Summer in Japan: Sapporo and Otaru

by - 19:47

Finally got around to write up the second part of my trip to Japan! Despite having my holidays right now, work and pre-course quizzes have definitely taken up a huge part of my time. Not to mention it was Jerry's 21st birthday a few weeks ago, I had been preparing all his presents and spending the day with him. We started off with a lunch at The Sushi Bar (one of our go-to places) with some friends and ended with dinner at Dallas Steakhouse. Needless to say, the boy was very happy with the food choices and his gifts. 

Now back to the main topic, the second part of the trip, Sapporo!

7th June



We woke up pretty early that day since we were driving from Asahikawa to Sapporo. My father didn't want to have breakfast at the hotel since we were getting tired of it, we decided to have gyudon at a shop nearby our hotel at the shopping street. It was pretty good but I still prefer good ol' Yoshinoya (only in Japan). The one in the picture is my mom's mini size and it's so cute! Just the right amount for those who have a small stomach in the morning. 

On the way to Sapporo, we stopped by an Aeon where we had conveyor belt sushi for lunch and went shopping for a bit before we head back on the road. 

We reached the city in the evening and checked into Sapporo Grand Hotel, and out of all the hotels I stayed in this has got to be the one with the largest room. There's more than enough space to walk even with 2 luggage on the floor and there's also a couch! But the price is definitely on the higher side since it is also in the central area of the city. 

After refreshing ourselves we walked to Daimaru to visit the Pokemon Centre there. It's much smaller than the one I've been to in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, but it will do for now. There wasn't much to buy as the items I wanted were no longer on sale, but I managed to grab some stuff for Jerry and my friends as souvenirs. We also went hunting for a watch that my younger brother wanted, but to no avail and went to have dinner at a sukiyaki place before heading back to the hotel. 



This is definitely on the expensive side but it's SO GOOD. Look at the marbling of the meat! Also, it began to rain when we were walking back to the hotel. 

8th June

I have been looking forward to this day since we were going to visit Otaru, a city that is a 30 minutes drive from Sapporo. My colleague recommended this place to me and it did not disappoint. The first place we went to in Otaru is Sankaku Market, and we went there pretty early since we were very kiasu and were afraid that the 'special' items will sell out quickly. We reached there at 6-7am and only one shop was opened LOL. 








We had breakfast at one of the shops that were open and it was the most amazing seafood I ever had. The uni was so sweet and fresh, nothing could beat it. I think I just ruined uni for myself. It was cheap but it was definitely worth it. I will do a more detailed post regarding this place, but we came back here for lunch too!.

We went to walk around the place after our meal and the whole place is dead since none of the shops open until 10 and it was 8-9am. We settled down at Mister Donut for awhile, and I found my favourite doughnut. After that, we walked around to area and headed towards Otaru Canal to see what can we find there. 


Wasn't kidding about the place being dead








The canal is GORGEOUS even though it's summer time. I believe winter time is one of the best times to be here as the canal is frozen and there's a romantic vibe going on. It's a beautiful place to take some nice pictures and be sure to go there early if it's on your itinerary as a huge group of tourist came at around 10 am. There are also quite a number of young men providing rickshaw rides around the place (mostly dressed in tight shorts, it's quite a view). We went back to Sankaku market for lunch when we were hungry after browsing all the shops that were open at Otaru Canal, and we had a light lunch since I wanted to have cheesecake at LeTao.




The cheesecake was pretty good, but I don't think it's worth the price. It's dense American-style cheesecake at the bottom with the fluffier version on the top and topped off with some whipped cream and cake crumbs. We had some other pastries too, including the one that is only available at the shop we went, but the cheesecake wins all of them. 

Of course, me being the glutton I am, I went to get the three layer ice cream I saw floating around the internet after our cheesecake tea break. We did walk around to digest a bit before I bought the ice cream. Initially, I wanted to get the seven layer one but my stomach said no, so I compromised. 


The original had melon as the last layer, but I asked if I can swap it out and the lady kindly made the changes for me! From top to bottom the flavours are lavender, milk and matcha. There was a long queue but it moves quite fast, the ice cream was 300++ ¥ (couldn't remember) and it melts quite fast due to the weather so snap your pictures quickly! This shop is located by the Kitaichi Glass House in a tent together with a few other stalls. 

We also purchased most of our food souvenirs and drove back to Sapporo for dinner, where we had one of the best unagi kabayaki I had in all my trips to Japan. 


Same as Sankaku Market, I'll do up another post regarding this restaurant, so I'll leave this picture here first. Look forward to it! 

