We arrived in Sapporo from Otaru in the afternoon. It was raining pretty heavily, so we checked into our hotel in the Susukino district and rested while trying to decide what to do next. Our original plan was to spend the rest of the day walking around the Susukino district, but the heavy rain deterred us from doing so. In the end, we decided to drive out and park at the underground parking at Odori Park which was connected to Sapporo’s underground shopping arcade. The parking was expensive, but with kids around, there was no way to be out and about walking in the rain.
We explored the underground shopping arcade and various department stores connected to it, stopping for tea break at Nana’s Green Tea at Parco. On hindsight, we should have parked our car at Parco and have tea there and receive parking discount. So a tip to anyone who wishes to drive in Sapporo: park your car at department stores where you intend to shop or dine, most department stores give parking discounts if you spend there.
After our tea break, we continued along the underground shopping arcade until we reached the exit for Tanukikoji. From the underground shopping arcade, you can take the escalator up to Tanukikoji 4 Chome or Tanukikoji 3 Chome. We went to Tanukikoji 4 Chome to have dinner at my favourite ramen shop, Barikiya.
After dinner, we explored the rest of Tanukikoji. At 3 chome,we spent some time shopping at the large duty free shop called donki ho-te (ドン・キホーテ) which sells all sorts of things (snacks, toiletries, toys, luggage cases etc.) and is open 24 hours! It is basically Sapporo’s version of our Mustafa Centre.
After shopping at Donki Ho-te, we decided to call it a day and went back to our hotel to rest.
On our second day in Sapporo, we started bright and early with a visit to Odori Park. In my previous visit, we went to the Eastern end of Odori Park near the TV Tower, so this time, we went to the Western end where the Sapporo City Archive Museum was located.
After a short walk in the park, we drove to Jyogai Ichiba (Sapporo Central Wholesale Market). We had breakfast at Kita No Gourmet. Check out their irresistable menu!
The kaisen don here was THE most generous chirashi don I have ever eaten. There were like 10 types (okay, I didn’t count exactly how many there were) of sashimi overflowing from the giant bowl. It was bigger than my face!
We also ordered a sashimi platter, chutoro and ootoro (fatty tuna) sashimi. Look at the colour of the ootoro sashimi!! So white and beautiful!!
My friend’s mum, who doesn’t take raw food, ordered the grilled gindara and it was super delicious too! We also ordered a hairy crab to try, but it was not very nice.
After our breakfast, we walked around the market to check out the various stalls selling all kinds of seafood and fruits.
Our next destination was Nakajima Koen where the Sapporo Festival was being held.
After exploring the festival, we drove on to Mitsui Outlet Park. The rain had cleared and it was bright and sunny for the first time in our trip! We decided it was a waste of such good weather to be stuck indoors, so I dropped my friend and his mum off at the outlet park and drove to Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park to let the kids have some fun.
And boy, did they have fun!! There was so much for the kids to play there! First we went to the dome with a giant net structure very similar to the one at Hakone Open Air Museum which we visited last November.
Just outside the dome was a giant ‘egg’ which was a basically a bouncy structure where kids could bounce around and slide down.
There was a hill next to it where we helped ourselves to one of the giant balls available and rolled them up and down the hill. The balls were bigger than MY!
MF went up and down, up and down… He has unlimited energy!! Hubby and I took turns to go up and down with him, it was quite tiring!
As we walked further into the park, there were more play areas:
There were also some pretty cool slide areas:
We could easily have spent the whole day there, but we only had a few hours because we had to go back to the outlet park to pick up our friend. The kids were super happy, I’m so glad we made the trip there!
We went back to the outlet park to pick up our friend and his mum, and drove to the nearby Snaffles Cafe at Kiyota for tea. We tried some of their cakes and tarts, but I still like their signature catch cheesecake best. We were quite sad that they didn’t sell the strawberry shortcake we had at the Hakodate store here.
We were trying to decide where to go next, choosing between Hitsujigaoka Observation Park and Mount Moiwa, when suddenly it started raining heavily. So both options were out and we decided to just go back to Susukino.
