Home >> Japan Travel >> Hokkaido Self-drive with kids (June 2014) Part 4: Sapporo

This post is continued from the following post:

Hokkaido Self-drive with kids (June 2014) Part 3: Otaru

Day 6 continues…

We arrived in Sapporo from Otaru in the afternoon.  It was raining pretty heavily, so we checked into our hotel in the Susukino district and rested while trying to decide what to do next.  Our original plan was to spend the rest of the day walking around the Susukino district, but the heavy rain deterred us from doing so.  In the end, we decided to drive out and park at the underground parking at Odori Park which was connected to Sapporo’s underground shopping arcade.  The parking was expensive, but with kids around, there was no way to be out and about walking in the rain.

We explored the underground shopping arcade and various department stores connected to it, stopping for tea break at Nana’s Green Tea at Parco.  On hindsight, we should have parked our car at Parco and have tea there and receive parking discount.  So a tip to anyone who wishes to drive in Sapporo: park your car at department stores where you intend to shop or dine, most department stores give parking discounts if you spend there.

After our tea break, we continued along the underground shopping arcade until we reached the exit for Tanukikoji.  From the underground shopping arcade, you can take the escalator up to Tanukikoji 4 Chome or Tanukikoji 3 Chome.  We went to Tanukikoji 4 Chome to have dinner at my favourite ramen shop, Barikiya.

After dinner, we explored the rest of Tanukikoji.  At 3 chome,we spent some time shopping at the large duty free shop called donki ho-te (ドン・キホーテ) which sells all sorts of things (snacks, toiletries, toys, luggage cases etc.) and is open 24 hours! It is basically Sapporo’s version of our Mustafa Centre.

After shopping at Donki Ho-te, we decided to call it a day and went back to our hotel to rest.

Day 7: Sapporo (Odori Park, Jyogai Ichiba, Nakajima Koen, Takino Suzuran Hillside Park)

On our second day in Sapporo, we started bright and early with a visit to Odori Park.  In my previous visit, we went to the Eastern end of Odori Park near the TV Tower, so this time, we went to the Western end where the Sapporo City Archive Museum was located.


After a short walk in the park, we drove to Jyogai Ichiba (Sapporo Central Wholesale Market).


We had breakfast at Kita No Gourmet.  Check out their irresistable menu!


The kaisen don here was THE most generous chirashi don I have ever eaten.  There were like 10 types (okay, I didn’t count exactly how many there were) of sashimi overflowing from the giant bowl!


Look, it was bigger than my face!


We also ordered a sashimi platter, chutoro and ootoro (fatty tuna) sashimi.  Look at the colour of the ootoro sashimi!! So white and beautiful!!


My friend’s mum, who doesn’t take raw food, ordered the grilled gindara and it was super delicious too!  We also ordered a hairy crab to try, but it was not very nice.


After our breakfast, we walked around the market to check out the various stalls selling all kinds of seafood and fruits.


Our next destination was Nakajima Koen where the Sapporo Festival was being held.  (See this post for more on the Sapporo Festival.)


After exploring the festival, we drove on to Mitsui Outlet Park.  The rain had cleared and it was bright and sunny for the first time in our trip! We decided it was a waste of such good weather to be stuck indoors, so I dropped my friend and his mum off at the outlet park and drove to Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park to let the kids have some fun.


And boy, did they have fun!! There was so much for the kids to play there! First we went to the dome with a giant net structure very similar to the one at Hakone Open Air Museum which we visited last November.


Just outside the dome was a giant ‘egg’ which was a basically a bouncy structure where kids could bounce around and slide down.


There was a hill next to it where we helped ourselves to one of the giant balls available and rolled them up and down the hill.


The ball was so much bigger than MY!


MF went up and down, up and down… He has unlimited energy!! Hubby and I took turns to go up and down with him, it was quite tiring!


As we walked further into the park, there were more play areas:


There were also some pretty cool slide areas:


We could easily have spent the whole day there, but we only had a few hours because we had to go back to the outlet park to pick up our friend. The kids were super happy, I’m so glad we made the trip there!


