Hokkaido Roundup - Day 1: Shin-Chitose, Tomamu

Thursday, 23 November 2017


For posts on Hokkaido Itinerary: Click here to view
For individual food reviews and photos on Hokkaido Food: Click here to view

Yay! Family trip to Hokkaido. 4 of us were super excited as it had been the longest time since we traveled together as a family. For my birthday, we decided to head up north of Japan since my dad wanted to go there for the longest time. 

Btw, is it mandatory for my family to visit DFS everytime we travel? Yes. Because of that, we kinda became the last ones to board the plane, in fact, we almost missed the last call for boarding. Lol!



Anyway, it was my first time travelling onboard an ANA flight and I have to say that I pretty much enjoyed it because Im one of those who doesnt like others to lower down their seats into my space so I dont do that too - usually. I like to sit with my seats upright. ANA flight seats are designed not to be lowered so I LOVED IT. #PersonalSpace, check!




We took the econ seats, but I must say it was overall pretty comfortable. A couple times I felt so tempted to do inflight shopping but Im going to put this ritual off until my return flight.

The ANA flight provided a blanket and pillow, i used it happily while listening away to B'Z onboard. It was a red eye flight so I wasn't really in the mood for any movies. A couple hours later, we had our inflight meal (another thing I look forward to on flights). 
It was breakfast so there was only porridge and omelette. I went with omelette thought cos I was tempted by the mere mention of sausages.

The stewardesses were so polite and they served us promptly. I did however ask for kopi O (coffee black) but language barriers somehow managed to get milk into my coffee. I also had a good fill of green tea, because - you know - Japanese airline so their green tea is supposedly good.

We touched down at 6.06am, Japan time in Haneda and had to check out, collect out luggages and transfer to the domestic flight.

The snaking queues spelt horrors as there were just too many foreigners entering Japan, but they were really efficient in clearing the queues and less than 40 mins later we managed to get out and also retrieve our luggage without any issues. I was kinda worried for a bit when I thought we were going to be late for our connecting domestic flight but there were good instructions and signs shown, so no need to worry.





Both of us looked damn tired after the flight lol. #NoMakeup


By the time we checked in, we realised the flight to Sapporo was going to be delayed another half hour. So yes, we waited at the gate for another 1 hour while I decided to make my first purchase in Japan at a Starbucks. (Someone please judge me for that).

Ended up with a iced drip coffee while I chilled out amongst a sea of suits at the boarding lounge.

The ANA domestic plane was a simplified no-frills-no-thrills version of the international carrier. Another hour of listening to my own music the plane only took off at 9am instead of the scheduled 8am flight.



Once we reached Shin Chitose airport, we missed the train we were intending to board to Tomamu. Either way, I found out the next train timing was 12.15pm so we had to aim for that instead. (If you wanna know, i used the navitime japan app)

Headed over to the JR ticket information counter to have my 4 day flexi JR pass exchanged. I bought the flexi pass with advice from Japan Rail Cafe in Singapore, who gave very good advice on which pass to purchase after I showed her my itinerary. 

It was $1044 for 4 of us, over a 10 day flexi period. Yes I would highly recommend purchasing and getting advice from staff at Japan Rail Cafe (Tanjong Pagar) the first overseas cafe by JTB JR line.








After exchanging the tickets and finding out we still have time for a quick meal, we head over to Yoshinoya for some beef don. It was alright, not exceptionally fantastic but better than the ones in Singapore indeed.



We proceeded to board the train to Tomamu, which took us about slightly over an hour to reach. As you can see the seats are pretty comfortable with a good amount of leg room, includes a tray table which you can use and a hook in front of you that you can use to hang up your coats or shopping bags. 

Lucky for us, we managed to find some luggage space at the back of the train carriage.

Place your train tickets in the ticket slot so that the train conductor can check your train tickets without having to wake you up to ask for it. :)


Train selfie!

Finally, we arrived in Tomamu!



Clear signs going to the resort can be seen here. Finding the bus was extremely easy since it was parked right outside the entrance (you can't get lost here, seriously). And the resort buses are timed to the train timings so that resort guests don't have to wait for the bus at all. Once they get off the train, the shuttle bus to the resort will be waiting there! In any case, if it's not, use the provided phone in the platform room to contact them.





And yes, here we are at the Risonare Tomamu Hoshino Resorts! I paid slightly over SGD$600 (54,000 yen) for a suite room here to buy a chance to head up to the Unkai Terrace the next morning to see the Unkai (Sea of Clouds).


When we arrived (still sitting in the bus), a row of resort staff members lined up outside the resort in the cold to welcome our arrival. We were super impressed with their level of service.
Beautiful outdoors.
Resort lobby reception area.
The staff helped us with our luggages personally and brought us up to the room. The service was so awesome that my mum wanted to tip them generously but the service staff adamantly refused to take a tip.
Here we are, in the room! It is super big, fitted with a living room, 2 bedrooms, 2 toilets, a indoor Jacuzzi and a sauna room!










Selfie time in the sauna room! My sister judged me big time for this until... she joined me.
Also, selfie in the Jacuzzi (someone please tell me to stop)

An exact number of water bottles were provided depending on the number of room guests you have. But feel free to call the reception anytime you need more, they'll bring it up for you. We didn't bother using the electric kettle, though. In fact, I avoid it as much as possible.


Information on the resort is placed on the table. Before the service staff left, he clearly explained to us on how to get around the resort, the types of restaurants and activities within the resort as well as the timings we need to take note of (eg. closing timings, etc).

But my concern was on the Unkai terrace, so I asked him about it and the probability of being able to enjoy it fully. Because the Unkai viewing is based on weather, sometimes guests who come all the way don't get to see it at all. He shared that the precipitation rate in the past few days are high and some guests really failed to see it. All rides up the gondola to the Unkai terrace will be suspended should the weather take a turn for the worst. He told us to check a special channel on the TV about 30 mins before we head out tomorrow morning to take the shuttle bus to the gondola.

The earliest shuttle bus ride to the gondola station would be at 4.25am, which means we need to check the TV for the weather forecast at 3.50am.



Anyhoo, after managing our expectations on the Unkai viewing, he left the room and we also headed out shortly after that to explore the resort. More photos of myself ahead.





Shuttle bus that takes you around this entire resort area.


We also check out Mina Mina Beach, one of the largest indoor beach in Japan. When we checked in, we were given complimentary tickets to the Unkai terrace as well as the Mina Mina beach. So we showed our coupons to gain entry to the indoor beach, although we weren't planning on using it. All guests have to change to provided slippers if they wish to enter.

Massage available, must make bookings!


 Locker for your stuff before you head down to enjoy the pool.



There is a cafe in this area. Many interesting floats available for enjoyment, but some require additional rental fees. The water was clean looking and people were enjoying themselves in the wave pool. It looked super fun! Too bad we forgot to pack our swimming stuff with us when we came :(  #Regrets




As the weather was pretty cold (it was drizzling with strong winds), my parents head back to the room to take a rest while my sister and I continued our exploration of the resort before meeting at Nininupuri for dinner. This forest restaurant sports a lovely view of the 170 year old virgin pine tree forest sitting just outside the restaurant. 

View taken from outside the restaurant shows a huge dining area with many available seats. 




Adults pay SGD$45 (3800yen) per person for the buffet dinner here. There were really many people here during dinner time and the seats filled up very quickly in a short span of time. But the food spread was pretty good and we really enjoyed the view there.









And this concludes our first day in Hokkaido. :)

For posts on Hokkaido Itinerary: Click here to view
For individual food reviews and photos on Hokkaido Food: Click here to view

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