Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip (June 2016) Part 3: Sapporo, Otaru

Hokkaido Trip June 2014 - Sapporo and Otaru - Bumble Bee Mum

Continued from: Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip (June 2014) Part 2: Lake Shikotsu, Lake Toya, Niseko

So the previous leg of our Hokkaido trip didn’t go so well, with crappy weather and all.   But things started to change for the better once we reached Sapporo.  And by things, I really meant the weather.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (01) - Sapporo

It seemed as if the sky cleared up because it knew that the Yosakoi Soran Festival was taking place.  I couldn’t help feeling like it was the festival that chased away the rain.  Because right after the festival ended, the rain came back the very next day.


Anyway, Yosakoi Soran Festival was THE main highlight of the trip for me.  I had actually visited Hokkaido in June two years earlier, and was not all that keen to visit in June again.  Because if you read my travel journal from the last trip, I already said June was a bad time to visit Hokkaido as it rained every single day during that trip.

But during that trip, I missed the Yosakoi Soran Festival.  And I LOVE Japanese festivals.  So you can say that I was back in Hokkaido this June specially for the Yosakoi Soran Festival.

We arrived in Sapporo from Niseko in the late afternoon.  After we checked into Mercure Hotel Sapporo and let the kids play in the bath tub for a bit, we wanted to head out for ‘Soran Night’ at Odori Park.  But as we were making our way there, we realised there were performances at Susukino itself, not far from the hotel.

So we just planted ourselves along the road and watched the teams of dancers put up their performances at Susukino.

It was AWESOME!! I loved the performances so much!! It was so full of energy and happiness.  The performers all put on their widest smiles when they came on – the joy was infectious!

I forgot all about the crappy weather previously and the fact that I was sick.  It was very hard to feel crappy when there was so much joy and energy in the air!


We didn’t stay for the entire event, which was scheduled till 10pm, because we needed to go for dinner.  I had made reservation for dinner at Sapporo Bier Garten.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (05) - Sapporo Bier Garten Jingisukan

Sapporo Bier Garten is famous for their jingisukan at Kessel Hall.  I tried it the first time I visited Hokkaido and frankly, I wasn’t a fan of the jingisukan here.  Though I admit the atmosphere was great.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (04) - Sapporo Bier Garten Jingisukan

This time, we decided to try the jingisukan + crab buffet at Trommel Hall instead.  Since most of the people in the group generally preferred seafood to jingisukan.  What I loved about the buffet at Trommel Hall was that it also included prawns and hotate! Plus all the kids (6 years and below) could dine for free.  #CHEAPO

Day 6: Sapporo

In the morning, we headed to the Maruyama Koen district and had breakfast at a lovely cafe called Cafe Anniversary.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (02) - Cafe Anniversary Sapporo

It was soooo pretty!! This was like totally my kind of cafe.

You just cannot resist ordering their beautiful cakes and having coffee served in a pretty cup.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (03) - Cafe Anniversary Sapporo

Right after that, we went on for lunch at Sushi Zen.

Sushi Zen Honten at Maruyama Koen actually stated in their website that they did not allow children under 7 years old.  But my friend helped to call them to enquire and they said they could accommodate us in their private room.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (07) - Sapporo Sushizen Honten

When we arrived at the private room, it was all set up with two sets of children’s utensils and high chairs!  I was pleasantly surprised.  So I guess they do allow children after all?

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (06) - Sapporo Sushizen Honten

But of course, they didn’t have kids meals, so we ordered ala-carte tamago (egg) sushi for the kids.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (09) - Sapporo Sushizen Honten

On the whole, dining at Sushi Zen was a great experience.  Their service was excellent – from waiting for us at the road in front of the restaurant to greet us as we arrived, to sending us off to our car as we left.  And they had a super value-for-money lunch set which cost ¥3,564++.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (08) - Sapporo Sushizen Honten

After lunch, the kids had some fun at ARIO (near Sapporo Beer Museum) where there was a mini festival going on.  MF had a lot of fun playing traditional Japanese festival games and winning a lot of prizes!

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (10) - Sapporo ARIO

For the rest of the day, we hung out at Odori Park to catch the Yosakoi Soran Festival.

Odori Park is a huge park, stretching 13 blocks from 1-chome to 13-chome.  We camped at 9-chome, where there were playgrounds for the kids and also where there was free public viewing area for the parade.  So it was kind of killing two birds with one stone.  The kids got to play, I got to watch the festival.

For dinner, we just grabbed some food at the festival’s food park.

Day 7: Sapporo

We started the morning with a visit to Sapporo Central Wholesale Market.  I was actually a bit lazy to drive to the market and wanted to go to Nijo Market in town.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (30) - Sapporo Central Wholesale Curb Market

But somehow, the debate of which market to visit ended up with the group deciding the central wholesale market was better, so there we went.

As usual, we ended up having breakfast at Kita No Gourmet.

After breakfast, we shopped around the market.  Usually I would buy a slice of Hokkaido melon when I visit markets.  But since we had so many people this time, it was more cost-effective for us to buy a whole melon – which the staff helped to slice up for us!  When we couldn’t finish, he even put the leftover in a styrofoam plate and wrapped it up with cling wrap for us to bring back.  A+ service!!

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (11) - Sapporo Central Wholesale Market

Next, we.. or rather I wanted to have desserts.  So we drove to Chocolate Masale Cafe.

