Hokkaido with Kids (December 2014) Part 1: Sapporo

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

Let me start with how we spent our 3 days in Sapporo.  And at the end of the post, I will share more travel ideas for visitors, particularly first-timers.

Day 1: Susukino

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

We spent the rest of the day just shopping and eating around Susukino area, not forgetting to hit our favourite oyster joint, Go Tsubo.

Day 2: Susukino, Sapporo White Illumination

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

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

We bowled from 10.30am until almost 2pm and went for lunch and did a little shopping around the Susukino area before going back to the hotel to rest.    And in the evening, we did our first propoer sightseeing, heading to Odori Park for the White Illumination and German Christmas Market.

I have been to quite a number of illuminations in Japan, and to be honest, Sapporo White Illumination was rather small-scale in comparison.

While I wasn’t too impressed with Sapporo White Illumination after visiting the likes of Kobe Luminarie and Sagamiko Illumillion, I enjoyed strolling around the German Christmas Market.  Because, well, I have never been to a real German Christmas Market before.

Furthermore, I thought it was great that they had roaming Santa Claus going around the Christmas Market to take photos with visitors!   And check out those Matryoshka dolls, reminds me of Russia!

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

Day 3: Jyogai Ichiba, Mitsui Outlet Park Kitahiroshima

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

Below is a copy of the leaflet we picked up with their shuttle bus timing and the number to call to make reservation for the shuttle service.  Do note that reservation is required for the shuttle.

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

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

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

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

Image Source: Mitsui Outlet Park’s official website. Refer to their website for the bus timetable.


We spent the afternoon shopping at Mitsui Outlet Park Kitahiroshima.  Over there, we found a Lego shop with a nice play Duplo and Lego play areas for kids.  The food court also had a play area and a nice family dining area with soft, colourful chairs that were great for kids!

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

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

Other Sapporo Travel Ideas

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

Shiroi Koibito Park

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

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

Shiroi Koibito Park is beautiful in winter!

Shiroi Koibito Park is beautiful in winter!

Enter the chocolate corridor!

Enter the chocolate corridor!

Witness how the famous Shiroi Koibito cookie is made.

Witness how the famous Shiroi Koibito cookie is made.

Dine at the cafe with a beautiful view.

Dine at the cafe with a beautiful view.

Little snow huts for kids to play at.

Little snow huts for kids to play at.

Stay till evening time for the Christmas lightings.

Stay till evening time for the Christmas lightings.


Mount Moiwa

View from the ropeway

View from the ropeway

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

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


Sapporo Beer Factory


Sapporo Beer Factory in winter

The beer museum is free to enter.

Best place to grab some freshly brewed Sapporo beer.

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


Sapporo Factory

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

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

Sapporo Factory is actually a shopping complex.

Sapporo Factory houses a beautiful shopping complex.


Posts from the same trip:

Itinerary for 17-day Hokkaido trip with kids in December
Part 1: Sapporo (You’re on this post now)
Part 2: Asahikawa, Akan National Park
Part 3: Kushiro, Obihiro, Tomamu
Part 4: Niseko, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya, Rusutsu
Part 5: Otaru, New Chitose Airport

Posts from our other Hokkaido Trips:

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: New Chitose Airport, Lake Shikotsu, Lake Toya, Hakodate
Part 2: Onuma Koen, Niseko, Shakotan
Part 3: Otaru
Part 4: Sapporo
Part 5: Furano, Biei, Tomamu, Obihiro, New Chitose Airport

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Find more guides and itineraries for Japan travel on our Japan Travel Blog!


  • Connie says:

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

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

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

  • Jason says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    Very insightful blog on Hokkaido. I see that a lot family trips with kids. I’m actually planning for an anniversary trip next year February 2018. Not sure whether you have any itinerary for two adults for 7D 7N trip please. Appreciate any help on this.

    Thank you so much.


  • Angel Thiam says:

    Hi Bubblebee mum
    Planning my Dec’s trip and need sound advice from you, the Hokkaido travel guru 🙂

    1. Is there snow in early December? Snow I mean snowing
    2. For first timer, can you suggest 14 day itinerary with renting a car in mind. (Er… 2 adults with 3 early teens)
    3. Save to drive early December?

    Thanks ya 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1. Depends on your luck. :p But if you go to the snow resorts, I’m pretty sure there will be snow.

      2. You can try something like this:

      Day 1: CTS – Sapporo
      Day 2: Sapporo
      Day 3: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
      Day 4: (rent a car) Sapporo – Asahikawa
      Day 5: Asahikawa – Sounkyo
      Day 6: Sounkyo – Abashiri
      Day 7: Abashiri – Lake Akan
      Day 8: Lake Akan
      Day 9: Lake Akan – Tsurui (for the cranes) – Kushiro
      Day 10: Kushiro – Ikeda – Obihiro
      Day 11: Obihiro – Tomamu
      Day 12: Tomamu
      Day 13: Tommau – CTS
      Day 14: Flight back

      3. I can’t guarantee it will be safe, but if you drive slowly and carefully, it can be done. You can read more about driving in winter on this post:

      • Angel says:

        Thanks heaps for your advice. When I googled map the itinerary you have suggested, thought there will be a long drive daily as we are covering quite a fair bit of Hokkaido. Maybe I will just concentrate on the last few cluster you suggested. Arigato ya 🙂

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Yeah, unfortunately Hokkaido is huge so there is usually a fair bit of driving for any Hokkaido trip if you really want to take in the sights. Usually I don’t like to drive to and fro the same route, e.g. if I want to go to Lake Akan / Kushiro, I can use to Doto expressway to head east and use the same way to head back. But it’s boring so I prefer to do a loop up to Asahikawa / Sounkyo / Abashiri to head East and use the Doto way to get back so that I can see more things along the way. But yeah, it’s a lot of driving involved. If you don’t like to drive, then maybe can use the Doto to visit Tomamu / Obihiro / Lake Akan / Kushiro at a more relaxed pace.

  • Jesslyn says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum

    I will be traveling to Hokkaido in Mid September this year and would like to hear your opinion on whether is it worthwhile to make a trip down to the Mitsui Outlet Park ((:

    Thank you!

    • Queen Bee says:

      Haha… It really depends on how much you love shopping? I’m not big on shopping so I wouldn’t specially make the trip down to Mitsui Outlet Park if I didn’t have anything particular to buy, but my friend who travelled with us and loves shopping would always go to Mitsui Outlet Park when he’s in Sapporo.

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