April 29, 2016
We’ve been away from home for 2 months now. Time sure does fly! It was our first full day in Sapporo and we were ready to head out and explore the city. The forecast for today was rainy, cold, and windy. It made for a perfect ramen day.
Tim did a bit of ramen research before we left the hotel and there was a ramen restaurant called, Aji No Tokedai, that was fairly close to us and in the direction we planned on spending part of the day. It’s a Hokkaido ramen chain that has locations all around Sapporo. We ordered gyozas, miso ramen with corn, and a Hokkaido special ramen (with butter, corn and scallops). The ramen with butter started off pretty tasty but soon became a bit too rich for me. I wasn’t able to finish my bowl (which was a lot larger than I thought it would be).
Feeling pretty bloated and lethargic after lunch, we continued our walk around Sapporo. It was raining quite hard outside and we didn’t see too many people walking around. We initially thought it was just because it was rainy out and that Sapporo is a smaller city, so naturally there’s less people out. But then, we went down to Sapporo’s underground walkway and discovered that’s where all the people were.
We exited the underground to find Sapporo TV Tower, and walked briefly down Odori Park. Odori Park is a long park that extends 1.5km down the middle of the city running east to west. We came across a block that appeared to be a fish market. There were a couple of streets of vendors that sold Hokkaido crab (a lot of king crab and hairy crabs) and other various seafood. We later learned that this fish market is mainly for tourists, while the actual Sapporo Fish Market is not as central.
We made our way towards the shopping area of Odori and went to a department store called, PARCO. While in Tokyo, I was looking at Issey Miyake’s line of bags and purses called, BaoBao (I think the name sounds cute). Issey Miyake items are around 30-40% cheaper in Japan than they are in the States (you also save 8% on tax-free shopping). I couldn’t really decide on one in Tokyo and I saw that Sapporo had a location so I waited until we got here to possibly buy something. Since I hadn’t bought much of anything on this trip, I wanted a souvenir from Japan that wouldn’t be consumed within a few months (like the snacks and sunscreen). After staring at the different options for a while and messaging my sister asking her for her advice, I ended up getting a black clutch (converts into a cross body bag). I didn’t know much about Issey Miyake and then I read about him on Wikipedia and found out that apparently he was friends with Steve Jobs and produced his favourite black turtlenecks.
After shopping, we walked about 15 minutes towards the Sapporo Beer Museum. The museum is in a nice red-brick building and had free admission. The museum wasn’t that extensive but it’s set up very nicely inside. At the end of the museum, you can pay for samples of different types of Sapporo Beer. Tim had a 3 glass sampler (600 JPY = $7 CAD) and I had Sapporo’s Ribbon brand’s grapefruit juice (100 JPY = $1.13 CAD). The grounds of the Sapporo Beer Museum are quite nice. They have a restaurant, store, and beer garden as well.
We quickly walked back to the hotel because my parent’s friends, Auntie Mary and Uncle Reg, were picking us up for dinner. They had moved to Sapporo temporarily to work as missionaries while running a guest house. We got in touch with them when we got to Japan and had planned to meet while we were here. For dinner we ate closer to their neighbourhood, about 6km from the city centre. They took us for sushi at a restaurant (I think it was called Torimon) that had about a 20 minute wait at 5:30pm. It was clearly a popular restaurant with the locals. It was nice to get out of the city core and see where the locals lived and ate.
We had a great meal with good conversation about our travel stories. They have been to so many places in Asia and were telling us their favourite and least favourite places they’ve visited. After dinner, they brought us to the house that they are living in and showed us the B&B rooms. It was all really nice and spacious and all the pictures and knick-knacks felt like a real home. We sat and chatted a bit longer while eating some freshly cut fruit (we missed having fresh fruit while being in Japan, so this was the perfect end to the night). They drove us back to our hotel and we said our goodbyes. I think I’ve stressed before how nice it is to meet with family and friends while traveling and tonight just reaffirmed my feelings.
Steps today: 13,000