Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Combined Christmas Winter Vacation to Hokkaido, Japan and South Korea in December 2013 ~ Section 4

Welcome to the fourth section of my special combined Christmas winter vacation around Hokkaido, Japan and South Korea in December 2013. There will be a total of three focus topics which will be covered in this segment of the blog report. They will mainly be the long road journey to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru and spending the afternoon at Otaru Asarigawa Onsen, followed by my myriad train journeys towards New Chitose Airport and Wakkanai.

Part 1 ~ The Road Journey Towards The Grand Park Hotel Otaru

After spending one week of food, trains and exploring in the sparse, rural city of Furano, it was finally time to head to Otaru, where we would spend our next remaining three days of our winter holiday in Hokkaido, Japan, before continuing on to South Korea and eventually back home to Singapore. On the morning of Saturday (21 December), I woke up at around nine o' clock after having a well-earned night's rest.

Since it was still too early to do anything other than to stay on my laptop quietly, both my parents came upstairs to the kitchen area in order to whip up some breakfast for us to eat. Upon having a nice, fresh in-house breakfast, we all managed to have a nice, hot shower before proceeding to pack the remainder of our baggage in preparation for the upcoming long early afternoon road journey to the suburban port city of Otaru.

The interior of our living room and dining room in the Forest View at The Petit Hotel Suzuran Furano during the late morning hours

The view of the deep snow-covered plateau located near our chalet in Furano

The view of the snowy forests from our chalet in Furano

After spending the rest of the entire morning packing up our baggage, my parents called for Masaki-san for an in-chalet check-out process at around 10.40 a.m.. Once all our baggage were sorted and nothing had been left behind in the living room, my parents returned our chalet key to Masaki-san, while he thanked us for our patronage at the Petit Hotel Suzuran Furano. We too agreed that the stay at Forest View at the Petit Hotel Suzuran Furano was not bad.

While I helped my dad load our belongings into the boot of our car, my younger brother and mum went back into the chalet to carry out a final check for any unpacked belongings. As soon as all of our baggage was loaded into the boot of our rented car, we finally departed the rather secluded compound of the Forest View Chalet at the Petit Hotel Suzuran Furano at eleven o' clock. The entire road journey between the Forest View Chalet at the Petit Hotel Suzuran Furano and the suburban port city of Otaru took approximately 2 hours 10 minutes.

Otaru (小樽市) is a small suburban port city located in Shiribeshi Sub-prefecture, Hokkaido, Japan. Located along the coast of the Sea of Japan and Ishikari Bay, the city serves as a vital fishing port for Sapporo, since Sapporo highly relies on Otaru for seafood. Otaru is also a popular tourist destination for its historical infrastructure and Mount Tengu, and is easily accessible by road or railway from Sapporo by just 25 minutes.

Our rented Toyota car parked outside our chalet shortly before we left for our long road journey towards Otaru

The exterior view of the Forest View semi-detached chalet at the Petit Hotel Suzuran Furano just before we left for our long road journey towards Otaru

The view of the snow-covered plateau from outside the Forest View Chalet at the Petit Hotel Suzuran Furano just before we left for our long road journey towards Otaru

Our rented Toyota car receiving its final preparations for our long road journey towards Otaru

The view of the snowy plateau near the Forest View Chalet at the Petit Hotel Suzuran Furano as we begin our journey towards Otaru

Stopping at a convenience store to purchase some light snacks and beverages

Bypassing a snow-covered field by a snow mountain in the sparse, rural city of Furano

Travelling past a somewhat snowy hill in the sparse, rural city of Furano

Bypassing a large mountainous snow forest as we climb up a mountainous road on a cloudy winter's morning

Bypassing another large mountainous snow forest along the mountainous road somewhere near Ashibetsu

Driving along a secluded curved road by some leafless plants in a snowy plateau between the sparse, rural cities of Furano and Ashibetsu

Travelling past a dry and snowy plantation forest between Ashibetsu and Mikasa

Bypassing a snow-covered field with several leafless plants and a snowy mountain near Mikasa

Bypassing a snow-covered hill between Ashibetsu and Mikasa

Travelling along a mountainous curvy road near the sparse, rural city of Mikasa

Bypassing a large mountainous snow forest in the sparse, rural city of Mikasa

Bypassing a road junction in the sparse, rural city of Mikasa

Bypassing a snow-covered field in the sparse, rural city of Mikasa

Bypassing a school in the sparse, rural city of Mikasa

Bypassing some small housing areas in the sparse, rural city of Mikasa

Approaching a toll gate leading towards the Sapporo-Asahikawa Expressway in the sparse, rural city of Mikasa

Bypassing a snowy field in the sparse, rural city of Mikasa along the Sapporo-Asahikawa Expressway

Bypassing a snowy field between the cities of Mikasa and Iwamizawa

The view of a large, snowy field in the suburban city of Iwamizawa

A panoramic view of the Sapporo-Asahikawa Expressway on the way towards Otaru

Travelling through the suburban city of Ebetsu along the Asahikawa-Sapporo Expressway

Bypassing a snowy field between the cities of Ebetsu and Sapporo

The view of a mountain located close towards downtown Sapporo

Bypassing a toll gate for vehicles heading towards downtown Sapporo

Travelling along the flyover towards the Sapporo-Otaru Expressway

A panoramic view of the Sapporo-Otaru Expressway between Kita-ku and Nishi-ku, Sapporo

A panoramic view of the Sapporo-Otaru Expressway between Nishi-ku and Teine-ku, Sapporo

The cloudy view of Nishi-ku, Sapporo, on our way towards Otaru along the Sapporo-Otaru Expressway

Bypassing several housing areas located in Teine-ku, Sapporo, along the Sapporo-Otaru Expressway

Bypassing more suburban housing areas located between Teine-ku, Sapporo, and Otaru along the Sapporo-Otaru-Expressway

Stopping at a rest area for a brief washroom break along the Sapporo-Otaru Expressway

The beautiful view of the Sea of Japan along the Sapporo-Otaru Expressway towards Otaru

Travelling across a bridge in the suburban port city of Otaru along the Sapporo-Otaru Expressway

The beautiful view of the Sea of Japan as we make our final approach into Otaru

The view of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru and the Sea of Japan as we approach into Otaru

Finally approaching the end of the Sapporo-Otaru Expressway in the suburban port city of Otaru

Driving along the roads of Otaru on a clear winter's afternoon

Driving along the roads of Otaru near Uroko Banya seafood market

After a long driving journey of 2 hours 10 minutes from the sparse, rural city of Furano, we finally arrived at a local seafood market, known as Uroko Banya (うろこ番屋) at 1.10 p.m.. As there was no parking spaces located by the seafood market, we drove along the small alley very carefully and parked our car at a small car parking area located just behind a low-cost budget hotel. Uroko Banya was quite familiar to us, since we had been to this market for some seafood snacks many times.

Walking along the alley towards Uroko Banya, we finally stumbled upon a restaurant that was located just above the seafood market, by the name of Uroko Tei (うろこ亭), which we had previously eaten at for breakfast in December 2011. Walking up the staircase towards the restaurant, we entered the restaurant at 1.15 p.m. and promptly requested for a table for the four of us, since we were feeling really hungry for some lunch.

We were then escorted to an empty table in the middle of the restaurant, where we were left with the food and beverage menus to make our main meal selections for lunch. Once we were done looking through the food and beverage menus, a waitress finally came by to our table to take down our main meal orders. We ordered several local seafood items, including molluscs such as clams, oysters and grilled scallops, as well as shishamo. That afternoon, we had a sumptuous and filling seafood lunch at Uroko Tei Restaurant Otaru.

The exterior view of Uroko Banya Seafood Market Otaru on a clear winter's afternoon

The entrance towards Uroko Banya Seafood Market Otaru on a clear winter's afternoon

The entrance towards Uroko Tei Restaurant Otaru on a clear winter's afternoon

Reviewing the side order food and beverage menu of Uroko Tei Restaurant Otaru

Reviewing the set meal menu of Uroko Tei Restaurant Otaru

The interior of Uroko Tei Restaurant Otaru

An assortment of seafood sashimi dishes on our dining table at Uroko Tei Restaurant Otaru

A platter of grilled mackerel to be shared among us

A first platter of grilled scallops to be shared among my parents

Two pieces of grilled scallops for myself

A platter of shishamo to be shared among us

An additional platter of two grilled scallops for myself

A platter of six oysters to be shared among us

A platter containing a clam and a conch shell to be shared among us

The interior of Uroko Tei Restaurant Otaru shortly before we paid our restaurant lunch bill

After having a sumptuous and filling seafood lunch at Uroko Tei Restaurant Otaru, the clock was finally showing 1.55 p.m.. Feeling stuffed to the brim already, we decided to resume our journey towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru. With that, we paid our restaurant lunch bill and left the restaurant at two o' clock, with my dad going towards the car parking area located at the back of a low-cost budget hotel to fetch our car.

Once my dad had fetched the car, he drove up towards the entrance to the alley, where I was waiting with my mum and younger brother. Boarding the car, we finally departed the compound of Uroko Banya seafood market at 2.05 p.m. for the remainder of the road journey to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru. The entire road journey linking between the Uroko Banya seafood market and the Grand Park Hotel Otaru took no more than just 10 minutes.

The Grand Park Hotel Otaru (グランドパーク小樽) is an 18-storey luxury hotel operated by the Park Hotels Group in Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan. The hotel has 296 guest rooms, and a basement car parking area. It is located along the coast of the Sea of Japan and is easily accessible with a five-minute walk away from Otaru-chikko Station. A large shopping mall, Wing Bay Otaru (ウイングベイ小樽) is located just below the hotel building. The hotel was opened on 1 July 1999 as the Hilton Hotel Otaru (ヒルトン小樽) until 31 December 2008, and gained its current name on 1 January 2009.

The roads of Otaru outside Uroko Banya seafood market on a cloudy winter's afternoon

Finally turning into the roads of Otaru again

About to turn towards the road leading towards the Otaru-Chitose Expressway

About to turn towards the road leading towards Wing Bay Otaru and the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

Travelling past a railway yard along the Hakodate Main Line near Otaru-chikko Station

Finally arriving at the main entrance towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

After a short road driving journey of just 10 minutes from the Uroko Banya seafood market located in downtown Otaru, we finally arrived at the main entrance to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru at 2.15 p.m.. Two hotel porters then came out with a baggage trolley to assist us with our bulkier baggage, while I followed my mum and younger brother into the entrance hall to check in for the next coming days of our stay in Hokkaido. My dad also went down towards the basement car parking area to park our car at the same time.

Entering the entrance hall, I began to feel right at home since the surroundings of the grand entrance hall, with its marble staircase, was familiar to me. Once the hotel check-in process was completed, we finally received our room keys for the upcoming three days. The hotel receptionists informed us that we would be staying in Rooms No. 1401 and 1402 located on the 14th level of the hotel, which were the same inter-connecting rooms that we had stayed in previously in December 2011.