But I had a feeling nobody else in the family wanted to be there having desserts except me. I reckoned my in-laws would rather be sightseeing or shopping instead of sitting in a cafe since this was their first trip to Hokkaido.  There was nothing in Sapporo that I really wanted to see that i haven’t seen, or any souvenir that I wanted to buy that I haven’t bought at least twice before.  But there were lots of things I wanted to eat but haven’t eaten.  So we ended up splitting up.

I joined my friend who was sort of a coffee connoisseur and had done some research on where to find good coffee in Sapporo.  I am no coffee connoisseur.  To me, there are only two types of coffee: The ones that can keep me awake and the ones that can’t.  So I just tagged along with him.  I was actually very glad to be following brainlessly rather than leading the way for once.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (12) - Sapporo Ritaru Coffee

We first arrived at Ritaru Coffee.  Since I knew nothing about choosing coffee, I always just order house blend.  I had a slice of their signature cake to go with my Ritaru Blend coffee.

Imo, cafes in Japan can be divided into two categories: Those that serve good coffee, and those that serve good cakes.  Usually those cafes that serve good coffee only have so-so cakes, while those that serve good cakes only have so-so coffee.  So I wasn’t expecting much from the cake at Ritaru.  It was better than I expected.  Not WOW but okay, not bad.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (13) - Sapporo Ritaru Coffee

Next, my friend brought us to Morihico coffee.  There was a looooong waiting time to get a table on a Sunday afternoon.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (14) - Sapporo Mirihico Coffee

At least it was quite entertaining to watch the lady prepare the coffee while waiting.  The way she did it was like an art.

According to my friend, the ice drip coffee at Morihico was awesome.  In his words, he said the aftertaste was like wine.  I had ordered boring house blend again.  And yes, that’s an old-school sewing machine on the table.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (17) - Sapporo Mirihico Coffee

But I tell you what, imo,  was awesome at Morihico.  THE TOAST.  It was not just any toast.  Morihico gets their bread from Marumugi, a super popular bakery in the vicinity.  I super loved the toast!!

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (16) - Sapporo Mirihico Coffee

I had maxed out the amount of coffee I could take in a day, and headed back to spend the rest of the day checking out Yosakoi Soran Festival at Odori Park.

My friend continued his food hunt and found the ramen joint which Anthony Bourdain visited – Aji no Karyu (味の華龍)!

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (32) - Sapporo Aji no Karyu

Like OMG!!! In my previous post, I raved about how we followed Anthony Bourdain’s recommendation and ended up at Torimatsu in Niseko – which was awesome.  And here is a video of Anthony Bourdain’s ramen hunt in Sapporo:

And my friend just had to send us a photo of the ramen, ala Anthony Bourdain style.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (33) - Sapporo Aji no Karyu

We later met up at my favourite hole-in-wall joint, Go Tsubo, for grilled oysters, grilled hotate and grilled hokki! Considering each grilled oyster here only cost 105yen, we somehow managed to chalk up a bill of about 8000yen.  Just imagine how much we ate! Okay, we ordered beer too – so maybe we didn’t eat THAT much.  I hope.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (34) - Sapporo Go Tsubo

Day 8: Otaru

After visiting Otaru so many times, my husband suggested that we go out of Central Otaru this time round.  I wanted to protest about not being able to eat my favourite ice-cream from Kita on Ice Cream Ya San and favourite chou cream from Kitakaro.  But I had to agree with him that it was time to go explore somewhere off the beaten track.

I asked my friend (an Otaru resident) for restaurant recommendations and he asked us to go to Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudou at Shukutsu Peninsular and Shokudou Misaki at Shakotan.  Always listen to the locals yo!

So we started with breakfast at Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudou.  Which was fabulous!

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (19) - Otaru Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudou

Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudou is something that deserves a post of its own.  So keeping it short here.  Go for their signature grilled Nishin or Nishin sashimi when you’re here – I liked them both ways!

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (18) - Otaru Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudou

After our meal, we drove up to the hill beside the restaurant for a view of the peninsular.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (36) - Otaru Shukutsu Peninsular

Our next destination was Nikka Whisky Distillery at the neighbouring town of Yoichi.  You can have a tour of the facilities to understand how whisky is made here.

It was raining quite heavily when we were there, so we did not complete the whole tour – which required us to walk between various facilities in their expansive grounds.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (22) - Yoichi Nikka Whiskey Distillery

Instead, we enjoyed whisky tasting at the tasting hall.  The tasting hall was awesome.  Not only can you enjoy whisky neat, you can help yourself to ice if you prefer on the rocks, or you can even add soda water to make ‘highball’!

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (21) - Yoichi Nikka Whiskey Distillery

And you absolutely cannot leave the souvenir shop without buying some whisky or whisky flavoured snacks! I loved how they sold their whisky in tiny souvenir-sized bottles.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (20) - Yoichi Nikka Whiskey Distillery

Before we got drunk, we drove on to Shakotan to have lunch at Shokudou Misaki.  That was when I realised I made a huge mistake in planning.  We should have gone to Shokudou Misaki for breakfast and Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudou for lunch!

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (24) - Shakotan Peninsular Shokudou Misaki

By the time we got to Shokudou Misaki for lunch, many of the items on their menu were sold out!! Including the aka bafun uni (red sea urchin) and their grilled fish.  I drove all the way here for bafun uni can? *sob sob* Not just did I have no bafun uni to eat, those in the group who did not eat raw food had NOTHING to eat.  (Even worse.)

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (23) - Shakotan Peninsular Shokudou Misaki

Anyway since we had driven all the way here, we just ordered a few bowls of their normal uni don – which was still very nice and value-for-money compared to other restaurants in Hokkaido.

