Part 1 ~ The Journey to Niseko
The next day, which was Wednesday (15 December), I woke up at around 7.20 a.m. after a good night's sleep. Everywhere was quiet that morning. The view of the Sea of Japan was extremely pretty in the morning, so I grabbed some pictures of the scenic view.
|The port of Otaru and the Sea of Japan in the early winter morning|
|The beautiful morning view of the Sea of Japan|
|The port of Otaru during an early winter morning|
|Cloud cover over the Sea of Japan|
|A clear view of the port of Otaru and the Sea of Japan|
At around 8.30 a.m., all of us were awake. We all had a good and hot shower and packed up our baggage. A porter then came up to help us with our baggage. We then went to Wing Bay Otaru while the porter took care of our baggage. After a while, we decided to have lunch at a restaurant before heading to Niseko. We ate at a local restaurant called Sushidokoro Sakanaisshin, which was quite a good restaurant.
|A snow-covered Otaru|
|In the walkway to Wing Bay Otaru|
|The port of Otaru as seen from Wing Bay Otaru|
|My brother lying in the snow, about to make snow angels|
|A snowy road beside Wing Bay Otaru|
|The Grand Park Hotel Otaru as seen from outside Wing Bay Otaru|
|A lineup of restaurants in Wing Bay Otaru|
|The interior of Sushidokoro Sakanaisshin|
|A sea urchin platter|
|A sushi platter|
|Beef and pork yakitori|
|A grilled scallop|
|A chicken yakitori|
After having lunch at Wing Bay Otaru, we walked back to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru. As soon as my dad arrived with our car, we loaded our baggage and by 12.30 p.m., we were on our way to Niseko. We would be staying at the Hilton Hotel Niseko Village for 4 days until Saturday, 18 December.
|Driving along a snow-covered road by Wing Bay Otaru|
|Otaru-chikko Station, where I would begin my train journeys in a few days' time|
|A snowy hill by an apartment building in Otaru|
|The Sea of Japan covered in snowstorm|
|A snowy road junction in Otaru|
|Crossing a snow-covered road bridge|
|A hilly forest covered in snow|
|Passing by a market in Otaru|
|Passing by several houses in Otaru|
|Some trees in winter|
|A snowy mountain in Otaru|
|The snowy Sea of Japan after exiting the Otaru tunnel|
|The Sea of Japan shortly after we left Otaru|
|Travelling along the Sea of Japan coastline|
|The Japan Sea view from another angle|
|A clearer and more beautiful view of the Sea of Japan|
|The Sea of Japan with some snow-covered mountains|
|A closer view of the Sea of Japan|
|Another view of the snow-covered mountains and the Sea of Japan|
|An even clearer and more beautiful view of the Sea of Japan|
|The Sea of Japan along the coastline road between Otaru and Yoichi|
|The Sea of Japan during a big snowstorm|
|The Sea of Japan during a huge winter storm while we were approaching Yoichi|
On the way to Niseko from Otaru, we decided to stop at a cafeteria located by the Sea of Japan. This cafeteria is located in the town of Yoichi. While there, we had a nice cup of hot tea, before resuming our journey to Niseko.
|The car park outside the seaside cafeteria in Yoichi|
|The extremely foggy winter storm by the Sea of Japan|
|A view of the Sea of Japan inside the seaside cafeteria in Yoichi|
|Another view of the Sea of Japan inside the seaside cafeteria in Yoichi|
|A view of the snowy beach outside the seaside cafeteria|
|Another view of the snowy beach outside the seaside cafeteria|
|The Sea of Japan as seen from outside the seaside cafeteria in Yoichi|
|My brother outside the seaside cafeteria window|
After a short layover at the seaside cafeteria in Yoichi, we went somewhere to purchase some food and beverages, fill up petrol, and stopped at a shoe shop in Kutchan to look for some winter shoes, making a total number of stops to three.
|The signboard of the seaside cafeteria in Yoichi|
|A snowy street in the town of Yoichi|
|Our rented Toyota car|
|A snowy road located just aft of the town of Yoichi|
|Crossing a snow-covered road bridge|
|Passing by a house in the snow|
|Passing by a house beside a mountain in the snow|
|A snowy landscape between Yoichi and Kutchan|
|Passing by a snow-covered forest|
|Crossing a snowy bridge onward to Kutchan|
|Passing by another snow-covered forest on the road bridge to Kutchan|
|Into the town of Kutchan|
|The shoe shop in Kutchan|
|Snow falling outside the shoe shop in Kutchan|
After looking through some winter shoes, we resumed our final sector to Niseko. Almost all parts of the journey between Otaru and Niseko was covered in a blanket of snow.
|Passing by JoJo's Cafe & Bar Kutchan|
|An Indian cafeteria in Kutchan|
|Several apartment buildings in Kutchan|
|Passing by a snow-covered forest in Kutchan and Niseko|
|A house in the snowy landscape in Niseko|
After a journey time of 4 hours 10 minutes from Otaru, we finally arrived at the Hilton Hotel Niseko Village at 4.40 p.m.. Night was already falling by the time we reached the hotel. A hotel porter then came out to help us with our baggage.
