Friday, 15 May 2015


Narita to Sapporo

Ramen number 1 - Spicy Narita Ramen with Asahi Beer 

To get from T2 to T3 at Narita Airport, follow the color coded path, complete with passing lanes, resting benches and drink vending machines.  Distance to go is clearly marked.

Narita Airport walkway to T3, Low Cost Carrier (Jetstar) Terminal


Sapporo (map) is laid out in a grid pattern wide wide streets, unlike many Japanese cities.  The are a few old European style buildings which look a little strange in modern Japan.

The Clock Tower in an old wooden building

Former Government Building

Cherry blossoms reflected in a pond at the Government Building

Huh?  Just go to the platform that has your departure time - that will be your train


Otaru is a port about 30 minutes by train from Sapporo.  It was authorized as a foreign trading port in the 1800's and the European heritage buildings and character make it a hot tourist destination for Japanese.

Otaru Canal and Warehouse

One of the old stone buildings, now a restaurant

Vine covered house

Japanese Maple makes a beautiful small garden

Food of Sapporo

Ramen Alley is the place to go for Sapporo Ramen.  Here the Ramen is made with Miso.  Corn and butter are added sometimes.

Ramen Alley, early evening

Is this the best Ramen joint in town?

Sapporo Miso Ramen

Sapporo Ramen with Corn and Butter

We went out for a Mother's Day feast of jingisukan (Genghis Khan).  The story is ....

Mongolian soldiers didn't waste time preparing meals.  When they were hungry they killed a sheep, made a fire and put their helmets on it.  Then added vegetables, strips of the lamb, broth and noodles for a quick all in one dish.

Mongolian Soldier's Helmet

Add vegetables and sprouts, cook in a broth

Then the meat (lamb)

After eating the meat add udon noodles

Like the Mongolian Soldiers, nothing is left


Okonomyaki means "as you like it, grilled".  It is a Japanese savory pancake make with yam flour and cabbage.  We went for the pork and spring onions, best one we've ever had!

Okonomyaki, before

Okonomyaki, ready to eat

Sapporo Beer

Always been keen on Sapporo beer so we couldn't miss the beer tasting at the old Sapporo Brewery.

Old Sapporo Brewery


The Ainu People

The Ainu are the indigenous people of Hokkaido.  Now mostly absorbed into the Japanese, it is thought that about 20,000 remain.  They had their own language, culture and customs.  About an hour by train from Sapporo, there's a small "village" dedicated to the Ainu way of life.

Ainu in traditional dress demonstrate a customary dance 

Ainu Village houses made from thatch

Salmon drying in an Ainu house

Volcano smoking in the mountains behind the Ainu Village

Tuesday, 12 May 2015



Hakodate (map) is 3 1/2 hours south of Sapporo by train. It was Japan's first port opened to foreign trade (in 1854) bringing a notable foreign influence - some attractive European buildings have been preserved. 

Hakodate - Center of Squid Fishing

Fishing boat has powerful lights to attract the squid

Fattest seagulls we've ever seen

Morning Fish Market

Giant live crabs at the Morning Market

Ramen number 4 - Hakodate Ramen has a clear, strong broth

Red Brick Warehouses, early 1900s

Russian Orthodox Church, established 1861

Japanese Snow Monkeys have their own onsen in winter

Easy to get around Hakodate on the tram


Hokkaido's only Fedual Castle is at Matsumae (map), 2 hours by train and bus further south from Hakodate.  The 250 different species of cherry trees in the Castle and Temple grounds result in a prolonged flowering so it is a prime Cherry Blossom viewing spot.

Matsumae Castle

Three of the 250 species of cherry trees planted at Matsumae

Matsumae Temple with its Bell and Cherry Tree

Cherry Blossoms falling on the path to the Temple