As this trip was planned to cover winter illuminations, we thought it would be a waste if we missed the Sapporo Snow Festival, which was ongoing during the period when we were at Japan. Hence, we made the decision to purchase the domestic flight tickets by Vanilla Airlines to New Chitose Airport, Sapporo.
From JR Nagoya station, we made our way to Chubu International Airport via the uSky Limited Express train. It was about a 30min ride. Pretty short as compared to the train ride from Tokyo city centre to Narita Airport. It was our first time to Chubu International Airport and checkin was rapid and smooth that we have plenty of time exploring the airport.
So we had breakfast there and explored the observation deck which was an outdoor facility.. It was cool watching the planes ascend and descend on the runway with close proximity. Something that I do not get to see back at home. There were several photographers there deeply immersed in their passion in shooting the planes.
We took about 1.5h to reach New Chitose Airport. There was an 1h delay before we boarded the plane as our flight was delayed due to snowstorm at Hokkaido. Sounds pretty scary and we were worried this flight would be cancelled due to snow conditions. Fortunately, it went smooth and we landed safely at New Chitose. Initially, I made plans to reach our Sapporo Grand Hotel via limousine bus. However, due to bad weather conditions, all bus trips were cancelled. Train is the only way to reach the city centre. It was already snowing heavily and the temperature was really really cold as compared to Nagoya. We had to put on additional layers of clothes to keep warm.
This hotel was extremely convenient for exploring Sapporo city and Susukino area as it was smacked in the middle between these two places. The last time when I was at Sapporo, I remembered the Tsuchiura Ramen Shop at the Ramen Alley in Susukino was very tasty. So after checkin, we walked to the shop and had a very satisfying meal.
After dinner, we walked around Susukino and there were already many ice sculptures in the vicnity.
This was a different stretch from the ones near Odori Park and Sapporo TV Tower.
It was a very pleasant walk despite the chilly wind from Susukino to Odori Park. The entire city was filled with illuminations and dazzling lights.You could see everyone tucked in their warm winter suits and anti-slip boots while taking photos with the ice sculptures. I must say it was pretty slippery and you could really fall down hard if you are not careful!
Sapporo TV tower with Domokun
The sculptures at Odori Park kept us awed and impressed at their intricate details. There were also many food stalls selling BBQ food, and grilled oysters, king crabs.. mainly seafood. You cannot miss the chance to have seafood when in Sapporo! Topped it up with Sapporo Beer that tasted really good in this winter.
As this was our last night in Japan, we spent the entire time at Odori Park doing people watching and enjoy all parts of this festival. I must say the organization of this festival was really impressive that many locals and tourists flocked to Sapporo during this period. In fact, this is usually the peak period for travel to Sapporo city. So if you wanna visit the winter festival, you gotta book everything in advance including hotel!
A cold, wintry start for our Lunar Chinese New Year 2016!
But, we never regretted coming here. Although there was minimal CNY atmosphere in Japan since the Japanese celebrated new year on 1st Jan, we felt totally relaxed and a fulfilling trip thus far with all important winter illuminations visited!
Till then, more Japan adventures to come in future :D