Home >> Itineraries,Japan Travel >> Hokkaido with Kids (December 2014) Part 1: Sapporo (White Illumination and German Christmas Market, Jyogai Ichiba, Mitsui Outlet Park Kitahiroshima)

Before I begin, let me stress that this was not our family’s first time to Sapporo.  So if you are visiting Hokkaido for the first time, you may not exactly want to follow what we did here, because rather than going around to visit conventional tourist destinations, we kind of just hung around shopping, eating and chilling for the first 3 days of our trip. :p

On the first day, we arrived at New Chitose Airport in the morning and went to check in early to our hotel, Mercure Hotel Sapporo, to wash up and rest. We had booked an extra night starting from the day before we arrived, so we could check in early in the morning.  We spent the rest of the day just shopping around Susukino area.  One thing I learnt from our Australia trip was to not plan anything major on the first day after an overnight flight with kids, because everyone would be tired and cranky.

On the second day, we spent the whole morning at Dino’s, an entertainment complex very near the hotel.  We first stopped by Nakau, a Japanese fast food outlet (by fast food in Japan, we mean beef rice, udon etc, NOT burger and fries) for breakfast.

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Yummy breakfast from Nakau. I loved the gyu don here because it had harusame inside!

 

Feeling full and energetic, we went for unlimited bowling at Dino’s.  The bowling here was great for kids: They had kids ball so light that MY (who was not even 2 yo yet) had no problem carrying, kids bowling shoes that were so super tiny that I think any toddler who was able to walk would be able to find shoes of the right size here, ball slopes for easy peasy ‘bowling’ and bumper lanes to prevent the balls from falling into the drain.

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kawaii kids bowling ball

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Ball slope and bumper lanes

 

Both kids had a lot of fun bowling using the ball slope.

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The staff brought over bowling shoes for the kids, and also free snacks!

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Tiny bowling shoes for tiny feet!

 

There were some silly hats you could wear to liven up the bowling experience.

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Oh silly hat, oh silly hat.

 

We bowled from 10.30am until almost 2pm and went for lunch before going back to the hotel to rest.    In the evening, we headed to Odori Park for the White Illumination and German Christmas Market.

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Christmas lightings around Susukino area.

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Arriving at Odori Park.

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Sapporo White Illumination.

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We spotted Santa Claus!

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Checking out the German Christmas Market

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I loved the little trinkets being sold at the Christmas Market.

 

We headed back to Susukino where we had dinner at a yakiniku restaurant, Kanechan. I was pretty disappointed with the meal – the servings were small and expensive.  Hubby and I agreed that the yakiniku restaurant we visited in June was better (read about it in this post).

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On the third day, we started the morning with a visit to Jyogai Ichiba (also known as Sapporo Central Wholesale Market / Curb Market).  Since we weren’t driving, we took the FREE shuttle bus provided by Kita No Gourmet to get there.  The travel desk at the hotel made the reservation for us and the bus picked us up from the hotel – very convenient!

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Schedule for the free shuttle service to Jyogai Ichiba provided by Kita No Gourmet.

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Kids getting comfy in the shuttle bus

 

We had our breakfast (and by breakfast we mean sashimi platter and chirashi don, NOT bacon and eggs) once we reached there.

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After eating, we shopped around the rest of the market before taking Kita No Gourmet’s shuttle service back.  We had a choice to drop off back at our hotel or at Sapporo station. We decided to go to Sapporo station where we shopped around for a bit, before catching a bus to Mitsui Outlet Park Kitahiroshima.

The easiest way to get to Mitsui Outlet Park from Sapporo / Susukino area was the take the direct bus.  From Sapporo Station, look for the bus-stop outside Tokyu Department store.

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The bus then made stops at every block South of Sapporo station until Minami 4 (which is where Mercure Hotel is), so you can board at a nearer bus stop if you are at Odori Park or Susukino.  The map below shows where the bus stops are:

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(Above image taken from Mitsui Outlet Park’s official website. Also refer to their website for the bus timetable.)

