Friday, February 22, 2013

Winter Holiday in Hokkaido in December 2011 (Enhanced Version) ~ Section 2

Welcome to the second section of my revised edition about my winter vacation in Hokkaido, Japan in December 2011. There will be a total of four topics that will be covered in this section. They will mainly be my myriad train journeys towards New Chitose Airport, Obihiro and Wakkanai, as well as our journey towards The Chalets at Country Resort Kutchan.

Part 1 ~ Spending the Morning in Otaru & New Chitose Airport

The next morning, which was Friday (9 December), I woke up quite early at around 6.25 a.m. after having a well-earned, good night's sleep. Noticing that the view of the Sea of Japan was very breathtaking that morning, I could not help myself snapping some pictures of the beautiful morning sea view.

To start off the day, I had a nice, hot shower and changed into my day's attire before doing anything else. Soon enough, all my other family members were up bright and early at nine o' clock later that morning. Once everyone had a nice, hot shower, we changed into our day's attires and prepared our necessary belongings for the day before commencing our outings.

The beautiful early morning view of the Sea of Japan from my hotel room shortly after I had woken up

The view of my hotel room, Room No. 1302, shortly after I had woken up

Another beautiful early morning view of the Sea of Japan from my hotel room shortly after I had woken up

The beautiful early morning view of the Sea of Japan from my hotel room during sunrise

The beautiful morning view of the Sea of Japan from my hotel room on a cloudy winter's morning

My younger brother posing for a photograph in his day's attire with brown boots

After changing up and preparing all of our necessary belongings for the day, the clock was finally showing 9.15 a.m.. Feeling ready to start the day's outing, we took the elevator down towards the grand entrance hall, where we had to change elevators to get to the basement car parking area of the hotel.

Upon reaching the basement car parking area of the hotel, we headed towards our car and started it up to begin our day's outing. Soon enough, we finally departed the compound of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru by 9.35 a.m.. Feeling quite hungry already, we decided to have lunch first, and we drove around Otaru to find some good restaurants.

A beautiful morning view of a snow-covered Otaru as seen from the 13th level of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

The marble staircase in the grand entrance hall of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru in the late morning

Driving along the snowy roads of Otaru

After driving around the suburban port city of Otaru for approximately half an hour, we finally stumbled upon a western steak and hamburger roadside restaurant by the name of Victoria Station Restaurant at 10.05 a.m.. Parking our car at the parking area outside the restaurant, we went into the restaurant and requested a window table for the four of us. Soon enough, a waitress finally ushered us towards a window table and left us with the food and beverage menus to make our reviews before placing our main meal orders for lunch.

Upon having a good review through the food and beverage menus, the restaurant waitress finally came by to our table to take down our main meal orders for lunch. We managed to order several hot plate items off the grand menu that would seem to suite our tastes and preferences. Once all of our ordered dishes had been delivered towards our table, we had a nice, sumptuous hot plate lunch at Victoria Station Restaurant.

The exterior of Victoria Station Restaurant Otaru on a snowy winter's morning

The interior of Victoria Station Restaurant Otaru on a snowy winter's morning

The cover page for the grand food and beverage menu of Victoria Station Restaurant Otaru

Reviewing the grand food and beverage menu of Victoria Station Restaurant Otaru

The view of the snow-covered ventilation booths by Victoria Station Restaurant Otaru

The interior of Victoria Station Restaurant Otaru lunch hours

The view of the snowy roads of Otaru as seen from Victoria Station Restaurant Otaru

A nice platter of french fries to be shared among us

A nice platter of french fries and sausages to be shared among us

A hot plate of potato and prawn gratin for my mum

A nice, hot platter of thickly-cut rib steak for myself

A nice, hot platter of sirloin steak for my younger brother

After having a sumptuous lunch at Victoria Station Restaurant Otaru, the clock was finally showing 10.45 a.m.. Wanting to see more things around Otaru, we requested for the bill and paid up prior to leaving the restaurant. Once we had all our belongings with us, we headed back towards our car, leaving the compound of Victoria Station Restaurant Otaru by 10.55 a.m..

Soon enough, we finally stumbled upon a seafood market on the side of the road near the Otaru Canal by 11.10 a.m.. Once we had alighted the car, we decided to stop by at the seafood market for some seafood treats. The seafood market was made up of two levels, with a self-operated restaurant located on the second floor.

The market is open daily from 10.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., with the exception on Sundays and national holidays. During our visit towards the fish market, we ordered several mollusks such as scallops, oysters and sea urchins. The best part of this light seafood snack meal would be the scallops, since the scallop is one of my most favourite seafood.

The view of the car parking area outside Victoria Station Restaurant Otaru just as we are about to leave

Some freshly-caught fish from the sea on sale at the seafood market in Otaru

The interior of the second-level restaurant located at the seafood market in Otaru

A small platter of sea urchin at the seafood market in Otaru

A small platter containing three oysters, all of which were eaten raw

The two small platters of sea urchin and raw oysters on our dining table

A small platter containing three grilled scallops

Two plates consisting of a clam and a sea shell meat

The interior of the second-level restaurant located at the seafood market in Otaru just as we are about to leave for Sapporo

After having some light seafood meal treats at the local seafood market in Otaru, the clock was finally showing 11.30 a.m.. Feeling that there was still so much to do for the day, we decided to head over towards Sapporo as our next destination. I had two Hokkaido Rail Pass Exchange Vouchers I was to exchange, and we knew that Sapporo Station would be the best place to exchange my Exchange Vouchers.

With that, we headed back towards our car, and left the local seafood market by 11.35 a.m.. We then headed towards the Otaru-Chitose Expressway and drove all the way towards Sapporo Station located in the very lively districts Kita-ku and Chuo-ku, Sapporo. The view of the Sea of Japan was always very beautiful along the expressway, though it would be most beautiful when seeing it on the JR Hakodate Main Line.

Sapporo (札幌市) is the fourth-largest city in Japan in terms of population, and the largest city in the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan. It is the prefectural capital of Hokkaido, and Hokkaido's only city that is designated by government ordinance. Sapporo serves as an important transport and commercial hub for Hokkaido, with its largest transport network situated around Sapporo Station. The city is also well-known for hosting the 1972 Winter Olympics, the first Winter Olympics ever held in Asia.

The snowy streets of Otaru near the local fish market just as we are about to leave for Sapporo

The view of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru as we begin our climb on the Otaru-Chitose Expressway

Several housing areas by the Sea of Japan as seen from the Otaru-Chitose Expressway

The beautiful afternoon view of the Sea of Japan along the Otaru-Chitose Expressway

Another beautiful afternoon view of the Sea of Japan along the Otaru-Chitose Expressway

After a short road journey time of 55 minutes from the suburban port city of Otaru, we finally arrived at the compound of Sapporo Station at 12.30 p.m.. Knowing that the area around the station was surrounded by lots of traffic, we headed into the Sapporo JR Tower by Stellar Place, and parked our car on the topmost parking lot level, which was located just above Sapporo Station.

Having all of our belongings with us, we went into the main elevator lobby, and took the nearest elevator all the way down towards the ground floor, where the station concourse was located. Once we were in the busy station concourse, we went towards the JR Visitors' Information Desk at the Travel Service Center, where I exchanged my Hokkaido Rail Pass Exchange Vouchers.

