Japan Trip 2011 – Jigokudani Park

Previous entry: Sapporo to Nagano


Date: 11 december 2011


That day was our final day in The Land of the Rising Sun. Our flight home would be just before midnight.

Our last mission was to see the Snow monkeys of Nagano. To do that, we needed to catch a bus to the national park.

After some enquiries at the Nagano Railway Station, we found the bus that would take us to Jigokudani Park.

Our bus and its driver, waiting for the time to depart:


Just like other Japanese services, our bus departed on time. It was a nice day:


Our first encounter with a toll house (not that we are paying):


We stopped at the bus stand nearest to our park.

Walking towards te park:


After walking for about 10 minutess, we saw this signage:


After several more minutes, we came to the entrance of the park:


1.6km more to go? Hmm….


There was some snow


Nice, well maintained pine park:


Oh, I  thought  these are the monkeys


Finally, the sight of our destination:

“for human being” to the left, “monkeys” to the right:


If we had all day, we would have explored more of this place:


Hot spring flows here:


More climbing?


This family had been walking at about the same pace as us since at the entrance of the park:


Can you spot a monkey here? (No, not me!):


Busy with the daily routine:


On further walking, we saw the hot water pool:

To be continued..

Japan Trip 2011 – Sapporo to Nagano


Previous entry: The Dancing Cranes


Date: 10th December 2011


It was our second last day in Japan, and we had to go back south. That day we were going to travel down south to Nagano from Sapporo.

The straight line distance calculated by  http://www.globefeed.com/ is 762kms. The travelling distance between the two could be over  880km! We had 4 train rides to take, 2 last ones were on the shinkansen.


Leaving our hotel in Sapporo:


It was still wet and freezing:


It was 6.30am but the streets were not without people:


Inside the station:


Our first train was the Limited Express Super Hokuto, destined for Hakodate:


It was to leave at 7am:


Settling down:


while DH went to get the shot of the front:


The sun was about to come out:


When we arrived at Hakodate at 10:11am, we only had 6 mins to get to the next train, the Super Hakucho from Hakodate to Shin-Aomori. It was easy because the train was alreadty waiting for us on the same platform, but  the other side.

The Super Hakucho:


The view outside:


Yes, this was the train that crossed the straights via a tunnel:


When we were at the deepest part of the tunnel, it was indicated on the screen:


When we emerged from the tunnel (no on the main Honshu island, it was also very white outside:


The 3rd train was the Hayate express (shinkansen) from Shin-Aomori to Omiya. We had to change from the normal train section to the shinkansen train section within NINE minutes. Like other Japanese, we made it just in time (no time to take any photo, though).

Inside the train:


I tried to enjoy the view outside, but most of the time I was asleep (to reduce boredom):


The fastest speed recorded by DH was over 270km/hr, but his shot here showed 268kph:


Finally at Omiya, and suddenly I could feel the crowdedness:


Waiting for our final train, bound for Nagano:


The final train ride was from Omiya to Nagano (where we were to spend aour final night in Japan). By then we were really exhausted and I was sick  bored o f train rides 🙁 , however the view of Mount Fuji cheered me up:


And finally we arrived at Nagano:


Japan Trip 2011 – The Dancing Cranes!!!

Previous entry: Kushiro and The Dancing Cranes


Date: 9th December 2011

Since one of our main missions  of coming to Japan was to come to Kushiro and see these birds:

I dedicate this blog entry to these elegant birds:


In case you have not noticed, it is this crane that adorns the Japan Airlines logo:


Despite the infrequent bus services, we were lucky to be able to come see them:


We had about 30 minutes before the same bus turned back to town, so we used the limited time to enjoy watching them birds:






These birds are loyal to their partners:


More of them on the far out field:


As if they knew they had visitors from faraway land, they didn’t stop putting the “show” for us:


They sure landed elegantly too:


Some showed a bit of the “dancing” moves:


Before we knew it, it was almost time for the bus to come back, so we went to the nearby bus-stop. When we looked back at the cranes:


When I get excited or cold, or both, I feel like jumping. I did there too:


Soon our bus arrived (yeah, it was the same bus we took earlier, with the same driver. He smiled at us 🙂 . I bet he is so used to see travellers like us who came briefly to see the cranes. ):

We couldn’t stay longer or otherwise we would miss our last train back to Sapporo.

(Lesson learnt: if you have the time, make sure you spend at least one night at Kushiro, then you will get to see more and would not have to hurry like us)


When we arrived back in town, it was almost dusk:


I felt a tinge of sadness when we saw these “cranes” bidding us farewell at the railway station:


I don’t think I will ever get the chance the come back to this place… 🙁


These still pictures could not do justice, so for the first time on this blog site, I am putting this video for you to enjoy.

The part about the birds starts at about 1:30min mark.

Japan Trip 2011 – Kushiro and the Dancing Cranes

Previous post: Kushiro, Here I Come!

Date: 9th December 2011

We came to see the famous cranes but after some enquiries at the Bud Terminal, we found out that it was not possible to make a day trip to Akan International Crane Centre. We had to settle for a quick trip to a nearby village, Tsurui-mura Tancho Village instead, but the bus going there would only arrive in about 90 minutes’ time. We then decided to have a quick walk-about down town.

We came out of the Kushiro Railway Station and walked straight out, until we came across a bridge. We walked on the bridge, and looked to our left:


Ahead of us there’s a park (we didn’t get that near) where from a distance we could see a gigantic clock:


We had less than 2 hours to spend before the bus to the area where the dancing cranes couls be seen was due.