 

We spent the afternoon shopping at Mitsui Outlet Park.  The kids spent quite a bit of time at the free play area inside the Lego shop:

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The Lego shop at Mitsui Outlet Park Kitahiroshima has a free Duplo and Lego play areas for kids!

 

And we had dinner at the food court which was a great place to dine with kids!

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Play area and family dining area at the food court of Mitsui Outlet Park Kitahiroshima

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Young kids can sit and dine comfortable here because of the low table and chairs!

 

We missed the last direct bus back to Susukino (which was at 5pm on a weekday / 6pm on weekends) and had to use the long (and more expensive) way to get back: Taking the bus to Fukuzumi station, followed by subway to Hosui-Susukino station.

The next morning, we picked up our rental car in the morning, checked out of the hotel and started our drive to Asahikawa.


 

As I mentioned, this was not our first trip to Sapporo and hence we skipped the more common tourist destinations in Sapporo.  But here are some other places in Sapporo that are worth visiting:

Shiroi Koibito Park

Shiroi Koibito Park, also known as Ishiya Chocolate Factory - who can resist a chocolate factory?

Shiroi Koibito Park, also known as Ishiya Chocolate Factory – who can resist a chocolate factory?

Shiroi Koibito Park is beautiful in winter!

Shiroi Koibito Park is beautiful in winter!

Enter the chocolate corridor!

Enter the chocolate corridor!

Witness how the famous Shiroi Koibito cookie is made.

Witness how the famous Shiroi Koibito cookie is made.

Dine at the cafe with a beautiful view.

Dine at the cafe with a beautiful view.

Little snow huts for kids to play at.

Little snow huts for kids to play at.

Stay till evening time for the Christmas lightings.

Stay till evening time for the Christmas lightings.

 

Mount Moiwa

View from the ropeway

View from the ropeway

Bird's eye view of Sapporo city covered with snow.

Get a bird’s eye view of Sapporo city covered with snow.

 

Sapporo Beer Factory

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Sapporo Beer Factory in winter

The beer museum is free to enter.

Best place to grab some freshly brewed Sapporo beer.

ARIO shopping complex next to Sapporo Beer Factory is a great place to visit with kids!

 

Sapporo Factory

Do not confused Sapporo Beer Factory with Sapporo Factory - they are different places!

Do not confuse Sapporo Beer Factory with Sapporo Factory – they are different places!

Sapporo Factory is actually a shopping complex.

Sapporo Factory houses a beautiful shopping complex.

 


Click on the links below for other posts from this trip:

Summarized itinerary for 17-day trip
Part 1: Sapporo
Part 2: Asahikawa, Akan National Park
Part 3: Kushiro, Obihiro, Tomamu
Part 4: Niseko, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya, Rusutsu
Part 5: Otaru, New Chitose Airport

More posts of my trips to Hokkaido with the kids:

Hokkaido in Autumn (October 2013)
Part 1: Flight, Hotel Mercure Sapporo, Toyota Rent-A-Car Sapporo
Part 2: Itinerary (with telephone numbers and GPS Map Codes)

Hokkaido in Summer (June 2014)
Part 1: Chitose, Lake Toya, Hakodate, Niseko, Otaru
Part 2: Sapporo
Part 3: Furano, Biei, Tomamu, Obihiro, New Chitose Airport


This post is archived under my Japan Travel Blog:
japan-travelogue


 

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23Comments

  1. […] itinerary for 17-day trip Part 1: Sapporo Part 2: Asahikawa, Akan National Park Part 3: Kushiro, Obihiro, Tomamu Part 4: Niseko, Noboribetsu, […]

  2. […] ← Hokkaido with Kids (December 2014) Part 1: Sapporo (White Illumination and German Christmas M… Hokkaido with Kids (December 2014) Part 3: Kushiro, Obihiro, Tomamu → […]

