BumblebeeMum
Hokkaido & Tokyo in December with 10 year old
Hokkaido & Tokyo in December with 10 year old

Hi Bumble Bee Mum,

I love your Blog on Hokkaido on Dec!

I am planning to go to Hokkaido this December 18 to 31 with my girl (10 years old) but still thinking is it too long trip or should I stop by to Tokyo or other place.

After reading your blog, wow!! I realize there is so many places to visit in Hokkaido!!
However I don’t drive, and this is the first time I go Hokkaido. I am in a loss of where is the best place I should visit and I am abit worry can I manage to travel around alone with her or not…

I wish to bring my girl to ski resort but is it difficult to travel there? Do you know any train that can go to any nice ski resort?

I read and find out this Takino Suzuran Park which can ski there. Do you recommend this or is it better to go to those ski resort you went?

Do you have any itinerary that can recommend so I can travel around easily?

Thank you so much!!

May

By May on March 31, 2015

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31 Comments

  • May says:

    Hi Bumble Bee Mum,

    I love your Blog on Hokkaido on Dec!

    I am planning to go to Hokkaido this December 18 to 31 with my girl (10 years old) but still thinking is it too long trip or should I stop by to Tokyo or other place.

    After reading your blog, wow!! I realize there is so many places to visit in Hokkaido!!
    However I don’t drive, and this is the first time I go Hokkaido. I am in a loss of where is the best place I should visit and I am abit worry can I manage to travel around alone with her or not…

    I wish to bring my girl to ski resort but is it difficult to travel there? Do you know any train that can go to any nice ski resort?

    I read and find out this Takino Suzuran Park which can ski there. Do you recommend this or is it better to go to those ski resort you went?

    Do you have any itinerary that can recommend so I can travel around easily?

    Thank you so much!!

    May

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Thank you for visiting my blog. πŸ™‚

      Please be prepared that it is not going to be easy to move around during winter with your girl on your own. Firstly, it is difficult to walk in snow and easy to slip and fall. Secondly, luggage with wheels are extremely difficult to push around on snowy pavements. It is much easier to move around with backpacks, but winter clothing is very heavy so backpacking is going to be very tiring. If your girl is strong enough to carry her own luggage then it’ll be easier for you. But carrying a backpack and walking around snowy pavements is not going to be easy for a 10 year old.

      What I suggest is for you to base yourself in Sapporo. Find a hotel that is directly connected to Sapporo station so that you can get from New Chitose Airport to the hotel WITHOUT having to step into the snow. This way, you can bring a trolley luggage case.

      Do side-trips to ski resorts from Sapporo. So if you want to spend 3 days at a particular ski resort, what you do is to bring a smaller backpack and just pack enough clothes for those 3 days. Ask the hotel in Sapporo to store your big trolley luggage for you.

      You should have no problem getting to major snow resorts like Niseko, Rusutsu and Tomamu from Sapporo. Hokkaido Resort Liner operates direct buses from Sapporo to Niseko. Rusutsu Resort also operates direct buses from Sapporo to Rusutsu Resort. Tomamu Resort can be accessed by train (Tomamu station).

      Tomamu Resort is the easiest to access by train. You can take the LTD. EXP SUPER OZORA from Sapporo direct to Tomamu station (100 minutes). I have never tried taking the train there, but I believe you can easily catch a resort shuttle from Tomamu station to the resort tower.

      Takino Suzuran Park is quite hard to access without a car. It seems like a hassle to get there via public transport, and I’m not sure if the snow park will be ready by December. I wouldn’t recommend going there in December.

      It is important to note that most snow parks, especially those close to Sapporo, will only be ready in January. In December you’ll be looking at more of skiing and snow-boarding rather than snow activities such as snow rafting, snow tubing, snow mobile etc. If you want to try snow activities, your safest bets will be Rusutsu Resort and Tomamu Resort which starts their season earlier. My recommendation is to push your snow resort visits all the way to the end of the month to increase your chances of the snow parks being ready.

      A possible itinerary would be:

      Day 1: Arrive in Sapporo
      Day 2: Sapporo sightseeing
      Day 3: Otaru day trip from Sapporo
      Day 4: Asahikawa day trip (visit Asahiyama Zoo – hopefully the penguin parade has started)
      Day 5: Sapporo – Rusutsu
      Day 6: Rusutsu
      Day 7: Rusutsu – Sapporo
      Day 8: Sapporo – Tomamu
      Day 9: Tomamu
      Day 10: Tomamu – Sapporo
      Day 11: Sapporo – New Chitose Airport

      If you are looking at a 14-days trip, I suggest you spend the first 3 days in Tokyo visiting Tokyo Disneyland. Spending 2 full weeks in the harsh Hokkaido winter with your girl on your own will be very tiring for you. Furthermore, Tokyo Disneyland is just awesome in December as they get in the Christmas mood. You wouldn’t want to miss the Christmas decorations and christmas parade at night.