In return, I received one 4-Day Free Green-type Hokkaido Rail Pass, as well as one 3-Day Consecutive Green-type Hokkaido Rail Pass. At the same time, I made my Green Car (first class) seat reservations with my rail passes for the following destinations:

1) 4-Day Free Green-type Hokkaido Rail Pass:

Day 1: New Chitose Airport (Part 1) ~ Friday (9 December 2011)

Day 2: Obihiro ~ Saturday (10 December 2011)

Day 3: Wakkanai ~ Sunday (11 December 2011)

Day 4: Left empty until further notice

2) 3-Day Consecutive Green-type Hokkaido Rail Pass:

Day 1: Hakodate ~ Monday (19 December 2011)

Day 2: New Chitose Airport (Part 2) ~ Tuesday (20 December 2011)

Day 3: Kushiro ~ Wednesday (21 December 2011)

Sapporo Station (札幌駅) is a large railway station located between the wards of Kita-ku and Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. It is the main railway terminal serving the metropolitan city of Sapporo, as well as the busiest transport hub in Hokkaido, Japan. The station mainly serves as an interchange station for the Hakodate Main Line, Chitose Line, Sassho Line and the Sapporo Municipal Subway Namboku Line and Toho Line.

The station serves as a starting point for all limited express trains operated by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido). It also houses the tallest building in Hokkaido, which is the Sapporo JR Tower. As of 17 March 2012, there are a total of five island platforms serving ten tracks for the JR line trains, as well as one island plaform serving two tracks each for the subway lines.

The station platform roofs of Sapporo Station on the top-most car parking area of Sapporo JR Tower

The view of the JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo from the top-most car parking area of Sapporo JR Tower

The view of the top-most car parking area of Sapporo JR Tower

The entrance to the Travel Service Center in the station concourse of Sapporo Station

After making my Green Car (first class) seat reservations at the ticket counter in the Travel Service Center, the clock was finally showing 1.25 p.m.. For the in-bound journey towards New Chitose Airport, I would catch 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 then thanked my parents for their assistance before they left me to begin my journey. At the same time, I went through the manned ticketing gate and went to check which platform the Rapid Airport train No. 142 bound for New Chitose Airport would depart from. According to the departure information board in the station concourse, the Rapid Airport train No. 142 bound for New Chitose Airport would depart at 2.25 p.m. from Track No. 5.

Without wasting anymore time, I immediately proceeded up towards Tracks No. 5 and 6 via the escalators to begin my afternoon journey towards New Chitose Airport. While waiting for the Rapid Airport train No. 142 bound for New Chitose Airport, I did some train-spotting of the various trains operated by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido).

Airport (エアポート) is the name of a dedicated rapid train service operated by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido) between New Chitose Airport, Sapporo, Asahikawa and Otaru in Hokkaido, Japan. The service mainly runs over the Chitose Line and Hakodate Main Line on its route, and is capable of reaching a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph).

The service commenced operations on 1 July 1992, in collaboration with the opening of New Chitose Airport, using 4-car 781 series EMUs, 5-car 785 series EMUs and 6-car 721 series EMUs. The 781 series EMUs were often used on Lilac limited express services, alongside the 785 series EMUs for Super White Arrow limited express services, between Sapporo and Asahikawa until the former was retired from revenue service on 30 September 2007.

From 1 October 2007, new enhanced 5-car 789 series EMUs were introduced on these services, with the Super White Arrow limited express services re-named as Super Kamui between Sapporo and Asahikawa. These sets work alongside the existing 785 series EMUs, with both sets operating as Rapid Airport services between New Chitose Airport and Sapporo, and Super Kamui limited express services between Sapporo and Asahikawa.

Green Car (first class) accommodation is not available on Rapid Airport services, though reserved seats ("u" seats) are available in Car No. 4 and the remaining cars are designated as unreserved. The reserved seats ("u" seats) are available at ¥300 (S$3.66), and at half the price for children under the age of 12. There is no extra charge required for the Rapid Airport service for tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass and Hokkaido Rail Pass.

The ticketing concourse of Sapporo Station during the mid-afternoon hours

The busy main station concourse of Sapporo Station leading to the platforms during the mid-afternoon hours

The first view of the station platforms of Sapporo Station during the mid-afternoon hours

The LED destination panel of the 5-car 785 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Suzuran" No. 4 service bound for Muroran, on Track No. 5 at Sapporo Station

A 5-car 785 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Suzuran" No. 4 service bound for Muroran, on Track No. 5 at Sapporo Station

A 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on a Rapid "Airport" train No. 136 bound for New Chitose Airport, on Track No. 6 at Sapporo Station

A 5-car 789 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Kamui" No. 21 service bound for Asahikawa, on Track No. 5 at Sapporo Station. This train had arrived as the Rapid "Airport" train No. 133 from New Chitose Airport earlier

The logo of the 6-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 service bound for Kushiro, on Track No. 7 at Sapporo Station

A 6-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 service bound for Kushiro, on Track No. 7 at Sapporo Station

The LED destination panel of the 6-car KiHa 283 series DMU in Japanese, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 service bound for Kushiro, on Track No. 7 at Sapporo Station

The LED destination panel of the 6-car KiHa 283 series DMU in English, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 service bound for Kushiro, on Track No. 7 at Sapporo Station

The station platforms of Sapporo Station during the mid-afternoon hours just before the Rapid "Airport" train No. 142 bound for New Chitose Airport arrived

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

Once the seating direction patterns had been changed, all the doors were opened to allow the passengers to board the train. I then boarded the train through Car No. 4, which was the reserved seat ("u" seat) car, and secured my assigned Seat No. 5A for the short journey time of 36 minutes towards New Chitose Airport.

At exactly 2.25 p.m., after all the passengers for the train were on board, all the doors were closed, and the Rapid Airport train No. 142 finally pulled out of Sapporo Station for its short remaining journey towards New Chitose Airport in the suburban city of Chitose. I was then on my way for a short journey time of 36 minutes towards 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

A view of my seat, 5A, on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 142 bound for New Chitose Airport during the boarding process at Sapporo Station

The interior of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on the 5-car 789 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 142 bound for New Chitose Airport, during the boarding process at Sapporo Station

Awaiting departure from Sapporo Station

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

Bypassing some housing areas in Shiroishi-ku, Sapporo

My reserved seat ticket for the in-bound segment between Sapporo and New Chitose Airport

Passing more housing areas between Shiroishi-ku and Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo

The interior of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on the 5-car 789 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 142 bound for New Chitose Airport, between Sapporo and Shin-sapporo

Passing more housing areas in Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo

The view of the Sheraton Hotel Sapporo in Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo, as the train approaches Shin-sapporo Station

The name plate of Shin-sapporo Station

Making a brief stop at Shin-sapporo Station

Bypassing a snow-covered plateau in Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo

The view of the suburban city of Kitahiroshima

Bypassing a snow-covered plateau near the suburban city of Kitahiroshima

The interior of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on the 5-car 789 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 142 bound for New Chitose Airport, between Eniwa and Chitose

Bypassing another snow-covered plateau near the suburban city of Eniwa

The interior of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on the 5-car 789 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 142 bound for New Chitose Airport, while approaching Chitose Station

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

Making a brief stop at Minami-chitose Station

After a very short journey time of 36 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Sapporo, I finally arrived at the New Chitose Airport terminal station at 3.01 p.m. on Track No. 2. Being sure to check that none of my belongings had been left on board, I alighted the train and decided to have one last look at my train before heading up towards the main terminal.

Upon getting some shots on the station platform, I headed up towards the main concourse and exited the station through the manned ticketing gate. Taking the escalator all the way up towards the second floor of the domestic flight terminal building, I looked all around the various shops available that would suit my taste and preferences carefully, until I reached all the way up towards the fourth floor.

New Chitose Airport (新千歳空港駅) is an underground railway station in the suburban city of Chitose, Hokkaido. The station is located just beneath the main domestic flight terminal of New Chitose Airport, and serves the Chitose Line (Airport Branch Line). There is only one island platform serving two tracks. The station is equipped with a JR Visitors' Information Desk, where foreign tourists can exchange their Exchange Vouchers for Japan Rail Passes and Hokkaido Rail Passes.

