We arrived in Kushiro in the evening. After checking in to our hotel, we went to Fisherman’s Wharf MOO for dinner. There was a food court on the second floor where we could order from the various stalls and dine at the common tables in the middle.
Zangi (fried chicken) was a popular snack in Kushiro, so we ordered a Zangi don (fried chicken rice bowl). The zangi don was soooo good!! The chicken chunks were huge and juicy – the kids couldn’t stop eating them!
Another highly recommended dish that you should try when in Kushiro was Sanmanma. It was a bit like a sushi roll, except the grilled fish was on the outside and the rice was inside – very special!
Day 7: Kushiro – Tsurui – Obihiro
The next morning, we woke up bright and early and drove out to a robata (charcoal grill) restaurant near the port called Shakebanya for breakfast.
How Shakebanya works is, you hop into the store, grab a metal tray and put what you want to eat into the tray. Then you go to the cashier to pay for it. They will then bring your tray of food over to the dining area and set up the open grill and place the food your ordered to cook on the open grill in front of you.
After breakfast, we drove to the Kushiro Marsh Observatory. We did not pay to enter the observatory, instead we went for the free boardwalk outside the observatory.
The marshland observatory circular trail (also called Hokuto Observatory Park) is a 2.5km wheelchair-accessible (hence stroller accessible) circular trail. Let’s start with some warm-up exercise!
The walk started well, with the kids being rather enthusiastic.
It was frankly not very interesting, and I was quite happy when we reached the observation deck.
We took a mandatory celebratory shot with the sign at the observation deck to prove that we’ve been-here-done-that.
And this is the marshland view that we trekked all the way to see. Not too sure I could appreciate this.
If you are planning to bring the kids on the boardwalk, you may want to bring a stroller in case the kid doesn’t want to walk back. MF refused to walk back and kept asking me to carry him and he was freaking heavy with all the winter clothing! Totally regretted not bringing the stroller.
If you do not wish to walk, there is actually a parking lot along route 53 immediately after Kushiro Marsh Observatory where you could observe the marshland from. So… I wouldn’t recommend doing the walk with kids unless you really wish to exercise.
After we finally made it back to the car, we drove further up route 53 to Tsurui Ito Tancho Sanctuary where cranes gathered to feed during winter. The kids were both concussed from the long walk and fast asleep in the car, so hubby and I just parked along the road and jumped off to take a quick look.
After this, we drove to Tsurumidai, another winter feeding ground for cranes. The kids woke up and got to see the cranes. For a moment I thought they were going to sleep through the whole ride and miss the cranes, good thing they didn’t! The kids enjoyed the crane-watching.
The drive along route 53 was very interesting because along the way, we could see cranes flying in the sky.
There was even a ‘watch out for crane’ road sign!
We drove back to Kushiro for lunch at Kushiro Washo Market. The market is most famous for its katte don (勝手丼) where you pick your own ingredients from the many stalls in the market to make your own chirashi don.
Also Read: Hokkaido’s Best Food (by region)
What you do when you arrive at Washo Market is to first head for a stall that sells rice to buy a bowl of rice. They usually have different sizes for you to choose from.
With your bowl of rice, you then head to any ‘勝手丼’ stall and pick the ingredients to make your own chirashi don. The choices are endless!
Below are some of our katte don from Washo Market.
Read More: Our visit to Kushiro in June 2016
The stall owners don’t usually arrange the ingredients nicely and they’ll just dump them in as you order them. If want to take nice photos like us, you can ask for the ingredients to be served separately, then you can arrange them yourselves to take a nice photo. Lol…
If there are people in your group who do not eat raw food, no worries. There were stalls in Washo market selling cooked food too.
After our very sumptuous lunch, we left Kushiro and drove to Obihiro. We checked in to our hotel, Richmond Hotel Obihiro, a hotel right next to JR Obihiro station that we always stay in by default when we’re in Obihiro, and rested until it was time for dinner.
Also Read: Our visit to Obihiro in June 2016
When in Obihiro, there is only one thing on the menu: BUTA DON (pork rice bowl). We wanted to go to my favourite buta don shop, Panchou, which was located right next to Richmond hotel – but they were closed by the time we got our lazy bums out of the hotel!
So we settled for another buta don shop, Butahage at Obihiro station. The buta don here was also fantastic!
Also Read: Butahage opens in Singapore’s Liang Court!
We were also pretty impressed with the service. The staff actually helped us cut up a portion of the meat into small pieces when he noticed we had kids with us!
Day 8: Obihiro – Tomamu
The next day, after checking out of our hotel, we drove to a popular bakery cafe in Obihiro: Mugioto (one of the shops under the bakery chain Masuya Pan).
Mugioto was a great place to have breakfast with the kids. They actually had a playroom for kids inside the bakery!
With the kids well occupied in the playroom, we could take our time choosing from the wide selection of bread and pastries they had.
