Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Moerenuma Koen - Sapporo Hokkaido

Moerenuma Park was designed by Isamu Noguchi, he basically turned the rubbish dumping area into a nice park. The park is about a 15-20 min bus ride from Sapporo with a nice restaurant, but people mainly visit for the natural surroundings, the playgrounds are very uniquely designed and the kids will love it. You can also rent bicycles and ride around, visit the pyramid glass house and other various attractions. 

A worthwhile place to visit, especially if you got kids, but plenty of things for adults. Perfect place for picnics or you can buy bentos or snacks there. 

Enjoy the photos and drop a comment..

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lake Toyako - Sapporo, Hokkaido

We went on a 1 night family trip to Lake Toyako. Toya is about an hour and a half from Sapporo by train, we went by train but you can probably get a coach bus cheaper, nice and easy trip with beautiful scenery along the way. Ocean on the left and mountains on the right, comfortable trains and very fast. Once arrived in Toya it's a short trip by local bus to Toya Onsen. 

Now for those who don't know, lake Toya is a result of live volcanoes where it's filled up and now a lake. It's one of the deepest lakes in Japan and it doesn't freeze in winter because of its depth. The volcanoes are still live and you can see the heat steam coming up when your on the mountain. 

The town is very small and hardly anyone on he streets, but there are bus loads of Chinese and Korean tourists. The hotels are quiet old, don't have too high expectations from the websites as they all look very nice. The service is very friendly and we enjoy the local company, it's not like 5 star hotels but warm service.

We caught a taxi up to the rope way to Mt Usu, it's about 1700 yen as not that frequent bus services around. Once up top of Mt Usu the view is spectacular, the lake and if weather permits you can see Yotesan, you could mistaken it for Mt Fuji, maybe Hokkaido version. There is a few walking tracks up top and you can see the volcano is very much live but of course safe. At night there are many local restaurants which are very nice if you take a walk. Once back in hotel you can enjoy the baths till late.

Next morning it's back in the bath before we hop on the cruise on the lake for some more spectacular view. By the way all the Hotels are more or less in front of the lake with lake views.

After the cruise we decided to go and see the remains of the last volcano, it's a walking track half way of the bus trip back to the train station. I must say it was very interesting as they have just left the houses, roads and whatever was affected by the earthquake volcano. The mountain is very much alive and you can see all the steam coming up, there are also before and after photos to give you some idea of what it was like.

It was a nice short trip and very pleasant with all the nice natural scenery. Enjoy the photos...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Smoking In Restaurants

One of the things Japan has been very slow in adopting, is smoking in restaurants. While Japanese people are very friendly and super considerate of other people around them, smoking in restaurants is a whole new element. Most restaurants are divided into non smoking and smoking but you can still smell it pretty bad, better restaurants have smoking rooms or good ventilation which are nicer. 

It takes a bit for foreigners to get accustomed to especially if you are a non smoker or have children. What surprises and angers me the most is sometimes people light up around us when there are kids, or sometimes you see a whole family with young kids dinning in smoking areas/rooms because their parents smokes. These rooms you can sometimes see are just so smokey and I can't comprehend how the parents can put their children through that, it's like smoking in the car with your windows closed with your kids in the car.

I mean don't get me wrong, there has been improvements in this area as well. I have been living and coming to Japan for past 20 years and still remember the Japanese airlines being one of the last to allow smoking up the back of planes. A lot of public areas prohibits smoking and Japanese people are very law abiding people, in fact they excel in this area.

It's a somewhat a touchy subject depending on if you're a smoker or not, some people feel very strongly about it so I guess there is no right or wrong. Being a non smoking family with kids we tend to take a bit more notice for our daughters health sake.

Like I said, it's no right or wrong but feel free to comment if you have an opinion on this, certainly would like to hear your views...