30 Nov (Thurs): Singapore - Narita - Chitose

NH112: Singapore (0845h) - Narita (1615h/1800h) - Chitose Sapporo (1935h)

That's the sky near Tokyo... what a beautiful sunset scene... the different shades of yellow, orange and brown. Have not see such a huge sea of clouds in the sky before! Hm... And the excitement of going through these think clouds... Wow!!! By the time the plane was near the ground, though around 5 pm... it was already dark... but the 'mist' that blankets the stream area gave a mystic look and feel to the urban city.

It's the 2nd time touched down at Narita Airport... the last time was transit to Hawaii... this time, to Hokkaido. We lugged our luggage through the immigration point and bought the domestic flight... and we got the "first class" seat! Row #1!!! hahaha... It was a quiet 1 h 20 min flight to Chitose. My attention was captured by the gentle smile and sweet voice of the air stewards

... One thing to remember when travelling by domestic flights in Japan... always keep the luggage tags... no matter what... it's the 'passport' of the checkin luggages!

"Hokkaido", translated from the "Ainu" language, means a vast piece of swampy land that had dried up. Over 70% of this 2nd largest island in Japan is still covered by forest.

1 Dec 2006 (Fri): :Chitose - Lake Toya

Otaru 小樽

  • Otaru Canal - shops selling authentic Japanese dolls and paperware; also stalls that sell freshly grilled/barbaqued seafood (like scallops). Something that I could resist: BBQ seafoold and ice-creams!!! Though cold, the entire street was filled with the 'aroma' of boiled crab! The intense fresh seafood smell deceived the greedy stomach! (despite of the heavy breakfast!)... for 500-yen, we shared the yummy juicy scallop... yummy yummy :P
  • According to Turbo, our guide... there's some similarity on background of the Otaro Canal and Singapore river, which both were lined up with warehouses in the past and the canal was the key channel of trade with cities beyond. I guess the main difference I could see now is... it offers different look at different times of the year... the snowy look is certainly captivating... The lamps along the canal remain since the old times... they are gas-operated.
  • The area was simply so.... Christmas-sy!!!
  • Kitachi glass shop - reputed for its hand-blown glassware
  • Otaru Music Box Museum - the beautifully crafted musical boxes, with a steam-operated clock tower standing right in front of it... one could find a similar one in Canada.
  • (above pictre) Stopover where we collected bottles of spring water. I think it was a park... a very beautiful park when the trees swayed as the wind sweeps against them... with a flight of wooden steps that leads to the lake around it... it's around surrounded by some stone sculptures carved with images of characters of Buddhism... well, it's now blanketed with think snow where we experienced, for the first time in Hokkaido (in our very first 24 hours here), to sink our feet into deep snow... The spring water was really sparkling clear and light! That's spring water! Also got some small hot boiled potatoes that went with butter... hm... that warmed the chilled heart :D

Lake Toya 洞爷湖

This was the first lunch in Hokkaido... after heavy doses of the "crab-aroma" in the streets in Otaru... hm... it's boiled... hm... it's so-so... but it's very hairy!!!

This is just opposite the music museum... Very cute, first thought... a 3-D cat hanging out there! Oh! Ying Leng will love this! So lovey... she'll hug it... hahaha...

2 Dec 2006 (Sat): Lake Toya - Sapporo

  • Lake Toya (Toya-ko) 洞爷湖 - A huge caldera lake with an ice-cream cone island of Oshima in the middle.
  • Mt Showa 昭和新山 (above) - one of the newest volcanos in Japan; an interesting landform that was raised from a farmland after 2 years of volcanic activities. Smoke still comes out from the various outlets. A mountain was born: On Dec 28, 1943, severe earthqualkes began shaking the area around Usu-zan and continued to do so until Sep 1945. In the intervening period, a new lava dome rose out of th eground, sometimes at the rate of 1.5 a day. By the time it had stopped growing, Showa Shin-zan "New mountain" named after the reigning emperor, stood 4005 m above sea level.
  • Bear Ranch 熊牧场 - Bears! bears! bears! that are fed on apples from the visitors. No, no... do not get mistaken! Bears in Hokkaido are not herbivores! They are fed with meat, too... however, it seems like the bear enjoyed apples, so much so that lots of visitors bought bags of apples (5 for 200 yen) to feed them... The bears are very 'obedient'... to get the fruits, they are willing to follow requests such as "sit" and "stand"... it gave the impression that the bear was in the mercy of the visitor to get the fruit... sigh...

