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Friday, 9 February 2018

Hokkaido 8D7N - Day 2 (Hakodate)

This post is a continuation from HERE.


Destination: Hokkaido Japan
Duration: 8D7N 14th Dec to 21 Dec 2017
Mode of Travel:  Hokkaido Passion Package Tour with Chan Brothers Travel
Flight: SQ to Tokyo, Air Do/ANA domestic to Hokkaido
Damage: S$3451/per pax (including all transportation, 7 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 6 dinners).
Tipping for tour guide and drive ¥6400/per pax (approx. S$80)
Travel Buddies:  Voo family of 4 with 2 teenage boys
Weather: 1 to -16 degrees with plenty of snow
Currency: We divide Yen with 80 to convert to S$
Time difference: 1 hour ahead of Singapore


Day 2

Due to the flight delay, our "real" trip started on the second day.  But it wasn't bad, in fact I was a bit reluctant to leave Tokyo.  Just too little time (and too little money) for everything I guess.

Moving on, this map (screen shot from Chan Brothers' catalog) shows our route for 8D7N in Hokkaido, starting from Hakodate.

We covered quite a bit for the day.  All with more than enough time except at 2 places which I really like....

Outline itinerary of Day 2: (Hakodate)
* Goryokaku Tower/Fort Goryokaku (五稜郭)
* Hakodate Morning Market Square (函館朝市)
* Hakodate Ropeway/Mount Hakodate  (函馆山)
* Meijikan Post Office (明治馆)
Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse
Onuma Quasi-National Park(大沼国定公園)

We left Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo at 5.00am, reached Haneda Airport an hour later without jams.

Boarded ANA domestic 15mins before it took off.

It was a pleasant short flight of 1 hour.

I "abused" my cap, napped a bit and we touched down Hokkaido.

Atour guide (lady in black), Sayuri came to "collect" us from Hakodate Airport.
Coldness hit us hard though we were so prepared.  It's going to take a day or 2 for the body to get use to the weather.

We had Chan Brothers red bean pan cake for breakfast lolxx...
It was a 1 hour coach ride before we reached our first stop in Hakodate,
Goryokaku Tower
(address, directions, admission fees and other information can be found in the website)

It was quiet around 9.30am in the morning, which was good, we almost had the entire viewing deck to ourselves.

My big boy Darren enjoying his moment of serenity, while I was too busy with the camera, missing out moments that I should had enjoyed.
Too engross with photo taking is not a good thing actually, taking photos meanings watching things on the screen, as good as watching TV instead of looking at the real thing.

Historical Fort Goryokaku (五稜郭) in amazing perfect star shape given to the fact that it's built in 1855.   It's beautifully, powdered with snow looking like a giant snow flake.
 Within Fort Goryokaku was a Magistrate Office before it became a public park in 1910s.  The bare trees are actually cherry blossoms.  So in spring it would be a different spectacular sight of a pink star.


There were cafes, restaurant, souvenir shop, nice photo worthy corners at the 1st and 2nd floor of  Goryokaku Tower.

There was also a Duty Free Drug Store outside the tower, where I bought Meiji collagen and sports tape.  Couldn't buy everything in one go due to time constrain with tour group.  So I realized the best "strategy" was to go into EVERY duty free drug store whenever I see one!  Taxes were deducted upon payment once you show them your passport.  The convenience simply encourages shoppers even more lolxx....

After a stay of 1 hour, we were on the road for a short ride of 15mins or so.

Hakodate Morning Market Square (函館朝市)
9-19 Wakamatsu, Hakodate-shi, Hokkaido, Japan (beside JR Hakodate Station)
The market opens as early as 5am but I read that it's the best to visit after 8am so that all stores are open.  The market closes around 2pm so you have to plan the visit a bit especially for free & easy travelers.

Coping with the cold was one thing, the snow on the floor turned into ice which was really slippery to walk on.

There were plenty of of fresh seafood sold, many were rarely seen in Singapore.

It's a pity that we couldn't buy any back to cook, so we die die need to eat a bit before we leave the market.

We joined the crowd at this stall.

We had grilled scallop and fresh urchin.  It was simple and good without complicating cooking method or much seasoning.  Price forgotten, sorry >.<


I was surprised by the sweetness of the urchin.  It's like eating egg pudding in seafood flavor.  My hubby who's not a big fan of seafood didn't appreciate it and my kids were "useless" too lolxx...

Besides outdoor wet market, there's also a section of indoor with stalls selling dried seafood, spices etc.

No matter how tempting they looked, I did not buy any since I don't cook often nowadays.  But for those who loves cooking, this should be a heaven.
There's this Dai Kou Ku drug store near the entrance where I happily tugged half a dozen of lychee eye drops that was raved by many.  When I came back to try, it was like dripping medical oil into my eyes sia!  Cheated by social media rave AGAIN 😠  I don't like it the least bit though the packaging is cute and pink 😢

Last snaps of Hakodate Morning Market, some giant octopus.

It's curled up but it be easily more than a metre if it stretched it's tentacles.

