Saturday, 29 November 2014

Japan Trip (Hokkaido): Noboribetsu


Jigokudani or Hell Valley is a volcano region which displays hot steam vents, sulfurous steam, and other volcanic activities. From Jigokudani, there are many walking trails which you can take by following the clearly labelled signs along the trails. The trails bring you to a river where you can have a natural foot bath or another trail which you can hike to the blue pond.

If you are driving to Jigokudani, just enter the phone number: 0143843311 and the GPS will bring you there. Do note that the car parks outside require a parking fee of 400 yen, but the admission to Jigokudani is totally free.

Other modes of transport to Jigokudani include:
15 min ride by Donan Bus from JR Noboribetsu Station;
1 hour bus "Kosoku Airport" from New Chitose Airport;
1 hour 40 mins by Donan Bus from Sapporo Station Bus Terminal

Once we were near Jigokudani, we could smell Sulphur in the air.

Following this sign on a trail brought us to the hot spring vent which has fences around it.

The smell of sulphur got really strong when we were near the vent. The hot spring vent boils and bubbles every few minutes. There were many tourists gathering round the vent waiting for it to bubble before the crowd dispersed. We waited for a few minutes and finally saw the hot spring bubbles. I was covering my nose while waiting though, as I couldn't stand the smell.

Waiting for the hot spring to boil
Some facts about the hot spring. The temperature is around 80 degrees celsius but there will be intermittent geysers.
It's bubbling furiously! It's hard to take a picture of it with the smoke.
Following the trails, we climbed up the steep slopes and reached the blue pond after a good 20 mins

There are many walking trails around Jigokudani, though some trails may be close in winter. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes!

Oh! Not forgetting the stamp chops at Jigokudani Tourist Centre.

Fresh Seafood - Onsenichiba

This gotta be one of our highlight of the things we ate in Japan! I highly recommend this place and you must try it if you are in Noboribetsu! It is just 5 min walk from the entrance of Jigokudani to the shops street and you will be able to see this!

There are fresh seafood in the shop and they grilled it in front of you!

We ordered lots of seafood for our dinner and that was so satisfying!

Super fresh and big piece salmon sashimi!
Juicy and big oyster!
My favourite Uni!! So fresh and yummy!
A whole big piece of squid! It's so fresh and the meat was tender.
OMG! The big, juicy and sweet scallop!
Sooo sooo delicious!
This was a surprise to us! Didn't know mackerel can be grilled to such perfection! The chef grilled it with his heart and effort. He first used aluminium foil to cover it. While grilling, he kept checking on how cooked was the fish by using a needle to poke the fish and then checked the temperature of the needle. We were touched by his meticulous when preparing this dish for us. His effort did pay off! The meat was so soft and juicy. Don't forget to eat it with the minced radish. They were a perfect match! After that, I couldn't find such nice grilled fish anywhere! I miss it!
The best has yet to come. Can you guess how much we spent for all the above that we ordered? Only 6800 yen!! I highly highly recommend Onsenichiba!

There are 3 theme parks which you can explore around Nobosibetsu if you have the time:
Marine Park Nixe
Address: 1 Chome-22 Noboribetsuhigashicho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido Prefecture 059-0464, Japan
Tel phone: +81 0143833800
Admission fee: 2400 yen for adult

Date Jidaimura
Address: 53-1 Nakanoboribetsucho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido Prefecture, 059-0463, Japan
Tel phone: +81 0143833311
Admission fee: 2900 yen for adult

Bear Park
Address: 224 Noboribetsu-Onsen-cho, Noboribetsu Onsen, Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Hokkaido, 059-0551, Japan
Tel phone: +81 0143842225
Admission fee: 2520 yen for adult.

If you plan to go to 2 of the above theme parks, then you can get the discount ticket which is available at the ticketing office of any of the theme parks. The discount ticket cost 3300 yen for an adult to visit 2 of the above theme parks.

We spent our night at Lake Toya instead of Noboribetsu. A 45 mins drive brought us to Lake Toya!

Japan Trip (Hokkaido): Furano

Woohoo! Clear skies today and we hoped there're still colourful flower plains for us to see in Furano after seeing many 'botak' trees for the past few days.

Farm Tomita

Along the road, we saw dried lavender and patches of grassland without any flowers. We were already in despair until we reached Farm Tomita! There's still an area with flowers in various colours in October!

We walked to the perfume house in Farm Tomita and saw how they made perfume and packaged them into small bottles. The shop in the perfume house sells souvenirs, perfume, soap, cream etc. made of lavender.

Walked further into the perfume house, we went up the stairs to the second level and managed to get a good view there.

Not forgetting there're also stamp chops in Farm Tomita!