We went back to the outlet park to pick up our friend and his mum, and drove to the nearby Snaffles Cafe at Kiyota for tea.


We tried some of their cakes and tarts, but I still like their signature catch cheesecake best.  We were quite sad that they didn’t sell the strawberry shortcake we had at the Hakodate store here.


We were trying to decide where to go next, choosing between Hitsujigaoka Observation Park and Mount Moiwa, when suddenly it started raining heavily.  So both options were out and we decided to just go back to Susukino.

For dinner, we initially wanted to go Kanechan, a popular yakiniku shop located in the same building as Daruma‘s main store (a super famous jingisukan restaurant with a long queue outside) at South 5 West 4 (南5西4).  However, Kanechan was full and couldn’t accomodate us, so we just walked around the block and found another yakinuku restaurant called Kinzan(きんざん), located inside Sanyo Building (サンヨービル).

We ordered some standard beef karubi and ro-su.


We also ordered a serving of a higher grade wagyu beef karubi.  Check out the marbling of the wagyu beef!


And we started grilling! Yummy!! I’m feeling hungry just looking at these photos again.


After our yakiniku dinner, we went to Go Tsubo (五坪) for some oysters (yes, oysters for dessert – only in Hokkaido) before returning to our hotel.  Go Tsubo is my favourite hole-in-wall joint in the Susukino district at South 6 West 4 (南6 西4) selling oysters for 105 yen each (and the owner always gives extra!)


Day 8: Sapporo (Odori Park, Nijo Market, Sapporo Beer Factory, Sapporo Station)

On our third day in Sapporo, we started the day with a visit to Odori Park.  Since it was hubby and friend’s first visit to Sapporo, we went for the standard walking route from Sapporo TV Tower, to Sapporo Clock Tower, to Hokkaido Government Building and back to Odori Park.


A surprise find was a flea market being set up at the open air carpak beside Sapporo Clock Tower.  There were lots of second hand clothes and toys being sold for dirt cheap prices! (We bought some toy cars for the kids for 10 yen each!)


After our walk, we decided to find a place to eat.  Hubby and his friend wanted to visit Nijo Market, but hubby’s friend’s mother did not eat raw food and had enough of visiting markets (and watching the bunch of us eat our sushi and sashimi), so we decided to split.  I dropped hubby and his friend off at Nijo Market where they went to have sushi.


I brought the mum to the famous Ramen Alley in Susukino for some ramen.  We ordered a touristy Sapporo ramen recommended by the shop owner that comes with Sapporo’s famed miso soup base, Hokkaido butter and corn.


After filling our tummies, we went to Sapporo Beer Factory.


After a quick tour of the free museum, there is the mandatory stop to have some freshly brewed Sapporo beer! I recommend getting the taster set of 3 types of beer which comes in a nice stand with descriptions of the beers.


Next, we went shopping at the adjacent shopping centre, ARIO.  It was a great place to bring the kids: they had cute character shopping carts which you could use for free (if you could get your hands on one)!


There was also a free play area for young kids located outside Toys R Us.


There was a train that went around the shopping centre which the kids (and adults) could hop on for a fee. There was also an indoor playground / arcade (chargeable) but we skipped it because MF was sleeping. So if you are looking for a child-friendly shopping centre to visit in Sapporo, do visit ARIO next to Sapporo Beer Factory!

From ARIO, we drove on to Sapporo Station area where we did more shopping and eating.  My favourite place to visit in the Sapporo station area is the food hall at Daimaru’s basement.  There are Kitakaro, Kinotoya, Le Tao and lots of other yummy confectionary shops there.

The Kitakaro shop there sells a dessert limited to the Daimaru store which is basically a cup full of cream with a little bit of sponge cake in the middle. It comes in different flavours and I ordered the original flavour.


The Le Tao store there sold their double fromage cheesecake in slices.  Although they did not have a dining area, I just had to buy a slice and stood around to eat.  I so love their double fromage cheesecake!


It was World Cup season when we were there and they had a special soccer ball cupcake which MF said he wanted to try. Yumz.