The 5-car 789 series EMU, which took me from Sapporo as the Rapid "Airport" train No. 142 bound for New Chitose Airport earlier, on Track No. 2 at New Chitose Airport Station

The interior of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on the 5-car 789 series EMU, which took me from Sapporo as the Rapid "Airport" train No. 142 bound for New Chitose Airport earlier, on Track No. 2 at New Chitose Airport Station 

The first view of the station platforms at New Chitose Airport Station

The main station concourse at New Chitose Airport Station

The ticketing gates at New Chitose Airport Station

A duty-free shop selling handbags in the first level of the domestic flight terminal at New Chitose Airport

A lineup of duty-free shops in the first level of the domestic flight terminal at New Chitose Airport

The main shopping concourse in the domestic flight terminal at New Chitose Airport

The escalators leading towards the upper shopping areas in the domestic flight terminal at New Chitose Airport

The main shopping concourse in the domestic flight terminal at New Chitose Airport as seen from the third level

The fourth floor concourse of the domestic flight terminal at New Chitose Airport

The entrance to Flyers Hobby Shop in the fourth floor of the domestic flight terminal at New Chitose Airport

After looking through the various shops available in the domestic flight terminal building at New Chitose Airport, I finally stumbled upon a hobby shop specialising in model aviation aircraft, known as Flyers, located on the fourth floor of the terminal building. This hobby shop mainly specialises in selling commercial aviation aircraft models for anyone who is interested about commercial aviation.

Once I entered the shop, I managed to purchase three new Scale 1:500 aircraft models for myself. Upon purchasing my aircraft models, I took the escalator down towards the third level for something light to eat, only to be delighted to stumble upon a Baskin Robbins ice cream parlour. While at the Baskin Robbins ice cream parlour, I had a simple two scoops of Chocolate-Holic flavour ice cream in a cup, which I find to be a nice, cool snack.

As for the three new Scale 1:500 commercial aircraft models I purchased from Flyers, they were, as follows:

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

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 (506186)

TAP Portugal Airbus A340-312 Herpa Scale 1:500 (506186)

The entrance to the passageway linking between both terminals at New Chitose Airport

The Baskin Robbins ice cream parlour on the third level of the domestic flight terminal at New Chitose Airport

The various ice cream flavours in a refrigerator display at the Baskin Robbins ice cream parlour on the third level of the domestic flight terminal at New Chitose Airport

My two scoops of Chocolate-Holic flavour ice cream at the Baskin Robbins ice cream parlour on the third level of the domestic flight terminal at New Chitose Airport

After having some nice ice cream in the Baskin Robbins ice cream parlour in the domestic flight terminal, the clock was finally showing four o' clock. Feeling that there was still much to see around New Chitose Airport, I decided to head over to the international flight terminal to see what would be in stock. To access the international terminal, I simply walked along the passageway that linked the domestic flight terminal with the international terminal, with the entire walk taking no more than just five minutes.

Upon arriving at the international terminal by 4.05 p.m., I went to see another gift shop by the name of Hakuhinkan Toy Park. There, I managed to purchase an early Christmas Gift for my parents, which was a My Neighbor Totoro Studio Ghibli music box. While at the shop, I asked the owner as to how the situation in Japan was going on following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on 11 March 2011.

According to the shop owner of Hakuhinkan Toy Park, the Greater Tokyo Area would be relatively safe to visit, though some areas around the Tohoku region, particularly the coastal areas of Fukushima, were still dangerous following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster. With that, I headed down towards the arrivals area in the international terminal and decided to purchase some light snacks and beverages from a convenience store while having a rest
before heading back to New Chitose Airport Station.

A lineup of duty-free shops and cafeterias in the third level of the domestic flight terminal at New Chitose Airport

Outside Hakuhinkan Toy Park in the international departures and check-in area at New Chitose Airport

The international departures and check-in area near the security checkpoint entrances at New Chitose Airport

The departures and check-in area in the International Terminal of New Chitose Airport during the early evening hours

The arrivals and meeting area in the International Terminal of New Chitose Airport during the early evening hours

The passageway towards the domestic flight terminal from the international terminal at New Chitose Airport

After spending approximately 1 hour 30 minutes of shopping around New Chitose Airport, the clock was finally showing 4.50 p.m.. Feeling that it was already time to head back to New Chitose Airport, I walked along the passageway towards the domestic flight terminal and took the elevator down towards the first basement, where New Chitose Airport Station was located.

My itinerary for the outbound journey back to Otaru would be to take the Rapid Airport train No. 181 bound for Otaru, which would depart New Chitose Airport Station at 6.04 p.m., and arrive at Otaru-chikko Station at 7.10 p.m.. Soon enough, I finally arrived at the main station concourse of New Chitose Airport Station by five o' clock. Since it was still early before my train back to Otaru, I decided to have a short rest in the station waiting room.

Upon having a short rest in the passenger waiting room, I went to check which platform the Rapid Airport train No. 181 bound for New Chitose Airport would depart from. According to the departure information board located in the station concourse, the Rapid Airport train No. 181 bound for New Chitose Airport would depart at 6.04 p.m. from Track No. 1. With that, I headed down towards the platform at 5.30 p.m. in preparation for my return trip to Otaru.

The view of the main shopping concourse in the domestic terminal building of New Chitose Airport as I make my way down towards New Chitose Airport Station

The escalators leading towards the upper shopping areas in the domestic flight terminal at New Chitose Airport as I make my way down towards New Chitose Airport Station

The first view of the passenger waiting room at New Chitose Airport Station in the early evening hours

The overall view of the passenger waiting room at New Chitose Airport Station in the early evening hours

The main station concourse at New Chitose Airport Station in the early evening hours

The first view of the station platforms at New Chitose Airport Station in the early evening hours

After spending approximately 15 minutes of anticipated waiting on the platform, a 6-car 721 series EMU finally arrived at New Chitose Airport Station at 5.46 p.m. on Track No. 2. The train had just arrived from Otaru as the Rapid Airport train No. 170 service earlier, and was to undergo extensive cleaning before becoming the Rapid Airport train No. 181 bound for Otaru. The entire cleaning process took approximately no more than 10 minutes.

Once the entire cleaning process was completed, all the doors were opened at 5.55 p.m. to allow the passengers to board the train. I then boarded Car No. 4, which was the reserved seating ("u" seat) car, and secured my assigned Seat No. 8A for the short journey time of 1 hour 06 minutes back towards the suburban port city of Otaru.

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 its regional journey time of 1 hour 13 minutes towards the suburban port city of Otaru. I was then on my way for a short railway journey time of 1 hour 06 minutes back towards the suburban port city of Otaru.

A view of my seat, 8A, during the boarding process at New Chitose Airport Station

The rear view of the reserved seating ("u" seat) cabin on the 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 181 bound for Otaru, during the boarding process at New Chitose Airport Station

The front view of the reserved seating ("u" seat) cabin on the 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 181 bound for Otaru, during the boarding process at New Chitose Airport Station

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

The view of the reserved seating ("u" seat) cabin on the 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 181 bound for Otaru, from my seat while making a brief stop at Minami-chitose Station

Making a brief stop at Minami-chitose Station

The night view of Chitose Outlet Mall Rera shortly after departing Minami-chitose Station

The night view of Chitose Outlet Mall Rera between Minami-chitose and Chitose Stations

TAP Portugal Airbus A340-312 Herpa Scale 1:500 (506186)

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

Making a brief stop at Shin-sapporo Station

721系 快速エアポート181号 札幌経由小樽行き 札幌駅から琴似駅

The view of the reserved seating ("u" seat) cabin on the 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 181 bound for Otaru, between Sapporo and Otaru-chikko

Travelling along the coast of the Sea of Japan between Teine and Otaru-chikko Stations

The beautiful night view of the Sea of Japan along the JR Hakodate Main Line at night

The night view of the Sea of Japan as the train approaches Otaru-chikko Station

After a short journey time of 1 hour 08 minutes from New Chitose Airport, I finally arrived at Otaru-chikko Station at 7.12 p.m., two minutes behind schedule, on Track No. 1. Ensuring that none of my belongings had been left behind, I alighted the train and took the elevator up towards the main station concourse.

