11 days in Hokkaido ~Japanese best nature place

Summer in 2016. We traveled Hokkaido! Hokkaido is one of the best nature places in Japan. It is very famous travel destination not only for foreign visitors, but also for Japanese. I invited my wife X to Japan before our marriage and we traveled Hokkaido during her visit. We used rental car to cover broad area in Hokkaido. We write summary in this post and will make a link from day ~ to the posts for travel details .

day 0 ~HANEDA Airport

I and my parents stayed nearby from HANEDA Airport (HND). I planed to meet X in HND this day. BUT, she could not arrive to HND because of very bad flight delay. Poor X needed to stay in Beijing airport and she could arrive to Shinchitose airport next day midnight.

day 1 ~Yubari and Sapporo

hokkaido yubari

I and my parents took a morning flight to Shinchitose airport which is only an hour away from Sapporo, capital of Hokkaido. Because X were still in Beijing this time, we decided to go ahead to see Yubari. Yubari is economically collapsed city in Hokkaido due to the population decline. They are doing a lot efforts to make the town better again. After eating lunch here, we moved to Sapporo. After checking in to the hotel, we went to Sapporo JR station to eat Sushi. When we are eating, X finally arrived to HND. When I went to pick her up at Shinchitose, it was already around 12 midnight.

Hotel: Toyoko Inn Hokkaido Sapporo-eki Minami-guchi, Sapporo (東横イン)
Lunch: “restaurant oyama”, Yubari(おーやまレストラン)
Dinner: “Hokkaido Shikisaitei”, Sapporo station北海道四季彩亭

day 2 ~Sapporo, Biei and Asahikawa

hokkaido biei

We woke up not that early this morning because of X’s late arrival last night.
We  visited Biei at first. Biei is very beautiful rural area in Hokkaido. Biei has  a lot of flower gardens and trees, and so on. We visited “zerubu-no-oka” and “shikisai-no-oka”. They are very beautiful hill with bunch of flowers. We also visited “aoi-ike” which is very famous recently because it is used for the wall paper of macintosh computer.
We moved to Asahikawa city after additional a few stops in Biei. We checked in a hotel in Asahikawa and ate “ra-men”, Japanese soup noodle.

Hotel: Toyoko INN Asahikawa, Asahikawa (東横イン)
Breakfast:Toyoko INN has complementary breakfast!
Lunch: “Furokkusuhoru “, Biei Shikisaino-Oka(フロックスホール)
Dinner: “Matsuda”, Asahikawa(まつ田)

day 3 ~Asahiyama Zoo and Lake Saroma

We visited Asahiyama Zoo in this morning. Penguins, polar bears and sea lions are very famous in the zoo. We left the zoo around 3 and arrived to “Saroma-ko”, saroma lake. We checked in Lake Saroma Tsuruga Resort. This hotel has very good hot-spa and excellent dinner!

Hotel: Lake Saroma Tsuruga Resort, Kitami
Breakfast:Toyoko INN has complementary breakfast!
Lunch: “GARDEN TERRACE LION”, Asahiyama Zoo
Dinner:  Lake Saroma Tsuruga Resort provides good complementary dinner

day 4 ~Lake Saroma, Lake Kussharo, Lake Mashu, Mount Iou, Taiho Sumo Museum, Kaminoko Pond and Abashiri

hokkaido kaminokoike

The final destination of this day is Abashiri which is very close to Lake Saroma. So we decided to explore south side of this area. Main stops were Lake Kussharo and Lake Mashu, very popular lakes in Hokkaido. We also visited Mt. Iou. Iou is the Japanese word for sulfur. As you can imagine, this mountain is very smelly. We also visited “Kaminoko ike” which is nowadays getting attention in this area. Transparent water and fallen trees in the pond make the view very special.

Hotel: Toyoko INN Okhotsk Abashiri station, Abashiri
Breakfast: Lake Saroma Tsuruga Resort provides complementary  breakfast
Lunch: “Poppo-tei”, Mashu station (御食事処 ぽっぽ亭)
Dinner:  “Victoria station Abashiri”, Abashiri (ヴィクトリアステーション 網走駅前店)

day 5 ~Okhotsk Ryu-hyo Museum, Syari and Shiretoko

shiretoko yuhidai

We visited Okhotsk Ryu-hyo Museum this morning. Abashiri is famous for Ryu-hyo (floating ices on Okhotsk sea). Unfortunately it was summer, so we decided to visit museum of Ryu-hyo. The museum was actually pretty good. Next, we drove to Shiretoko, the north-east pole of Hokkaido. After check-in to “Shiretoko daiichi hotel”, we saw extremely pretty sunset from “yuhi-dai”, which is one of the eight Shiretoko must-go.

