Travel Japan | Hokkaido

When my husband and I were planning our honeymoon, Hokkaido was on the top of our list as we were drawn by its culinary delights and pristine nature. We soon learned that visiting in November would not be the best time to visit, as the vibrant autumn leaves would have already fallen. It would also be too early for snow, making for the surroundings to be cold, grey, and wet. Thus, we decided to visit other parts of Japan (Tokyo, Hakone, and Okinawa) instead.

Five and a half years later, I would never have imagined to visit Hokkaido, and it was all the more special since we went with two close friends. Not only is Hokkaido known for its active snow season, but it is also a cool escape from the hot, humid weather further south. Although I love visiting metropolitan cities like Tokyo with its amazing food and cultural attractions, I wanted to explore the lesser known pleasures of Japan apart from the bustling city life. Its untouched nature, fertile fields, and slower pace of life allowed us to take our time seeing each scenic view, and allowed us to spend quality time with our friends. Our days were filled with spoiling ourselves with numerous soft serves, and me going crazy over the most gorgeous irises.

Another memorable treat was we stayed at Kappo Ryokan Wakamatsu, located in Hakodate. My husband and I love ryokans, and we always make a point to stay at one at every trip. Although Kappo Ryokan Wakamatsu was founded in 1922, we were impressed by how much of its interior was up to date yet rich in its cultural history. Overwhelmed by their warm hospitality, we were immediately served a cup of freshly whisked matcha tea, paired with their signature homemade matcha cake. Not only did the tea soothe the fatigue of traveling, but their matcha cake had an amazing texture reminiscent of a French macaron. Not to mention their luxurious kaiseki meals that were carefully prepared, curating some of the best ingredients Hokkaido had to offer.

Tips to know before traveling: Renting a car will likely be faster and more cost-effective than taking the JR depending on the destinations. We assigned two people be designated drivers so that they can take turns as most cities are pretty spread out. Although we really wanted to visit Shiretoko National Park, active bear season begins in May/June so we weren’t allowed to visit unless we paid for a park ranger tour.

Shikisai no Oka

We visited a little too early for the flowers to bloom, but it was neat to see panoramic views of flowering fields over the most perfect cloudy blue sky. During the summer season, these rolling hills would be filled with colors contributed by dozens of flower and grass species.

Shirogane Pond

If you might vaguely remember one of Apple’s wallpapers featuring a very blue pond - if you do, it is the Shirogane Pond! It is real, and it is that blue!

Tomita Farm

Similar to Shikisai no Oka, it features gentle rolling hills of flowers. They are also known for their melon farm, which also features melon-flavored soft cream and themed desserts. We were fortunate to see gorgeous blooms there, and the most beautiful white birch forest.

Jozankei Futami Suspension Bridge

A beautiful vista point featuring a vibrant red suspension bridge coupled with a serene view. It made for a peaceful stroll, as we took in the tranquil scenery of beautiful river valley. One day, I would love to see this area painted in red and yellows during the autumn season!

Mount Moiwa

We recommend taking the cable car to witness a gorgeous panoramic view of Sapporo during the golden hour close to sunset. Not only do you realize that its capital is quite large, but one can also enjoy some of the most luminous natural landscapes nearby.

Otaru Canal
glass shops, seafood donburi and artisanal desserts

One thing many might not know about Hokkaido is that it wasn’t fully integrated into greater Japan until 1947. By that time, Japan had already westernized which explains the European style seen in this port city. We loved visiting Kitaichi Glass, and appreciated the colorful handmade pieces. Some food and dessert spots we recommend there are the seafood donburis at Kitano donburi, desserts at LeTAO, and finger-licking delicious fried chicken at Naruto Honten.


Translated as “Hell’s Valley,” Jigokudani is a must-see spot in Noboribetsu. The terrain shows beautiful earthy hues, and the visitors are immediately welcomed by the strong sulfurous smells. Serving as the city’s main source of hot spring waters, the valley displays clusters of erupting geysers where numerous vents of hot water and steam escapes.

Shiroi Koibito Park

One of my favorite things about Japan is purchasing all the delicious souvenir treats to take home or share with friends. Shiroi Koibito is a famous European-style confectionary that is commonly found at most Japanese airports. Manufactured by Ishiya in Sapporo, these cookies consists of two buttery, crispy cookies sandwiching a thin layer of rich white chocolate. The theme park is dedicated to their famous cookies, and features exhibitions, restaurants, and its manufacturing facility. it is also the best place to purchase the cookies at its lowest price!

