Home >> Itineraries,Japan Travel >> Hokkaido with Kids (December 2014) Part 2: Asahikawa, Akan National Park (Lake Akan, Lake Mashu, Iozan, Lake Kussharo)

The drive from Sapporo to Asahiyama Zoo took us slightly more than 4 hours because of heavy snow (in good weather, it should take about 3 hours).  It was the kids’ first winter drive and they were super excited over the sight of snow and ‘Christmas Trees’ along the way!

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We finally arrived at Asahiyama zoo slightly after 12noon.  The staff highlighted to us that some of the exhibits closed at 1pm, so off we went!

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MF was super happy the get off the car after the long drive.

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Penguins in the snow!

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These two seals loved each other so much.

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On the other hand, the two lions didn’t seem to get along very well.

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Well, Helloooo there Hedwig!

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The kids got to see the seals pretty up close.

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And the lions too! It was so close you could see its breath on the glass.

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Let’s feed some Hokkaido deers.

 

In reality, the kids were a lot more interested in playing with the snow than looking at animals!

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The zoo closed at 3.30pm in winter.  Since the drive from Sapporo took much longer than expected due to heavy snow and we still had to eat lunch there, plus the kids stopping every 2 steps to make snowballs, we only managed to see half the exhibits at the zoo.  If you are planning to visit Asahiyama Zoo as a day trip from Sapporo in winter, I very much recommend you take the train instead of driving.

Asahiyama zoo is famous for its penguin parade in winter, which according to their website starts in late December so we missed it.  I asked the staff when exactly it would start, she said it was weather-dependent.  (Update: In 2014, the penguin parade started on 20/12/2014)  These photos were from my visit in February 2010, see how close you could get to the penguins? And they were soooo cute!

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I definitely recommend visiting Asahiyama Zoo if you are visiting Hokkaido with your kids.  The entry fee was just mind-boggling cheap: 820 yen per adult, free for kids below Secondary School age. (Mind you, Singapore Zoo charges 3 times that price for adults and also charges for kids as young as 3 years old.)

After the zoo closed, we went back to our hotel.  There was snow storm in the evening, so we cancelled our plan to have dinner at Asahikawa Ramen Village and I went out alone to pack McDonald’s for everyone since there was no way we were bringing the kids out in a snow storm.

The next morning, the sky was clear and blue! But the snow storm from the previous day covered all the roads with snow, so it was still highly stressful driving out of the city because we couldn’t see any lane markings.

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We took a 4+ hour drive to Lake Akan.  I really DO NOT recommend driving from Asahikawa to Lake Akan in a day, we were lucky there was no snow once we passed Daisetsuzan National Park.  If there had been snow all the way, we would probably have spent the whole day on the road.

We arrived at our hotel, Hanayuuka, in Lake Akan at 2pm.  At the reception, we saw many people queueing up to pay for a Sweets Buffet and we decided to try it too.  After all, as hotel guests, we only had to pay 800 yen per adult (it was free for our kids aged 1 and 3).

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The buffet selection was nothing like the high tea buffets we get in Singapore, it was pretty limited.  But for 800 yen, I had no complaints.

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See how nicely I decorated my pancake?

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MF made his own parfait (right pic) and was super pleased with it, though it looked so plain compared to the one hubby made (left pic)

 

After eating, our room was ready (check-in time was 3pm).  Our room had a lovely view of Lake Akan and I loved the modern decor.

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Our beautiful room at Hanayuuka.. Does it look like we were on a cruise?

 

The facilities within Hanayuuka were pretty limited, so we took the free shuttle bus to the more luxurious Yuku No Sato.  Since Hanayuuka and Yuku No Sato were under the same hotel group (Tsuruga group), guests of Hanayuuka could use all the facilities at Yuku No Sato.

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The hotel lobby at Yuku No Sato was huge and luxurious with kimono-clad staff greeting us along the way! There were free onsen eggs, soup bar and steamed potato which guests could help themselves to.

