It seems like everybody in Japan wants to visit Hokkaido, and for good reason. The food is good, the air is fresh, and people are nice. I was convinced to visit Sapporo before coming to Japan after watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations television show, Sapporo edition.
Getting to Sapporo from Tokyo is a simple one and one half hour plane ride, which is seemingly nothing after the 14 hour plane ride from New York to Tokyo. We immediately went to our hostel after landing, and we were pleasantly surprised to find our room to be traditional Japanese style, with Tatami mats and Futon. After unpacking, we quickly headed to the famous ramen street of Sapporo, only a five minute walk from our hostel. We all ordered butter-soy sauce-miso-corn ramen, and devoured the entire bowl. Even after a huge bowl of ramen, we were still hungry, so we headed for Hokkaido Milk Ice Cream. It was a great night of food.
The next morning we woke up early to head to Mt. Moiwa, taking the historic streetcar of Sapporo to get there. To get up the mountain, we took a ropeway half way up, and then walked the rest. During our walk, we encountered an older man who talked to us for about thirty minutes about what we were doing in Japan, a great experience for us to talk to a local and practice our Japanese. The view at the top was indescribable. On one side, there was a complete view of all of Sapporo city, and the other was a beautiful view of the mountains.
After our descent down the mountain, we headed to Maruyama Park, where we were able to view the last of the Sakura blooming. However, it seemed as though every citizen of Sapporo was barbequing and picnicking. It seems like it would be amazing to be a local and hang out at the park on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. We ended our day with more of the delicious, creamy ice cream.
On our last day in Sapporo, we went to the outskirts of the city to go to the Shiroi Kobito Chocolate factory, where they make the most delicious white chocolate cookies. Outside of the factory is a gorgeous park with old-style, German style architecture and fields of flowers. Inside the factory, you can watch the cookies being made, as well as learn the history of the factory and the cookies.
After our chocolate factory adventure, we headed back to Sapporo station, but had extra time so walked to another park; Sapporo people really appreciate the outdoors. There, we saw people playing violin, people dancing, and more picnickers. We picked up some famous Hokkaido cheese to eat during our stroll throughout the park. At the end of the park, we found two slides that looked “natural” or as if they should be in the park, as they were carved of stone, on which children were playing. When we decided to go on the slides, we received many stares and smiles.
It was difficult to leave Sapporo, as there was so much to see. I hope to return to Hokkaido, to explore some of the more rural sections. When in Japan, Sapporo is a must see.