I then exited the station concourse through the manned ticket gates and left the station area by 7.20 p.m.. To get my access back towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru, I walked along the pedestrian footbridge and through the many shopping areas around Wing Bay Otaru. The entire walk between the Grand Park Hotel Otaru and Otaru-chikko Station took no more than approximately five minutes.

Otaru-chikko Station (小樽築港駅) is a small railway station located in the neighbourhood of Chikko, Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan. The station is directly connected to Wing Bay Otaru via a pedestrian footbridge and is a short five-minute walk away from the Grand Park Hotel Otaru. The station is located along the Hakodate Main Line, and has one island platform serving two tracks. It also serves as a major stop for the Rapid Airport service linking Otaru with New Chitose Airport.

Track No. 1 serving the trains bound for Otaru and Kutchan at Otaru-chikko Station

The JR Ticket Office counter in the station concourse of Otaru-chikko Station at night

The view of the grand entrance hall in the Grand Park Hotel Otaru from the second floor

After a short five-minute walk from Otaru-chikko Station via Wing Bay Otaru, I finally arrived back at the main entrance hall of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru at 7.25 p.m.. Heading over to the main elevator lobby, I took the elevator all the way back up towards the 13th floor, which was the exact location of my room.

Reaching back at my Room No. 1302, I had a nice, hot shower before having dinner with my family in the room itself. After having dinner, I prepared my necessary belongings in preparation for my train journey towards Obihiro the next day. Soon enough, I finally turned in slightly past midnight for a well-earned good night's sleep.

Part 2 ~ A Culinary Journey Towards Obihiro

The next day, which was Saturday (10 December), I woke up at around ten o' clock after I had a well-earned good night's sleep. To start off the day right, I had a nice, hot shower and changed into my day's attire, since I was to make a train journey towards Obihiro on this day. I was lucky since I had prepared my necessary belongings the night before the trip.

Once everything had been completed, I left my hotel room at around eleven o' clock for a short walk towards Otaru-chikko Station. I then officially left the hotel by around 11.15 a.m. for a short five-minute walk towards Otaru-chikko Station. Soon enough, I finally arrived at the main entrance to Otaru-chikko Station at 11.20 a.m..

My itinerary for the in-bound journey towards Obihiro would be to catch 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 have a brief layover of approximately 1 hour 45 minutes before catching 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..

According to the departure information board in the station concourse, the Rapid Airport train No. 124 bound for New Chitose Airport would depart at 12.10 p.m. from Track No. 2. Though it was still early before my train to Sapporo, I went through the manned ticket gate, and headed down towards the platforms to spot some trains to pass the time.

The pedestrian footbridge towards Otaru-chikko Station during the early afternoon hours

The main ticketing concourse of Otaru-chikko Station during the early afternoon hours

The station platforms of Otaru-chikko Station 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 departure information board in the station platforms of Otaru-chikko Station

The station platforms of Otaru-chikko Station just before the Rapid "Airport" train No. 124 arrived on Track No. 2

After spending approximately 40 minutes of anticipated waiting on the platform, a 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid Airport train No. 124 bound for New Chitose Airport, finally arrived at Otaru-chikko Station at 12.09 p.m. on Track No. 2. I then boarded the train through Car No. 4, which was the reserved seating ("u" seat) cabin and found my assigned Seat No. 3A for the short hop towards Sapporo.

At exactly 12.10 p.m., all the train doors were closed, and the Rapid Airport train No. 124 finally pulled out of Otaru-chikko Station for its journey time of 1 hour 06 minutes towards New Chitose Airport in the suburban outskirt city of Chitose. I was then on my way for a short journey time of 26 minutes towards the hustle and bustle of Sapporo. The view of the Sea of Japan was very scenic and breathtaking on the Hakodate Main Line.

The Rapid "Airport" train No. 124 finally arriving at Otaru-chikko Station

The interior of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on the 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 124 bound for New Chitose Airport, while at Otaru-chikko Station

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

The beautiful afternoon view of the Sea of Japan shortly after leaving Otaru-chikko Station

The interior of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on the 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 124 bound for New Chitose Airport, from my seat between Otaru-chikko and Teine

The beautiful afternoon view of the Sea of Japan from the Hakodate Main Line on a clear winter's afternoon

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

Another clear and beautiful view of the Sea of Japan on the Hakodate Main Line

The Sea of Japan as seen from the Rapid "Airport" train No. 124 bound for New Chitose Airport between Otaru-chikko and Teine

A pair of reserve seats ("u" seat) on the 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 124 bound for New Chitose Airport, between Otaru-chikko and Sapporo

The interior of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on the 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 124 bound for New Chitose Airport, between Kotoni and Sapporo

After a short 26-minute hop from the suburban port city of Otaru, I finally arrived at Sapporo Station at 12.36 p.m. on Track No. 6. Ensuring that I had all of my personal belongings with me, I alighted the train and went down towards the main station concourse to see which platform the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 7 bound for Kushiro would depart from.

According to the departure information board in the concourse, the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 7 bound for Kushiro would depart at 2.20 p.m. from Track No. 7. Since I still had approximately 1 hour 45 minutes before my ongoing train towards Obihiro, I decided to do some train-spotting on the platforms before heading up towards Tracks No. 7 and 8 by 1.15 p.m..

The Super Ozora (スーパーおおぞら) is a limited express train service that is operated by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido) between Sapporo and Kushiro in Hokkaido, Japan. The service runs over the Chitose Line, Sekisho Line and Nemuro Main Line along its route, and is capable of reaching a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph). There are a total of seven daily return workings in each direction, with the fastest service taking 3 hours 35 minutes.

The service commenced operations on 22 March 1997, using new KiHa 283 series DMUs at a maximum speed of 130 km/h (80 mph) as its main rolling stock. Services are normally formed of six or seven cars, but may be occasionally lengthened to eight to ten cars on certain days and months. Green Car (first class) accommodation is provided in Car No. 3 on all services, except on trains No. 2 and 13, though Green Cars (first class) may also be fitted to these services on selected days and months. There is no extra charge required for the Super Ozora limited express service for tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass and / or a Hokkaido Rail Pass.

On 27 May 2011, a 6-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 14 service bound for Sapporo from Kushiro, was brought to an emergency stop in the 685 metre-long No. 1 Niniu Tunnel, after Car No. 2 became derailed at 9.55 p.m.. The train eventually caught fire, and all of 245 people on board, including the on-board staff, evacuated the train safely. Though everyone on board survived, 39 people required hospital treatment for minor burn injuries and smoke inhalation. The burnt-out train was eventually removed from the tunnel a couple of days later, and was eventually withdrawn and scrapped on 30 June 2011.

