Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Winter Holiday in Hokkaido in December 2011 - Section 2

Welcome to the second sector of my recent winter vacation in Hokkaido, Japan in December 2011. In this section, I shall explain to you my myriad train journeys to New Chitose Airport, Obihiro, and the longest limited express train journey I have ever taken, which was to Wakkanai, Japan's northernmost city.

Part 1 ~ The Train Journey to New Chitose Airport (a.k.a. Chitose 1)


After getting a good night's sleep the night before, I woke up at 6.25 a.m. on Friday (9 December) to see the scenic view of the Sea of Japan from my room early in the morning. The view of the Sea of Japan was very pretty, especially during sunrise. My parents and brother woke up just before 9 o' clock.

We all had a nice shower before changing into our going out clothes to go out for lunch. Most parts of the city of Otaru was covered in snow by the time we went out. We then drove around the city of Otaru before stopping at a cafe called Victoria Station for lunch. It has pretty good meat dishes served on hot plates. We had a sumptuous meal there.


The view of the Sea of Japan in the early morning hours taken from my hotel room

A view of the area covered in snow taken from the hotel. The JR Hakodate Main Line can be seen in the background

The grand entrance hall of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru in the late winter morning hours

The exterior of the Victoria Station Restaurant in winter

The interior of the Victoria Station Restaurant

The Grand Menu of the Victoria Station Restaurant Otaru

My steak meal served on a hot plate

After a sumptuous meal at Victoria Station Restaurant, we headed to a nearby fish market to have some seafood treats. Otaru has a fish market which sells a variety of freshly caught seafood. There is restaurant on the second floor. They cook between 10.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m., and are closed on Sundays and national holidays.

At the fish market, we ordered three scallops, three oysters, and one sea urchin meat. They were served to us in the restaurant on the second floor. The scallops were the best part of the light meal as they were very nice and chewy to consume.

The exterior of the fish market in Otaru

Some freshly caught fishes from the sea available for sale at the fish market

The interior of the restaurant above the seafood market

The plate of sea urchin

A platter of 3 oysters, which we ate raw

A platter of 3 perfectly grilled scallops

After the sumptuous light snack, we drove up to Sapporo Station to exchange my 2 Green-type Hokkaido Rail Pass Exchange Vouchers. I managed to snap some pictures along the way to Sapporo Station from Otaru.

After we arrived at Sapporo Station, we parked our car just above the station building and headed straight down to the station entrance. I managed to take a picture of the JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo on the way down to the station.

Once we reached the JR Information Desk in Sapporo Station, I exchanged my Hokkaido Rail Pass exchange vouchers for one Free 4-Day Green-type Pass and one Fixed 3-Day Green Car-type Pass.

Our hotel, as seen from our car, on the way to Sapporo Station from Otaru

The JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo as seen from the Stellar Place Multi-storey carpark

The entrance to the JR Information Desk and Ticket Office in Sapporo Station

After exchanging my Hokkaido Rail Pass exchange vouchers at Sapporo Station, I made my train reservations on where to go for the following days under the Free 4-Day pass. They were:

1) Day 1: New Chitose Airport (Part 1) ~ Friday (09 Dec)

2) Day 2: Obihiro ~ Saturday (10 Dec)

3) Day 3: Wakkanai ~ Sunday (11 Dec)

4) Day 4: Left empty until further notice.

Under the Fixed 3-Day pass, the destinations were:

1) Day 1: Hakodate ~ Monday (19 Dec)

2) Day 2: New Chitose Airport (Part 2) ~ Tuesday (20 Dec)

3) Day 3: Kushiro ~ Wednesday (21 Dec)

With these train reservations, my parents knew I would be too fixed on my train schedule. I would also be out for most of the time during our stay in Otaru. This would be like I would be saying, "Look at the time! I need to catch my train!". Nevertheless, I enjoy this a lot, and a trip to Japan is something I never say 'NO' to.

Whenever my family travel to Japan, my train schedule tends to be over-congested without flexibilities. Regardless of missing out on certain activities or missing out new discoveries, it is important that I follow my train timetable and schedules very strictly. It is a holiday tradition that we travel to Japan every year. I would feel guilty and ashamed if I were to break this tradition.


For example, if I take a Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 7 between from Tokyo to Hakata (Fukuoka), the train leaves Tokyo at 6.50 a.m., and I must be at Tokyo Station before 6.00 a.m.. As NOZOMI and MIZUHO trains cannot be used by tourists using the Japan Rail Pass on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines, there is no way I can change my schedule once I have purchased my tickets for those particular trains. I will then have no choice but to follow my timetable strictly.


As you know, what has been done cannot be undone. It's already done, the case is closed, no more conversations about it, whatsoever. Being flexible or choosing flexible-day rail passes may result in confusion and delay to my schedule, which I generally hate, even though I may get an extra day. So, whenever I travel to Japan in future, I would rather choose fixed day rail passes only, so that I can follow my schedule strictly and easily without disruptions.

After I obtained all of my reserved seat train tickets, I went onto the station to catch my train bound for New Chitose Airport. My itinerary for the in-bound journey would be to take the Rapid Airport train No. 142, bound for New Chitose Airport, which would depart Sapporo Station at 2.25 p.m., and arrive at the New Chitose Airport terminal station at 3.01 p.m.. I decided to take some photos while waiting for the train. Some of the pictures included can be found here.

Sapporo Station is the main railway station serving the city of Sapporo, Hokkaido's prefectural capital city. It functions as an interchange station for the Hakodate Main Line and other lines of Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido). It is also connected to Sapporo Municipal Subway Namboku and Toho Lines.

The JR Station is located in Kita-ku, whereas the Subway Station is in Chuo-ku. It is the busiest railway station in Hokkaido and functions as the starting point and terminus for all Limited Express trains operated by JR Hokkaido. The station is known for having the JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo, and several shopping malls within its compound.


Airport (エアポート) is a dedicated rapid train service operating between New Chitose Airport and Sapporo, Otaru, and Asahikawa in Hokkaido, Japan. Many trains continue to and from Otaru or Asahikawa during the daylight and evening hours. Some trains terminate and start from Sapporo. The service's rolling stock currently uses 6-car 721 series, and 5-car 785 series and 789-1000 series EMUs.

Should a Rapid Airport train operate between New Chitose Airport and Asahikawa, they will function as Super Kamui limited express trains between Sapporo and Asahikawa, using 5-car 785 series and 789-1000 series EMUs. Green Car (first class) accommodation is not available on the Rapid Airport and Super Kamui limited express trains. However, reserved seats ("u" seats) are available at a cost of just 300 yen (half the price for children and free for Japan Rail Pass holders). The fastest journey time between Sapporo and New Chitose Airport by train is only 36 minutes.

Since December 2010, my primary and core railway stations in Hokkaido are namely Sapporo and Otaru-chikko. Otaru-chikko Station serves as the starting point of my train journeys in Hokkaido, whereas Sapporo is a major stopover point for me.

