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

Travel in China – Huangshan/Yellow Mountain – Tips

Huangshan, or Yellow Mountain, is truly my favorite place to visit in China.  It is not far from my hometown, Hangzhou.  The first time I visited Yellow Mountain, I was about 10 years old.  At that time, there was no cable car, so we climbed up on foot.  The second time was in 2016 summer, when I took D there.  Although most people are using the cable car to climb up and even come down, we chose the tougher way.

Chinese people say: you do not need to visit any other mountain after you come back from Yellow Mountain.  Maybe that’s why I have not been to other famous mountains in China 🙂

Yellow Mountain is known for “Four Specialties”: unique pine-trees, strange rocks, cloud sea, and hot springs.

Welcome Pine Tree (迎客松)
Flying Rock (飞来石)
Monkey watching the cloud sea (猴子观海)

However, my favorite part is the newly opened West Sea Canyon (西海大峡谷).  I will talk about it more in the next blog, but here is a photo:

West Sea Canyon (西海大峡谷)


In this blog, I would like to share some tips.

How many days in Yellow Mountain?

Depends on how much you want to see, and whether you plan to use the cable car (which significantly saves time).  We climbed up from the front (慈光阁) side of Yellow Mountain, which is the more difficult side.  In order to see sunrise and sunset, we stayed in Yellow Mountain for two nights.

Day 1   Hangzhou    –>   Tangkou (汤口)  Hotel

Day 2  Tangkou (汤口)    –>     慈光阁     –>     迎客松     –>    光明顶     –>    飞来石     –>    排云亭 (sunset)    –>    排云楼 (hotel)

Day 3  排云楼    –>    丹霞峰(sunrise) –>    排云楼    –>    狮林大酒店(hotel checkin)  –>     排云亭     –>     西海大峡谷    –>   cable car to 天海 station    –>    光明顶    –>    狮林大酒店
–>     狮子峰 (猴子观海, sunset)     –>     狮林大酒店

Day 4  狮林大酒店     –>      始信峰 (sunrise)     –>     云谷寺     –>   Tangkou (汤口)     –>     Hangzhou

* Day 2 was tough.  Probably better to have stayed at 白云宾馆 or 光明顶.

* Tiandu Peak was closed due to weather.  Lotus Peak was closed till 2019.

* In my opinion, it’s worth to spend a day in West Sea Canyon, if the loop is fully accessible.  West Sea Canyon is like a fairyland, and is very quiet.  Tour groups do not go there, because they do not have much time.  We really enjoyed the peaceful hiking there.



Bus from Hangzhou: Buses depart from Hangzhou West Bus Station.  Attention! The destination should be Tangkou (汤口), from where one can take shuttles to Yellow Mountain.  Private cars are not allowed to drive to Yellow Mountain.

Shuttles from Tangkou (汤口) to Yellow Mountain: There are two shuttle stations inTangkou (汤口): East (东岭) and West (寨西).  When you buy tickets there, you need to specify whether you are going to the front (慈光阁) or back (云谷寺) side of Yellow Mountain.  One-way ticket costs about $3, and the ride takes about 25 minutes.  Shuttles run every 20 minutes.  We used the East Shuttle Station (东岭) to go to the front side (慈光阁) of Yellow Mountain.  The station is quite small.  In comparison, the West (寨西) Shuttle Station is huge, and it’s close to Tangkou (汤口) Bus Station, which harbors inter-city buses.

Here is our itinerary:
Hangzhou West Bus Station –>
Tangkou Bus Station — >
picked up by hotel staff to go to hotel –>
walk to East Shuttle Station –>
front side (慈光阁) of Yellow Mountain –>
Yellow Mountain –>
back side (云谷寺) of Yellow Mountain –>
shuttle bus to West Shuttle Station –>
walk to Tangkou Bus Station –>
Hangzhou West Bus Station


Hotels and Restaurants

[Day 1] In Tangkou (汤口): 黄山自游人客栈, close to the East Shuttle Station. ~ $20 per night.  Basic and clean.  They have a very nice and popular restaurant.  We had dinner there: spicy pepper fish (泡椒鱼) and mountain veggie, both are delicious.  Actually we intended to order some local specialties, but were warned that we probably wouldn’t like. We also had breakfast the next day: noodle soup, and it’s really good.  We then ordered a fried rice to take to Yellow Mountain (as our lunch). The hotel offers free pick-up from Tangkou Bus Station, so just give them a call when you arrive.  It’s a very short ride.  The owner of the hotel is nice.  He sat down with us after dinner to discuss about our plan!  They also have wooden hiking pole free to borrow.

