travel in Hokkaido ~Asahiyama zoo and lake saroma

Third day of 11 days in Hokkaido, Japan. We were in Asahikawa in the morning, so we started the day from visiting “Asahiyama zoo”.

Visit Asahiyama zoo

Asahiyama zoo is only about 30 minuets from the city center of Asahikawa. That is, access is very good. The zoo was not busy at the morning of this day. We bought tickets for zoo in the hotel “Toyoko-inn” so we did not need to go to ticket office at the zoo gate. It may be better to buy tickets from the hotels if it is the busy season.
At first, we went to penguin, sea lion, and polar bear area in the quiet morning. Because these are the famous area, we were afraid of too many crowds. In the sea lion area, we could see sea lions swim from ground floor to 2nd floor in the tube made in the room. Polar bear was very active this morning: she was walking, jumping into the pool and swimming.

In addition to these, hippopotamus area was also good. Hippopotamus swimming in the large pool was really impressive.

Drive to lake Saroma

lake saroma from hotel room

Lake saroma from the hotel room!

After enjoying the zoo, we drove to lake Saroma. It was about three hours driving. Lake side should be very pretty if the weather was good. Unfortunately, the weather was misty in this day.
We checked into the hotel before 5 pm. The detailed hotel information is available below.

hotel and restaurants

Hotel: Lake Saroma Tsuruga Resort, Kitami

This is a very good hotel. Their service is quite good from check-in to check-out. The hot spring is clean and the view from the outside bath is excellent. The hotel room is right in front of lake Saroma, so we could see the lake easily. Unfortunately the weather was not that good this day, so we could not see the sunset on lake Saroma! The hotel had free ping-pong table. We could enjoy 🙂

Breakfast:Toyoko INN has complementary breakfast!

Lunch: “GARDEN TERRACE LION”, Asahiyama Zoo ☆☆☆

This is a restaurant inside of Asahiyama zoo. Taste was normal good. Price was a bit expensive but the restaurant is in the zoo. The location is good 🙂

Dinner:  Lake Saroma Tsuruga Resort ☆☆☆☆☆

lake saroma dinner

Dinner is included in the price. They provided buffet. The food choice was quite a lot and quality was very good. We ordered additional seafood plate which was also very good. We were 100 % happy with this buffet 🙂

D & X

Travel in Hokkaido ~beautiful flower gardens in Biei

This is a second day of 11 days travel in Hokkaido, Japan. We , my wife and my parents, visited Biei. Biei is famous for beautiful nature, such as patchwork hill, flower gardens, famous trees and so on.

We woke up late this morning and we left Sapporo around 10. We stopped at the rest area “Sunagawa high way oasis”. This is a very good rest area. There are so many gift shops and many of them provide free tasting. So this is a good place to try Japanese snacks. It’s tasty 🙂

hokkaido biei zerubu no oka

Flower garden in “Zerubu no oka” in Biei

The drive to Biei was about an hour. We visited “zerubu-no-oka” at first. As you can see in above photo, flowers are well aligned. It is very beautiful place to see in summer! Zerubu does not require entrance fee, but you can donate some if you liked this place 🙂

hokkaido biei


Next, we visited another flower garden “Shikisai-no-oka”.  This garden is similar to Zerubu, but it has larger garden area. Also, it’s busier. I saw many tour groups here.
You can walk around the garden. You can also use sightseeing bus (5$) in the garden if you don’t want to walk much. I was not interested in but there was alpaca zoo in the garden (5$). “Shikisai-no-oka” is also admission free and it welcomes small donation.

hokkaido aoi ike (blue pond)

Aoi ike? Not that blue!

After “Shikisai-no-oka”, we visited “Aoi-ike”. Aoi ike means blue pond. Recently, it is getting more attention because of beautiful blue color of the pond. But as you can see in my photo, it was not blue at all this day. This depends on the weather and some conditions. So you need some good luck to see the blue pond. If you google image of “aoi ike”, you can see amazing photos. BTW, this pond was used as a wallpaper of Mac.

After “aoi ike” we visited a few famous trees in Biei. It was so-so. We drove to Asahikawa city to prepare for next day visit to “Asahiyama zoo”..

