“Music saves the soul”. Play softly while you read.
From Furano, I have travelled back to Sapporo, Hokkaido’s largest city and one of Japan’s most populous metropolis – far from Furano and Biei’s laid-back rural ambience. I was standing all through out a little over one hour journey from Furano train station to Sapporo and didn’t really mind it as I was excited of what Sapporo would show me. Trying street photography of the busy streets for the first time made me more excited too.
From Sapporo station, I transferred to Fukuzumi to meet my AirBnB host and was delighted to see him with his son holding a “Welcome to Sapporo” sign written in a notebook page. The little boy, Ichito Ishiguro, ran to me, showing me his hospitable soul while murmuring Japanese words I didn’t understand but he sounded joyful upon seeing their guest. I shook hands with Kazushige Ishiguro and he drove me to their home to put my luggage firstly. It was a hot summer day (though I must say it’s way lot cooler than Singapore) so we had a delicious cold udon, which is popular during summer, with mashed radish and spring onions plus my favorite veggie tempura in a noodle house that Kazushige recommended. It was a tasty lunch that made me look forward to trying out more of Japanese cuisine.
After lunch, I decided to just have a stroll along the center of Sapporo, around the Sapporo and Odori train stations, as suggested by my AirBnB host. The park, the TV Tower and Sapporo Beer museum are the most popular in the list of the attractions I searched.
Sapporo TV Tower
The most prominent structure in Sapporo, I think of it as the Eiffel tower of Japan. I guess I must see the Tokyo tower too to compare, but I think it will be of the same appeal as both were architected by just one person. The tower is located at one end of Odori Park, so guess where I went next. Under the TV tower is, unexpectedly, a full-house beer lounge. I saw expats and locals drinking mugs of beers and enjoying sizzling delights. A band playing jazz was there too when I visited. I bought a glass of beer, held it with one hand while I take pictures of the people unnoticeably (hopefully). The TV tower has an observation deck with admission fee of 700 yen, but I didn’t go.
Nijo Fish Market
Nope! My next stop isn’t the Odori Park (because it was last on my list). After Sapporo TV Tower, I walked down the streets and looked for a one-storey blue roofed building. The market’s huge crabs and seashells astounded me. I’ve seen the likes in Boat Quay in Singapore but because of the thought that Hokkaido is known for its fresh seafood, I have stared at the cooked (and uncooked) creatures longer than I should. Around the market, I saw some pubs but they were still closed. I wanted to try drinking there but I promised my Airbnb host I’ll have dinner with them. So I told my soon-to-be-alcoholic self “next time”.
Sapporo Clock Tower
This 1870’s wooden edifice is the oldest infrastructure in Sapporo. The clock still works and they said the chimes still ring every hour. The Sapporo Clock Tower houses an agricultural museum, but again I didn’t go. I took pictures hastily so I can have around 30 minutes, enough time I guessed, to see Sapporo Beer Museum.
I was actually about to go to Sapporo Beer Museum but I got lost as I wander. I walked here and there, still lost, until the museum’s closing time. So, I decided to go to Odori Park instead. I didn’t realize I was walking back towards the Sapporo TV tower when I was looking for the Odori Park; that’s when I learnt the park is just right beside the tower. I scolded my silly self. The kilometre-long park is the oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle – Sapporo Business District. This space with relaxing greeny ambience houses different kinds of trees and flowers. I imagine in my head how the park looks like in autumn, must be beautiful. I stayed longer here, took a rest from the whole afternoon walk under the prickling heat of the sun. My feet hurt screaming “take your boots off”. I ate some snacks and had a can of Coke which I deserve after getting lost. Within the park were series of pubs, nights here must be surely fun-filled. There was also a Jazz festival held the night of my visit.
Old Hokkaido Government Building
The first time I saw the building, I thought of the hotel I stayed in Bagan, Myanmar, but only bigger. The facade made of red bricks captured me. This American inspired architecture was built in the 1880s but was destroyed by fire and was renovated around 1969. This property has been Hokkaido’s symbol of development and renown during the late 1800s. At present, it is still treasured as a cultural tourist attraction in Sapporo.
It was an afternoon full of learning and tiresome walking but I was glad to see the city. For a moment I thought Japan is a great place to live too. If I can find a job in Sapporo, I’d say “why not”? I rode the train back to Fukuzumi and had dinner and a can of beer with my host; Ichito was drinking milk. I played with the little one and shared polvoron and popular Filipino snack boy bawang with him while we watched his favorite (I mean our favorite) Tom and Jerry. He said it was salty but yummy. . We played with their cats too. I rested in a very comfy room of the family’s house and my adventure in Sapporo continued the next day.