Hotel: Shiretoko daiichi hotel
Breakfast: Toyoko inn’s complementary  breakfast
Lunch: “Soba dokoro Ajisai”, Shari (そば処味彩)
Dinner:  Shiretoko daiiichi hotel has complementary buffet dinner

day 6 ~ Okhotsk Cruise, Shiretoko Goko and Star Gazing

Shiretoko was the main destination in this trip so we stayed in the same hotel two days. We tried the cruise tour in Okhotsk sea in the morning. Then we went to “Shiretoko Goko” in the afternoon. At night we went to see the beautiful stars in Shiretoko. We enjoyed the beautiful nature in Shiretoko using whole day.

Hotel: Shiretoko daiichi hotel
Breakfast: Shiretoko daiiichi hotel has complementary buffet breakfast
Lunch: We bought lunch in seven-eleven
Dinner:  Shiretoko daiiichi hotel has complementary buffet dinner

day 7 ~Shiretoko, Rausu, Notsuke-Hantou and Nemuro

We ate good breakfast in hotel. We drove east coast of the Hokkaido to south. We stopped notsuke peninsula. This peninsula is very weird shape and we could see unique plants and trees. We checked in the hotel in Nemuro. We slept early not to miss the sunrise next day!

Hotel: Nemuro Kaiyo-tei
Breakfast: Shiretoko daiiichi hotel has complementary buffet breakfast
Lunch: “Restaurant Nobana”, Notsuke (レストラン野花)
Dinner:  Nemuro Kaiyo-tei provides complementary dinner

day 8 ~Sunrise, Nosappu-Misaki, Nemuro, Kiritappu, Akkeshi, Kushiro

hokkaido sunrise

We woke up 1 hour before sunrise and drove to Nosappu-Misaki. Nosappu-Misaki is the most east point except for the small islands. Therefore it gives the earliest sunrise in Japan most days of the year. We could enjoy very impressive sunrise. After eating breakfast in hotel we went to see a few wetlands in this area, Kiritappu and Kushiro. We took a hotel in Kushiro, so we enjoyed beer and famous robata-yaki (kinda seafood BBQ).

Hotel: Toyoko-INN Kushiro Juji-gai
Breakfast: Nemuro Kaiyo-tei  provides complementary buffet breakfast
Lunch: “Yachibouzu Cafe”, Hamanaka (やちぼうずカフェ)
Dinner: “Gannpeki Robata”, Kushiro (岸壁 炉ばた)

day 9 ~Kushiro, Akanko, Tokachi

hokkaido marimo

This day’s main target was “Marimo”, very rare round green alga. Marimo is living in Akan lake so we could see it during the tour cruise. Next, we moved to Tokachi. Tokachi is famous for plain land and hot spring. Especially Tokachi has so-called moor hot-spring. This hot spring is heated by the conversion energy from ancient plant to brown coal. So it has very blackish color! We picked the hotel which provides this moor hot-spring.

Hotel: Hotel Daiheigen
Breakfast: Toyoko INN provides complementary breakfast
Lunch: seven-eleven
Dinner: Hotel Daiheigen provide complementary buffet dinner

day 10 ~Tokachi, Obihiro, Kouhuku eki, Sapporo

After leaving Tokachi, we went to Obihiro to buy sweet snacks as gifts. “Rokkatei” is very famous sweets shop in Hokkaido and main shop is located in Obihiro. Then we went to “Kohoku station”. In Japanese, it means happy station, so it is very famous for Japanese people, especially for young couples. Finally we came back to Sapporo. We ate “kaiten-sushi” to celebrate safe and sound travel in Hokkaido!

Hotel: Toyoko Inn Hokkaido Sapporo-eki Minami-guchi
Breakfast: Toyoko INN  provides complementary breakfast
Lunch: Michinoeki Nakasatsunai
Dinner: “Kaiten-Sushi Toriton”, Sapporo-Hiragishi (回転寿しトリトン平岸店)

day 11 ~ Sapporo, Shinchitose Airport

We walked around Sapporo a little in the morning. Then we drove to Shinchitose airport. We returned the rental car and ate lunch at the food court in Shinchitose airport. We also did a little shoppings in airport since they have good gift shops.

Breakfast: Toyoko INN  provides complementary breakfast
Lunch: Food court in Shinchitose airport

D & X



Aloha Hawaii – Pearl Harbor Memorial – Beautiful Plumeria

After we returned from the Big Island to Oahu, we picked up a rental car at the airport, and drove to our hostel.  The driving was easy, but finding a free parking spot was not.  After all, the hostel was located in the center of downtown.  I circled around for quite a while, and finally got an on-street parking.

