Category Archives: Sightseeing

JP 2018 July Hokkaido (Part 5)

Blue Pond and Shirahige falls

After late lunch we dropped by the blue pond again.  As it was a calm and sunny day, reflections were almost perfect.  While it was as crowded as in a large open market, we returned to our onsen resort in Naka-Furano soon afterwards.



Hokuryu Himawari (sunflower) festival

On the next morning, after checking out from the Nakafurano onsen resort, we drove to Hokuryu for its sunflower festival.  On the way, we dropped by a small mount near Fukagawa where there was a Tottoro bus.

As the sunflowers were less than impressive (compared to our trip in Oct 2009 in Biei), we did not stay long and head back to Sapporo for lunch.



Back in Sapporo

While this kaiten-sushi shop in JR Tower Sapporo is often crowded with long line, its shop in southern Sapporo has free parking.  When we arrived it had plenty of vacant seats.

In the evening, we went for dinner in Mikuni – the French restaurant of JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo.




JP 2018 July Hokkaido (Part 2)


6th stay in onsen hotel.  Extended fireworks after dinner.



Dropped by Muroran – a seaport and coastal landscapes for the first time.



Arrived at Shikotsu-ko for 5th stay.  Locals were having water sports along the Chitose stream and in the lake.


Picked a  cosy onsen hotel on the lakeside with only 10 rooms.  There are 2 rotenburo shared by the staying guests on a first-come-first-served basis. View from our room was serene with a green garden, lake and mountains beyond.  The Italian dinner was very delicious and sourced from seasonal produce in Hokkaido.


===>  Part 3  ===>


JP 2018 July Hokkaido (Part 1)

We rarely visit Japan in summer due to heat and humidity.  However, the main goal of this trip is to visit lavender farms and other summer flowers in Biei/Furano, where we have stayed 5 or 6 times in Spring and Autumn before. This was also our 11th visit to Hokkaido, excluding 5 ski trips.

7-day Itin – Sapporo > Shakotan Peninsula > Toya-ko > Shikotsu-ko via Muroran > Biei/Furano > Sapporo.  Rental car was picked up and returned in Sapporo.


checked in Sapporo hotel almost at 6pm and headed to local izakaya connected by underground walkway beneath the Sapporo station.  This izakaya imports most seafood from Nemuro in the far eastern corner of Hokkaido, where Akeshi oysters and other shellfish are famous. 

On next morning, picked up rental car and drove to Shakotan Peninsula, dropped by Otaru Shukutsu for a break.



Shakotan Peninsula

Second visit since 2008.  Due to quite heavy road traffic (on Sat) from Otaru, we arrived after 12 noon and had to queue for parking space.

Queued up for the only restaurant in Shimamui-kaikan serving uni (sea-urchin) while in season.  Due to local tourist groups ferried in by coaches, the queue was long and took almost 90 min before we were served.  (When we visited in Oct 2008, uni was out of season and there were a few diners).

After lunch we descended down to the rocky beach in about 15-20min.


Nikka Yoichi Distillery

Dropped by this local whisky distillery in Yoichi while driving en route to Toya-ko onsen hotel.


===>  Part 2  ===>


JP 2018 May Yokohama (Part 2)

Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse

The former warehouse was transformed into shops, cafes and restaurants on the harbourside. 


Strolled back to hotel in Sakuragicho via the World Porters and Canal Park at dusk.


Harbour view day and night from hotel room



This is the end of our sakura and spring flower trip in Honshu and Hokkaido in 25 days.


JP 2018 May Fuji Shibazakura

After checkout from Hatake onsen, I drove uphill to Fuji Shibazakura Park via Asakiri Kogen in about 1 hour.

With drizzles and rain clouds Mt Fuji was completely shrouded as if it had disappeared.

As it was chilly cold and less impressive than similar parks in Hokkaido – despite being reported as full bloom on its website few days earlier, we strolled around for 40 min, drove back to Mishima for lunch, returned car and took Shinkansen to Yokohama.


Unagi lunch

Delicious Unagi-don in Mishima old shop filled with locals. We were much warmer after lunch.  My Tokyo friend was very jealous of it.


Mishima Taisha

On the way back to Hatake onsen on the previous day, we dropped by Mishima Taisha.  Did not visit the museum as we were cold so rather dipped into onsen asap.



