Hokkaido: An Unforgettable Summer (3rd and last in a series)

In this series:
Part 1.
Part 2.

See all my Japan posts here.

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As we work our way through Hokkaido’s stunning natural wonders, we don’t get to spend much time exploring Sapporo, its capital. But we fall in love with it in the few hours each day that we have there. Designed as a network of streets lined with trees, the lush greenery complements a surprisingly vibrant metropolis.

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Just like any bustling city, albeit to a tamer degree than Tokyo and Osaka, Hokkaido has its share of towering buildings…

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… and my favorite, immense intersections. (I’m drawn to photographing them).

And of course, every big city has its shopping, centers, like…

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Tanukikoji, a kilometer-long arcade housing 200 shops. Every exploration yields fun discoveries.

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There’s also the Odori shopping district where ambling and ogling at brands familiar and new is an exhilarating way to spend the day (and night).

Hokkaido and Sapporo are famed for snow, skiing, and beer, and I’ll add one more thing: the food is spectacular.

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Soup curry is another one of those foods that you can’t miss when you’re here. It’s exactly what it sounds like – soupy curry. A local dish that’s now famous throughout Japan, it’s a bowl of curry made from a meat and/or seafood base bolstered with 18+ spices, the melding of them all so robust and rousing, it’s unforgettable.

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With a consistency somewhere between broth and bisque, we choose our meat – chicken is the standard but we opt for the hamburger steak; choose your spice level – mild to downright Krakatoan- and of course, cheese sauce. Cheese is a great companion to curry, tipping this dish into the domain of “dizzyingly delicious.” Oh, and one more thing – the soup curry will come with a plate of rice. Dip the rice into the soup and spoon it into your mouth. So deliriously satisfied am I after this meal that I want to hug everyone in the restaurant.


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Given that Hokkaido is the home of ‘Royce Chocolate, there are other chocolate brands that are equally good.

At Shiroi Koibito Chocolate Factory

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The Shiroi Koibito Park is owned by Ishiya, a local chocolate company. Their flagship product is the Shiroi Koibito cookie, two thin butter cookies sandwiching a smear of white chocolate. The theme park reminds me of Disney’s “It’s A Small World,” and once inside,

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You climb stairs to go from floor to floor…

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…and you follow these cute little paw prints.

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There are an assortment of chocolate related exhibits but what fascinates me the most are the windows through which the factory’s cookie production can be viewed. It’s Japanese precision and skill at work!

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You can see the Shiroi Koibito cookie on the lower left. I’m sure you’ve tried this cookie, it’s a popular souvenir from Japan.

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Other fun things to do inside the factory include making your own cookie and/or stopping for a sweet or three at the café.

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But what I like the most is the take-away store on the ground floor where the soft cream (soft serve) ice creams are creamy beyond compare, and the hot chocolate is extraordinary. You can’t expect anything less since this is a chocolate factory after all.

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The Sapporo TV Tower seen here at night and in the day, is also not to be missed, the views alone are worth more than the price of admission. Taking in the 360-degree views from the top is like sightseeing from above.

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The 60-second elevator ride all the way up to the observation deck situated 90-meters high is dizzying for an acrophobiac like myself. Heights make me lightheaded and tingly but I do my best because the views are heartstopping (maybe not the greatest adjective to use here when describing a phobia).

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I can imagine how magical these views must look in the winter.

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One last note. If you’re keen on political history and architecture, you may find the Hokkaido Government Office a worthy visit. Known as the Red Brick Office, it’s no longer in use – but constructed in 1888, the building is a prime example of American neo-baroque architecture.

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