On the early morning of the next day, we checked out the hostel, and drove to Pearl Harbor.  Before the visiter center opens (7 AM), there was already a long line waiting outside.  People, including us, were trying to get tickets for the free tours to the USS Arizona Memorial.  For us, we had to get morning tickets, because we had a flight to catch.  Since one person can get several tickets, I was anxious while waiting.  Unfortunately, when it’s our turn, the earliest tickets available were afternoon.  We had to give up!

pearl harbor USS Arizona Memorial
USS Arizona Memorial

So, we just walked around the Pearl Harbor Historic Site.  To be honest, I found myself more interested in Hawaii Plumeria 🙂

pearl harbor USS Bowfin Submarine
USS Bowfin Submarine
Hawaii Plumeria
Hawaii Plumeria


Then, we headed to the airport.  I really enjoyed our Hawaii Trip.  I actually wish I skipped more sessions in the conference 😉

Hopefully I will visit Hawaii again, and spend more days there.




Aloha Hawaii – Mauna Kea Observatories – Big Island

To me, Mauna Kea Observatories was the main reason to visit the Big Island.  Simply because astronomy has been my thing since I was little.  Before this trip, I had never been to a real observatory, and suddenly I had the opportunity to visit one of the best ones!  So, driving to Mauna Kea Observatories was exciting.  On the way, we saw some sheep … wild?

Mauna Kea Observatories Sheep
Mauna Kea Observatories Sheep

And, there were … volcanoes!  A bunch of volcanoes!!  Volcano-looking volcanoes – I mean, they are different from what we saw in the Volcanoes National Park.  These volcanoes have a bowl-shaped dip at the top.

Mauna Kea Observatories Volcano closeup
Colorful volcanoes have a bowl-shaped dip

After driving for a while, suddenly we were in clouds – and soon above the clouds.  We could see more and more volcanoes.  It’s a strange feeling – to be close to so many volcanoes.  There were also dried lava visible in the far place.

Volcanoes (close) and dried lava (far)

The driving was not difficult, but we liked to drive in the center of the road.  It’s a little bit scary when passing cars (only met a few).  Finally we arrived at the top.  It’s sunny and chilly.  And the view was breathtaking!

Mauna Kea Observatories Volcano
Mauna Kea Observatories Volcano road
Where does this road go to

There are many telescopes.  I only knew Keck.

Mauna Kea Observatories Keck
Keck (one of the two)
Mauna Kea Observatories Keck IRTF
Keck and IRTF

Here are some other telescopes I don’t even know their names.

Mauna Kea Observatories
Other telescopes
Mauna Kea Observatories Radio Telescope
Radio Telescopes

To me, this place is heaven.  

I regret that we didn’t spend one more day on the Big Island.  I really want to go inside of those observatories, and see what I can see.  I heard they have very good stargazing programs.  In fact, on the way there is a complex for amateur astronomers.  People there seemed to be waiting for the night.  I wish I could join them!



Aloha Hawaii – Volcanoes National Park – Big Island

Volcanoes National Park was our first stop after arriving at the Big Island. Since we had an early flight, we were quite early at the national park (open 24h), weren’t we?  Anyhow, there weren’t many people in the park.  It’s like a lost world.  If we had more time (if I go to the Big Island again in the future), I would love to try wondering on that black land.

Hawaii volcanoes national park lost land
The lost land
Hawaii volcanoes national park dried lava pattern
Dried lava pattern

We drove towards the seaside, hoping to see lava flowing into the ocean.  Unfortunately, it was not possible that day.

Hawaii volcanoes national park dried lava
“River” of dried lava

However, we could see the the path of the flowing lava.  Imagine that the black dried lava was boiling red and marching towards the ocean some days in the past…

Hawaii volcanoes national park dried lava river
Lava flowing into the ocean

Then we went to the Jagger museum to see Halema ‘uma’u Crater, one of the most active volcanoes on earth.  It was easy to spot from far place, with high and big “smoke” (gas eruption).

Hawaii volcanoes national park
Halema ‘uma’u Crater from far place
Halema 'uma'u Crater
Halema ‘uma’u Crater Info

The overlook in Jagger museum offers a closer view (still one mile away).  I heard that the view would be much more spectacular in the evening.  But we had to go to see the Mauna Kea observatories, where we could see a lot of volcanoes (although not nearly as active).

Halema 'uma'u Crater
Halema ‘uma’u Crater