Read more:  Hokkaido’s Best Food (By Region)

And believe it or not, the boys actually enjoyed eating the uni don here!  Usually I would have ordered some grilled fish for them but since uni don was the only item available here at that hour, I just let them have some (desperate times call for desperate measures – figured it was better than letting them skip lunch).   Surprisingly they liked it a lot!

Uni season at Shakotan is very short.  You can only get them here from June to August. Knowing that, I guess it was not that wasted a trip to Shakotan, even though we had to settle for second best.  Let me just insert a photo of the bafun uni from our previous visit here to make myself feel better.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (37) - Shakotan Shokudou Misaki

After lunch, I was hoping we could take at least take a nice photo at Shakotan Peninsular after lunch.   You know, to make the drive all the way to Shakotan more worthwhile.  But it was raining heavily so we gave that up as well.  So back to central Otaru we went.

At Otaru, we checked in to Zen Otaru Hostel, which was ran by my friend Sano and his wife.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (25) - Otaru Zen Hostel

We had planned to visit Mount Tenguyama in Otaru, but scrapped the plan as it was raining.  So we decided to go for a walk at Otaru canal and Sakaimachi instead, especially since this was my in-laws’ first visit to Otaru.

MY was not feeling well and kept wanting to be carried.  The walk from Otaru station, where Zen Otaru Hostel was, to Sakaimachi was not exactly near when you have to carry a 16kg kid.  Plus it was drizzling and I needed one hand to hold an umbrella and only had one hand to support the 16kg.

So I decided to only walk as far as Otaru Canal.  Actually no.  I did not even walk until Otaru Canal.  I only walked until Kita No Ice Cream Ya San.  And discovered to my horror that it was closed!!!

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (35) - Otaru Kita No Ice

I checked my watch and it was what.. 5.05pm?  Kita No Ice Cream Ya San closed ON THE DOT at 5pm! I missed it by 5 minutes!! Super upset as this was the second time in a row I came to Kita No Ice Cream Ya San to find it closed.  Previously they were closed because of winter.  So again, let me dig out an old photo to fill in the gap.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (38) - Otaru Kita no Ice

In case you are wondering why I have that photo of myself eating ice-cream at Kita No Ice Cream Ya San in winter when I said that they close during winter,  let me explain.  Kita No Ice Cream Ya San is closed during winter – BUT they open when there is a festival.  I was there during the Otaru Snow Light Path festival, which was why they were open.

My husband and his parents went ahead to explore Otaru Canal and Sakaimachi while I decided to take a break at Otaru Denuki.  Because without my ice-cream break, I didn’t have the energy to carry MY and walk all the way back to the hostel.

I decided to order the melon with soft-serve from Popura Farm to perk myself up before heading back.  But I felt totally cheated when the melon that came was green and not orange?!

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (15) - Otaru Denuki Poplar

But it was okay.  The green melon was sweet and juicy and it made me happy enough to pick MY up and walk back to the hostel.

After we got back to the hostel, Sano brought us to the pharmacy nearby to pick up some medication for MY.  We also went to the supermarket to buy some groceries to prepare dinner in the hostel, because nobody wanted to go out in the crappy weather.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (25) - Zen Otaru Hostel

Day 9: Otaru – Asahikawa – Kitami

Since we were staying near Otaru station for this trip, we thought we would pay a visit to Sankaku Market in the morning.  I have never visited Sankaku Market although I have been to Otaru many times.  Sano warned me that Sankaku Market was a tourist trap – that the seafood there was overpriced and not fresh.  Listen to the locals yo!

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (26) - Otaru Sankaku Market

Even if it was a tourist trap, I decided I had to go and take a look for myself at least once.  How stubborn can I get right? In my mind I was thinking, this is Hokkaido! How bad can it get??

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (27) - Otaru Sankaku Market

It was bad.  Don’t go there.  Walk into any other restaurant in Otaru and you can probably get better food.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (29) - Otaru Sankaku Market

I had no idea ‘fresh’ seafood could be tasteless.  I mean.. We ordered prawns that were swimming and served as sashimi once they were taken out from the tank.  Figured we couldn’t go wrong with live prawns.  But the prawns were icy and tasteless.  I really didn’t get it.  So far everywhere I went in Hokkaido, from the 100yen conveyer belt sushi bars to the eat-all-you-can-prawns served during buffets at ryokans, I got sweet prawns.  This was the first time I had tasteless prawns in Hokkaido.  I was very perturbed.

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (28) - Otaru Sankaku Market

So yeah, I repeat: Sankaku Market IS a tourist trap.  And yes, listen to the locals yo!!

Oh, I forgot to mention Sano bought us three packs of uni from a local supermarket the day before.  So we went back to the hostel, cooked some rice to eat with the uni he bought – which tasted soooo heavenly compared to what we had at Sankaku Market.

If you are looking for a more decent breakfast spot near Otaru station, my coffee connoisseur friend recommended the coffee shop called Shalon (シャロン) just in front of Otaru station, very near to Zen Otaru Hostel.  He said the coffee and toast there was pretty good!

Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip Itinerary Pt 3 (39) - Otaru

After we checked out, I couldn’t leave Otaru without eating my favourite ice-cream! So we drove over to Kita No Ice Cream Ya San, which was open *hooray*, where I grabbed an ice-cream cone before we drove on to Asahikawa.