  3. […] itinerary for 17-day trip Part 1: Sapporo Part 2: Asahikawa, Akan National Park Part 3: Kushiro, Obihiro, Tomamu Part 4: Niseko, Noboribetsu, […]

  4. […] Mitsui Outlet Park Sapporo If you are headed to this outlet park for a whole day of shopping galore, there is a play areas there right smack in the middle of the food court.  So you know you are saved when the kids get cranky from following you around on your shopping.  They also have stroller rental service and nursing rooms… Awesome.  Click here to read about my visit to Mitsui Outlet Park in December 2014! […]

  5. Christine Lau says:

    hi your blog is so useful . Thank you for doing it . We have a 4.5 years old daughter and a 2 year old son. We are about to go to Hokkaido for 2 weeks for the first time . We have booked to stay in Mercure Hotel in Sapporo as well. Im just bit worried about the bus trip from airport to the hotel because my son is very active and fidgety . How am I going to keep him entertained for the whole trip for more than 2 hours? How was your experience with your 2 boys? Or I properly should take the express train , so he can walk around safely at least .
    I would like to ask you that we plan to hire a car from Sapporo and drive to Furano area for the flower field and stay in the local Japanese ppl house for one night. Next day I have booked Tomamu resort for 2 nights .Is it possible to return the car after we arrive in Tomamu?
    Thank you very much for your time .

    • bumblebeemum says:

      For Susukino, the best way to get there is by bus. The bus ride from New Chitose Airport to Susukino is only 1 hour. Train is not advisable because you will still need to transfer to subway which is a real hassle with kids and luggage involved. If my boys get super fidgety, I resort to the iPad. But it must be switched to silent mode.

      Regarding returning the car at Tomamu, you can probably do that but there will be drop-off fees. Toyota Rent A Car has a outlet at Tomamu:
      http://www2.tocoo.jp/en/office/detail?office_id=2621

      So it is possible to rent a car from Toyota at Sapporo and return it to Toyota at Tomamu. After that, you will need to take the resort shuttle bus from Tomamu station to the hotel.

  6. Connie says:

    Hi! I’ve been reading & enjoying your posts on Hokkaido and really appreciate all your kind sharing about your experiences there.

    May I seek your advice on which days should I spend at Furano & Hakodate as I plan to spend 2 nights each at these 2 towns. Which town is better for the weekend pls? Thanks so much for your kind help.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I would expect Furano hotels to be pricier over weekends and Hakodate to be more or less the same weekday or weekend. So I would put Hakodate on the weekend. You can just do a quick search on booking site for hotel prices for your specific dates and see which combination turns out to be cheaper.

  7. Nic says:

    Hi Bumblebee Mum
    Loves reading your blog on all the kids stuff! And envy all your Japan trips. Finally, decided to bring my kids (3yrs and 7yrs) to Hokkaido from 15-24 Dec. This is our first trip to Japan/Hokkaido and hubby is not confidence to drive during winter, hence not intending to drive.
    Would like the kids to have their first experience with snow slides, tubing etc. Skiing might be too difficult hence might give it a miss if not enough time. Understand from your blog that Tomamu is a good choice for snow activities so planning to bring them there.
    Will only reach Chitose airport ard 5pm on 15 Dec so planning to stay a night at Airport Terminal Hotel, but I can’t seem to find any booking available on 15 Dec, are they fully booked or not open for booking yet? If fully booked, do u any other suggestion?
    Planning to Visit Sapporo, Tomamu, Lake Toya, Otaru and hope to visit some onsens too. Any recommendation on onsens? But because I have Psoriasis, not sure if I can enter the Public bath (even though it is not contagious but I’m worried that people might be afraid), if not, can you recommend some accommodations with private onsen?
    Trying to place Tomamu as last destination of our trip, can you help me see if this is possible? Hope you can advise me should I go Lake Toya first or visit onsen first after visiting Sapporo. Two nights at Tomamu, isit sufficient?
    15 Dec – Stay at Airport Hotel
    16 Dec – Stay at Sapporo (Shirei Icoibito, mount moiwa, beer factory and saporro factory)
    17 Dec – Stay at Sapporo (any recommendation on accommodation?)
    18 Dec
    19 Dec
    20 Dec
    21 Dec – Stay at Tomamu Resort (Ice village, Reindeer sled, snow play)
    22 Dec – Stay at Tomamu Resort (From Tomamu to Otaru, can we travel by train?)
    23 Dec – Stay 1night at Hotel Vibrant Otaru (Otaru canal, Sakaimachi, Kitakaro main store)
    24 Dec – Our flight depart Chitose at 730pm, planning to spend the day at the airport. From Otaru to Chitose, how long is the journey? Is there any direct train or bus?
    Thanks in advance!! Sorry for the long post.
    Ps: I am worried about the luggage, stroller and moving around with two active kids… Btw, the train station, are they stroller friendly? Lifts available?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      For 15 Dec, Air Terminal Hotel may not be open for booking yet. You can check again later. But looking at your itinerary, you can consider staying in Sapporo from the first night.

