Alvinology goes to Japan - Day 4 of 14 - Alvinology

Alvinology goes to Japan – Day 4 of 14

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.

At the sled park
At the sled park
Nice weather
Nice weather
Kids ski lesson
Kids’ ski lesson
Inside an igloo
Inside an igloo
Rachel and I hiding in an igloo
Rachel and I hiding in an igloo
Mark and Meiyen peeking in
Mark and Meiyen peeking in
Playing with snow
Playing with snow
Decomposing snowmen
Decomposing snowmen
Rachel posing with the barely-there snowmen
Rachel posing with the barely-there snowmen
Rachel with her red sled
Rachel with her red sled
A mechanism to pull us up the slope
A mechanism to pull us up the slope
This is how we are pulled up
This is how we are pulled up
My dangling feet
My dangling feet
Getting into position
Getting into position
Rachel is ready to go down
Rachel is ready to go down
Wheeeeeee!
“Wheeeeeee!”
Rachel sledding down
Rachel speeding down
Rachel and Meiyen loves sledding
Rachel and Meiyen loves sledding
Staff helping lazy Meiyen clear her sled
Staff helping lazy Meiyen clear her sled
Me with my green sled
Me with my green sled
Lots of kids queuing for sledding
Lots of kids queuing for sledding
Mark bullying small kids
Mark bullying small kids
Mark cuts small kids queue and put up a cheese sign
Mark cuts small kids’ queue and put up a cheese sign
A rare group photo of all four of us
A rare group photo of all four of us
Rachel with a giant flying fox - the parks mascot
Rachel with a giant flying fox – the park’s mascot

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.

