Happy new year! 🥳 Hope you all got to spend some quality time with friends and family over the holidays and everyone is safe and sound. For us, Omicron and Japan’s travel restrictions that followed meant that the planned trip to Europe would not be possible. So, in order to avoid the limbo that many foreign residents are still facing these days when traveling abroad, we decided for another Christmas on the island. Instead, we flew to Hokkaido to spend a few days in the snow.
Unlike Tokyo, Japan’s northern island really looks like a winter wonderland this time of the year – and at −10℃ it also felt like it. Our primary destination was Sapporo, which served as a base for a few day trips to places such as Asahikawa and Otaru.
Otaru (pictured below) was my personal favorite. The quaint port town west of Sapporo features old-timey architecture, great food, and several craft stores with lots of unique, handmade stuff from all over Hokkaido. One of the things that Otaru is famous for, apparently, are antique barrel organs and music boxes. Not only do they sell them as gifts, they also have an entire museums dedicated to these instruments which features pieces from all over the world – probably the last thing you would expect in this remote corner of Japan.
Our day-trip to Asahikawa included a stop at the Asahiyama Zoo as well as the Shirogane Blue Pond near Biei. The whole Furano-Biei area is known for its flower fields, green meadows, and all kinds of destinations primarily to be enjoyed in summer. Turns out, the famous Blue Pond is also one of those destinations, since it’s not all that impressive when frozen over. Usually, you would see the line of trees below standing in azure blue water. Although they do their best recreating that view with spotlights, my recommendation would be to come here in summer instead and to enjoy the surrounding nature as well.
Nevertheless, Hokkaido was great fun and I can definitely see the appeal – especially if you are into winter sports. One of our plans for 2022 is actually to try out skiing for once. Depending on how that goes, who knows, maybe we are back to Sapporo next year ☃️