Fall In Japan, Travel Diaries

Fall in Hokkaido: Exploring Otaru, Sapporo and Chitose

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I’m back with an overdue post about my fall adventure in Sapporo with Little Miss Kaiju!

Fall in Hokkaido was just… magical. It’s the only word I can think of to describe how I felt experiencing this beautiful season.

Everything was so enchanting: The colors, the air, the food, the people!

My only “plan” for this trip was to escape the hustle of Tokyo and enjoy nature with my girl. And, the four days that we spent up north were amazing.

Fall in Hokkaido: Exploring Otaru, Sapporo and Chitose

For starters, we had picnics in the park, (I) caught dragonflies, and we searched for acorns and dandelion puffs. Oh, and we ate ice cream every single day! 

(By the way, Hokkaido dairy products are famous in Japan for their quality, taste, and freshness. We just couldn’t get enough of the food.)

Here’s how little Kaiju and I spent fall in Hokkaido — Exploring Otaru, Sapporo, and Chitose Cities.

Day 1 — Otaru Canal Cruise, Otaru

 

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You might remember that little Kaiju and I previously visited Hokkaido last November. We had to shorten our Otaru day trip.

Why?

Someone accidentally submerged their entire shoe in a fountain of icy cold water.

This time, however, I was hyper vigilant and we avoided any drama/wet shoes. While we waited for our cruise boarding time, we ate soft serve at the Tourist Information Desk while taking in the sight of the canal warehouses covered in beautiful fall foliage.

We took a sunset cruise on the Otaru Canal learning about the history of Otaru and the importance of the canal.

You’ll definitely feel the sea breeze on board, so dress warmly and bring a blanket, along with warm drinks and snacks. Lots of people on board opted for Otaru Beer!

At night, we headed back to Sapporo, but not before stopping by Otaru Narutoya inside Otaru Station for zangi. Zangi is the local word for “karaage” (fried chicken bites), but their taste is unlike any karaage I’ve seen — or tasted.

For starters, zangi are GIANT fried chicken bites as large as a toddler’s hand. Each juicy bite is packed with a flavorful ginger soy sauce blend that had us coming back here for the second year. 

Day 2 — Halloween Fun at Odori Park, Sapporo 

 

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Halloween is one of my favorite things about fall in Japan. I loved that Sapporo outfited its symbolic Odori Park with Halloween decorations.

Underneath Sapporo TV Tower was a large photogenic display of Jack ‘O Lanterns, big and small, along with a fall harvest scene. Perfect for Instagram!

Little Miss was disappointed that there were no swings or slides at Odori Park. Still, she loved the pumpkin display and the ice cream from the shop inside Sapporo TV Tower!

Day 3 — Vibrant Fall Foliage at Nakajima Park, Sapporo

 

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Last year’s visit to Hokkaido was accented by rainy overcast days, so we couldn’t explore Nakajima Park as I originally intended. Shame because it was the reason why I chose our hotel! 

But this year, we stayed once more at Hotel MyStay Premier Sapporo Park, and spent the entire morning of Day 3 at Nakajima Park. 

Just look at this gorgeous foliage and tell me is there any other place you’d rather spend a fall day?

Unlike Odori Park, Nakajima Park has toddler and kid friendly play equipment, and Miss Kaiju and I played until well after lunch time.

Afterwards we ate a hearty lunch of pasta and a dessert of thick, fluffy, berry-covered hotcakes at Ishiya Cafe.

The cafe is near Exit 5 of the underground walkway outside Odori Station. 

Next to the cafe is Candy Labo, where they make designer candies and lollipops. And, the ground level floor is where you can buy a variety of treats…like Hokkaido’s best-selling edible souvenir, the langue de chat cookies known as Shiori Koibito (White Lovers). 

We returned to Odori Park at night to see the light up of Sapporo TV Tower, decorated in a commemorative design to celebrate the official enthronement of Japan’s new emperor.

After all, what’s a park picnic without hitting up the local convenience store for hot foods and limited edition canned cocktails? 

 

Even though it was evening, or perhaps it was a national holiday, families, couples, and groups of college students filled Odori Park that night. It was truly a night to remember!

Day 4 — Salmon Park Chitose, Chitose


On our final fall day in Hokkaido, Miss M. and I met up with Tina, YouTube mom and 20 year resident of Hokkaido. Originally from Slovakia, Tina is an ambassador to Hokkaido and all it has to offer.

Our first stop was Salmon Park Chitose, a roadside rest area complete with a farmer’s market, aquarium on the tranquil banks of the Chitose River. 

Perring over the bridge, we saw tons of salmon who had completed the return journey to their birthplace. According to Tina,  the salmon here would not be as tasty as they are scarred and injured from their journey. Still, I’d never seen truly wild salmon, and it was a terrific sight!

After a calming riverbank stroll, Miss M. and I headed to Tina’s house to chat until it was time to return to Tokyo.

I’m so grateful I could spend my last day exploring a bit of Chitose City with Tina. She’s such an inspiration to me as mother and Japan expat.

 

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Fall in Hokkaido was wonderful, but if you missed it, there’s still scenic fun to be had in early winter: Weekend In Hokkaido: Sapporo, Otaru, And Asahiyama Zoo

Fall in Hokkaido — Exploring Otaru, Sapporo and Chitose

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