Tracks No. 5 and 6 at Sapporo Station crowded with commuters

A 5-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Tokachi" No. 5 service bound for Obihiro, entering Sapporo Station on Track No. 4

The LED destination panel of the 5-car KiHa 283 series DMU in English, operating on the Limited Express "Super Tokachi" No. 5 bound for Obihiro, at Sapporo Station on Track No. 4

The LED destination panel of the 5-car KiHa 283 series DMU in Japanese, operating on the Limited Express "Super Tokachi" No. 5 bound for Obihiro, at Sapporo Station on Track No. 4

The logo of the 5-car KiHa 283 series DMU in English, operating on the Limited Express "Super Tokachi" No. 5 bound for Obihiro, at Sapporo Station on Track No. 4

The 5-car KiHa 283 series DMU in English, operating on the Limited Express "Super Tokachi" No. 5 bound for Obihiro, at Sapporo Station on Track No. 4

The departure information board for trains departing from Track No. 7 at Sapporo Station

Tracks No. 7 and 8 at Sapporo Station in the mid-afternoon hours

The departure information board for trains departing from Track No. 7 at Sapporo Station, indicating that the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro is finally arriving

After spending approximately 1 hour 10 minutes of anticipated waiting 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 Station at 1.45 p.m. on Track No. 7. Once the train doors swung open, I immediately boarded the train through Car No. 2, and went into Car No. 3, which was the Green Car (first class) cabin. I then found my assigned Seat No. 2D for the journey time of 2 hours 18 minutes towards the eastern suburban city of Obihiro. As time went by after 1.55 p.m., more passengers began to board the train.

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

Obihiro (帯広市) is a suburban city located in Tokachi Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan. It is the largest and only city in the Tokachi area, with a population of approximately 168,546, as of 1 February 2013. The city is served by Obihiro Station and Tokachi-Obihiro Airport, which only caters to domestic flights towards Tokyo (Haneda). It takes approximately 2 hours 30 minutes between Sapporo and Obihiro by train. The city is well known for Butadon (豚丼), which is a bowl of rice served with pork glazed in special meat sauce.

An 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, finally enters Sapporo Station on Track No. 7 at 1.45 p.m.

The LED destination panel for the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU in English, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, on Track No. 7 at Sapporo Station

The LED destination panel for the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU in Japanese, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, on Track No. 7 at Sapporo Station

The front view of the newly Green Car (first class) cabin on the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, during the boarding process at Sapporo Station

A typical pair of newly refurbished Green Car (first class) seats on the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, during the boarding process at Sapporo Station

Another front view of the newly Green Car (first class) cabin on the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, during the boarding process at Sapporo Station

The rear view of the newly Green Car (first class) cabin on the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, during the boarding process at Sapporo Station

Awaiting departure from Sapporo Station

The view of the newly Green Car (first class) cabin on the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU from my seat, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, during the boarding process at Sapporo Station

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

An office building and shopping mall near Shin-sapporo Station in Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo

Bypassing a snow-covered plot of land in Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo

The view of the newly Green Car (first class) cabin on the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU from my seat, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, between Shin-sapporo and Minami-chitose Stations

Bypassing another snow-covered field in the suburban city of Eniwa

My Green Car (first class) limited express ticket for the segment between Sapporo and Obihiro

The rear view of the newly Green Car (first class) cabin on the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, between Shin-sapporo and Minami-chitose Stations

The view of Chitose Outlet Mall Rera as seen from the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro at Minami-chitose Station

Bypassing the Toyota Rent-a-Car Station Chitose on the Sekisho Line

A relatively snowy plot of land located near the Sekisho Line between Minami-chitose and Oiwake Stations

Passing a snowy plot of land located near the Sekisho Line between Minami-chitose and Oiwake Stations

Two cups of orange juice for myself on board

Passing through Oiwake Station

The rear view of the newly Green Car (first class) cabin on the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, between Oiwake and Shin-yubari Stations

Travelling adjacent to a snowy roadway by the Sekisho Line through the sparse rural city of Yubari

A view of my seat, 2D, between Oiwake and Shin-yubari Stations on the Sekisho Line

Passing through Shin-yubari Station

The view of the sparse rural city of Yubari shortly after passing Shin-yubari Station

The view of the newly Green Car (first class) cabin on the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU from my seat, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, between Shin-yubari and Tomamu Stations

Bypassing a snow-covered hilly forest in the rural village of Shimukappu between Shin-yubari and Tomamu Stations

A nice, small tub of Chocolate Hokkaido Ice Cream for myself

Bypassing a beautiful, snow-covered plot of land during sunset as the train approaches Tomamu Station

Bypassing a beautiful, snowy hillside forest during sunset as the train approaches Tomamu Station

The view of more snowy forests along the Sekisho Line during sunset

Crossing a river bridge by the Sapporo-Obihiro Expressway on the Sekisho Line

About to cross the Sapporo-Obihiro Expressway as the train nears Tomamu Station

Bypassing a mountainous snowy forest along the Sekisho Line by the Sapporo-Obihiro Expressway

The view of the deserted Sapporo-Obihiro Expressway surrounded by snowy forests

The view of the newly Green Car (first class) cabin on the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU from my seat, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, as the train goes through the snowy forests along the Sekisho Line

Bypassing a small hut located by the Sekisho Line

The seat facility instruction sticker on the front seat tray table

The view of several snowy forests during sunset on the Sekisho Line as the train nears Shintoku Station

Bypassing a beautiful, snow-covered plot of land during sunset between Tomamu and Shintoku Stations

The view of the newly Green Car (first class) cabin on the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU from my seat, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, between Tomamu and Shintoku Stations

Bypassing a beautiful, snow-covered plot of land during sunset as the train approaches Shintoku Station

The view of the newly Green Car (first class) cabin on the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU from my seat, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, as the train approaches Shintoku Station

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 newly Green Car (first class) cabin on the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, between Shintoku and Obihiro

Bypassing a beautiful, snow-covered plot of land during dusk along the Nemuro Main Line between Shintoku and Tokachi-shimizu Stations

A view of my seat, 2D, between Shintoku and Obihiro Stations on the Nemuro Main Line

The view of nightfall over the Nemuro Main Line as the train approaches Obihiro Station

After a journey time of 2 hours 18 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Sapporo, I finally arrived at Obihiro Station at 4.38 p.m. on Track No. 1. Ensuring that none of my personal belongings had been left behind on board, I alighted the train and shot a video of the train departing the station on the platform.

Upon doing this, I was feeling rather hungry for some Butadon. Without wasting anymore time, I took the escalator down and exited via the manned ticketing gate, eventually arriving at the main station concourse by 4.50 p.m.. After that, I decided to look around the station's souvenir shop to see what good restaurant was there to eat at for my tea.

Obihiro Station (帯広駅) is the central railway station serving the suburban city of Obihiro, Hokkaido, Japan. The station is located along the Nemuro Main Line and is managed by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido). As of 17 March 2012, there are two island platforms serving four tracks. The station is a major stop for the Super Ozora limited express service between Sapporo and Kushiro, whereas the station is the eastern terminus for the Super Tokachi limited express service.

The 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 7 bound for Kushiro, on Track No. 1 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

Tracks No. 1 and 2 serving the Nemuro Main Line trains bound for Kushiro and Nemuro

The departure information board in the station concourse serving the trains departing from Tracks No. 3 and 4 towards Sapporo and Asahikawa

After taking the escalators down towards Esta souvenir shop, I finally stumbled upon a very small Butadon cafeteria, known as Butadon no Butahage (豚丼のぶたはげ). Feeling rather famished already, I entered the cafeteria and requested for a table for myself. The owner of the cafeteria, an elderly waitress, warmly directed me to a small, empty table.

Upon being directed to an empty table, she informed me that the food and beverage menus had been placed on the table for me to make my review before placing my main meal order for my late afternoon tea. Having a very good review through the food and beverage menu, I ordered a large and nice, mouthwatering bowl of the famous local Butadon dish for myself. The taste of the Butadon really melts in your mouth as you savour it.

