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Travel: Autumn bliss in heavenly Hokkaido: Part 2/2

Retired Phuket GM Hansruedi Frutiger is enjoying his retirement life through much travel and blogging. Hans’ recent 10 days, eight nights tour in Hokkaido, was organised through Prime Travel in Singapore. Here is Part 2 of Hans’ Hokkaido travels. You can check out Part 1 in the January 8, 2016 issue of The Phuket News or at

Wednesday 27 January 2016, 08:00AM

Hansruedi Frutiger

The beginning of day 4 of our 10-day tour began with a great breakfast at the Hokuten No Oka Lake resort and then a drive to Mount Iwo, which is one of the mountains formed by the crater of an eruption years ago. The mountain was being mined for sulfur, still active as the photo shows. We could only stand at the foot of this active volcano.

We later drove to Sunayu. a unique place among the hot springs. You can paddle on the lake, go jogging or simply chill for the day.

We did not have much time to visit our next spot, the Oshinkoshin waterfalls, since sunset was near and there was the threat of a typohoon in the region. We decided to visit the Shiretoko Five Lakes instead, which were filled by underground springs after the eruption of Mount Iwo nearby. The area offered stunning views during this autumn season. We saw small foxes, deers, and a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean during our mountain drive.

Accommodation for that night was in the hotel Shiretoko Daichi. It was massive and reminded me of the Genting Highlands outside Kuala Lumpur but without a casino.

The typhoon set in at 10:30pm and rain was pounding against the hotel window all night. At about 5:30am in the morning, I went for the hot spring and enjoyed the outdoor hot bath (34ºC) while staring at the heavy downpour. Hours later, as our group was checking out of the hotel, we learned that many roads as well as the airport in Sapporo were closed due to the typhoon.

We drove slowly along the coast line to Lake Agan the third largest of Japan’s national parks. Unfortunately the rain did not stop so we had to enjoy the hotel facilities instead.

I must say, the experience at the small, boutique Tsuruga Akan Hotel was very good. We enjoyed the afternoon in the hot spring bath and in the evening a sumptuous exclusive Japanese dinner. The day was long so I decided to hit the sack at 10pm in order to be fresh for an early walk the next day around the lake.

The following day, we drove around the lake. It was still drizzling but soon after the clouds gave way and we enjoyed driving through beautiful landscapes.

For lunch we drove to a small town for a delicious bowl of sliced pork on top of rice and then later visited three pastry shops in the afternoon, one with Gelato specialist Hirose Bokujo.

The next day we headed to Hokkaido’s main port, Otaru, where we enjoyed the freshest sushi lunch.

Otaru was once a busy canal with many barges though today we see beautiful stoneware houses which have been turned into shops for tourists. Our group visited some of the glass shops which
had some similarity to Italian Murano glass.

The various gas lamps around the canal give off a romantic feel in this picturesque town.

The drive from back to Sapporo took three hours and that evening we checked into the Sapporo Grand Hotel – located in the center of the city – for a two-night stay.

Sapporo is known for having hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics (the first ever in Asia) and for the annual Yuki Matsuri, internationally referred to as the Sapporo Snow Festival, which draws millions of tourists from around the world.

The city is also home to Sapporo Brewery and white chocolate biscuits called shiroi koibito!

The entire trip was enjoyable except I put on weight with all the special lunches, eight course dinners and the many sweets in between our travels. I also need to cure a severe back ache pain
because of the Tatami rooms which I am not used to.

                                                                                                                                       Sayonara Japan!

To read Part I of Hans' Hokkaido travels, click here.

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