We walked through the ice skating carpark to get back to our coach.  Snow boots are very important to visit Hokkaido in winter.

Here, our red bus which was with us throughout Hokkaido.

There weren't any high rise buildings around, maybe due to frequent earthquakes and that the population in Hokkaido is only 5.8million.  Singapore is already 5 million -____-|||  The congestion is sickening but our government is in love with it, oh well....

We were grateful to have a responsible driver and comfortable coach to bring us around.   It was another few minutes ride to the next destination.

Hakodate Ropeway (website for prices and other information - http://334.co.jp/eng/)
which brought us up to Mount Hakodate.

19-7, Motomachi, Hakodate-shi, Hokkdaido 040-0054, Japan
Tel: (0138) 23-3105

The ticket booth with Ms Saruyi taking care of the purchase of tickets.

While our tour guide was busy at the ticket booth, we peeped at their radio station.  It's a pity that no DJ was on duty then.

And selfie.

The cable car was huge enough for 30pax or more.

The ride was amazingly smooth and fast, we couldn't feel the cable car moving at all!

Most people visit Mount Hakodate for it's night view.  Our visit was supposed to be on the first night, but since we missed our flight, we had to make do with a morning visit and wasn't too bad either.

This is the best pic of me taken by Sayuri in the cable car.  Love it so much and it's my FB's profile pic now, heehee...

Memorable family pic on Mount Hakodate of 334m high.

Typical tourist pic with signage: Mount Hakodate (函馆山)
In case you are a new reader, my bunny beanie was bought from Beijing, shoes from TaoBao and the rest from Uniqlo.  I had been wearing these pieces numerous times during past winter trips, they were cheap but warm (and cute enough, heehee...)

After visiting  Mount Hakodate was time for lunch.
I took a pic of the entrance of the restaurant thinking that I would be smart enough to find out the address, but I couldn't 😓

The table setting was exciting enough.

We had a pot of fried rice, tempura, steamed pumpkin, chawanmushi.....

and a hot plate of assorted seafood.

My kids gave their scallops to me, and I hit my "quota" for scallops for at least the next 3 good months.

Meijikan Post Office (明治馆)
11-17 Toyokawa-cho, Hakodate
The very dark red building covered with woody vines, suggesting it's age, like an old man covered with wrinkles.  It's build in 1911 and was converted to a shopping mall only in 1962.

Not enough time was given to admire the building, I wasn't particularly interested at what's selling inside.  Only knew it's some musical box.
 There was a costume rental shop in it which I wanted to get a kimono, but the tour guide said that it's not worth it as it's too cold to take outdoor photo shot, only can do indoor which doesn't fully "utilize" the costume :(

Some mailboxes were still kept outside the building.

Should had taken more photos of Meijikan Post Office, sigh.....

Moving on right behind was Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse which was less than a min's walk.

Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse
14-12, Suehiro-chio, Hakodate, Hokkaido
Tel: 0138-27-5530
Hakodate Port was found since 1859, along with it was Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse at the port, but the warehouse we are seeing now were rebuilt in 1909.
Source of information from: https://hakodate-kanemori.com/en

Clicking into the above website, you may see a listing of shops, cafes and restaurants here.  It's really a pity that we didn't have enough time to explore.... sigh..... that regret may make me visit Hokkaido again in another season.

One of the Japanese tibit shop we popped into.  Everything was visually tempting and fascinating, whether familiar brand or not.

Huge Sapporo Drug Store where a bought another few items.  Damn shiok to shop in.

The red brick warehouses with white snow and black frames was picturesque, just that my photo skills is lousy.

Moving indoor again.  Purposely visit this shop to find Hello Kitty for a friend.

Hokkaido's Hello Kitty is purple de.... also bought a Rilakkuma pouch for my son's "unconfirm girlfriend".

I wonder why I didn't buy anything for myself, I bought everything for friends....

But we ate.  Petite Merveille bite size cheese cakes tasted like cheese clouds, the fluff melts in the mouth.
Didn't get a close pic of these little clouds cos my kids gobbled theirs up really fast and I squashed mine while opening up and it became too ugly for photo >.<   It came to Takashimaya's Hokkdaido Food Fair recently, selling at S$2.50/pc and I missed it.

Happy anyways.

I bought some honey here, haven't open up till today.

My son braved outdoor without his jacket.  Somebody gave the kitty a scarf, it was too cute not to take a pic.

Hokkaido Port.

Sea view with a real huge christmas tree, thank god no wind.

I wished I had taken a thousand photos here.

Spidermen or Santa?

We were on the road again and passed by Hokkdaido train station.

Onuma Quasi-National Park(大沼国定公園)
041-1354 Hokkaido, Kameda District, Onumacho, Japan
It's 90.83km², too big for us to even cover half of it.  We simply stayed around in a small area near a indoor resting point.  Snow was thick and it was difficult to walk farther anyway.

The park was fully covered with snow, it's really beautiful.  It's really pathetic to live on the equator and had to pay so much to see snow when the locals see until they hate it lolxx... 

This time I took more photos but I should be doing better.  Shall I seriously go for a photography course?