      The resort in the area I know of with private onsen is Lake View Nonokaze at Lake Toya:
      http://nonokaze-resort.com/

      Another popular onsen in the region is Noboribetsu. You can book a room with onsen at Hotel Mahoroba:
      http://www.h-mahoroba.jp/

      I usually drive in Hokkaido, not sure how stroller friendly the train stations are in general. I know that Tomamu station doesn’t have lifts. I would use direct buses where possible.

      Lake View Nonokaze and Hotel Mahoroba I mentioned above provide free shuttle service to and fro Sapporo:
      http://en.nonokaze-resort.com/access
      http://tohoresort.com/access/mahoroba_Change_bus_en.html

      Tomamu has a direct bus to and fro Sapporo / CTS, but you need to pay for it. The bus info for winter is not out yet, you can check their website for it later. I would put Tomamu Resort at the end of the trip and just take the bus from Tomamu Resort back to CTS without returning to Sapporo.

      If you are not driving, I suggest you minimise the change of hotels. So for Otaru, do it as a day trip from Sapporo instead.

      15 Dec – Sapporo
      16 Dec – Sapporo
      17 Dec – Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
      18 Dec – Sapporo – Lake Toya (shuttle bus)
      19 Dec – Lake Toya – Noboribetsu
      20 Dec – Noboribetsu – Sapporo (shuttle bus)
      21 Dec – Sapporo
      22 Dec – Sapporo – Tomamu (direct bus)
      23 Dec – Tomamu
      24 Dec – Tomamu – CTS (direct bus)

      Lake Toya and Noboribetsu are very easy to get between each other by rental car, but it is quite a hassle by public transport. Let’s say you want to get from Lake Toya to Noboribetsu. You need to bus/cab to Toya station, take train from Toya to Noboribetsu, then bus/cab to Noboribetsu onsen.

      • Nic says:

        Thanks for the suggestions!! If I were to skip noboribetsu, any other suggestion? Kushiro is it along the way? Is there any train or bus from Kushiro to tomamu straight or I have to go back to Sapporo to go to tomamu? The shuttle bus from Sapporo to lake toya, may I have the website? And the direct bus to tomamu, is it from tomamu website? Thanks!!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Kushiro is further East. And you’ll need to drive if you want to go and see the cranes. There is a straight train from Tomamu to Kushiro, but I would only recommend going to Kushiro if you are willing to drive around Akan National Park.

          The shuttle bus from Sapporo to Lake Toya is operated by the resort for their guest. If you stay at Lake View Nonokaze, their bus info is here:
          http://en.nonokaze-resort.com/access

          The other resort I like to stay at, Toya Sunpalace, also mentions that they have courtesy shuttle from Sapporo on their website:
          http://karakami-kankou.jp/en/sp/

          The direct bus to Tomamu, you can find it on their website when their winter season information is out. Currently they are running summer season info. But yes, you can book the bus on their website when their winter booking is open.