9th June

Our last day in Sapporo and although we have yet to explore Sapporo properly, we decided to go back to Otaru for lunch at Sankaku. Yes, we went back there AGAIN. 

It was the first day that we had breakfast at the hotel since it wasn't open when we left for Otaru the previous day. We had the choice between two restaurants, and we picked the one with the grilled Japanese breakfast. The spread was pretty good, I enjoyed that fact that there was mentaiko for me to mix into my rice and there were eggs. 


How I wish all my breakfast were like this

We had a huge (4kg) crab for lunch and I do not wish to have crab for another six months at least. I hit my crab quota for the year. 


While walking around yesterday, I found out that there was a Lawson that sold the Hi-chew ice cream so I went to get it after lunch. 





Okay, this ice cream wins all the other ice creams simply because CHILDHOOD. It tastes just like the candy itself, and its CHEWY in the centre. It's only 140¥, how do you beat this?

Just like the previous day, we roamed around the place before heading back for dinner. Otaru is a pretty popular tourist spot as the place was crowded on a weekday with tonnes of tour groups from Taiwan and China, and even the locals themselves. Despite being labelled as a tourist destination, it still retains its country like feeling that makes the place unique, the opposite of a fast paced city. Fresh seafood, a huge variety of food, beautiful scenery and not to mention affordable prices, looks like I'm coming back here one day!

Initially, we wanted to spend our late afternoon at Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park in Sapporo before going for dinner, but when we reached it was already closing. There was the flower exhibit that we really wanted to go but that area was already closed. Based on the map we saw, the park is HUGE so if you have a chance do check the place out! Although we didn't manage to visit the park, we drove some monuments so we stopped to snap some pictures. 




We ended our last night here with the best Teppanyaki, with one of the most entertaining chefs with excellent service. He tried his best to communicate with us and even joked with us despite our language barrier since he spoke very little English. 







This place is called Steak House CARN Annex and they have both set and ala carte menu. We got four sets, two steaks and two seafood which we shared. The sets came with a caesar salad with parmesan crisps that they make right in front of you, vegetables as your sides, condiments to pair your beef with and dessert, where I choose pineapple. Their steaks are definitely the star of the show, where we had the A5 wagyu tenderloin with perfect marbling and it easily makes it way to the top 5 steaks I had in my short life span. I didn't take many pictures as the lighting was really bad and I just gave up, but I also wanted to just enjoy the show and meal in front of me. Once we were done with the sets, the males weren't full so they ordered another portion of seafood and sirloin steak to share, which is fattier than the tenderloin we had. It was a fantastic meal and the chef was nice enough to take a picture with us and thanked us loudly when we left. 

The quality of the food is superb with all the ingredients sourced locally, worth every penny you pay. The bill is a shocker though, the second most expensive meal that we had on our trip. I would recommend this place if you are a meat lover who is willing to splurge on a good meal in Sapporo with a side of entertainment. Go for the steaks rather than the seafood and you will not be disappointed! 

Address: 

Sapporo Tokyu REI hotel restaurant plaza Sapporo B1, Minami 4 Jo Nishi 5-1, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 064-0804

We headed to the Tanukikoji Shopping Street after to walk off our dinner, where we also had the best soft cream I had in Japan by Cremia. 


The shopping street covers a number of streets, where each section is separated by the intersecting roads and traffic lights. The whole street is filled with restaurants, drugstores, arcades, clothes, shoes and more! I would prefer to spend more time here but it was late, so after close to an hour we left for the hotel to rest before heading to Tokyo the next day.

I felt that 3D3N here was a little short since we spent most of our time in Otaru and only explored the central area of Sapporo, which does not represent the entire city. Overall, the vibe I get from Sapporo is very similar to Osaka where the pace of the city is not too fast yet not too slow. The crowds are smaller which makes it easier to walk around without having to rush. I would say rather than driving to Otaru for a visit, it would be better to spend a few nights there followed by a few nights in Sapporo if you're keen to visit both places. 

As for transportation, there is no need to rent a car in Sapporo as the subway is more than enough to get around the area. But as for Otaru, getting a car would be much easier as there are only a few train stations and buses for transport. Having a car would make your shopping much easier too!

My first trip to Hokkaido is nothing short of wonderful, being able to have a whole new experience to a country that I've visited a few times. Although the planning and itinerary were not perfect, it has become one of my favourite cities to visit. I don't know when, but I know that I will visit Hokkaido again. Till the next time!

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