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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Hokkaido Autumn Road Trip 2016 (Part 8) - Yoichi and Otaru



Date: 16/9/2016 (forgot to record today's weather)

We woke up, went over to Times Car Rental and collected our car for the day.
This time, we no longer got an upgrade. It was a subcompact, Mazda Demio. Car collection time was much shorter as the center knew we just returned a car the day before, and the briefing time was really brief, well, it's protocol, they still had to do it.

We went to Sapporo Curb Market to have breakfast. I will write about it in the next post.

After an unsatisfactory breakfast, we went on our way to Yoichi




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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hokkaido Autumn Road Trip 2016 (Part 7) - Obihiro and Tokachi Subprefecture




After the land of Seafood, here I come to the land of agriculture.

Tokachi is a subprefecture in Hokkaido and Obihiro is the city in this subprefecture. Tokachi has a large agriculture sector and the main crops produced are wheat, potatoes, beets, and beans, but there has also been progress in the production of nagaimo (Chinese yam), lily root and burdock. The amount of arable land in Tokachi is the highest in all of Hokkaido.


Animal husbandry is big business in Tokachi with a major dairy industry. Tokachi itself has 40% of beef and dairy cattle in all of Hokkaido. Tourists come to Tokachi to visit dairy farms and savour the dairy products. 十勝牛乳 is a common milk brand in Hokkaido and the name is translated as Tokachi Milk, produced by Yotsuba company.

Tokachi produces the largest amount of wheat in Japan. The headquarters of 3 nationally renowned pastry companies Rokkatei, Ryugetsu, and Cranberry are also located in Obihiro. There are many interesting pastry shops in Obihiro and I don't think it is possible to try all of them in one trip.

There are lots of restaurants in Obihiro. Really a lot! And I saw quite a number of them putting a sign infront of their shop that English Menu is available. The Tokachi Subprefectural Bureau is heavily promoting Tokachi as a tourist destination, but is often overlooked by foreign tourists. There are many websites providing up-to-date information for tourists, and they even have printable translating sheets (for pointing) for basic conversation needs. They do understand that tourists need to be understood and tourists hope to enjoy this area and not feeling lost.


Quiet streets at 8.30am

Obihiro's Shopping Street, but it was nothing interesting
Weather for the days when I was in Obihiro


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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hokkaido Autumn Road Trip 2016 (Part 6) - Kushiro




Kushiro is a port city, located on the east coast, facing the Pacific Ocean. It is also known as the fog city, with the summer being the foggiest and it even has a fog festival in late July each year. Here is an article about Kushiro's Fog Season

But I don't want to go there for fog. Luckily dense fog dissipated few days before I arrived and sadly, fog came back for a day during my coastal drive to Obihiro. Luckily it wasn't dense, just imagine days with some haze in Malaysia, not the serious type.


Kushiro is famous for seafood. This city is most famous for Pacific Saury (Sanma) and Hanasaki Crab. It's a huge fishing port with many fishing towns nearby.
So, I definitely came here for the seafood and I find it hard to find sufficient stomach space to eat within the 16 hours I was in the city.

Besides that, Kushiro is also the place to watch Japanese red crested cranes (The emblem of JAL), of which is on the endangered list. And if one loves nature a lot, and loves birdwatching, the Kushiro Marshland will be quite interesting.

The weather of Kushiro during our visit



We arrived in Kushiro at about 7pm. Checked in at Kushiro Castle Hotel and walked to the city centre for dinner.

Walking on Nusamai Bridge

This road seems quiet. On the right side is the bustling night area, with restaurants and entertainment centers.

We were hungry. When we arrived at the street I was looking for, I thought I found Aburiya. It was all in Japanese, and we couldn't read, but the menu looks same same. But this restaurant was not welcoming. Same thing happened like how it was in Kihachi Abashiri. We saw vacant counter seats, but they politely, apologetically showed us to the door after we said '2 persons'. Well... Ok ok.


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Friday, October 14, 2016

Hokkaido Autumn Road Trip 2016 (Part 5) - Teshikaga




Teshikaga 弟子屈町 is home to breathtaking landscapes of farm land, two crater lakes, and active volcanoes. Famous tourist attractions in the town include Lake Mashu, Lake Kussharo and Kawayu Onsen. The whole area is actually part of a huge caldera called Kussharo Caldera, and is one of the biggest in the world with 22 X 26km in diameter, slightly less than TWICE the size of Penang Island. About 65% of Teshikaga is part of Akan National Park.