      • May says:

        Hi! Thank you so much for your prompt replied and your suggested itinerary!

        Will it snowing during Dec 18-31?

        For Asahikawa day trip, can I book from the hotel or I can travel by the train?

        Rusutsu & Tomamu are 2 different ski resort?

        Thinking to bring my girl to the chocolate factory too. I think train can bring me here right?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Hi,

          Yes it will be snowing in December. Quite heavily in fact.

          You can book the Asahikawa Day Trip from the JR Travel Service Desk at JR Sapporo station. They have a package that includes return train tickets from Sapporo to Asahikawa + return bus tickets from Asahikawa to Asahiyama Zoo and entry tickets to Asahiyama Zoo.
          http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/pticket/pticket03.html#06

          Yup, Rusutsu and Tomamu are 2 different ski resorts.

          The chocolate factory, I assume you are referring to Shiroi Koibito Park? You can get there via subway to Miyanosawa station. From the station, you will need to walk around 10 minutes to get to Shiroi Koibito Park.
          http://www.shiroikoibitopark.jp/english/

          If you have plans to visit Shiroi Koibito Park as well as Otaru, do purchase the Otaru-Sapporo welcome pass. The pass can be purchased at the JR Travel Service Desk at JR Sapporo station.
          http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/railpass/welcome.html
          The pass includes return train tickets from Sapporo to Otaru and a separate one-day Sapporo subway card. You should use the subway card for the day you are visiting Shiroi Koibito Park. So let’s say you are doing Sapporo sightseeing (which includes Shiroi Koibito Park) on day 2 and you plan to visit Otaru on Day 3, you should purchase the pass on Day 2 so that you can use the subway card first.

          There is also a tiny Royce chocolate factory located within New Chitose Airport. You can drop by to check it out before your flight. πŸ™‚
          http://www.royce.com/contents/english_rcw/

          • May says:

            Wow ! you are like a Japanese tour guide!! Thank you so much for your detail information.

            Do I need to go to 2 different ski resort (Rusutsu and Tomamu)? Are they both provide about the same activities?

            I heard that the best ski resort is Niseko, famous of “powder snow”! Niseko is not easy to access to?

            Thanks!!

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Haha.. My friends always say that, about me being their Japan tour guide.. Which is why I started the blog!

              I like Rusutsu because it is the only resort that offers dog sledding (which is something I want to try so much!) and because of their Crayon Shinchan Kids Park and Kids School which looks great for kids.
              http://en.rusutsu.co.jp/winter-season/kids/

              I like Tomamu because of the Ice Village, classic Japanese hospitality and its serenity.

              Niseko is indeed the most famous ski resort in Hokkaido, but unless you are a professional skier (I kind of assumed most Singaporeans aren’t.. lol.), powder snow or not does not make much difference to beginner skiers like me. In fact, Tomamu being a quieter ski resort probably has more powdery snow, because powder snow (which if I’m not mistaken is the loose powdery top layer that accumulates over the night) gets ‘skied out’ very quickly by the large number of skiers in Niseko. I didn’t really enjoy Niseko because it was too touristy and everything there was crazy EXPENSIVE. And I didn’t feel like I was in Japan at all while I was in Niseko. If you want a nice and charming place to ski, Tomamu is my top choice.

              • May says:

                Wow dog sledding !! something very different!! I also wish to have a try!!

                If I book Mecure hotel or ANA Holiday Inn in Susukino area (as mentioned in your blog), will there be any bus from these 2 hotels to the Rusutsu or Tomamu resort?

                Do you have any hotel recommend in Sapporo area which is good and not expensive?

                So sorry I have been asking so so many questions. Really appreciate your advise!!

                Thank you sososo much!!

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  Hi,

                  The buses to ski resorts and trains to Otaru / Asahikawa / Tomamu all depart from Sapporo station. Mercure Hotel and ANA Holiday Inn Susukino are both in Susukino which is 2 subways stops away. I would advise you to stay near Sapporo station instead since you are using public transport and travelling alone with your child. It would be a lot more hassle-free for you.

                  Near Sapporo station, try JR Inn Sapporo.
                  http://www.jr-inn.jp/en/
                  Their website says “Accessibility without being drenched with rain”. That sounds like exactly what you need!