Since it was winter, we sat at the indoor seating area. There was a toaster in the cafe area where we could heat up our bread – piping hot bread guaranteed!
In Summer, you could sit outdoors in the lawn and the kids could go run around and play on the tractor while you enjoy your meal.
After we had our breakfast, we left Obihiro and drove to Tomamu. If you are in Obihiro for the first time, I recommed visiting Rokkatei‘s main store. Rokkatei is a big name in Hokkaido for their famous confectionery. I was not a fan of Rokkatei and wanted to spend more time in Tomamu so we skipped it.
As we left Obihiro, we were greeted by beautiful snowy mountains and MF got super excited and kept asking, “Are we reaching? Are we reaching?”
We were quite lucky to have good weather and hence a nice winter scenery to admire during our drive from Obihiro to Tomamu.
Pretty sure if we had done this drive on a snowy day, I would have a very different story to tell. As I learned from our drive to Niseko later in the trip.
Due to the peachy weather, we arrived at Tomamu way ahead of time at 11am. Our room was not ready for check-in yet since check-in time was at 3pm. While bumming around the lobby, We saw a reindeer roaming outside the lobby and went to check it out.
We wanted to go reindeer sledding but they said they were fully booked for the day. So we went for the photoshoot instead. We changed into the Santa Claus clothes provided for the photoshoot.
The photoshoot was SUPER value-for-money! For only 500 yen, the photographer took around 30 photos with our own camera (mixture of family shots and individual shots). There was no pressurizing to purchase large print-outs at exorbitant prices, it was all soft copies in our own camera. We super enjoyed the photoshoot.
After the photoshoot, we just hung around to play with snow aimlessly. Because we are Singaporeans and that’s what we do when we are surrounded by snow.
After we got too cold, we decided to go for lunch at one of the restaurants within the resort.
After lunch, the kids went to play at the kids play area in the lobby.
There was a nursing room just next to the play area – with FREE diapers of various sizes!
When the kids got bored of the play area, we went to borrow a snow sled (free of charge) from the reception and went to play in the snow.
And after doing all that, our room was finally ready and we went back to the room to rest. We were psyched to be given a FREE upgrade to a quad room (from twin room) with 4 beds and 2 toilets! We were also given a room on a pretty high floor and had a great view of the surrounding mountains.
Hubby and I took turns to go to the onsen. Since we went right after check-in, the resort was still pretty quiet (all the other guests were either still skiing or haven’t checked in yet I guess) and I had the whole onsen to myself. The onsen here was infinity pool style, looking out to a blanket of pure white snow. It was soooo shiok!! And I even got to witness diamond dust (a phenomenon that happens when the hot steam from the onsen meets the super-cold clear sky) – it was a surreal experience.
In the evening, we went to the Ice Village. In early December, most of the village was still under construction which was a tad disappointing.
Thankfully the giant ice slide was ready and MF went on the slide over and over and over.
We also rented a snow tube and went snow tubing.
When the Ice Village is fully operational (usually from end December), you would find an ice-skating rink and numerous ice igloos housing facilities like an ice bar.
After visiting the Ice Village, we went for dinner at one of the restaurants in the resort before calling it a day. For the record, the ikura don I had was their KIDS MEAL. So you know, kids in Hokkaido have ikura rather than nuggets and fries. lol…
The next morning, we had buffet breakfast that was included in our hotel stay. I loved the buffet breakfast at Tomamu resort! I probably went overboard with the shrimp and squid sashimi but it was a buffet!
After breakfast, we went for the reindeer sledding. It cost 2000 yen for an adult and the kids below 4 could ride for free!
However, there was a maximum weight limit so the sled couldn’t take all four of us. So we paid 2000 yen and I rode with the kids while poor hubby followed us on foot to take photos. Heh heh… Poor hubby.
After sledding, we checked out and began our long drive to the next snow resort at Niseko.
I totally enjoyed our stay at Tomamu. It was the second time we stayed here in the year (read about our Summer stay here) and both stays were extremely enjoyable.
I found Tomamu to be an extremely value-for-money snow resort in comparison to Niseko and Rusutsu. It was a ski-in ski-out resort, but the ski lifts outside the Tower were not operating in early December (according to their website they only open in late December). The kids ski area and snow activity park were also not open yet. If you want to visit during the December holidays, try to plan the trip as late as possible and hopefully the kids ski and play areas would be ready then.
Posts from the same trip:
Itinerary for 17-day Hokkaido trip with kids in December
Part 1: Sapporo
Part 2: Asahikawa, Akan National Park
Part 3: Kushiro, Obihiro, Tomamu (You’re on this post now)
Part 4: Niseko, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya, Rusutsu
Part 5: Otaru, New Chitose Airport
Posts from our other Hokkaido Trips:
Hokkaido in Autumn (October 2013):
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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