The Sapporo Station platforms on Track No. 5

A 785 series EMU train operating on the Limited Express "Suzuran" No. 4 service bound for Muroran at Sapporo

A 789-1000 series EMU train operating on the Limited Express "Super Kamui" No. 21 service bound for Asahikawa at Sapporo. This train functioned as the Rapid "Airport" No. 133 service between New Chitose Airport and Sapporo

A KiHa 283 series DMU train operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 service bound for Kushiro at Sapporo Station Track No. 7

After spending approximately 40 minutes of anticipated waiting on the platform, a 5-car 789 series EMU, operating on the Rapid Airport train No. 142 bound for New Chitose Airport, finally arrived at Sapporo Station at 2.20 p.m. on Track No. 5. The train had arrived from Asahikawa as the Limited Express Super Kamui No. 24 service earlier, and was to undergo a change of direction at Sapporo to head off towards New Chitose Airport.

Once the passengers were allowed to board the train, I went to my assigned seat No. 5A and settled in for the journey to New Chitose Airport. At exactly 2.25 p.m., all the doors were closed, and the Rapid Airport train No. 142 bound for New Chitose Airport finally pulled out of Sapporo Station for a short 36-minute journey to New Chitose Airport.


789系 快速エアポート142号 新千歳空港行き 札幌駅に入線

My reserved seat ("u" seat) No. 5A for the journey to New Chitose Airport


789系 快速エアポート142号 新千歳空港行き 札幌駅から発車とuシート

My reserved seat train ticket to New Chitose Airport from Sapporo

Several housing areas between Shiroishi-ku and Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo

The Sheraton Hotel Sapporo as seen from the train

At Shin-sapporo Station

A snowy plot of land in Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo

A suburban town near the city of Sapporo

Passing by a snowy rice field between Kitahiroshima and Eniwa

Another snowy rice field between Kitahiroshima and Eniwa

The interior of the 789-1000 series EMU reserved seat ("u" seat) carriage from my seat

A field covered in snow near Eniwa

789系 快速エアポート142号 新千歳空港行き 千歳駅から南千歳駅間

Minami-chitose Station view taken from the train

After a short 36-minute train ride from the hustle and bustle of the city of Sapporo, I finally arrived at the New Chitose Airport terminal station at 3.01 p.m. on Track No. 2. Having all my personal belongings with me, I alighted the train and took some more photos before going into the terminal building to do my shopping.

Upon exiting New Chitose Airport Station, I went into the domestic terminal building to shop for certain items. On the levels, there were lots of passengers and shoppers crowding around the shop areas, which made the terminal building look more like a shopping mall rather than an airport. Nevertheless, I continued to walk up to see what good shops were there.

The 5-carriage 789-1000 series EMU, which I took as the Rapid "Airport" train No. 142 New Chitose Airport earlier

The interior of the reserved seat ("u" seat) carriage of the 5-carriage 789-1000 series EMU, which I took as the Rapid "Airport" train No. 142 New Chitose Airport earlier

The main station concourse of New Chitose Airport Station in the mid-afternoon hours

A duty-free shop selling handbags in the first floor of the domestic terminal building

A lineup of shops and restaurants in the first floor of the domestic terminal building

The shopping concourse of the New Chitose Airport Domestic Flight Terminal

The escalators leading to the upper floor shops in the domestic terminal building

The main shopping area in the domestic terminal building as seen from the third floor

Some shops and restaurants in the fourth floor of New Chitose Airport Domestic Flight Terminal

The entrance to the Flyers Airplane Model Shop New Chitose Airport

After looking through the various shops available in the domestic flight terminal building of New Chitose Airport, I finally stumbled upon a popular aircraft model shop by the name of Flyers. It is located on the fourth floor of the domestic terminal building at New Chitose Airport, and specialises in aircraft models and magazines for aviation fans. While at Flyers, I managed to purchase three new aircraft models. They are:

1) ANA - All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-381/ER ANA Official Precision Models Scale 1:500 (NH 50067)

ANA - All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-381/ER ANA Official Precision Models Scale 1:500 (NH 50067)

2) Aeroflot - Russian Airlines Airbus A330-343X Herpa Scale 1:500 (517522)

Aeroflot - Russian Airlines Airbus A330-343X Herpa Scale 1:500 (517522)

3) TAP Portugal Airbus A340-312 Herpa Scale 1:500 (508186)

TAP Portugal Airbus A340-312 Herpa Scale 1:500 (508186)

The entrance to the passageway to the international terminal

On the fourth floor of the domestic flight terminal, I discovered a secret passageway that led to the international flight terminal. I then crossed the passageway into the international terminal. On the way to the international terminal, I discovered a Baskin Robbins ice cream parlour. I was most surprised as I didn't know that they would have a branch in New Chitose Airport. At the parlour, I ordered a couple of scoops of Chocolate-Holic flavour ice cream in a cup, before going to the international flight terminal.

The Baskin Robbins ice cream parlour in New Chitose Airport

My 2 scoops of Chocolate-Holic flavoured ice cream in a cup

Once I reached the international terminal, I decided to buy some things related to a popular Studio Ghibli film called My Neighbor Totoro for my parents as a Christmas gift. I managed to snap some pictures of the international terminal and decided to sit down and rest for a while before heading back to New Chitose Airport.

While at the shop, I asked the shop owner about what the situation in Japan was like after the March 11 Great East Japan-Pacific Ocean Tsunami. He then told me that Fukushima was still possessing serious nuclear radiation threats, and that Tokyo should be unaffected by the radiation and safe to visit.

The shop where I purchased my parents' Christmas presents

The international departure flight lobby in New Chitose Airport

The waiting room in New Chitose Airport Station

After spending approximately 1 hour 30 minutes of shopping around New Chitose Airport, I walked along a passageway that led to the railway station in the domestic terminal, from the international terminal. Once I reached the station, I realised that I had one hour before my train back to Otaru at 6.04 p.m., so I decided to sit down and rest in the waiting room for about half an hour.

At 5.30 p.m., I went down to the station platform for my train back to Otaru at 6.04 p.m.. Between New Chitose Airport and Otaru-chikko Station, I took the Rapid Airport train No. 181 bound for Otaru via Sapporo, which entered the airport at 5.46 p.m.. I took a reserved seat ("u" seat) No. 8A for the journey.

At exactly 6.04 p.m., all the train doors were closed, and the Rapid Airport train No. 181 finally pulled out of New Chitose Airport Station for a journey time of 1 hour 13 minutes towards the suburban port city of Otaru. Here are some pictures and videos that will explain the return sector from New Chitose Airport to Otaru-chikko.