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Hokkaido Trip June 2014 - Sapporo and Otaru - Bumble Bee Mum



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  • Jolin says:

    I don’t like traveling during the rainy season too. Isn’t it great that the weather finally clears up after so many days of rain?
    Reading this post even while I’m munching on my breakfast makes me hungry. Love all the food pictures!
    Jolin recently posted…Busy Tables: Yummy Dough WorkshopMy Profile

  • Karen says:

    May I know where you went to book the hotels?

    Hotels in ski resorts and hot spring areas charge per room per person. My heart aches. Lol.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yeah.. Ski Resorts and Onsen Ryokans are quite pricey and charge by head count. So I try to stand in cheaper city hotels to balance the overall accommodation cost. For hotels, I usually just use hotel booking sites like Agoda, Booking.com and Hotels.com.

      • Karen says:

        I read another comment you made in another post of yours that when you booked the hotels, you didn’t indicate the children because your children slept with you in the beds.

        You think I’m able to do that for ryokan in Noboreitsu as well as Tomamu? Can I just pay for the two adults and my girl will sleep in our bed? Or for these places, I need to include my girl, especially for Noboribetsu since meals are provided. Your advice?


        • bumblebeemum says:

          You can book a room for two adults at ryokans and resorts. But most likely they will ask you to top up the fee for your child when you check in. Ryokans and resorts are pretty strict about the head count. If you are able to book for your child, then you should include her. The problem I have is that for many hotel booking sites, when I choose 2 adults + 2 children, they say there is no available room. Whereas when I choose 2 adults, there are many rooms available. That’s why sometimes I book for 2 adults first and just pay direct to the hotel for my kids when I check in.

          • Karen says:


            Another thing. Sorry for so many questions. Im still thinking if I should splurge on a night in noboribetsu. You think hot spring is nicer in winter or other months? And do your children love it?

            • Karen says:

              Anothwr question. Sorry! Do you think tomamu or kiroro is a better place for beginning skiiers and families?

              • bumblebeemum says:

                When are you exact dates? I have never been to Kiroro because they open later in the season compared to Tomamu or Niseko. I love Tomamu a lot because of the ice village though I didn’t take their skiing lessons so I’m not sure how good their skiing lessons are.

                • Karen says:

                  Im going end dec. Doubt I’ll be taking skiing lessons so that won’t be a concern. I also like the idea of the ice village. Just that kiroro is a cheaper option.

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Hot spring in definitely nicer in winter months. I didn’t bring my younger boy because he was not toilet trained yet the last time we went hot spring. My older boy loved the one at Hotel Mahoroba which had a slide.

  • eco says:

    This is a local guide blog about Sankaku Fish Market http://kimi-tourguide.blogspot.my/2011/06/sankaku-fish-market-in-otaru.html Did you try this inexpensive restaurant when you were there? The shop has its own seafood stall right in front of the restaurant.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I’m not sure if the restaurant I went was the exact same one. The one I went to also had its own seafood stall where we chose our seafood from and then went over to the restaurant side to eat. There weren’t that many stores open when I was there – half the market was closed, it was quite depressing. If you have a car, I really recommend you drive out to Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudou instead.

      • eco says:

        The one that I read to try at Sankaku Fish Market call Ajidokoro Takeda (味処 たけだ), their food menu: http://rollingwrites.blogspot.my/2013/07/ajidokoro-takeda.html

        Yes, I have a car. What is this place abot? Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudou? Food?

        • eco says:

          Sorry the correct food menu link should be this one as sharing purpose:


        • bumblebeemum says:

          Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudou is a restaurant at Shukutsu Peninsular, out of the city centre. It is a straightforward 10min drive from Otaru canal area:

          I enjoyed my meal there much more than at Sankaku Market. Sankaku Market is convenient for visitors coming by train because it is right next to Otaru station. But if I have a car, I would drive out.

          • eco says:

            Hi BBM, did you write about “Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudou” in your blog? May I have the page to read your food review? Provide free parking? Thanks in advance.

            • bumblebeemum says:

              I haven’t gotten down to writing about Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudou on the blog yet. We went there on our most recent trip in June, so I’ve only briefly mentioned it on this post for now. You can read reviews on Tripadvisor:

              And on Kimi Tourguide:

              There is free parking right opposite the restaurant.

              • eco says:

                The food review sound promising. How is the food pricing for Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudou? For example

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  Like the grilled Nishin (a type of fish) set which came with a huge fish and rice was just 1296 yen. Nishin sashimi was 972 yen. Grilled Hakkaku fish was 980yen. Very reasonably priced I must say.

                  • eco says:

                    By looking at the pictures from the link you provided it seems all are Japanese Food Menu, how did you make order? Is there any English menu with picture? Do we need to wait for long queue time?

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      I cannot remember whether they had English menu.. but their menu had pictures so you can just point.

                      We were there first thing in the morning and were the first customers, so we didn’t queue at all.

                    • eco says:

                      Ok thanks for the parking info

                  • eco says:

                    Toya: by the way is it worth to visit “Volcanic Science Museum”? Read from Tripadvisor it is a small compound. Cause, if to skip this I might have more time to make it to Yoichi Nikka Distillery. What do you think?
                    – Probably I need to skip those workshops at Otaru.
                    – Where is the exact location of the old railway track (to take photo for have been) as per in your blog? Is it near to the Otaru Canal?

                    How much time you did spent in “Shiroi Koibito Park白い恋人” last time?

                    Day 5: Sapporo (walking) Subway to Susukino station GO TSUBO 五坪 for grilled oyster
                    9) Ramen Alley > Hotel Mercure
                    10) Tenukikoji and Susukino underground shopping arcad

                    In Sapporo, did you visit Asahi Brewery and Historic Village of Hokkaido > Historical Museum Hokkaido? Both worth a visit?

