6-Day South Hokkaido Itinerary
Above shows a snapshot of Hokkaido on Google Maps and an overview of the route we took. Clearly, there were more places in Hokkaido I would love to visit but due to the brevity of time and accessibility by our JR East-South Hokkaido Pass, we were limited to 5 cities: Hakodate, Lake Toya, Noboribetsu, Sapporo and Otaru.
I first plotted my route according to the attractions we want to visit on Google Maps. When I’m done with the final bookmarking, I export it to a phone app, Maps.me, through this method, which allows me to transfer all my bookmarks into the app and use it offline on the go!
With chasing sakuras and excellent Japanese cuisines in mind, we set off to places that offered the best of these!
Day 5-6: Sapporo
SHOP: Sapporo Station
This station is the central hub of shopping paradise. It is a conglomerate of different malls put together – Esta, Paseo, Daimaru, Stellar Place and Apia. Be prepared to get lost in the myriad of shops both underground and in the various shopping malls!
SAKURA: Hokkaido University
Walking about 10 minutes from JR Sapporo Station, there is a spot where you can leisurely view cherry blossoms away from the tall buildings in the midst of the city. In front of the department of medicine, there is a row of about 30 cherry blossom trees.
Sapporo TV Tower
The tallest standing tower in this city, there’s no mistaking it. Come night, the tower lights up in an orange glow, which reminded me of a watered down version of the great Eiffel tower in Paris.
Odori Park (Location)
Located right smack in the middle of Sapporo, locals and tourists alike head to Odori Park for a picnic, or simply for a short walk along this stretch of garden space. Much like most of the locals here, we sat at the park, overlooking the Sapporo TV Tower, sipped on Japanese green tea and nibbled on Hokkaido’s famous Kinotoya Bake cheese tart.
Soseigawa Park (Location)
The park is the highlight of the area. Other than that, it’s a quiet side of Sapporo that you can visit if you want to get away from the tourist crowd.
SHOP: Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade (Location)
As its name suggests, Tanukikoji not only offers both shopping and arcade games, there are plenty of restaurants for you to choose from. Tanukikoji stretches over 1km and is sheltered to protect visitors from the rain or the blistering sun. With over 200 shops along this street, I emerged with overflowing bags of Japanese snacks, such as their specialty Kit Kats!
SAKURA: Nakajima Park 中島公園 (Location)
Directions: From the Subway Namboku line Sapporo Station, take the train in the direction of Makomanai for 5 minutes, alight at Nakajima Park Station, and it will be just outside Exit 1 or 3.
SAKURA: Maruyama Park 円山公園 (Location)
Come May, Maruyama Park is one of the best places people flock to to view cherry blossoms in Sapporo. In June, it is known for the Hokkaido Shrine Festival. The park covers the Maruyama Wild Forest, a designated natural treasure, as well as numerous sports facilities such as a public field, baseball stadium, and baseball diamond. The Hokkaido Shrine and Maruyama Zoo can also be found at the park.
We did not expect throngs of locals to visit this park to hold a picnic, and they take picnic seriously. By picnic, it means lugging portable barbecue grills and foldable chairs, on top of stacks of BBQ food to grill. The whole section of the park was literally engulfed in smoke because of the numerous BBQ stands being set up.
We did the same, taking away our pre-packed food from the supermarket to the park to slowly fill our tummies under falling cherry blossoms.
There is another section at the park which features different species of cherry blossoms, in different shades of white and pink. We had a whale of a time snapping away at the pretty blossoms – it’s exactly what we came here for!
You can also find the grand Hokkaido Shrine within this park. If you’re lucky, you can catch a wedding procession being carried out, and check out the traditional wedding costume on the pretty bride!
Getting there: From the Subway Tozai Line Odori Station, take the train towards Miyanosawa for 5 minutes, and alight at Maruyama Park. Take Exit 2, and walk for about 5 minutes.
Mount Moiwa (Location)
If you want to take a step out of the city life, Mount Moiwa is a popular destination.
To get to the summit, hop on the Mount Moiwa Ropeway, which transports you from the base of the mountain to three quarters up. From there, a mini cablecar completes your journey to the upper station at the summit. Get a spectacular view of Sapporo city, Ishikari Bay in the Sea of Japan and Shokanbetsu Peak from its observation deck at the summit, especially at sunset. The station also houses a restaurant, planetarium and theater.
Getting there: From Susukino, take Sapporo's only streetcar line to "Ropeway Iriguchi" station (25 minutes, ¥170, frequent departures). From there, take the free shuttle bus to the lower ropeway station (5 minutes, departs every 15 minutes). OR From the Ropeway Iriguchi streetcar stop, take a 5 minute walk to Mount Moiwa Ropeway. Operating hours: 10:30 to 22:00 Fares: Round trip for ropeway and mini cable car: ¥1,700 Round trip for ropeway only: ¥1,100 Round trip for mini cable car only: ¥600
Take a plant factory tour around the brewery, which features video presentations about Asahi Breweries, exhibits of different beer ingredients and a tour of the production process. Finish off with a tasting of the Asahi Super Dry beer.
Make a reservation before you arrive to avoid disappointment! Unfortunately we did not and made an empty trip. Mental note to do a more thorough travel research!
Tour operating hours: 09:30 - 15:00
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