we had to walk through Maruyama Park. It was a nice stroll as the park was quiet and peaceful.



After walking through the torii, there were many festive food and game stalls. Our children bought their favourite egglets and taiyaki.



The participants of the parade were getting ready. The men in white were more than willing to pose for the visitors' camera, and they didn't mind taking photos with the visitors. When it was my turn, one of the men suddenly took my hand and placed my hand on the horse's face! I was a bit shocked haha!



It was raining, so we quickly took some photos of the shrine and then went to seek shelter at Rokkaitei 六花亭, a famous Hokkaido sweets shop.




At Rokkaitei, we bought this Japanese snack - grilled rice cake with red bean filling. This reminds me of umegae mochi we had at Dazaifu in Kyushu. There was free flow of roasted tea, a perfect match with the rice cake!



We saw the men in white set off with the horses. Then we heard loud sounds, the ceremony started in front of the shrine!




The energetic participants made the atmosphere high by their cheer. It was really happening! After the ceremony, the participants dispersed... I was wondering, was this all?

The parade actually began at the First Torii Gate outside Hokkaido Shrine. However, as we planned to visit Otaru after that, we had to give it a miss to watch the parade. When I saw the news on TV later then I found out that the best place to watch the entire parade is at Odori Park.

One interesting thing that I found at Hokkaido Shrine is Rilakkuma ema (for writing prayer or wishes), so adorable! If you are Hello Kitty fans, you will be delighted to find Hello Kitty omamori (Japanese amulet) there too.



Other than at Hokkaido Shrine, during 14 to 16 June, we experienced Hokkaido Shrine Festival at different places at Sapporo - we saw the procession near Odori Park and Tanukikoji.



Hokkaido Shrine
Address: Miyagaoka 474, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Opening hours: Summer season 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Winter season 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission fee: Free
How to get there: Take Sapporo Subway to Maruyama Koen on Tozai Line. Walk towards Maruyama Park.


Our Hokkaido Summer Itinerary
Day 1: New Chitose Airport, Sapporo Clock Tower, Odori Park, Hokkaido Government Office
Day 2: Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park, Susukino
Day 3: Hokkaido Shrine, Otaru
Day 4: Asahiyama Zoo
Day 5: Furano - Farm Tomita, Tomita Melon House
Day 6: Biei - Blue Pond, Shirahige Waterfall, Shikisai no Oka , Shinei-no-oka Observatory Park, Ken and Mary Tree, Seven Stars Tree, Parent and Child Trees, Hokusei-no-oka Observatory Park  
Day 7: similar to Day 2 haha!


Our Hokkaido Travelogue June 2019


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Sunday, August 4, 2019

Hokkaido Travel: Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park

The highlight of the Hokkaido trip to our children was to visit the huge playground known as Kodomo no Tani at Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park!



The park is located in the southern part of Sapporo. We took 20 minutes on Sapporo Subway from Sapporo Station to Makamanai Station, and then Bus 106 which took 40 minutes to reach the park.

Though the weather was cloudy on our second day in Hokkaido, we still went ahead to visit the park. However, it started raining when we were there, so we could only go to the indoor playground.

The indoor playground, known as Niji no Su Dome, has colourful climbing structures for the children. It was difficult to see where our children were as they climbed too fast! So in the end DaDi and I just sat down and relaxed.




The outdoor playground was too slippery after the rain, and was not safe to play. The children were disappointed, so was I.

A few days later, we departed from Asahikawa back to Sapporo. The weather was great! So instead of visiting Sapporo Central Wholesale Market that I originally planned, I decided to forgo the seafood meal to bring the children to Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park again!

Next to the indoor playground is a grass slope called Lawn Stadium, where children can play with the giant balls. It was really a physical training for myself as I went up the slope with my children!



Our children had great fun jumping on the giant trampoline. What a pity that I could not join them as adults are not allowed to jump on it.



There are a few slides of different length. For safety reasons, free helmets are provided for children to go down the slides.



This part of the playground looks fun to bounce around, but it is actually not a good idea to play here under the hot sun as the surface of those structures become super hot!



This looks like a place in anime!



This tower is great for playing hide-and-seek! The children climbed up inside the tower, and came out from the slide.



It was a hot day, so we spent some time at the small water play area to dip our feet in the cool water. So bring an extra set of clothes if you are there in summer! There is also a forest play area, but we were too tired to explore that area.

Other than playground, Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park is also a great place to view the flowers. At Country Garden, there are different flowers during different time of the year, for example. tulips in May, and lavender in July to August. However, it was not very spectacular when we were there in mid-June.




There are also photo-taking spots around the park.



Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park is also a popular camp site during summer. Other than setting up tents, you can choose to stay at the small cottage. A reservation is required via their website (Japanese) or telephone.

During winter (end December to March), the admission to the park is free. Though the playground would then be covered with snow, the fun part is the snow slope where visitors can slide down!

Do check out whether the park is opened from their website, because in July 2019, it was closed for almost a month due to appearance of bear.

Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park
Website: http://www.takinopark.com/
Address: 〒005-0862 札幌市南区滝野247番地
Opening hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in winter, 5 p.m. in spring and fall, 6 p.m. in summer

Admission:
One day pass - 420 yen for adult 15-year-old and above, free for children, 210 yen for seniors 65-year-old and above
Two-day pass (to be used for two consecutive days) - 500 yen for adult 15-year-old and above, free for children, 250 yen for seniors 65-year-old and above
Admission is free in winter (end December to March)

How to get there:
Take Sapporo Subway to Makomanai Station on Namboku Line, then take bus 106 and alight at the last stop. Take note that the bus frequency is only once every hour, so check the bus timetable here first.
6 car parks are available, with parking fee of 410 yen per entry.


Our Hokkaido Summer Itinerary
Day 1: New Chitose Airport, Sapporo Clock Tower, Odori Park, Hokkaido Government Office
Day 2: Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park, Susukino
Day 3: Hokkaido Shrine, Otaru
Day 4: Asahiyama Zoo
Day 5: Furano - Farm Tomita, Tomita Melon House
Day 6: Biei - Blue Pond, Shirahige Waterfall, Shikisai no Oka , Shinei-no-oka Observatory Park, Ken and Mary Tree, Seven Stars Tree, Parent and Child Trees, Hokusei-no-oka Observatory Park  
Day 7: similar to Day 2 haha!


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