I suddenly realised I may have miscalculated the number of blog posts that I would be making for my Japan trip and I have seem to miss out on one post in total. That would mean more work for me but more fun stuff for you guys to read and pictures to see in this blog. Rejoice!
Waking up in the morning realised that the snow was still relatively thick in Hokkaido which still means more winter pictures for this post. Coincidently enough though before coming to Japan I was actually reading up on Cheesie's post on Hokkaido and I actually was taking pictures at the same spot where she was in he blog post. The difference? Hers was actually taken during spring whereas mine was taken during winter so can see the interchange difference after a snow storm. Yayness!
In the next agenda of our tour, we were brought to explore around the town of Otaru which houses quite a number of interesting places as well as very quaint looking rows of shops which of course, WAS STILL COVERED IN SNOW!
[Shophouse town of Otaru]
According to our guide, there are several shops that are ideal for us to visit for either taking pictures and also doing a bit of shopping around the town of Otaru. This is the part where I would have to note that I love everything that this country has to offer as a travel destination EXCEPT FOR one small issue. The stuff here is expensive as hell...
But with the right amount of hunting, you might still get a good bargain over the items there!
So our first stop was a music box shop which houses a friggin large collection of toy music boxes as well as other mall trinkets and stuff!
[Inside the music box shop]
[An array of music boxes. They even have the theme song to Final Fantasy!]
[Coin boxes made out of Japanese ceramics]
[They even have a big ass music box which as you can see cost a king's fortune!]
Its easy for you to get lost in awe in towns like this just because of the scenery and arrangements of the town itself that is made with a hint of Victorian style buildings on top of the obvious Japanese culture imbued in the town. Once we were done with the music shop, we went around hunting for more interesting things in the town.
[Tried to wrestle a Hokkaido Brown Bear!]
[I like it coz its GOOOOOOOOOLLLLDDDDD....]
Apart from souvenirs the town also houses some really good snack food stands and shop which is something that you really got to try when you're here. From grilled corn, to barbecued abalone with its shell, to even soft cone ice cream (yup, you actually eat ice cream in this weather here!), the things you can try is endless. One of the must buy snacks here in Otaru is definitely the shiroi koibito which is only available here in Hokkaido!
[Got ourselves some biscuits, much to the delight of the rest of TeamTehTarik back home]
One of the downers that I find about winter is that it gets dark quite early here in Hokkaido (around 4.30pm usually) so it kinda limits the picture taking opportunity during our trip, even though we head out to town at 7.30 in the morning every day during the trip. Regardless that doesn't really hinder our travels that much because even at night we still had places to visit.
One of them is the toy factory + shop in Otaru!
Made to look like a scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the place houses some of the nicest designs of toys and stuff from all around Japan. The outside however is a garden arrangement of small huts for you to walk around in, including a rail road track for a mini train that goes around the building.
[A brilliant overview of the design in the shop!]
[Found myself a friends to chillax with]
[The view of huts outside the building]
[Small hall outside which is even used for wedding receptions!]
It was rather taxing walking around in the cold while sightseeing but every now and then a sit down with a glass of warm cocoa really does the trick. Once we were done with everything there, we decided to head out to Sapporo town which was approximately 1 hour away from Otaru town (I'm making a huge guess here because I decided to take a nap on the bus).
Once we arrived in Sapporo town, one would be able to realise that its quite similar to Tokyo town but much smaller. A hustle and bustle town of Hokkaido with much less snow than the places I was before! :D
[Even Sapporo was not lacking on the light decorations!]
There are a billion things that you can do here in Sapporo, which is what you would expect in a township area in Japan. One of the things that you can do while you are here is to really explore the 13 avenues of shop houses that are arranged consecutively to one another which is of course a sight for you guys to see.
And of course, try the food! (but watch out because they charge more here!)
[One of the avenue of shops in Sapporo]
[Of course the thing that got my attention was the Pachinko+Game Arcade+Sticker Photo shop]
[HItting my drumming skills in Sapporo!]
[Found a very familiar shop for us Malaysian]
When a person mentions about the city streets in Japan, I believe that most of our expectations are brightly lighted buildings in rows just like the ones we always see in the movies. They really didn't disappoint us that's for sure...
[Shots of the town itself]
[Sight that I believe we would all expect from Japanese cities]
[Even found a costume shop for cosplayers and more "adult" users alike]
We got ourselves to recuperate before heading out again to town the next morning for our last day in Hokkaido before heading out to Tokyo. We were warned not to eat too much for the day. You'll find out soon enough why...
So our first destination is an actual Winter Olympic site that today has become more of a tourist site for people to come and visit. Mount Okura was once used in the 1972 Winter Olympic Ski Jump event and was today is revered as a must see tourist destination for people coming to Hokkaido. Using a ski lift chair to go up to the top, you'd be able to see a beautiful view of the slope and the town of Sapporo from there!
[An average view of the slope....]
[And the actual majestic view of it!]
[Sapporo town over the yonder]
One look over the Mountain you can see that this is seriously a scary event to participate in the Olympics.
[Even got myself a medal for coming all the way up here!]
[See? Told ya!]
Once we came down, the finale of our trip in Hokkaido was to experience what the town is really famous for. I do realise that I hardly do much food coverage here in Japan but for this one is a must.
The Spider King Crab is of course an iconic animal here in Japan and is also a cuisine like never before. Compared to our crabs in Malaysia, the King Crab makes ours look like an underfed crab by just the sheer size! We got ourselves to a restaurant that is built on top of a seafood market so we get to choose which crab and seafood we want to eat and they would grill it on the spot!
[Say hello to Spike!]
[Check out the size of these crabs! Huge!]
[Come to think about it, I really shouldn't piss them off...]
[Any octupus that lost an arm out there?]
One of the reasons why this place is so special is actually the way how they cook the food. You can practically find crabs like this in other places around the world but as I was told, most of the time people would tend to bake their crabs. Here however they would rather opt to grill the crab and seafood which is obviously more work but so much difference in taste!
[Abalone cooked in its own shell!]
[Grilled Salmon in Olive Oil]
and of course finally...
[King Crab, grilled to perfection!]
How can you not love this place? Adios Hokkaido, I had an awesome time with you guys!
Next up, TOKYO BABY!