For dinner, we initially wanted to go Kanechan, a popular yakiniku shop located in the same building as Daruma‘s main store (a super famous jingisukan restaurant with a long queue outside) at South 5 West 4 (南５西４). However, Kanechan was full and couldn’t accomodate us, so we just walked around the block and found another yakinuku restaurant called Kinzan（きんざん）, located inside Sanyo Building (サンヨービル）.
After our yakiniku dinner, we went to Go Tsubo (五坪) for some oysters (yes, oysters for dessert – only in Hokkaido) before returning to our hotel. Go Tsubo is my favourite hole-in-wall joint in the Susukino district at South 6 West 4 (南6 西４) selling oysters for 105 yen each (and the owner always gives extra!)
On our third day in Sapporo, we started the day with a visit to Odori Park. Since it was hubby and friend’s first visit to Sapporo, we went for the standard walking route from Sapporo TV Tower, to Sapporo Clock Tower, to Hokkaido Government Building and back to Odori Park.
A surprise find was a flea market being set up at the open air carpak beside Sapporo Clock Tower. There were lots of second hand clothes and toys being sold for dirt cheap prices! (We bought some toy cars for the kids for 10 yen each!)
After our walk, we decided to find a place to eat. Hubby and his friend wanted to visit Nijo Market, but hubby’s friend’s mother did not eat raw food and had enough of visiting markets (and watching the bunch of us eat our sushi and sashimi), so we decided to split.
I dropped hubby and his friend off at Nijo Market where they went to have sushi. I brought the mum to the famous Ramen Alley in Susukino for some ramen. We ordered a touristy Sapporo ramen recommended by the shop owner that comes with Sapporo’s famed miso soup base, Hokkaido butter and corn.
After filling our tummies, we went to Sapporo Beer Factory.
After a quick tour of the free museum, there is the mandatory stop to have some freshly brewed Sapporo beer! I recommend getting the taster set of 3 types of beer which comes in a nice stand with descriptions of the beers.
Next, we went shopping at the adjacent shopping centre, ARIO. It was a great place to bring the kids: they had cute character shopping carts which you could use for free (if you could get your hands on one)! There was also a free play area for young kids located outside Toys R Us.
There was a train that went around the shopping centre which the kids (and adults) could hop on for a fee. There was also an indoor playground / arcade (chargeable) but we skipped it because MF was sleeping. So if you are looking for a child-friendly shopping centre to visit in Sapporo, do visit ARIO next to Sapporo Beer Factory!
From ARIO, we drove on to Sapporo Station area where we did more shopping and eating. My favourite place to visit in the Sapporo station area is the food hall at Daimaru’s basement. There are Kitakaro, Kinotoya, Le Tao and lots of other yummy confectionary shops there.
The Kitakaro shop there sells a dessert limited to the Daimaru store which is basically a cup full of cream with a little bit of sponge cake in the middle. It comes in different flavours and I ordered the original flavour.
The Le Tao store there sold their double fromage cheesecake in slices. Although they did not have a dining area, I just had to buy a slice and stood around to eat. I so love their double fromage cheesecake! It was World Cup season when we were there and they had a special soccer ball cupcake which MF said he wanted to try. Yumz.
There was a Kinotoya cafe at Daimaru, but if it’s their cheese tart you are after, I recommend you head to Kinotoya Bake in Sapporo station (near the East exit gantries). That store sells nothing but cheese tarts and the aroma of the freshly baked tarts will envelope you while you are queueing for your tarts! I so love Kinotoya’s cheese tarts! It is also sold at New Chitose Airport.
After all that snacking, we went for dinner at my favourite Tonkatsu restaurant, Tadumura (たづむら) at Daimaru 8th floor. (Forgot to take pics this time round, here’s a pic of the restaurant from my previous visit.)
Summary: Itinerary Outline for Hokkaido Self-Drive with Kids (June 2014)
Part 1: New Chitose Airport, Lake Shikotsu, Lake Toya, Hakodate
Part 2: Onuma Koen, Niseko, Shakotan
Part 3: Otaru
Part 4: Sapporo (You’re here now)
Part 5: Furano, Biei, Tomamu, Obihiro, New Chitose Airport