My mum then went to the check-in reception to check us in. I went to the lobby lounge while waiting.
|The snowy vehicle parking area outside the entrance to the Hilton Hotel Niseko Village|
|The logo of the Hilton Hotel Niseko Village on the carpet|
|The hotel lobby lounge of the Hilton Hotel Niseko Village|
|The Christmas Tree in the Hilton Hotel Niseko Village|
|Another image of the hotel lobby lounge of the Hilton Hotel Niseko Village|
|The overall view of the hotel lobby lounge of the Hilton Hotel Niseko Village|
As soon as we received our room keys, we took the elevator up to our rooms. Our rooms were two separate rooms without connections. I shared one room with my brother whereas my parents took the other bedroom.
|The other side of the hotel building|
|The night scenery of the snowy landscape|
|The room where my brother and I slept|
|An overall view of the room I shared with my brother|
After a while, our baggage was delivered to us by two porters. Later that night, we had a nice and sumptuous steamboat dinner in my parents' hotel room. We then had a shower and did our own personal things.
However, I did not do anything much for that night after the long driving journey from Otaru. Feeling quite tired, I went to bed early by 10 o' clock that night.
Part 2 ~ Snowmobile Fun & Exploring Around Niseko
The next morning, which was Thursday (16 December), I woke up very early at 6.30 a.m.. It was still dark by the time I was up. Dawn started to break at 7 a.m.. With that I, snapped some photographs of the morning scenery.
|The still very dark landscape shortly after I woke up|
|The dark landscape during the wee hours of the morning|
|The first sight of dawn over the snowy landscape|
|The snowy landscape during the first hours of the grey dawn morning sky|
|Another morning scenery over the snowy landscape|
|The first sight of sunrise over the snowy landscape in the morning|
By 7.30 a.m., all of us were awake and had a hot shower in preparation for the start of the day. At 9.20 a.m., we went down to a hotel restaurant called Melt Bar and Grill for breakfast. We had delicious food such as scrambled eggs and bacon.
|The logo of Melt Bar and Grill|
|The egg kiosk inside Melt Bar and Grill in the morning|
|The interior of Melt Bar and Grill|
|Scrambled eggs and omelette with sausage and ham|
|Some snow covered trees as seen from the restaurant|
|A snowy forest as seen from the restaurant|
|A large gingerbread house in Melt Bar and Grill|
|A mini gingerbread house in Melt Bar and Grill|
At 10 o' clock, we headed to the Snowmobile Course Station to begin our snowmobile course of the day. Boots and spare clothes were provided for us. However, the staff permitted me to remain in my own clothes for special reasons.
|Snowboarders gathering beside the cable car station|
|The alley way near the entrance to the hotel|
|The snowmobile course registering house, with the cable car station above it|
|The snowmobile course registering house interior|
After we put on the extra rented winter clothes, a trainer took us to the snowmobile course area. We had an enjoyable time riding on the snowmobile. However, my only problem with a snowmobile is how to regulate the speed, as I tend to drive it too fast. Fortunately, I sat with my dad for safety.
|The snow-covered forest beside the snowmobile course area|
|The cloudy winter sky just before we began our course|
|The snowmobiles ready to be used|
|The snow covered mountain as seen from my snowmobile|
|A view of my hotel taken from the open snow|
|Mount Yotei as seen from the snowmobile course|
|My dad and I posing for a picture on our snowmobile|
|My mum and brother posing for a picture on their snowmobile|
|A photograph of my family during the snowmobile course|
|My brother making snow angels|
|The exterior view of the Hilton Hotel Niseko Village|
|The snowy landscape in the afternoon|
After finishing our snowmobile course at 12 noon, we went back to our hotel room to have a short rest. At around 12.50 p.m., we decided to take the cable car up to the mountain peak. The weather on the way up to the peak was really cold, with the temperature dropping to probably below 0ºC (32ºF).
