Day 3: Sapporo

Woke up early again and had our complimentary breakfast. The hotel prides itself on providing fresh local produce for breakfast. We had potato and leek soup with salmon and a side of crusty bread. All washed down with the smallest juice boxes we've even encountered.

Once fed and watered, we made our way down to the Sapporo equivalent of the city circle tram stop. It only cost ¥200 for a single trip to Mt Moiwa Ropeway. Such a beautiful contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city. The ropeway is surrounded by deciduous trees with some showing their autumn colours.

The cable car runs up to the top of Moiwa-san and provides one of the ‘top three best views in japan’ as per our sightseeing map. The view was pretty damn good even if rain threatened to minimise it!

There were many walking tracks surrounding the 531m summit and all the hikers had small bells dangling from their bags because of possible bears. There was a picnic area where hikers would sit and eat onigiri underneath yellowing Japanese maples whilst overlooking the mountainous ranges. It was truly peaceful.

We then descended back to the city and we were getting hungry. Of course, we headed to 7/11 as the food is of a very high quality and easily accessible. We were going to eat whilst on the tram into Sapporo city centre but the tram was so packed we had to stand. The central section of Sapporo has Odori Park which is a long stretch of gardens and water fountains. In winter, it becomes the Sapporo Ice festival location.

My lunch consisted of wonderful onigiri rice balls (salmon roe, sour plum and chicken) and Jacinta had beef with rice (she states it was delicious). There was a charred sweet corn stall so buttery sweet corn topped off the meal!

After walking through the park it was decided to get the closest subway train to Sapporo Beer Museum. I thought that it would be common sense to have the famous beer museum/factory close to a train station but I was proven very wrong. Little to no signage in adjacent streets so it was only by chance that I saw the Sapporo red star on a chimney that I knew we were heading in a roundabout way there. For free, we went through the museum and learnt about how Sapporo beer came to be. It was initially meant to be built in Tokyo but due to Tokyo weather not being conducive to beer manufacturing and over fermentation, it was decided to have the factory in Hokkaido. After our self guided tour, we had to get a tasting paddle! There were three types of beer: Classic, Black Label (special selected ingredients) and Kaitakushi made from the original recipe of the 1880's. I preferred the classic whereas Jacinta liked the mild flavours of the Black Label. Everywhere in Japan there are places to get a souvenir stamp - I had bought a plain book back in Melbourne to put stamps in but it was too bulky. Now I have stamps in my Lonely Planet Japan book and on loose leaf paper. Jacinta and I got our stamps at the desk before departing the museum.

On our walk back to the train station, it was already becoming dark at 3-3.30pm. We were going to head to the botanical gardens but opted to hold off until tomorrow and head to the park close to the hotel instead. Nakajima Park has a lake in the middle that you walk around. One section has a 50m (approx) walkway with a canopy of wisteria. Such a shame it isn't in bloom! It had just clicked over to 5pm which meant happy hour at the hotel and free wine. Unfortunately it wasn't much to get excited about but it was still free wine.

Dinner time had us scratching our heads for options. Then we remembered that we had both read about the lamb dish called ‘Genghis Khan’ or Jingisukan. It is rumoured to be named this because, in prewar Japan, lamb was widely thought to be the meat of choice for Mongolian soldiers and it is cooked on a convex metal grill symbolising the soldiers helmets that they supposedly cooked their food on. This elderly lady cooked our vegetables on the grill whilst placing a cube of lamb fat at the crest so our sliced lamb wouldn't stick. Once the lamb was cooked to our liking, it is transferred onto a little dish where minced garlic, chilli flakes and sesame seeds are added before dunking the meat into a soy based sauce. DELICIOUS even if it did cost ¥4000 for both of us. Whilst leaving, the elderly lady offered us umbrellas as she said (well I presume she said) it was raining outside. We declined.

We walked to central Sapporo again and then the rain started so we changed direction and headed towards the hotel. I got easily distracted and bought takoyaki (octopus) balls and two more fish shaped croissants on the walk back. I ate the lot in bed with pjs on whilst listening to the rain pouring down outside.