There was a Kinotoya cafe at Daimaru, but if it’s their cheese tart you are after, I recommend you head to Kinotoya Bake in Sapporo station (near the East exit gantries).  That store sells nothing but cheese tarts and the aroma of the freshly baked tarts will envelope you while you are queueing for your tarts! I so love Kinotoya’s cheese tarts! It is also sold at Chitose Airport.


After all that snacking, we went for dinner at my favourite Tonkatsu restaurant, Tadumura (たづむら) at Daimaru 8th floor.  (Forgot to take pics this time round, here’s a pic of the restaurant from my previous visit.)

Day 9: Sapporo (Hokkaido Shrine)

On our last day in Sapporo, we went to Hokkaido Shrine in the morning for the Sapporo Festival.  (See this post for more on the Sapporo Festival).


After that, we left Sapporo for our next destination: Furano.

To be continued on the following post…

Hokkaido Self-drive with Kids (June 2014) Part 3 – Furano -> Biei -> Tomamu -> Obihiro -> New Chitose Airport

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the author

Supposed to be a stay-home mom, but hates staying home. Definition of parenting is bringing the boys out for 'experiential learning' in Singapore, Japan and wherever else in the world her husband can afford to pay for.


  1. Kenneth says:

    Dear Bumblebee Mum, first allow me to congratulate you on your superb blog! Well done!

    I have spent many hours reading and re-reading your entries, especially the foodie segment in Hokkaido. I’m so going to Hokkaido next year!

    Just want to say a big Thank You for your wonderfully detailed posts and look forward to more! Thank you!!!!

  2. Regina says:

    Hi BumblebeeMum, very glad to have found your blog on Hokkaido. You have certainly traveled widely. We like to travel round free and easy to Hokkaido but concern about how to get round it to places such as Sapporo, Otaru, Norboribetsu, Hakodate, Furano, Biei ( not sure there is much to see by mid to late Aug.in Furano/Biei ) We are planning to go on 14th -22 23rd Aug. Now A bit hard press to do all the booking hotel and airfare as just found out cannot extend the leave holidays beyond Aug.

    It will be 2 or 3 of us adults travelling ( husb and wife – daughter is firming up her leave )

    Appreciate if you could guide as to where to self drive, and train options.

    The cheapest airfare I could find at the moment is Spore- Bangkok-Chitose return by Thai Airline !

    Much thanks.


    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yes, Thair Airways tickets from SIN to CTS have been the cheapest we have found so far too.

      Back to your questions. There are LOTS to see in Furano / Biei in August. The flower fields bloom all the way through Autumn (October), so August is still a good time. Lavender may be gone, but the rows and rows of colourful flowers are still a sight not to be missed. Here’s a quick list of places you have consider visiting in Furano / Biei:

      Tomita Farm + Tomita Melon House
      Flower Land Kamifurano
      Nakafurano Choei Lavender Park
      Furano Jam Garden + Rokugou Observatory
      Furano Cheese Factory
      Furano Wine Factory
      Campana Rokkatei
      Furano Delice
      Kumagera (my favourite restaurant in Furano)
      Farm Okudaira (for melon buffet)
      Ohashi Cherry Farm

      Biei (Panorama Road)
      – Shikisai No Oka
      – Sanai No Oka + Sanai No Chaya Cafe Curve
      – Shinnei No Oka
      – Farm Restaurant Chiyoda + Chiyoda Farm

      Biei (Patchwork Road)
      – Hokusei No Oka
      – Hill of Zerebu
      – Celebrity Trees

      Biei (Shirogane Onsen)
      – Blue Pond
      Shirohige Waterfall
      Shirogane Fudo Falls
      Mount Tokachi Observatory

      You would need to self-drive for the Furano / Biei area. If you would like to minimize driving, you can take a train to Furano and rent a car from there.

      For cities such as Sapporo, Otaru and Hakodate, you can just use the train. You can use hyperdia to check for train schedules:

      Noboribetsu would require a bus ride from the train station. You may want to book a hotel that provides shuttle service from Noboribetsu station or Sapporo. For e.g. Hotel Mahoroba where we stayed at had shuttle service from Sapporo. > Click here for details. <

      • Regina says:

        Thank you very much for your advice Bumblebeemum, your links are very helpful too for us to plan our trip especially to Furano & Biei area. A lot to see like you have listed. Certainly want to try the cherry farm ……. : )) We plan to drive there from Sapporo.