|The Japanese sign in the cable car which warns passengers of the dangers of smoking in the cable car cabin|
|The observation view of the cable car towards the peak|
|The snow-covered car park at the Hilton Hotel Niseko Village|
|The roadway leading to the town of Kutchan|
|About to start climbing up the mountain|
|Crossing the snowy and foggy hillside of the mountain|
|Passing by a snow forest|
|Going up into the bitter cold|
|Into the bitterly cold area of the mountain|
|Crossing the bitterly cold area|
|The bitterly cold landscape as seen from the cable car|
|Approaching the peak of the mountain|
After 15 minutes of travel in the cable car, we finally arrived at the peak station at 12.20 p.m.. The surroundings outside the cable car station was BITTERLY COLD, with the temperature measuring approximately - 8ºC (18ºF).
|The bitterly cold mountain peak in a huge blinding snow storm|
|The exterior view of the cable car station at the mountain peak|
|Several winter skiers preparing to ski down the bitterly cold mountain|
|The bitterly cold scenery beside the cable car station|
|Another view of the bitterly cold mountain peak|
|The skiing slope at the bitterly cold peak of the mountain|
After spending about only five minutes, my parents could not stand the bitter cold. We then decided to head back to the hotel at 12.25 p.m., arriving back at 12.40 p.m..
|The panoramic view of the bitterly cold mountain peak from the cable car|
|The bitterly cold mountain top|
|Our hotel as seen ahead of us from the cable car|
After arriving back down, we went into the hotel lobby to think of where to go to next. Feeling hungry, we decided to go to an Italian Restaurant called Lupicia for lunch. We drove through the snowy landscape along the way.
|The grand hotel lobby lounge in the Hilton Hotel Niseko Village|
|The Christmas Tree with a figure of Santa Claus climbing in the lounge|
|Our snow-covered car waiting for us at the hotel entrance|
|Passing by the snow-covered car park|
|Passing by a snowy forest covered in a severe winter storm|
|The snowy landscape beside the road between Kutchan and Niseko|
|Another snow-covered forest|
|The overall view of the snowy road between Kutchan and Niseko|
|Passing by another snow-covered area|
|The snowy landscape covered by a massive winter storm|
|The snow-covered road junction|
We arrived at Restaurant Lupicia Niseko at 2.15 p.m., just in time for lunch. Immediately, we went into the restaurant and asked for a table. The food and beverage menus were then provided for us.
|The overall exterior view of Restaurant Lupicia Niseko|
|The logo of Restaurant Lupicia Niseko|
|The interior of Restaurant Lupicia Niseko|
|The food menu for Restaurant Lupicia Niseko|
|The beverage menu for Restaurant Lupicia Niseko|
A few moments later, a waiter came up to take our orders. I ordered a charcoal-grilled pork with soft-boiled egg and paprika tomato sauce.
|My mum's lunch set|
|My main course: Charcoal-grilled pork with soft-boiled egg and paprika tomato sauce|
|The snowy road by Restaurant Lupicia Niseko|
|My mum observing me through the window|
|The area near the main road covered in a blanket of snow|
|The confectionery shop in Restaurant Lupicia Niseko|
|Chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and accompaniments|
|A tall-looking tree by the entrance to the car park to Restaurant Lupicia Niseko|
|The deep snow-covered road by the as seen from the car park|
|The deep-snow covered area by the restaurant|
After having lunch at Restaurant Lupicia Niseko, we decided to go to a cafeteria in Niseko for a hot beverage. The landscape was covered up in a blanket of snow all the way.
|Passing by a snowy car park|
|Some skiers about to ski in the snowy landscape|
|The snow-covered skiing area|
|Passing by a snowy landscape on the way to the cafeteria|
As soon as we reached the cafeteria at 4 o' clock, we went inside quickly to keep warm. While there, I ordered a simple cup of hot chocolate for myself. At the same time, my brother played with me in the snow, throwing me off into the bitterly cold snow at one point! In spite of the bitter cold, it was lots of fun!
|The snow-covered landscape beside the cafeteria and confectionery|
|The house beside the confectionery shop|
|A confectionery shop in Niseko|
|The snow-covered landscape as seen from inside the cafeteria|
|The interior of the cafeteria in Niseko|
|A cup of hot chocolate for myself|
|The confectionery shop in a severe winter storm in the evening|
|The snow-covered car park by the cafeteria|
|The snow-covered landscape during a severely cold winter storm|
|The snow-covered car park during the early winter evening|
At 4.45 p.m., we realised that night was already falling. We then decided to head back to the Hilton Hotel Niseko Village before the sky was completely dark. Once we reached back the hotel, we had a good rest before having dinner in the hotel room. We then went to bed before midnight that night.