This area has active volcanic activity, which explains the sulfur fumaroles and the highly acidic hot springs in Kawayu Onsen area. In Japan there are a few hell valleys, two on Hokkaido, and one of them is located here, at Mount Iou. I feel very excited visiting so many volcanoes today





Weather for this area today. And temperature is lower at higher elevations. 

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Hokkaido Autumn Road Trip 2016 (Part 4) Abashiri


From Lake Notoro to Cape Notoro

Abashiri is a port city that is famous for a few things.
1. Drift ice cruise
2. Prison Museum
3. Drift Ice Museum
4. Coral grass in Lake Notoro
5. Line caught Kinki
6. Red King Crab and Blue King Crab
7. Japan's largest Pink Moss park
8. Whale watching
9. Abashiri Okhotsk Blue Beer
10. Rare sushi - think Octopus Eggs, Crab Ovum





We arrived in Abashiri at around 7.15pm. The town was so quiet.

Parked our car, and went in to check in at Dormy Inn. Then, we walked over to Kihachi to have our planned sumptuous  dinner of blue king crab, kujira, and line caught kinki. We walked in to the restaurant, was greeted with a big smile. Then we said, 2 persons please. Straight away they spoke so much that we couldn't get it, until they said 'FULL'. We saw the counter seats were still very much available, and yet, they told us it is full. I don't know if it's because we are foreigners or what, but surely it wasn't nice to be turned away when we saw half the big counter area looking vacant.

It had been a long tiring day and all I wanted that night was a feast. A feast I had planned for and dreamed of eating. But for that moment, we had to find another restaurant quickly as we haven't been eating any proper food since morning, besides the chocolates, cheese, ice cream, chips and a glass of warm milk.

I didn't have a plan B, unlike the other cities of which I had a list of restaurants  to visit. I was just eager to go to Kihachi. Abashiri is a quiet town at night, unlike the other cities. Maybe not that quiet in the suburbs where people live, but in the city center, it's very quiet. I can't even notice another restaurant just by looking left and right.

Not wanting to waste time searching Tabelog, we quickly walked back to the hotel and get our car, thinking to drive to Kaitenzushi Kanigen for rare sushi. Actually, I planned for Kanigen to be visited at 6.00pm, but because we were far behind schedule, we just went straight to Kihachi. Then when we reached Kanigen, it was closed! Oh how careless I was that I didn't notice their off day that was written on Tabelog itself. Nothing to eat now. See, no back up plan!

I went on Abashiri's tourist site and found Hananoren. I remember the name of this restaurant, reading it from somewhere, and so, let's try this out.


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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hokkaido Autumn Road Trip 2016 (Part 3)- Asahikawa and Sounkyo



The view , around 85% up Mount Kurodake. Notice the stones....

Asahikawa

Asahikawa (旭川市) is the second most populous city in Hokkaido. Most people will visit Asahikawa for its zoo that has penguins and polar bears. Tour groups will mostly stay in neighbouring Sounkyo and bring the tourist to Asahikawa zoo. But we won't be going there, maybe next time with the kids.


Weather for the day we were there

Asahikawa Station


Asahikawa is a city of Ramen. Hokkaido has 3 man types of ramens and Asahikawa is famous for its soy sauce ramen, and the noodles are curly! There is a Ramen Village , quite far from the city center, but if one is in the city center, just drop by the actual stalls.

all the famous ramen near Asahikawa station


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Friday, September 30, 2016

Hokkaido Autumn Road Trip 2016 (Part 2) Furano & Biei


rolling hills in Furano


Day 2 : 11 September 2016

We woke up late to collect our car. We were supposed to collect the car at 8am, but we woke up at 9.10am. We were just too tired. We packed up and got to the Times Rental office at 10am. Luckily the car was still available.

We rented the car with 'Super Safety' Insurance package, so the inspection procedure was much faster as everything will be covered by Insurance. In less than half an hour, we hit the road!

Because we woke up late, we skipped breakfast at Kitakaro's headquarter's in Sunagawa and headed straight to Furano instead. Looks near? It's 113km away!


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