We arrived in the far north of Japan in snowy Sapporo and made our way to another Japanese Airbnb, not much to say about that, another plastic bathroom! So, we needed things to do in a town that hasn’t got all that much going on and also we needed to limit the time spent outside (minus 3 with a hoodie for a coat wasn’t the best)! We found a good option, there was a chocolate factory in Sapporo, Freda’s dream.
It was a strange place, a bit Japansese Willy Wonker, we made some cookies which was great, until I got sick of Freda cutting every one of them out of the centre of the dough, which I then had to roll out again and again.
Mitch made his own, I helped my three year old and then they both had a bag of cookies! What did I have? Nothing, just a hoodie to keep me warm! After cookie making we needed lunch quickly, so we weren’t outside for long, we entered the nearest supermarket. As we scoffed our nasty breaded goods in the supermarket waiting area, we were stared at by disgusted Japanese. Oh well, at least they had their coats!
We went back to our warm, but cramped, apartment and devoured a few of our cookies before heading out to one of our favourites, the conveyor belt sushi. This one was quite special, although at first upsetting, “where’s the conveyor belt freda cries” then we see that the food is delivered by either a Bullet Train, racing car or another mode of transport I forget.
The only problem we faced here, was that things we hadn’t ordered on our table-side Tablet kept brumming over to us (as Freda would say) and we hadn’t any way to explain to the staff that we hadn’t order them!
The snow continued and the next day of our exciting sightseeing tour was the Sapporo Beer Museum.
Although each of these sights may only take a few hours, we have come to the conclusion that there is no point doing more than one a day, as Freda just can’t cope with the excitement! However, she was a bit unsure about what the beer museum had to offer her. But, of course there was plenty of things for her to destroy and climb on, so she was happy! In true Japanese style, even after Freda had pulled down half the Christmas decorations in reception, a member of staff still came rushing over to give her a present. Sapporo beer is made in Sapporo and is a very nice beer, we tasted a few of their offerings, checked out a bit of brewing history and then went for lunch in an all you can eat, beer, BBQ biergarten thingy. Only problem is that I don’t like all you can eat lamb, so Freda also doesn’t…….leaving just Mitch to tuck in! Well, he managed very well on his own!
We couldn’t leave Sapporo without stopping by the Sapporo Clock Tower, which is referenced as one of the most disappointing tourist attractions in Japan. I liked it, but it was too cold, so we set about heading back to our Airbnb.
We were then met by an ingenious method of getting around, especially for the likes of us not dressed for the weather, Sapporo has a collection of very long, heated underground tunnels linking up stations and various shopping centres. We had wondered where the rest of the residents were, until we found them all underground…….very clever, but hey this is Japan, so I wasn’t surprised.
Unfortunately, not all of our days traveling can yield so much fun. The next day, Freda and I were not on top form, so we had a very quiet day shopping the 100 Yen shops. Yes SHOPS, I’m addicted! We bought lots of bits and bobs and then had an arts’n’crafts afternoon making Christmas decorations for Aus, while stuffing our face with our cookies.
Freda has utterly surpassed herself in Japan with what she will eat. We no longer have to worry if we can find anything on the menu for her, she will (almost) try anything. That night we wanted to try a Sapporo favourite, curry soup. Freda looked at me, “I’m not sure I will like that mummy” she said. “You’ll be fine” I said, and she was, she loved it!! The good thing about Japan is that they always think of everything, the curry comes at a spice level you choose, Freda chose zero!
Next day we were off to Niseko for our skiing holiday! I know it seems frivolous, but come on, even travellers need a holiday! Unfortunately it started warming up as we left Sapporo for the mountains and the snow was rapidly retreating, so we were a little worried! I wont bore you through each day of skiing in detail, as I’m sure you’re not all that interested, but after a shaky first day, it didn’t stop snowing and by our last day we were waist deep in the most amazingly dry powder snow I have ever experienced.
Freda had ski lessons which she loved.
Which subsequently meant that Mitch and I had 5 days off from parenting duties, which was amazing. I know it’s mean, but it has been nearly 3 months, 24 hours a day, so we all needed a break! And it doesn’t get much better than this!
After a very barren period of meeting anyone we could communicate with, Freda was overjoyed (and us) with the amount of people who spoke English in the resort. It was the largest amount of westerners we have seen since Heathrow, although mostly Australians……not sure they count! We stayed in a lovely place, The Kimamaya boutique hotel, no plastic bathrooms here. Freda seemed to fall head over heals in love with the hotel manager. Every morning, without fail, she would say to us, in her new Ali’G voice she seems to have adopted, “I’m gonna say hello t’me friend” it was very cute, although maybe not so much for the manager as she proceeded to spin around and around on her back, around the front desk, doing a sort of break dance, until she was moved along.
Freda spent her birthday in the resort, turning 4.
She’s very pleased she is now so big and claimed to have grown overnight, which may be the case as she does seem massive, although maybe the sheer amount of food she is putting away is the cause!
She had a great teenager moment…….when she asked Mitch about her presents, he said “you may get one or two” Freda looked at him in utter disgust, and shouted slowly, “ONE, is as good as NONE!!” I was horrified but had to look away as I couldn’t stop laughing. Anyway she was made up, as she had lots of presents…..the 100 Yen shop delivered once again! Peter and Miki at the hotel threw her a little party, with a cake, which she ate half of.
When asked what birthday lunch she wanted she said, “Mama, me like some Ramen” what a girl! We went sledging, built a snow man and had a nice time. Although her day was little slim on children, she seemed to have a good day.
So, our last few weeks in Japan have been great. We left the snow and flew back to Toyko, very sad to leave our winter wonderland behind. We then set about gettind our last sniff of culture before we go to Australia.
Whilst having lunch, Mitch noticed that the flight he booked was leaving a day earlier than expected! After a quick panic, changing around accommodation and maybe a small argument (as this is the second time on this trip Mitch has booked a flight on the wrong day), we cut our losses, went up the Skytree and said goodbye to Tokyo and Japan. I know, terrible cheesy picture, but there’s never any of the three of us!
It’s been a great trip, and I think we are all going to miss Japan a lot. The alien nature of Japan has now become very familiar to us, we have grown to love and accept the oddities and quirks. We even managed to get a lot of the unexplainable explained by our hotel manager, and it all made sense, seriously the Japanese have thought of everything, and when you realise why, its hard to think why isn’t everyone doing this? The Japanese make this country what it is. I’m not sure there are that many places I’ve ever been to, that are shaped, so entirely, by the people and their nature. I don’t think any of us will ever forget our time here and I hope one day we can come back.