The hotel receptionists also informed us that our bulky baggage would be brought up to our rooms by the hotel porters. With that, we thanked the hotel receptionists for their warm and hospitable services and headed to the main elevator lobby, where we took the elevator all the way up towards the 14th level, eventually arriving there by 2.30 p.m.. Once we entered our respective rooms, familiarities started to dawn upon us.

As with our previous trips to Hokkaido, we would always have a room facing towards the Sea of Japan whenever we stay at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru. Once all of our baggage had been brought up to us, we set up our attires for the upcoming days, and laid out our electronic devices to provide us with some entertainment. For the rest of the afternoon, we simply had a well-earned rest in our hotel rooms, with the views of the Sea of Japan being beautiful and spectacular like before.

The main entrance towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

A large miniature gingerbread house with several Christmas trees in the grand entrance hall at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

The marble staircase in the grand entrance hall at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru on a clear winter's afternoon

The overall view of the grand entrance hall at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru on a clear winter's afternoon

The view of Room No. 1401, where my parents would sleep

The view of my room, Room No. 1402, where my brother and I would sleep

The beautiful view of the Sea of Japan from my Room No. 1402 on a clear winter's afternoon

The beautiful view of the Sea of Japan from my Room No. 1402 on a clear winter's afternoon

The view of the small boat quay by the Sea of Japan in Otaru from my Room No. 1402 at dusk

The beautiful view of the Sea of Japan from my Room No. 1402 at dusk

The view of the small boat quay by the Sea of Japan in Otaru from my Room No. 1402 at night

The beautiful view of the Sea of Japan from my Room No. 1402 at night

After having a nice, well-deserved rest in our hotel rooms for the rest of the entire afternoon, my younger brother and I were finally beginning to feel hungry at around seven o' clock. As we were too tired to go out anywhere for dinner, my parents recommended that we have an in-room fastfood dinner instead. With that, my dad gave us some money, and both myself and my younger brother took the elevator down towards the grand entrance hall, where we walked towards Wing Bay Otaru.

Looking through the fastfood restaurants available, we finally stumbled upon McDonald's. Feeling very hungry already, we rolled and ordered several fastfood items such as Mega fries and Chicken McNuggets for a take-out meal. Paying up our take-out meal price, we immediately headed back towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru and took the elevator back up towards our rooms, eventually arriving back there by 7.40 p.m.. While our parents went out somewhere for dinner, both my younger brother and myself had a really sumptuous and filling in-room McDonald's fastfood dinner.

After we had finished off our dinner, we were finally left with our own electronic devices to keep us company until our parents returned back to the room from dinner. Feeling rather tired from the long road trip from Furano, I had a nice, hot shower and changed into my pyjamas prior to settling in for the remainder of the night. Soon enough, at around 10.30 p.m., I finally turned in for a well-earned good night's sleep.

Part 2 ~ Spending The Day At Otaru Asarigawa Onsen and New Chitose Airport

The next morning, which was Sunday (22 December), I woke up at around 6.45 a.m. after having a well-earned good night's sleep. Once I opened the curtains slightly, I could really see how beautiful the view of the Sea of Japan was, especially at dawn, which made me snap some photographs. An early morning snow storm was also prevalent at the time of drawing the curtains open. Since it was still early and everyone was still asleep, I did some stuff on my laptop until all of us were finally awake by 9.30 a.m..

According to my parents, we would be going for some hot soaking at the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen (小樽朝里川温泉), with our reservation timing for a private onsen spa room between 12.30 p.m. to 1.30 p.m.. I was rather lucky since I had made an advanced reservation when we were in Furano. We then had a nice, hot shower, and changed up into our attires for the day prior to preparing all of our necessary belongings for the day. I was also planning to go for a shopping trip to New Chitose Airport at the same time later that afternoon.

The first sights of the beautiful view of the Sea of Japan and the small boat quay greeting me on a snowy early winter's morning

The view of the small boat quay by the Sea of Japan in Otaru from my Room No. 1402 on a snowy early winter's morning

The beautiful view of the Sea of Japan from my Room No. 1402 on a snowy early winter's morning

A Shin Nihonkai Ferry making its way through the Sea of Japan towards Otaru Port

Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-412 Herpa Scale 1:500 (500852) ~ New Generation

The view of my Room No. 1402 shortly after all of us were awake

After spending the entire morning preparing all of our necessary belongings for the day, the clock was finally showing 10.55 a.m.. Since we were starting to feel rather hungry already, we decided to have lunch at a restaurant within Wing Bay Otaru first prior to our road drive towards the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen. With that, we left our rooms by 11.05 a.m., and took the elevator down towards the grand entrance hall, arriving there by 11.10 a.m..

From the grand entrance hall at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru, we walked towards the door linking Wing Bay Otaru directly with the hotel. Knowing that we had approximately 1 hour 20 minutes left before our reservation at the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen, we looked through the restaurants at Wing Bay Otaru very carefully prior to choosing the most ideal restaurant to eat at for our early lunch.

The marble staircase in the grand entrance hall at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru during a fine winter's morning

The interior of Wing Bay Otaru during a fine winter's morning

Looking through the restaurants around Wing Bay Otaru very carefully

After looking at the various restaurants around Wing Bay Otaru very carefully, we finally stumbled upon a family restaurant, known as Family Bistro D•D•5, at 11.15 a.m.. Entering the restaurant, we immediately requested for a table for the four of us. Soon enough, we were finally directed towards an empty table located somewhat close towards the main entrance towards the restaurant.

With the food and beverage menus provided for us, we immediately had a good review through them prior to placing our main meal orders for lunch. Soon enough, a restaurant waitress finally came by towards our table to take down our main meal orders for lunch. We ordered several items that seemed to suit our tastes and preferences, such as beef salad and sausages. That afternoon, we had a filling lunch at Family Bistro D•D•5.

Finally stumbling upon Family Bistro D•D•5 Restaurant in Wing Bay Otaru

Reviewing the food and beverage menu of Family Bistro D•D•5 Restaurant in Wing Bay Otaru

The cover page for the food and beverage menu of Family Bistro D•D•5 Restaurant in Wing Bay Otaru

The interior of Family Bistro D•D•5 Restaurant in Wing Bay Otaru

A hot platter of assorted sausages to be shared among us

A mouthwatering bowl of steak on rice for myself

A platter of beef steak salad to be shared among us

A meal set consisting of deep-fried prawns and hamburg steak, along with a plate of white rice, for my younger brother

A platter of seaweed pasta to be shared among my parents

After having a quick and filling lunch at Family Bistro D•D•5 Restaurant in Wing Bay Otaru, the clock was finally showing 11.50 a.m.. Knowing that we had only 40 minutes left before our hot spring relaxation time at the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen, we immediately paid up our lunch bill, and left the restaurant for the Grand Park Hotel Otaru. Arriving back at the grand entrance hall of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru by 12 noon, my dad went down to the hotel's basement car parking area to fetch our rented car.

Once my dad arrived outside the main entrance towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru in our rented car, I followed my mum and younger brother out, and immediately boarded the car for our short drive towards the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen. Soon enough, we finally departed the compound of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru by 12.05 p.m., with the entire journey linking between the Grand Park Hotel Otaru and the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen took no more than approximately just 10 minutes.

The interior of Wing Bay Otaru during a fine winter's morning as we make our way back towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

The overall view of the grand entrance hall at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru on a clear winter's afternoon shortly before we made our way towards the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen

The marble staircase in the grand entrance hall at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru on a clear winter's afternoon shortly before we made our way towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

Our rented Toyota car waiting outside the main entrance towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

Bypassing Otaru-chikko Station on the way towards Otaru Asarigawa Onsen

Several hillside houses located near the coast of the Sea of Japan in the suburban port city of Otaru

The beautiful view of the Sea of Japan as we make our way towards Otaru Asarigawa Onsen on a relatively cloudy winter's afternoon

Approaching a road crossing near the neighbourhood of Asari in the suburban city of Otaru

Travelling along the expressway towards the neighbourhood of Asari on the way towards Otaru Asarigawa Onsen

About to bypass a small local ramen noodle restaurant in the neighbourhood of Asari towards Otaru Asarigawa Onsen

Bypassing a snow-covered field in the neighbourhood of Asari as we approach the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen

Finally arriving at the main entrance towards Otaru Asarigawa Onsen

After a very short road drive journey of just 10 minutes from the Grand Park Hotel Otaru, we finally arrived at the entrance towards Otaru Asarigawa Onsen at 12.15 p.m.. While my dad went to park the car, I followed my mum and younger brother went into the hot spring bath house. Entering the hot spring bath house with my dad following up later, we removed our footwear and locked them in special footwear lockers located behind the reception counter.

Heading towards the main reception counter, the receptionist informed us that there was a reservation for a private onsen room under our surname at 12.30 p.m. positively identified. Handing us our private onsen room key, she informed us that we were allocated to a room, named Kokage no Ideyu (こかげのいで湯), which was the very same private onsen room we had been to for our private onsen relaxations in December 2010 and December 2011.

With that, we thanked the hot spring bath house receptionist for her services and walked along the passagway and up the staircase towards the second level of the hot spring bath house, eventually reaching our assigned private onsen room, Kokage on Ideyu, by 12.30 p.m.. Entering the private onsen room, we put aside all of our belongings and wore just our underclothings for the onsen relaxation bath later on.

Our private onsen room consisted of a huge onsen bathtub with several wash areas and a small heating room. Outside the onsen, there was a living room, which consisted of a small sofa, a sink with a mirror, a drinking water machine, a massage chair, a television, several clothing shelves and a small bathroom containing a toilet. There was also a floor lighting near the entrance door. Soon enough, that afternoon, we had a very nice, warm soak in our private onsen bath, which helped my dad to recover from his flu he had in Furano when I went to Abashiri.

The interior of the main reception lobby at the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen shortly after we arrived

A school of koi fish swimming in the indoor man-made pond in the main reception lobby of the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen

The interior of the main reception lobby lounge in the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen in the afternoon

Walking past several onsen guest rooms in the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen on our way towards our private onsen day room

A large miniature deer in the passageway leading towards the onsen rooms in Otaru Asarigawa Onsen

Finally arriving at our assigned private onsen dayroom, Kokage no Ideyu (こかげのいで湯)

The floor lighting at Kokage no Ideyu at Otaru Asarigawa Onsen

The interior of the living in our private onsen dayroom, Kokage no Ideyu, at Otaru Asarigawa Onsen

The interior of the private bathing and soaking room in our private onsen dayroom, Kokage no Ideyu, at Otaru Asarigawa Onsen shortly before we went down to soak ourselves warm

The interior of the private bathing and soaking room in our private onsen dayroom, Kokage no Ideyu, at Otaru Asarigawa Onsen while my parents and younger brother are relaxing

The poster of Otaru Asarigawa Onsen in the living room of our private onsen dayroom, Kokage no Ideyu, at Otaru Asarigawa Onsen

The interior of the living in our private onsen dayroom, Kokage no Ideyu, at Otaru Asarigawa Onsen shortly before we left for the Grand Park Hotel Otaru via Otaru-chikko Station

After spending approximately 55 minutes of private relaxations within our private onsen hot spring bath, the clock was finally showing 1.25 p.m.. Knowing that I had a train trip to make to New Chitose Airport, I arranged for my family to take me to Otaru-chikko Station on their way back towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru. As for the in-bound segment towards New Chitose Airport, I would catch the Rapid Airport train No. 150 bound for New Chitose Airport, which would be scheduled to depart Otaru-chikko Station at 2.40 p.m., and arrive at the New Chitose Airport terminal station at 3.46 p.m..

