At the east of Odori Park is the TV Tower. It is 90 meters high and has a 360 degree of the city and souvenir shops below it. It's one of the hard to miss landmarks of the city. Admission is 700 yen and opens from 930 am to 9 pm.
Furano is known for its lavenders...Even if we were a bit too late because we didn't visit Hokkaido until autumn, we still made it a point to go to Furano and see the endless hills of flowers. Most of these flowers are actually located in Kamifurano so you still need to take a train to Kamifurano from Furano but the ride is relatively shorter. During summer and weekends on Sept and October, they even have a temporary station called Lavender Station which makes it very near Farm Tomita (just 7 minutes walk). We were not disappointed as there are indeed lots of Autumn flowers and they are equally beautiful. It's open from 9am to 430 pm. Admission is free.
Most visitors to the farm arrive from early July to catch the lavender season in summer, when Farm Tomita's lavender field (and the surrounding hillsides) is awash in purple and the scent of lavender is hangs sweetly in the air.
However, besides its lavender blooms, the farm also cultivates a wide range of colourful flowers, from poppies and tulips to sunflowers and marigolds. These start to bloom in mid-April and continue to do so until mid-October, so don't be too disappointed if you miss the burst of lavender - enjoy the other pretty flowers instead!
The farm itself is an interesting place to explore. Other than the requisite gift shops, visitors can also take a look at its dried flower house, which is Japan's largest dried flower exhibition halls. There is also the potpourri house and the perfume workshop, from where visitors can admire the Tokachi Mountain range, and observe how essential oils are blended into perfume. The farm's distillery workshop, is the only lavender essential oil producing workshop in Japan. Those who visit in July or August can take the opportunity to observe how essential oils are extracted from lavender.
If the lavender isn't yet in bloom, one can still enjoy the beatiful flowers inside the farm's green house, where lavender blooms even in winter.
Finally, ice cream lovers should definitely not miss the soft, smooth, fragrant and absolutely delicious lavender ice cream sold at the farm!
Note: If you wish to smoke, you are only allowed to do so at designated areas. Pets are also not allowed inside the farm's facilities.
The Ainu today are the descendants of the original peoples of Honshu & Hokkaido.
The Ainu culture was forced to assimilate
to Japanese culture and as a result much
of their culture has been lost.
Some of the Ainu I met look very different than regular Japanese. I felt as if some of
them resembled American Indians more so than Japanese.
The Ainu village we went to offers a number of different arts & crafts items.
OTARU is a port town on the coast of the sea of JAPAN, located at 30 kms from SAPPORO.
NISHIN GOTEN was the house of a magnate of the herring fishing industry. Originaly build in 1897 in Tomaru village it was relocated to OTARU.
Admission : 1000 yens
Ainu means Human. The Ainu are the indigenous people of Hokkaido, they have their own
culture and language.
This museum recreate an Ainu village on the shore of lak Poroto. There is some Ainu's houses, a botanical garden and a museum.
Traditional Ainu's dances are performed. It's an interesting place for information on Ainu's culture.
Matsumae is the southermost town in HOKKAIDO. This small town played and important role in the trade and warfare with the AINU tribes , and also in the boshin war of 1868/1869.
The castle officially named "FUKUYAMA castle" is the only one in HOKKAIDO and the last Japanese style castle to be built in Japan.
It's was rebuilt in 1959, the original burned in 1949.
price for entrance : 350 yens
...At the time of my visit in 2010, the Sapporo Ice Festival had been going on for 61 years and showed no signs of getting old. In fact, at this festival the Japanese Army (yes, the Army) was in the process of building the tallest sculpture ever to be featured at the festival -- a 26-meter high model of a greman cathedral.
...Since we went to Hokkaido to ski, we actually avoided the official days of the event, as such timing would have had a negative effect on the price of our lodging. However, we were there just days before the opening, so we saw many ice sculptures in their final stages or even completed. And I'm very certain that watching the construction of some of these intricate and/or mammoth edifaces was worth being there early for. Many scultpures were the work of teams of skilled craftsman, and the efforts showed.
...We went to view the sculptures both at night and during the day. However, the lights go out at 9:30 at night during the period before the festival, so you have to get out at a decent hour.
...Lake Shikosu-ko is well-known as Japan's northernmost ice-free lake, which results from its depth. A calderic lake, it's clear blue water makes it look inviting for a swim, even in the middle of winter. Surrounded by mountains, it is clearly a jewel of Hokkaido, though the shore is more built up than one would expect for a National Park.
...In the winter, a little corner of Lake Shikotsu's is converted into an ice village, complete with ice-homes, an ice fort and even an ice cathedral. There are ice slides that children play on and a flat rink for sliding around on. We were really impressed with the size and beauty of the structures as the shimmered in the cold sunshine. I even took my turn sliding down the ice slide with all the children!
Otaru is just half and hour away from Sapporo but you'd feel like you're transported to another far away place. It's a canal town and played an important part in the herring industry. It is attractive and picturesque and it's a favorite afternoon or weekend gateaway of locals and foreigners alike. Just stroll along the different shops, have some yummy sashimi or sushi and finish your meal with a dessert.
Biei is a favorite among artists and nature-lovers. The open fields, often covered by lavender and poppies are so different from the mainland that you'd often wonder if you have left Japan? Some famous sites include the Ken and Mary Trees, the Seven Stars Tree, the Family Tree and some of the famous arts and galleries like Takushinkan. Visit it anytime of the year and stay a day or two and you won't be sorry.
Nijo Fish Market is one of Sapporo's best. Buy a bowl of rice and select your own sashimi toppings, gawk at fresh delicacies or sit down at a shop. Prices are reasonable and seafood are fresh. Fresh Salmon and Salmon Roe over rice is our favorite. Snow crabs are very popular, too! It's open from 7am to 6 pm although individual shops will have different opening and closing times.
Odori Park is is a major city feature. Dividing the city north to south, it is the site of many events throughout the year. But what is nice about it is the greens and flowers that dot the entire park and the benches around it. It's just nice to have a stroll or sit on the benches and do people-watching. If the sun is out, the feeling of sitting here doing nothing is a bliss ;-)
In the Hokkaido's second largest city, sample one of Japan's historic brands of sake at the Otokoyama Sake Brewery & Museum. Inside the building, you can find out more about the history of the company, how sake is made and also view a large woodblock print (ukiyo-e) collection.
With the compound, is a lovely garden to stroll in and have some pictures taken.
Opening hours are 9am to 5pm daily. Entry is free.
This is the original site of the Sapporo Brewery, which was the first brewery established in Japan back in 1876. Visitos can find out how the beer is brewed and also the history of the company. At the end of the tour, visitors can of course sample the variety of beer on the tap, accompanied by cheese and crackers.
Some quirky souvenirs available at the souvenir store include caramel beer candy, postcards featuring geisha ads from way back when, notebooks and all sorts of other nicknacks.
Free tours of the museum are conducted between 9am to 3.40pm.
2-5-2 Chuoku kitagojonishi, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 060-0005, Japan
Good for: Couples
Let's start by saying that this hotel was quite a bit outside our normal budget of about 10,000 a...more
This hotel is located about 30 min. by car from Otaru Station, though there is regular free shuttle...more