[Day 2] In Hunagshan:  Paiyunlou (排云楼), three star hotel.  $125 per night.  It is located on one end of West Sea Canyon (西海大峡谷). It is very close to Danxia Peak (丹霞峰) and Paiyun Pavilion (排云亭), two good locations for sunrise and sunset.  Seems like many tour groups like to stay there, probably due to the good location.  The room is good size, but quite wet, very wet.  Interestingly ,winter coats are available for use.  Breakfast is provided, but better to get there early to have good selections.

[Day 3] In Huangshan: Shilin Hotel (狮林大酒店), four star hotel.  $140 per night.  Photographers’ pick.  It is very close to Lion Peak (狮子峰) and Qingliangtai (清凉台), great for sunrise.  In the lobby, there are a lot of photographs on the show.  The hotel is newer, thus the room is clean, bright and dry.  The restaurant is good as well.  We had great dinner and breakfast there.



Tickets to Yellow Mountain can be purchased from hotels, to skip the lines.   Or, you can get tickets at the gate.



You should definitely buy a disposable raincoat (no more than 5 Chinese yuan a piece)!  It rains a lot in Yellow Mountain.  Umbrellas just won’t do.

Hiking poles are very helpful, but not necessary.

Water and snacks.  In the mountain, there are not that many places selling stuffs.

Only take necessary things – travel light!







Why I will visit Yellowstone again

Yellowstone is probably the most famous national park in the USA.  I visited it in the early summer in 2014.  Every time I think about Yellowstone, I tell myself that I will definitely go there again.  Why?

I want to stay inside of the park.  Two reasons: (1) I want to be waken up by the sound of forest, not by alarm;  (2) I do not want to spend at least two hours a day on the road going in and out of the park.  The lodging inside of Yellowstone is so popular that it has to be secured several months in advance.  I would love to stay in the Lake Lodge!  Last time when we passed the Lake, I really wanted to just sit there for some time…

yellowstone lake
Yellowstone Lake

I want to look for those secret spots for amazing photos.  Or,  just have more time to take photos…  Meanwhile, I also want to have more time for my eyes to enjoy.  Yellowstone’s beauty is everywhere; it varies in different parts of the park; it changes over time within a day.

yellowstone cistern spring in Norris Geyser Basin
Yellowstone Cistern Spring in Norris Geyser Basin
beartooth highway
Beartooth Highway
yellowstone grass land
Flatlands and River

I want to meet with more animals.  Yellowstone is home for many species.  I was lucky to see a white mountain goat in somebody’s binoculars (wish I could take a photo).  And … I was excited to come across with a bear family, while I was thinking I would never see a bear in Yellowstone…

yellowstone animals three bear
Three bears

Yes, Yellowstone is full of surprises.




Baby in Finland – Nursing while shopping

We have been living in Espoo for almost three months.  Now I know a little bit more about those shopping centers, especially how to take the baby to shopping!

First of all, traveling with a baby in pram/stroller is free on buses (and other HSL public transportation).  So, just board the bus through the middle door.  Those large shopping centers are well served by public transportation 🙂

Secondly, look for the door open button to make life easier:

Door Open Button
Door Open Button

Now while you are inside of the shopping center, look for the nursing room when it’s necessary.  Be confident that there is a nursing room!  Just ask for directions.  Here I will show you the nursing rooms in these shopping centers: ISO Omena, Sello, AINOA/Stockmann, IKEA Espoo, and Kamppi (Helsinki).

ISO Omena probably has the best nursing room.  It is located on the first floor, close to the children’s clothing shops, right beside the children’s playground.  Push the button to open the door, and you will see a very big room.  There are stroller parking, lockers, table and chairs (for bigger kids), a big sofa (for breastfeeding), and kids’ restrooms.  The nursing room is always occupied, almost constantly being used.  In fact, the playground outside is also one of the best, and is very popular!

Sello is another popular shopping center in Espoo.  The nursing room is also on the first floor, and in the children’s area (see photos).  This nursing room is not big, although it’s quite popular.  You can do everything you need to, but the room itself is not as fancy as the one in ISO Omena.  For example, there’s no sofa.

AINOA/Stockmann is in Tapiola.  It’s supposed to have two nursing rooms, but we could only find the one in AINOA side.  It’s a bit tricky to find the nursing room.  The tip is to find the children’s playground, which is beside the second floor of H&M.  The playground, or rather the rest area, is huge and fabulous!   We saw fathers were taking care of kids (while mothers were shopping?).  Then, follow the signs to the nursing room, on the fourth floor.  The room is warmly decorated.   Although there is no sofa either, the chairs there are very comfortable for breastfeeding.