The JR Chitose Line platforms of New Chitose Airport Station

My seat, 8A, for the journey back to Otaru on the Rapid "Airport" No. 181

The rear view of the "u" seat cabin on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 181 bound for Otaru via Sapporo

The front view of the "u" seat cabin on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 181 bound for Otaru via Sapporo

721系 快速エアポート181号 札幌経由小樽行き 新千歳空港から南千歳駅間

The view of the "u" seat cabin on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 181 bound for Otaru via Sapporo from my seat at Minami-chitose Station

At Minami-chitose Station

The entrance to Chitose Outlet Mall Rera

Another view of Chitose Outlet Mall Rera after leaving Minami-chitose

TAP Portugal Airbus A340-312 Herpa Scale 1:500 (508186)

ANA - All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-381/ER ANA Official Precision Models Scale 1:500 (NH 50067)

At Shin-sapporo Station

721系 快速エアポート181号 小樽行き 札幌駅から琴似駅間

The night scenery between Kotoni and Teine Stations

The view of the "u" seat cabin on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 181 bound for Otaru via Sapporo from my seat between Kotoni and Teine Station

Travelling along the coast of the Sea of Japan on the JR Hakodate Line back to Otaru

After a short journey time of 1 hour 08 minutes from New Chitose Airport, I finally arrived back at Otaru-chikko Station at 7.12 p.m. on Track No. 1, just a couple of minutes behind schedule. Having all my belongings with me, I alighted the train and went up towards the main station concourse, where I showed my Hokkaido Rail Pass and exited the station.

The station platform of Otaru-chikko Station

The ticket counter at Otaru-chikko Station

After exiting Otaru-chikko Station, I walked through Wing Bay Otaru in order to reach the Grand Park Hotel Otaru. I had dinner in the hotel room and prepared all my necessary items for my train journey to Obihiro the next day. I went to bed at around slightly past midnight after having a shower.

Part 2 ~ Obihiro

The next morning, which was Saturday (10 December), I woke up at around 10 o' clock and had a quick shower before heading to Otaru-chikko Station on foot. According to my fixed train schedule, I was to travel to Obihiro on this day.

Obihiro is a city located in Tokachi Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan. I have known this city very well since my 14th birthday. Obihiro is well-known for its special pork glazed in sauce over steamed rice, known as Butadon. This dish is very hard to find in other parts of Japan, including Tokyo.

My itinerary for the inbound journey to Obihiro would be to take the Rapid Airport train No. 124 bound for New Chitose Airport, which would depart Otaru-chikko Station at 12.10 p.m., and arrive at Sapporo Station at 12.36 p.m.. Upon arrival at Sapporo Station, I would connect to the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 7 bound for Kushiro, which would depart Sapporo Station at 2.20 p.m., and arrive at Obihiro Station at 4.38 p.m..


Once I entered Otaru-chikko Station, I took a few pictures and a video while waiting for my train to Sapporo. Between Otaru-chikko and Sapporo, I was to catch the Rapid Airport train No. 124 bound for New Chitose Airport, using a "u" seat (reserved seat) car. By the time I got onto the platform, I had about 35 minutes before my train to Sapporo. I then snapped some shots and videos on the platform while waiting.

The station concourse of Otaru-chikko Station

The Otaru-chikko Station platform during the early afternoon hours

721系 快速エアポート120号 新千歳空港行き 小樽築港駅に入線と出発

The station platform of Otaru-chikko Station on a clear winter's afternoon

After spending 30 minutes of waiting on the platform, the Rapid Airport train No. 124 bound for New Chitose Airport finally entered Otaru-chikko at 12.09 p.m. on Track No. 2. I then went to my assigned seat No. 3A and settled in for the 26-minute journey to Sapporo. There is a video of the train departing Otaru-chikko Station at 12.10 p.m. and travelling along the coast of the Sea of Japan.

The Rapid "Airport" train No. 124 bound for New Chitose Airport via Sapporo arriving at Otaru-chikko Station

The reserved seat ("u" seat) interior of the Rapid "Airport" train No. 124 bound for New Chitose Airport via Sapporo on my way to the central city

721系 快速エアポート124号 新千歳空港行き 小樽築港駅から発車と日本海

My reserved seat ticket for the sector between Otaru-chikko and Sapporo

The beautiful view of the Sea of Japan along the JR Hakodate Line, taken while I was on the way to Sapporo from Otaru

After a 26-minute train ride on the JR Hakodate Main Line, I finally arrived at Sapporo Station at 12.36 p.m. on Track No. 6. I had about 1 hour 45 minutes of layover at Sapporo before my next train to Obihiro. When you take the Rapid Airport train between New Chitose Airport and Otaru, the scenery of the Sea of Japan between Teine and Otaru-chikko is very beautiful.

I decided to do my usual train spotting while waiting for my train to Obihiro. According to my Green Car (first class) ticket, I would be taking the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 7 bound for Kushiro for the second sector between Sapporo and Obihiro.

It takes approximately 2 hours 30 minutes to reach Obihiro from Sapporo by train. To allow travellers to access Obihiro from Sapporo by train, JR Hokkaido runs two limited express trains 12 times daily between Sapporo and Obihiro. They are mainly the Super Ozora, which continues to and from Kushiro, and the Super Tokachi.

The Super Ozora (スーパーおおぞら) is a limited express train service operated by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido) operating between Sapporo and Kushiro in Hokkaido, Japan. There are a total of seven trains per day in each direction, with the fastest journey time taking approximately 3 hours 35 minutes.

The service commenced operations on 22 March 1997, and currently uses the KiHa 283 series DMUs as the main rolling stock. Services are normally formed of six or seven cars, but are occasionally lengthened between eight to ten cars on certain days and months. Green Car (first class) accommodation are available on all services, with the exception of trains No. 2 and 13.

The Super Tokachi (スーパーとかち) is a limited express train service operated by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido) between Sapporo and Obihiro in Hokkaido, Japan. There are a total of five services per day in each direction, with the fastest service taking 2 hours 25 minutes. The service currently uses the KiHa 261-1000 series DMUs and KiHa 283 series DMUs as the main rolling stock, and is capable of reaching a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph).

Green Car (first class) accommodation available on all services, with the exception of trains No. 5 and 8. Services are normally formed of four cars (KiHa 261 series DMUs) or five cars (KiHa 283 series DMUs), but may be lengthened between six to eight cars on certain days and months.

The service commenced operations as simply Tokachi (とかち) on 1 September 1990 using KiHa 183 series DMUs. From 27 July 1991, four Tokachi services were upgraded to Super Tokachi services using enhanced KiHa 183 series DMUs, which included a bi-level Green Car (first class) carriage.

From the start of the revised timetable on 11 March 2000, KiHa 283 series DMUs were introduced on these services. New and enhanced KiHa 261-1000 series DMUs were introduced on these services from 1 October 2007, which eventually displaced the older KiHa 183 series DMUs previously used.

From 1 October 2009, all the remaining KiHa 183 series DMUs were retired from Tokachi services, and the remaining two daily Tokachi return workings were upgraded to Super Tokachi services, utilising new KiHa 261-1000 series DMUs. Since the Super Tokachi is relatively slower than the Super Ozora, many travellers will opt to take the Super Ozora between Sapporo and Obihiro whenever possible, although certain Super Ozora services may make additional stops.

