On the fourth day, we checked out of Loisir hotel in Asahikawa and drove all the way to Sapporo (札幌市) to check into the local Super Hotel (it’s the real name of a budget business hotel chain in Japan).
Along the way, we visited a park which offers free sledding. Meiyen, Rachel and I were quite pissed with Mark when we discovered that you can also ski at this same park at a much cheaper price, minus the gondola rental. Although it did not have steep slopes liken to the professional ski resort we went to on our second day in Hokkaido, the environment there was good enough for amateurs like us who do not even have a ski coach or lesson.
Then again, poor Mark is also the one who planned and took care of all the itinerary. Plus he did most of the driving… on account of these, we forgave him.
We went for a quick supermarket lunch at Isetan after that, following which we proceeded to the Ishiya chocolate factory that manufactures the famous Shiroi Koibito cookies (with white chocolate sandwiched between). The place is kind of like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory in real life, filled with cutesy animated toys and gadgets. At certain fixed timings, the factory would even “spring to life” as a cheery music plays in the background while the various statues outside the factory start singing and dancing.
Inside the factory, you will get to see how the cookies are being made and the stringent quality control they go through before they are boxed and wrapped up for sale. I was quite disturbed by the huge amount of wastage actually. Slightly chipped or crooked cookies are tossed into the waste bin without a second look. These are still food…
Anyway, the factory also has many galleries and exhibits showcasing quite random stuff from the history of chocolate to old Japanese toys. Usually, Rachel and I love visiting museums, but this prove to quite painful in Japan as 99% of the explanatory text will be in Japanese only.
After the factory visit, we headed to the Sapporo Super Hotel to check-in for the night. I quite like Super Hotel for it’s cleanliness; attention to detail; and many hi-tech gimmicks like password-operated doors. There’s also free Internet access in all the room, HD-TV and choice of your type of sleeping pillow. The ladies get some free bathroom and skin care samples too. The only minus point is the extreme small size of the rooms (after putting in our luggage, there’s barely room to even walk around); then again, weighed against all the other perks, I find this sole weakness neligible.
After checking-in, we waited for Mark as he drove off to return our trusty Nissan Wingroad. We will be without a car for the rest of our stay in Hokkaido as carpark fees are very expensive in Sapporo. Plus in the town area, the attractions are well-connected to each other and it make more sense to take public transport.
We had a very heavy dinner that night – a all-you-can-eat crab buffet! I think Mark and I collectively ate up at least eight King Crabs in the stipulated 90 minutes limit for the buffet. That’s not including the other crabs we ate and the compulsory first serving of sushi, chawamushi and tempura. Actually, we could have eaten more, but it was quite tiring to cut and extract the meat out from the giant King Crabs’ legs. We tired out hands before we maxed out our tummies.
On our way back to the hotel, we managed to catch a preview of some of the ice sculptures which were part of the 60th Sapporo Snow Festival exhibits. They were not lit yet, but still looks really good. That ended our tight-packed programs for the day.
Watch out for my next entry on my fifth day in Hokkaido. Meanwhile, you can read my previous entries if you haven’t already:
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