The interior view of Butadon no Butahage cafeteria in Obihiro Station

The view of Esta souvenir shop in Butadon no Butahage cafeteria in Obihiro Station

The cuts of pork being grilled on the barbecue griller in Butadon no Butahage cafeteria in Obihiro Station

The food and beverage menu of Butadon no Butahage cafeteria in Obihiro Station

My large bowl of Butadon at the Butadon no Butahage cafeteria in Obihiro Station

The logo of Butadon no Butahage cafeteria in Obihiro Station above the entrance

After having a nice, wonderful afternoon tea of Butadon at Butadon no Butahage, the clock was finally showing five o' clock. Though I had originally planned to purchase four bottles of the famous Butadon sauce with a capacity of 360 millilitres each, the cafeteria owner sadly informed me that in light of the economic downturn following the Great East Japan Tsunami, the famous sauce was no longer on sale, much to my disappointment. Nevertheless, to make up for this, I decided to purchase a large Butadon dinner meal box in preparation for my return journey back towards the suburban port city of Otaru.

My itinerary for the return trip to Otaru would be to catch the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 12 bound for Sapporo, which would be scheduled to depart Obihiro Station at 5.44 p.m., and arrive at the Sapporo terminal station at 8.13 p.m.. Upon arriving at Sapporo, I would have a short 25-minute layover before catching the 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.. I then grabbed all of my belongings and thanked the cafeteria owner for her hospitable services before heading back into the station concourse.

Upon arriving at the station concourse, I went to check the departure information board to see which platform the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 12 bound for Sapporo would depart from. According to the departure information board in the station concourse, the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 12 bound for Sapporo would depart at 5.44 p.m. from Track No. 4. Having all of my belongings with me, I went through the manned ticket gate and took the escalator up towards Tracks No. 3 and 4 in preparation for the first segment towards Sapporo.

The interior of Esta souvenir shop in Obihiro Station

The main station concourse of Obihiro Station during the early evening hours

Tracks No. 3 and 4 serving the trains bound for Shintoku, Takikawa and Sapporo at Obihiro Station

The departure information board for trains departing from Track No. 4 showing the details for the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo in English

The departure information board for trains departing from Track No. 4 showing the details for the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo in Japanese

Tracks No. 3 and 4 at Obihiro Station just before the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo arrived

After spending approximately half an hour of anticipated waiting on the station platform, an 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 12 bound for Sapporo, finally arrived at Obihiro Station at 5.43 p.m. on Track No. 4. Being sure that I had all of my belongings with me, I immediately boarded the train through Car No. 3, which was the Green Car (first class) carriage, and found my assigned Seat No. 2D for the first segment of my return journey towards Otaru via Sapporo.

The Green Car (first class) seats on board were the older generation of seats, and they were still quite comfortable, despite showing their age. At exactly 5.44 p.m., all the train doors were closed, and the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 12 finally pulled out of Obihiro Station for its remaining journey towards the husling and bustling urban city of Sapporo. I was then on my way for a railroad journey time of 2 hours 29 minutes towards the hustle and bustle of Sapporo.

An 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo, finally arriving at Obihiro Station on Track No. 4

The LED destination panel of the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU in English, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo, on Track No. 4 at Obihiro Station

The LED destination panel of the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU in Japanese, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo, on Track No. 4 at Obihiro Station

The front view of the soon-to-be refurbished Green Car (first class) cabin on the KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo, at Obihiro Station

A view of my seat, 2D, at Obihiro Station

キハ283系 特急スーパーおおぞら12号 札幌行き 帯広駅から発車と座席

My Green Car (first class) ticket for the first segment of my return journey between Obihiro and Sapporo

My large Butadon dinner box accompanied with two cups of orange juice

About to enjoy my large Butadon dinner box on board

The front view of the soon-to-be refurbished Green Car (first class) cabin on the KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo, between Obihiro and Shintoku

A view of my seat, 2D, between Obihiro and Shintoku

The view of the soon-to-be refurbished Green Car (first class) cabin on the KiHa 283 series DMU from my seat, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo, between Obihiro and Shintoku

Travelling between the towns of Memuro and Shintoku at night

Travelling near the rural town of Shintoku as the train approaches Shintoku Station

The view of the soon-to-be refurbished Green Car (first class) cabin on the KiHa 283 series DMU from my seat, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo, between Shintoku and Tomamu

Travelling along the Sekisho Line between Shintoku and Shimukappu

Passing through the rural city of Yubari at night as the train approaches Shin-yubari Station

Making a brief stop at Shin-yubari Station

The front view of the soon-to-be refurbished Green Car (first class) cabin on the KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo, between Shin-yubari and Oiwake Stations

Travelling along the Sekisho Line between Shin-yubari and Oiwake Stations at night

A box of almond chocolates for myself

Making a brief stop at Oiwake Station

Travelling through the sparse areas along the Sekisho Line between Oiwake and Minami-chitose Stations

Approaching the suburban city of Chitose at night

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

Making a brief stop at Minami-chitose Station

The view of Chitose Outlet Mall Rera at night shortly after departing Minami-chitose Station

Passing through Chitose Station

Travelling along the Chitose Line between the suburban cities of Chitose and Kitahiroshima

Passing through Kitahiroshima Station

Making a brief stop at Shin-sapporo Station

Bypassing several housing areas between Atsubetsu-ku and Shiroishi-ku, Sapporo at night

After a journey time of 2 hours 29 minutes from the eastern suburban city of Obihiro, I finally arrived at the Sapporo terminal station at 8.13 p.m. on Track No. 4. Being sure to check that none of my belongings had been left behind, I alighted the train and went down towards the main station concourse to check which platform the Rapid Airport train No. 201 bound for Otaru would depart from.

According to the train departure information board in the main station concourse, the Rapid Airport train No. 201 bound for Otaru would depart at 8.44 p.m. from Track No. 1. Since I still had approximately 25 minutes before my connecting train back towards Otaru, I decided to do spot some trains on Tracks No. 3 and 4 before heading over towards Tracks No. 1 and 2 in preparation for my final return segment towards Otaru.

The 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU, which took me as the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo from Obihiro, on Track No. 4 at Sapporo Station

The logo of the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU, which took me as the Limited Express "Super Ozora" No. 12 bound for Sapporo from Obihiro, on Track No. 4 at Sapporo Station

The LED destination panel of the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU, indicating that the train is out of service

The Green Car (first class) logo on the 8-car KiHa 283 series DMU

Tracks No. 3 and 4 at Sapporo Station during the mid-evening hours

A 5-car 789 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 200 bound for New Chitose Airport on Track No. 5 at Sapporo Station. This train had arrived as the Limited Express "Super Kamui" No. 44 from Asahikawa earlier

After spending approximately 25 minutes of train-spotting on the station platforms, a 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid Airport train No. 201 bound for Otaru, finally arrived at Sapporo Station at 8.40 p.m. on Track No. 1. Without wasting anymore time, I boarded the train through Car No. 4, which was the reserved seating ("u" seat) car, and found my assigned Seat No. 4A for the short 26-minute hop towards the suburban port city of Otaru.

Once the clock struck 8.44 p.m., all the doors were closed, and the Rapid Airport train No. 201 finally pulled out of Sapporo Station for its remaining journey of just 33 minutes towards Otaru. I was then on my way for a short journey time of 26 minutes towards the suburban port city of Otaru. The night view of the Sea of Japan along the Hakodate Main Line was especially beautiful, which eventually allowed me to film videos along the entire segment between Sapporo and Otaru-chikko.

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 reserved seating ("u" seat) car interior of the 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 201 bound for Otaru, at Sapporo Station

A view of my seat, 4A, for the short 26-minute hop back towards 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)

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

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 26-minute hop from the hustle and bustle of Sapporo, I finally arrive back at Otaru-chikko Station at 9.10 p.m. on Track No. 1. Ensuring that I had all of my belongings with me, I alighted the train and did not stop filming the video until the train was completely out of sight away from the station. Noticing that I was rather hungry and that there was nothing left to do, I decided to head back towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru.

