Summer in Japan: Asahikawa, Hokkaido

by - 23:16

My previous trip to Japan was actually not too long ago, last March/April with a group of friends where we visited Osaka and Tokyo for our graduation trip. Having been to Japan for quite a number of times, I never expected myself to be visiting this wonderful country again so soon. In March, my family decided to visit Hokkaido and Tokyo in June where my youngest brother and I were having our school breaks. This is our first time going to Hokkaido so I was super stoked!

3rd/4th June

The whole trip started out on the 3rd of June, where we took a late evening flight with ANA to Tokyo where we will be transferring to Okhotsk Monbetsu Airport, located at one of the ends of Hokkaido. 



We were woken up for breakfast on the plane at around 4 am Japan time, and while it's not the best meal I had on the plane it's still pretty decent. 




Apart from being more time efficient by taking a midnight flight, we're also lucky enough to be able to witness the sunrise in the sky! Upon landing at Haneda Airport, we check-in for our domestic flight to Monbetsu and went off to kill off some time since the flight was in 4 hours. We decided to have coffee at Nenrinya in the departure area since we didn't have any on the plane. We also had an order of baumkuchen to share, where the lady kindly warmed it up for us. Fluffy, moist and flavourful with a thin crispy glaze on the outside, definitely one of the better baumkuchen that I have tried so far!





Before our flight they made an announcement saying that our flight could be affected due to bad weather conditions, where the pilot would land in Asahikawa or make a trip back to Haneda. This was gonna be a problem for us since we already paid for our car rental pick up in Monbetsu, but thank goodness the flight went smoothly and we landed right where we needed to be. However, it was raining so after collecting our luggage and car we immediately jumped into the car for some warmth. 

Since we landed late and by the time we were settled down to make our drive to Asahikawa, it was already close to 3 pm. Most of the places in Monbetsu were already closing their lunch services, so we had no choice but to skip lunch and make our way to another city. Luckily, there were a few convenience stores along the way so we could pick up some drinks and food for the drive. I picked up a few bottles of Fibe-Mini, where a bottle a day keeps the constipation away (yes it works, tried and tested by yours truly), and a curry bun from 7-11. The buns from 7-11 are so much better than most of the buns I've had in Singapore, the bun was fluffy and not too thick, with just the right about of filling! The curry bun had some chunks of meat and CHEESE. Oh and I also found a giant piece of fried beancurd which I found really funny for some reason. 


 




We reached Asahikawa in a few hours, and we checked into Art Hotel which is located quite close to a number of tourist destinations. For a price of roughly $100 per night for 2 people, I think it has the best value for money out of all the hotels I stayed during this trip. The room has enough space where you can still walk with your luggage open on the floor, a clean toilet with a tub, it's inclusive of breakfast, which I have to say their spread is amazing, and they also offer parking at a rate of 1000¥ per night. 

After settling down for a while, we decided to head out for dinner at a restaurant within walking distance called 天金, which we also returned to for our last dinner in Asahikawa. They serve really fresh seafood and izakaya dishes at a pretty affordable price. After dinner, we went back and had an early rest after a day of travelling and to get ready for the next day. 

5th June

We got up early for breakfast at the hotel and drove to Biei to visit a few farms to view the flowers! While it was not the lavander season yet, we hoped to view some other flowers such as tulips since they were supposed to be in season. En route we saw a beautiful paddy farm so we stopped to snap some photos. 







The first stop was at Hill of Zerubu which we spotted on the way to another farm. We initially planned for this place to be our second stop but since we saw it first, might as well! 












This place provided buggy rides around the farm, but sadly there wasn't much to see since there were no flowers. But we had a lot of fun riding the buggy since it was our first time, and I took the wheel since my mom wasn't confident in riding it.


No lavender to view but I still got to enjoy my lavender soft cream! This was definitely one of the highlights of the day, the best lavender soft cream I had on this trip. This place is much better than the other place that we were going to, and they sell lots of lavender-themed souvenirs in their shop where they also provide meals from 10 am onwards! Will come back here again when the flowers are in season. 

The next stop is Shikisai-no-Oka, where it is much more tourist-y than Zerubu. Like Zerubu, there are no admission fees but they do ask for a small donation of 200¥ per person to maintain the flowers. The flowers here were still blooming, and we left after a while since the crowd was coming in. 











And then a bird photo-bombed me. The shops here have a wider selection, including some of their local produce and dried items which are much easier to bring back for consumption. They also sold freshly prepared croquettes which I didn't get to try since I was still so full from my breakfast and soft cream. Needless to say, me and my mom were kinda disappointment for not being able to see the flowers, but I guess we'll know when to come next time! 

We did chance upon a hidden gem, which is some random park we saw while driving back to Asahikawa where the flowers were in FULL BLOOM. The whole patch of land there was PINK, and my dad was kind enough to stop to let us enjoy the sight. 




We ended our day with dinner at a crab restaurant near our hotel, where the service was a little slow since there were only 3 people running it, but the food was nothing short of amazing. 

   

6th June

After 2 days of non-stop driving, we decided to walk around and explore the town. After breakfast, we went to Heiwa-dori Shopping street, which comprises of a few streets. The nearest train station is JR Asahikawa, and the shopping street comprises of department stores, drugstores and small businesses run by families. Most of the shops here open after 11 am, and most dining place open for dinner rather than lunch. We stopped by Mister Donut to get some coffee since the shops weren't open yet. 




Sadly, I wasn't able to go to an onsen due to my time of the month. 



 

 



The streets are also nicely decorated with beautiful flowers! It's kind of a trait of Hokkaido IMO, pretty flowers everywhere regardless of the season. 

I've done most of my cosmetic and skincare shopping here but was unable to get some items like false eyelashes and maNara cleansing gel as I believe they are not as popular here. There isn't much variety here in terms of shopping since this place is more of a quiet town than a bustling city. Before heading back to the hotel to drop our shopping, we also purchased quite a number of cakes to share at a small cake shop nearby. 



We ended our last night here with an extremely filling dinner at 天金 which included a huge hairy crab. Back at the hotel, me and my mom attempted to finish 5 slices of cakes where we managed to finish 4 and the last one was saved for breakfast the next day. 

This concludes our 3D3N stay in Asahikawa. If you are interested in viewing farms and relax during your stay in Hokkaido, I would recommend staying 1-2 days here as there really isn't much going on in this town, except food and sight seeing. It is also a convenient city to stop in if you are travelling to other cities such as Biei, Furano and Sapporo. However, do try to find a flight to Asahikawa rather than at Monbetsu like us to save a few hours of travel, and if possible, rent a car as public transport is a little limited in the area.

In the next post, I will be sharing about the 2nd part of the trip in Sapporo and Otaru, do look forward to it!

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