My lunch
My lunch – beef rice
Rachels lunch - bamboo rice
Rachel’s lunch – bamboo rice
Sweet corn for desert
Sweet corn for desert
Coroquette!
Coroquettes as snacks
One last photo of the car before we returned it
One last photo of the car before we returned it
Outside Ishiya chocolate factory
Outside Ishiya chocolate factory
The toys came out singing and dancing
The toys came out singing and dancing
Drummer bear
Drummer bear
The joyous singing chefs
The joyous singing chefs
European looking facade
European looking facade
Smiley Rachel
Smiley Rachel
In front of a small house with small furniture
In front of a small house with small furniture
Mechanical chef and a squirrel
Mechanical chef and a squirrel
Rachel said the statues at Ishiyi are all very modest as their private parts are all covered
The statues at Ishiyi are all very modest as their private parts are all covered
Complementary Shoiroi Koibito cookies and Ishiya passports
Complementary Shiroi Koibito cookies and Ishiya “passports”
We were given the dark chocolate ones
We were given the dark chocolate ones
Alvinology goes to Japan - Day 4 of 14 - Alvinology
Abraham Lincoln and me
Giant white chocolate bunny
Giant white chocolate bunny
Wooden dog that guards the stairway
Wooden dog that guards the stairway
An indoor fountain greeted us as we stepped into the factory
An indoor fountain greeted us as we stepped into the factory
A town made of confectionary
A town made of confectionary
Freaky faceless narrator
Freaky faceless narrator
The King and Queen of the Ishiya factory
The King and Queen of the Ishiya factory
Can you smell the cocoa?
Can you smell the cocoa?
Isnt this like Willy Wonka in real life?
Isn’t this like Willy Wonka in real life?
The assembly line
The assembly line
Checking for defects
Checking for defects
Giant screen that imprints visitors face onto it - can you see us?
Giant screen that imprints visitors face onto it – can you see us?
Close-up of the big screen
Close-up of the big screen
The other corner
The other corner
Rachel and I
Rachel and I
Each piece of these cookies cost around S$1
Each piece of these cookies cost around S$1
I dont know what this Singapore flag is about, but its nice to see it there
I don’t know what this Singapore flag is about, but it’s nice to see it there
Sugar pastries
Sugar pastries
Flower-shaped pastries
Flower-shaped pastries
Lady-shaped pastries
Baby-shaped pastries
Cutesy damsels
Cutesy damsels
Pastry and bakery lessons for kids
Pastry and bakery lessons for kids
An automated piano that plays by itself
An automated piano that plays by itself
Delicious looking cakes at the Ishiya cafe
Delicious looking cakes at the Ishiya cafe
Nice window view from the cafe
Nice window view from the cafe
Lots of exquisite cocoa cups
Lots of exquisite cocoa cups
Beautfully carved egg
Beautfully carved egg
Beautiful pink cup
Beautiful pink cup
A square cup
A square cup
Venetian glasses
Venetian glasses
A cup heavily ornated with flowers
A cup heavily ornated with flowers
Little birdies cup
Little birdies cup
Cup with fan-shaped saucer
Cup with fan-shaped saucer
Cup with many angels and fairies
Cup with many angels and fairies
Small bust head
Small bust head
Hologram kids explaining the invention of chocolate
Hologram kids explaining the invention of chocolate
Worlds top ten chocolate
Worlds top chocolates
Antique chocolate boxes
Antique chocolate boxes
More antique chocolate boxes
More antique chocolate boxes
Plastic toy figurines
Plastic toy figurines
Japanese governmental mascots (our Sharity Elephant and the Clean and Green Frog were probably copied from these two)
Japanese governmental mascots (our Sharity Elephant and the “Clean and Green” Frog were probably copied from these two)
The Meiji girl
The Meiji girl
Large tin ship
Large tin ship
Battleships toys
Battleships toys
Vintage tin toys
Vintage tin toys
Tintin toys
Tintin toys
The Beetles!
The Beetles!
Toy Beetles and other Beetles stuff
Toy Beetles and other Beetles’ stuff
Michael Jackson when he was still human
Michael Jackson when he was still human
Slyvester Stallone has been to Ishiya before
Slyvester Stallone has been to Ishiya before
The superman in the middle looks funny
The superman in the middle looks funny
Old Mickey Mouse toys
Old Mickey Mouse toys
Antique Mickey Mouse toys
Antique Mickey Mouse toys
Vintage toy guns
Vintage toy guns
A metal biker
A metal biker
Autograph of a famous Japanese wrestler
Autograph of a famous Japanese wrestler
Tezuka Osamus autographed work!
Tezuka Osamu’s autographed work!
More astroboy stuff
More astroboy stuff
Still more astroboy toys
Still more astroboy toys
Astroboy and me
Astroboy and me
I love this cartoon when I was young
I love this cartoon when I was young
traditional Japanese toys
traditional Japanese toys
retro Japanese playing cards
retro Japanese playing cards
Toy farmer with funny expression
Toy farmer with funny expression
Old Japanese-designed toys
Old Japanese-designed toys
What an old Japanese home looks like
What an old Japanese home looks like
Dragonball cards - Mark and I used to collect lots of these
Dragonball cards – Mark and I used to collect lots of these
Retro Kamen Rider toys
Retro Kamen Rider toys
Collecting the Ishiya stamp chop before we left
Collecting the Ishiya stamp chop before we left
For a fee, you can imprint your photo onto a can of Ishiya cocoa
For a fee, you can imprint your photo onto a can of Ishiya cocoa
Snowmen chocolate
Snowmen chocolate
Gourmet chocolate on sale
Gourmet chocolate on sale
Shoiri Kubito
Shiroi Koibito cookies – we bought a box
Outside the factory at night
Outside the factory at night

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.

Outside Super Hotel
Super Hotel (that’s how it’s read in Japanese)
You can choose the type of pillow you like at the lobby
You can choose the type of pillow you like at the lobby
Teeny weeny room
Teeny weeny room
Proper work desk and a HD-TV
Proper work desk and a HD-TV
Double-decker beds
Double-decker beds
The toilet is so small that even Rachel can touch the ceiling
The toilet is so small that even Rachel can touch the ceiling
Btw, most toilet seats in Japan comes with automated butt wash, air freshener, music and seat warming functions
Btw, most toilet seats in Japan comes with automated butt wash, air freshener, music and seat warming functions
Kawaii toilet roll
Kawaii toilet roll
What they are trying to say is that you need to close the door when bathing as the steam may sound off the fire alarm
What they are trying to say is that you need to close the door when bathing as the steam may sound off the fire alarm
Freebies for the ladies
Freebies for the ladies
View from our hotel window
View from our hotel window
From another angle
From another angle

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.

