Escorted Tour from Honolulu Hokkaido North & Lavender – Wakkanai, Rishiri & Rebun
Day 1 July 09 (Tue) Honolulu ~ Chitose Airport
We saw many tour groups formed by local Travel Agents taking the same flight to Chitose with us. July is the best time to see Lavender flowers in full bloom so everyone must be going to see Lavender!
Day 2 July 10 (Wed) Chitose Airport ~ Chitose
After arriving in Chitose, we took a shuttle bus to ANA Crown Plaza Chitose. Since it’s located next to AEON Mall, the majority of us went there to eat dinner.
Day 3 July 11 (Tue) Chitose ~ Asahikawa ~ Furano
Hokkaido here we come! On the way to Asahikawa, our first stop was at Sunakawa Highway Oasis where ever popular Pumpkin seed cookies were sold. Many of us enjoyed eating Kitakaro’s soft served ice cream and cream puffs made out of rich Hokkaido milk. Yummy! Lunch was at Asahikawa Ramen Village and it was so delicious to try Asahikawa style Ramen.
It was pleasant to walk around Blue Pond and Shikisai no Oka flower field. Both are very popular sights representing Furano.
Shin Furano Prince Hotel offers fun places to visit on its own property, including the Ningle Terrace, Mori-no-Tokei café, Soh’s Bar, and a Hot Spring. We all enjoyed our free time at the hotel including a gorgeous buffet dinner. So much fun!
Day 4 July 12 (Fri) Furano
Our full day in Furano was filled with fun and adventure. The first stop was Farm Tomita, well known for their beautiful Lavender field. The hill was all covered by purple flowers and very gorgeous. Many products made with their lavender were perfect to bring back home for souvenirs.
Lunch was Hokkaido’s famous Genghis Kahn BBQ. The Suffolk Genghis Kahn (lamb) meat that we ate is known for its premium quality. The meat is so tender and has no greasy aftertaste so that folks who don’t usually eat lamb even enjoyed them. All tables cleaned up everything and there were no left overs!
Then we canoed in Lake Kanayama. It was cloudy and a bit windy but we all did well rowing. It was a great outdoor experience except one canoe flipped over. OMG, I was so glad that no one was hurt.
Dinner was a Japanese Kaiseki course at Karamatsu restaurant in the hotel. The beautiful seasonal presentation was appealing to the eyes. Everyone enjoyed this wonderful Japanese delicacy.
Day 5 July 13 (Sat) Furano ~ Wakkanaie
The weather was cloudy with some rain in the morning. But luckily the cherry Farm had trees in the green house so we enjoyed cherry picking despite of the weather. There were more than 30 species in the house and the different trees offer different flavors. Satonishiki was one of the most popular one.
Sushi lunch at Maruki Sushi was very enjoyable. Fresh ingredient and a skillful Sushi chef, who has a career of 50 years, were the secret of the great Sushi.
The rain stopped when we arrived at Sarobetsu Marshland so we walked the wooden path in the marsh for a while. You find many flowers in the season originated in this environment. Cape Soya was so far it made us truly feel that we came to the “most Northern spot in Japan”.
The hotel in Wakkanai was the Surfeel Hotel, former ANA Crown Plaza. The western style buffet was a nice change of pace.
Day 6 July 14 (Sun) Wakkanai ~ Rishiri Island
The highlight of this trip began. Rishiri and Rebun islands off Hokkaido are visited in summer season only and are well known for their beautiful nature. We briefly visited Fukko Market and Breakwater Dome before the ferry took off and we enjoyed a smooth ride in the comfortable 1st class cabin. On our arrival at Oshidomari Port on Rishiri, we had lunch consisting of the famous Uni Meshi, flavored rice with Uni topped with fresh Ikura. It is very popular and on the list of “must eat on Rishiri”. Yes, it was very tasty!
Mt. Rishiri, commonly called by Rishiri Fuji, was shy and covered by clouds at Himenuma pond. We all walked around the pond and enjoyed its serene nature. At Otatomari Pond, we were more fascinated by shopping. Rishiri’s No.1 souvenir, Rishirikko (Furikake), was popular among us together with premium kelp. When we were tired of shopping, some of us enjoyed soft served ice cream with Huscup (berry) sauce on. The sightseeing continued on to Senpoushimisaki Park. Our hotel was Island INN Rishiri which opens for the summer months only. The buffet dinner offers fresh seafoods, table top stone grill, Yubari Melon, etc. Oh we kept eating! Hot spring bath was also very soothing too.
Day 7 July 15 (Mon) Rishiri Island ~ Rebun Island ~ Rishiri Island
We took a short ferry ride to Rebun Island. The first activity was Sea Urchin shell cracking and tasting. The fresh out of the water Sea Urchin is sweet and had no fishy aftertaste which made many of us joyfully surprised. Atoi Restaurant is a small shack located at the tip of the shore line, however, being run by the local fisherman’s union guarantees freshness of their seafood and it is very popular lunch spot. The seafood donburi was so ONO!
In the afternoon, we visited windy Cape Sukoton in the north side of the island and also Cape Sukai which gives a view of a picture perfect beautiful cove down below. The 60 steps to the cape was worth walking! We left Rebun Island by ferry and went back to Island INN Rishiri to stay one more night.
Day 8 July 16 (Tue) Rishiri Island ~ Chitose Airport ~ Otaru
The last day on Rishiri, we visited Kamui Kaigan Park to enjoy two activities. For the first activity we made Kelp souvenir and for the second we caught Sea Urchin from a boat and crack them to eat. We were all successfully caught Sea Urchin!
After that we came back to Kutsukata town and had a lunch on own. Some went to Ramen Miraku to enjoy Rishiri style Ramen, some went to Kamome Restaurant by the sea to enjoy their lunch set.
Checking in was a little chaotic but we managed to hop on to the ANA flight to Chitose which only runs once a day in summer months only.
We stayed at the spacious Grand Park Otaru and relaxed after our wonderful island stay.
Day 9 July 17 (Wed) Otaru ~ Yoichi ~ Otaru ~ Sapporo
After making a music box, we enjoyed exploring Otaru for a half day. So many attractive shops such as music box, glass wear, sweets and many more. In the afternoon, we enjoyed Nikka Whiskey Distillery in Yoichi. The story of its founder, Masataka and Rita, knows also as Massan and Ellie from the NHK drama, is very moving and make us appreciate this distillery.
The farewell dinner was at Hachikyo in Sapporo. The Izakaya style casual dinner with plenty seafood is quite popular in the city. On top of that, it is very popular that the staff chants like a fisherman when they pour Ikura on the rice cup. We celebrate birthdays of three people at the end with delicious Japanese cakes. What a fun night!
Day 10 July 18 (Thu) Sapporo
Free day in Sapporo. Some of us walked underground path way to Sapporo Station and shopped.
Day 11 July 17 (Wed) Sapporo ~ Chitose Airport ~ Honolulu
After a half day of free time spent in Sapporo, we left Mercure Hotel at 3pm to Chitose Airport. The smooth check-in at Hawaiian Airline allowed us to shop and eat at the airport before going through TSA. Since Chitose Airport is filled with popular Hokkaido foods and products, all of us surely enjoyed this last minute shopping and eating opportunity. This trip was truly a once-in- a-life-time trip to visit Rishiri and Rebun islands. We enjoyed their beautiful nature and fresh seafood!
Posted by Kat Spear
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JTB USA Honolulu Office
1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 1370
Honolulu HI 96814
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