Tag Archives: Short trip from Sapporo

Niseko in Autumn

I had guessed Autumn might not better season to visit to Niseko before I actually went there, but my concerning was wrong! There are some advantages to visit Niseko in autumn against winter even though we cannot enjoy skiing before snow falls.

1. Cheep accommodation fee
Winter is the peak season for most hotels in Niseko, so the accommodation fees are increased accordingly. In other words, you have opportunities to stay luxury hotels with cheaper price as long as avoiding to stay in winter. I actually could make a reservation at a top-end condominium at the price of approximately a fifth of that in winter.

2. Fresh vegetables and seafood
Autumn is the season for harvest. Most Hokkaido local people expect to enjoy fresh seafood such as salmon, Ikura (salmon roes) and pacific saury etc. in this season. At the same time, you can also enjoy fresh vegetables as well as rice in Autumn. Hokkaido is called as “Food kingdom” in Japan and the most food is harvested from August to October. If you stay in Niseko during Autumn, you could eat these fresh food at local restaurants and hotels.


3. Quiet and beautiful scenery
As I mentioned above, the peak season in Niseko is winter, so the number of guest who visited to Niseko in autumn is not so many. Although people who go skiing may totally not interested in Niseko’s autumn, if you like beautiful scenery and would like to be relaxed in small quiet town, autumn would be the best season.


4. Best season for “Onsen”
In my opinion, summer is too hot to enjoy hot spring, and on the other hand, it is too cold to take outside bath in winter. As a result, we could say the season you can feel most comfortable at “Onsen” is Autumn. If there are outside bathes(“Roten Buro in Japanese”) in your hotel, you should definitely enjoy it! Taking a bath outside during looking at autumn leaves is one of the favorite activities for most Japanese.

Where should you go as one day trip from Sapporo?

As you may know, Hokkaido is very big and it takes more than 10 days if you want to travel around whole Hokkaido. For those who stay in Sapporo less than two days but are interested in exploring near town from Sapporo, I introduce two suitable places as one day trip from Sapporo.

1) Otaru
Speaking of the sightseeing spot near Sapporo, Otaru would be the most popular place for tourists. I cannot count how many times visited to Otaru, but quaint city view with the canal, orgel doh and old style buildings never make me bored at all. This small but unique town always give me beautiful impression.
I especially recommend to stroll the sidewalk next to the canal at sunset. Street lamps above the sidewalk are gas lighting rather than electric lighting because the light by gas is waving, which creates romantic shining.

In addition to its beautiful scenery, Otaru is also famous as a gourmet town.
Most Japanese domestic tourists expect to eat Sushi in Otaru, and enjoy cakes or chocolates at confectionery shops, such as “Letao” which also currently attract many tourists.
You can go from Sapporo to Otaru during looking at Japan sea from the train window.

Public trasprtation from Saporo to Otaru
Option 1:JR
Time: Approximately 30 minutes
Fare: JPY 640 (Free seating)

Option 2:Bus (Kosoku Otaru Go)
Time: Approximately 50 minutes
Fare: JPY 610

Otaru tourism association official website has more detailed information.


2) Jozankei
A hot spring which is the nearest from Sapporo and most familiar to Sapporo citizen is Jozankei Onsen. Public buses run from New Chitose airport (It takes about 100min) as well as Sapporo downtown (It takes about 75min), so tourists can individually go and enjoy the hot spring.
Most hotels in Jozankei are offering day trip hot spring plan even for the guests who are not supposed to stay at hotels. If you use the plan, depart from Sapporo in the morning and possible to return within same day even after enjoying hot spring.
Regarding time table of the buses or other details of Jozankei Onsen, please refer to the official web site of Jozankei tourist association http://jozankei.jp/en/about/onsen

Jozankei hot springs, blessed by the forest and the earth. | 定山渓温泉の観光ナビ「定山渓観光協会公式サイト」札幌の湯の杜 定山渓温泉の湯、食、遊びを目一杯楽しむためのガイド。お得な最新情報… via kwout


Inter city bus pass http://www.hokkaidox.com/en/hokkaido-bus-pass is available until 27 Mar 2019. This bus pass covers the routes from Sapporo to Otaru and Sapporo to Jozankei. Once you get the pass (JPY 6,000 for 3 days pass, JPY 9,000 for 5 days pass), you can reach 20 cities and more than 100 travel spots in Hokkaido by local buses.

Blue Pond In Biei

“Blue pond”in Biei became popular after a photo taken at the pond was adopted for wallpaper for Apple Inc. The blue pond looks as if it is painted by blue ink, but it’s natural color caused by hot spring component.

In the beginning of April when snow was still remaining, I enjoyed beautiful scenery of color combination between white by birch & snow, and blue by blue pond.If you go to the blue pond in winter, it’s not blue, but white pond actually.