        Wonder can do Noboribetsu as a day trip just to see the hell valley ?
        Not keen on onsen bath I am afraid ……. : ))

        Much thanks Bumblebeemum : ))


        • bumblebeemum says:

          Noboribetsu can easily be done as a day trip from Sapporo. Or I usually advise readers to use Noboribetsu to break up the travel from Sapporo to Hakodate because it is kind of in-between. But that is usually for self-drive trips because the drive from Sapporo to Hakodate is 4 hours long and Noboribetsu is good place to take a break. If you are using the train and not interested in onsen, I am not sure if hell’s valley is worth the trip because it is not near the train station. For train travel, I recommend spending some time at Onuma Koen instead. It is one stop before Hakodate, and the scenic area is an easy walk from the train station.

          • Regina says:

            Thank you Bumblebeemum for your suggestion. We will skip Norboribetsu & go straight to Hakodate. May stop by Onuma Koen if we are up to it after an overnight flight from Spore via Bangkok. I have finally had all hotels & plane tickets sorted out. Much thanks to you

  3. JJ says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum,

    1. May I knw hw to check in kid stroller at airport? My concern is not sure hw airport staff will handle the stroller as my kid stroller is light weight type.

    2. I tried to plan itinerary but seems I can’t really explore so many places as you in a day. So wondering hw shld i plan so can fully utilised time as ur plan especially Sapporo. I will spend at least 4 nights there.

    3. Kita no gourmet’s free shuttle bus pick up/ send to any hotels in Sapporo? As i m not staying Mercure hotel.

    Thank you very much:)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1. When you’re checking in, just let the staff know you want to bring the stroller up till the point just before boarding the plane. Some airline tag it at the check-in counter, some will tag it as you are entering the boarding gate. But you can push your stroller all the way till just before boarding the airplane, then just fold it up and pass to the cargo staff waiting there. I can’t guarantee they will be very gentle with your stroller though. But in any case, if the stroller is damaged during flight, you can try to get compensation from the airline. It’s the same thing with damaged luggage.

      2. 4 nights is plenty of time in Sapporo. Where are the places you are planning to visit during this time?

      3. Yes, they can pick up / drop off at any hotels in central Sapporo. As long as your hotel is around Sapporo station / Odori Park / Susukino area, it should be fine.

      • JJ says:

        Thanks for ur quick reply.

        My initial plan self drive to Hakodate from Tomamu after visit unkai terrace.

        My return flight to SG will be from New Chitose Airport. Means if i drive to Hakodate, I need to drive back again frm Hakodate to New Chitose.

        Thus, i changed my itinerary plan instead travel long journey to Hakodate, i would stay 4 nights in Sapporo. Places that i’m planning to visit:
        – susukino area, Jr station shopping mall / underground shopping street, Tanukikoji, Takino park, Mitsui Outlet Park, Jyogai Ichiba, Sapporo Beer Factory, Shiroi Koibito, Mt.Moiwa.

        My itinerary set as:
        – New Chitose Airport
        – Sapporo
        – Furano
        – Biei
        – Lake Toya
        – Tomamu Unkai terrace
        – Kutchan
        – Sobetsu

        Is the itinerary okay? With Sapporo 4 nights as I won’t visit Hakodate this time.

        Is Hakodate worth the visit?

        Thank you very much 🙂

        • bumblebeemum says:

          For this itinerary that you have showed me:
          – New Chitose Airport
          – Sapporo
          – Furano
          – Biei
          – Lake Toya
          – Tomamu Unkai terrace
          – Kutchan
          – Sobetsu

          Is it in order? Because the places are jumping around.