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DIY onsen eggs!

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Helping ourselves to a nice warm soup on a cold wintry day – FOC!

 

There were live Marimo on display and you could even touch them!

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MY checking out the live Marimo.

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Want to touch some Marimo?

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The kids became Marimo mascots.

 

And of course, we went to use the onsen here which was waaayyyyy better than the one at Hanayuuka. (The onsen at Hanayuuka was super sad, I didn’t even bother going.)

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Images taken from Tsuruga website

 

After warming up in the onsen, we ventured out to the shopping streets and Ainu Folk Village just outside Yuku No Sato before taking the shuttle bus back to Hanayuuka for dinner.

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Ainu Kotan (Ainu Folk Village) at Lake Akan

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Shopping streets of Lake Akan onsen town.

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Buffet dinner at Hanayuuka – I LOVED the sashimi and ice-cream selection!

 

After dinner, MF went to the small library at the hotel lobby to read some books (they had a few English books there) before going back to the room to sleep.

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The next morning, we were greeted with a beautiful view of Lake Akan from our hotel room!

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Good morning Lake Akan!

 

We had buffet breakfast at the hotel before checking out.

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Our breakfast at Hanayuuka included a mix of Western and Japanese cuisine.

 

We enjoyed our stay at Hanayuuka very much and I would recommend it for the more budget-conscious travellers.  The facilities within Hanayuuka were very limited and it was a tad far from the main shopping streets, but the shuttle bus that ran on call to Yuku No Sato made it convenient.  Of course, if you do not mind spending a bit more, Yuku No Sato or the adjacent Tsuruga Wings (Yuku No Sato and Tsuruga Wings are linked at the first storey) which have better facilities and location would be better choices.

After checking out, we went for a stroll along the shores of Lake Akan.

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Exploring the shores of Lake Akan.

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Always on a look out for beautiful manholes in Japan.

 

We couldn’t leave Lake Akan without a visit to Pan de Pan, a popular patisserie located just beside Hanayuuka.  All the pastries there looked so good!!

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Luckily we just had buffet breakfast, otherwise I would have bought the entire shop.  Okay, that’s exaggerating.  After much deliberation, I chose 3 items to takeaway.

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My takeaway from Pan de Pan – Don’t they look so cute and lovely??

 

Initially I thought I couldn’t take away the miso pudding because it came in such a nice little jar, but surprisingly I could! Hubby cringed at the sound of ‘miso pudding’, but it tasted much better than it sounded – the kids loved it too! The cream puff was also heavenly, but the strawberry tart was kinda blah.

So these food kept us occupied in the car while we drove through Akan National Park.  Shortly after leaving Akan onsen town, we came across a photo stop that literally translated to ‘Two Lakes Deck’.

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Two Lakes Deck – Can you spot the second lake??

 

Let me help you out a little with finding the second lake…

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There’s the second lake.. Can you see it now?

 

Okay, that was pretty lame.  Driving on… We came to another photo spot.

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Yay mountains!

 

Frankly, that mountain looked kinda brown and ugly… Here’s a nicer photo that I took at the same spot in March 2010 when the mountain was snow-capped.

That’s more like it… We want to see snowy mountains when on winter vacations!

 

As we drove on, we spotted a wild fox along the road! We pulled over for the kids to have a better look at it and the fox kept circling our car – much to the amusement of the kids.

Can I have some food please??

Can I have some food please??

 

We bid farewell to the fox and continued our drive to Lake Mashu, my favourite lake in Hokkaido.  I never failed to be awe-struck by its beauty.

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Look how BLUE Lake Mashu is!

 

Well, the kids didn’t care much for the beautiful lake and they were sleeping the whole time we were there.  We drove on to our next destination, Iozan.  But just before reaching, we stopped by an ice-cream parlour, Cream Douwa, located near the foot of Iozan.

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Entrance of Cream Douwa

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We could see the fumes of Iozan from the window at Cream Douwa.