                  I did a quick check on Agoda for JR Inn in December and you’re looking at around SGD110 per night for semi-double room / SGD150 for double room before tax. Don’t forget to check out credit card promotions (e.g. Agoda always has credit card promotions that give further 5-7% discount).

                  Another one I found was Hotel North Gate Sapporo.
                  http://sapporo-northgate.gloriahotels.com/

                  From the map it looks like it is right smack outside Sapporo Station’s North exit! And it only cost SGD120 before tax for a superior twin room, that’s very reasonable!

                  The hotel that is within JR station (i.e. you don’t even need to step out of the station to get there) is JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo.
                  http://www.jrhotels.co.jp/tower/english/guide/

                  But it looks pricey. Not sure if any of the hotel booking websites have any promotions.

                  From the looks of it, Hotel North Gate Sapporo seems like the best option in terms of location and price!

              • May says:

                Great! I will go check it out now!

                Thank you sososo much for your help and advice!!

                Really appreciated!!

                Thanks Again!

  • May says:

    Hi,

    Is there any transport from Rusutsu direct to Tomamu?

    I have bring my girl to Disney Land last year. Is there any other place I can stop over? Or any other place in Hokkaido I can visit from day11 to day 14?

    Thanks!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      No, there is no direct transport between Rusutsu and Tomamu. You need to go through either Sapporo or New Chitose Airport.

      You can consider stopping over at Osaka? Universal Studios seems really fun, it’s a place I’ve been wanting to go. There is also an aquarium at Osaka which is pretty popular with children.

      In Hokkaido, December is mostly about skiing and snowboarding. The only place I can think of to spend more time at in Hokkaido are the ski resorts. You can spend more time at Rusutsu and let your girl try skiing for 1 day, snowboarding for 1 day, play at the crayon shinchan kids park for 1 day and other snow activities (such as dog skiing and other winter experiences) for 1 day.

      • May says:

        Hi morning,
        Sorry, can check with you again…

        Is there any direct transport to chitose airport from both Rusutsu and tomanu resort?

        I am thinking to arrange ski resort as last destination then fly to tokyo…But will stay weekend in skii resort… Hmmm should I avoid weekend there?

        Thanks!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Hi,

          There is a direct bus between Rusutsu and New Chitose Airport. However the information for this year’s winter season is not out yet. You can check back again later on this website.

          Between Tomamu and New Chitose Airport, you can take the train with 1 transfer at Minami-Chitose station. You can use hyperdia to check the train schedule. Key in TOMAMU as your starting point and NEW CHITOSE AIRPORT as your destination.

          • May says:

            Hi!! Really thank u so so so much for your help!

            So sorry I have been asking you so so many questions . But you really helps me a lot on my planning!!

            Really appreciated!

            Thank you! I really Love your blog!! : )

            • bumblebeemum says:

              No worries. Feel free to pop back any time you need help. Thank you for visiting my blog! πŸ™‚

              • May says:

                Hello BumbleBee Mum!

                I have booked my tickets and will stop over at Tokyo from 28Dec to 2 Jan.

                Do you have any recommendation of the hotel in Tokyo (not too expensive hotels) that can travel easily from and to Haneda or Narita Airport?

                Thank you so much!

                • Hi, I seldom use Haneda airport. But for Narita airport, accommodations around Ueno are usually cheaper. You can try Super Hotel Ueno. The Keisei line gets you between Ueno station and Narita Airport directly.

                  • May says:

                    Hello Bumble Bee Mum,

                    Here is my draft plan itinerary for my trip to Japan from 18 Dec To 2 Jan. I do not drive. So mainly I will take train and bus.

                    Please help me to see is it ok? Is there any other place that I can I still can add in? or should I make any changes to it?

                    Worry of Dec 31 and Jan 1 (new year eve and new year day)… kind of worry most shops and places close and we don’t know where can we go and visit. ..

                    18 Dec (Fri) : Singapore to Sapporo (reach Sapporo around 9.30am)

                    19 Dec (Sat) : Mitsui Outlet Park Sapporo

                    20 Dec (Sun) : Sapporo, Odori, Sapporo TV Tower, Shiroi Koibito Park, Curb market or Jogai Ichiba, Susukino

                    21 Dec (Mon) : Otaru

                    22 Dec (Tue) : Asahikawa

                    23 Dec (Wed) : Sapporo to Tomamu

                    24 Dec (Thur) : Tomamu

                    25 Dec (Fri) : Tomamu

                    26 Dec (Sat) : Tomamu to Sapporo

                    27 Dec (Sun) : Free day (to Mount Moiwa Ropeway or lake toya ok?)

                    28 Dec (Mon) : Sapporo to Tokyo

                    29 Dec (Tue) : Disney Land

                    30 Dec (Wed) : Gotemba

                    31 Dec (Thurs) : Sanrio Land ( kind of worry it will be super crowded due to new year eve….)

                    01 Jan (Fri) : New year day-Meiji Shrine (any suggestion where to go as worry all shop close on new year day…)

                    02 Jan (Sat) : Tokyo to Singapore

                    Thanks a lot for your help again!!

