Japan: Asahiyama Zoo & Otaru Canal (Day 1 & 2)
What I thought was a gruelling 4 months wait, suddenly zoomed past. We waited, we left and now we’re back like it never happened. Ok kidding, wonderful things happened and it’s always never enough when it comes to vacations huh.
We reached Tokyo, Narita airport at about 7.40am, literally witnessing the land of the rising sun and waited 2 hours for our Jetstar domestic flight to Hokkaido, Sapporo. Upon reaching Sapporo, Chitose airport, we left for a half an hr bus ride to the Mitsui outlet since we couldn’t check-in to our hotel until the late noon.
Mitsui outlet, to be honest, wasn’t exactly fantastic. We didn’t get anything except Ant’s G-shock watch. But since it wasn’t exactly planned to be a shopping trip anyways, we were ok to leave empty handed. Also given that the fact that domestic flights only allows 20kg, it’s a good thing we didn’t have things to buy? And by the time we headed back to the hotel in Sapporo, half the day was almost gone. No time for places of interest visitations. Time flew by TOO fast like whuttt?
We checked in to ‘Hotel Gracery Sapporo’. Which was a definite hit with us. At an extremely convenient location where the malls like Daimaru was just across the road. The rooms were kinda small but it was so pleasant and cosy there wasn’t much to complain about.
We woke up the next day like super early because we wanted to enquire on the JR train ride to the Asahiyama Zoo that departs 8.30am in the morning. And why that early? Because the zoo closes at like 3ish in the noon. That is some sort of a good life working hours or what? Anyways, to our pleasant surprise, it was snowing! I don’t want to sound like an old baby (who is already at an almost mid-life crisis stage) and having taste milk for the first time. But that was what happened when I witnessed my first ever snow experience… I couldn’t help it. *Roarrrrrr!*
1. Train frequencies are limited. Best to get out and going early in the morning. Some trains / buses stop as early as 4pm.
2. Buy JR ad-hoc tickets a day or 2 before preferably with “reserved seats” because shit gets real.. tickets run out fast!
3. In fact, just get the 7/14/21 days kinda Japan Rail Pass if you’re going many places. Saves you ALOT of $$ & time.
The special thing about this train is that it’s more beneficial to kids. Every cabin has a different animal theme. To make our money worthwhile, we went around the cabins taking pictures.
The whole trip to the zoo takes about 3hr plus (train + bus) but the walk around was barely about 2hrs. In my opinion, it’s not the most fantastic. Yes, we did get to catch a few unique animals that we wouldn’t be able to get to see normally. But mostly, they were caged up and they hibernate during winter so photos of the animals were not great. Would i go again? No. I’m sure it wouldn’t have much changes in the next following years.
The walk at the zoo though is a white fluff of YES. At least it got me excited at the beginning. But to be fair, being able to see owls turning their heads at 360°, foxes and penguins at a close approximity got me watching for quite some time, ain’t that bad an idea for visiting Asahiyama Zoo.
The owls just look like they were smiling at us. At first I was like why is everybody amused by a pile of snow? But after staring at it for awhile, I finally saw it’s face. Quite cute.
Unfortunately, we missed the penguin walk show but the penguin area was so close to us that if we stretch out our hands, we could really pet it’s head or slap it with adoration. But of course that’s forbidden and nobody would lay a finger on those cute dwarfs.
The only one rich penguin that wears luxurious fur coat.
Higashi Asahikawacho Kuranuma, Asahikawa, Hokkaido Prefecture 078-8205, Japan
Usually, I’ll sleep like nobody’s business in trains but it would be a waste to miss the amazing view.
We ended our night at Otaru. That’s where the canal gets lited up alongside with candles. It sounds kinda meh but the tight knitted community really made all the effort to liven up their hometown and it felt like Christmas. We even ate some roasted rice cakes & potatoes for free. The locals sat out in the cold roasting for not themselves but for visitors along the old railway walk. We definitely enjoyed our stroll.
Here’s a random helter-skelter video I made with snippets of our visits to both Asahiyama Zoo & Otaru. And the fact that February is the month of Ant’s Birthday, hence the singing. It wasn’t like we anyhow sing when someone lights a candle hor. *thumbs up*.