Noboribetsu 登别

  • Jigokudani (Hell Valley) - A sulphurous valley where boiling ponds and steaming streams are.
  • Shiraoi Ainu Village (Poroton Kotan) - A recreated village where the aborigines of Hokkaido live. A glimpse of their livelihood - the simple musical instrument (mukkur, a mouth harp made of bamboo and athread that creates a strange, resonating sound), the dried salmon, and the huts... and the 'ladder' that resembles the one I saw in Bhutan!
  • Lunch near the seaside... where at the "Big Bear and the Salmon" restaurant.

Sapporo 札幌

  • we drove on to the biggest city in Hokkaido.
  • Tokeidai Clock (1880) - The building was the very first agricultural department of the university in Hokkaido, where a professor from America was engaged to teach the very small group of undergraduates on agriculture. On returning to US, he presented this clock tower to the university, that is now a museum.
  • Sapporo TV Tower - Just a Tower... a 147 m tall tower...
  • A dinner of BBQ pork and beef... interesting, the whipped egg served as the sauce to the cooked meat. Oh yes, it's the evening when CN sank her feet into the pseudo-frozen pond ;p
  • JR Tower - we braved through the heavy snow to walk to this (supposedly) one of the newest shopping mall in town. There, we found the 100-yen shop!
  • Checked in to Sapporo New Otani Hotel

3 Dec 2006 (Sun): Sapporo - Asahikawa

Sapporo 札幌

  • Ishiya Chocolate Factory - Shiroi Koibito Park - a factory cum park, where we see the production of the Hokkaido famous white chocolate 白色恋人. What a romantic name! inspired by the snowflakes...
  • we drove along the Dohoh Expressway and braved through the heavy snow to Asahikawa, the second largest town in Hokkaido

Asahikawa 旭川

  • Ramen Village 拉面村 - 8 famous tip-top Ramen stalls in Hokkaido. Seriously, while making the way to the Ramen Village, I was quite wonder why we had to make a 2 h journey to this place... what's so special about the ramen here? Indeed, we were told that we could just hopped into anyone to try... that reminded me of what Joseph said, "Must try! They are equally good." Really??? It was snowing heavily... so, the most practical and convenient choice, we zoomed into the first shop Asahikawa Ramen Aoba ... A loud and clear welcome and a string of words (that we don't understand) when we entered... we settled down quickly and ordered the food. Well, well,... it's like Japan-hour replayed... hahaha... set right in front of the chef and waited for the hotly served ramen. Hm... it tasted good... however, how good? nothing to benchmark against... and yes, it's good, after we started coming across more ramen along the way... hm...
  • Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum 男山酒厂 - where equipment used for sake brewery in the old days are in display.
  • Dinner where we cooked our own ramen and seafood hot clay pot dish.
  • Checked in to Asahikawa Palace Hotel

4 Dec 2006 (Mon): Asahikawa - Lake Akan

Mt Daisetsu-zan National Park 大雪山国立公园

  • Sounkyo Gorge - situated at the foot of the national park
  • Ryusei-no-taki Falls (Shooting Star Falls) 流星瀑布
  • Ginga-no-taki Falls (Milky Way Falls) 银河瀑布
  • It's the first time since arrival to experience to piercing icy wind that my ears turned numb as if they were going to drop! And yes, the Milky Way falls turn into a frozen fall!
  • Kita Kitsbe Fox Village 狐狸村 - where we had our lunch, and our close encounter with the tamed foxes.

Lake Akan National Park 阿寒国立公园
This national park is the home to 3 lakes - Mashu-ko, Kussharo-ko and Akan-ko and the volcanic peaks of Me-Akan and O-Akan.

