Escorted Hokkaido Autumn Tour from Honolulu
Day 1/2 Honolulu – Chitose Airport
HA 441 to Chitose took off 20 min. behind schedule. It was a pleasant flight except for a medical emergency with a Japanese male passenger. Luckily, the doctors on board took care of him well so we all safely landed at the Chitose Airport. After checking in at the convenient Air Terminal Hotel, we all went back to the terminal shops/restaurants to grab something eat. Ramen, Soup Curry, Sushi…..so many good places to eat. Hokkaido offers delicious food. Yummy!
Day 3 Chiose – Biei – Furano – Sounkyo
We met with our English speaking guide, Ms. Kimi, and took off for sightseeing. The bus drove us through the beautiful Hokkaido scenery. We stopped by Sunagawa Highway Oasis for a rest and everyone really enjoyed shopping there. There was not only pumpkin seed cookies but also cream puffs and soft serve vanilla ice cream at Kitakaro. After having juicy pork hamburger steak lunch at Highland Furano, we visited Shikisai no Oka in Biei. The entire hills were covered by colorful flowers, especially sun flowers and red Salvia in full bloom. We enjoyed taking pictures of the flower beds, riding the tram, and just walking around the park. Oh of course, we never forgot to try soft serve ice cream and potato croquette too!
Next, we visited the Ice Pavilion to experience the coldest temperature ever recorded. If you swing a wet towel, it freezes like a stick in only a few seconds. It was surely cold!! The warm tea served after the tour was much appreciated.
Our hotel, Sounkyo Choyo Resort, offered wonderful hot spring facilities including a private Onsen (with a fee.) Many of us were able to enjoy the private ones, especially first timers, while the others who were accustomed to take public baths enjoyed indoor & outdoor public baths. It felt so good after the long day.
Day 4 Sounkyo – Lake Saroma
Today’s highlights were exploring the Daisetsuzan National Park, where the hotel we stayed at last night is located. We had the best weather, blue sky with no clouds, to enjoy Mt. Kurodake. The autumn colors of the trees turning yellow and red that we saw from rope way were so beautiful. Then we went down to see Ginga (Galaxy) & Ryusei (Shooting Stars) Water Fall. We strolled down along the river side path admiring the beautifully colored trees.
Lunch at Okhotsk Brewery was delicious. The stewed beef marinated with beer was so tender. Then we visited Lake Saroma and the Wakka Nature Center. Hamaasu (wild roses), and Glasswort were viewed over there. After checking into our hotel, Lake Saroma Tsuruga Resort, we enjoyed the beautiful sun set from our own lake front rooms.
We had a Kaiseki style Japanese dinner as a group, and the hotel provided us with Japanese Samue style roomwear. The beautiful presentation of the Kaiseki dinner was very much enjoyed. This hotel also offers hot spring so many of us enjoyed it too.
Day 5 Lake Saroma – Abashiri – Kussharo
Hokkaido has many lakes and each one offers different beauty. This morning we enjoyed the beautiful red Glasswort colony in Lake Notoro. Then we hit the Drift Ice Museum in Abashiri. We watched a 3D film about drift ice, walked through drift ice room and enjoyed the whole view of Abashiri City from the observatory deck of this newly renovated facility. We had big grilled Hokke fish (Atka mackerel) for lunch at a local restaurant. It was ONO but so big, we couldn’t finish it all.
Then we drove up to Akan National Park to view two popular lakes. First was Lake Mashu located at the top of the mountain, which is the 6th largest caldera lake in Japan and the 2nd clearest water in the world. Then we stopped at Lake Kussharo located at the bottom of the mountain. Tonight’s hotel was located at this lakeside.
At the dinner buffet, we celebrated our tour members birthdays. Happy Birthday, Gerald and Andrew!! We enjoyed our last opportunity to bath in Onsen after dinner. Heavenly….
Day 6 Kussharo – Kushiro
Our day started at 4:30am!! But it was worth getting up early because we were able to see the gorgeous sun rise above Sea of Clouds over Lake Mashu. I can’t describe its beauty by words so enjoy this picture.
After the short rest and breakfast, we left Akan National Park and headed to Kushiro. Our lunch was the local favorite Robata Grill style meal, which Kushiro is well known as being the origin of. Seafood BBQ was fun!
Then we headed to Kushiro Marsh to enjoy canoeing. Canoeing on Kushiro River was totally amazing experience. We saw Ezo Deer, Red-crowned Crane, ducks etc. The beautiful nature left us speehless.
We were served a western 5 course meal which was very pleasant after a long day.
Day 7 Kushiro – Sapporo
Today was a long bus ride day heading back to Sapporo. The only attractions besides the highway service stops were Ryugetsu Sweetopia Garden and we all enjoyed watching how they make Baumkuchen, a German style roll cake. Most of us bought a lot of their fine confections. Some of us luckily encountered a time sale for scraps of Baumkuchen and it was only 250 yen a package! Deal!
We had a Chinese buffet for lunch for a change, then we kept moving on to Sapporo. Our hotel in Sapporo was Mercure Hotel which is conveniently located in downtown area. Daiso, Don Quijote, Tokyu Hands, Tanukikoji arcade shops, several department stores, and tons of restaurants were all within walking distance. How convenient! I believe all of us comfortably enjoyed our free night of Sapporo.
Day 8 Sapporo – Shiraoi – Sapporo
Shiraoi Ainu Village was the highlight of today’s tour. Some of us have seen it before but Dr. Nakamura’s museum tour gave us a deeper understanding of Ainu culture and history. The way of their life is somewhat similar to Hawaiians, isn’t it? Good luck to folks who bought their musical instrument, Mukkuri, since it seems difficult to make any kind of noise out of it.
Today is a breezy and cold day so we enjoyed seafood pot dish for lunch. Kani Goten where we had lunch sells crabs and other seafood live. Checking out the market was interesting. Due to strong winds, we ended up visiting Hokkaido Shrine and Okurayama Ski Jumping facilities instead of the Noboribetsu Bear Park. Going up the steep hill in the ski lifts was fun! What a gorgeous view of the city we enjoyed at the top of Okurayama.
Our farewell dinner was held at Kaniya across from our hotel. Crab after crab after crab… we enjoyed their beautiful presentation of the crab course dinner. What a fun group to travel with and Hokkaido was such a wonderful place to visit because of its beautiful scenery and of course delicious food. Thank you everyone being such wonderful company.
Day 9 Sapporo – Chitose – Honolulu
We had a free day till 4:30pm. Some of us explored the Sapporo station area but majority of us stayed downtown area to discover more shops and restaurants. Time flies when you’re having fun…..we headed to Chitose Airport with a lot of fond memories.
Posted by Kazuko Spear
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