After two great nights in Hakodate my parents and I headed out on the 3 hour journey to Sapporo. Hokkaido doesn't have a shinkansen system so all the trains are super express. We passed by many places that I would love to visit but will have to wait until another holiday vacation. It was rather odd to be in Sapporo without all the snow that was there the last time I was there. After we got to the station we headed into the depths of Sapporo station to find some lunch. Sapporo station has an additional basement that is full of nothing but restaurants. They have a selection that goes from traditional Japanese all the way to Mexican and Italian. The ever present Starbucks held it own for a bit of coffee and snack before going to the ryokan to check in. Nakamuraya Ryokan is a great base for traveling in Sapporo. It's a 10 minute walk from the station but off on quieter streets. The food is amazing and the service friendly and personable. Since there was 3 of us we had a 10 tatami mat room, rather large in comparison to my 6 tatami mat room
at home. They had their own private baths; which were amazing, and some of the most delicious food I have ever had.
We headed out to the Botanical Gardens, that just happened to be down the street from the Nakamuraya. It is a great place to take a stroll and get away from the concrete modernism of Sapporo. There were cherry trees, tulips, magnolias, and orchids as well as other various flora and fauna. It would have made a great picnic spot if it didn't cost ¥400 to get inside. We were also in luck that it was open. Dad saw a sign that said it had just opened the day before.
We ended the day with a bowl of famous Sapporo ramen in Ramen Yokocho, or Ramen Alley. It is a small alley with maybe 15 small ramen shops to choose from. We picked a more Chinese Ramen shop but we tested to see which ramen was the best. Ramen has 3 broths: salt, soy sauce, and miso. Personally, I like the salt broth best but Dad leaned toward the miso broth. Mom and Dad were both very impressed with Japanese ramen, having only had the crappy
cheap stuff back in the states. Mom was trying to learn where she could find it or how to make it at home. I hope her efforts bare fruit.
We spent the better part of this day out for some bigger Sapporo sightseeing. We started in the weirdest place, and rather worthless in my opinion, the Salmon Museum. This museum is out on the far reaches of Sapporo. It's a free museum that is trying to teach to younger generations about salmon habitat and how it is disappearing. They went through many different salmon species, as well as other fish, life cycles. They even have some tanks with a whole bunch of salmon swimming around. A free hour or so of entertainment, unless you are a big fisher that is. I'm still rather surprised that the LP even mentioned it.
After our wild adventure at the salmon museum we headed to the Sapporo Beer museum. The museum is very large and goes through the history of the brewery that used to be there, various memorabilia and, of course, beer tasting. We settled into the rather large tasting hall with 3 samples of beer before we
headed to one of the many restaurants. We ended up at the most touristy one I believe, but it was rather delicious. We had the Hokkaido specialty of Jingisukan; which is mutton grilled with veggies. We had a large griller and just piled on the mutton, veggies, and seafood and ate to our stomachs pain. The restaurant even gave you a large bib to keep your clothes clean, though we did not use them.
We ended up at the TV tower at the end of Odori Park after our beer interlude. Odori Park is where the Yuki Matsuri takes place every year in Sapporo. The park is a good 6-7 blocks long and has fountains, benches, flower patches, and snack venders that you can enjoy the afternoon in. The TV tower has it's own personification, I find TV tousan rather cute so I walked away with a t-shirt to remember him forever. You can go up into the tower and get some really nice views of Sapporo. You can see down the length of Odori park and see a little of the surrounding hills.
We ended our adventure at a Starbucks. I swear that I went to Starbucks
more in that week then I have in the last 8 months I have been living in Japan. After a brief rest we headed back to the ryokan and spent the afternoon relaxing and a brief hour or so of stress trying to find my parents a hotel for 1 night in Sendai but thats a story for another day. We ate dinner at the ryokan and then crashed for the evening.
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