Thursday, May 21, 2015

(Japan Jan 2015) Day 11: Noboribetsu to Tomamu. Visit Tomamu. Stay at Tomamu

Day 11 (2 Feb): Noboribetsu to Tomamu. Visit Tomamu. Stay at Tomamu

This day's itinerary:
(Day 10 of our 14 days JR Railpass)
0840-0850 Took a cab from our hotel at Noboribetsu to Noboribetsu train station 
0913-0955 Noboribetsu to Minami-Chitose via Ltd Exp train
1046-1210 Minami-Chitose to Tomamu via Ltd Exp train
1215-1220 Tomamu resort's bus shuttle from Tomamu station to the resort.
Had lunch at Tomamu resort
3 of us went skiing, 1 went snow mobile, 1 had a relaxing coffee break.
Evening visited Ice Village at Tomamu

Woke up early to have buffet breakfast at our hotel at Noboribetsu. Since we had already made arrangements for taxi (we informed the hotel the previous evening and they made taxi reservations for us) so by the time we checked out of the hotel, there were 2 cabs waiting for us (since we were 5 adults). It was just a short 10mins journey to Noboribetsu station and we had a nice chat with the taxi driver (in our limited Japanese).  Forgot how much was the costs though, but it was about 2000yen (per cab) I think.

At Noboribetsu station, waiting for the train.

There are no direct trains from Noboribetsu to Tomamu, therefore we had to transfer to another train at Minami-Chitose station. It was snowing pretty heavily by this time and it was really cold standing at the platform.

Since we had nearly 1hr to spend at the station before our train arrives, therefore we hanged out at the station to escape from the cold platforms.
Minami-Chitose station

Some coin lockers for luggage storage at Minami-Chitose station.

Waffle vending machine at Minami-Chitose station

Hot food vending machine at Minami-Chitose station. 
 Finally we managed to board our train towards Tomamu.
This would be my (and my husband's) 2nd visit to Tomamu. 
I liked Tomamu because it is conveniently located really near the train station, really lovely views from The Tower hotel, and also there's a Ice Village during winter season too!
Nice scenery along this route. 

Upon arriving at Tomamu station, they usually have Tomamu resort's shuttle buses on stand-by just outside the station. It's just a short 5mins bus journey to Tomamu resort.

Cousin's room

Nice views

Nice view from the room
 Since my room is not ready yet, therefore we left our luggage bags in my cousin's room while we headed out for lunch.
There are a small clusters of restaurants located just behind The Tower hotel at Tomamu resort that's linked to the hotel building via covered walkways.

By the time we were done with lunch, our room is ready. 4 beds in our room :)

panoramic view of our large room.

View from our room

The other tower

looking down...
 For the afternoon, my brother went for snow mobile, I took a nice coffee break at a cafe, while the 3 of them went for skiing.
Oh, did I mentioned that it was minus 18 degrees celcius on this day?

Anyway, I walked with my brother towards the snow mobile area, which was just a short 5mins walk from our hotel.

During our trip, snow mobile was 2600yen for 3km, 4800yen for 6km, and they have options for longer courses too (I forgot their rates for those).

Helmets for snow mobile

Snow mobiles
 Since I've already tried snow mobile on my previous trip, and I have no interest in skiing, so I decided to head for a nearby cafe near the snow mobile area for a nice cup of coffee while reading my e-book and enjoying the lovely snowscape from the warm cafe.

After my brother's done with snow mobile, we walked back to our hotel.

 Went to the small shop at our hotel to look for some snacks.

Bought these from the shop for our tea-break in our hotel room while waiting for the 3 of them to be done with their skiing. 

After the 3 of the return from their skiing (with complains of being cold and frozen butts), we all head out to the Ice Village.
I realised that for this year, the Ice Village was different from the one I went a couple years ago, and it was on a slightly larger scale too.

They cast a video projection onto this bridge which made it look like a frozen bridge (like Elsa's bridge in Frozen) whenever it sense that someone's walking towards it. Really cool!

To enter the ice village this year, there is a long slide where we have to go through...which was really fun!!
Brother went down first...

My turn...

Ice skating

Souvenir shop

Ice Bar

Igloo house

A real couple having their wedding at the Ice Chapel

 There's also a workshop room at the Ice Village where they hold sessions for a few different activities like making Ice Cups, or Snow flakes mobile phone strap...etc... 

Ice Cup
Snow flakes mobile phone strap. The white specks inside are real snowflakes which was preserved with some sort of liquid.
We went for the snow flakes mobile phone strap workshop. 