                    My Day 6 in Sapporo:

                    Sapporo places (drive out):
                    1) Historic Village of Hokkaido > Historical Museum Hokkaido 9am-5pm (40mins drive) leave at 3pm
                    2) Sapporo Beer Museum 10:30am-6:30pm (30mins drive)
                    3) Mitsui Outlet (30mins drive)

                    Day 7: Route: Sapporo – Asahikawa
                    1)Himawari-No-Sato in Hokuryu Sunflower field 1.5 drive
                    2) Asahiyawa Zoo (旭山動物園), Lunch: Zoo Cafeteria
                    3) Asahikawa Ramen Mura 旭川ラーメン村, dinner before drive to P-Dash Garden Guesthouse 20mins

                    Day 7doable? I wonder if I have enough time to cover Zoo after visit the sunflower place.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Never visited the Volcanic Science Museum. Not something that would personally interest me because I prefer spending time soaking in the scenery or eating than checking out museums. Skipping it would definitely make the day less rushed.

                      I took the photo of the old railway track at Otaru along Chuo Dori – the big main road right in front of Otaru station. Here’s the google map location:

                      You won’t miss Chuo Dori. It’s a huge road that links Otaru Canal to Otaru station. The tracks are perpendicular to Chuo Dori, halfway between Otaru Station and Otaru Canal.

                      I think I spent about 2 hours at Shiroi Koibito Park? The factory itself is very small, but we spent quite a bit of time roaming the grounds outside the factory to take photos. I found the exterior of the building more interesting than the factory.. Haha..

                      I’ve never been to Asahi Beer Brewery. I always go to Sapporo Beer Museum instead since it’s so near the city centre and the red-brick architecture is more photogenic. :p

                      Never been to Historical Village of Hokkaido before either, not my kind of thing coz I rather spend my time cafe-hopping in Sapporo.. Heh. My friends went though the first time they were there. They said it was pretty interesting, like stepping back in time.

                      You got to set off really early on Day 7 to cover both the sunflower park and the zoo. But it sounds like a viable plan since Himawari no Sato is along the way from Sapporo to Asahikawa.

                    • eco says:

                      Otaru Parking Issue

                      BBM, i will stay at Emina. Knowing parking at Otaru cost 500Y per hour. If I take cab from Emina to Otaru (about 9mins) will cost me 800Y, two ways 1600Y (considering i need to drive up to Yoishi after Otaru visit).

                      Any advice for me if to drive to Otaru or take cab (purpose is to save parking fee).

                      Do you think it is ok for me to park at Toppi for 2-3 hours to explore the Canal and Street before I leave to Shiroi?

                      At first I thought to drive to Music Box museum after visit > Toppi eat sushi (leave the car there) > walk to Canal > wall to Sakaimachi street and then detour to Toppi > drive North to Shiroi.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      I don’t think you can leave your car at Toppi for 2-3 hours. They have pretty limited parking. If you are just going to be at Otaru canal / Sakaimachi area for 3 hours, why not just pay for the parking? It’ll be about the same as taking cab to and fro and saves time.

                    • eco says:

                      Ok thanks for your advice. Where would you recommend me to park when time for me to explore the street after the canal?

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      You can just drive around and find the nearest available coin parking. But don’t drive along Sakaimachi itself, drive along the big road parallel to Sakaimachi. You can try the following carparks:





                    • eco says:

                      Thanks for your reply again. I plan museum in my trips mainly for the kids, hands-on and edu learning. Will consider if go on with limited time i have to cover so many places.

                      Asahi free tour with free beer, Sapporo have to pay for the beer. Anyway I will visit Sapporo Beer too.

                      Ok noted about the picture spot in Otaru, will dropby have a look.

                      Yeap, again Zoo is for the kids too.

                      Thank you for your kind soul in assist people around keep asking the same questions to you. You have a very good patience.

                      Now I need to finalise my Furano and Biei itinerary and also Shiretoko after Abashiri.

                      I am flying tomorrow, excited! Too much of food to taste.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      True that. My kids will probably enjoy the museum more than cafe-hopping. How old are your kids? I think my kids are too young to appreciate the educational aspect of places like the Historical Village, I would probably bring them if they were a bit older. For younger children, I prefer to bring them to run around Takino Suzuran Hillside Park or Moerenuma Park. Especially since they don’t really get such huge and uncrowded running spaces here in Singapore.

                      Free beer! I never knew they had that! Okay, I should visit Asahi Beer Brewery next time I’m in Sapporo.. Haha…

                      Have a great trip! You’re going at an excellent time.. Keep fingers crossed for good weather!

                    • eco says:

                      They are 12 and 7. Yeap I read that you brought your boys to the park.

                      Yeap, Asahi free beer 3 glass (free juice too) whereas Sapporo got to pay 500Y for 3 glass.

                      Did you visit Hinode Park Lavender Garden in Summer?

                      Below are my plan for 3 days in Furano – Biei:

                      Hope you could take a look if make sense in terms of time.

