Thursday, 19 April 2012


支笏湖, 北海道 . 시코쓰코, 홋카이도

(A sightseeing stop in the Hong Thai Travel 7D Hokkaido Package Tour, my first packaged tour experience.)

Grandpa, Grandma, Mom and me arrived this morning at the Shin-Chitose Airport in Sapporo, after a short transit at Haneda Airport in Tokyo. I was a little sleepy but super excited because Mom said that I can see snow. Plus, I wondered what it was like to be in a group tour because I have never been on one.

Later, I realised that I was part of a group of 28 people who would be travelling around Hokkaido together on this big coach, and there was also a nice Uncle called the tour guide who would bring us around and take care of us. And I was the only 5-year-old in the group.

Mom bundled me up in thermal underwear, long-sleeve
T-shirt, a vest, a winter jacket, beanie, gloves and a scarf

Lake Shikotsu

After travelling for about 50 mins from the airport, our first stop was Lake Shikotsu. This lake is one of the most beautiful caldera / crater lakes in Hokkaido, and it is famous for its clear water. More details about the lake can be found here.

Lake Shikotsu Sightseeing Boat 支笏湖観光船

We boarded the Sightseeing Boat to tour around the lake, and all of us first moved to the bottom of the boat where there was an underwater viewing gallery. Although it was rather narrow, it was very interesting to be able to see what lives beneath the lake.

   Tel:                      0123-25-2031
   Operating Months: Mid-April to early November
   Operating Hours:   08:40 - 17:10 (subject to change)
   Ticketing:              Adult - 1,200円, Elementary / Primary school student - 600円

Chart on the fishes that you can see

Lake bottom
Underwater Viewing Gallery

We did not see any fishes (the boat uncle said it depends on the weather), so we moved to the upper open deck to enjoy the scenery. It was very beautiful, but cold!


Lake Shikotsu Visitors Centre 支笏湖ビジターセンター

After we disembarked from the 30-min boat ride, Mom went into the visitors centre for a quick look while Grandpa and me went to check out the snow. It was a bit scary because the snow was so high, and Grandpa taught me how to scoop the snow and make snowballs. My gloved hands were freezing!

The Visitors Centre
The iconic letterbox
If we did not see the fishes in the lake, we can see them here
More about the geological history of the lake
Slippery snow!

It's taller than I am!
We had a little time left to explore the area, and to admire the beautiful scenery. But it was just too cold, and I told Mom to hurry back to the coach.
Pedal duck-boats for rent, and the heritage Yamasen Rail Bridge 山線鉄橋
Hot milk for sale! 200 yen per bottle
Boat Terminal



After braving the cold, we went to a restaurant nearby called Eat-Up Restaurant イートアップ for a buffet lunch. There was a lot of food, and we get to grill our fish and meat too!
   Address:       千歳市上長都 961-1
   Tel:               0123 (40) 2929
Lunch hours:  11:30 - 14:30
   Dinner hours: 17:00 - 22:00
   Open 365 days

Such scenery was often repeated as we travelled along

Gramps grilling our fish
Restaurant entrance

Notes from Mom
  • Hold your kid's hand when they tread on snow or melting snow - very slippery. Boots will be ideal as water / snow will not seep in
  • We discovered then that it was good for kids to use heat pads too, to keep their hands warm. However, do not use it directly as it may be too hot for them ... wrap a towel around it
  • Make sure your kid visits the toilet at every other stop - the tendency to go is higher in cold weathers, and the distance between each stop is longer and you may not always find rest stops
  • Each destination / attraction has a ink stamp corner, so kids can have fun collecting stamps of each place they visit ... bring along some paper or notebook, or make your kid's very own "Hokkaido Passport"
  • For FIT, there are more things to see and try - try the local delicacy Chippu Sushi チップ寿司, dip into the many onsens, take scenic walks etc
  • More information on the onsens here - Lake Shikotsu Onsen Association 
  • More information about the lake and its surrounds - Chitose Tourist Association
  • Informative tourist guide on Chitose (Japanese only) here

Read about our next stop - Poroto Kotan, the Shiraoi Ainu Museum.

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