To access the Grand Park Hotel Otaru, I decided to walk along the path by the snowy road, since the passageway via Wing Bay Otaru was closed. With that, I left Otaru-chikko Station by 9.15 p.m.. The entire walk between Otaru-chikko Station and the Grand Park Hotel Otaru took no more than just five minutes.

Track No. 1 of Otaru-chikko Station serving the Hakodate Main Line trains towards Otaru and Kutchan

The departure information board in the station concourse of Otaru-chikko Station

The main station concourse of Otaru-chikko Station at night

After a short five-minute walk from Otaru-chikko Station, I finally arrived back at the main entrance hall in the Grand Park Hotel Otaru by 9.20 p.m.. Heading towards the elevator lobby, I took the elevator all the way back up towards the thirteenth floor, where my Room No. 1302 was located. Upon arrival back at my Room No. 1302, I had a nice, hot shower and changed into my pyjamas before settling down to enjoy a nice and sumptuous in-room dinner with my family.

I then prepared all of my necessary belongings in preparation for my long train journey towards Wakkanai the next morning. Once everything had been completed, I set my mobile phone alarm to five o' clock in the morning, and arranged for the hotel reception to give me a wake-up call at the same timing for the next morning. Soon enough, I finally turned in by eleven o' clock late that night to have a good night's rest for my long journey towards Wakkanai the next morning.

Part 3 ~ My Long Limited Express Train Ride to Wakkanai

The next morning, which was Sunday (11 December), I woke up at exactly five o' clock after my mobile phone alarm and the hotel reception's wake-up call came on. Energetically, I leapt out of bed and had a nice, hot shower before changing into my attire for the day. I was also very lucky since I had packed all my electronic devices and chargers, as I knew that the journey towards Wakkanai was going to be very long. My dad woke up and offered to give me a lift towards Otaru-chikko Station.

As soon as I was all ready to go, we left our rooms by 5.20 a.m., and took the elevator all the way down towards the main entrance hall and took another elevator towards the hotel's basement car parking area. Once my dad fetched the car, I loaded my belongings into the car, and left the hotel by 5.30 a.m. for a short five-minute road drive towards Otaru-chikko Station. Arriving at Otaru-chikko Station at 5.35 a.m., I grabbed my belongings and thanked my dad for the short ride before he headed back to the hotel to get more sleep. Taking the elevator up towards the station concourse, I sorted out all of my belongings to see whether all of my electronic device chargers were with me.

My itinerary for the in-bound journey towards Wakkanai would be to catch a Hakodate Main 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 arriving at Sapporo Station, I would have a short layover of approximately an hour before catching 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..

I then went to check which platform the next local train towards Sapporo would depart from. According to the departure information board located in the station concourse, the nearest local train bound for New Chitose Airport via Sapporo would depart at 6.06 a.m. from Track No. 2. Though it was still early, I headed down towards the platforms to begin my very long journey. This was when I noticed that the station platform was completely deserted, which made Otaru-chikko Station appear to be like a haunted railway station in this way, even in the dark, wee hours of winter mornings.

The pedestrian footbridge linking to Otaru-chikko Station from Wing Bay Otaru in the wee hours of the morning

The main station concourse of Otaru-chikko Station in the wee hours of the morning

The deserted station platforms of Otaru-chikko Station, which really makes the station look like a haunted railway station in the early hours of the winter mornings

The departure information board showing the departure timings for the early morning trains towards Sapporo at Otaru-chikko Station

Track No. 2 of Otaru-chikko Station shortly before the 6.06 a.m. Hakodate Main Line local train bound for New Chitose Airport via Sapporo arrived

After spending approximately 10 minutes of anticipated waiting on the platform, a 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the early morning Hakodate Main Line local service bound for New Chitose Airport, finally arrived at Otaru-chikko Station at 6.05 a.m. on Track No. 2. This train would then form as the Rapid Airport train No. 62 bound for New Chitose Airport after departing Sapporo Station. I then boarded the train through Car No. 4, which would become the reserved seating ("u" seat) car beyond Sapporo, and grabbed a seat on the right side of the train for the short 39-minute hop towards Sapporo.

At exactly 6.06 a.m., all the train doors were closed, and the soon-to-be Rapid Airport train No. 62 finally departed Otaru-chikko Station for its short journey time of 1 hour 20 minutes towards New Chitose Airport. I was then on my way for a short journey time of 39 minutes towards the hustle and bustle of Sapporo, catching some beautiful early morning views of the Sea of Japan along the way.

The reserved seating ("u" seat) interior of the 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the soon-to-be Rapid "Airport" train No. 62 bound for New Chitose Airport via Sapporo, between Otaru-chikko and Teine

A typical pair of reserved seats ("u" seats) on the 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the soon-to-be Rapid "Airport" train No. 62 bound for New Chitose Airport via Sapporo, between Otaru-chikko and Teine

Travelling along the coastal route by the Sea of Japan on the Hakodate Main Line between Otaru-chikko and Teine Stations

The very first sights of dawn over the Sea of Japan between Otaru-chikko and Teine Stations

Bypassing some housing areas in Teine-ku, Sapporo

Bypassing the train depot near Inaho Station

Pulling into Inaho Station

Bypassing some housing areas between Teine-ku and Nishi-ku, Sapporo

Making a brief stop at Hassamu Station

The view of the snowy area of Nishi-ku, Sapporo during sunrise as the train approaches Sapporo Station

After a rather short 39-minute train ride from the suburban port city of Otaru, I finally arrived at Sapporo Station at 6.45 a.m. on Track No. 6. Having all my belongings with me, I alighted the train and decided to do some train-spotting, since I still had 50 minutes left before my connecting train bound for Wakkanai. Sapporo Station was really bustling lively with lots of trains, especially at this time of 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 plenty of time, I carried on with my train-spotting activity until I decided to head over towards Track No. 7 at 7.10 a.m., in preparation for my connecting train towards Wakkanai.

The Super Soya (スーパー宗谷) is the name of a limited express train service operated by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido) between Sapporo and Wakkanai in Hokkaido, Japan. There are only two trains running in each direction daily, with a maximum speed of 130 km/h (80 mph). The service runs over the Hakodate Main Line and the Soya Main Line over its route, with the fastest journey duration taking approximately between 4 hours 56 minutes to five hours.

The service commenced operations on 11 March 2000, using KiHa 261 series DMUs as its main rolling stock, operating at a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph). Services are generally formed of four cars, but may be occasionally lengthened up to five or six cars on certain days and months. Green Car (first class) accommodation is provided in the front half of Car No. 1, seating up to a maximum of nine passengers.

A 7-car KiHa 283 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Hokuto" No. 2 bound for Hakodate, on Track No. 4 at Sapporo Station

The station platforms of Sapporo Station in the early morning hours

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

Tracks No. 5 and 6 at 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

The departure information board for trains departing from Track No. 7 at Sapporo Station

Tracks No. 7 and 8 at Sapporo Station in the early morning hours

Track No. 7 at Sapporo Station, with a 5-car KiHa 183 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Hokuto" No. 4 bound for Hakodate, on Track No. 6

Track No. 7 at Sapporo Station shortly before the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai arrived

The departure information board for trains departing from Track No. 7, indicating that the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai

After spending approximately 50 minutes of anticipated waiting on the station platforms, a 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express Super Soya No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, finally arrived at Sapporo Station at 7.35 a.m. on Track No. 7. As soon as the train doors swung open, I immediately boarded the train through Car No. 1, and went into the Green Car (first class) cabin at the front of the train.

I then went to my assigned Seat No. 8D for the long journey towards Wakkanai, and given that there were only nine seats in the Green Car (first class) cabin in a 2-1 configuration, it made the cabin feel rather private for passengers. AC power outlets were also available at each window seat to allow passengers to charge their electronic devices during longer train journeys. More passengers began to board the train as time went by, though the seat next to me would stay empty throughout the long journey.