"Thaw" time here.  We "thaw" by eating ice-cream lolxx...  Eating ice-cream is the best thing one can do in winter!

Squid Ink ice cream.... too difficult to imagine the taste.

We had milk and the squid ink.  They tasted the same.

We gotten to see more of the park while driving off, we enjoyed the beautiful snow view while we could.

By this time my shoes gave way, luckily I had another pair with me.

We reached our accommodation for the night:

Toyako Manseikaku Hotel
21, Toyako Onsen, Lake Toya, Hokkaido, Japan

The room was very spacious, enough for 4pax, but we were having 2 rooms.
It's however a bit too old.

Our WC was a normal butt warmer while my sons' room had a basin on top.  It's a genius water saving concept which I hope to have at home too.

The hotel's lobby was like our rooms, spacious in it's old way.

The ice-cream bartender was somewhere else but could be summon with a bell on the table lolxx...

The little souvenir shop was fascinating where I bought a big box of Lake Toya goodies for my sis since it couldn't be bought else where.

We checked out a store on the opposite road of the hotel.

We tried to conversate with ojisan but he ignored us :(
He was doing cavings on wooden swords.

Took a pic and bought some pouches.  I always had this impression that merchandise in Japan were expensive.  Not any more, almost everything was affordable, prices comparable to Singapore.

We walked farther down along the street and saw Christmas lightings.

It's different from our Orchard Road, their lightings were confined in a small area, it's a different feel altogether.

Dinner was hotel's buffet.

Their children's corner left a deep impression.
I am short, so it was easy for me to bend down to get in to "steal" some children food.

We tried not to over eat.

After dinner, we rolled about with our phones in the room for an hour or so to digest dinner, then it's Onsen!
Onsen is naked hot spring bath, male and female are separated.  So we had to double confirm, cannot enter into the wrong section, else a tragic embarrassment.

Yukata were in the wardrobes.  Most ppl wear them to onsen cos it's fast to strip and wear back, and you know.....
The feel of wearing a traditional Japanese bath rope is very shiok de, it's free some more, MUST WEAR lolxx...

A basic rule to wear Yukata (for both men and women) is right flap overlap by the left.  Only a deceased would wear it the other way.  So you have to wear it correctly since you aren't dead yet.
Our tour guide gave us a tip that for men, tie sash with single loop ribbon below the belly button, whether you have a tummy or not.  Ladies tie at the waist, higher also ok as long as you don't risk exposing the top.  Single loop or bow ribbon depend on individual's "skill" le lolxx....

Pic of the entrance only cos it's impossible to take any photos inside.
All onsen are more or less the same.  As said earlier male and female are seperated, but you have to be naked.

My first naked hot spring was many years ago in Korea and I am already very thick skin, not shy at all despite of droopy boobs and flabby fat tummy.  For those who are still conscious, believe me that nobody inside stares at you or judge your body.  Everybody will be taking their shower and dip into the hot spring minding their own business.  Unless you have 2 penis or 4 breasts totally out of human form, then everyone will look >.<

If you skip onsen because of your own silly conservative mind set, you are missing out the incredible experience of baby soft skin and very deep sleep (after the onsen).  I am not sure is it the onsen but my right ankle which had been giving problems for almost a year recovered!  YES RECOVERED after a few nights of onsen!

Basically the situation is:
* There will be shoes racks with numbers.  Most people wore slippers provided in the hotel room.

* Before entering into the hot spring pools, there will be baskets/pigeon holes which are numbered as well.  Looked for the same number you placed your slippers, strip naked, put your yukata and bath towel into the basket/pigeon hole.

* I brought my handphone along, kept it covered with my clothes, so far so safe.

* Other then my own facial wash, I used everything provided in the public shower area.  It's common to see Kose or Shiseido shower gels, shampoo and condition.  I would say it's better to use the toiletries provided cos' it's more moisturizing, suitable for local's climate.

* Everybody sits on a stool to shower, nobody stands up.  So monkey see, monkey do, just tilt your butt if you need to wash that bottom area.

*  After showering, walk with your chin and chest up with pride into which ever pool that fancies.  If you are shy you may end up sneaking like a thief, walk properly and normally sia.

* Little white hand towels provided are not use to cover private parts.  You wet it slightly in the hot spring and put on the head which helps to keep your head warm especially in outdoor onsen.

* One may need to get use to the hot spring by putting your legs into the pool for a min or so before entering into the pool entirely.

* When your body is warm enough after dipping in the indoor pool, you should walk out to try the outdoor pool (if available).  It's simply the greatest pleasure in life: your body is all relax without any constrain of clothes in hot spring; the air you breathe in is cooling, your lungs never feel so fresh as you watch the snow falls...... awwwwww......... you found the purpose of being alive man!

Must must must try the onsen, though I failed to convince my own son Luis to go >.<  After the onsen, we all sleep like we never slept before.....  We fell farther in love with Hokkaido...

Day 3 probably will take a little longer as I am busy with CNY.  Thanks for popping by 😚

ps. special thanks to my King Luis editing the videos for me