Hokkaido Trip 18th June 2010: Bear Ranch(熊牧场) – Chitose Factory Outlet Mall Rera – Asahi Beer Factory – Hokkaido Jingu(北海道神宮), it was the last day of the trip, ah.. time flies!
The Bear Ranch was finally be squeezed into today’s itinerary. We went back to Showa Shinzan area as this is the main entrance to the Bear Ranch, see picture below.
The green cabin on the top right of the picture below was where we bought the biscuits for ¥100 per bag, a small bag though.
The bears were standing up, waving to us and waiting for us to throw the biscuits to them.
I guess many of us are wondering why these groups of bears are kept separately from the rest? It was really sad to see them being locked in dark and smelly cages as shown in the 2 photos below.
What are these racoon doing in the Bear Ranch?
After visited Bear Ranch, we proceeded to Chitose Factory Outlet Mall Rera which was about 2 hours drive from here.
Coach outlet here was having extra 30% discount on their bags but I could not find anything that I like that is worth the price, to me, they are still expensive even after the discount.
We took our lunch at Susukino Ramen Alley( ラーメン横丁).
Since the ramen store in Japan are usually very small, we had to separate into 2 groups to take the ramen at 2 different shops. Below was the one we went.
At 2.35pm, seem not many ramen stores were open. Most of them start business at evening. No chance of taking any nice photo at this time.
Next was Asahi Beer Factory.
The 3 main raw materials of beer are malt, hops and water.
The can filler capable of filling 1500 cans per minute.
Finally we enjoyed free snacks and drinks at this canteen.
Hokkaido Jingu(北海道神宮) was the last one in today’s itinerary and this marked the end of our Hokkaido trip as well.
Before we entered the shrine, we had to cleanse ourselves.
First, take a scoop of water to wash your left hand, followed by right hand. Then rinse your mouth and spit it out(do not spit back into the water supply). Lastly tilt the ladle backwards to rinse the ladle handle with the remaining water.
The main entrance to the shrine
This is where one can draw his fortune from a box containing random fortunes written on strips of paper, it is called Omikuji(御神籤), which costs ¥100 per strip.
After reading the fortune, if a bad fortune (凶(KYOU) or 大凶 (DAIKYOU) is drawn, it can be tied onto the string attached to a wooden stand as shown below. Don’t take the bad Omikuji home so that the bad luck will be left at the shrine rather than attach itself to the bearer. If it is a good fortune, keep it for luck.
Another box but this one costs ¥200 per draw.
Below shows Ema(絵馬), a small wooden tablet or plaque on which one can write a wish or prayer to the deity. Then the finished Ema is tied with string to a wooden frame as shown below. We could see a few Ema written in English by overseas visitors.
Omamori(お守り) which means protection, is Japanese Protective Amulets(Lucky Charms).
We left for our hotel for the last night stay in Sapporo, dinner was on our own. So, a summary of the hiccups so far:
- Tanuki Koji Shopping Arcade was “killed off” from today’s itinerary
- Savor ramen at Asahikawa Ramen Village on Day 4 remains in dream
- Bear Ranch was pushed from Day 5 to Day 6(inexperience local tour guide?)
Other disappointments include not much information about Hokkaido, especially about Hell Valley, most of the time, on the bus, we were left listening to the stories about Osaka or Tokyo but very little about Hokkaido. The room for the first night stay at Apa Resort & Hotel was way too small for a triple occupancy. Most of the time, especially for the three nights onsen hotel stay, we got back to the hotel way too early.
Well, maybe if I weren’t on the Japan Central Tour before, I would not have complaint about this point as for Japan Central tour, we really had a very fulfilling day and usually got back to hotel after 8pm, if my memory hasn’t failed me.
The only compliment is about our tour manager from Singapore, Lai Heng. Throughout the journey he was pretty helpful and answered our queries promptly. It is quite funny when I recalled that on our Japan Central trip, we communicated more to the local tour guide than to the tour manager but this time, it was the opposite.
Ok, back to the trip. We had the rest of the time by ourselves after we had unpacked our luggages in the hotel room, without wasting a minute more, we were set to explore Sapporo till the very last minutes. It was already 6pm at that time.
We took the subway from Susukino station to Sapporo Station which is 2 stations away. Headed up to Pokemon center at 9th Floor of ESTA Mall. This center is the sixth of its kind in Japan, which opened on March 6 2009. I am not a Pokemon fan of course but my little one is. 🙂
Map below extracted from the official pokemon website.
Outside Sapporo JR station, look at the neon blue and orange lightingt up ESTA. It is located at the 9th floor of ESTA.
Bring a gadget called PokéWalker and deposit a pokemon in this machine below? Well, I am not an expert, correct me if I am wrong, pokemon fan out there, will you?
Around JR Sapporo station there are many shopping malls and departmental stores: Daimaru, Stellar Plac, Paseo, Loft, Seibu, Tokyu and Apia Underground Shopping Mall. Too bad all these stores close very early at 8pm. The basement supermarket closes at 8.30pm. By the time we got out from Pokemon center, it was already past 8pm. No chance to do any shopping. Sigh!
Took this photo when back to the Sapporo Korakuen Hotel(札幌後楽園ホテル).
This marks the end of the entire Hokkaido trip and we are the only group to extend our stay at Tokyo, the rest were going back to Singapore the next day. Sayonara Hokkaido!