At 1.15 p.m., I went over to Track No. 7 to catch the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 7 to Obihiro. I waited for about 30 minutes for the train to enter the station. I then took a look at the departure signboard for more information about my train.


Tracks No. 5 and 6 of Sapporo Station

A KiHa 283 series DMU train operating on the Limited Express "Super Tokachi" No. 5 service bound for Obihiro on Track No. 5 at Sapporo Station

The departure signboard showing my train timing

After waiting for approximately 1 hour 10 minutes on the platform, an 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 7 bound for Kushiro finally entered Sapporo at 1.45 p.m. on Track No. 7. I entered through the second car immediately to get a nice picture of the Green Car (first class) cabin. Recently between October and November 2011, JR Hokkaido decided to refurbish some of its Green Car cabins on some of its KiHa 281 series and KiHa 283 series DMUs.

On 27 May 2011 (two and a half months after the March 11 Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Tsunami), a 6-car KiHa 283 series DMU train operating on the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 14 service between Kushiro and Sapporo, suddenly came to a stop inside a tunnel in the village of Shimukappu, Hokkaido, after Car No. 2 became derailed at around 9.55 p.m.. Eventually, the train caught fire, and all of the 245 people on board, including the staff, safely evacuated the train.


Amazingly, everyone survived, with no fatalities. However, 39 people had to be hospitalised for smoke inhalation and minor burn injuries. The burnt-out train was removed from the tunnel two days later. Because of the extent of the damage, the train was withdrawn and scrapped on 30 June 2011. Since then, Green Car accommodation is not available on the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 2 and 13 services, and the Limited Express Super Tokachi No. 5 and 8 services. They are, however, coupled to these services on certain days and months.

The new Green Car cabin was quite nice and much brighter than the older Green Car cabin. Each seat is provided with a power outlet to allow passengers to charge their electronic devices on long train journeys (e.g. Sapporo to Kushiro). The armrests feature beverage holders and there are reading lights mounted on one side of the seats. Large sliding tables are also available to allow passengers to put bulkier items like laptop computers.

As soon as I was on board the train, I went to my assigned window seat 2D. I was glad that I brought my camera charger and my iPhone charger with me for the journey just in case they ran out of battery. At 1.55 p.m., more passengers were beginning to board the Green Car cabin. The seat next to me was empty throughout the entire sector between Sapporo and Obihiro.

My train to Obihiro: The Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 for Kushiro entering Sapporo Station

The KiHa 283 series DMU LED Destination sign

The front view of the newly refurbished Green Car cabin of KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro

A view of my seat, 2D, while waiting for departure from Sapporo Station

The rear view of the newly refurbished Green Car cabin of KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro

Another photograph of the newer generation of the Green Car interior on the KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro

At exactly 2.20 p.m., all the train doors closed, and the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 7 bound for Kushiro finally pulled out of Sapporo Station for its long journey time of 3 hours 54 minutes towards the eastern port city of Kushiro. I was then on my way for a journey time of 2 hours 18 minutes towards the suburban city of Obihiro. Here are some pictures and videos which will explain the sector between Sapporo and Obihiro.

キハ283系 特急スーパーおおぞら7号 釧路行き 札幌駅から新札幌駅間

A shopping mall and office near Shin-sapporo Station

A plot of land covered in snow in Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo

The view of the refurbished KiHa 283 series DMU Green Car (first class) cabin from my seat between Shin-sapporo and Minami-chitose

A field somewhere along the JR Chitose Line covered in snow

My Green Car (first class) seat reservation ticket for the sector between Sapporo and Obihiro

The rear view of the refurbished Green Car (first class) cabin on the KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, between Shin-sapporo and Minami-chitose

The Chitose Rera Outlet Mall as seen from the "Super Ozora" limited express No. 7 bound for Kushiro

The Toyota Rent-a-Car area near New Chitose Airport in the afternoon, as seen from the train

A plot of land partially covered in snow on the JR Sekisho Line

A field somewhere along the JR Sekisho Line covered in snow

The 2 cups of orange juice and green tea put on my tray table

Overlooking the JR Muroran Main Line tracks while nearing Oiwake Station

Passing through Oiwake Station on the JR Sekisho Line

The view of the refurbished Green Car (first class) cabin on the KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, from my seat between Oiwake and Shin-yubari

Passing by a snow-covered road between Oiwake and Shin-yubari

My seat, 2D, in its fully reclined position

Passing through Shin-yubari Station

The small city of Yubari and the river as seen from the train shortly after passing through Shin-Yubari Station

My tub of chocolate ice cream on board the train

The outside snow scenery while on approach to Tomamu Station

A snowy forest between Shin-yubari and Shimukappu

Passing by another forest with a snow-covered plot of land

And another snowy forest

Crossing a snowy roadway between Tomamu and Shintoku

A mountain and a snowy forest between Tomamu and Shintoku

Passing by a snowy mountain between Tomamu and Shintoku

The view of the refurbished Green Car (first class) cabin on the KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, from my seat between Tomamu and Shintoku

The snowy landscape between Tomamu and Shintoku Stations

The view of the refurbished KiHa 283 series DMU Green Car (first class) cabin from my seat between Tomamu and Shintoku

A snowy landscape during sunset between Tomamu and Shintoku

Another snowy landscape during sunset between Tomamu and Shintoku

Passing by a snowy forest during sunset while approaching Shintoku

キハ283系 特急スーパーおおぞら7号 釧路行き 車窓から新得駅に到着

The front view of the refurbished KiHa 283 series DMU Green Car (first class) cabin between Shintoku and Obihiro

A plot of land covered in snow between Shintoku and Tokachi-shimizu

A view of my seat, 2D, while nearing Obihiro

A snowy plot of land between Tokachi-shimizu and Obihiro

Night falls as the train nears the city of Obihiro

After travelling on the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 7 bound for Kushiro for 2 hours 18 minutes from Sapporo, I finally arrived at Obihiro Station at 4.38 p.m. on Track No. 1, as planned. The sky was already dark by the time I reached Obihiro. I snapped some pictures of the train at Obihiro and filmed a video of the train's departure from Obihiro Station, just before I went down to a station cafe to have my meal.

Obihiro Station is the main railway station serving the suburban city of Obihiro, Hokkaido, Japan. It is located on the Nemuro Main Line and owned by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido). The Super Ozora and Super Tokachi limited express services make stop here, though the Super Ozora continues on to Kushiro.

The KiHa 283 series DMU train operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 service between Sapporo and Kushiro at Obihiro Station

キハ283系 特急スーパーおおぞら7号 釧路行き 帯広駅から出発

The Obihiro Station platform towards Kushiro and Nemuro

Before having my meal at a station cafe, I realised that I only had an hour before my train back to Sapporo and Otaru. After showing my Hokkaido Rail Pass at the ticket gate, I went to a nearby Butadon cafe in the station and had a nice, huge bowl of Butadon as a late lunch. It was indeed another mouthwatering dish of Hokkaido.