Then, IKEA Espoo.  After you enter the building, take a right.  And you will see the information desk and the small playground.  The nursing room is on the opposite side of the playground.  The room is not big, but it’s lovely and very IKEA (my feeling).  The red box on the wall is a changing station (diapers available).  The pretty IKEA chair is perfect for breastfeeding!   There’s no kids’ restroom.

Nursing room in IKEA
Nursing room in IKEA

Lastly, the Kamppi center in Helsinki.  We have used the nursing room there several times, because we often transfer at Kamppi bus terminal.  The nursing room is on the third floor, where you find children’s clothing shops.  Different from nursing rooms in other shopping centers, the nursing room in Kamppi is located inside of a store!  So look for the sign on the window, go into the store, and you can find the nursing room.  It is a small room, but “luxurily” decorated.  There are diapers, towels, and even baby cream/lotion.  Outside of the nursing room, there are two love seats and breastfeeding pillows!  How thoughtful!

I am not afraid of taking my baby to shopping any more, because I know I can care for him just like at home.





Baby in Finland – Healthcare – Private Hospital

Since our baby does not have a KELA card, we had to look for a private hospital for his vaccination.  We found Mehilainen located in Toolo (Bus/Tram stop Apolonkatu).

Mehilainen in Toolo

Children’s healthcare is on the second floor.  The waiting area is nicely decorated.  There are sofa, stroller parking, lockers, and many toys.

Mehilainen waiting area stroller
Mehilainen waiting area stroller parking
Mehilainen waiting area locker
Mehilainen waiting area lockers
Mehilainen registration
Mehilainen registration

Firstly, we went to the registration so that they can put in all the information.  The ID number is required.  Then, they told us the room number where we would go later.  We just needed to wait in the hallway, and the nurse would come find us.  There is another waiting area if you walk down the hallway – it’s on your right side.  There is one chair that I really like!  While feeding, the baby is less likely to be distracted.

Mehilainen nursing chair
Mehilainen nursing chair

Meeting the nurse

Soon the nurse came out, and invited us into the room.  She also has a lot of toys.  Our baby immediately liked her.  She checked the strength of neck, and measured weight and height.  Since it’s our first visit, we chatted a lot about how we were taking care of our baby.  Then she went out to see if the doctor was ready.

Mehilainen nurse room 2
Mehilainen nurse room

Meeting the doctor

We moved to another room to see the doctor.  Basically we discussed about the vaccination plan.  Since we don’t have a plan to go out of  Europe this year, we decided to just follow the Finnish program.  The doctor then further checked his heart, eye, etc.


Lastly, we went back to the nurse for vaccination: PCV13, Infanrix Hib Polio, and Rota.  The first two are injections.  Rota is oral.  After the vaccination, we were asked to wait for ~15 min to see if there was allergy.

About the payment

We just found out yesterday when we did the second Rota.  For the two visits, the total bill is over 500 euro!    That explains why it’s so easy to make an appointment – no waiting line at all.

Here’s the price list: Doctor 30 min – 125 euro.  Nurse – ~50 euro.  Registration – 19.5 euro.  Rota – 73 euro.  Infanrix polio + hib – 26.5 euro.  PCV13 – 91.7 euro.

The doctor gave a bill right away, but the nurse’s bill would come in mail.  The bills can be paid at the registration, or through IBAN (additional fees may be required).






Baby in Finland – Vaccination – What if No KELA Card

Kela Card needed for service at the public neuvola

When we moved from France to Finland, our baby was only six weeks old.  When we realized that it’s time for vaccination, he was almost ten weeks.  In Finland, the vaccination program includes a Rotavirus vaccine at two months.  Therefore, I went to the close-by health station to figure out how to get the vaccine.  I was told to call a number, later I realized the number was for making an appointment at the public neuvola.  After I made the phone call, actually several calls, I found a big issue – our son can not use the public neuvola without the KELA card!  It seems that they also called the KELA office to find out my husband’s situation to determine whether our son has the right to use the public neuvola.  And the answer was, unfortunately, NO.

Finnish ID needed even for private hospitals

They suggested me to look for private hospitals.  I called one (Terveystalo) that is not very far from our home.  I found another issue – they require ID number!  Our son only had a Japanese passport at that time.  We planned to apply for the residence permit (which has the ID number) for him in Finland.  Somehow I thought that he did not need a residence permit, that we just needed to register him at the Population Register Centre (Maistraatti).  I was WRONG!  He needs a residence permit!  Unlike in Paris, the queue is very long.  The earliest appointment we could get is six weeks after.  (So, if you want to apply for a residence permit in Finland, you’d better plan early!)