We came all the way from Singapore, must buy the biggest (5 flavoured) cone!

We came all the way from Singapore, must buy the biggest (5 flavoured) cone!

 

After enjoying our ice-cream, it was time to work off those calories with a walk around Iozan.

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Iozan means sulfur mountain.

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After our walk around Iozan, we drove on to Lake Kussharo.  We wanted to go for lunch at a restaurant called Sora, but when we reached there, we realized they were closed for Winter! So we went to Sunayu at the western shore of Lake Kussharo and had our lunch at the little restaurant there.

Sunayu at Lake Kussharo

Sunayu at Lake Kussharo

Lunch with a view of Lake Kussharo at Sunayu.

Lunch with a view of Lake Kussharo at Sunayu.

 

After eating, we went to the shore of Lake Kussharo where the kids had fun feeding the swans.

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Swan feeding at Lake Kussharo

The swans here love popcorns!

The swans here love popcorns!

 

After this, we drove to Kushiro where we would spend the night.

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Stopping to enjoy the beautiful sunset enroute to Kushiro.

 


 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


 

the author

32Comments

  1. […] ← Birthday Party at Kiddy Fun (The Grandstand a.k.a. Turf City) Hokkaido with Kids (December 2014) Part 2: Asahikawa, Akan National Park (Lake Akan, Lake Mashu, Ioz… […]

  2. […] 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 […]

  3. […] 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 […]

  4. […] ← Hokkaido with Kids (December 2014) Part 2: Asahikawa, Akan National Park (Lake Akan, Lake Mas… Hokkaido with Kids (December 2014) Part 4: Chitose, Lake Shikotsu, Niseko, Lake Toya, Noboribetsu, Rusutsu → […]

  5. LY says:

    Hi, Thank you for sharing your Hokkaido experience. May I know where did you purchase those winter snow boots from?

  6. choonie71 says:

    Hi

    We are planning a winter trip to hokkaido in mid dec. It will be our 2nd trip to hokkaido. We are thinking of doing the route that u recommended:

    Day 1: Chitose to tomamu
    Day 2: Tomamu
    Day 3: tomamu to obihiro via train. Then shuttle bus to hanayuuka hotel
    Day 4: lake Akan
    Day 5: Akan to sapporo via shuttle bus
    Day 6 & 7: sapporo

    As our trip is in mid Dec, is it worthwhile to travel all the down to Akan. What is there in Akan besides the lake & ainu village?

    We are not driving, hence may not be able to access to some of the sights in Akan.

    We are thinking whether should skip Akan & go to jozankei instead from sapporo. Can you share your views?

    Thanks a lot!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      If you go all the way to Lake Akan, it only makes sense to go and see the cranes and the sights around Akan National Park. That would require self-drive or hiring a driver. If you don’t plan to do that, then you may want to skip Lake Akan and go to Lake Toya which is much nearer to Sapporo. Unless you have already been to Lake Toya in your previous trip?

      Jozankei is not very interesting in winter. It is a place I would recommend for Autumn because the autumn foliage there is very beautiful.

      Ideally in December, I would recommend Lake Akan and renting a car to go around. Winter is the only time the cranes congregate at the feeding sites in Tsurui.

      • choonie71 says:

        Thanks for your response. Yes we have been to Lake Toya, biei, furano, rutsusu, noberitsu, asahikawa, sapporo during our 1st trip to hokkaido last Jun. We did a self drive then.

        However we are not confident to drive in winter for this Dec. Hence scratching my head as to where else to go. We are looking for nice scenary, onsen, shopping & ski for this trip. We will take ski lessons in tomamu as well as ice village & some shopping in sapporo.

        Can u recommend other places to go for scenary & onsen acessible via bus or train from sapporo?

        Thanks in advance!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Hmm.. I really do recommend Lake Akan region for winter. Maybe you want to consider hiring a driver? If not, just rent a car for a day or two to go around Akan National Park. Akan National Park is relatively easy to drive in winter compared to the cities and ski resorts. If you take public transport between the cities and restrict your driving to just the national park area, it should not be difficult. Just drive slow and in bright day light.