The departure information board in the station concourse in Obihiro Station

The Butadon cafeteria located just beside the Obihiro Station concourse

The special meat slices being grilled on the meat griller in the station cafeteria

My mouthwatering meal of Butadon in the Butadon station cafe

After finishing my meal, I asked the cafe owner whether they were still selling the special Butadon sauce, as I wanted to purchase four bottles of the sauce, with a capacity of 360 ml each. However, to my disappointment, she regrettably told me that because of economic reasons (possibly since the effects of the March 11 Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Tsunami), they could no longer sell the special meat sauce.

My itinerary for the return journey towards Otaru would be to catch the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 12 bound for Sapporo, which would depart Obihiro Station at 5.44 p.m. and arrive at the Sapporo terminal station at 8.13 p.m.. Upon arrival at Sapporo, I would connect to a Rapid Airport train No. 201 bound for Otaru, which would depart Sapporo Station at 8.44 p.m., and arrive at Otaru-chikko Station at 9.10 p.m..

To make up for this, I decided to purchase a Butadon meal box to consume on the train. After a visit to the bathroom, I headed back to the station platform towards Sapporo and Takikawa via Shintoku. I decided to take some photographs while waiting for the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 12 bound for Sapporo.

The supermarket located just below Obihiro Station

The Obihiro Station concourse

The departure signboard showing the timing of my train to Sapporo

The Obihiro Station platform towards Sapporo and Takikawa via Shintoku

After waiting for approximately 30 minutes, an 8-carriage KiHa 283 series DMU, operating the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 12 bound for Sapporo, finally arrived at Obihiro Station at 5.43 p.m. on Track No. 4. I then boarded the train through Car No. 3, which was the Green Car (first class) cabin, and settled into my Seat No. 2D for the journey back to Sapporo from Obihiro, with an expected travel duration of 2 hours 29 minutes.

When I boarded the train, I noticed that the Green Car cabin that I was using had the older generation seats. They were old but still comfortable, though, as seen in the better days. At exactly 5.44 p.m., all the train doors were closed, and the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 12 bound for Sapporo finally pulled out of Obihiro Station. I was then on my way for a journey time of 2 hours 29 minutes towards the hustle and bustle of Sapporo.

The Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo from Kushiro finally arrives at Obihiro Station

The LED destination panel of my train for the sector between Obihiro and Sapporo

The front view of the older Green Car cabin of KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo, at Obihiro Station

My seat, 2D, for the sector between Obihiro and Sapporo

キハ283系 特急スーパーおおぞら12号 札幌行き 帯広駅から発車とグリーン車

My train ticket for the journey between Obihiro and Sapporo

My purchased Butadon meal box and my 2 cups of orange juice on my tray table

A view of my seat, 2D, shortly after leaving Obihiro

A single KiHa 283 series DMU old generation Green Car (first class) seat after leaving Obihiro

The front view of the unrefurbished Green Car cabin of KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo, between Obihiro and Shin-yubari

A view of my seat, 2D, in its fully reclined position

The view of the KiHa 283 series older generation Green Car (first class) cabin from my seat

A dark, snowy landscape on the JR Nemuro Main Line

A dark and snowy landscape on the JR Sekisho Line

A dark, snowy landscape while getting slightly nearer to Shin-yubari Station

Passing by a dimly-lit roadway near the city of Yubari

Passing by a residential area while approaching Shin-yubari Station in the pitch black night

Shin-Yubari Station as seen from the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo

The front view of the older generation Green Car (first class) cabin on the KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo, on the JR Sekisho Line

The box of almond chocolates which I purchased from the trolley service on board

Oiwake Station as seen from the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo

キハ283系 特急スーパーおおぞら12号 札幌行き 車窓から南千歳駅に到着

Passing through Chitose Station

A dark and snowy landscape on the JR Chitose Line

Passing through Kitahiroshima Station

Shin-Sapporo Station as seen from the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo

After a journey time of 2 hours 29 minutes from the suburban city of Obihiro, I finally arrived at the Sapporo terminal station at 8.13 p.m. on Track No. 4. The train became an out-of-service train at Sapporo. I had about 25 minutes before my next train back to Otaru-chikko.

I decided to snap some pictures of some trains. I managed to snap a couple of pictures of a 789-1000 series EMU train operating on the Limited Express Super Kamui No. 44 service from Asahikawa arriving at Sapporo. The train then became the Rapid Airport No. 200 service bound for New Chitose Airport.

My KiHa 283 series DMU train after arrival at Sapporo Station. The train became an out-of-service train when I alighted

The 789-1000 series EMU train that would become the Rapid "Airport" train No. 200 to New Chitose Airport, arriving as the Limited Express "Super Kamui" No. 44 from Asahikawa on track No. 5 at Sapporo Station

The 789-1000 series EMU train about to depart for New Chitose Airport as the Rapid "Airport" No. 201 service

At around 8.30 p.m., I went over to track No. 1 to catch my train back to Sapporo. For the sector between Sapporo and Otaru-chikko, my train was the Rapid Airport No. 201 bound for Otaru, using a reserved seat ("u" seat). The train finally entered Sapporo Station at 8.40 p.m., before having a 4-minute stopover at the station. This is the video of the Rapid Airport No. 201 bound for Otaru entering Sapporo Station on track No. 1.

Once I boarded the Rapid Airport train No. 201 bound for Otaru, I immediately went to my assigned seat No. 4A, and settled in for the final sector between Sapporo and Otaru-chikko. I took videos of the entire sector at the same time once the train departed Sapporo Station at 8.44 p.m.. They are divided into three parts. Here they are.


721系 快速エアポート201号 小樽行き 札幌駅に入線と乗車

The interior of the reserved seat ("u" seat) cabin on the train back to Otaru

My seat, 4A, for the journey back to Otaru

My ticket for the final sector back to Otaru

721系 快速エアポート201号 小樽行き 札幌駅から小樽築港駅 (1/3)

721系 快速エアポート201号 小樽行き 札幌駅から小樽築港駅 (2/3)

721系 快速エアポート201号 小樽行き 札幌駅から小樽築港駅 (3/3)

After a short journey time of 26 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Sapporo, I finally arrived back at Otaru-chikko Station at 9.10 p.m.. I did not stop filming until the train departed Otaru-chikko Station, I went through the ticket gate and went outside the station, where my dad was waiting to drive us back in our rented Toyota car. When we reached the hotel room, I had a shower and had dinner with my family.

As I was to travel to Wakkanai the next day, I knew that the train journey would be quite long, being at least 5 hours. With that, I decided to bring along my electronic devices to keep me company and entertained in my black travelling bag. I also had to ensure that I had to pack all the battery chargers for my electronic devices in case their battery power was low.

I then arranged with the hotel reception to give me a wake-up call at five o' clock the next morning. After I arranged my wake-up call, I went to bed early in preparation for my long train journey to Wakkanai on Sunday.