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 for its long journey time of five hours towards the northern suburban port city of Wakkanai. Throughout the entire journey, I was very lucky since I had my electronic devices to keep me company, and everywhere was covered in a thick blanket of snow, which was indeed a magical sight.

Wakkanai (稚内市) is a small suburban port city located in Soya Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan. It is the capital city of Soya Subprefecture and the northernmost city in Japan, with a population of approximately 37,500. The city is home to Japan's northernmost point, Cape Soya, where the Russian island of Sakhalin can be seen.

Access to Wakkanai is very limited, whether it is by air, road or railway. The city has a small airport, Wakkanai Airport, which mainly caters to limited All Nippon Airways domestic flights towards Tokyo and Sapporo. The Super Soya and Sarobetsu limited express train services, both operated by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido), run thrice daily between the cities of Sapporo and Wakkanai.

A 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, finally enters Sapporo Station on Track No. 7

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, during the boarding process at Sapporo Station

A view of my seat, 8D, during the boarding process at Sapporo Station

キハ261系 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) ticket for the segment between Sapporo and Wakkanai

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, between Sapporo and Iwamizawa

Bypassing a small school located in Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo

Bypassing a small road linking between Sapporo and Ebetsu

Bypassing a road bridge adjacent to the Hakodate Main Line between Sapporo and Iwamizawa

Passing a very beautiful and snowy landscape between Sapporo and Iwamizawa

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

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

Bypassing another snowy plot of land between Ebetsu and Iwamizawa

Passing by some leafless trees in a blanket of snow as the train approaches Iwamizawa Station

Making a brief stop at Iwamizawa Station

The view of the snowy railway tracks shortly after departing Iwamizawa Station

Bypassing several small snow-covered coops near the suburban city of Iwamizawa

Passing several small houses near the suburban city of Iwamizawa

Bypassing a farming area during a heavy snowstorm between Iwamizawa and Bibai

Travelling through the snowy landscape between the cities of Iwamizawa and Sunagawa

Bypassing a lonely house near the suburban city of Bibai

Bypassing another snowy landscape during a heavy snowstorm between Iwamizawa and Sunagawa

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

Passing by a large, snowy plateau near the suburban cities of Iwamizawa and Takikawa

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

Bypassing another snowy farming area near the suburban city of Sunagawa

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

Passing several snow-covered farming areas as the train approaches Takikawa Station

Making a brief stop at Takikawa Station

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

Bypassing a snowy landscape between the suburban cities of Takikawa and Fukagawa

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

Bypassing a snowy rural settlement between Fukagawa and Asahikawa

Bypassing another snowy, sparse settlement area as the train approaches Fukagawa Station

Bypassing a snow-covered road and mountain between Fukagawa and Asahikawa

Bypassing a snowy mountain forest between the cities of Fukagawa and Asahikawa

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Asahikawa

Bypassing several housing apartments in Asahikawa as the train approaches Asahikawa Station

Making a brief stop at Asahikawa Station

The view of the snowy city of Asahikawa shortly after departing Asahikawa Station

Bypassing a freight train yard located near Asahikawa Station

Bypassing some dispersed settlements in the snowy city of Asahikawa

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

A beautiful and snowy landscape between Asahikawa and Wassamu on the Soya Main Line

Bypassing a mountainous landscape in the snow between Asahikawa and Wassamu

A view of my seat, 8D, between Asahikawa and Nayoro

Making a brief stop at Nayoro Station

Crossing a river bridge on the Soya Main Line between Nayoro and Teshio-nakagawa

Bypassing a snowy, mountainous landscape on the Soya Main Line between Nayoro and Bifuka

Bypassing a large, open snow field by a snowy roadway as the train approaches Bifuka Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on the KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, from my seat between Bifuka and Teshio-nakagawa

Bypassing a snow-covered railroad crossing by a snowy forest

Bypassing a snow-covered plateau near some plantations on the Soya Main Line

Several leafless, snow-covered trees located by the Soya Main Line track

Bypassing more leafless and snow covered trees by the line

Bypassing another mountainous and snowy landscape somewhere between Otoineppu and Toyotomi

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on the KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, from my seat between Teshio-nakagawa and Toyotomi

Bypassing a snow-covered mountainous forest by the Soya Main Line track between Otoineppu and Toyotomi

Bypassing a frosty river by a snow mountain on the Soya Main Line between Otoineppu and Toyotomi

Bypassing a snowy, mountainous forest between Otoineppu and Toyotomi

The frosty river flowing gracefully by the mountain forest adjacent to the Soya Main Line

The river flowing by another forest on the Soya Main Line between Horonobe and Toyotomi

Bypassing a forest and sparse snowy landscape on the Soya Main Line between Horonobe and Toyotomi

The winter sun shining over the snowy landscape on the Soya Main Line

Bypassing a snowy forest along the Soya Main Line between Horonobe and Toyotomi

Bypassing a landscape with sparse vegetation between Horonobe and Toyotomi

Bypassing another snow-covered plateau as the train approaches Toyotomi Station

キハ261系 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 standard class car cabin view in Car No. 2 of the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, between Toyotomi and Wakkanai

Bypassing a snowy mountainous landscape by a snowy roadway between Toyotomi and Wakkanai

Bypassing a sparse vegetation landscape between Toyotomi and Wakkanai

The beautiful afternoon view of the Sea of Japan from the Soya Main Line as the train nears Wakkanai

Making a brief stop 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. on Track No. 1. Ensuring that I had all of my belongings with me, I alighted the train, only to notice that many parts of the port city were covered in a blanket of snow and the outer surroundings were very cold, making it a very beautiful sight to see in Hokkaido.

The station concourse was being renovated at that time, with the new station building being completed and opened in spring 2012. The main station concourse also had an electrical heater, which helps passengers to keep warm during harshly cold winters. Feeling rather famished after my long train journey from Otaru, I decided to look for a nearby restaurant to eat at for lunch.

Wakkanai Station (稚内駅) is the central railway terminal serving the suburban port city of Wakkanai, Hokkaido, Japan. It is the northern terminus of the Soya Main Line, as well as the northernmost railway station in Japan. As of 17 March 2012, there is only one single side platform serving only one track at the station. The Sarobetsu and Super Soya limited express services from Sapporo terminate here.

A view of my seat, 8D, shortly after arriving at the Wakkanai terminal station

The logo of the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU at Wakkanai Station

The sole station platform at Wakkanai Station

The 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, which took me as the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Sapporo earlier, at Wakkanai Station

The main station concourse of Wakkanai Station during the winter afternoon hours

The taxi stand located just outside the entrance to Wakkanai Station

The view of the northern suburban port city of Wakkanai, with the ANA Hotel Wakkanai in the background, as seen from the entrance to Wakkanai Station

The exterior view of Wakkanai Station with renovation works still ongoing

Finally stumbling upon a nearby seafood market, Kita Market Dream Plaza, located near Wakkanai Station

After looking around the area of Wakkanai Station very carefully, I finally stumbled upon a nearby seafood market and restaurant near the station, known as Kita Market Dream Plaza (北市場・夢広場). The building consisted of two levels, of which, the first level housed the seafood market, whereas the second level housed the restaurant.

Feeling very hungry already, I walked up the staircase towards the second level, where Kita Market Dream Plaza Restaurant was located. Upon entering the restaurant, a nice and kind elderly lady, who happened to be the owner of the restaurant, warmly welcomed me into the restaurant. As soon as I was directed to an empty table by the food counter, I made a very good review through the food and beverage menus before placing my main meal orders for lunch.

No comments:

Post a Comment