          • Nic says:

            Hi Bumblebee mum

            Thanks for the advice! Will keep a lookout for the information. Thank you for your time :)

  8. Dave says:

    Hihi…you must be “bore” that some one is again asking you on advice to Hokkaido😂…

    I plan the following but no driving
    ..
    17th Dec Sapporo
    Odori park
    18th Dec Sapporo
    Kita No Gourmet (wholesale market)
    Shiroi park
    Sapporo factory
    Dino
    19th Dec Asahikawa
    Zoo
    20th Kushiro
    21&22 Rusutsu
    23 Hakodate & lake Toya
    24th otaru
    25th Sapporo

    So need your expertise whether should I cut down on the places and which is cheaper: to travel around in train vs booking private transportation (daily 70kyen😭😭😭)

    Thanks

    Regards Dave

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I am curious how you inserted emoticons into the comments. Never knew my own blog could do that. Hah.

      20th: Are you planning to visit Kushiro as a day trip? I don’t think it’s feasible. Kushiro is quite far from Sapporo.

      23rd: It is not possible to do Lake Toya and Hakodate in a day

      Most of the places you mentioned are quite easy to access by train or bus, except Lake Toya. You probably won’t have time for Kushiro.

      What I would suggest is this:

      17th Dec Sapporo
      18th Dec Sapporo
      19th Dec Sapporo (Day trip to Asahiyama Zoo by train + bus)
      20th Dec Sapporo – Rusutsu (use the resort shuttle bus)
      21st Dec Rusutsu
      22nd Dec Rusutsu – Sapporo (resort shuttle bus)
      23rd Dec Sapporo (day trip to Otary by train)
      24th Dec Sapporo – Hakodate (train)
      25th Dec Hakodate – CTS (train)

      I am not sure if the Hokkaido Rail Pass (flexi 4-day pass) will be cheaper than buying individual train tickets if you use it for 19th, 23rd, 24th and 25th. You can use hyperdia to check the train ticket price, add it up and compare to the price of the Hokkaido Rail Pass.

  9. Pat says:

    I am planning on hokkaido in 3rd week of november. I am wondering if it would be dangerous to drive there since it will be winter then. I have driven in Australia many times but not sure of the weather condition in hokkaido. please advise. thanks.

  10. Esther says:

    Hi Bumblebee Mum, I am planning a trip to Hokkaido in March and have already booked a 6d5n trip to Club Med Sahoro, but prior to that I hope to travel around Sapporo before heading to Sahoro (Club Med provides transfers from New Chitose airport, Shintoku train station) I will be Travelling with my husband and 2 kids and we do not plan to drive. Can you see if my plan is feasible and how to minimise Travelling with luggage and kids. I plan to stay in one hotel (likely Grand Mercure) throughout the trip.

    Day 1 overnight flight to new Chitose
    Day 2 stay at airport hotel (anyway to book airport terminal hotel, they seem to tell me no rooms avail)
    Day 3 take airport bus to Sapporo n stay at Grand Mercure
    Day 4 Sapporo (day trip to zoo)
    Day 5 Sapporo
    Day 6 Sapporo
    Day 7 take train to Shintoku n shuttle service to club Med
    Day 12 take shuttle service to airport and maybe stay over at airport hotel
    Day 13 flight back to singapore

    • bumblebeemum says:

      What time are you arriving on Day 2? If you are arriving early, I suggest you go to Sapporo and stay at Sapporo. I usually spend my first night at Air Terminal Hotel only if I am arriving at CTS at night.

      • Esther says:

        I will arrive in the morning, just worried the kids will be exhausted after the Long flight. Lol. Maybe should take your suggestion to go direct to Sapporo. Btw, besides the zoo, where else is a must visit (within Day trip from Sapporo)? Thanks!

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