                      Day 12: 08/8 Monday: Lake Akan – Furano (Furano, 1 night)
                      A) Lake Akan – beautiful lake famous for marimo algae
                      1) Akankohan Eco Museum Centre
                      2) Visit Akan Ainu Kotan (Ainu Village) and the museum map code 739 341
                      3) Boat Pier
                      4) Pande Pan famous pastry shop

                      Drive to Furano

                      1) Rokugo Observatory, Furano Jam Factory, Anpanman Shop Map Code: 550 803 422
                      2) Furano Cheese Factory Map Code: 550 840 173 8mins fr. Log
                      *Log Yukari (check in)
                      3) Furano Winery and Grape Juice Facroty Map Code: 349 060 668 14mins drive fr. Log Yukari 9am – 6pm
                      > Campana della Vigna by Rokkatei (六花亭) which was near Furano Winery
                      4) Ningle Terrace / Windy Garden
                      5) Furano Marche and Furano Marche 2 (newly opened in 2015)

                      Day 13: 09/8 Tuesday: Furano (Furano, 1 night)
                      Nakafurano lavender field area:
                      1) Saika no Sato Sasaki Farm (big farm) http://www.lavenderfurano.com/ 22mins
                      2) Municipal Lavender Garden and Summer Sightseeing Lift
                      3) Farm Tomita and Tomita Melon House Map Code: 349 306 019 30mins fr. Log Yukari

                      Kamifurano area:
                      1) Flower Land Kamifurano (best flowerland in this area)
                      2) Hinode Park Lavender Garden

                      Day 14: 10/8 Wednesday: Furano (Day trip to Biei) (Furano, 1 night)
                      Route: Furano – Biei

                      A) Biei (Panorama Road)
                      1) Shikisai No Oka
                      2) Sanai No Oka + Sanai No Chaya Cafe Curve (tea)
                      3) Shinnei No Oka
                      4) Farm Restaurant Chiyoda + Chiyoda Farm (lunch)

                      B) Biei (Patchwork Road)
                      1) Hokusei No Oka hill observatory
                      2) Hill of Zerebu
                      3) Celebrity Trees

                      C) Biei (Shirogane Onsen)
                      1) Blue Pond
                      2)Shirohige Waterfall
                      3) Shirogane Fudo Falls
                      4) Mount Tokachi Observatory

                      Can I get a full detailed map of Furano / Biei in the tourist centre for free? I think it will be easier for our drive.

                      Day 15: 11/8 Thursday: Furano – CTS (Chitose, 1 night)
                      1) Morning breakfast at Furano
                      2) Obashi Cherry Farm (30mins from Furano)
                      3) 3:30pm drive 2hr 20min back to Chitose Airport
                      4) Chitose Rera Outlet > dinner > till 9pm return car

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      I’ve never visited any lavender farms before because my trips never coincided with lavender season.

                      For Day 12, you probably need to prioritize the places you want to visit in Furano. I don’t think you have time to visit all of them, so go to the ones you really want to visit first and if you have time then visit the rest.

                      I have never used a map of the Furano / Biei region before, not sure where to get one. I just relied on the car GPS. :p

  • eco says:

    May I know the exact location of Sankaku Fish Market? Is it near to the canal end or somewhere around Sakaimachi Street? Do there have free parking?

    When you visit music box shop, where did you park your car?

    If I plan to walk from Marchen Crossroads to Otaru canal, where would you suggest me to park the car? Normally how long we should spend to cover main spots there? 2-3 hours?

    Is the Topi Sushi restaurant walkable from the canal? How long?

    Thank you.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Sankaku Market is right beside Otaru station. I didn’t see any free parking there.

      When I visited Music Box Musuem last time, my car was parked at the hotel and we walked over.

      There are coin parkings all around Otaru where you can park at.

      How much time you are spending really depends on whether you are going to sit down to dine at the cafes along the way, whether you can going to try out the glass blowing activities along the way etc. The first time I was in Otaru, I spent two days there. Because we did glass blowing, candle making, stopped to eat sushi, cakes, have coffee etc etc. So it’s really hard to say.

      Yes, Toppi sushi is very near the canal. The canal starts just a stone’s throw away from Toppi sushi, and the main photo spot (where the tourist information centre is) is about 500m away from Toppi sushi.

      • eco says:

        Hi BBM, thanks for all your replies, very useful to plan my trip, appreciated.

        How was your glass blowing activities and candle making? From which shop and how much it cost per workshop?

        I don’t have two full days in Otaru. Probably a quick walk in the street and then drive up back to Shiroi Kobito > Sapporo. Thinking to leave about 3pm cause Shiroi close at 6pm.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          The candle making shop is this one:

          They have different workshops with different pricing:

          Glass blowing I can’t remember exactly which one I visited. There are quite a number of shops that offer different types of experiences, you can just roam around Sakaimachi and explore.

          • eco says:

            Noted with thanks BBM

            • eco says:

              Below is my Day 3 and Day 4 plan, self drive, do you think ok or will it be too rush?

              Route: Sunroute > Lake Toya > Otaru
              1) Sunroute Muroran > Cape Chikyu (Chikyu Misaki – Cape Earth) 地球岬 18mins drive
              2) Cape Chikyu > Lake Toya
              – Volcanic Science Museum
              – Enjoy free foot bath in front of boat pier at the lakeside
              – Lunch at Sendoan at Wakasaimo Main Store 仙堂庵 わかさいも本舗, 2F.
              – Lake Hill Farm famous for gelato, pudding and cheese cake
              – Silo Observation Deck Map Code: 321 726 760
              3) Lake Toya > Yoichi (neighboring town) Nikka Distillery Map Code: 164 665 2hr 6min
              4) Yoichi > Emina stay a night, Otaru 30mins
              – Dinner at Yabuhan Soba