          If you have 4 days in Sapporo, you can group the places as follows:

          Day 1) Susukino, Tanukikoji, Underground Shopping Street
          Day 2) Jyogai Ichiba, Sapporo Beer Factory, Sapporo Station
          Day 3) Shiroi Koibito, Mount Moiwa
          Day 4) Takino Suzuran Hillside Park, Mitsui Outlet Park (I suggest you have a car for this day)

          Whether to visit Hakodate or not really depends on how much time you have. As you would have noticed, Hakodate is pretty out of the way and adds many hours of driving to your trip. If you have a lot of time, sure, I love Hakodate for the night view from Mount Hakodate, morning market and Lucky Pierrot. But if you don’t have enough time, then you will have to give it a miss.

          • JJ says:

            Agreed to u 🙂
            Many of my friends commented they like Hakodate. If I were not travel with my kid, I may consider taking train or self drive frm Sapporo to Hakodate. This will be my 1st time to bring my kid to Hokkaido, I’m not sure how well she can adapt as she is kind of hyperactive :p

            My itinerary in order as below:
            – New Chitose Airport (1 night)
            – Sapporo (2 nights)
            – Furano / Biei (1 night)
            – Tomamu unkai
            – Lake Toya
            – Sapporo (4 nights)

            * Self drive ( Furano-Biei-Tomamu-Lake Toya)

            I am not sure will rent a car in Sapporo as most places seems assessible.
            Better to drive to Takinopark and Mitsui outlet park? My concern is only the traffic as I may visit these 2 places during weekend.

            Did you rent a car with Times Car Rental?Toyota or Times better?

            Thank you ? 🙂

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Takino Suzuran Hillside Park is pretty inaccessible by public transport. There is a bus, but generally buses like these are not very frequent. Having a car will give you a lot more flexibility in terms of timing. And really, you need to be very flexible when travelling with kids. They are very good at pulling ‘I need to poo’ stunts just before you have a bus or train to catch. Also, Takino Suzuran Hillside Park is very big with a few parking lots. With a car, you can drive to the various parking lots to visit different parts of the park.

              Another thing is if you check the map, you will notice that Mitsui Outlet Park is actually quite near Takino Suzuran Hillside Park. They are both in the Southern part of Sapporo. So driving between these two places will save you a lot of time, as I’m not sure if there will be direct buses between these two places.

              I rented with Times at Narita Airport for my recent trip and they were pretty good. I never rented from them in Hokkaido before, but a reader told me he rented from them in Hokkaido and they were pretty good. Between Times and Toyota, I would go for whichever is cheaper – which I suspect will be Times.

              • JJ says:

                Really appreciate and impressed by ur quick respond!! U r so kind to share all tips. Travelling with kids kinda challenging

                Thanks for your useful tips 🙂

                Yea, i can totally feel u with kid’s stunts. :p
                From map, these 2 places are quite near around 22 mins by car. I’ll visit Takinopark and Mitsuit outlet during weekend. Pray hard not much crowd

                Meantime, I’m planning to Sobetsu and Kutchan too after Lake Toya.

                I saw ur Lake Toya hotel and Tomamu. Looks like paradise to kids with water & playground facilities. I really hope my kid and hubby will enjoy the trip.

                I’ll follow ur itinerary as quite similar. But will skip Otaru, Hakodate, Niseko and Obihiro this time.

                For car rental child seat or booster which one you would suggest for a 5 yrs old kid?

                Thank you Very much ?

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  Erm, what do you want to do at Kutchan? People usually go there as a means to get to Niseko since Kutchan station is sort of the gateway to Niseko. You’re the first person who told me you want to go to Kutchan and not Niseko. :p

                  Sobetsu can be easily fitted in with Lake Toya since it’s very near.

                  If you do not have a lot of luggage and can afford the space, a child seat is safer and more comfortable for the kid. However if you have a lot of luggage and need the seat space for storing luggage, you may have to use a booster which takes up less space.

                  • JJ says:

                    Oh no?? I thought of viewing 芝桜 in Kutchan. I cm across ur itinerary so thinking to seek a mini version of 芝桜 park as I m planning to travel during beginning of Summer.

                    Takinoue is very far, i gonna give it a miss too.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Oh.. The mini shibazakura.. icic.. Yeah, if you are going in early summer then I guess it makes sense to drop by.. But if I’m going to drive all the way to Kutchan, I would just pop by Niseko Milk Kobo as well. I miss the confectionery at Milk Kobo!

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