As I sit down writing this post, I can't believe my long-awaited trip to Japan has recently ended. I just love visiting that country, and this time around we got to visit Hokkaido, the northern part of Japan, and it was just absolutely stunning. I fell in love with it right away and I seriously can't wait to go back. A place filled with gorgeous mountain views and crashing waves, incredibly fresh seafood and delicious ramen... ahh! I miss it so much.
We stayed about 2 days in Sapporo, the main city in Hokkaido. We took a flight from Tokyo, which only took a little over an hour - we reckoned it was faster to do so than to take the train, and probably cheaper, too! The New Chitose Airport in Sapporo was also filled with awesome restaurants and knick-knacks, that surely, if it wasn't closed by the time we got there, I would have immediately filled my suitcase with it ...
On our third day in Sapporo, we took the 30-45 min train to Otaru. I say 30-45 because in the morning there was no rapid train, so we had to take the local train which took 45 mins. We were still fairly jetlagged, hence our early start to the day.
//warning: bazillion photos ahead....//
Arrived at the train station and welcomed with welcome bells! ;)
Looking back to this cute station! We didn't get a chance to go to the Otaru Fish Market which is just 10 o'clock to the station, but who knows, maybe next time, when C is feeling better?
We made our way down the main street (Chuo-dori) towards the canal and I just fell in love with the architecture in this cute town, seriously! Everything was just so quaint and almost reminded me of some European influences.
When you head down this cute street, at the end of it is the main canal. Here is C with the Tsunami sign, and of course the obligatory canal shot. I definitely have the euro-feels here because of the many cities in the world built around canals that I've loved, like Venice, Bruges and Amsterdam.
It must've been an absolute pain for the actual building owners, but I absolutely love buildings with overgrown vines on them... it just makes such a statement without much work.
And what is it about the Japanese Posts? They're so adorable. Especially since the Japanese style is not very bright, all of sudden there's something bright in the midst of grays and neutrals and minimalism.
The gorgeous view of the snow-capped mountains. Something about Japanese snow… for some reason it still sticks even though it was 11 degrees this day!
Then we made our way to the Sakaimachi Street, where all the awesome glass outlets and goodies were to be found. All the little buildings and the vines were so pretty to me, I wonder if they would be all in green in the summer?
While walking along Sakaimachi street, I noticed these hanging barricades from the side of the hill. I had seen this a lot throughout the highways and railways in Hokkaido, is it really for an avalanche? Or to help people from falling through? Hmm… really not sure!
Someone enlighten me, please!
And oh the quaint streets of Otaru.
We came quite early so we didn't have a ton of company, but there were little glass blowing shops, Le Tao brand of pastries, and oh-so-fresh seafood. I just loved wandering around the streets and finding something new.
One thing I absolutely love about Hokkaido is their milk and sweets products… The milk itself is honestly not too far from what we get here in Vancouver but what they do with it is what makes it extra special for me. It's just extra creamy and extra vanilla-y - which is never a bad idea ;)
LeTao is a brand of pastries that originated first in Otaru, and we just fell in love with their Double Fromage everything - cake, ice cream, all that.
I discovered that C didn’t really like to look at glass artwork so much this trip – things you find out about your spouse is hilarious! Haha. But we took a look at some of the shops – it really reminded me of my trips to Venice – with canals and glass shops and gorgeous architecture. Also, it reminded me a little bit of Vancouver, because we spotted the sister clock tower in Otaru! Apparently the Vancouver clock maker also donated it to Japan, and this is where they put it, of all places.
After wandering around this area, we were starting to get hungry. My pottery teacher recommended us to try the standing sushi place at the Otaru Station, as apparently it was part of a Michelin Star group! We're always game for fresh sushi, plus from a well-recommended place.
And my goodness... it was the absolutely the freshest and best sushi I had on this trip. It was at such an amazing price, too! It was 2200 yen for 10 pcs of sushi... omakase! You really can't get that price anywhere else. ESPECIALLY when Hokkaido Uni is involved. I've really grown to love uni, and no better place to get uni but in Hokkaido.
I had heard about amazing sushi in Hokkaido but I didn’t understand until I got here. Everything was so perfect and fresh and just amazingly prepared. I didn’t need to have a super discerning tongue to know that what I was having was top of the food chain seafood.
And right after our meal, we paid our dues and actually headed back to Sapporo right after noon! Otaru is a fun little day-trip from Sapporo and would definitely recommend it!
....and oh. Just had to show these two extra cute stone statues... aren't they just adorable??? kawaii desu ne!