Snow and Ice festivals are popular in Hokkaido, Japan. In Hakodate, the annual Snow and Ice Festival is held at Onuma Quasi National Park, around 20 minutes away from Hakodate Station by JR. Onuma Quasi National Park is a nice sub-urban park that offers beautiful scenery year round. There’s a weekend winter festival held every year for families. There are snow sliders, go-karts, snow mobile, as well as mobile food stalls by the park entrance. The event was held on 4th and 5th of February, 2017. If you are interested in checking in out, plan a trip early next time. It’s fun for families with small children. Address of Onuma Quasi-National Park: 85-15 Onuma-cho, Nanae-cho, Kameda-gun, Hokkaido, Japan Transportation: Take JR to Onuma Koen Station, then walk 5 minutes.

Originally created as the “Draft Horse Festival” to test the value and strength of the draft horses used for logging and farming operations in Hokkaido around 1900, the event is now turned into a regular and unique race throughout the year. Since April 2007, Obihiro in Hokkaido Japan became the only place in the world that holds this type of races. Ban’ei Horse Racing is not only an entertainment for the adults, the premises aim at creating “Fun for all”. Hence there is a Horse Museum, a Farm Fresh Market, some restaurants and a zoo where children can see and touch the horses. Races are held on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. If you visit Obihiro over the weekend, this is a fun place to check out.

Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Jozankei Onsen, the 2017 snow light path is held at Jozankei Shrine from February 1 to 5. Many candle are lite up from the main gate all the way up to the shrine, creating a warm and romantic feeling in a cold winter. The event begins at 6pm till 9pm. All candles are lite up manually so if you get there early, you may even help out in lighting up the candles. Transportation to Jozankei Shrine: There is a bus no. 7 and 8 that goes from Sapporo Station to Jozankei. Simply get off at Jozankei Shrine. It takes about 1 hour depending on the traffic and road condition.

Hokkaido is one of the most exciting place to be in Japan during winter! Not only it is one of the best places for ski, onsen, crabs and ramen, the beautiful and fun winter festivals make it more fun and interesting. Between end of January and middle of March, visiting Hokkaido is a lot more fun. You may taking photos with the impressive ice and snow sculptures, enjoy the outdoor festival atmospheres, and play various game and rides. It’s great for families with children, too!

Many tourists from Hong Kong and Taiwan tend to go to the same restaurants that are listed on the guide books. In Sapporo, the Kaiten-sushi Nemuro Hanamaru in Stella Place at JR station is one of the most popular kaiten-sushi restaurants. The queue for dinner has been extended from an average of 45 minutes when I first went 10 years ago to 1 hour to 1.5 hours recently. Most of the customers in line are tourists. There is a good reason for the long queue: convenient, good taste and inexpensive. Nemuro is a sea port where most of the fish are caught fresh from the sea. That’s also where Hanamaru sushi chain started. However, the long queue of tourists has made the restaurant less appealing. In search for another good sushi restaurant near the Sapporo JR station, I found a good alternative: same restaurant chain, good food, freshly made sushi (not from the conveyor belt), and in the same JR station.

The traditional taste of pan cakes with honey and butter is out. Variety of flavors and fancy look are in. Japan is well known for creativity and it’s the same for food. Restaurants and cafes have to offer cool interior design, good service, convenient location and great food with high quality ingredients and nice presentation. Price is another factor depending on the target market and location. For many years, I always go back to the same waffle restaurant in Stella Place at Sapporo Station every time I travelled to Hokkaido Japan. In October, my favorite pan cake restaurant was gone. Immediately, I found a new one that offers more variety of pancake choices in the same shopping mall. It’s bigger and more modern.

When it comes to food, crab and hot pot are the best in autumn/winter particularly in Hokkaido. How about the first and one of the best restaurants with nice interior design, private and original Japanese setting, authentic cuisine and fresh food conveniently located near the Sapporo station? If all of the above sound good to you, the first Kani-honke restaurant is the place to be.

Established in 1875, Azumazushi was proud to be the first sushi restaurant introduced to Hokkaido. Azuma means ‘east’ in Japan, it’s a name chosen by the founder who came from Tokyo, east of Japan. Today, there are so many choices of sushi bars, Japanese restaurants and fish markets where you can enjoy fresh sushi in Hokkaido. Yet, visiting or re-visiting heritage restaurants is one of the things that frequent travellers do. In my last trip to Hokkaido in October, I had a lunch in this 130 year old restaurant brand and it turned out to be the last chance.

Locating just 1 hour and 10 minutes away from New Citose Airport and Sapporo, Noboribetsu is one of the most popular hot spring (Onsen) areas in Hokkaido Japan. In addition to the many choices of onsen hotels, Noboribetsu offers beautiful natural scenic path for trekking from an easy 30 minutes walk to around 4 hours hike covering an extensive area of hot spring lakes, geysers and a river where you can enjoy a natural foot bath with running hot water.

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