Hokkaido 2019 – 02 Sapporo

Next day of our trip we had registered for Sapporo beer brewery tour in the morning, and since Sapporo city is around 3hours of train ride from Hakodate, we had to get up very early and catch first train that went in that direction. Travelling in Hokkaido reminds me a lot of Czech republic as there are vast fields of pretty much nothing at all between the cities. As we soon realised even the earliest train didn’t leave us with any spare time, and we had to catch a taxi to get to the brewery on time. We were meeting our beer-loving Japanese friend at a station near the brewery, as he was telling us we have to go by the visitor bus to the brewery entrance. The bus design was nothing special, but the grab thingys for standing passengers were beer-glass shaped, which was nice touch.
After the tour there came the obligatory tasting, which was something we were looking for the most. And we obviously weren’t disappointed as we got 3 beers to try with some nuts as well. Also as my friend told me, only well served Sapporo glass has the beer level aligned with the star of the Sapporo beer logo. If any of you ever have around half a day to spare around Sapporo area I do recommend the tour a lot. As a beer loving people the tasting wasn’t enough for us, so we headed to restaurant which was part of the brewery, as our Japanese friend told us there’s a meal we have to try. The meal was Hokkaido-styled BBQ with huge variety of meats including mainly lamb with some port for good measure. And with that lot of beers that hare hard to come by in other places than Sapporo.
When we got decently stuffed and very satisfied, we decided to head out to the city centre to leave our baggages at the hotel and go explore the city a bit. With all the meat and beer we got slight cravings for something sweet instead, and as Hokkaido is very famous for it’s dairy products as well, we ended up with incredibly tasty ice cream. Places like that are especially popular with younger girls in Japan, so seeing three well aged guys stuffing their mouths with ice cream must have been quite a view. Speaking of views, after strolling a bit around city we headed up the TV tower at the edge of Oodori park. I’ve been up there last time I was visiting the city, but the view was super nice, so I didn’t mind going there again at all. I love how it overlooks whole park with a slight hint of Ski-jump ramp in the mountains behind the cityscape.
Since our main goal was to basically have a lot of beers and have some great time, we ended up going for few beers after that again, during which I took next to no photos, as we were just chatting about random topics all the time. We killed almost whole afternoon in a pub, and not eating much at all we went to explore some of the famous Sapporo ramen places. For some reason in Japan there’s a culture of shime ramen (〆ラーメン) which basically means to stuff oneself with oily ramen after night of drinking. Most of the places run late until night, ant it’s not rare to see drunk people slurping some noodles. It’s surely not the healthiest thing available, but it sure is delicious. We strolled through alley filled with various ramen shops and ended up in one our Japanese friend got suggested by someone. I got some crab and whatnot ramen, which was properly delicious. That put an end to day two of our trip, and we went back to the hotel to prepare for next day.

Hokkaido 2019 – 01 Hakodate

Like I’ve mentioned in previous post, my friend from Czech was having his holiday in Japan and to have some fun together my friend, his Japanese beer-loving friend and me decided to go together to Hokkaido with main goal being visiting the famous Japanese Sapporo beer brewery in, well Sapporo. I managed to take two days off and since my friend had planned visiting other parts of northern Japan before that we decided to meet up in a city of Hakodate on the South of Hokkaido. Last one to arrive would be my friend’s Japanese friend (well he’s my friend too), who due do work and personal stuff couldn’t manage to get two extra days, so we were planning to meet him in Sapporo the next day. Since I took lot of photos during that trip, I’ll spread them over 2 or 3 posts.
As a way to get there the quickest (and cheapest as well) I decided to go with early morning domestic flight from Haneda airport. It was my first time experiencing domestic flight by myself, which was lot of fun on its own, though getting up very early to get to the airport from the remote part of Tokyo I live in wasn’t all that fun. But the airport itself was nearly empty with most of it’s stores still closed. The weather was very nice as well, and since I managed to grab a seat by the window, I was able to enjoy some amazing views of Tokyo in the morning.
First thing you should do after the short flight (and skipping breakfast because how early it was) is to grab some of the delicious seafood provided almost everywhere in Hokkaido. After getting together with my friend, who came just few minutes before me by train, we went to local market with tons of seafood restaurants. I was too hungry to spend long tie deciding what to eat, so we got to the first closest one and I had very satisfying meal full of everything I don’t usually eat.
After having my stomach filled we left our stuff at the hotel and decided to go for some sightseeing. Hakodate isn’t really big city, so we went by foot to Goryokaku (五稜郭) and old fortress conveniently related to Shinsengumi Vice-commander Hijikata, I’ve mentioned in previous post. Hino city was his place of birth, and battle of Hakodate fortress was actually place where he died. We didn’t go inside the fortress, instead we just went up the observatory tower which overlooks whole of the star-shaped construction. Few years back I went up there when the park below was covered in cherry blossom trees, which was much prettier than the sea of usual green. Although the visibility was much better this time, and the nearby mountains made for very nice scenery.
As there aren’t as many sights we were taking it quite easy with short break at the Hotel, but in the evening we decided to go up the Mount Hakodate, famous for it’s amazing nightscape of the city. Along the way we found a Hakodate beer brewery as well, but since we decided to go to see the view first, we prioritised that and promised we’re going to grab a beer after that.
It was still early for the sun to set, but remembering how hellishly crowded that place get after sunset, we took some pictures of the view when there still were no people there and then decided to grab light meal with a beer at the restaurant on the top of the hill. The weather was more than pleasant that day, so the view was beautiful as well, with very good light. Also the sunset was pretty too, although there were bit more clouds on the horizon just below the setting sun. After it got dark we though we’d take some photos of the view, but seeing the immense number of people, who were not willing to move even after 30 minutes, we gave up and decided to go back down to the beer brewery we saw in the afternoon. I just snapped one last picture while waiting for the cable car to arrive, and that was all. We had to wake up early next day to catch train to Sapporo, so we just had few delicious beers and went back to the Hotel.