          I really think Akan National Park has some of the best scenery in Hokkaido. Lake Mashu is my favourite lake in Hokkaido – if weather is good. :p If you really don’t want to drive, I guess you can still visit Lake Akan for the onsen and food. I kind of miss Pan de Pan. But I just think it’s wasted to go all the way to Lake Akan but not visit Lake Mashu and the cranes.

  7. Henry Chua says:

    Dear Bumble Bee,
    Planning to visit Hokkaido this early June with my son for a bonding trip. What would your advice be based on your experience. Plan to be touching down on the 4th and leave on Saturday midnight arriving Singapore Sunday.
    Place of interest(not in order) :
    1) Sheritoko driving thru the pass and visit Rausu and Utoro
    2)Akan & Tokachi(lakes onetto)
    3)Unkai terrace
    4) Sapporo
    Not planning to drive everywhere but probably like those parks and lakes that are not so accessible.
    If seriously have a little of wee bit of time, don’t mind to go up to Mt.Hakodate, the million dollar view.
    Thanks alot.
    Henry

    • bumblebeemum says:

      So you’ll be there for 8 days? You won’t have enough time to go to Hakodate then.

      For the Akan and Shiretoko region, you should drive around. Rail transport in Eastern Hokkaido is pretty sparse and infrequent. You can take a train until Kushiro and start your drive there. From Kushiro, drive up to Akan, then Shiretoko and back down to Kushiro.

      Unkai Terrace is easily accessible by train at Tomamu station, and Tomamu station is in between Sapporo and Kushiro. So basically what you can do is:

      Day 1: Sapporo
      Day 2: Sapporo
      Day 3: Sapporo – Tomamu (train)
      Day 4: Tomamu – Kushiro (train), pick up a rental car, drive up to Lake Onneto then Lake Akan, stay at Lake Akan.
      Day 5: Drive around Akan National Park, then up to Shiretoko. Stay at Shiretoko.
      Day 6: Drive around Shiretoko, Rausu, Utoro. Stay at Shiretoko.
      Day 7: Drive from Shiretoko back to Kushiro, return car.
      Day 8: Train from Kushiro to CTS for flight back.

  8. Grace Chin says:

    Hi Bumble Bee,

    May I know where you stayed during your trip to Kushiro? We are 2 adults, 6yo and 10yo. Our 6yo can share bed with me. I tried to book ANA but seems like they can’t accommodate us. Not familiar with hotel booking mechanism. Hehe! Thanks in advance for your advise.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      We stayed at Super Hotel. THey have two branches in Kushiro. If you book their ‘Super Room’, it will come with a double bed + a bunk bed. However it is a budget hotel so the room is very cramp – barely any floor space for you to open your luggage kind.

  9. Kris says:

    You mentioned you do not advise doing the drive from Asahikawa to Lake Akan in a day. What then is a good stopover for a night in the middle in your opinion?

  10. Khim says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum

    Glad to chance upon your blog. I’m very inspired by you that decided to do DIY our 1st trip to Hokaido. H/e, hubby is still not in favour of self drive in view of winter period an d being our first. So thinking of doing by JR. (on separate note, your sons are v lucky to have u as their mum! Im sure u will b their inspiration and they will b v proud of u too!) :)

    We are a family of 5, with 3 kids ( 16, 12 & 7 yrs old) planning to travel from 29 November for 9-11 days.

    I’m actually using ur winter itinerary to hokaido. Ive a long list of questions, which I hope you could clarify below.