===>   Yokohama  ===>


JP 2018 May West Izu

Took Tokaido Shinkansen to Mishima and pick up car to visit Nishi-Izu (West Izu).

Day 1. Coastline along Izu Toi to Izu Heda

Day 2. Numazu

Day 3. Visit Hakone Open-air Museum

Day 4. Visit Fuji Shibazakura Park

Sushi lunch in Izu Toi

dropped by famous local small sushi shop in Toi, which is famous for fresh fish caught in Suruga Bay.  Nice and delicious sushi freshly prepared. Luckily we arrived earlier as late comers had to wait.


Coastline along Izu Toi and Izu Heda

after lunch headed south towards Koibito-misaki (Cape of lovers) where Mt Fuji could be seen on clear days. Lucky to have Mt Fuji in blue sky as if it were floating on Suruga Bay. As rain clouds started to roll in we headed back north to Izu Heda. By the time we reached there an hour later Mt Fuji was barely visible.



Dinner in Izu-Heda onsen ryokan

Though this was our sixth stay in Izu onsen ryokan, it was our first taste of Takaashi-kani (Japanese spider crab) caught from the depths of Suruga Bay. Super delicious and highly recommended.


===>  Numazu  ===>


JP 2018 May Numazu

After checkout we abandoned plans for scenery in Nishi-Izu and headed north to seaside town of Numazu due to heavy rain for whole day.  Stayed in Hatake onsen in Central Izu for 2 nights.

Numazu Deep Sea Aquarium

It has plenty of fish varieties and other sea creatures down to 300m+ below the Suruga Bay – one of the deepest sea troughs closest to Honshu.


Hakone Open-Air Museum

On next morning drove uphill to Hakone Gora for this outdoor museum.  After the passage of cold front day temperature was down to around 10C with occasional drizzles up there. Spent about 3 hours, including an indoor Picasso museum with plenty of his works. Other sculptures include Henry Moore and French, Italian, Japanese artists.




===>  Fuji Shibazakura Park  ===>



JP 2018 May Tokyo

Returned to Tokyo by domestic flight from Hakodate for the first time.  Stayed in Tokyo for the next few days during the 2nd half of the golden week.  Afterwards, visited western Izu, Hakone Open-Air museum and Fuji Shibazakura Park by car while based in Izu for few days before returning to Yokohama.


Roses in Yoyogi Park

Visited Yoyogi Park on a sunny morning.  It was a surprise as we did not expect roses to be in full bloom so early during the golden week.



Star Wars Stormtropper in Shinjuku

There was a long queue in Shinjuku with people dressed in costumes of Star Wars characters.  Ah – it’s a promotion for a new episode Han Solo.  Looks like there are many fans in Japan. 


On next morning we strolled around in Akasaka – where we stayed.  Dropped by the Tokyo Garden Terrace Kioicho, where it used to be Akasaka Prince Hotel.  There was a nice garden outside the Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho. Roses were blooming as well.



Met up with local friend for cake and coffee. Spanish dinner for wife’s birthday !!


===>   West Izu  ===>


JP 2018 May Hakodate (Part 1)

Visited a few spots including Trappistine Monastery, Onuma National Park before returning to Hakodate.

Omonai Jinja (重内神社)

climbed 250 steps for sights as suggested by pamphlets from Hokuto town. New greens in the mountains around Shiriuchi machi and a row of pinky Naden sakura trees stretching towards the coast.


Trappistine Monastery

While this monastery can only be visited with appointment, we  dropped by its shop selling delicious ice-cream and cookies.



Another historical sakura tree in Hokuto town


===>  Onuma National Park  ====>


JP 2018 May Hakodate (Part 2)

Onuma National Park

3rd visit but first time by car. Had lunch before strolling along the lake rim.  Good to see Komagatake again in the distance.



Trappistine Convent

Before returning the rental car in Hakodate, dropped by this convent which we visited 10 years ago.  Even in late afternoon there were several tour groups.


Hakodate at dusk

As we went up to Mt Hakodate for night view in 2008, we did not go this time.  On next morning we returned to Tokyo by domestic flight.


===>   Tokyo / Yokohama  ===>