Part 3 ~ Exploring Kutchan
The next day, which was a Friday (17 December), we woke up just before 12 noon. There was nothing much to do on that day, so we decided to explore around the hotel and the town of Kutchan.
Beside the cable car station, we went to see the reindeer stable to find some reindeers. To our delight, we managed to see a reindeer in one of the stables.
|The drop-off area at the Hilton Hotel Niseko Village|
|The exterior view of the Hilton Hotel Niseko Village|
|A reindeer in the reindeer barn|
|The reindeer barn in the open snow|
At around 12 noon, we decided to drive out into the countryside of Kutchan. There was snow almost everywhere throughout the driving journey. The first place to see was The Chalets at Country Resort Kutchan. Among the notable houses we saw was Shimano, the chalet we stayed at back in June 2009. Here are some pictures.
|The snowy open land by a snow forest|
|The land covered in open snow|
|Passing by a snow-covered forest|
|An aerial view of Mount Yotei, with the peak covered in the clouds|
|The aerial view of the area around The Chalets at Country Resort|
|The exterior view of Shimano, our chalet back in June 2009|
|The signboard of The Chalets at Country Resort|
|The open land covered in snow, with Mount Yotei in the background|
|Mount Yotei on a clear winter's day|
After some exploring, we decided to go to a restaurant in Kutchan for lunch. We managed to find a sushi restaurant called Yoteimaru Sushi Restaurant. Here are some pictures I took before and during lunch at Yoteimaru.
|The logo of Yoteimaru Sushi Restaurant|
|A road beside a petrol station on a sunny winter's day in Kutchan|
|Plates of tuna and salmon sushi|
|A plate of tuna sushi|
|Two plates of scallop and salmon sushi|
|A plate of scallop sushi|
|A plate of tuna sushi for us to share|
|A plate of tuna sushi for myself|
|A plate of scallop sushi for us to share|
|Another plate of scallop sushi|
|A plate of fried chicken|
|The interior of Yoteimaru Sushi Restaurant|
After having lunch at Yoteimaru, we decided to go to a convenience store located near Kutchan Station to purchase some necessities. While my family did their own shopping, I did explore around Kutchan Station.
|The station platform of Kutchan Station from behind the fence|
|The name plate of Kutchan Station written in hiragana characters|
|Inside the station concourse of Kutchan Station|
|The taxi stand outside Kutchan Station|
|The car park outside Kutchan Station covered in snow|
|The convenience store by Kutchan Station|
|A snow-covered park near Kutchan Station|
|A skiing mountain as seen from outside Kutchan Station|
|A JR Hakodate Line passenger train shortly after leaving Kutchan Station|
After shopping for some daily necessities to bring back home to Singapore, we were once again feeling peckish. So we went to a nearby cafeteria called Cafe Kaku. I ordered myself a pizza and a slice of chocolate cake. The owners of the cafeteria were both foreigners and spoke English (possibly from Australia or Britain). They explained that the cafeteria wasn't much, but to them, it was home.
|The interior of Cafe Kaku|
|The fireplace inside Cafe Kaku|
|The kitchen in the Cafe Kaku|
|A slice of chocolate cake for myself|
|A plate of cheese-flavoured pizza for myself|
|A cup of hot chocolate and a slice of pizza|
|The snow covered street near Cafe Kaku|
|The logo of Cafe Kaku|
|Mount Yotei as seen from outside Cafe Kaku|
|Our rented car|
|The fireplace with fire burning inside|
After having a sumptuous tea at Cafe Kaku, we decided to drive back to the Hilton Hotel Niseko. The sun was starting to set by the time we were on our way. Here are some pictures I took during the journey back to the hotel.
|A skiing mountain during sunset|
|Passing by a snow-covered forest in the sunset|
|An aerial view of Mount Yotei|
|Driving on a hilly road|
|Passing by a snowy bridge that leads to a shrine covered in snow|
|A snowy bridge that leads to a shrine covered in snow|
|A view of Mount Yotei during nightfall|
After an hour of driving, we arrived back at the Hilton Hotel Niseko Village just before five o'clock that evening. We then had a rest and had a sumptuous dinner in my parents' hotel room. We then washed up and went to bed just before 12 midnight.
To summarise, the Hilton Hotel Niseko Village is quite a nice hotel to stay in. The breakfasts there are mouthwatering and you can take the cable car up anytime you like. However, the only issue was the Internet connection service, as it was relatively slow.
This officially brings the second section of my winter holiday in Hokkaido, Japan in December 2010 to a close. Should you have any concerns, don't hesitate to comment or ask any questions. The remaining parts will be published soon.