Part 3 ~ Wakkanai

At exactly 5 o' clock on Sunday morning (11 December), the hotel reception called to wake me up for my long train journey to Wakkanai. I woke up, feeling very energetic, and had a shower, before arranging with my dad to drive me to Otaru-chikko Station. At 5.30 a.m., my dad drove me to Otaru-chikko Station in less than five minutes, reaching there by 5.35 a.m.. I then messaged him to tell him that I was alright once I entered the station.

My itinerary for the in-bound journey towards Wakkanai would be to catch a JR Hakodate Line local train bound for New Chitose Airport, which would depart Otaru-chikko Station at 6.06 a.m., and arrive at Sapporo Station at 6.45 a.m.. Upon arrival at Sapporo Station, I would connect to the Limited Express Super Soya No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, which would depart Sapporo Station at 7.48 a.m., and arrive at the Wakkanai terminal station at 12.47 p.m..

When I got onto the station platform, I discovered that there was hardly anyone on the platform, making it look relatively deserted. This made Otaru-chikko Station look like a haunted railway station in the early hours of the morning.

The Otaru-chikko Station concourse in the early hours of the morning

The relatively deserted Otaru-chikko Station platform. Otaru-chikko Station really looks like a haunted railway station in this way!

For the first sector between Otaru-chikko and Sapporo, I decided to take the local train that would depart at 6.06 a.m. bound for New Chitose Airport. The train would function as the Rapid Airport train No. 62 between Sapporo and New Chitose Airport. After spending approximately 10 minutes of waiting on the platform, the 6.06 a.m. JR Hakodate Line local train bound for New Chitose Airport via Sapporo finally arrived at Otaru-chikko Station at 6.05 a.m. on Track No. 2.

Having all my personal belongings with me, I boarded the train through Car No. 4, which was the 'u' seat carriage and settled down for the short hop towards the hustle and bustle of Sapporo. I then departed from Otaru-chikko Station at 6.06 a.m., as planned. The ride between Otaru-chikko and Sapporo took about 40 minutes. I have some pictures of the early daylight hours in the morning.

The interior of the local train, which I took to Sapporo. This cabin would later become a reserved seat ("u" seat) car between Sapporo and New Chitose Airport

Travelling along the coast of the Sea of Japan in the wee hours of the morning

The very first sights of dawn over the Sea of Japan

The first sights of dawn over a housing area in Teine-ku, Sapporo

Passing by the train depot located near Teine Station in Teine-ku, Sapporo

The early morning scenery from the train while on approach to Sapporo

After a short 40-minute train ride on the JR Hakodate Main Line from the suburban port city of Otaru, I finally arrived at Sapporo Station at 6.45 a.m., on Track No. 6. Knowing that I still had approximately one hour before my next train to Wakkanai, I decided to do my usual train spotting and photo taking.

I also have just one video of one train departure from Sapporo Station. These are some pictures. Sapporo Station was really busy with so many commuters and trains, especially in the wee hours of the morning. At the same time, I went to check to see which platform the Limited Express Super Soya No. 1 bound for Wakkanai would depart from. According to the departure information board, the Limited Express Super Soya No. 1 bound for Wakkanai would depart at 7.48 a.m. from Track No. 7. Nevertheless, since there was still plenty of time, I carried on with my train spotting.

A KiHa 283 series DMU train operating on the Limited Express "Super Hokuto" No. 2 service bound for Hakodate at Sapporo on Track No. 4

An 8-carriage KiHa 283 series DMU train operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 1 service bound for Kushiro at Sapporo on Track No. 7

Platforms No. 5 and 6 of Sapporo Station during the early morning hours

キハ283系 特急スーパーおおぞら1号 釧路行き 札幌駅から出発

After doing my usual train spotting, I decided to head over to Track No. 7, in preparation for the Limited Express Super Soya No. 1 bound for Wakkanai. 
I could feel my heart palpitating wildly and somersaulting in excitement as this was my first trip to Wakkanai and my first train ride on the Super Soya limited express train. However, my parents warned me that because Wakkanai is very near Russia, they warned me not to go to areas further away from Wakkanai Station for fear that I might get kidnapped by any Russian people I see there.

Wakkanai is a small port city located in Soya Subprefecture in Hokkaido, Japan. It is home to approximately 30,000 to 40,000 people. It is the northernmost city in Japan and is home to Japan's northernmost point, Cape Soya, where the Russian island of Sakhalin can be seen.

Access to Wakkanai is very limited, being it by air or railway lines. It has a small airport which only serves All Nippon Airways flights to and from Nagoya (seasonal), Osaka (seasonal), Sapporo and Tokyo. JR Hokkaido runs two limited express trains 3 times daily on the JR Hakodate and Soya Main Lines between Sapporo and Wakkanai. They are mainly the Sarobetsu and the Super Soya.

The Super Soya (スーパー宗谷) is a limited express train service operated by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido) between Sapporo and Wakkanai in Hokkaido, Japan. There are only two trains per day running in each direction, with a travel duration of approximately five hours. Green Car (first class) accommodation is provided in half of one car (Car No. 1), which only seats up to nine passengers.

The service commenced operations on 11 March 2000, using KiHa 261 series DMUs as its main rolling stock. Services are normally formed of four carriages, but are occasionally lengthened to five or six cars on certain days and months. With a journey time of approximately five hours, the Super Soya limited express train service between Sapporo and Wakkanai, would be recorded as the longest limited express train ride I have ever taken in Japan, as of December 2011.

The signboard showing the information about the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai

Sapporo Station, while waiting for the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai

After waiting for about 50 minutes on the platform, a 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express Super Soya No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, entered Sapporo Station on Track No. 7 at 7.35 a.m.. I then stepped on board the Green Car cabin (half of Car No. 1) and took some pictures of it.

The Green Car seats were painted deep blue, and were quite leathery and comfortable. I settled into my seat No. 8D for the long journey to the northern port city of Wakkanai from Sapporo. Between Sapporo and Nayoro, there were about six passengers seated in the Green Car cabin. The seat next to me was to remain empty throughout the entire journey.

The KiHa 261 series DMU train, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 service bound for Wakkanai, finally enters Sapporo Station

The front view of the Green Car cabin of KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai

A view of my seat, 8D, while waiting for departure from Sapporo Station

At exactly 7.48 a.m., all the train doors were closed, and the Limited Express Super Soya No. 1 finally pulled out of Sapporo Station, heading for its long journey time of five hours towards the small northernmost port city of Wakkanai. I was lucky to have my electronic devices to keep me company for the journey.

The entire section of my long train journey between Sapporo and Wakkanai was covered in a blanket of snow, which meant that snow was everywhere. It was a beautiful sight in Hokkaido in the winter season and I enjoyed it a lot. Here are several pictures which will explain the long sector between Sapporo and Wakkanai.