              Day 4: 31/7 Sunday: Otaru – Sapporo
              Places : (use the printed map)
              Breakfast @ Sankaku Fish Market, Otaru Map Code: 164 719 530 / lunch at Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudou
              1) Music Box Shop (Marchen Crossroads)
              2) Le Tao cheesecake a must have and famous (Marchen Crossroads) > Free observatory
              3) Kita-ichiGlass Sangokan北一三号館 (Sakaimachi) for 12 layers ice cream
              4) Sakaimachi Street (境町通り), a preserved merchant district, now souvenir shops
              5) Former Temiya Railway Track
              6) Asakusa Bridge
              7) Otaru Canal小樽運河
              8) Shiroi Koibito Park白い恋人(on the way back to Sapporo) 600Y if go into factory
              9) Check in Hotel Mercure > dinner at Barikiya http://www.bariki-ya.com/, located at Tanukikoji 4-chome, underground shopping arcade, walk 10mins

              • bumblebeemum says:

                I think Day 3 it’s doable. On Day 3, just make sure you keep track of time to see what’s the latest time you need to leave Lake Toya by to make it to Nikka Distillery at least an hour before it closes.

                On Day 4, it really depends on how much hands-on experience you want to try out at Otaru. You may not be able to make it back to Shiroi Koibito in time if you take your time to explore all the shops, cafes and music box museum at Sakaimachi.

  • Joe says:

    Hi, I’d really enjoyed reading your informative travel blogs on Hokkaido! However, I have mixed feelings as to whether is it still safe to travel there after the radiation incident as I do not want to risk having to expose my little one…Pardon me for side tracking but just would like to understand what are the actual condition there as I’d never been to Japan and wondering how are the locals coping with it? Any safety precaution that we should be aware of to minimise risk of exposure? Thank you in advanced for clearing some doubts here…

    • bumblebeemum says:

      The locals just go about their lives as usual. But as a visitor, you really have to use your own discretion on whether you want to visit. The world is so big. If you’re worried about the radiation, then better not to go.

  • Wen says:


    We are planning to go Hokkaido this 18 Aug, not intend to drive. Let me know the plan below doable, thanks 🙂

    18/8 Departure via Thai airways
    19/8 8.30am arrive CTS
    Mercures Sappora Hotel
    Nijo Market
    Mt Moiwa
    20/8 Otaru
    Shokudou Misaki (is there bus transportation for both Shokudou & Minshuku?)
    Minshuku Atsuku
    Otaru Canal
    21/8 Toya
    Lake Toya
    22/8 Hakodate
    Red brick district
    IMO Hokodate Morning Market
    Mt. Hokodate
    23/8 Noboribetsu
    Hotel Mahorob Onsen
    24/8 Furano or Biei
    Is there any lavender or sunflower sight seeing which don’t need car travel?
    25/8 Sappora
    26/8 SIN

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You can get to Minshuku Aotsuku via the city bus or Otaru stroller bus I think. Take the buses bound for Otaru Aquarium. Alight at the aquarium and walk from there.

      As for Shokudou Misaki which is at Shakotan, I am not sure if there are buses there.

      For 22/8, Hakodate Morning Market needs to be visited in the morning. So I suggest you move it to the morning of 23/8.

      Your dates may be a tad late for lavender but you should just try Tomita Farm. It is walkable from Lavender Batake station.

      Other than that your itinerary looks good. 🙂

      • Wen says:

        Thanks dear for your suggestions 🙂

        Was comparing the cost on rail & self drive transportation below:
        1. ¥24000 ($317) for 7 days rail pass since we will travelling all days
        2. ¥54540 ($721) for 7 days Toyata car rental, $240 per pax (3 folks sharing)
        May I check the car parking & toll fees?

        For the period of 22 to 30 Aug, will accommodation need to be pre book?

        Is there accommodation nearby Skakotan or Shukutsu?

        Thanks so much

  • Benedict Herms says:

    Hi Tommy I would like to know where did you pick up and drop off your rented car by TooCoo! in Hokkaido. Thanks. Hi, at the car rental company located 5 mins drive away from airport. Ours provided us with shuttle bus

  • Gayle says:

    Hi bumblebee mum, our family of 2 adults and 2 children will be visiting Hokkaido in Dec 2016. The route is as follows
    New Chitose
    Lake Akan, Lake Mashu, Mt, Io, Lake Kussaro, Ito Tancho crane sanctuary
    New Chitose
    I am debating whether to get the HEP. From your experience, how is traveling on non-toll roads in winter. Is it doable, or should I just get a HEP to get on the highway when I am travelling between New Chitose, Otaru, Sapporo, Asahikawa and then Tomamu back to New Chitose?

  • Jayne says:

    Hi BBM, did u drive around in Sapporo? is it easier to train around to go to the curb market, Shiroi Koibito Park, and beer factory?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Sometimes I drive, sometimes I use public transport. For curb market, they provide free shuttle service from hotels in central Sapporo, so you should make use of that. For Shiroi Koibito Park, you can use the subway. For Beer factory, there is a bus to go there from Sapporo station. So you can visit these places even without a car.

  • jac chua says:

    Hi BumbleBee Mum, we plan to drive from Lake toya to Otaru in the morning and in between stop for lunch. CAn you recommend a few places good for lunch but preferably not niseko? Maybe standard set lunch, ramen etc Thanks

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Ermm.. what’s the timing you are looking at? Because typically if you are coming from Lake Toya, means you spent the night at Lake Toya, breakfast would have been included? So if you leave Lake Toya in the morning after breakfast, you probably wouldn’t need to have a lunch stop all the way until you reach Otaru? I would just drive straight to Otaru and have lunch there.