    Day 1 SIN to Sapporo Chitose
    (Might be staying at APA Saporro hotel Ekinishi Susukino. But think i might not be able to get this hotel as the japanese style room which was available saturday, was no longer yesterday…. this hotel is at Chuo-ku Minami 4-jo Nishi 7. & it is indicated on website that it is a 5-minute walk from Susukino Subway Station? From Suskino subway, how long does it take to travel to the Sapporo JR station? )

    Day 2 Sapporo : shop around susukino, Mitsui park shopping

    Day 3 Sapporo Central Wholesale mkt, German Xmas mkt, Sapporo TV tower

    Day 4 Ishiya chocolate factory (is one day too long for this trip? Or is there any landmark nearby that we can visit also before returning to Susukino?)

    Day 5 asashiyama zoo

    Day 6 otaru (music box museum /glass factory. Are these within walking distance from otaru jr station? And easily accessible? any other place to visit in otaru?)

    Day 7-8 2 night stay at tomamu (train from Sapporo direct to tomamu) (I saw in your blog abt the condo apt at tomamu tower. Would you know how long the walking distance is to the condo ‘Masaharu’ from the tomamu JR station? & if the apt is w/i minutes walking distance from tomamu twin tower & ski area? Could I presume reindeer sledding, ski tubing & rafting will be available from 5 dec period cause my kids will look forward to this but am afraid the ice is not ready ? )
    (As we do not stay at tomamu hotel, could we use the onsen there? Or which hotel would be a good stay not too pricey for onsen experience?)

    Day 9 travel from tomamu back to Sapporo chitose.
    Flight back to spore either on day 9 or 10. (If I fly back on day 10, where would be a good place to go for our last stop before flight back to spore?)

    Is noboribetsu easily accessible by train and bus? (to visit hell valley, lake toya, ainu village). Is 1 day enough?

    Queries on JR pass
    Would I be able to use the JR pass for subway, ltd express, bus, etc?

    Is it necessary to buy reserved seats as I think we will travel btw 8-10am and probably evening time abt 4-8pm back to Sapporo?

    I’m so sorry for the whole string of questions.
    Hope to hear from you soon.

    thank you so much.

    Khim

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Day 1 From Susukino, it is two subway stops to Sapporo JR station. If you are coming from the airport, it is more direct to use the airport limousine buses to get to Susukino area.

      Day 2 Sapporo : shop around susukino, Mitsui park shopping

      Day 3 Sapporo Central Wholesale mkt, German Xmas mkt, Sapporo TV tower

      Day 4 Yeah, you don’t need a whole day for Ishiya Chocolate Factory. There isn’t much around Ishiya Chocolate Factory because its location is pretty outskirt. But you will have time to fit in another destination, e.g. Mount Moiway ropeway? Or explore Sapporo station area?

      Day 5 asashiyama zoo

      Day 6 Yes, Musix box Museum is walkable from Otaru station. But to get to the music box museum, you should alight at Minimi-Otaru station though. What most tourists do is alight at Minami-Otaru station, walk to Marchen Intersection (where music box museum is) and then walk down Sakaimachi till the main hub of Otaru Canal. Then from Otaru canal, they will walk to Otaru station to catch the train back. If you stop by for cafe breaks along the way and try out glass blowing experiences, that will pretty much take up the whole day.

      Day 7-8 This is the exact BnB that my reader told me about which is at Tomamu Resort itself:
      https://www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/8532167

      When we were in Tomamu, snow rafting was not available yet. But snow tubing was ready. This is really weather dependent and if the snow fall is lighter or later than usual, then they will have no choice but to delay the opening. So we won’t really know for sure if any of the snow activities will be ready by early Dec.

      If you are not staying at the hotel, you can still use the onsen for a fee (800yen per adult / 500yen per child).
      http://www.snowtomamu.jp/winter/en/hotel/spa/kirin.php

      Day 9 I usually spend my last night at Air Terminal Hotel at New Chitose Airport itself. The airport is quite fun. You can also go to Chitose Rera Outlet which is near the airport if you have extra time.

      Noboribetsu onsen town requires a bus / taxi ride from Noboribetsu station. Lake Toya is somewhere else. If you are doing a day trip from Sapporo, you should only choose one between Noboribetsu or Lake Toya.