  • Lake Kussharo 屈斜路湖 (below) - where we saw the sunset and had close encounter with the swans.
  • Lake Mashu 摩周湖 - it was already pitched dark... presented in front of us were the dark mountains and lake.
  • Checked in to Akan View Hotel

5 Dec 2006 (Tues): Kushiro - Haneda - Narita

Kushiro Shitsugen National Park

  • A stopover at the national park which is a vast piece of mashland that have not been put to any use yet.
  • Tancho Village - where we saw red-crested cranes that migrate here during the winter... hey, are they similar to those black-necked cranes I wished to see in Bumthang?
  • Lunch at
  • Proceed on to a nearby wet market.
Kushiro Airport

  • NH744: KUH (1725h) - Haneda (1845h)

Haneda Airport 羽田机场

  • where we had ramen for dinner.
  • Checked in to Narita Excel Hotel Tokyu (one of the 12 hotels around Narita airport 成田机场)

6 Dec 2006 (Wed): Narita - Tokyo - DisneySea

  • Together with the group, we went to Narita airport.
  • We took the airport limousine bus (3,000 yen) to Keio Plaza Hotel.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building was our very first stop, where we went up to the 48th storey of both south and north wings of the building, for a birdeye's view of Tokyo city.


A pleasant surprise was it is also one of the Good Neighbour hotel of Disneyland/DisneySea. Hence, we had a free ride to DisneySea. We spent half a day at DisneySea and we saw/experienced...

  • The Legend of Mythica @ Mediterranean Habour - a water-parade kind of musical presentation
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea @ Mysterious Island
  • Indiana Jones @ Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull @ Lost River Delta
  • Journey to the Centre of the Earth @ Mysterious Island
  • The StormRider @ Port Discovery
  • The Magic Lamp @ Arabian Coast
  • DisneySea Electric Railyway @ Port Discovery/American Waterfront
  • Raging Spirits @ Lost River Delta
  • BraviSEAmo! @ Mediterranean Habour - a water parade with fireworks
  • Tower of Terror Memorabilia @ American Waterfront - where we experienced free-fall
  • The Caravan Carousel @ Arabian Coast

7 Dec 2006 (Thurs): Tokyo - Odaiba

Shinjuku Train Station - a very complex station where the 3 main lines came met - the Japan Railway (JR), Tokyo Metro and the Toei Subway - that we did not figure out until it was clearly pointed out by one of the station staff of the Toei Subway line... Thanks alot... that was very helpful.

  • We took the JR line to Tokyo Teleport station where Odaiba is.

Odaiba is an island of reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay.

  • We saw the unique structure of the Fuji TV Building, a futuristic block with a huge metal sphere suspended in the middle.
  • The Palette Town which is a cluster of big malls like the Venusfort and the MegaWeb.
  • In Particular, an interesting place is the Toyota Universal Design Showcase where we saw daily equipment and tools designed in interesting and creative ways!

  • We were also thrilled by the Electric cars at the Toyota City Showcase... and took a ride at 200-yen... the car was controlled centrally, with its steering wheel programmed to turn correctly along the way!
  • Miraikan, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation was one of the most exciting places! We spent half a day here, looking at the wonders of science... and met Paro (the therapeutic robot) and ASIMO (the humanoid robot - Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility). Indeed, there was free shuttle service between the train station to Miraikan though we took a 15-minute walk from MegaWeb to the museum.

8 Dec 2006 (Fri): Tokyo - Asakusa - Roppongi - Kabukicho

  • The morning started off with Asakusa 浅草. Stalls lined up along the way that led to Senso-ji 浅草寺。This magnificent temple, also known as Asakusa Kannon, was founded in the mid-17th century to enshrine a tiny golden image of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy.
  • We moved on to Roppongi 六本目... however, did not move far from the train station.
  • Kabukicho 歌舞伎町, the red light district was just like Taiwan's Xi-men-ding under day night. It is also where the old-Tokyo style food stalls were.

a monk at Kabukicho?

9 Dec 2006 (Sat): Narita-Singapore

  • We rose very early! 4 am!! and to ensure "no overslept", we set the alarm in the room apart from the handphone alarm. On top of that, we also got the front desk to give us morning... hahaha... really really kiasu!!!
  • NH111: Narita (1040h) - Singapore (1715h)



  • 食放题: buffet
  • 宅急便:courier service
  • 天地无用: fragile
  • 火灾,生命:insurance
  • 精米“问屋”:wholesaler
  • 用心:attention
  • 洗手,化装间:toilet
  • 豚肉: pork
  • 空港: airport


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