Japan Trip 2 – Day 16

Having had a lie in the previous morning, and aware I had to get to Tokyo later on, I was up early early on Friday morning – and determined to make it to the fish market for a sushi breakfast.

I checked out of the hotel, and made my way to the right subway station, and then came out to realise I had little idea where I was actually going after that. I had a map which wasn’t very helpful, but I had no idea what the building looked like, and was faced with this.

So I headed towards a big building with lots of lorries outside, but when I got up to it, thinking it was the fish market, I could only see forklift trucks moving loads of boxes about. So using my best Japanese, I asked one man where the building I was looking for was. He pointed me in the right direction, and then it only took asking another two people after that before I finally arrived at the right spot. It was covered in scaffolding, so even if it had the name of the building on the front, it wouldn’t have helped.

I had a quick look around the market, and caught sight of these ferocious looking beasts. They were massive!

Eventually I found what I was looking for – one of two sushi places in the market.

I sat down at the bench, and was handed a tiny clipboard with lots of Japanese writing on it. The idea was that you marked the sushi you wanted and handed it to the chef. But I couldn’t read the kanji. So with a brilliant phrase book that I’ve got (which includes pictures) I managed to ask the chef for what I wanted – Salmon roe, salmon, mackerel, tuna and egg.

It was really cool watching the chef prepare the sushi right in front of me, using fish (which presumably) was about as fresh as you could get. It was also good to see how he made sushi rolls using a mat as well, as I never seem to get that quite right.

After stuffing my face I paid up (about £11 for eight bits of sushi) and got a souvenir photo of the chef:

Nicely fed, I made my way to the next destination on my Sapporo sight-seeing list. The Shiroi Koibito Park. It’s a chocolate making factory, but what it’s really famous for is making biscuits, with a thin layer of white chocolate in between.

That’s the outside. It was a bit… weird to be honest. Outside, in the gardens of the place were a whole load of large empty dolls houses. Inside, after paying a small admission fee and getting a free sample, I headed on to the tour. A lot of it was display cases of old chocolate boxes from Europe, chocolate advertisements, showing how they made chocolate in England in the old days, and bizarrely, a fountain made by Royal Doulton.

By far and away the most interesting part was a window overlooking the actual factory where they make the biscuits. I couldn’t help wondering what it must have been like to stand there watching biscuits all day, with lots of models staring down at you from the walls.

I made my way to the Cookie Factory part of the tour where you can pay to make your own biscuits and ice them. That took about an hour, and I was short of time, so I decided just to ice an already prepared biscuit. I wouldn’t recommend it to be honest. You’re given a couple of icing pens and left to it. As the biscuit lasts a week I thought I would put Mum, Dad, my sister’s name and my name on it. Hilariously though as you can see below, the pen ran out after Mum and Dad.

What would have been much better is that you could get your face put on a commemorative biscuit tin. If I’d had the sense I would have done that.

I headed back in to town, and taking the easy option, headed to McDonald’s for lunch. This time I tried their Chicken Hallowe’en Burger, which inexplicably came with a brie sauce. And lots of garlic. It was pretty tasty though!

By now I was running out of time, and had to get to the airport, so on my way back to pick up my luggage I headed first to Odori Park for a quick snap of the TV tower. Odori’s a big park which runs right up the middle of Sapporo.

Then, and really only because the man in the Tourist Information Centre seemed keen I do it, I headed to the Sapporo Clock Tower.

It’s basically a very old clock that was made in America and shipped out to Sapporo. In the building that houses it, there’s some displays about Sapporo’s history, and also one of the nicest people I have ever met. He was so friendly and enthusiastic about the clock 🙂 He told me excitedly that it takes a person three hours every day to wind up the weights that make the pendulum swing. I took his picture.

After that, I picked up my bags, and headed to Sapporo Station to catch a train to the airport. The train was a nightmare. From the moment I got on. On Japanese trains, each two seats are stuck together, and you can swivel them around so you can face any direction you want. Which is pretty neat! Except when two old ladies are trying to turn chairs around at the end of the carriage and are a) stopping anyone getting on the train and b) thus taking up the only luggage space which would have been behind their seats.

So I spent the 40 minutes or so in a seat with my legs akimbo either side of my suitcase. Not very comfy or spacious.

If you’re ever departing from , make sure you get there in loads of time. I only had about an hour, and it has got to be 80% shops and 20% airport. It was like an enormous shopping mall with incredible restaurants – and some kind of chocolate place, but I’d had my fill of that kind of activity for the day. But they had some brilliant looking souvenirs in the shops.

After an uneventful flight, I finally reached the last destination of my trip – Tokyo. It wasn’t too tricky getting to my hotel, but lugging my suitcase up and down what seemed like hundreds of flights of stairs in the subway stations in rush hour wasn’t brilliant. After checking in I headed to the bar for (I thought anyway) a well deserved glass of wine.