What To Do and NOT Do In Hokkaido

My friend E. and I went to Hokkaido for Golden Week. We took the ferry from Sendai to Tomakomai, and let me tell you, it was horrible. The very limited buffet cost 2 sen ($25+) and the futons were half a person wide and one and a half people long. I was unwillingly touching my neighbors all night. The air smelt of stale cigarettes and everyone and their 3-month-old stared at E. for being noticeably foreign. I’m talking triple-takes and no-so-discreet picture taking. And the water was so rough on the way back that everyone was falling all over themselves, which was admittedly hilarious. But then I had to get sick, which was not so hilarious.

Next time–if there even is a next time–I’m going to use alternative modes of transportation. Unless I’m desperate to save money again. Which I probably will be.

The view from the window. Nothing but sea.

And here begins the list of … :insert drumroll: … (also, please announce this in a cheesy Mr. Movie Trailer Voice)

What to Do and NOT Do in Hokkaido

#1. DO NOT walk from the ferry port to Tomakomai Station. It takes ages and there’s nothing along the way but garbage and sad-looking buildings.

#2. Visit the Jingu Shrine and cross your fingers for some food stalls.

Maybe you’ll even see a wedding

#3. Try to avoid the Salmon Museum. Unless you want a laugh at how bizarre it is. It’s just a bunch of salmon in different life stages crammed into a handful of tanks.

#4. DO NOT go to the Hokkaido University Botanical Garden off season expecting beauty. Seems obvious, but I thought they would have more variety in winter plants. What. is. wrong. with. me.

#5. But DO visit the taxidermy house in said garden. Feel free to cackle at their wacky, frozen faces.

A flying squirrel!!

Dat owl

The best

#6. Also feel free to admire the architecture.

#7. Visit the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art. Because I seriously wanted to marry Abe Ten-ei by the end of my visit.

#8. Walk around the Otaru Canal.

These are squid boat lights. Unfortunately, it was too rainy to see them out at sea at night.

#9. Take a boat ride around Otaru. Be sure to buy snacks onboard to feed the swarm of following seagulls.

#10. But DON’T go to the aquarium there. It’s a bit sad. The tanks aren’t big enough and the seals and turtles were thump-my-head-against-a-wall depressed.

Long-necked turtles


Clownfish :O)

We caught the tail-end of a seal show (har har), and Shizuka was damn over everything:

#11. But if you do end up going there, take the ride around the Cycle Rider. I’m so mad that the video I took failed to save, because it was the rattiest ride of all time. It consisted of a tiny two-person hooded metal quinceañera throne-looking thing with pedals to slowly move yourself around a very rusty elevated track. Hilarity will ensue.

#12. Climb Mt. Moiwa. It’s located on the edge of Sapporo, and only takes ~1.5 hours to climb. There’s even a ropeway for you not-so-active folks! And the many lovely statues on the way up serve as convenient picture breaks.  Also, be sure to greet everyone you see on your way up/down.

The view from the top

#13. And of course, eat everything. EVERYTHING.


Dinner @ a crab place in Sapporo

Kani with wasabi <3

Ramen road: beer and miso ramen


Sushi in Otaru

Soup curry @ Suage, dear lord.  Mine was honey mustard chicken and avocado.

All-you-can-eat ghengis kahn

Cookies @ the Hakodate Museum of Art

Some Freebies:


2 thoughts on “What To Do and NOT Do In Hokkaido

    • I hope you have a good time! Definitely get soup curry while you’re there. Hands down one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

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