Tuesday, December 1, 2015

(Japan Jan 2015) Day 14: Visit Sapporo Snow Fest. Stay at Hakodate

Day 14 (5 Feb): Visit Sapporo Snow Fest. Sapporo to Hakodate. Stay at Hakodate.

Every year, for a few days during Feb in winter (the dates changes every year), Sapporo will hold their annual Sapporo Snow Festival at Sapporo's Odori Park where there will be Snow sculptures, as well as ice sculptures at Sapporo's Susukino area on display. 
The event area at Odori Park has a bigger event venue, and even has food stalls and performance stages. 

On this day, we were to take an evening train from Sapporo to Hakodate (since we have to start making our way back to Tokyo since we are already on the last 2 days of our railpass usage) and stay overnight at Hakodate.  

But before taking the long train ride (we took the Ltd Exp train that departs Sappporo at 1929 and arrive at Hakodate at 2301, so it's about 4-5hrs train ride) from Sapporo (which is located in the middle of Hokkaido) all the way to Hakodate (which is at the southern Hokkaido), we have an almost full day to spend at Sapporo.

Therefore, we visited Sapporo Snow Festival on this day at Odori Park.

This is the Sapporo TV Tower located at Odori Park. There's an observatory deck up the tower which I recommend that you visit to see a nice view of the snow sculptures along Odori Park.

tickets for admission to Sapporo TV Tower.
 After purchasing the tickets from the foot of the TV tower, we took 2 elevator rides to reach the observatory deck.  Below are some of the pics which I took from the observatory deck.

There's also a souvenir shop at the TV tower which sells many omiyages (gifts which you can purchase to bring home to friends/relatives).  They also sell the popular Potato farm over here too.

My husband and my grandpa LOVES this!  
Although most foreign tourists might think Shiroi Koibito White Chocolate biscuits are the most popular souvenir to buy from Hokkaido, but in my opinion, Potato Farm is also a really popular product. 
Potato farm is a popular souvenir which tourists (esp many fellow Singaporeans whom I know of) will buy and bring home as gifts.  It is a product from Hokkaido, therefore it is extremely difficult to find this outside of Hokkaido in the other parts of Japan.  
Usually, when I visit Tokyo, I can still purchase these from 1 of the souvenir shops inside the departure lounge of the airport before I board a flight to return to Singapore, but these are so popular that I often see a sign which restricts customers to only buy up to a maximum of maybe 4 or 5 boxes per person.  
Once, my flight departing Tokyo was a late flight (around 11pm I think) and all of the Potato Farm products were sold out! I had to take a photo of the "sold out" sign on the empty shelves as a proof to show my grandpa that I tried to get for him but too bad they are sold out.  -_-

Anyway, back to the Snow Fest's sculptures...

I wonder what PW, cousin R, my hubby, and my brother were looking at...

There's also a temporary ski slope at Odori park where there are exhibition skiers and snowboarders performing at certain timings of the day during the snow festival period.

Star Wars
There are many food stalls at Odori Park during Snow Festival too.  The large variety of food was too tempting for us to resist...especially my squid-loving cousin R who always cannot resist buying them whenever she sees squids.

These fried squids were soooooo good!! We bought 2 portions of these to share amongst us.

Lost sight of my hubby for awhile...next thing I know, he came back with these...

Cousin R bought this. I'm not sure what it is...but seems like there's cheese inside. Yums!

There's also an area consisting of food stalls selling ramen, rice...etc....if you want to have a decent lunch instead of just street food.

Saw quite a few Olafs at the snow fest this year.

We spent quite a few hours at the Snow Festival area since we took our time to stroll along Odori Park.  
After that, since we had a late lunch/early dinner at my fav restaurant Kani Honke for more crab...again...

But, bear in mind that during Sapporo Snow Fest period, it is extremely difficult to get a seat if you just walk-in without any reservations.  We couldn't get a table the previous day, that's why we gave it a try again on this day since we will be leaving Sapporo in the evening.

We were very lucky that since it was a somewhat lull period of the day (too late for people who wants lunch, yet way too early for dinner) so we were able to get a table after about 1hr of waiting at the restaurant's lobby area.  
My hubby and cousin's boyfriend PW (well, more like cousin R's hubby now....congrats again guys!!) were soooo tired that they both slept almost instantaneously the moment we sat down on the seats at the lobby while we wait for the next 1hr for an available table.

Yes, this entire building is the restaurant Kani Honke, which specialises in crab cuisines. 

After our late lunch/early dinner, since we have about 1hr before having to catch our train to Hakodate, we spent some time buying some last minute souvenirs as well as some food to eat onboard our long 4hrs train ride later in the evening.  

While heading back to our hotel at Sapporo to collect our luggage, PW asked the hotel staff whether they sell any small plushies of the cute racoon mascot (Ponte-kun) which was on display next to the hotel's reception desk, since my cousin R had been so enamoured by it every time we walked past it over the past couple of days during our stay at the hotel.
To our surprise, the hotel staff said they do sell small versions of it!! So in the end, PW bought 1 for cousin R, whereas my hubby bought 1 for me! :)

Due to this last minute purchase, we very nearly missed our train. hahaha.

The large Ponte-kun...and our smaller versions of Ponte-kun which Cousin R and I have.

Although nearly everyone would just take a 2hr domestic flight to get from Tokyo to Hokkaido's Sapporo....but as previously mentioned in my earlier posts, for this trip we decided to use our 7 days (for PW and cousin R) and 14 days (for my bro, my hubby and I) JR Railpass to get from Tokyo to Hokkaido and then back to Tokyo again.  

Therefore, since it's such a LONG travelling journey between Sapporo and Tokyo, therefore, since it's the 2nd last day of our railpass usage, we'd have to start making our way down south towards Tokyo on this day.

Which was why we took the evening Ltd Exp train for our 4-5hrs long train journey from Sapporo to Hakodate.

Unless you are willing to put in time to research and plan your train journeys really carefully (and don't mind really long train journeys of course), I'd strongly recommend that you just take domestic flights to Hokkaido instead of doing what we did and go to Hokkaido using trains.  
I really spent quite some time to plan our train journeys for this trip. 
Most of Hokkaido's train lines have infrequent train departure timings...therefore it is crucial that you plan the train journeys (I use hyperdia's website extensively for this) before you go to Hokkaido...unless you are just travelling within the central Hokkaido areas like New Chitose Airport to Sapporo/Otaru.
Except for the trains running between New Chitose Airport to Sapporo and Otaru (which have 1 departure every 15mins or so), other than that, almost all of the other train lines in Hokkaido have really infrequent train departures...like 1 train every hourly, or 1 train every couple of hours.

Since it's around 11pm at night by the time we arrived at Hakodate, therefore we just went to our hotel (we stayed at Smile Hotel just opposite Hakodate station again) to put our luggage and then bought some food from the convenience store to eat in our room before heading to bed since it's another early day the next day.

Our room at Smile Hotel Hakodate.

Go to previous blog entry: Day 13 Visit Otaru

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