北国の秋 - Autumn in Northern Japan | Australian Frequent Flyer
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北国の秋 - Autumn in Northern Japan

rbjhan

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Joined
Sep 16, 2016
Messages
287
This was a trip taken a while back, 2 years ago to be exact :p
But I've never done a TR for it so why not? Another slightly different Japan trip hopefully can give people some ideas to visit this wonderful country.

It was before Qantas (re)started the MEL-NRT route (!) so I had to transfer via SYD & BNE, respectively.
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Itinerary
Otaru - Jozankei onsen - Sapporo - Noboribetsu - Hakodate - Morioka - Kakunodate - Tokyo
 

rbjhan

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Joined
Sep 16, 2016
Messages
287
SYD - HND
Back then this was my only practical choice, to make the BNE - NRT morning flight one would need to overnight in Brisbane...

But I really didn't like the Skybed II
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Only consolation was I picked the exit row on the upper level
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So I didn't have to jump over someone...
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Don't remember how it tasted...looks okay though;)
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rbjhan

Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2016
Messages
287
Totally exhausted after 3 flights, I exchanged JR pass at Shin Chitose Airport then took the airport train straight to Otaru. Hotel Furukawa was only a short taxi ride from the station. This being Japan though, of course you can’t check in until 3pm. So I went for a stroll along the main shopping street of Otaru.

By the way, it was the JR East South Hokkaido Pass:

Not much cheaper than the National 7 day pass but you can use it for any 6 days in a two week period. As I prefer to travel on a slower pace this suited me perfectly.
 

rbjhan

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Joined
Sep 16, 2016
Messages
287
The famous Otaru Canal. Formerly part of the busy Otaru Port, where goods were unloaded to smaller ships then transferred to warehouses along the canal. Nowadays it's mainly a tourist attraction, the warehouses had been turned into restaurants, shops, etc.
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Kitaichi Hall
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rbjhan

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Joined
Sep 16, 2016
Messages
287
The night before a public holiday, hotel prices in Sapporo was astronomical...so I decided to stay in Otaru instead.
Hotel Furukawa 運河の宿小樽ふる川 was part of a boutique hotel group (there's one in Jozankei onsen and a third near Noboribetsu).

Lounge
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Another lounge overlooking the canal.
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Single room. They put this in probably because there were some space left...felt like a business hotel to be honest.
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But the public onsen was wonderful!
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Dining room also facing the canal.
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Considering I paid less than what the business hotels in Sapporo were charging, this was a very good deal.
 

rbjhan

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Joined
Sep 16, 2016
Messages
287
As Otaru is less than 1 hour train ride from Sapporo, lots of daytrippers around.
I do recommend staying one night, the canal is arguably prettier in the evening. Also the whole place just felt more tranquil.
 

rbjhan

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Joined
Sep 16, 2016
Messages
287
Jozankei onsen 定山渓温泉

Jozankei is about one hour southwest of Sapporo, a very popular onsen town. Full of ryokans and not much else...
Free foot baths everywhere.
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Jozankei is also a popular autumn colours destination. I was just a little bit early though...
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Last edited:

rbjhan

Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2016
Messages
287
Most ryokans here provide free shuttle bus to and from Sapporo.

Jozankei Manseikaku Hotel Milione
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Lovely view. And yes, all the buildings are ryokans ;)
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Dinner was a set meal in the izakaya.
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Meanwhile staff set up the futon.
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All for 9000 Yen, can't beat it for value!
 

rbjhan

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Joined
Sep 16, 2016
Messages
287
Hoheikyo Dam is another must see Koyo spot near Sapporo.
During the autumn colours season there's a bus running from Jozankei to Hoheikyo, it is a designated environmental protection area so your own transport will not be allowed beyond the car park.
A hybrid electric bus will take you to the actual dam.

I was just that little bit short of peak colours...
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The floodgate opened!
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Last edited:

rbjhan

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Joined
Sep 16, 2016
Messages
287
After two days, finally made my way to Sapporo.

Booked Mitsui Garden Hotel near JR Sapporo station. About 8000 Yen per night? Very good value for money (though not as good as the one in Kanazawa, ha)
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Public onsen
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Relaxation area outside the onsen
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rbjhan

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Joined
Sep 16, 2016
Messages
287
Kitakaro Sapporo Honten, by Tadao Ando.
I'm a great fan of Tadao Ando so this was not a visit for the famous cream puff...no, really ;)
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The building was stunning.
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rbjhan

Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2016
Messages
287
JR Tower Observation Deck T38
On 38th floor of the JR Tower as the name suggested. Great views from the surrounding area
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