Yosakoi Soran Festival

My husband and I spent our last weekend in Sapporo witnessing a dance festival featuring naruko clappers accompanying Soran Bushi folk melodies. The event in Sapporo is one of the largest in the nation, attracting tens of thousands of dancers from different prefectures and millions of visitors. We were mesmerized by the performances and music that combines traditional dance with a modern twist. Each team put out their best, from cleverly designed costumes, vibrant makeup and hair, and performance filled with energy and vigor.

places and eats

We recommend checking out spots located in the heart of the city, including the JR Sapporo Station, Susukino, and Odori Park! As for eats, we absolutely loved White Cosy for fantastic parfaits, Daruma for Hokkaido’s signature lamb BBQ (husband’s favorite), Kinotoya for cheese tarts, Nemuro Hanamaru for delicious and affordable conveyor belt sushi, Sumire for rich miso ramen, AND INITIAL for yummy soft serves, and Kitakaro for desserts and the absolute best rice crackers.

Travel Japan | Kanazawa and Tojinbo Cliffs

On our last excursion around Kyoto was a day trip to Kanazawa and Tojinbo Cliffs. These two places were such beautiful destinations, and encompassed some of the sweetest surprises and highlights of our trip.  I have to tip my hat to my husband, since this trip required more navigation than usual  of the local trains in order to arrive to each location on time. The only regret we had was not spending a day in each city, so we hope to one day visit these cities again! 

Kenroku-en Garden

Named as one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, Kenroku-en is a spacious park where visitors experience a sense of seclusion and antiquity. Through meticulous planning, the park's appearance changes during each season and offers different feelings of beauty. After visiting many cities saturated with cherry blossoms, we were pleasantly surprised to see plum blossoms at the park since the weather in Kanazawa was still relatively cold. The punchy, vibrant flowers accented the park with a warm introduction of spring. We highly recommend visiting Shiguretei, the tea house located in the park, to enjoy a tea ceremony and have an exclusive view of the park. 

Higashi Chaya District

Similar to Kyoto's Gion district, Higashi Chaya District maintains its traditional charm with its narrow streets, tea houses, and water canals. It was a treat seeing a wedding couple having their portraits done there. Dressed in embellished kimonos, the couple made it hard not to resist sneaking a photo of them! 

Tojinbo Cliffs

Located in Fukui Prefecture, Tojinbo Cliffs is a breathtaking site of basaltic cliffs that spans about one kilometer long. We learned after we visited that the shape of these rock formations is extremely rare, and Tojinbo Cliffs is one in three places in the world that share the same columnar joints. Getting there was quite an adventure, since it involved going back onto the Shinkansen and taking several local trains in order to arrive to the city. After two hours of train rides and a short hike up, we were taken aback by the its beauty, not to mention catching everything at golden hour! One thing that stuck out to us during our walk there was how quiet the city was. We hardly saw anyone on the street, and we had to use our broken Japanese to navigate our way to the cliffs. We loved the sense of quietness and solitude as we walked back to the returning train in the evening. For dinner, we highly recommend Echizen, which forever changed the way we saw soba. 

Travel Japan | Amanohashidate, Osaka

Many often visit Kyoto to witness its traditional sites situated in the bustling city. This includes countless temples, castles,  and gardens that are carefully preserved during the time when Kyoto was Japan's capital. During our stay, my husband and I enjoyed visiting some of the well-known spots located in the downtown area, such as Nijo Castle, Gion District, and Arashiyama (see the blog post here!). Although there were many more places to see in the city proper, we knew that there was more out there in the Kansai region to explore. In this post, I am excited to share about Amanohashidate and Osaka, and Kanazawa and Tojinbo Cliffs next!


When my husband and I planned our itinerary for Kyoto Prefecture, we were surprised to find a gem like Amanohashidate - known as one of the three most scenic spots in Japan (in addition to Itsukushima Shrine from my previous post). Roughly translated as "Bridge to Heaven," Amanohashidate is a sandbar that spans about 3.5 km across the mouth of Miyazu Bay. Visitors can easily walk or rent a bike to cross the sandbar, while being surrounded by thousands of pine trees. We were refreshed to see a different side of the prefecture, and was an escape from the tourist-filled city of Kyoto. A highlight of this attraction was Kasamatsu Park, where there are options to either take the cable car or chair up to the mountain. We highly recommend taking the chair, since you can get a better view as you ascend upward! 

Osaka Castle & Nishinomaru Garden

Osaka Castle is one of the most famous landmarks of Japan that is easily accessible and seen since the main tower is built on two raised platforms. Since it was the peak of cherry blossom season, we couldn't help but leisurely walk around the surrounding lawn of Nishinomaru Garden. The vast green space was filled with hundreds of blossoming trees and different varieties, and the best part was the park hours were extended to thoroughly enjoy this special occasion!


A prominent attraction in Osaka, Dotonburi runs along the canal and is a popular place to go to enjoy traditional to modern Japanese food. The area had a lively atmosphere at night, and is known to have a billboard of the  iconic Glico running man. Takoyaki and okonomiyaki are popular food items associated with the city, and we personally recommend visiting Acchichi Honpo and Takohachi!