Finally! I've managed to set some time aside to blog about my recent trip to Japan. I went to Sapporo and Tokyo with my parents about a month back. Being all 'grown up' now, I don't get as much time and chance to spend quality time with just my parents. So, I was really looking forward to this trip. A full 8 days together!
We booked JAL flights for through-out this trip. Flying Japan Airlines is always so nostalgic for me and brings back fond memories of the days when I was flying with them as a flight stewardess. We took an overnighter that flew us out of Singapore to Haneda Airport in Tokyo for our domestic transfer flight to Sapporo. Our itinerary was for 4 days in Sapporo, and 4 days in Tokyo.
This is me, so so so tired after the overnight flight (I hardly slept a wink on the plane) on the airport shuttle heading to the domestic airport.
We had a pretty long wait for our domestic flight and despite being so tired and 'zonked' out of this world, I was really excited to see Tokyo Banana and had to buy a pack. These things are so yummy. You've got to have them when you're in Japan!
I remember posting this Instagram photo (I was feeling SO tired) whilst waiting for the domestic flight. It was awesome that there was Wi-Fi connection at the airport.
We finally reached our hotel in Sapporo after travelling for so many hours. We stayed at Hotel Gracery and it was an awesome choice. We were so pleased. The location was super awesome and the hotel was rather new (to me). The hotel is located right opposite Sapporo train station and is linked underground by shops and huge shopping malls right to the station. That's the hotel right behind me with the white/metallic shimmery facade.
After taking a nap, we ventured to the malls opposite the hotel and went into one of the first few ramen stalls we chanced upon. The food in Japan is always so good everywhere, I don't think I've ever been disappointed. This gigantic bowl definitely did not disappoint as my first proper meal in Japan.
We shopped around after the ramen meal. Check out this gigantic Hello Kitty on display outside a kitty store! Kawaii!!
Visited touristy sights that evening and walked to the clock tower and went up the TV Tower to take in the night scene. The clock tower was closed so we didn't get to go in, but quite frankly it's quite small so we weren't too disappointed that it was closed.
That's the TV Tower at the back. Didn't get any pictures when we were up there cos' it was dark and I couldn't get any good pictures. I remember eating Hokkaido ice-cream when we were there although we were all so cold. Hokkaido ice-cream is an absolute must-have when you're in, Hokkaido of course!
Dinner was a delicious spread at an Izakaya near our hotel. The thing about eating in Japan is that most restaurants and shops serve specialized dishes and you don't get a huge variety, unless you dine in an Izakaya or family restaurant (usually Western type food).
Day 2 - Otaru
We got up bright and early on day 2 and headed to Otaru, a city and port in Shiribeshi, Hokkaido, northwest of Sapporo. The city faces the Ishikari bay and has many historical buildings. A must-visit for tourists.
I think it took us about an hour by train from Sapporo station to reach Otaru. The sights along the way was really beautiful so the hour hardly felt like anything at all.
Our plan was to walk towards the canal and here is us at a shopping arcade mid-way. It was really deserted and the shops were quite sad-looking, but it was fun to explore anyhow.
Still at the shopping arcade - gotta have fresh fruits when you're in Japan!
It was still wintery in Hokkaido and there was even snow, or slush rather in Otaru. Unfortunately, it started raining and we didn't have umbrellas with us!!
We ducked into this Bank of Japan Museum that dates back to 1912 to hide from the rain. Got a little history about Japanese money, the branch's history and got to enter a bank's vault there.
Here's us taking a break in the museum.
We broke for lunch after the museum in a quaint little restaurant that served Italian food. Once again, everything was delicious. I don't think I can say enough how oishii the food is in Japan. We took a long lunch break hoping for the rain to stop...but it was one of those never ceasing rain that goes on forever. :(
Sadly, we didn't make it to the canal due to the rain and cold, but we did stop by the Museum of Venetian Art where there was lots of glassware on display, Venetian clothing, furniture and a gondola.
These Earl Grey cookies are my favourite! We headed back to Sapporo after buying our fill of Le Tao goodies.
Dinner that evening was at Gyukaku. You've got to have Gyukaku when you're in Japan. There are branches in Tokyo too. They've also got branches in Singapore, but it's so much cheaper to have it in Japan. The bbq beef is to-die-for. The signboard reads, 牛角, just in case you're wondering!
We contemplated between sight-seeing and shopping at the outlet malls today...and yes, we caved-in to the outlet malls. We caught the direct bus to the outlet mall and what luck, the bus ride was free! They were celebrating something and thanking their customers...I couldn't quite read the Japanese announcement.
The Mitsui Outlet Park is a huge mall, so it was perfect for hiding from the cold. The outlet park features about 130 stores from famous foreign and domestic brands offering women's, men's and kid's fashion, sporting and outdoor goods, fashion items, lifestyle items and more. It's one of the largest outlet malls in Hokkaido.
A mirror-selfie whilst waiting mumsy to try clothes at Burberry's. They carry blue label stuff too at discounted prices. (I love these Nikes I'm wearing by the way. They are super comfortable for walking, and the hidden wedge is such a charm. My mum actually wondered why I was so much taller than usual...she didn't know about the inner wedge. Lol!)
Major score! We got lifestyle stuff from Franc Franc and bags and clothes from Levi's, Burberry, Coach, Polo Ralph...I remember that there was also Ferragamo, DC Shoes, Billabong, G-Shock, Michael Kors, Armani, Zegna and loads more other shops.
Waiting for our bus back to Sapporo. So very convenient.
Dinner that evening was a seafood spread with Hokkaido crabs....just because you have to have Hokkaido crabs when you're in Hokkaido. I think I still prefer chilli/black pepper/salted egg yolk crabs. Singaporean girl at heart! This tempura ice cream (pictured above) is super yummy though!
Our final day in Sapporo. We didn't do very much except walk around the hotel and to make our journey by train and flight to Tokyo. I was so excited to go to Tokyo!!!
Right by our hotel with Daimaru mall at the back.
Walking along the streets of Sapporo. I love how clean the sidewalks are, the monotone colours, the winter trees and the cool weather.
At the Sapporo train station for our ride to the airport.
Snacks for the train ride. Calbee Jagabee goes down as one of my favourite snacks, ever.
I can have Jagabee chips everydayyyyyy.
Gorgeous scenery taken from the train en-route to the airport.
My must-haves for the trip!
Wedge sneakers and an easy-to-carry crossbody bag.
Fresh sugar lip treatment. This saved my lips from cracking in the cold! I think I've got almost all colours from this sugar range.
Hair by Chez Vous. I did a treatment and colour just before I left. I love the light brown colour, the highlights and how soft my hair is after the treatment.
I bleached my hair for the highlights and coloured the rest of it.
Bleaching and colouring is so bad for the hair, but the Curpod 3 Step Treatment that I did after completely saved my hair and made it so soft and manageable.
Step 1: Infuse Protein
Step 2: Binder to seal in all the goodness
Step 3: Moisturize to smoothen cuticles
Results: Super soft, sleek and awesome hair!
I also brought home the Redken Colour Extend Shampoo and Protein Reconstructing Treatment for after home-care. Home-care treatment is just as important as salon ones to maintain healthy, glowing hair. I brought these along to Japan and used them throughout my holiday.
Here's how to look for my stylist, Serene at Chez Vous for awesome hair:
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The remaining of my trip, Day 4-8 Tokyo adventures will be up on my blog soon!