It was sunny  yet freezing:


we looked back and saw the MOO complex (in light brown) and a huge arboretum (glass house):


The bridge was adorned with statues of some local (but sexy) ladies like this one:


Near MOO centre/complex:


Once inside then I realised that it is an indoor “fisherman wharf” selling among other things sea products:


The upper floor has one corner that looks like “community centre”, where I was greeted by these origami cranes:


Look at the “Please Help Yourself” notice (in green) above.  I looked at 2 of them

but only took one home.


We walked nextr door into the arboretum:

It was much warmer there!


We didn’t have much time, so we walked around until we came across an eating place that looked decent. WE went in and ordered lunch. As usual mine would be tempura set (very unambitious, I know..):


A quick look at the street on our way back to the Railway Station, or rather, to the  nearbybus terminal:


Even these covers were adorned with cranes:


Finally our bus came, and left Kushiro.


Our destination was The Tsurui-mura Tancho (Crane) Village.  Here’s one of the view along the way (most part of the journey was pretty like this):


After about 45b minutes leaving the bus terminal, we finally arrived at our destination:


Some incomprehensive signages nearby:


But hey, we finally saw the birds:


Next: The Dancing Cranes


Japan Trip 2011 – Kushiro, here I Come!


Previous entry:


Date: 9th December 2011


Do you know where Kushiro is? Here’s a map from http://www.i-love-china.net/maps-of-japan/


Kushiro is in the Northern island of Hokkaido, to the east of Sapporo. You may want to read here for more information on Kushiro.

We didn’t have much time left, so we were making a day trip to Kushiro, from Sapporo!

We went to Sapporo Railway station early in the morning to catch our train. While waiting, we saw something interesting on the wall:


Examples of WII characters, with their owners, and how much they really resemble their owners!!


This is our train, Limited Express Super Ozora:


Even the train has something unique in front – it’s the dancing cranes of Kushiro!


The cranes are as much an icon of Japan as Kinomo, Mount Fuji and sushi, and that’s the reason why we were heading to Kushiro 🙂  :


The view outside was initially gloomy:


Later the sun decided to shine:


Beautiful scenery to look at:


but I wouldn’t want to live here!


Even the river was partially frozen, and it was only early December!


Somewhere near a station, the train slowed down and DH caught this shot:


Checking the time on my phone:


Very spacious (and almost empty) coach, for sure:


After over more than 250km (250km is the distance in a straight line between Sapporo and Kushiro) later we finally arrived at Kushiro;


Next: Kushiro and the Dancing Cranes


Japan Trip 2011 – White Otaru Part II

Previous post: White Otaru Part I


Date: 8th December 2011

Despite the gloomy and snowy weather, the place was not short of visitors!


Waiting to cross the road:


Some forzen “felines”:


Inside the Otaru Glass Showroom:


The sky began to clear up:


but still very gloomy on the other side:


These gift boxes looked attractive to me at that time:


We later decided to have lunch at this place:


As usual DH enjoyed his raw seafood:


while i ordered grilled squid, which DH helped to finish (I was not really hungry, because just before the meal i took a few of the mamool cookies that I took with me):


I am never a fan of Japanese food (with the exception of teppanyaki and tempura). I mean, grilled plain squid dipped in soy sauce (with maybe some wasabe)? Nothing worth shouting 🙁 .


When we came out from the restaurant, the sky was very clear:


Saw a miserable (fatso) Snowman:


If earlier it was snowing so heavily that we skipped the canal, this time we had all the time to enjoy the beautiful view:


As a friend puts it, one side old, one side modern 🙂


sunny but still very cold, just look at the temperature indicated below the clock, 0.9C!


While strolling and looking around, I was “greeted” by a friendly resident 🙂 :


We had a walk along the canal. When we looked back, it was just as beautiful as before:


It was still a long walk back to the railway station (just at the foot of the hill:


It must be convenient for locals to just order a pizza delivery if it snows again:


Even Colonel Sanders had a Santa Claus greeting patrons at the door of his outlet:


It was getting darker:


At the train platform:


Soon we were on the train. We could see it was still snowing somewhere in the horizon:


We retired early that night because we were going to have a long day the following morning 🙂 .


Next: Sapporo-Kushiro

Japan Trip 2011 – White Otaru Part I

Previous entry: Sapporo White Illumination Part III


Date: 8th December 2011

We left Sapporo Station that morning, heading towards Otaru, once the main port that served Sapporo.

The weather forecast that day said that there was a good chance of snow. We didn’t have to leave Sapporo far to see it come true:


This is the heaviest snow I’ve ever experienced in my life!


Otaru Station:


Just outside of the station:


We wanted to see the old canal, so we kept on walking in the snow:


I came across an enclosed mall along the way, so I went in briefly to warm myself up a bit:


But soon we had to continue walking:


The freshly fallen snow:


When I feel cold, I always feel like jumping, and the same thing happened that morning 🙂 :

If you look carefully you can see the old railway track above (mostly covered with snow). The 2 people were shooting some pix, so I guess it must have been a famous old track then..


For a working day, the main street was pretty deserted, so I decided to jump again:


I was asking DH if we really wanted to proceed to where we were heading, looking at the dark sky ahead of us:


DH said we had all the time to spare, so we might as well walk around…


We came across a rickshaw:


On our left is the old canal and warehouses:


It was freezing cold, so I put on the hood:

Behind me were tour buses, dropping off tourists near the canal.


We kept on walking, and at one point we came across a shop that sells the famous crabs:


We also saw a cute tram that we wished we could take a ride in, but we didn’t speak the language, so we didn’t know how to ask, so gave away the idea:


I couldn’t resist a photo shoot in front of a shop that sells all sorts and sizes of bears:


This place must be a popular site, with the Musical box meseum behind me:


With the snow covering the roads, many  people tourists  forgot that they were standing on the main street!


I rested for a while before we continued to explore the area…


Next: White Omaru Part II