  • june says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum,
    My flight out from New Chitose Airport is 10am. I am worried it will be too rush to buy stuffs. Could you kindly advise if I could buy all food souvenirs inside the departure gate? Is there anything recommend to buy outside departure gate that does not have inside ? Is there any price diff. inside and outside departure gate? I am thinking if I should shop on arrival as my flight arrived at 830am
    Royce and 白い恋人 is a must.

    Your advise is much appreciated. Thank you.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You can buy Royce and Shiroi Koibito at just about anywhere. Lol… But I think the public area of CTS is a lot more happening with much more shops than the departure area. Usually when I have a morning flight out of CTS, I would go there one day earlier to do all my souvenir shopping and spend my last night at Air Terminal Hotel.

  • Lyrad says:

    Hi bumblebeemum, love your travel blog. Been most useful and informative.

    We are planning a summer holiday to Hokkaido in the first week of school holidays next year (end may to early June). Because of timeshare, we have accommodation in niseko for a week. Probably going to take it easy, but what day trips are doable from niseko? Have penciled in lake toya and otaru. Any other possibilities? Will be driving.


    • bumblebeemum says:

      Other day trips from Niseko you can do are Shakotan Peninsular, Rusutsu Resort and Noboribetsu.

      • Lyrad says:

        Thanks! Have you been to the amusement park at rusutsu? Noboribetsu would be to see hells valley and perhaps take a soak in the water – any kid friendly places to visit there?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Sorry for the late reply and I have been overseas.

          I have never been to the amusement park in Rusutsu. In general, amusement parks in Hokkaido look pretty old and out-dated to me. So I wouldn’t have too high expectation of it. I prefer to spend more time on food and scenery when I’m in Hokkaido and leave the theme / amusement parks to cities like Tokyo and Osaka.

          The most kids-friendly place in Noboribetsu would be the Noboribetsu Marine Park (NIXE). It’s not in the onsen town but near the train station (about 15 min drive from Jigokudani). Within the onsen town, there is the bear park which is very popular tourist attraction though not something I like so I have never been there.

  • Jocelyn says:

    Hi BumbleBeeMum,

    Wondering if you know of any private outdoor onsen which is available to rent without stay (half day trip) nearby Sapporo?


  • Sue says:

    Hi bumblebee mum,

    thank-you for sharing so much on self drive trips to Hokkaido. You have been a blessing to many who are planning trips to Hokkaido. I am using your blog to plan my family trip to Hokkaido 12 to 21 June. I have a number of questions. Hope you can help me and also give me some tips and suggestions regarding my itinerary.

    12 June : reach New Chitose and
    drive to Lake Toya.
    13 June : Otaru then to Sapporo
    14 & 15 June : sapporo
    16 June : Biei then to Furano
    17 & 18 : Furano
    19 June : Hoshino Resort Tomamu
    20 June : Air Terminal Hotel
    21 June : Fly out of New Chitose

    Qns :

    1) We are keen to take a look at the Hokkaido festival but worried Sapporo will be very crowded. Will it?

    2) According to our itinerary, we plan to rent car to Lake Toya and ditch car while at Sapporo and rent car again to drive to Furano. Will it be a hassle to pick up and return car twice?

    3) I saw you booked New Furano Prince hotel for $150 per night in your blog on budgetting for self drive holiday in hokkaido. May I ask how early in advance did you book it? I try to book it for June but there is no room available and the rate advertised on their website is now $630 per night up to 19 March.

    4) In your same blog, you also mentioned you booked a quad room and 6 of you shared the room. Do the hotels allow that? Do I have to declare my children when booking accommodation?

    5) Do you have any other hotel recommendation for Tomamu? We hope to go to Unkai Terrace. Wondering if there is any other budget hotel nearby. What is the lowest rate for Hoshino Resort Tomamu? I went to the website and it required a minimum two night booking.

    6) Have you been to Hoshini Tegatodokuoka Campsite? Would you recommend this for our family of 2 adults & 2 children (5 & 7)?


    7) I noticed it is rather common for onsen hotels to have shared bathrooms. Would you recommend staying at such hotels with two young children?

    Would appreciate your advice and tips.
    Thank-you so much for our time 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1) The city itself won’t be super crowded just because of the festival. The festivals sites will be crowded, but that’s what makes it fun. Lol..

      2) It does seem like a hassle. You will have to check the cost of two separate rentals versus one long rental and see what’s the price difference and determine if it’s worth the effort to save that money. Usually if it’s just one or two days, I will keep the car all the way.

      3) Yeah, the $150 deal I got was a lucky deal. I like to surf hotel booking sites like agoda and booking.com occassionally and that price just happened to pop out. Usually New Furano Prince Hotel is very expensive. I’m not sure when they have promotions, think you’ll just have to check periodically to see if any pops up.

      4) The hotel’s child policy allowed for children to stay without existing bedding. Usually for such hotels, I don’t include my children in the booking. So far I haven’t had a problem with it.

      5) Hmm… I’ve always only booked one night at Tomamu. I don’t think Tomamu’s booking for June is open yet, is it? When they open their summer booking, there is usually early bird discount. Otherwise, you can try the AirBnb there:

      6) I’ve never tried this before.

      7) I am okay with shared bathrooms, because my kids do go to the onsen and they will bath there. But I usually try to find rooms with at least a toilet in our room. It’s a bit of a hassle if the kids wake up in the middle of the night wanting to go to the toilet and we need to walk down the corridor for that.

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