Two days before our scheduled departure from Osaka, Ben misplaced his passport. We were able to schedule an emergency appointment at the United States Consulate in Osaka to get a new passport, but we ended up missing our flight up north Hokkaido. Last minute flights to CTS from KIX were prohibitively expensive, so we ended up taking the Shinkansen to Tokyo after the passport appointment. Flights from NRT were substantially cheaper, so I used some extra AsiaMiles to book a one night stay at Hilton Narita, and we flew to CTS the following afternoon.

Sapporo, Japan

The flight to CTS was a turbulent one, and the weather was pretty gloomy the evening we arrived. We didn’t end up doing much that evening. After checking in to our Airbnb in Sapporo, we ordered Pizza Hut and went to bed early. I know… We ate Pizza Hut in Japan. We were craving pizza…

The following morning, we visited the Sapporo Beer Museum.

We signed up for the premium tour for ¥500. The tour was given in Japanese, but there were English handouts.

At the end of the tour, we had a beer tasting featuring Sapporo Black Label and another blend specifically created for the tour.

Our next stop was the famous Odori Park. Here’s a photo of the Sapporo TV Tower from Odori Park.

Later in the afternoon, we took the Sapporo Streetcar to Mt. Moiwa.

Here are two photos from the ropeway car up to Mt. Moiwa’s observation deck. I didn’t take any photos at the top because there was nothing but fog up there… How sad.

After a failed outing to Mt. Moiwa, we headed back into the city for dinner.

Furano, Japan

The weather finally cleared up the next day, so we took a daytrip to Farm Tomita in Furano, Japan. Farm Tomita is famous for its lavender flower fields. The flowers typically go into full bloom in mid-July, but we were able to see some early bloomers.

The melon smoothie at Tomita Melon House was excellent.

Lavender Farm Station is one of the stops on the Norokko, a seasonal train that runs from late-June through mid-October. The Norokko only makes a few round trips per day. We weren’t able to catch the Norokko going to Farm Tomita, so we made sure to catch it on the way home.

Here’s the view from Lavender Farm Station. I think this train station location might be one of the most beautiful in the world.

Here’s the Norokko Train approaching Lavender Farm Station, and arriving at Biei Station.

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Biei, Japan

Since it was only around 4 p.m. when we got on the train, we decided to make an extra stop in Biei.

Upon arrival, we visited the information desk to figure out where to go and what to do. We didn’t have too much time, so we decided to only see Blue Pond instead of running around like crazy and seeing nothing.

Hakodate, Japan

The following day, we took the Super Kamui to Hakodate. We arrived in the late afternoon, and promptly checked in to our Airbnb. We had less than 24 hours in Hakodate, so there was no time to waste.

The night view from the top of Mt. Hakodate is apparently the third best in the world. Who’s number one and two? I really have no clue.

It was extremely cloudy when we arrived in the afternoon, and we were afraid that this would end up being Mt. Moiwa Round 2. Fortunately, the sky cleared up after dinner, so we quickly made our way over to the Mt. Hakodate Ropeway.

Here’s a photo of the ropeway station at the base of the mountain.

Here’s what we saw at the top. Incredible.

I think everybody needs to experience Mt. Hakodate at least once in their lives. Photos don’t do it justice.

The next morning, we visited the Hakodate Morning Market for a seafood brunch. It was the best seafood I’ve ever had in my life. Period. Also, it was pretty cheap. The whole meal cost around $55 for two people.

No trip to Hokkaido is complete without Hokkaido milk ice cream.

Unfortunately, Hakodate was the last stop on our trip. After a quick round of souvenir shopping at Hakodate’s red brick warehouses, we boarded the Hayabusa Shinkansen bound for Tokyo Station.