The blue pond is located to the foot of Mt. Tokachi, therefore snow there is so many that the pond and surrounding trees are all covered by snow white. However, the pond is illuminated during certain period in winter, which shows very special scenery, and not a few people visit especially to see such a romantic view.

By the way, except joining any bus tour, the best way to reach the blue pond is using a rental car. * As a public transportation service, buses run from JR Biei station to blue pond, but the service is very limited that only 4 buses are operated a day.
Biei, this hill town, whose beautiful scenery attracts you all seasons. Every view on the way to the blue pond is also excellent, and driving around the town would make your travel truly memorable.

Blue pond in Biei
Address: Shirogane, Biei, Kamikawa, Hokkaido
* It takes 30 minutes from JR Biei station, 40 minutes from Asahikawa airport and 5 minutes from Shirogane hot spring by car

Biei town tourist information site

Magnificent view at Mt. Asahi

Even though I just used my mobile phone rather than a camera to take pictures of Mt. Asahi which is the highest mountain in Hokkaido, the photos still shows its brilliant beauty of the nature.
My explanation would not be necessary, just look and enjoy photos.

Chubetsu dam located on the way to the mountainDSC_1161

At the bottom of the mountain

View from the gondola climbing to the top

If you would like to stay around Mt. Asahi, I strongly recommend  La Vista Daisetsuzan.
The outside view from the room is like a picture, and you would know the hotel is exactly next to Mt. Asahi.

La Vista Daisetsuzan also offers very nice hot spring area with private hot spring room, and even ice bar during winter.

The food (both dinner and breakfast) is excellent. Most ingredients are made in Hokkaido, and you can also eat your original seafood bowl at buffet style breakfast.

Access to Mt. Asahi by public transportation
*The bus, Ideyu-go is only available as public transportation
From JR Asahikawa station to Mt. Asahi
Departure time: 9:30, 12:30, 15:30
Price: JPY 1,430
From Asahikawa airport to Mt. Asahi
Departure time: 10:05, 13:05, 16:05
Price: JPY 1,000

Recommended Hotel: La Vista Daisetsuzan
Address: Asahidake Onsen, Kamikawa-gun, Higashikawa-cho 071-1472 , Hokkaido
Official website: http://www.japan-ryokan.net/lavistadaisetsuzan/


Short trip from Sapporo – Asahiyama Zoo –

It takes about 1.5 hours from Sapporo to Asahikawa, the 2nd largest city in Hokkaido by JR .
Most travellers would imagine Asahikawa is the city that has a famous zoo, “Asahiyama zoo”. Visiting there, you can see many animals and even can watch their lively expressions very close to them.DSC_0925
What I especially recommend at Asahiyama zoo is to enjoy “Mogumogu time” when you can see animals are joyfully eating foods. Asahiyama zoo currently prepares “Mogumogu time” for seals, owls, Hokkaido deers, etc *The arrangement for ” Mogumogu time” is finally fixed in every morning, so above animals can be changed. You can check today’s time schedule for “Mogumogu time” on Asahiyama Zoo official website.DSC_0536
In addition to “Mogumogu time”, it is limited in winter though, penguin walk is one of the most popular events in Asahiyama zoo. Penguin walk was originally begun to improve the lack of exercise in the zoo, rather than entertainment show. It is not for the show trained by zoo staff, but group walking by King Penguin is their natural habits to get food in wildlife. Those who want to see the penguin walk in front of you, I recommend to wait at the pass 15 minutes before it starts.DSC_0930

Asahiyama Zoo

Address:11-18 Kuranuma, Higashi-asahikawa-cho, Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaido
9:30-16:00 (close at 17:15) in summer | 10:30-15:00 (close at 15:30) in winter
* Open period varies depending on season.
Entrance Fee: JPY 820 for adults | free of charge for child 14 or under


How to access to Asahiyama Zoo from Sapporo or Asahikawa airport

JR Sapporo station →JR Asahikawa station
It takes about 1hour 20 minutes by JR
Fare for only JR ticket: JPY 5,080 (“S ticket” for round trip discounted ticket )
Fare for “Asahiyama Zoo Ticket”: JPY 6,130
*Including 1)JR ticket for round trip from Sapporo station to Asahikawa station, 2) Bus ticket for round trip from JR Asahikawa station to Asahiyama Zoo and 3) Entrance ticket for Asahiyama Zoo ]
*Only available at ticket counters of any JR station in Hokkaido.

JR Asahikawa station→Asahiyama Zoo
It takes about 40 minutes by bus (No. 41, 42, 47): Every 30 minutes
Fare: JPY 440
If you go to the zoo by Taxi, it takes about around JPY 3,000.

Asahikawa Airport→Asahiyama Zoo (By bus No. 78)
It takes about 35 minutes.
Fare: JPY 550
*10:00 -Asahikawa airport to Asahiyama Zoo, 15:10- Asahiyama Zoo to Asahikawa Airport