Continuing with my Japan Trip 2013 vol. 1, I want to share some pictures that I took during my three trips within Japan: Hokkaido, Tokyo Disneyland, and Osaka.
Trip to Hokkaido
At the end of June, we went to Hokkaido (北海道), the northernmost island of Japan’s four main islands. Hokkaido is cooler than the rest of Japan so it’s a great destination during the hot muggy summer season. Even though Japan itself has a long rich history, most of Hokkaido was settled by the Japanese only over the past 100 years. The abundance of modern Western architecture and influences is visible especially in Sapporo city. Hokkaido is known for outdoor activities and winter sports and also for high quality fresh seafood, dairy products and produce.
1) Otaru (小樽) is a small harbor town, about half an hour northwest of Sapporo by train. This hilly town is famous for the beautiful canals, freshness of of its seafood, arts and crafts galleries and specialty shops featuring musical boxes and glass sculpture. It’s a very pretty town to walk around, but with our very energetic kids, we couldn’t really stay in the small shops with lots of fragile products.
2) We stayed in Sapporo (札幌), the capital of Hokkaido, during the trip. Here the children are playing at the Odori Park, the broad median of largest street in the center of Sapporo stretching 12 blocks. In early February, the park serves as the main site of the Sapporo Snow Festival.
3) The Sapporo Clock Tower was constructed during the early period of Sapporo’s development in 1878 and currently this is the oldest building standing in Sapporo.
4) From the Odori Park, you can see Sapporo TV Tower, which has an observation deck with views of the park and the surrounding city.
5) Former Hokkaido Government Office was built in 1888 around when Hokkaido first opened for settlement by the Japanese. In front of the building, there is a flower garden and a pond. Inside the building, there is a museum where you can learn about Hokkaido and its history and a tourist information office where you can get leaflets and brochure of tourist attractions.
1) During our last visit to Sapporo, we visited Sapporo Beer Museum. This time we decided to check Shiroi Koibito Park. Well-known Hokkaido confectionery, Shiroi Koibito (biscuit with chocolate center) is produced here.
2) We enjoyed the self-guided cookie production line tour in the Factory. It smelled heavenly walking through the factory; the aroma of freshly baked biscuit along with melting chocolate was everywhere. There are many other things to do in this facility such as several museums and galleries, rose garden, candy labo (candy cane making demo), cookie craft studio, etc.
3) Couldn’t leave without some white baumkuchen called Tsumugi and the popular Shiroi Koibito Cookies. 🙂
4) We visited Heidi Farm where the kids enjoyed riding on a pony and petting all kinds of farm animals.
5) The kids also got to milk a cow! Here’s my son a little bit scared of the cow…
6) While waiting our flight back to Tokyo in New Chitose Airport, the kids enjoyed Doraemon Waku Waku Sky Park.
Trip to Tokyo Disneyland
In early July, we went to Tokyo Disneyland. Although a lot of things in Japan seem to be more expensive than many parts of the world, this is one of those exceptions. One 1-Day Park Ticket for Disneyland in Los Angeles would cost $92 (kids $86) before tax, and it only costs Y6,200 yen or USD$65 (Y4,100 for 4-11 yo/Y5,300 for 12-17) in Tokyo Disneyland. With current exchange rate and using discount for Kanto region resident, it was close to half the US price! 😉
1-3) We had so much fun. Last time I visited Tokyo Disneyland was when I was in high school. This year it celebrating the 30th year and I still remember when it first opened. It was raining when we arrived but it soon cleared up. The average wait time was about 45 minutes and it wasn’t too bad considering that it was Friday.
4-6) Due to the strong wind that day, the fireworks got cancelled, but we got to enjoy the Electrical Parade. Although we could go home on the same day, we booked Hilton Tokyo Bay inside Tokyo Disney Resort and stayed the night. We made the kids take a nap in between so they could enjoy Disneyland till the park closed. We got to ride many rides (with almost no wait time) after the Electrical Parade was over when most visitors went home.
Trip to Osaka
Toward the end of our Japan Trip, we visited my grandma and relatives in Osaka. My mom’s side of family is in Osaka so we usually get together every year (here’s last year).
1) Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) is known for its maximum speeds of 240–320 km/h (149–199 mph), and it only takes 2 hrs and 17 minutes from Shin Yokohama to Osaka.
2) Meeting my grandma in her nursing home. We visited her everyday while we were in Osaka and she enjoyed playing with a ball with the children.
3) My grandpa passed away last year and this summer was the 1st death anniversary. It’s still hard to believe he is not here anymore. I had a chance to meet him a couple of months before he passed away and this time we visited his tomb with the children.
4) Summer festivals (matsuri) are really big in Japan. We extended our stay in Osaka so that we could go to the Tenjin Festival, one of Japan’s top 3 festivals. We saw many girls wearing Yukata, a casual summer kimono that day.
5) Watching fireworks closely is one of the fun outings in summer, except for the crowds.
I found some interesting things in Japan that I thought of sharing with you.
1) A lot of restaurants and cafes have a place next to your table or underneath the chair to put away your bags. I find it extremely helpful as I often drop my handbag from my chair and stuff inside the bag comes out to the floor. 🙁
2) We went to see Monsters University with the kids. We could order two kinds of popcorn because the paper bucket had a divider in the middle. What a smart design! I was extremely pleased when the popcorn came in a plastic bag (no spilling accident) and with wet naps for cleaning hands after we eat. Love it!
3) In the middle of streets and shopping center, I found a lot of self-portrait machine like this.
4) As a mom with small children, I thought this large bathroom with two toilets was very convenient.
5) A lot of Japanese moms take the kids to school in the morning. Here is a bicycle with two seats: a little child in front and a bigger child in the back. Also most bikes in Japan these days are all electric-assisted.
6) I tried to take off the cap and realized this cap is designed to stay on. It’s convenient for people who often loses their caps!
Thank you for checking my pictures. Stay tuned for vol. 3 of the Japan Trip 2013! (You will never miss a post if you subscribe to Just One Cookbook. 🙂 )