I was lucky as I had made my seat reservations in advance during our stay in Furano. With that, we changed into our extra clothings and checked to see that none of our belongings had been left behind, before leaving our private onsen room at 1.30 p.m.. We then walked back to the reception counter to get our footwear and had some drinks in the lounge, while my dad went to fetch our rented car.

Once my dad arrived at the main entrance towards Otaru Asarigawa Onsen after we went to experience the cold air, we boarded the car for our journey back towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru, but my parents remembered to take me towards Otaru-chikko Station first, as promised. Soon enough, we finally departed the vicinity of Otaru Asarigawa Onsen at 1.40 p.m. for a short drive of just 10 minutes towards Otaru-chikko Station.

Otaru-chikko Station (小樽築港駅) is a railway station located in Chikko 1-chome, Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan. It is located along the Hakodate Main Line, and serves as a mandatory stop for all Hakodate Main Line commuter trains travelling to and from Otaru, including the Rapid Airport trains linking towards New Chitose Airport. The station is located five minutes away from the Grand Park Hotel Otaru by foot, and is directly connected to Wing Bay Otaru via a pedestrian footbridge. As of 16 March 2013, there is one island platform serving a total of two tracks.

The view of several snowy housing areas from the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen

The interior of the main reception lobby at the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen shortly before we left for the Grand Park Hotel Otaru via Otaru-chikko Station

The interior of the main reception lobby lounge in the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen in the afternoon shortly before we left for the Grand Park Hotel Otaru via Otaru-chikko Station

The view of the car parking area outside Otaru Asarigawa Onsen on a relatively cloudy winter's afternoon

A small pond with a zig-zagged pathway crossing it located just outside the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen

The exterior view of Otaru Asarigawa Onsen on a relatively cloudy winter's afternoon

A small frozen pond located near Otaru Asarigawa Onsen in the snow

Finally departing the vicinity of Otaru Asarigawa Onsen

Bypassing a convenience store in the neighbourhood of Asari towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru via Otaru-chikko Station

Bypassing a small housing apartment in the neighbourhood of Asari towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru via Otaru-chikko Station

Driving along the roads of the neighbourhood of Asari with the Sea of Japan coming into view

The beautiful view of the Sea of Japan as we make our way towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru via Otaru-chikko Station

About to turn towards the road leading towards downtown Otaru

The view of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru as we approach nearer to Otaru-chikko Station

Finally arriving at the pick-up and drop-off area located adjacent to Otaru-chikko Station

After a short drive of just 10 minutes from the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen, we finally arrived at the drop-off area outside Otaru-chikko Station at 1.50 p.m.. Taking my belongings from the car, I thanked my family for the ride, and promised to meet them back at the hotel later that evening. I then entered the pedestrian bridge and took the elevator up towards the station entrance, eventually entering the station concourse by 1.55 p.m..

I then went to check the departure information board to see which platform the Rapid Airport train No. 150 bound for New Chitose Airport would depart from. According to the departure information board in the station concourse, the Rapid Airport train No. 150 bound for New Chitose Airport would depart at 2.40 p.m. from Track No. 2. Although it was still too early, I showed my ticket to the man at the manned ticket gate and took the elevator down towards the platform for my regional train journey towards New Chitose Airport.

The drop-off and pick-up area located below the pedestrian footbridge linking between Wing Bay Otaru and the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

The interior of the pedestrian footbridge leading towards the main entrance to Otaru-chikko Station

The main station concourse of Otaru-chikko Station on a relatively cloudy winter's afternoon

Finally arriving at the station platforms of Otaru-chikko Station

The beautiful view of the Wing Bay Otaru ferris wheel as seen from Otaru-chikko Station

The overall view of the station platforms of Otaru-chikko Station on a relatively crowded winter's afternoon

The exterior view of Wing Bay Otaru as seen from Otaru-chikko Station

The departure information board for trains departing from Track No. 2 at Otaru-chikko Station

A 3-car 721 series EMU set, operating on an "Ishikari Liner" Regional Rapid Service bound for Iwamizawa via Sapporo, arriving at Track No. 2 at Otaru-chikko Station

The train departure information timetable for the trains bound for Sapporo on the station platforms at Otaru-chikko Station

The view of the station platforms of Otaru-chikko Station shortly before two local trains arrived at the station

Track No. 2 serving the Hakodate Main Line trains towards Sapporo and New Chitose Airport shortly before the Rapid "Airport" train No. 150 bound for New Chitose Airport arrived at the platform

After spending approximately almost 40 minutes of anticipated waiting on the platform, a 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid Airport train No. 150 bound for New Chitose Airport, finally arrived at Otaru-chikko Station at 2.39 p.m. on Track No. 2. Once the doors swung open, I immediately boarded the train through Car No. 4, which was the reserved seating ("u" seat) car, and secured my assigned Seat No. 8A for the expected short hop of 1 hour 06 minutes towards New Chitose Airport in the suburban city of Chitose.

Once the clock struck 2.40 p.m., all the train doors closed, and the Rapid Airport train No. 150 finally pulled out of Otaru-chikko Station for its regional journey towards New Chitose Airport located in the suburban city of Chitose. As always, the view of the Sea of Japan was very beautiful between Otaru-chikko and Teine Stations. A huge snow storm started raging across Hokkaido along the way between Sapporo and New Chitose Airport, which resulted the train being delayed by approximately eight minutes.

721系 快速エアポート150号 新千歳空港行き 小樽築港駅に入線シーン

721系 快速エアポート150号 新千歳空港行き 小樽築港駅から手稲駅間

A view of my seat, 8A, while making a brief stop at Teine Station

Making a brief stop at Teine Station

The front view of the interior of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on board the 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 150 bound for New Chitose Airport, between Teine and Kotoni Stations

The rear view of the interior of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on board the 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 150 bound for New Chitose Airport, between Teine and Kotoni Stations

My reserved seat ("u" seat) ticket for the in-bound segment between Otaru-chikko and New Chitose Airport

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

Making a brief stop at Kotoni Station

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

The view of the Gakuentoshi Line tracks near Soen Station in Chuo-ku, Sapporo

Passing through Soen Station

Bypassing some housing areas between Chuo-ku and Kita-ku, Sapporo

Making a brief stop at Sapporo Station

721系 快速エアポート150号 新千歳空港行き 札幌駅から新札幌駅間

Making a brief stop at Shin-sapporo Station

Bypassing some housing areas in Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo

Bypassing a snow-covered car parking area in Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo, during a heavy snowstorm

Passing through Kami-nopporo Station

Bypassing a snowy plot of land in Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo, during a heavy snowstorm

The view of the suburban city of Kitahiroshima during a heavy snowstorm

Making a brief stop at Kita-hiroshima Station

Travelling past a snowy plot of land along the Chitose Line in the suburban city of Kitahiroshima during a heavy snowstorm

Travelling past another snow-covered field in the suburban city of Eniwa during a heavy snowstorm

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Eniwa during a heavy snowstorm

Bypassing a small housing apartment in the suburban city of Eniwa

Making a brief stop at Eniwa Station

721系 快速エアポート150号 新千歳空港行き 恵庭駅から終着新千歳空港駅間

After a short journey time of approximately 1 hour 14 minutes from the suburban port city of Otaru, I finally arrived at the New Chitose Airport terminal station at 3.54 p.m. on Track No. 1, eight minutes behind schedule. Ensuring that none of my belongings had been left behind on board, I alighted the train and took the elevator up towards the main station concourse, where I turned in my ticket to the staff at the manned ticketing gate and exited the station.

I then went towards the nearby elevator lobby and took the elevator up towards the third level of the domestic flight terminal building, eventually arriving there by 4.05 p.m.. Once I had reached the third level of the main terminal building, I took the escalator all the way up towards the fourth level, where I had begun my shopping spree. On the fourth floor, I looked at the shops carefully to ensure that I would find one of them that suited my preferences.

The station platforms of New Chitose Airport Station shortly after I had arrived from Otaru-chikko

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

The view of the entire shopping area in the domestic passenger flight terminal at New Chitose Airport

About to climb up the escalator towards Oasis Park on the fourth level

The interior of Oasis Park on the fourth floor of the domestic flight terminal building at New Chitose Airport

Finally stumbling upon Flyers hobby shop in Oasis Park on the fourth level of the domestic passenger flight terminal at New Chitose Airport again

After browsing through the various shops available on the fourth level of the domestic flight terminal building at New Chitose Airport, I finally stumbled upon Flyers model hobby shop again. Since I was very familiar with this particular hobby shop, I entered it and browsed through the models on display very carefully before making my selections. While doing my shopping at Flyers model hobby shop, I purchased a total of six brand new Scale 1:500 aircraft models.

Upon purchasing my new aircraft models, I decided to head over towards Pronto Cafeteria, which was located just nearby, to have some afternoon tea as I was starting to feel slightly hungry. While having tea at Pronto Cafeteria, I had a nice, warm glass of hot cocoa, and a mouthwatering plate of spaghetti alla carbonara with an egg on it. The hot cocoa helped to keep me warm from the bitter cold earlier when I was in Otaru with my family.

As for the six new Scale 1:500 aircraft models I had purchased, they were, as follows:

1) Aeroflot Cargo McDonnell Douglas MD-11 Freighter Herpa Scale 1:500 (523653)

Aeroflot Cargo McDonnell Douglas MD-11 Freighter Herpa Scale 1:500 (523653)

2) Jetstar Airways Airbus A330-202 Herpa Scale 1:500 (524278)

Jetstar Airways Airbus A330-202 Herpa Scale 1:500 (524278)

3) Lufthansa Airbus A340-642 Herpa Scale 1:500 (507417-001)

Lufthansa Airbus A340-642 Herpa Scale 1:500 (507417-001)

4) NCA - Nippon Cargo Airlines Boeing 747-281B(SF) NCA Official Precision Models Scale 1:500 (KZ 54402)

NCA - Nippon Cargo Airlines Boeing 747-281B(SF) NCA Official Precision Models Scale 1:500 (KZ 54402)

5) Qantas Boeing 747-438 "Boxing Kangaroo" Herpa Scale 1:500 (523912)

Qantas Boeing 747-438 "Boxing Kangaroo" Herpa Scale 1:500 (523912)

6) United Airlines Boeing 747-422 Herpa Scale 1:500 (518581)

United Airlines Boeing 747-422 Herpa Scale 1:500 (518581)

A nice, warm mug of hot cocoa for myself

A nice, mouthwatering plate of spaghetti alla carbonara for myself with poached egg and bacon

The inner seating area at Pronto Cafeteria

The exterior view of Pronto Cafeteria shortly before I went down towards the third level

After having a sumptuous afternoon tea at Pronto Cafeteria, the clock was finally showing 4.40 p.m.. Since I was in the mood for some dessert of ice cream, I took my used meal tray towards the tray clearance counter and took the escalator down to the third floor, where a passageway connecting towards the international passenger flight terminal was located. In the passageway leading towards the international passenger flight terminal, I looked at the various cafeterias carefully to see which one would be good for dessert.