Using a black cardboard to head outside to catch snow flakes

Then choose the pretty snowflakes to be placed on this plastic disc

Once we are done, the staff will add some sort of liquid over the snowflakes which will preserve the shape of our snowflakes.

Had a quick visit to the Ice Chapel before we left the Ice Village

Bye bye...see you again next time...

Dinner time! We had dinner at a Ramen shop near our hotel.

While we were having our dinner, we saw a group of Japanese who looks like they were drunk, and 1 of the guy kept trying to take off his pants. 
The restaurant staff did tried to take control of the situation but not long after the staff went away, that group became rowdy again.
Well, that guy eventually did flashed his bare butt but luckily by then, we were already about done with our dinner and were just leaving the place. 

Go to previous blog entry: Day 10 Visit Onumakoen. Hakodate to Noboribetsu  / 
Go to next blog entry: Day 12 Tomamu to Sapporo


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  2. Hi , I am planing on my Hokkaido itinerary , tomamu is one of the destination, will be staying at The tower hotel, do I need to book the hotel shuttle with them , or the shuttle is going to be there every hours ? I'll be going by JR to Tomamu station .

    1. There's usually a Tomamu hotel shuttle bus on standby that coincides with train timings.
      I didn't had to book hotel shuttle on my both visits to Tomamu...there was already a bus on standby waiting just next to the train platform.

  3. Oh, very beautiful. I love to travel to Japan where I can see sakura

  4. Hi Samantha, is it feasible to do this route==>

    Arrive at fukuoka thengo straight to ==> yufuin(stay 1 nite===> beppu (stay 1 nite) ==> mount aso(stay 1 nite) ===> hakata (1 nite) ===> domestic flight to tokyo and stay 4 nites. I am not sure if i should slot in nagasaki or go to an in between place before flying to tokyo. 4 nites in tokyo seems too long (been there many times) can you please give me some advice? Thanks!

    1. I believe I've heard rumours of Mt Aso erupted not too long please go read up on that before deciding your itinerary. If so, then you can cut off your 1 night at Mt Aso.
      Also, if you are deciding between staying a night at Yufuin or Beppu, I'd recommend to go with Yufuin since it's a nice quaint little town (prettier than Beppu, from what I heard from my cousin, since I only been to Yufuin and not Beppu) although accommodation prices at Yufuin are more pricey than Beppu.

      If you could, I'd rather you spend 1 night at Nagasaki than Beppu.

  5. Hi! May i know is eating at Tomamu all restricted to hotel restaurants and cafes? Or are there other eating places? I am planning to stay for around 4 nights, however I'm wondering if we will be stuck having to eat only at the hotel as there isn't other places to choose to eat from.

    1. Yes, there's a small cluster of restaurants (6? 8?, can't remember) behind Tomamu Tower Hotel, there's usually a ramen shop there where I will settle my lunch there. Although it's not exactly cheap, but it's much cheaper than eating at the resort's official restaurants.

      4 nights are quite a long stay? You plan to ski/snowboard alot? You might get bored with the food selections by the end of your stay though. lol. Maybe cut it down to just 2 or 3 nights?

      There's a small corner of the souvenir shop at the Tower hotel that sells some cup noodles too.

  6. Yes I plan to ski! However I checked recently and their accommodation is already sold out.. May I know if you booked from their official website previously too? :)

    1. If I remembered correctly, I believe for my 1st visit to Tomamu, I booked the accommodation from Japanican's website. For my more recent 2nd trip to Tomamu, we booked from Tomamu's website.

      Yes, the accommodations at Tomamu Tower hotel is pretty popular.

    2. thanks Sam! in the end i couldn't get a room in Tomamu so headed to Kiroro! hope it turns out ok :)

    3. When is your trip? If your trip is during the current winter, then it is highly probable that the rooms are fully booked since it is pretty late to be booking the rooms at this point in time.
      But if you are looking at next winter season, then it is possible that the hotel have yet to release the rooms for booking. Try again a few months later.

      I recalled that I made my rooms reservations via the hotel's official website for my 2015 trip, but for my 1st trip to Tomamu a few years ago, I made my room reservations via japanican website.

    4. next week! i blame my procrastination haha. i wasn't firm on my itinerary yet so and researched around by, and by the time i wanted to book tomamu in early Dec it was fully booked for my dates. but thanks anyway, look forward to you next entries :)

    5. Oh!
      That's really soon! Haha!
      Well, enjoy your trip! :)

  7. Samantha could you advise when is the best time to book the room at The tower in case when we are going over in Dec 2016. I know it's abit too early to ask but we are planning early (in case rooms would be grabbed). Tomamu is 1 of the "Star" place we want to go. We are 2A2C just checking is 1N stay very expensive?