To get the Finnish ID without residence permit

Anyway, can we register our son, in other words, get the ID number without a residence permit?  Yes, but they require a legalized birth certificate – Apostille stamped birth certificate.  We did Apostille before, for the Japanese family book.  Since the language is Japanese, it was done in Japan.  And it’s very expensive!  The Apostille itself costed about $300, not to say the shipping and waiting. Unfortunately, that family book was done before our son was born 🙁   Should we do the Apostille in the same way again?  If so, we have to translate the French birth certificate into Japanese first…  Long waiting, and another $300!  Why don’t we get Apostille from France?  Our friends in France helped us to ask the local office, and told us how to get the Apostille, for free!  It was actually very simple.  We just had to request the Apostille from the Hotel de Ville where we got the birth certificate.  They won’t charge anything, and they would even mail the Apostille to us.  Sounds terrific!  So we did it.  After just one week we got the letter from the French office.  Without checking carefully, we immediately went to the Maistraatti in Helsinki.  Who would know that the French office forgot to stamp the Apostille?!  What a surprise!  But… emmm… probably not that surprising considering who they are.  They often make me speechless.  Luckily, our friends in France also requested Apostille for us, and he got it right!  So he mailed the correct copy to us.  Another week passed by, and the Apostille stamped birth certificate was finally in my hand.

Got the Finnish ID without waiting for three weeks

Again, we immediately took the Apostille to the Maistraatti.  This time, we could register our son (finally!).  The problem was it would take about three weeks for us to get the ID number.  In that case, our son would miss the first a few vaccinations.   I wrote a short note explaining why we needed the ID number as quick as possible.  The clerk said she would ask the manager.  With hope, we left.  While I was feeding my son in Kamppi Center, they called me! I was very excited.  Yes!  They processed my son’s application right away, so the registration paper (which has the ID number) was ready to be picked up! Yeah!  After I got the ID number, I called the private hospital, but it’s already too late.  OK, tomorrow then.

Not every private hospital has the vaccines for babies

The next day, I called the private hospital again, with the ID number at hand.  I thought everything was ok now.  However, the nurse answering my call was not sure whether they had the vaccine.  After serval phone calls, they and I were clear that they could not do vaccination for little babies!  I wish I found this out earlier.

So foreigners’ babies can not get vaccines in Finland?  I don’t believe that. Obviously I was not alone.  Somebody out there also came across with this issue before.  Finally, I found Mehilainen.  Their site in Toolo can do the vaccination!  I will describe our visit in another post.


If your baby needs vaccines, make sure s/he has the ID number.  If s/he does not have the KELA card, try Mehilainen.




Feel Finland – Weekend on an island

Finland is known for its thousands of islands, which are ideal places to escape from modern city life.  Finnish people, or finns, are known for their coolness.  I don’t think they are cold.  They are simply cool – do not bother others, and do not want to be bothered.  Chinese people often say: The unique features of a local environment always give special characteristics to its inhabitants.  I think finns are part of the Finnish nature.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.  Fortunately, we had the opportunity to enjoy a typical Finnish weekend.

Around 8:50 am, two friends (one of which is Finn) and we met at the Kinvenlahti pier (in Espoo).  The 9 am ferry was already there.  We purchased the tickets (5 euro each), and boarded the ferry.  The ferry has two floors.  The top floor is open air.  The bottom floor is inside.  The ferry stops at many islands.  Our target was Gasgrund!  It took about 90 min.  Although 90 min sounds a bit long, it’s actually a pleasant journey.  After all, we came out to enjoy our time.  This particular ferry does not have coffee, but some other ferries do.  I do not know how many islands we passed by, but almost every island has one or more houses.  What a life it is to own a vacation house on an island!  In some aspects, I feel I will enjoy Finnish life – I don’t mind to be isolated at all.

Espoo ferry
Espoo ferry
Espoo ferry inside
Espoo ferry inside

Soon we arrived at our destination – Gasgrund Island.  Nothing extraordinary, but who asked for it?  The point is: we are on an island; we are surrounded by trees and water.  The wood storage is right in front of us, and the shelter is only 20 meter away.  The shelter is well equipped for BBQ.  Actually, it looked like somebody just used the fire place.  So our friend just needed to add wood to it.  While the wood was burning, we took the time to walk around the coast.  So peaceful!


fire place in shelter
fire place in shelter

After we came back from a short walk, we started to prepare food.  Our friend is clearly professional!  Look at her BBQ!  We prepared chicken and asparagus, which are also tasty 🙂  The dessert was chocolate banana!  It’s really delicious.

BBQ dessert
BBQ dessert

Different from the BBQ in US, it’s much quieter and natural in Finland!  I liked that the wood was used for BBQ.  Before we left the island, our friend threw in a few more wood to keep the fire.  Finns do not talk much, but they are very considerate.  Everything is in good and unspoken order.





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.