      JR Pass only covers trains and buses operated by JR. So no, you cannot use it for the subway or streetcar in Sapporo. Neither can you use it for non-JR buses.

      I always buy reserved seats for long-distance train rides because I don’t want to risk not having seats.

  11. Hokkaido 1st timer says:

    Hi, I got a question with regards to Asahikawa zoo ticket over here 😀

    Planning for a trip there around early march 2017 using the asahikawa zoo ticket which covers train, bus and extrance fee (using Jr Pass to purchase).

    Planning to take the special asahikawa zoo train there. Return trip can be of limited express super kamui.

    Does a child of age 5 have to purchase this ticket (taking special zoo train there)?

    If no need meaning he would have to sit on the lap of an adult right?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Children below 6 can take the train for free. But yes, that would mean your child will have no seat and have to sit on the lap of an adult. Unless there happens to be an empty seat then your child can occupy the empty seat. For the special zoo train, it is unlikely there will be empty seats though. The zoo train is very popular!

      • Hokkaido 1st timer says:

        Thanks for prompt reply!

        Would you mind to take a look and see if my itinerary can be further improved? Thanks!

        2 Adult and a 5yo kid.

        3Mar
        Reach Sapporo at noon rest in hotel

        4 Mar Sat
        Odori park
        Nijo market
        Susukino district
        Sapporo tv tower
        Sapporo clock tower
        Tanukikoji shopping arcade
        Former Hokkaido Government Office
        Norbesa (Ferris wheel on roof of shopping centre)
        Aurora Town & Pole Town (Odori Underground Shopping Malls)

        5 Mar Day trip
        Satoland

        6 Mar Day trip
        Otaru canal
        Sushiya dori
        Sakaimachi
        Minatomachi
        Kitaichi Glass Sangokan
        Otaru Music Box Museum

        7 Mar Day trip
        Asahikawa zoo

        8 Mar Day trip
        Shiroi koibito

        9 Mar Day trip
        Noboribetsu onsen

        10 Mar Stay 1night at jozankei
        Check out hotel and store big luggages at sapporo station
        Check in Jozankei onsen hotel

        11 Mar
        Take train back to Sapporo retrieve luggages
        Head towards New citose airport

        Thanks for your time!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Hmmm… Why do you want to go to Noboribetsu onsen as a day trip and then move to Jozankei onsen later on? I would just go to Noboribetsu and stay there if I want to experience an onsen. And from Noboribetsu, I would go straight back to the airport – no need to go back to Sapporo again.

          The thing I find a pity about your itinerary is that you are missing out on winter festivals that are happening in Hokkaido in March. I would suggest you skip Satoland and use the extra day to go to Tomamu for the Ice Village instead. At least experience one winter event.

          • Hokkaido 1st timer says:

            Thanks for replying 😀

            Reason for avoiding Tomamu due to high influx of uncivilise tourists from mainland china as reviewed by forummers who had been there recently. Moreover we prefer peaceful enviroments and not so crowded area just for some snow activities.

            We choose jozankei for its onsen and serenity as for noboribetsu is my kid would like to visit the bear park etc

            As we would be having quite a few large luggages we foresee difficulty boarding the donan bus from noboribetsu terminal to the onsen hotel.

            Still deciding which to drop…jozankei or noboribetsu…

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Hmm.. I see.. Yeah, I do think Jozankei should be relatively quieter compared to the other onsen towns. So if you want to escape the touristy crowd, Jozankei should be better. :)

  12. Annie says:

    Hi BBM,

    My family will be going to Hokkaido in March.

    Will be going to Kushiro from Tomamu by train and rent a car to explore Akan National Park.

    My itinerary for Lake Akan is as follows:
    Day 1 – Tomamu to Kushiro (stay at Kushiro)
    Day 2 – Kushiro – Tsurui to see crane – Lake Mashu – lozan – Lake Kussharo – Lake Akan (Stay Lake Akan)
    Day 3 – Lake Akan -> Kushiro -> Sapporo (by train)

    This is the first time we are driving overseas. Do you think I have finished all the sight seeing on Day 2 and is the sequence correct? Will the map code for Lake Kussharo lead me to Sunayu and lozan to Cream Douwa?