Entering the crab buffet restaurant
Entering the crab buffet restaurant
The menu explaining the 90 mins rule and the compulsory first serving of staple food
Menu explaining the 90 mins rule and the compulsory first serving of staple foodMenu explaining the 90 mins rule and the compulsory first serving of staple food
Crabs galore!
Crabs galore!
Close-up of the crabs
Close-up of the crabs
The crabs are quite hairy...
The crabs are quite hairy…
Time for a crab feast!
Time for a crab feast!
Mark and Meiyen starts working on the crabs
Mark and Meiyen starts working on the crabs
Peeled King Crab meat
Peeled King Crab meat
First sushi serving - each of us have to finish a set of these before we can order more crabs
Sushi set – each of us have to finish a set of these before we can order more crabs
Rachel and her small bottle of sake
Rachel and her small bottle of sake
Outside the restaurant
Outside the restaurant

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.

Checking out the streets of Sapporo
Checking out the streets of Sapporo
At Sapporo
Rachel looks happy
We found a ramen street and vow to go back the next day
We found a ramen street and vow to go back the next day
Even the bears love ramen
Even the bears love ramen
Rachel is always freezing cold
Rachel is always freezing cold
Lots of bright signboards
Lots of bright signboards
Glimpses of the snow sculptures
Glimpses of the snow sculptures
Sculpture of a peacock
Sculpture of a peacock
Ice sculpture with embedded frozen seafood
Ice sculpture with embedded frozen seafood
More frozen seafood
More frozen seafood
Frozen crabs
Frozen crabs
These fishes look rotten
These fishes look rotten
Bleeding fish
Bleeding fish
Fish with a long red tailfin
Fish with a long red tailfin
More rotten fishes
More rotten fishes
Sea angels sculpture
Sea angels sculpture

Watch out for my next entry on my fifth day in Hokkaido. 🙂 Meanwhile, you can read my previous entries if you haven’t already:

Day 1 – Kansai Airport, Hokkaido

Day 2 – Skiing, Otaru

Day 3 – Asahikawa, Asahiyama Zoo

Day 4 – Sledding, Shiroi Koibito, Crab Buffet

Day 5 – The 60th Sapporo Snow Festival

Day 6 – Staying with the Asai, Shōnan

Day 7 – Ueno, Tokyo

Day 8 – Shibuya and Akihabara, Tokyo

Day 9 – Ikeda, Osaka

Day 10 – Kobe

Day 11 – Kyoto

Day 12 – Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan and Dotonbori

Day 13 – Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge and Mt. Rokko

Day 14 – Return to Singapore

Technorati Tags: hokkaido travel, hokkaido, japan travel, alvinology goes to japan, mark tan, hua meiyen, rachel chan, onigiri, nissan wingroad, sapporo, 60th sapporo snow festival, sapporo snow festival, ice sculptures, frozen seafood, skiing in japan, sledding in japan, free sledding in hokkaido, igloos, bamboo rice, japanese croquette, ishiya, ishiya park, ishiya chocolate factory, shiroi koibito cookies, shiroi kobito, singing chefs, willy wonka, willy wonka chocolate factory, sugar pastries, cocoa cups, history of chocolate, tintin toys, the beetles, the beetles collectibles, slyvester stallone, michael jackson, tezuka osamu, astroboy, superman, walt disney, mickey mouse, traditional japanese toys, vintage japanese toys, dragonball cards, kamen rider, japanese crab buffet, hokkaido crab buffet, hokkaido king crab, king crab, japanese ramen, ebi kani gassen

14 comments
  1. In your profile photo you feature a vintage Mickey Mouse on the right in red shorts. Can you tell me anything about him? Any tags, etc? We have a similar one with no ID info, and I’d love to learn a bit. Thanks for any info! Great blog.

  2. It’s in the photograph marked “Antique Mickey Mouse”. Mickey is in red shorts standing up next to a photograph of Walt Disney. I gather these were at a museum or toy store, not your house 🙂

  3. Hi,

    I’m planning a self-drive trip to Hokkaido this December.

    Can i know which ski park you all went that offers free sledding?

    Hope to hear from you soon!

    Thanks!
    Mandy

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