キハ261系 特急スーパー宗谷1号 稚内行き 札幌駅から発車とグリーン車

My Green Car (first class) train ticket for the sector between Sapporo and Wakkanai

The rear view of the Green Car cabin on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai

The snowy landscape somewhere between Sapporo and Iwamizawa

My cups of orange juice and green tea on my tray table

The snowy railway tracks just after leaving Iwamizawa Station

Several small coops covered in snow shortly after leaving Iwamizawa

Some small houses near Iwamizawa

A snowy landscape between Iwamizawa and Bibai during a severe snowstorm

Another snowy landscape on the JR Hakodate Main Line

Passing by a farmhouse in Bibai

A snow-covered land between Iwamizawa and Sunagawa in a severe snowstorm

The Green Car cabin view from my seat on the KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, between Iwamizawa and Sunagawa

The snowy landscape and weather between Iwamizawa and Takikawa

The Green Car cabin view from my seat on the KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, between Iwamizawa and Takikawa

Passing by a snowy field in a severe snowstorm between Bibai and Takikawa

Passing by a snow-covered farm field while nearing Takikawa Station

Making a brief stop at Takikawa Station

A box of almond chocolates for myself purchased from the on-board trolley service

Another snowy landscape between Takikawa and Fukagawa

Another snowy plot of land on the JR Hakodate Line between Takikawa and Asahikawa

A snowy landscape during another snowstorm while nearing Fukagawa Station

A snowy land and mountain between Fukagawa and Asahikawa

Passing by a snowy landscape and mountain near Fukagawa and Asahikawa

Passing by some houses in Asahikawa

Passing by some more houses while nearing Asahikawa Station

Several housing apartments in the city of Asahikawa while approaching Asahikawa Station

After travelling for 1 hour 20 minutes of travel from the hustle and bustle of Sapporo, I finally managed to see Asahikawa Station. I noticed that the station was reconstructed and a new elevated station building opened in October 2010.

Asahikawa Station is the main railway station serving the city of Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan. It serves as an interchange station for the Furano Line, Hakodate Main Line, Sekihoku Main Line, and the Soya Main Line.

The Super Kamui limited express train service originates and terminates in Asahikawa. However, the Limited Express Okhotsk for Abashiri makes stop here, as well as the Sarobetsu and Super Soya limited express services for Wakkanai. Here are some more pictures during the sector to Wakkanai from Sapporo.

Asahikawa Station as seen from the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai

The city of Asahikawa as seen from the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai

Passing by a freight train yard near Asahikawa Station

A snowy landscape in the city of Asahikawa

The Green Car cabin view from my seat on the KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, between Asahikawa and Nayoro

A snowy landscape between Asahikawa and Nayoro on the JR Soya Main Line

A view of my seat, 8D, during the journey between Sapporo and Wakkanai

Making a brief stop at Nayoro Station on the JR Soya Main Line

The Nayoro River taken from the JR Soya Main Line bridge between Nayoro and Wakkanai

A snowy landscape and roadway along the JR Soya Main Line

Passing by a snowy landscape and roadway along the JR Soya Main Line

Passing by another snowy landscape between Nayoro and Toyotomi on the JR Soya Main Line

The Green Car cabin view from my seat on the KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, between Nayoro and Toyotomi

Crossing a pavement crossing on the JR Soya Main Line

Another snowy landscape and roadway along the JR Soya Main Line

The snowy landscape somewhere between Nayoro and Wakkanai

Passing by a snow-covered mountain between Otoineppu and Toyotomi

A snowy mountain and roadway between Otoineppu and Toyotomi

Travelling along a snowy river near a snowy forest between Otoineppu and Toyotomi

The river flowing gracefully beside a mountain along the JR Soya Main Line

Passing by a snowy mountain and forest on the JR Soya Main Line between Otoineppu and Toyotomi

Travelling along a snowy river near a snowy mountain between Otoineppu and Toyotomi

The river flowing gracefully beside a mountain along the JR Soya Main Line while nearing Toyotomi Station

A snowy landscape while approaching Toyotomi Station with the winter sun shining

A landscape with sparse vegetation while nearing Toyotomi Station

Another snowy landscape while approaching Toyotomi Station

キハ261系 特急スーパー宗谷1号 稚内行き 車窓から豊富駅に到着

Making a brief stop at Toyotomi Station

The reserved seat cabin view of Car No. 2 on the KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, between Toyotomi and Wakkanai

The snowy road and landscape between Toyotomi and Wakkanai on the JR Soya Main Line

Passing by a land with sparse vegetation while nearing Wakkanai

Another snowy landscape while nearing Wakkanai, with the Sea of Japan in the centre view

The Sea of Japan as seen from the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai on the JR Soya Main Line

At Minami-wakkanai Station

After a long journey time of five hours from the hustle and bustle of Sapporo, I finally arrived at the Wakkanai terminal station at 12.47 p.m., as planned. Once I alighted the train, many parts of the city were covered in a blanket of snow. It was indeed a beautiful sight, and let me tell you, Wakkanai was so DAMN COLD!!!

When I stepped into Wakkanai Station, I discovered that it was under renovation, and a new station complex is expected to open in spring 2012. The waiting room had a heater to help the passengers keep warm during the cold winter season. The city of Wakkanai is beautiful during the winter season. I managed to take some pictures while I was just exploring Wakkanai near the railway station.

Wakkanai Station is the main railway terminal serving the small northernmost city of Wakkanai, Hokkaido, Japan. It is the northern terminus of the Soya Main Line, as well as the northernmost railway station in Japan. The Super Soya and Sarobetsu limited express services from Sapporo terminate here. The station is relatively small, since there are limited numbers of train services to and from Wakkanai.

The Green Car (first class) seat No. 8A shortly after arrival at the Wakkanai terminal station

My seat, 8D, after a 5-hour train ride from Sapporo

The sole station platform of Wakkanai Station

The KiHa 261 series DMU train, which I took from Sapporo as the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 earlier, at Wakkanai Station

The waiting room at Wakkanai Station

The taxi stand just outside Wakkanai Station

The city of Wakkanai with the ANA Hotel Wakkanai (a.k.a. All Nippon Airways Hotel Wakkanai) in the background

The entrance to Wakkanai Station

As I went around exploring areas near the station, I suddenly felt hungry as I barely ate anything for eight hours. Luckily, I found a nearby seafood market with a restaurant on the second floor.

After snapping a few pictures, I went up to the restaurant on the second floor to have my lunch. At the restaurant, I ordered a few pieces of yakitori and one grilled scallop with a bowl of steamed white rice twice, given my extreme hunger from my long journey.

The seafood market near JR Wakkanai Station

The city view of Wakkanai taken from near the seafood market

The interior of the seafood market in Wakkanai

The interior of the restaurant above the seafood market in Wakkanai

The food menu in the seafood restaurant above the market

My first course: 3 sticks of yakitori and 1 grilled scallop with steamed white rice

My second course: 4 sticks of yakitori and 1 grilled scallop

A view of the restaurant before I paid my bill

After I finished my lunch, I went over to the counter to pay the bill. The price that I paid was relatively reasonable. All in all, it was a really sumptuous and filling lunch.