    The reason why I wanted to finish all the sights on day 2 is because I am thinking of taking the 1:30 pm train from kushiro to sapporo on Day 3. The next train at 4 pm is a bit late by the time we reach Sapporo.

    Can I have your advice.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yup, the sequence for Day 2 looks right. I would advice you to pick up the car on Day 1 and park it at the hotel so that you can set off early on Day 2.

      The map code for Sunayu is 638 148 559. Map code for Iozan is 731 713 770.

      For Cream Douwa, I keyed in the name in Japanese on the GPS when I was there, but you can try this map code: 731 745 494. It is very near the parking lot for Iozan, this is the route from Iozan to Cream Douwa:
      https://goo.gl/maps/QxV7qKVJMQL2

  13. Jacqueline chua says:

    Hi bumblebee mum. May I know if it’s possible to get winter boots at chitose airport? Any recommendation?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I don’t recall seeing winter boots at the airport. I bought ours at Mitsui Oulet Park Sapporo Kitahiroshima. I have also seen stalls along Tanukikoji selling winter boots.

  14. Cyn says:

    Hi bumblebee mum,
    We are family of 2 A + 2C.
    Planning our last min 1st trip to hokkaido in end Nov/early dec.
    As it is our first trip to Hok + its winter, we wish to cover the key attractions of hokkaido.

    Could you kindly advise if this sounds right :
    1) SKi resort (3D)
    2)Sapporo (2D)
    3) Day trip via train to Otaru
    4) Day trip to take winter trains (not sure)
    5) Drive to Furano
    6) Drive to Noboribetsu/Lake Toya
    7) Drive to Asahikawa
    8) Airport

    I can decide between Tomamu and Rusutsu resorts.
    Read that Tomamu is further away and may not fit well with my itinerary. However it appears much cheaper than Rusutsu.

    Also not sure about the driving part. We have not drove in snow before. But think with 2 young kids, it seems to make more sense than
    to travel on public transport. Could i seek your opinion.

    And given snow would get worst as we approach year end, perhaps is it better than i reverse my itinerary and do Skiing and Sapporo last.

    I look forward to hearing from your valuable advice. thks!

    rgds,
    Cyn

    • bumblebeemum says:

      For an end Nov to early Dec trip, definitely you should put your ski resort right at the very end of the trip. Tomamu and Rusutsu only open in the tail end of Nov (like 26 Nov this year).

      I don’t think the winter trains have begun operation for your dates. And I would skip Furano for your dates.

      Asahikawa, if you are planning to visit the zoo, can be done as a day trip from Sapporo with the train and zoo bus. Without luggage, taking public transport with kids should be manageable.

      If you are planning to visit Lake Toya and Noboribetsu, Rusutsu will be nearer compared to Tomamu. But yeah, Rusutsu is expensive. In early Dec, Niseko should still be quite reasonably priced? If Niseko is cheaper than Rusutsu, I would go to Niseko instead.

      As for mode of transport, Lake Toya and Noboribetsu is best visited with a car. But you don’t really need a car for the rest of the places. So this is what I would suggest:

      Day 1: (Arrive on morning flight if possible) CTS (pick up rental car) – Noboribetsu
      Day 2: Noboribetsu – Lake Toya
      Day 3: Lake Toya – Sapporo (return car)
      Day 4: Sapporo
      Day 5: Sapporo (Day trip to Otaru by train)
      Day 6: Sapporo (Day trip to Asahiyama Zoo by train + bus)
      Day 7: Sapporo – Niseko / Rusutsu (bus)
      Day 8: Niseko / Rusutsu
      Day 9: Niseko / Rusutsu
      Day 10: Niseko / Rusutsu – CTS (bus)
      Day 11: Flight back

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