Hotel: Toyoko INN Asahikawa, Asahikawa (東横イン)

Toyoko inn is everywhere 🙂

Breakfast:Toyoko INN provides complementary breakfast!

Lunch: “Furokkusuhoru “, Biei Shikisai-no-Oka(フロックスホール)☆☆☆☆

We ate lunch at the restaurant in “Shikisai-no-oka”. We did not expect very good food in sightseeing place, but their curry was surprisingly good. Also, the price was reasonable. It was good experience 😉

Dinner: “Matsuda”, Asahikawa(まつ田) ☆☆☆

This is Japanese noodle “ra-men” restaurant. Taste was good enough, but not special. We ate ra-men and dumplings “gyoza”.


Travel in Hokkaido ~Big city Sapporo and deserted town Yubari

I want to write about 1st day of our 11 days Hokkaido trip. If you want to see the overview of our 11 days trip, please visit the summary post.

The first day was moving day from Tokyo to Shinchitose. I wanted to meet my wife in Tokyo but her flight from China was badly delayed. Her first flight was  from Hangzhou airport to Beijing airport in China, and this flight delayed about half a day. She needed to stay in Beijing airport and airplane company compensate only 30$, which is cheaper than the cheapest hotel around airport!

Anyhow, she was still in Beijing when I arrived Hokkaido. So, my parents and I went ahead to one of the most deserted town in Japan, Yubari. Yubari is an economically collapsed town, and now a young mayor is doing big efforts to reconstruct the town.
Yubari prospered as a coal-mine town before 1950, and gradually declined afterwards. There was a movie about this city “The Yellow Handkerchief “. We visited the town to see filming location of this movie.
There was a parking to visit this location. It looked like a free visiting site, but actually there was a gatekeeper to collect the entrance fee of about 5 $. In this site, you can feel the life in coal-mine town.

hokkaido yubari

The filming location of “The Yellow Handkerchief “

Just by looking, the Yubari town was just a country town. But, I did not see many people in this town. I would like to visit this kinda small town, but life should not be that easy. BTW, Yubari is very famous for melon. If you like melon, it is worth trying “Yubari melon”.

After Yubari, we visited Sapporo city. It took only 1 hour. In contrast to Yubari, Sapporo is the biggest city in Hokkaido. There are not so many tall buildings, but you can still find a lot of people.
After checking in the hotel, we visited Sapporo JR train station. In japan, big train stations usually have a lot of shopping and eating place. We visited a “Sushi-go-round” restaurant in the station.
I would write information about hotel and restaurant at the bottom of this post. When I was eating Sushi, my wife X arrived Tokyo HND airport. Finally at midnight, she could arrive Shinchitose airport. Fortunately there was a last train to come back to Sapporo. FYI, there should be buses till midnight from Shinchitose to Sapporo even if you miss the last train 🙂

Hotel: Toyoko Inn Hokkaido Sapporo-eki Minami-guchi, Sapporo (東横イン)

If you want to just sleep in the hotel (no complementary dinner), Toyoko-inn is one of the safe choices. Plus, Toyoko-inn provide complementary breakfast. The room is small but it has bed, shower and some amenities. There are some this type of hotels so called “business hotel” in Japan. The room is relatively cheap and has standard quality. Of course, you can find cheaper hotels, but you may get good or bad experience by your luck.

Lunch: “restaurant oyama”, Yubari(おーやまレストラン)

This was a nice restaurant. The price is a bit expensive but we need to think that they are maintaining the restaurant in this small town. They have many order menus so you should be able to find one you like. I tried their speciality using yam which is well-known product in Yubari.

Dinner: “Hokkaido Shikisaitei”, Sapporo station北海道四季彩亭

Actually, we wanted to go to a different famous sushi restaurant (根室花まる), but almost 100 people were waiting at that time.  So we visited the sushi restaurant (北海道四季彩亭). Actually, this restaurant did not have very good review. I say the restaurant is good enough unless you are expecting something special for Hokkaido. At least, it was good that we did not need to wait long time to eat :*)

D & X

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