After I took some pictures, I decided to explore Wakkanai a bit more. As the temperature was getting really cold, I decided to head back to Wakkanai Station and keep warm by the heater in the station's waiting room.

The entrance to the restaurant on the second floor at the seafood market in Wakkanai

Another snowy view of Wakkanai

The exterior of the seafood market near Wakkanai Station

After snapping some photographs of Wakkanai, I decided to head back to Wakkanai Station. I knew that the temperature was getting very cold, so I sat by the heater in the station's waiting room to keep warm.

My itinerary for the return journey towards Otaru would be to catch the Limited Express Super Soya No. 4 bound for Sapporo, which would depart Wakkanai Station at 4.51 p.m., and be expected to arrive at the Sapporo terminal station at 9.51 p.m.. Upon arrival at Sapporo Station, I would connect to a JR Hakodate Main Line local train bound for Otaru, which would depart Sapporo Station at 10.16 p.m., and arrive at Otaru-chikko Station at 10.58 p.m..

When I reached the station at two o' clock, I looked at the departure screen and saw that I had plenty of time before my train back to Sapporo at 4.51 p.m., which was the Limited Express Super Soya No. 4 bound for Sapporo. While waiting for the Limited Express Super Soya No. 4 bound for Sapporo, I decided to go outside and take a few more pictures of Wakkanai. These are the pictures.

The train departure screen showing the information of my train back to Sapporo

The waiting room in Wakkanai Station

The exterior of the Wakkanai seafood market during the early evening hours

The city of Wakkanai during sunset

It was about 4.10 p.m. when I arrived back at Wakkanai Station. After 25 minutes of waiting, the Limited Express Super Soya No. 4 bound for Sapporo finally enter Wakkanai Station at 4.35 p.m., 16 minutes before the scheduled departure time.

The passengers were then allowed to proceed through the ticket gate, and I was on board the train by 4.40 p.m.. Once I boarded the train, I settled into my assigned seat 10D for the 5-hour journey back to Sapporo. Between Wakkanai and Minami-Wakkanai Stations, I would be the only passenger in the Green Car cabin. These are the pictures as shown below.

The KiHa 261 series DMU train, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo, at Wakkanai

The rear view of the Green Car cabin of the KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo

The front view of the Green Car cabin of the KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo

My seat, 10D, for the 5-hour journey back to Sapporo

At exactly 4.51 p.m., the Limited Express Super Soya No. 4 finally pulled out of Wakkanai Station for a planned long 5-hour journey to Sapporo. There is also a video of the train's departure from Minami-Wakkanai Station. More passengers began to board the Green Car cabin at Minami-Wakkanai Station.

Seven out of the nine seats in the Green Car cabin were taken. The seat next to me was empty throughout the journey back to Sapporo. Nevertheless, here are some pictures which will explain the journey back to Sapporo from Wakkanai. Everywhere was dark by the time I left the snowy city of Wakkanai. At one point from Otoineppu, I went to catch some sleep until the train was travelling just before Asahikawa Station.


During one point between Wakkanai and Nayoro, we were forced to make stop at Otoineppu Station for about 15 minutes due to a train accident somewhere on the JR Soya Main Line. The driver announced to us that we would be expected to arrive at the Sapporo terminal station at 10.08 p.m. instead of 9.50 p.m., and made an announcement of apology to the passengers for any inconvenience caused. Nevertheless, I wasn't bothered by the delay, and kept on with the journey.

A snow-covered car parking area by a building as the train finally pulls out of Wakkanai Station

Passing by some dark settlement areas in Wakkanai

The train stopping briefly at Minami-wakkanai Station

キハ261系 特急スーパー宗谷4号 札幌行き 南稚内駅から発車とグリーン車

My return ticket for the sector between Wakkanai and Sapporo

My two cups of orange juice

Making a brief stop at Otoineppu Station during the night hours

A box of almond chocolates which I purchased from the on-board trolley service

The night scenery while getting closer to Asahikawa Station

キハ261系 特急スーパー宗谷4号 札幌行き 車窓から旭川駅に到着

Making a brief stop at Asahikawa Station

The night view of the city of Asahikawa

Passing by some housing estates in Asahikawa

The snowy night scenery between Asahikawa and Sapporo on the JR Hakodate Line

My seat, 10D, in its fully reclined position

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin of the KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo, from my seat between Asahikawa and Takikawa

A dark and snowy landscape between Asahikawa and Fukagawa

Making a brief stop at Fukagawa Station

A dark and snowy landscape between Fukagawa and Takikawa

The rear view of the reserved seat cabin in Car No. 2 of the KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo, between Asahikawa and Takikawa

The night view of Takikawa Station

A somewhat dark and snowy landscape between Takikawa and Bibai

Another snowy landscape between Sunagawa and Bibai

Another snowy landscape between Bibai and Iwamizawa

An extremely snowy landscape while nearing Iwamizawa Station

Making a brief stop at Iwamizawa Station

The rear view of the Green Car cabin of the KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo, between Iwamizawa and Sapporo

A dark and snowy landscape between Iwamizawa and Sapporo Station

After a long journey time of 5 hours 18 minutes from the small northern port city Wakkanai, I finally arrived at the Sapporo terminal station at 10.08 p.m., 18 minutes behind schedule, on Track No. 3. Knwoing that there was no more time to lose, I immediately went over to Track No. 1 to catch the local train, which would leave at 10.16 p.m. bound for Otaru.

As soon as I got onto the train, I immediately found a seat and settled down for the 42-minute journey back to Otaru-chikko. As this was a local train and it was too dark outside, I didn't take much pictures for the final sector between Sapporo and Otaru-chikko.

Sapporo Station in the late evening hours

The interior of the local train bound for Otaru

The Otaru-chikko Station concourse late at night

After travelling from Sapporo Station for 42 minutes, I finally arrived back at Otaru-chikko Station at 10.58 p.m. on Track No. 1. When I got off the train, I took a picture of the Otaru-chikko Station concourse. Upon taking my picture, I went down to the taxi stand just outside Otaru-chikko Station, where my dad was waiting for me in our rented car to drive us back to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru. The taxi stand was the very same point where he dropped me off earlier that morning.

Once I reached the hotel room, my dad made me some supper. I then had a quick shower and went to bed as I was very tired from my ultra-long Limited Express train journey to Wakkanai, the northernmost city in Japan.

All in all, it was an enjoyable experience on the Super Soya limited express train, and an enjoyable trip to Wakkanai. I will gladly go on the Super Soya limited express train, and to Wakkanai again when I get the chance to do so. The Super Soya limited express train between Sapporo and Wakkanai, as of December 2011, is currently recorded as the longest limited express train ride I have ever taken in Japan, with a travel duration of approximately five hours.

This now officially brings the section section of my winter holiday in Hokkaido, Japan in December 2011 to a close. Please stayed tune for the upcoming parts of the vacation.

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