    1. You can probably try checking if the rooms are available for reservation from both Tomamu's website, as well as Japanican hotel reservation website.
      Maybe start checking about once every 2 weeks from 2016's June onwards?

      Often, hotels in Japan starts to open for reservations about 3 months in advanced, but there are also many hotels that are available for reservation like 6months in advanced or even more.

      1 night stay is probably about SGD150 per pax (not sure how they charge for kids) per night. So for example, 2 adults in a room cost around SGD300.
      Bear in mind, this is just a VERY rough estimate based on how much it cost for us on our previous stays at Tomamu.

  8. Seems like very expensive if charge by per headcount. Consider there are also payable activities, just 1N stay is going to hack off at S$1k...

    By the way have you been to Blue Pond? I am planning around mid-Dec for 10days because my husband cannot make it on last 2 weeks of Dec. My holiday must end by before 20 dec.

    I was thinking whether can make ot to Asahikawa zoo, ramen village and blue pond together in 1 day or not so that we dun have to stay 1N in Asahikawa area.

    Are you able to advise?

    Thank you :)

    1. If you plan to go ski resorts, in recent years, the weather have been pretty unpredictable. Eg, for this year's winter, many ski areas in Japan had to delay their opening dates in Dec due to there being not enough snowfall. Therefore, if you visit too early in Dec, there's a higher risk that the ski area will not be opened if the snow doesn't come early enough.

      I have not been to Blue Pond, so I'm not familiar with that place.

      You can probably visit Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa + Ramen village in a day, but please double check the transportation to get to the ramen village, as I had the impression that it is not that convenient to go.

      Also, if you are intending to go Asahiyama Zoo solely for the penguins march, bear in mind that the start of the penguins march season is also dependent on the temperature. The starting dates changes every year. Usually around mid Dec onwards, but if weather is not cold enough, then the zoo won't let the penguins out for the walk.

      Do a search on hotel room rates at Tomamu for this current winter season and you will know roughly how much a room will cost for next winter season next december.

    2. Thank you for your advise. Maybe I should give the skii resort a miss, too ex for our budget and the kids are still 11 years old and below.

      Do you think I should visit Lake Toya from Hakodate and then back to Hakodate before proceeding to Noborbetsu next day (and stay for onsen, bear museum and hell valley purposes)? I do not want to stay in Lake Toya since just to see the Lake and the hotel are not cheap.
      Can you advise please?

    3. Skip the day visit to Lake Toya if you are still intending to return to Hakodate for the night, and yet going to Noboribetsu the next day.

      I'd rather u spend more time at Hakodate, and then just go to Noboribetsu the next day.

  9. Hello,

    Thanks for the informative posts about Hokkaido! :) Would like to hear your advice about my itinerary. Hope you don't mind.

    I am planning to go Hokkaido with my husband early next year during the winter season. We are planning Sapporo > Otaru (Day trip) > Tomamu > Noboribetsu > Niseko. I wanted to visit Tomamu's ice village, but it seems to be a bit out of the way (we have to go to Niseko.). Was thinking of dropping Tomamu from our itinerary for Hakodate. Would you recommend that? We only have time for either Tomamu or Hakodate. We are first timers to Hokkaido. :)

    Thanks in advance!

    1. I've never been to Niseko before, so I can't really do a fair comparison between Niseko and Tomamu. Sorry.
      If you HAVE to go to Niseko, and don't have time to go Tomamu, then probably skip Tomamu for this trip.
      But if you don't have to go Niseko, then Tomamu is more convenient for your itinerary since you'd be going Noboribetsu.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Thanks for the quick reply! I meant if you only can pick one to go during winter, between Tomamu and Hakodate, which would you go? Is it worth it for me to give up a visit to the ice village in Tomamu for Hakodate? :)

  10. Thanks for the quick reply! I meant if you only can pick one to go during winter, between Tomamu and Hakodate, which would you go? Is it worth it for me to give up a visit to the ice village in Tomamu for Hakodate? :)

    1. It depends.
      If let's say I'm already visiting Niseko in my trip, then I'd probably skip Tomamu and go Hakodate, since Tomamu is also a skiing area, just that it has a ice village.
      The train ride to Hakodate will be long (around 4hrs from Sapporo) though. But I enjoyed ice-fishing at Onumakoen (a short train ride away from Hakodate) during my trip early this year in Feb. But if your trip is too early into the winter, the surface of the lake won't be frozen enough yet for the icefishing to be made possible.