We also tried some lavender-flavoured food sold in the cafes in Farm Tomita.

Lavender Ice Cream. Hmmm. It felt like I'm eating ice cream with lavender essential oil. LOL!
Lavender cheesecake and lavender calpis. Hmmm.. The taste? It's just like adding lavender essential oil to the cheesecake and the calpis. LOL. The colour was pretty though.
I prefer the melon ice cream. It tasted much nicer.

And a photo with hubby before we leave the place!

Ningle Terrace

Ningle Terrace was located in the garden next to New Furano Prince Hotel. There were many wooden huts selling various handicrafts. In some huts, the craftsmen were making the handicraft on the spot. Handicrafts such as kaleidoscopes, crystals, ornaments, accessories etc. were sold here.

Ningle Terrace lights up when the sky turned dark, and it's quite romantic.

Dinner for the night - Raw Wagyu Beef Bowl

We had a raw wagyu beef bowl for our dinner. First time tried raw wagyu beef bowl. We were told to stir the wasabi in the soy sauce and then pour the mixture onto the meat in the bowl. Oh!! The meat just melted in my mouth!

Furano Cheese Factory

They sold cheese cake, milk, Furano wine, pizza, they also have some cheese for tasting. The special one was the black color cheese, squid ink cheese, which was erm.. not quite to my liking.

The milk was not as fragrant and tasty as we thought it would be. Maybe we set our standard too high?
This cheesecake was really delicious. It's smooth, soft and tasted really good. A small spoon was provided in the packing so it's easy to eat and won't dirty our hands.
The pizza was good! The crust was crispy and the cheese was fragrant! It was comparable to the standard of pizza in Italy!
On the second floor of the cheese factory, there's a Cheese of the World map, and Furano is the only place that make cheese in Asia!

There were also displays at the second floor which told us where to eat cheese fondue.

We chose to go Furano Wine Factory to have a look and have our lunch there.

Furano Wine Factory

The Furano Wine Factory was located on a little hill and the views up there was quite pretty.

We had our lunch at the Restaurant Winehouse. I ordered the cheese fondue in bread set with a glass of white wine. The cheese was quite nice, but we still preferred those cheese fondue in pot over fire, like the ones we had in Switzerland.

Hubby ordered a steak with rice. The sauce was so delicious, it's like western style Teriyaki sauce?! The steak was tender and coupled with the fried onions, it tasted great!

 Bought a bottle of Furano wine before we left Furano =)

Next up, Noboribetsu!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Japan Trip (Hokkaido): Love Hotel Experience in Asahikawa

Love Hotel in Japan was quite an interesting experience. If you just need a room to stay for the night, no harm trying Love Hotel as the price is quite reasonable. However, during the day, Love Hotel charges by hourly rate.

The only troublesome thing is you cannot leave the room without paying and you cannot leave your luggage in the hotel. We had a rental car, so we left our luggage in the car and brought the necessary stuff that we needed to the hotel.

Outside each Love Hotel, there's a board indicating the price.

We parked our car in the Love Hotel car park, even the car park provided privacy for the guests by having curtains for each parking lot.

There's no receptionist at the reception counter, everything's automated. When we walked into the Love Hotel, we saw a panel with screens showing the available rooms.

The panel was touch-screen. We chose the room number we wanted, and proceeded to the room. The room will be unlocked once it's chosen. Do remember to bring all your stuff in when you enter the room because once you close the door, it will be locked.

There's this machine in the room just beside the door for you to make payment. After you have made the payment, the door will then be unlocked. Payment can be made using using cash (notes and coins accepted), or cards.

We loved the facilities in the room!

The room was big and spacious, and there's mood lighting control. The bed was so comfortable too! And err.. a handheld massager was provided in the room.

There's a large flat screen TV with Karaoke system! But the songs were mostly in Japanese, there were only a few English songs. The room's soundproof so dun have to worry about disturbing the neighbours if you wanna sing KTV in the middle of the night! Lol. Of course, there're a few adult channels available for free.

The toilet provided all the stuff required to wash up. Not only body wash, shampoo and conditioner were provided, make up remover, facial foam, face toner and moisturizer, shaver, shaver cream and even panty liner were all provided as well!

They have a Jaccuzzi tub with a TV in front of it. Shiok!

And an elaborated bidet system with flushing sound effect! Lol.. Initially I didn't know what's the flushing sound effect for but after discussing with hubby, I think it's to cover the sound if the "business" you're doing in the toilet is too loud. LOL!

We checked in at 9 pm and checked out the next morning at 11 am, and used the machine to make the payment.

There're hot and cold drinks free for guests to drink at the reception area.

Hee, we will want to stay in Love Hotel again the next time we visit Japan!