Soon enough, I finally stumbled upon the Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlour again, where I managed to order two scoops of Chocolate-Holic flavour ice cream for myself in a medium-sized disposable cup. After finishing off my ice-cream, I immediately headed over the indoor plane observation area to do some plane-spotting. Outside, it was already very dark, and a huge snow storm was raging across Hokkaido, including New Chitose Airport, resulting in many flights being delayed or cancelled, and some planes covered in snow frostings.

The entrance to the passageway connecting towards the International Passenger Flight Terminal on the fourth level

The Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlour situated in the passageway between the domestic passenger flight terminal and the international passenger flight terminal

Some of the many ice cream flavours at the Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlour in New Chitose Airport

A nice cup of two scoops containing Chocolate-Holic flavour ice cream for myself

The entrance to the passageway connecting towards the domestic passenger flight terminal and New Chitose Airport Station

Several restaurants and cafeterias located by the entrance to the passageway connecting towards the International Passenger Flight Terminal

The flight departures and arrivals information board in the domestic passenger flight terminal at New Chitose Airport

The exterior view of the Airport History Museum in the domestic flight terminal at New Chitose Airport

A Japan Airlines Boeing 777-289, registered JA007D, still standing at Gate No. 12 while supposed to be pushed back for her regional domestic run towards the capital of Japan as Japan Airlines flight JL 516 bound for Tokyo (Haneda) due to frost forming on the aircraft. As a result, the flight would be delayed due to a heavy and raging snowstorm across Hokkaido that evening

An All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-281/ER, registered JA743A, being de-iced at Gate No. 11 during a heavy evening snowstorm at New Chitose Airport after arriving from her delayed regional journey from the capital of Japan as All Nippon Airways flight NH 069 from Tokyo (Haneda)

An All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-381, registered JA757A, being serviced at Gate No. 10 during a heavy snowstorm at New Chitose Airport in preparation for her evening domestic run towards the capital of Japan as All Nippon Airways flight NH 070 bound for Tokyo (Haneda)

The interior of the Sky Museum in the domestic passenger flight terminal at New Chitose Airport

A food court located adjacent to the domestic flight terminal observation area in New Chitose Airport

The view of the crowded departures and check-in area of the domestic passenger flight terminal at New Chitose Airport crowded with passengers waiting anxiously to fly home for the Christmas season

The view of the shopping concourse in the domestic passenger flight terminal at New Chitose Airport just before making my way back towards New Chitose Airport Station

After spending approximately 1 hour 15 minutes of shopping at New Chitose Airport, the clock was finally showing 5.20 p.m.. Since I was beginning to feel tired, I began to make my way back to New Chitose Airport Station. With that, I took the elevator all the way down to the first basement, eventually arriving at New Chitose Airport Station by 5.25 p.m.. For the return journey back to Otaru, I was originally scheduled to catch the Rapid Airport train No. 191 bound for Otaru, which would be scheduled to depart New Chitose Airport Station at 7.04 p.m., and arrive at Otaru-chikko Station at 8.10 p.m..

However, since I was feeling tired already, I decided to cancel my initial reservation, and re-schedule myself on an earlier train. With that, I headed over to the JR Visitors' Information Desk, and cancelled my original seat reservations, receiving a refund of ¥1,300 (S$15.86). At the same time, I made a new seat reservation for an earlier train back to Otaru. As for the new return itinerary towards Otaru, I would catch the Rapid Airport train No. 181 bound for Otaru, which would be scheduled to depart New Chitose Airport Station at 6.04 p.m., and arrive at Otaru-chikko Station at 7.10 p.m..

Upon making my new seat reservation, I went to check the departure information board to see which platform the Rapid Airport train No. 181 bound for Otaru would depart from. According to the departure information board, the Rapid Airport train No. 181 bound for Otaru would be scheduled to depart from New Chitose Airport at 6.04 p.m. from Track No. 1. Without wasting anymore time, I headed down towards the platforms by 5.35 p.m. in preparation for my return trip back to Otaru.

The domestic terminal level layout located by the elevator towards New Chitose Airport Station

One last look at the large shopping concourse in the domestic flight terminal in New Chitose Airport shortly before heading back down towards New Chitose Airport Station

The Ticket Office and JR Visitors' Information Desk in the main station concourse at New Chitose Airport Station

The departure information board in the main station concourse of New Chitose Airport Station

The station platforms of New Chitose Airport Station shortly after I had arrived back on the platforms

The station name plate of New Chitose Airport Station on the station platforms

A 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 177 bound for Sapporo, on Track No. 2 at New Chitose Airport Station

The departure information board for trains departing from Track No. 1 at New Chitose Airport Station

The station platforms of New Chitose Airport Station shortly before the Rapid "Airport" train No. 181 bound for Otaru via Sapporo arrived at Track No. 1

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 5.50 p.m. on Track No. 1, which was approximately four minutes behind schedule. The train had arrived late from Otaru as the Rapid Airport train No. 170 bound for New Chitose Airport due to the adverse weather conditions, and was to undergo an extensive cleaning process before becoming the Rapid Airport train No. 181 bound for Otaru via Sapporo.

Once the cleaning process was completed, I boarded the train through Car No. 4, which was the reserved seating ("u" seat) car, and found my assigned Seat No. 10A for the short hop back to the suburban port city of Otaru. At around 6.08 p.m., all the train doors were closed, and the Rapid Airport train No. 181 finally pulled out of New Chitose Airport Station, four minutes behind schedule. I was then on my way for a short journey time of 1 hour 06 minutes back to the suburban port city of Otaru.

721系 快速エアポート181号 小樽行き 新千歳空港駅に入線シーン

The front view of the interior of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on board the 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 181 bound for Otaru via Sapporo, during the boarding process at New Chitose Airport Station

The rear view of the interior of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on board the 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 181 bound for Otaru via Sapporo, during the boarding process at New Chitose Airport Station

A view of my seat, 10A, during the boarding process at New Chitose Airport Station

Lufthansa Airbus A340-642 Herpa Scale 1:500 (507417-001)

The view of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on board the 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 181 bound for Otaru via Sapporo, from my seat while awaiting departure from New Chitose Airport Station

721系 快速エアポート181号 小樽行き 新千歳空港駅から恵庭駅間

Making a brief stop at Eniwa Station

Travelling past a snowy plot of land along the Chitose Line in the suburban city of Kitahiroshima during a heavy snowstorm at night

Making a brief stop at Kita-hiroshima Station

The view of the entire city of Kitahiroshima from the train between Kita-hiroshima and Sapporo Stations at night

Bypassing a snow-covered car parking area in Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo, during a heavy snowstorm at night

Passing through Kami-nopporo Station

Bypassing some housing areas in Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo, at night

Making a brief stop at Shin-sapporo Station

721系 快速エアポート181号 小樽行き 新札幌駅から札幌駅間

Making a brief stop at Sapporo Station

721系 快速エアポート181号 小樽行き 札幌駅から手稲駅間

Making a brief stop at Teine Station

721系 快速エアポート181号 小樽行き 手稲駅から小樽築港駅間

After a short journey time of just 1 hour 06 minutes from New Chitose Airport located in the suburban city of Chitose, I finally arrived back at Otaru-chikko Station at 7.14 p.m. on Track No. 1, four minutes behind schedule. Checking to see that none of my belongings had been left behind on board, I alighted from the train and took the elevator all the way up towards the main station concourse.

Upon arriving at the main station concourse, I handed my used train ticket to the man at the staffed ticketing gate and exited the station towards the pedestrian overhead footbridge to Wing Bay Otaru. Entering the mall, I walked past several shops in the direction towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru, eventually arriving back at the upper level of the grand entrance hall by 7.25 p.m.. Arriving at the grand entrance hall of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru, I took the elevator all the way back up to the 14th level and had a brief rest in my Room No. 1402, as my family was still out at that time.

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

The "Children's 110 Safety Stations with Thomas & Friends" sticker at the manned ticketing gate at Otaru-chikko Station

The main station concourse of Otaru-chikko Station at night

The pedestrian footbridge leading towards Wing Bay Otaru from Otaru-chikko Station

Bypassing some shops in Wing Bay Otaru on the way back towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

The marble staircase in the grand entrance hall at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru in the evening

The view of my Room No. 1402 shortly after I had arrived back that night

The view of the small boat quay by the Sea of Japan in Otaru from my Room No. 1402 at night

The beautiful view of the Sea of Japan from my Room No. 1402 at night

After spending 15 minutes of having a brief rest in my Room No. 1402, I finally received a phone call from my parents at around 7.40 p.m.. They had explained to me that they went out to the Chitose Rera Outlet Mall to do some shopping, and that they were waiting for me outside the hotel's main entrance so that we could go out for a family dinner together at a restaurant located in downtown Otaru. With that, I grabbed all of my belongings and took the elevator all the way down towards the grand entrance hall, eventually arriving there by 7.45 p.m..

Exiting the grand entrance hall through the main entrance, I finally found my family waiting for me in their rented car. Soon enough, we finally departed the compound of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru at 7.50 p.m. and drove into the heart of downtown Otaru, searching for a good restaurant to eat at for dinner and stopping by to see the winter blue lamp-floating festival along the Otaru Canal. The lamp-floating festival along the Otaru Canal was a very beautiful sight at night, especially during the winter.

The marble staircase in the grand entrance hall at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru in the evening shortly before heading out with my family for dinner

A large miniature gingerbread house with several Christmas trees in the grand entrance hall at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru at night

Our rented Toyota car waiting for me outside the main entrance towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

Finally departing the dark vicinity of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

Driving along the roads of downtown Otaru at night

Bypassing some old warehouses, now serving as the Otaru Canal Dining Hall, in downtown Otaru at night

Parking our car at the car parking area located near the Otaru Canal Dining Hall

Several beautiful blue-lit lamps floating gracefully along the Otaru Canal during the winter lamp-floating festival

The view of several suburban infrastructure located along the Otaru Canal during the blue lamp-floating festival

More beautiful blue lamps floating along the Otaru Canal gracefully at night during the winter blue lamp-floating festival

An old warehouse located along the Otaru Canal during the winter blue-lamp floating festival

Bypassing the Otaru Canal Dining Hall on the way back to the car parking area near the Otaru Canal

Driving along the roads of downtown Otaru again at night

Bypassing some restaurants in the suburban port city of Otaru at night

Finally stumbling upon Gyu-Kaku Yakiniku Restaurant Otaru

After driving through downtown Otaru and viewing the winter lamp-floating festival along the Otaru Canal for about 25 minutes, we finally managed to stumble upon a local yakiniku barbecue restaurant, known as Gyu-Kaku Yakiniku Restaurant (牛角), at 8.15 p.m.. As we were feeling very hungry already, we entered the restaurant and promptly requested for a non-smoking table for the four of us. The whole restaurant was crowded with lots of diners having a charcoal barbecue yakiniku dinner to warm themselves up from the cold.

Upon requesting for a non-smoking table, a restaurant waiter directed us to an empty table located just behind the restaurant bar tables and left us with the food and beverage menus to make our reviews prior to making our main meal orders for dinner. Having a good review through the food and beverage menus, a waiter finally came by to take down our main meal orders for the barbecue dinner.

For the upcoming charcoal barbecue yakiniku dinner, we ordered several meat cuts that seemed to be familiar to us, along with a glass bottle of red wine to be shared among us. That night, we had a very sumptuous and filling charcoal barbecue yakiniku family dinner at Gyu-Kaku Yakiniku Restaurant Otaru. This charcoal barbecue yakiniku dinner also helped us to keep warm, thus making it quite a popular local winter delicacy.

The interior of Gyu-kaku Yakiniku Restaurant Otaru during winter at night

The charcoal barbecue griller heating up in the centre of our table

The cover page for the English food and beverage menu of Gyu-Kaku Yakiniku Restaurant Otaru

Reviewing the English food and beverage menu of Gyu-Kaku Yakiniku Restaurant Otaru

Our first platter of beef karubi ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Several pieces of beef karubi grilling on the charcoal barbecue griller

A platter of beef tongue ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

A platter of marinated chicken ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

A platter of marinated beef large intestines ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

A platter of buttered scallops and sliced squid ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

A platter of marinated pork karubi ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Several pieces of beef tongue, buttered scallops and sliced squid being grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Another platter of marinated chicken ready to be cooked on the charcoal barbecue griller

Two more pieces of beef tongue grilling alongside the buttered scallops and chicken on the charcoal barbecue griller

More pieces of chicken, pork karubi and beef large intestines grilling alongside the buttered scallops on the charcoal barbecue griller

Our second platter of beef karubi ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

The squid and chicken grilling alongside a buttered scallop on the charcoal barbecue griller

More pieces of pork karubi, beef large intestines, chicken and squid grilling on the charcoal barbecue griller

The second platter of beef karubi waiting to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller next to me

More pieces of pork karubi, beef large intestines and chicken being grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

A large black pot of kimchi to be shared among my parents

More pieces of beef karubi and chicken being grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

A platter containing two pieces of thickly-cut Wagyu beef tongue ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

The two pieces of thickly-sliced Wagyu beef tongue, with a few pieces of chicken, grilling on the charcoal barbecue griller

Another platter of grilled beef large intestines ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Our last platter of marinated chicken ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

More pieces of beef large intestines and marinated chicken grilling on the charcoal barbecue griller

A nice glass of red wine for myself

Our last platter of beef karubi ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

The last pieces of beef karubi and large intestines being grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

After having a large and sumptuous charcoal barbecue (yakiniku) dinner feast at Gyu-Kaku Yakiniku Restaurant Otaru, the clock was finally showing 9.20 p.m.. Feeling stuffed to the brim already, we decided to go for a night drive around the suburban port city of Otaru first before heading back to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru. With that, we went to the cash counter to pay up our dinner bill before heading back into the cold air towards our rented car.

Boarding the car, we finally left Gyu-Kaku Yakiniku Restaurant Otaru by 9.30 p.m., and drove along the relatively dark coastal roads of the Sea of Japan in the suburban port city of Otaru. The night drive by the Sea of Japan was very beautiful, peaceful and quiet, with only the sounds several ships calling at Otaru Port. The entire night drive between Gyu-kaku Yakiniku Restaurant Otaru and the Grand Park Hotel Otaru took no more than 55 minutes.

Walking back towards our rented car outside Gyu-Kaku Yakiniku Restaurant Otaru

Driving along the roads of downtown Otaru at night again

Driving past the Otaru Port facing the Sea of Japan at night

Stopping at a 24-hour MaxValu convenience supermarket

Travelling along the coast of the Sea of Japan at night

The view of the Otaru Aquarium at night

Driving past a dark pathway leading to a hillside shrine in Otaru

Driving past an onsen spa house near the Sea of Japan at night

Driving past the Otaru Canal, where we watched the blue winter lamp-floating festival earlier

About to turn towards the road leading towards Wing Bay Otaru and the Grand Park Hotel Otaru at night

Finally arriving back at the main entrance to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

The marble staircase in the grand entrance hall at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru in the evening shortly after we arrived back

A large miniature gingerbread house with several Christmas trees in the grand entrance hall at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru during the late night hours

The view of the small boat quay by the Sea of Japan in Otaru from my Room No. 1402 during the late night hours

The view of Room No. 1401 late at night

After a peaceful night drive along the dark and quiet roads by the Sea of Japan, we finally arrived back at the main entrance to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru at 10.25 p.m.. While all of us alighted the car, my dad went down to the hotel's basement car parking area to park our car before he went to meet us in the hotel's grand entrance hall. With that, I followed my mum and younger brother into the entrance hall, where my dad met up with us as planned.

Once we were all in the main entrance hall, we headed to the elevator lobby and took the elevator up to the 14th floor, eventually arriving back at our Rooms No. 1401 and 1402 by 10.35 p.m.. Entering our rooms, we had a nice, hot shower and changed into our pyjamas before settling down for the night. As I was to go on a long train journey to Wakkanai the next morning, I decided to prepare some of my necessary belongings for the trip.

At the same time, I set my alarm on my mobile phone for five o' clock the next morning, and arranged for the hotel receptionist to give me a wake-up phone call at the same time. Doing some more stuff on my laptop, I knew that it was best not to sleep too late, as I had to wake up early the next morning. With that, by eleven o' clock, I finally turned in for a well-earned good night's sleep for the next morning.

Part 3 ~ My Very Long Train Journey Towards Wakkanai

The next morning, which was Monday (23 December), I woke up at five o' clock after my mobile phone alarm blasted off early and receiving a wake-up call from the hotel reception. Leaping out of bed, I had a nice, hot shower and changed into my attire for the day before preparing the remainder of my necessary belongings in preparation for the very long train journey towards Wakkanai.

This day, being 23 December, is considered a national holiday for the Japanese as it marks the birthday of the current Emperor of Japan. For the in-bound journey to Wakkanai, I would catch an early morning Hakodate Main Line local train bound for New Chitose Airport, which would be expected to leave Otaru-chikko Station at 6.06 a.m., and arrive at Sapporo Station at 6.45 a.m.. The train would then form as the Rapid Airport train No. 64 between Sapporo and New Chitose Airport.

Upon arriving at Sapporo, I would have a 50-minute layover before catching the Limited Express Super Soya No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, which would be scheduled to depart Sapporo Station at 7.48 a.m., and arrive at the Wakkanai terminal station at 12.47 p.m.. I was very lucky since I had made my seat reservations at Sapporo Station the week before the trip in advance.

Once all of my necessary belongings, including all of my electronic device chargers and batteries, were prepared, I was officially ready to go by 5.25 a.m.. My dad, who happened to be woken by the sudden alarm blast on my mobile phone, offered to give me a lift to Otaru-chikko Station. With that, we quietly left our rooms by 5.30 a.m., and took the elevator all the way down towards the main entrance hall before changing to another elevator to the hotel's basement car parking area.

Arriving at the basement car parking area by 5.35 a.m., my dad realised that he had yet to claim a car parking exit coupon, so I went up to the hotel reception in the grand entrance hall to claim one. Once all of the preparations were completed, we finally departed the car parking area of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru by 5.40 a.m., with the drive to Otaru-chikko Station taking no more than just five minutes. Since I was awake, there was a heavy early morning snowstorm raging through Hokkaido.

The view of the small boat quay by the Sea of Japan in Otaru from my Room No. 1402 on a snowy early winter's morning during pre-dawn hours

The beautiful view of the Sea of Japan from my Room No. 1402 on a snowy early winter's morning during pre-dawn hours

The view of my Room No. 1402 during pre-dawn hours

The basement car parking area of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru during pre-dawn hours

Turning towards the roads of Otaru leading to Otaru-chikko Station during pre-dawn hours

Finally arriving at the drop-off and pick-up area near Otaru-chikko Station

After a short five-minute road drive from the Grand Park Hotel Otaru, we finally arrived at the drop-off and pick-up area below the pedestrian footbridge leading towards Otaru-chikko Station at 5.45 a.m.. Ensuring that I had left none of my belongings in the car, I alighted and thanked my dad for the lift. Before leaving back for the Grand Park Hotel Otaru to get some more sleep, my dad warned me to take things easy and be careful at all times.

Entering the stairway and elevator area, I took the elevator up to the pedestrian footbridge and walked all the way towards the main entrance towards Otaru-chikko Station, arriving there at 5.50 a.m.. I then went to check the train departure information board in the station concourse to check which platform the next Hakodate Main Line local train bound for New Chitose Airport via Sapporo would depart from while sorting out my belongings.

According to the departure information board, the nearest Hakodate Main Line local train bound for New Chitose Airport via Sapporo would depart at 6.06 a.m. from Track No. 2. Without wasting anymore time, I showed my Hokkaido Rail Pass to the man at the staffed ticketing gate and took the escalator down to the platforms. Arriving at the platforms at 5.55 a.m., I could see that other than myself, there was no one on the station platforms, making Otaru-chikko Station appear to look like a haunted railway station.

The overhead passageway linking to Otaru-chikko Station during pre-dawn hours

The main station concourse of Otaru-chikko Station during pre-dawn hours

The escalators leading to the platforms at Otaru-chikko Station

The station platforms of Otaru-chikko Station during pre-dawn hours

The station name plate on the station platforms at Otaru-chikko Station

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

After spending just 10 minutes of anticipated waiting along the deserted station platforms, a 6-car 721 series EMU set, operating on the early morning Hakodate Main Line local service bound for New Chitose Airport via Sapporo, finally entered Otaru-chikko Station at 6.05 a.m. on Track No. 2. Once the doors were opened, I boarded the train through Car No. 4, which was the "u" seat car, and secured Seat No. 5A for the short hop of just 39 minutes towards downtown Sapporo.

The coach would be designated as a reserved seating ("u" seat) car upon departing from Sapporo as the Rapid Airport train No. 64 bound for New Chitose Airport. At exactly 6.06 a.m., all the train doors were closed, and the Hakodate Main Line local train finally pulled out of Otaru-chikko Station for its remaining journey timing of 1 hour 20 minutes towards New Chitose Airport located in the suburban city of Chitose. I was then on my way for a short journey time of just 39 minutes to the hustle and bustle of downtown Sapporo.

721系 函館本線・千歳線 普通列車 新千歳空港行き 小樽築港駅に入線シーン

The rear view of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on board the 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the Hakodate Main Line local service bound for New Chitose Airport via Sapporo, shortly after departing Otaru-chikko Station

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

Making a brief stop at Asari Station

721系 函館本線・千歳線 普通列車 新千歳空港行き 朝里駅から銭函駅間

A view of my seat, 5A, between Otaru-chikko and Hoshimi Stations

The front view of the interior of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on board the 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the Hakodate Main Line local service bound for New Chitose Airport via Sapporo, between Otaru-chikko and Hoshimi Stations

The rear view of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on board the 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the Hakodate Main Line local service bound for New Chitose Airport via Sapporo, between Otaru-chikko and Hoshimi Stations

Making a brief stop at Hoshimi Station

The view of the reserved seating ("u" seat) car on board the 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the Hakodate Main Line local service bound for New Chitose Airport via Sapporo, from my seat between Hoshimi and Teine Stations

Crafting out my report for the segment to Sapporo on my blog

Making a brief stop at Teine Station

Travelling past some housing areas in Teine-ku, Sapporo, as dawn starts to break over Sapporo

Making a brief stop at Inazumi-koen Station

Travelling past some housing areas between Teine-ku and Nishi-ku, Sapporo, as dawn begins to break

Travelling past some houses in Nishi-ku, Sapporo, near Kotoni Station

Making a brief stop at Kotoni Station

721系 函館本線・千歳線 普通列車 新千歳空港行き 琴似駅から札幌駅間

After a short journey time of just 39 minutes from the suburban port city of Otaru, I finally arrived at Sapporo Station at 6.45 a.m. on Track No. 5. Ensuring that none of my personal belongings had been left behind on board, I alighted the train just before the train became the Rapid Airport train No. 64 bound for New Chitose Airport. Though it was still early, I headed down to the station concourse to ask the staff which platform the Limited Express Super Soya No. 1 bound for Wakkanai would depart from.

According to the staff at the manned ticketing gates near the station concourse, the Limited Express Super Soya No. 1 bound for Wakkanai would depart at 7.48 a.m. from Track No. 7. As it was still too early before my connecting train bound for Wakkanai, I did some of my usual train-spotting activities on Tracks No. 5 and 6, eventually heading towards Tracks No. 7 and 8 at 7.10 a.m. in preparation for my upcoming ultra-long limited express train journey to the northern suburban port city of 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 daily return services operating in each direction, with the fastest journey duration linking between Sapporo and Wakkanai taking 4 hours 56 minutes. The service travels over the Hakodate Main Line between Sapporo and Asahikawa, and Soya Main Line between Asahikawa and Wakkanai over its route, and is capable of reaching a maximum operating speed of 130 km/h (80 mph).

The service commenced operations on 11 March 2000, using KiHa 261 series DMUs at a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph). Services are normally formed of four cars, but may be occasionally lengthened up to six cars during peak periods of the year. Green Car (first class) accommodation is provided in half of one car (Car No. 1). There are no extra charges for the Super Soya with a Japan Rail Pass and / or a Hokkaido Rail Pass. From the start of the revised timetable on 15 March 2014, the top speed is scheduled to be reduced from 130 km/h (80 mph) to 120 km/h (75 mph), increasing the fastest journey duration to five hours.

Tracks No. 5 and 6 at Sapporo Station shortly after I had arrived

The 6-car 721 series EMU, now operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 64 bound for New Chitose Airport, awaiting departure from Sapporo Station on Track No. 5

A 7-car KiHa 281 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Hokuto" No. 2 bound for Hakodate, on Track No. 4 at Sapporo Station

A 7-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 rush hour

キハ281系・キハ283系 特急スーパー北斗2号・スーパーおおぞら1号 函館・釧路行き 札幌駅から出発シーン

A 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 70 bound for New Chitose Airport, on Track No. 6 at Sapporo Station

The station concourse leading to the platforms at Sapporo Station during the early morning rush hour

A 4-car KiHa 183 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Okhotsk" No. 1 bound for Abashiri, on Track No. 8 at Sapporo Station

A 6-car 721 series EMU, operating on the Rapid "Airport" train No. 72 bound for New Chitose Airport, on Track No. 6 at Sapporo Station

Tracks No. 7 and 8 serving some of the commuter and limited express trains bound for the Chitose Line and Hakodate Main Line at Sapporo Station during the early morning rush hour

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

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

After spending approximately 50 minutes of anticipated waiting on the station platform, a 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express Super Soya No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, finally entered Sapporo Station at 7.35 a.m. on Track No. 7. Once the train doors were swung open, I immediately boarded the train through the front of Car No. 1, which was the Green Car (first class) cabin, and went towards my assigned Seat No. 9A for the long journey time of five hours towards the northernmost suburban port city of Wakkanai.

More passengers began to board the train as time went by. 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 northernmost suburban port city of Wakkanai. Most of the surroundings around the Hakodate Main Line and Soya Main Line were covered in a thick blanket of snow, though the weather started to become sunnier by the time the train approached Wakkanai.

Wakkanai (稚内市) is a small, suburban port city located in Soya Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan. It is the northernmost city in Japan, with a population of approximately 37,059, as of 1 December 2013. The city is home to Cape Soya, Japan's northernmost point, where the Russian island of Sakhalin can be seen. Access to Wakkanai can be quite limited, being it by air or by rail. Wakkanai is served by Wakkanai Airport, a very small airport which caters only to limited domestic flights served by All Nippon Airways bound for Tokyo and Sapporo.

The city's main railway terminal, Wakkanai Station, serves as the northern terminus for the Soya Main Line. The Sarobetsu and Super Soya limited express services, operated by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido), connects Sapporo with Wakkanai in five hours thrice daily. However, due to a series of limited express train breakdowns in July 2013, the Sarobetsu service is currently suspended until further notice, with a temporary Soya Main Line rapid service train substituting it between Asahikawa and Wakkanai.

キハ261系 特急スーパー宗谷1号 稚内行き 札幌駅に入線シーン

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board 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, 9A, during the boarding process at Sapporo Station

Another front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board 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

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board 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

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

Awaiting departure from Sapporo Station

キハ261系 特急スーパー宗谷1号 稚内行き 札幌駅から岩見沢駅間

Making a brief stop at Iwamizawa Station

Two cups of orange juice

The rear view of the reserved standard seating car in Car No. 1 of the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, between Iwamizawa and Bibai Stations

Travelling past a snow-covered paddy field in the suburban city of Iwamizawa

The front view of the reserved standard seating car in Car No. 1 of the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, between Iwamizawa and Bibai Stations

A view of my seat, 9A, between Iwamizawa and Bibai Stations

Passing through Koshunai Station

Travelling past a snow-covered farming field in the sparse, rural city of Bibai as the train approaches Bibai Station

Making a brief stop at Bibai Station

Travelling past a snow-covered paddy field in the sparse, rural town of Naie

A packet of Jagariko (じゃがりこ) potato sticks, with a box of almond chocolates and a bottle of Coca-cola, for myself purchased from the on-board trolley refreshment service

About to enjoy my packet of Jagariko (じゃがりこ) potato sticks

Travelling past a snow-covered paddy field in the sparse, rural city of Sunagawa as the train approaches Sunagawa Station

Making a brief stop at Sunagawa Station

Travelling past a snow-covered paddy field in the sparse, rural city of Takikawa

About to enjoy my box of almond chocolates

Making a brief stop at Takikawa Station

A scene in "Gordon's Christmas Carol (2010)" where the Mallard conveys her condolences to Sir Topham Hatt after she learns of Henry's fatal accident on the viaduct

A scene in "Gordon's Christmas Carol (2010)", where the three narrow gauges engines (Mine Engine, Skarloey and Smudger) are shocked at the news of them awaiting scrapping at the Sodor Museum in the future of Sodor

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, from my seat between Takikawa and Fukagawa Stations

Travelling past a snow-covered rural settlement in the sparse, rural city of Takikawa

A scene in "Gordon's Christmas Carol (2010)", where in the future of Sodor, Smudger begs not to be scrapped at the scrapyards

My most favourite scene in Gordon's Christmas Carol (2010): The Mallard chides her sister, Bittern, for her unbecoming behaviour of a true A4 class engine in the future of Sodor

Travelling past a snow-covered paddy field in the sparse, rural town of Moseushi

A scene in "Gordon's Christmas Carol (2010)", where the Flying Scotsman argues with the Mallard over his famous speed records in front of Gordon at Wellsworth Station

Travelling past some sparse snow-covered housing areas in the sparse, rural city of Fukagawa

Making a brief stop at Fukagawa Station

Travelling past a snow-covered farming field in the sparse, rural city of Fukagawa shortly after departing Fukagawa Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, from my seat between Fukagawa and Asahikawa Stations

Travelling past a snow-covered paddy field near the suburban city of Asahikawa

Crossing the iron bridge over the Ishikari River between the cities of Fukagawa and Asahikawa

Travelling alongside the Ishikari River as the train approaches Asahikawa Station

Making a brief stop at Asahikawa Station

キハ261系 特急スーパー宗谷1号 稚内行き 旭川 (発車) ~ 北永山 (通過)

Travelling past a snow-covered farming field in the sparse, rural town of Pippu

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, from my seat between Asahikawa and Wassamu Stations

Bypassing a snow-covered farming field between the sparse, rural towns of Pippu and Wassamu

Crafting out my report for the in-bound segment to Wakkanai on my blog

Bypassing a snow-covered snow forest in the sparse, rural town of Wassamu

Passing through Shiokari Station

Bypassing another beautiful snow-covered forest in the sparse, rural town of Wassamu

Bypassing a ski resort in the sparse, rural town of Wassamu as the train approaches Wassamu Station

Making a brief stop at Wassamu Station

Bypassing a snow-covered field between Wassamu and Shibetsu on the Soya Main Line

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, from my seat between Wassamu and Shibetsu Stations

Bypassing a large, snow-covered field in the sparse, rural town of Wassamu

Bypassing a snow forest near the sparse, rural town of Wassamu

Bypassing a large snowy field and forest in the sparse, rural city of Shibetsu

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, from my seat between Nayoro and Otoineppu Stations

Bypassing snow-covered hill forest and field in the sparse, rural city of Shibetsu

Bypassing a railway bypass area on the Soya Main Line near the sparse, rural city of Nayoro

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

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

Overlooking a ski resort in the sparse, rural village of Otoineppu as the train approaches Otoineppu Station

Making a brief stop at Otoineppu Station

Bypassing a small warehouse area in the snow-covered sparse, rural village of Otoineppu

My second bottle of Coca-cola and packet of Jagariko (じゃがりこ) potato sticks purchased from the on-board trolley refreshment service

About to enjoy my second packet of Jagariko potato sticks

Bypassing a snow-covered hill forest near the sparse, rural town of Nakagawa

Bypassing some small houses in the sparse, rural town of Nakagawa as the train approaches Teshio-nakagawa Station

Making a brief stop at Teshio-nakagawa Station

Bypassing a large snow-covered field in the sparse, rural town of Nakagawa

Bypassing a snow forest between Teshio-nakagawa and Horonobe Stations

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, from my seat between Otoineppu and Teshio-nakagawa Stations

Bypassing a railroad crossing on the Soya Main Line in the sparse, rural town of Nakagawa

Crossing a small river between Teshio-nakagawa and Horonobe Stations

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, from my seat between Teshio-nakagawa and Horonobe Stations

Bypassing a snow-covered hill in the sparse, rural town of Horonobe

Bypassing a large snow-covered field in the sparse, rural town of Horonobe

Bypassing some old storehouses near a settlement in the sparse, rural town of Horonobe

Making a brief stop at Horonobe Station

キハ261系 特急スーパー宗谷1号 稚内行き 幌延駅から豊富駅間

Making a brief stop at Toyotomi Station

The rear view of the reserved seating car in Car No. 1 of the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, between Toyotomi and Minami-wakkanai Stations

The front view of the reserved standard seating car in Car No. 1 of the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, between Toyotomi and Minami-wakkanai Stations

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

A view of my seat, 9A, between Toyotomi and Minami-wakkanai Stations

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, between Toyotomi and Minami-wakkanai Stations

Travelling past a snow-covered sparse, rural settlement in the sparse, rural town of Toyotomi

Passing through Kabutonuma Station

Bypassing another snow-covered field in the sparse, rural town of Toyotomi

Bypassing some houses in the sparse, rural town of Toyotomi

Bypassing a hilly forest area between Toyotomi and Wakkanai

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, from my seat as the train approaches the northern suburban port city of Wakkanai

Bypassing a snow-covered field near the northern suburban port city of Wakkanai

キハ261系 特急スーパー宗谷1号 稚内行き 抜海 (通過) ~ 南稚内 (到着)

Making a brief stop at Minami-wakkanai Station

キハ261系 特急スーパー宗谷1号 稚内行き 南稚内駅から終着稚内駅間

After a very long early morning train journey duration of five hours from the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Sapporo, I finally arrived at the Wakkanai terminal station at 12.47 p.m. on Track No. 1. Being sure to check that I had left none of my personal belongings behind on board, I alighted the train and went through the sole ticketing gate before venturing out further into the city area. However, unlike my first trip here back in December 2011, the city surroundings was not that snowy.

Since I was beginning to feel rather hungry from my long early morning train journey from Sapporo without having a proper breakfast, I decided to search for a good restaurant to eat at for lunch first before going around the city area. Without wasting anymore time, I left the station building by 12.55 p.m. and looked around the station vicinity to search for a good restaurant to eat at. Despite not being that snowy, the cold air was very chilling and it was very sunny throughout the day in Wakkanai.

Wakkanai Station (稚内駅) is a railway station located in the northern suburban port city of Wakkanai, Hokkaido, Japan. It is main railway station serving Wakkanai and serves as the northern terminus for the Soya Main Line. The station is notable for being the northernmost railway station in Japan. The station underwent a major renovation process between 2010 and 2012, and currently has a single side platform serving one track as of 16 March 2013. The Sarobetsu and Super Soya limited express services from Sapporo terminate here.

The sole station platform at Wakkanai Station on a bright winter's afternoon

The 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, which previously operated on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 1 bound for Wakkanai, on the sole station platform at Wakkanai Station

The wooden signboard near the station platform at Wakkanai Station showing Wakkanai's true nature of being the northernmost railway station in Japan

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

The signboards containing the many tourist attractions located outside Wakkanai Station

The cab stand located just outside Wakkanai Station on a bright winter's afternoon

The exterior view of Wakkanai Station on a bright winter's afternoon

A warning sign near Wakkanai Station informing visitors to be wary of tsunamis

Finally arriving at Kita Market Dream Plaza located just adjacent to Wakkanai Station

After a short walk of just 10 minutes from Wakkanai Station nearby, I finally stumbled upon a seafood market and restaurant, known as Kita Market Dream Plaza (北市場・夢広場) at one o' clock. I was very familiar with this particular market and restaurant since I had first been here back in December 2011 during my first trip to Wakkanai. This building consists of two levels, with the first level housing the indoor seafood market, and the second level housing the restaurant.

Since I was feeling very hungry already, I immediately entered the building and walked up the stairs to the restaurant, where I promptly made a request for a counter table for myself. The owner, who was an elderly and wise lady, quickly recognised me since I had eaten here previously in December 2011, and directed me to an empty counter table near the kitchen before leaving me with the food and beverage menus. Once I was done reviewing the lunch menus, the restaurant owner came by to my table to take down my main meal orders.

I ordered two grilled scallops, two platters of assorted yakitori beef, pork and chicken skin skewers and a platter of deep-fried shishamo fish, since I had hardly eaten a proper meal since that morning. I also requested for a bottle of Tokachi white wine to accompany my upcoming meal. With my meal orders delivered to me, I had a very filling and sumptuous lunch at Kita Market Dream Plaza Restaurant. The Tokachi white wine also went excellently with this huge lunch.

The interior of the enclosed seafood market at Kita Market Dream Plaza Wakkanai in the afternoon

Several freshly caught and displayed Hokkaido giant crabs at Kita Market Dream Plaza Wakkanai

The stairway leading up to Kita Market Dream Plaza Restaurant near the enclosed seafood market in the afternoon

The interior of Kita Market Dream Plaza Restaurant Wakkanai shortly after I was seated at my table

A display glass cupboard displaying the many types of seafood sashimi near my table at Kita Market Dream Plaza Restaurant Wakkanai

The cover page for the food and beverage menu at Kita Market Dream Plaza Restaurant Wakkanai

Reviewing the food and beverage menu at Kita Market Dream Plaza Restaurant Wakkanai

A bottle of Tokachi white wine to accompany my upcoming large lunch course

A platter of deep-fried shishamo on my table

My first plate of grilled scallop with asparagus on my table

An overall view of my large lunch meal at Kita Market Dream Plaza Restaurant Wakkanai

My first platter of assorted beef, pork and chicken skin yakitori on my table

My second platter of grilled scallop with asparagus on my table

The interior of Kita Market Dream Plaza Restaurant Wakkanai during lunchtime hours

My second platter of beef and chicken yakitori on my table

After having a sumptuous and filling lunch at Kita Market Dream Plaza Restaurant, the clock was finally showing 1.50 p.m.. Feeling stuffed to the brim already, I paid up my restaurant lunch bill and left the restaurant at 1.55 p.m.. Seeing that there was still some stuff to see, I decided to explore around the city of Wakkanai for the rest of the afternoon and to enjoy the cold winter sea breeze near the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Wakkanai.

I then walked along the roads of Wakkanai in the direction to the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Wakkanai and found a good seating area by the sea near Wakkanai Port. There were a few ships departing from the harbour, most probably bound for Russia given that Wakkanai is relatively near the Russian island of Sakhalin. Sitting by the corniche to enjoy the sea breeze was the most enjoyable part since it allowed me to relieve my mind of my troubles.

The interior of Kita Market Dream Plaza Restaurant Wakkanai shortly before I left the restaurant

The car parking area located near Kita Market Dream Plaza Wakkanai on a bright winter's afternoon

The view of the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Wakkanai near Kita Market Dream Plaza Wakkanai on a bright winter's afternoon

The overall exterior view of Wakkanai Station and Kita Market Dream Plaza from across the road on a bright winter's afternoon

A small gymnasium located near the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Wakkanai on a bright winter's afternoon

A large Heartland Ferry, named Eins Soya, awaiting departure from the dock jetty located near the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Wakkanai

The view of the Sea of Japan near Wakkanai Port on a bright winter's afternoon in Wakkanai

Two Heartland Ferries awaiting departure from Wakkanai Port on a bright winter's afternoon

A duck wading in the Sea of Japan by Wakkanai Port on a bright winter's afternoon

The view of the corniche near the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Wakkanai facing in the direction to Breakwater Dome on a bright winter's afternoon

The view of the corniche near the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Wakkanai facing in the direction to Kita Market Dream Plaza Wakkanai and Wakkanai Station

Another beautiful view of the Sea of Japan and Wakkanai Port on a sunny winter's afternoon

The overall view of the Sea of Japan in Wakkanai on a bright winter's afternoon

The view of the sunny winter sky by the Sea of Japan near Wakkanai Port

Several power plants located near Wakkanai Port on a bright winter's afternoon

After spending some time enjoying the cooling sea breeze by the Sea of Japan, the clock was finally showing 2.45 p.m.. Since the air was getting to bitterly cold, I started to feel a bit hungry, thus deciding to head back to Wakkanai Station for some afternoon tea. With that, I walked along the corniche to the road crossing, and crossed the road to Wakkanai Station, with the entire walk back to the station building taking about 25 minutes, since I stopped at the nearby gymnasium for a brief washroom break.

Soon enough, I finally arrived back at the entrance to Wakkanai Station at 3.10 p.m.. Once I entered the station building, I found a nearby cafeteria and souvenir shop, named Wakkanai Select (ワッカナイセレクト). Entering the cafeteria itself, I went to the main food counter and ordered a cheesecake with a nice, cooling glass of Hokkaido milk. Upon paying up for my afternoon orders, I found at an empty table to enjoy my tea and to keep warm from the bitter cold. Soon enough, it was finally time to head back to Otaru at 4.10 p.m..

For the return journey back to Otaru, I would catch the Limited Express Super Soya No. 4 bound for Sapporo, which would be scheduled to depart Wakkanai Station at 4.51 p.m., and arrive at the Sapporo terminal station at 9.50 p.m.. Upon arriving at Sapporo, I would have a short layover for approximately 25 minutes before connecting to a Hakodate Main Line local train bound for Otaru, which would be scheduled to depart Sapporo Station at 10.17 p.m., and arrive at Otaru-chikko Station at 10.59 p.m..

With that, I left the cafeteria at 4.15 p.m. and headed back to the station concourse to check which platform the Limited Express Super Soya No. 4 bound for Sapporo would depart from. According to the departure information board, the Limited Express Super Soya No. 4 bound for Sapporo would depart at 4.51 p.m. on Track No. 1. While waiting for my return train back to Sapporo, I went for a quick washroom break decided to sit down at an empty bench in the station concourse to rest for a while.

The overall view of the Sea of Japan in Wakkanai on a bright winter's afternoon shortly before I left for Wakkanai Station

The view of the Breakwater Dome near the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Wakkanai as I make my way back to Wakkanai Station

Bypassing the small gymnasium near the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Wakkanai on my way back to Wakkanai Station

The view of the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Wakkanai near Kita Market Dream Plaza Wakkanai as I make my way back to Wakkanai Station

Bypassing the Kita Market Dream Plaza Wakkanai on the way back to Wakkanai Station

Finally arriving back at Wakkanai Station

The interior of the main station concourse at Wakkanai Station during the late afternoon hours

The interior of the souvenir shop section of Wakkanai Select cafeteria and souvenir shop at Wakkanai Station

A nice plate of cheesecake and glass of iced Hokkaido milk for myself

The interior of Wakkanai Select cafeteria and souvenir shop at Wakkanai Station during teatime

The entrance to Wakkanai Select cafeteria and souvenir shop in the main station concourse at Wakkanai Station

A large Christmas tree in the main station concourse at Wakkanai Station

The cab stand located just outside Wakkanai Station during dusk

The view of the northernmost suburban port city of Wakkanai during dusk near Wakkanai Station

The view of the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Wakkanai near Kita Market Dream Plaza Wakkanai during dusk

The exterior view of Wakkanai Station during dusk

The departure information board for Soya Main Line trains departing for Nayoro, Asahikawa and Sapporo in the main station concourse at Wakkanai Station

The interior of the main station concourse at Wakkanai Station during dusk

The wooden signboard near the station platform at Wakkanai Station during dusk

The sole station platform at Wakkanai Station as seen from the station concourse during dusk

The interior of the main station concourse at Wakkanai Station shortly before the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo arrived at the station

After spending approximately 20 minutes of anticipated waiting in the station concourse, a 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, which would soon operate on the Limited Express Super Soya No. 4 bound for Sapporo, finally entered Wakkanai Station at 4.51 p.m.. Once the ticketing officer opened the ticketing gate, I showed my Hokkaido Rail Pass and passed through the ticketing gate before getting on the platform.

Without wasting anymore time, I immediately boarded the train through the rear of Car No. 1, where the Green Car (first class) cabin was located, and settled into my assigned Seat No. 8A for the long evening return journey of five hours back to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Sapporo. I would be the only passenger occupying the Green Car (first class) cabin for the segment from Wakkanai to Nayoro.

Once the clock struck exactly 4.51 p.m. sharp, all the doors were closed, and the Limited Express Super Soya No. 4 finally pulled out of Wakkanai Station for its long evening return journey of five hours back to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Sapporo. I was then on my way for a long evening return trip of five hours back to downtown Sapporo, though the train had to reduce speed at some point due to adverse whether conditions.

The sole station platform at Wakkanai Station during nightfall

The 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo, on the sole station platform at Wakkanai Station

The logo of the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo, on the sole station platform at Wakkanai Station

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

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

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

A typical pair of Green Car (first class) seats on board the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo, during the boarding process at Wakkanai Station

The station name plate at Wakkanai Station at night while awaiting departure from Wakkanai Station

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

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

The view of the end point near the station concourse at Wakkanai Station

Awaiting departure from Wakkanai Station

キハ261系 特急スーパー宗谷4号 札幌行き 稚内 (通過) ~ 抜海 (通過)

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

My two cups of orange juice resting on the bulkhead table

The rear view of the reserved seating car in Car No. 1 of the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo, between Minami-wakkanai and Toyotomi Stations

The front view of the reserved standard seating car in Car No. 1 of the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo, between Minami-wakkanai and Toyotomi Stations

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

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo, between Minami-wakkanai and Toyotomi Stations

Crafting out my report for the return segment to Sapporo

A bottle of Coca-cola with a box of almond chocolates for myself

About to enjoy my box of almond chocolates

Bypassing some small houses in the sparse, rural town of Toyotomi at night

Making a brief stop at Toyotomi Station

Bypassing a large snow-covered field in the sparse, rural town of Toyotomi at night

Making a brief stop at Horonobe Station

My most favourite scene in Gordon's Christmas Carol (2010): The Mallard chides her sister, Bittern, for her unbecoming behaviour of a true A4 class engine in the future of Sodor

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

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo, between Horonobe and Nayoro Stations

The rear view of the reserved seating car in Car No. 1 of the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo, between Horonobe and Nayoro Stations

The front view of the reserved standard seating car in Car No. 1 of the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo, between Horonobe and Nayoro Stations

A view of my seat, 8A, between Horonobe and Nayoro Stations

Bypassing some small houses in the sparse, rural town of Nakagawa shortly after departing Teshio-nakagawa Station at night

Bypassing a large snow-covered field in the sparse, rural village of Otoineppu at night

Bypassing a railroad crossing near the sparse, rural town of Bifuka at night

Making a brief stop at Bifuka Station

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

Bypassing a snow-covered field in the sparse, rural city of Nayoro at night

Making a brief stop at Nayoro Station

キハ261系 特急スーパー宗谷4号 札幌行き 名寄駅から士別駅間

Making a brief stop at Shibetsu Station

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

Playing "LEGO Racers: Dark Forest Dash (Mirrored)", with myself playing as Basil the Bat Lord stalking Johnny Thunder and Governor Broadside with three homing missiles

Bypassing a snow-covered field in the sparse, rural town of Wassamu at night

Bypassing a ski resort in the sparse, rural town of Wassamu as the train approaches Wassamu Station

Making a brief stop at Wassamu Station

Playing "LEGO Racers: Royal Knights Raceway (Mirrored)", with myself playing as Basil the Bat Lord attacking Achu with three homing missiles

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

Bypassing a snow-covered field in the sparse, rural town of Pippu at night

キハ261系 特急スーパー宗谷4号 札幌行き 比布 (通過) ~ 旭川 (到着)

Making a brief stop at Asahikawa Station

Travelling alongside the Ishikari River shortly after departing Asahikawa Station

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

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, operating on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo, between Asahikawa and Fukagawa Stations

A view of my seat, 8A, between Asahikawa and Fukagawa Stations

A bottle of Coca-cola for myself

Making a brief stop at Fukagawa Station

キハ261系 特急スーパー宗谷4号 札幌行き 深川駅から滝川駅間

Making a brief stop at Takikawa Station

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

Travelling past some housing areas in the sparse, rural city of Takikawa at night

Passing through Sunagawa Station

Travelling past a snow-covered farming field in the sparse, rural city of Bibai at night

Travelling past a snow-covered field in the sparse, rural city of Iwamizawa at night

Making a brief stop at Iwamizawa Station

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

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

Bypassing another snow-covered farming field in the sparse, rural city of Iwamizawa

Crossing the Chitose River between the suburban cities of Iwamizawa and Ebetsu

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Ebetsu at night

キハ261系 特急スーパー宗谷4号 札幌行き 野幌 (通過) ~ 札幌 (到着)

After a long evening journey duration of 5 hours 04 minutes from the northern suburban port city of Wakkanai, I finally arrived at the Sapporo terminal station at 9.55 p.m. on Track No. 3, approximately four minutes behind schedule. Checking to see that I had left nothing behind, I alighted the train and took the escalators down to the main station concourse. I also went to check the departure information board to see which platform the closest Hakodate Main Line local train bound for Otaru would depart from.

According to the departure information board in the main station concourse, the closest JR Hakodate Main Line local train bound for Otaru would be scheduled to depart at 10.17 p.m. from Track No. 1. Without wasting anymore time, I took the escalators up to Tracks No. 1 and 2 for the final section of my return journey to the suburban port city of Otaru. However, due to the adverse weather conditions, all train services were expected to be delayed for approximately 10 minutes late that night.

The logo of the 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, which previously operated on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo from Wakkanai, on Track No. 3 at Sapporo Station

The 4-car KiHa 261 series DMU, which previously operated on the Limited Express "Super Soya" No. 4 bound for Sapporo from Wakkanai, on Track No. 3 at Sapporo Station

The station concourse leading to the platforms at Sapporo Station during the late night rush hour

Tracks No. 1 and 2 serving some of the Hakodate Main Line trains bound for Otaru at Sapporo Station during the late night rush hour

After spending approximately 20 minutes of anticipated waiting on the platform, a 3-car 731 series EMU, operating on the JR Hakodate Main Line local service bound for Otaru, finally arrived at Sapporo Station at 10.25 p.m. on Track No. 1, approximately 12 minutes behind schedule. Once the doors were opened, I quickly boarded the train for the short late night journey duration of just 38 minutes back to the suburban port city of Otaru.

At 10.27 p.m., all the train doors were closed, and the JR Hakodate Main Line local train finally pulled out of Sapporo Station, 10 minutes behind schedule for the remainder of its late night run to the suburban port city of Otaru. I was then on my way for a short late night journey time of just 38 minutes back to the suburban port city of Otaru. The train was quite crowded throughout the journey with lots of commuters trying to get home.

731系 函館本線 普通列車 小樽行き 札幌駅に入線シーン

The interior of the 3-car 731 series EMU, operating on the JR Hakodate Main Line local service bound for Otaru, while awaiting departure from Sapporo Station

731系 函館本線 普通列車 小樽行き 札幌駅琴似駅間

Making a brief stop at Kotoni Station

Travelling past some housing areas in Nishi-ku, Sapporo, late at night

Making a brief stop at Hassamu Station

Travelling adjacent to a road bridge between Nishi-ku and Teine-ku, Sapporo, late at night

Making a brief stop at Hoshioki Station

Travelling past a housing area located in Teine-ku, Sapporo, late at night

Making a brief stop at Hoshimi Station

Travelling along the coastline of the Sea of Japan on the Hakodate Main Line late at night

The interior of the 3-car 731 series EMU, operating on the JR Hakodate Main Line local service bound for Otaru, while travelling along the coastline of the Sea of Japan

Travelling along the coastline of the Sea of Japan as the train approaches Asari Station late at night

The interior of the 3-car 731 series EMU, operating on the JR Hakodate Main Line local service bound for Otaru, as the train approaches Asari Station

Making a brief stop at Asari Station

731系 函館本線 普通列車 小樽行き 朝里駅から小樽築港駅間

After a short late night journey duration of just 38 minutes from the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Sapporo, I finally arrived back at Otaru-chikko Station at 11.05 p.m. on Track No. 1, approximately six minutes behind schedule. Checking that I had all of my belongings with me, I immediately alighted the train and took the elevator up to the second level, where the main station concourse was located, and showed my Hokkaido Rail Pass to the ticket officer at the staffed ticket gate before exiting the station.

Taking the elevator down to the street level, I found my dad waiting for me in our rented car at the same point where he dropped me off earlier that morning. Loading my belongings into the car, I boarded for the short drive back to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru. Soon enough, as soon as everything had been loaded into the car, we finally departed Otaru-chikko Station at 11.10 p.m. for a short drive of no more than just five minutes back to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru located just nearby.

Track No. 1 serving the Hakodate Main Line trains bound for Otaru and Kutchan at Otaru-chikko Station late at night

The main station concourse of Otaru-chikko Station during the late night hours

The overhead passageway linking to Otaru-chikko Station late at night

The pick-up and drop-off area located adjacent to Otaru-chikko Station late at night

Travelling along the snowy roads of Otaru on the way back to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru late at night

Finally arriving back at the basement car parking level at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

The view of my Room No. 1402 late at night

The beautiful view of the Sea of Japan from my Room No. 1402 late at night

After a short five-minute late night road drive from Otaru-chikko Station nearby, we finally arrived back at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru at 11.15 p.m.. Parking the car at the basement car parking level, I took my belongings from the car and took the elevator with my dad up to the hotel's grand entrance hall before transferring to another set of elevators back up to the 14th floor, where our Rooms No. 1401 and 1402 were located.

Entering our rooms, I had a very nice, hot shower before having a nice and filling in-room steamboat dinner with my family, chatting about how much I enjoyed myself in Wakkanai. Once we had finished dinner, we packed up some of our baggage in preparation for the continuing journey to South Korea the next day. With that, by around one or two o' clock late that night, we all turned in for a good night's rest for the journey to Seoul the next day.

This officially brings the fourth section of my special combined Christmas winter vacation in Hokkaido, Japan, and South Korea in December 2013 to a formal conclusion. As for the remaining two segments of the entire blog report, they will be posted once I have selected the highest quality photographs and videos for them.

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