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      For 27th, Lake Toya is a bit hard to get to without car. Mount Moiwa Ropeway wouldn’t be a problem.

                      Sanrio Land will definitely be crowded. Furthermore there is shortened opening hours that day. I would go to Sanrio Puroland on 30 Dec instead. As for Gotemba, is there any reason why you want to make a day trip out to Gotemba? It is not particularly interesting, and you are already going outlet shopping in Sapporo. If you want to go outlet shopping, you can go to Venus Fort Odaiba which is much more accessible and you spend less time on the roads. It says on their website that they are open everyday. So what I recommend is going Sanrio Puroland on 30th and Odaiba on 31st.

                      You can refer to this guide about visiting Japan during New Year:
                      http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2276.html

                    • May says:

                      Hi! I heard from friends about strawberry picking in Tokyo!

                      Do you have any idea and recommendation ?

                      Thanks a lot!!

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      The farms will be located at the outskirts. You can refer to this website for strawberry farms near Tokyo:
                      http://www.bestlivingjapan.com/strawberry-picking-day-trips-tokyo/

                    • May says:

                      Hi Bumblebee Mum,

                      Sorry, is me again….

                      Last Year I went to Osaka in November, I have bought those padded long jacket for myself and my girl from Uniqlo. Is it enough for Sapporo?

                      I thinking on the day I reach Sapporo, I can walk around and find some waterproof pants and boots. Any place you can suggest that I can find good and reasonable price winter wear and shoes? Will it be cheaper in Sapporo as compare to Singapore?

                      Thank you so much!

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Umm.. nope. Uniqlo’s outer wear are not warm enough for Sapporo. I just bought waterproof winter pants for my kids from Traveller World at Vivocity last weekend. THey were having a sale and the pants only cost S$35 (usual price about $60). They were also having sale for their boots. You may want to take a look, not sure when the sales will end.

                      I tried looking for waterproof pants in Hokkaido for my kids and couldn’t find them, only found waterproof boots at Mitsui Outlet Park. The boots I found were on special offer with very limited sizes and designs, so we were lucky to be able to get some that fit. If not, at normal price, I didn’t think the prices of the boots in Hokkaido were cheaper than what I saw at Traveller World in Vivocity the other day.

                    • May says:

                      Thanks for your prompt reply and advise!

                      I still thought Sapporo will be cheaper and more variety as winter time should be a lot of shops selling winter cloth and shoes…

                      So I better listen to your advise and buy here.

                      Thank you so much!!!!

                      Wish you have a wonderful day !!

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Yeah, I thought the same until I tried to do that. Then I realised variety yes, but not necessarily cheaper. And mostly for adults, especially ladies. I did manage to pick up quite a bit of cheap and nice winter wear for myself. But I didn’t come across much kids clothing. Anyway vacation time is too precious to be spent hunting down clothing. And you may be caught in a situation that you just have to buy something that is not so nice and yet pricey because that is all you can find.

                    • May says:

                      Ya you are right!
                      Hmmm do I also need one waterproof pants?

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Are you going to ski resorts? If you are, you definitely do. If just walking around the cities, for me, I don’t wear waterproof pants in the cities coz I’m vain (LOL!). My down jacket reaches down to my thigh. So even if I fell, my butt will still be dry. :p

  • May says:

    Hi Bumble Bee Mum,

    Thanks for your prompt reply!

    Ya , I think you are right! I should arrange 30 Dec to Sanrio and 31 Dec to Odaiba.

    The rest of the days look ok?
    Is it ok for me to arrange to go Asahikawa on 22 Dec? I worry the Penquin Parade still not yet started. Or should I move to 27 Dec then go Asahikawa?

    So you think I can go any place on 18 Dec, the day I reach Sapporo ?

    Thanks!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yes, you should move Asahikawa all the way back to 27 Dec if possible. That’s a good idea. πŸ™‚

      Sapporo is not that exciting in terms of sightseeing. You can split the places you want to visit over the 2 days (18 and 19) and spend more time eating. Not kidding, there is so much good food around Sapporo. Just go around cafe-hopping at the 1001 cafes from Sapporo station all the way to Susukino and before you know it, the day is over.

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