Winter in Hokkaido Part 2 – Ramen Yokocho & Susukino Ice Festival

(This post is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, click here.)

From the Winter Festival in Odori Park, it was quite a long distance to walk back to our hotel. On the way the were many more opportunities to take photos of the sculptures.

(this one is a slide for children sponsored by… a cup noodle manufacturer)

(spotted this nice church facing Odori Park)

On the way back, we stopped by a large 100 Yen shop to buy some face masks. There are many of these shops scattered across the city, including Daiso. JPY 100 is less than RM 4, much cheaper than Daiso here now selling at RM 5.60.

(finally much better with face masks!)

We finally reach our hotel! We are staying a few nights at the Hotel APA Sapporo Susukino Ekinishi, and we were very pleased with the room. It is quite large, can easily fit a queen size bed and two singles. There is even a space for seating, where we had breakfast every morning.

We were all so tired from the long flight and walking we literally fell onto our beds (just after taking the photos) and fell asleep for 2 hours. After waking up at about 5pm, Sapporo was getting dark already. Time to go out for dinner. For dinner, we are going to Ramen Yokocho, a famous strip of ramen shops about 4 blocks from my hotel.

On the way, we saw this building with my name! Bear is a very common motif in Hokkaido, sort of their unofficial mascot, since when the pioneers first came to this island, they encountered many wild bears here. There are still a few bears around, which we will encounter later in our trip. Meanwhile, this family of 4 bears are hungry and looking for ramen.

This is Ramen Yokocho. It is also known as Ramen Alley. It is a short alley between two buildings where are about 20 shops selling different kinds of ramen. Some of these shops have been around since 1951.

All the shops are extremely small. They usally have counter seating and a handful of tables. And they all sell different interpretations of the Hokkaido-style ramen.

Don’t worry if you don’t speak Japanese. Just point to the menu and gesture.

Oooh look! Another of my cousins!

Finally after looking at all the shops, we decided to go with the first shop at the entrance, recommended by Anthony Bourdain.

(you can see how small the shop is)

(Honestly, I’m not really that a big fan of this guy)

This was our ramen. We order the local speciality, butter and corn ramen, and some gyoza to go with it. The local ramen has a clear soup, not like the thick pork broth popular in Tokyo or Kyoto. And butter in your soup, well it sounds weird, but it tastes quite good. But all in all, I still prefer the thicker version of ramen in Kyoto.

After dinner, time to go to the Susukino Ice Festival. This festival is one of the 3 components of the Sapporo Winter Festival. The bigger one in Odori Park is mainly made from snow, this one is for ice sculptures.

(Susukino is also an upmarket red-light district, hence the signs at the back)

(This sifu was showing the crowd how to carve the ice)

(they made a slide out of ice)

This ice festival here in Susukino is much smaller than the main festival in Odori Park, but there are many sculptures to see and many of them very beautiful.

(saw this little bookstore along the way)

Next – Ishiya Koibito Chocolate Factory

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