Our gracious host, Honda Family and Ate Richelle's family, after taking us to the Asahiyama zoo and to the Sounkyo Ice Festival, brought us to take a bath at the Japanese "Onsen" (hot spring baths).
I asked if I can wear my underwear while bathing, the answer was "NO". I had to be in nothing but my birthday suit. WAAAAAAHHH!
But what the heck, I am itching for a hot bath already, so go to Onsen we did... And besides, the public bath was separated to male and female baths, so it should be ok...
So, Cel and I entered the changing/shower room, and indeed, every woman inside was naked. And they didn't care. And I was embarrassed! :-(
After getting used to the naked women, Cel and I went to change and I had a towel wrapped around me when I entered the shower room. PPRRRRRRTTT! No big towels allowed in the shower room! So went back and left my towel in the changing room. So I took my shower beside a naked Cel and another naked Filipina friend with her 2 naked daughters along with the other naked Japanese women. :-(
Then we went to dip in the indoor Onsen, and I lost all modesty from then on. The water was soooooooooooo warm and soothing (what with all those earlier walking in the zoo and ice festival!)! Then we transferred to the nearby indoor Onsen, and finally, we went out to try dipping in the outdoor Onsen (the Onsen has snow scattered around it). By this time I was feeling dizzy already. I was told that it was a normal reaction for first timers, there were instances that some even faint due to overdipping to Onsens.
It was a great experience all in all. :-) Just don't dip too long in the hot springs.
- Family Travel
Our host family brought us to this wonderful zoo and we had our first real view of penguins, polar bears, white fox and pandas (not the white China panda though, but the brown panda which I think is a Japan local animal).
Being exposed to an open air zoo under negative 16 degrees finally hit a toll on my poor feet. They got numbed and I had to sit down and heat them up by removing my layered socks and massaging them for a bit. Emily gave me something like a heat pack pad / chemical warmer, where I rub them and inserted them in my boots and it worked. I almost got the entire family worried and they kept asking me "Daijoubou, daijoubou?" Was so touched. :-). Lesson learned: be sure to bring along those small heat packs (I think it is only being sold in Japan, it's like a disposable hand/body warmer). Works wonders for 24 hours.
Prior entering the zoo, we went on a banana ride first. We're on this banana-shaped ride then a jetski will pull us along over the snow. I even thought the cute Japanese guy on the jetski will make a sharp turn and drop us out of the banana ride (just like the banana boat ride in Boracay beach) heehee. Thankfully he didn't.
Address: Higashi Asahikawacho Kuranuma, Asahikawa, Hokkaido
We were fortunate to be able to experience an Ice Festival (February was the month for these ice festivals, thankfully they opened early).
The place features lots of igloos where there are carved animal statues in each one. Then there was this ice castle with lots of lighting effects.
- Family Travel
Okay, this event is supposed to let visitors experience a ferry ride on the sea full of small formed icebergs, where the ferry was supposed to slice through those small ice packs. Apparently the schedule was too early for ice packs to form (they say February is the best month), so we ended up just having a cold ferry ride on a regular ocean with views of white mountains and real up close encounters with seagulls. Can't complain though. All Hokkaido experience for me were novelties. How I wish we could've stayed longer to see auroras... :-)
- Family Travel
If you come to Hokkaido in early to mid May, you may get the chance to see these beautiful dark pink cherry blossoms which are native to the northern island. But timing is of the essence, since all kinds of sakura (cherry blossoms) appear and then fade within one week or so.
Address: Anywhere in Hokkaido
- Budget Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons