Tokyo and Sapporo, Japan (Recap at 150 Days)

Tokyo and Sapporo, Japan (Recap at 150 Days)

After an incredibly luxurious flight there, we arrived in Tokyo on Sunday, October 2, and headed to our hotel, the Park Hyatt. While this hotel normally runs over $700 per night, remember that if you open the Hyatt credit card by Chase and meet a minimum spending requirement, you’ll receive a welcome gift of two free nights, at any Hyatt in the world, regardless of quality or price! We opened the cards before we left and made sure to make our free nights count!


the beautiful view from our room at the Park Hyatt, looking south over Yoyogi Park


This may be the nicest hotel bathroom I’ve ever seen.


The Shinjuku area of Tokyo exemplifies the modern, bustling, nonstop pace of the city, with bars and restaurants everywhere

While in Tokyo, we found time to have a meal with our friend Chris, whom we haven’t seen in almost a decade, since the days we lived in Boston. It’s always incredible to see familiar faces overseas, and we tried our hands at a new dish we’d never heard of, monjayaki.

With our brief stop in Tokyo completed, we headed north on Wednesday, October 5 to the Hokkaido prefecture for a few days of hiking and exploration. The flight from Tokyo to Sapporo was easy, and a hilarious example of Japanese efficiency, as over 200 passengers boarded and seated in less than 10 minutes.

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The morning of Thursday, October 7, we took our first stop in Hokkaido south to the town of Noboribetsu, a small village dotted with hot springs and geysers.


Statues dotted around Noboribetsu in Hokkaido. See any resemblance?


The hot springs and landscape here were haunting, and not the concrete jungles and skyscrapers that people normally think of in Japan.


It’s warm!


I’ve lost track of the English translations, but this small lake was known as this in Japanese: 奥の湯

After a morning in Noboribetsu, we took a grueling seven hour train ride north to Wakkanai, the northernmost city in Japan. We arrived in Wakkanai just before midnight and managed to get about five hours of sleep before an early wakeup on Friday, October 7 to catch our ferry to Rebun Island. Maybe it was karma, but this sign greeted us at the ferry terminal in Wakkanai, announcing the ferry service was cancelled and would be reconsidered several hours later at 11:30:


This means we took ELEVEN hours of roundtrip train travel and didn’t get to visit the island we wanted. Such is the travelers’ life!

We only had the single day in our itinerary to visit Rebun Island, and with nothing else to do, we caught a five hour train ride back to Sapporo to enjoy another day before going down to Osaka. We wasted a day trying to visit Rebun Island, but it didn’t stop us from visiting Otaru on our way back to Sapporo:


ice cream in front of the Otaru Canal, in Otaru, Hokkaido


Otaru manhole covers are almost as adorable as real otters!

We walked around Sapporo for the day, exploring the capital of Hokkaido prefecture. We did pass what seemed to be some sort of diplomatic reception for delegates from Cambodia:

Then we realized, of course, that we had intended to spend the night on Rebun Island, and frantically headed online to try and find an affordable hotel in town. Luckily for us, there was a last minute opening at a hotel that didn’t seem to have any online reviews, so we booked it and crossed our fingers. It turned out only to have opened a day before, and everything inside was shiny and brand new!


The hotel (JR Inn Sapporo South) for our last day in Sapporo had their grand opening a day before we arrived. Nearby businesses and people sent well wishing flowers!

We didn’t get the chance to do the hiking we wanted on Rebun Island, but our time in Hokkaido was a blast, and we headed out afterwards back to Japan’s largest island and a visit to Osaka.

Craig Chu

Craig Chu

Craig is a credentialed pension actuary who worked most recently as a software developer with Winklevoss Technologies, in Greenwich, CT USA, where he worked to maintain and develop ProVal, the world’s leading software product for pension valuation and forecasting analytics. A proud graduate of Caltech, he is a big fan of all things science-related, as well as (in no particular order of preference) beer, New York City, choral singing, and cats. He can be reached at


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