Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Japan 2013 - Day 5: Moerenuma Park to Lake Shikotsu to Noboribetsu

Before we bid goodbye to Sapporo today, we drove the boys to Moerenuma Park. I've shown Ira photos of attractions in the park and he was really interested in a lot of things there. He was so excited to finally be going to the park. And we made sure they had a lot of time to explore the park and play around.

thanks, Swanky Hotel, for the 2 nights of comfort

drying our socks :)

one of the many convenience shops all over Japan

Moerenuma Park
Address: Moerenuma-Koen 1-1, Sapporo 007-0011
Telephone#: 011-790-1231

We drove straight to the carpark and checked the bike rental facility they have. 
We were deciding whether we needed bikes to go around the park or we could just walk around when we realized we can still bring the car closer to the park buildings/attractions as we saw some cars drove in to what we thought was only for wheelchair access cars. We followed the signs and parked in a smaller parking area (can accommodate probably around 10 cars as compared to the first one which can accommodate more than 50 probably).

What's unique about this park is that it was constructed on what was once a site for a waste treatment plant. Construction of the park's foundation began in 1982, under the "Circular Greenbelt Concept" which aimed at surrounding Sapporo with parks and greenbelts. When sculptor Isamu Noguchi visited Sapporo in March 1988, the landscape and the northern skyline made a strong impression on him (with the surface of the Moere Marsh still covered with snow). He was then chosen to design the park to be "one complete sculpture". Before his sudden passing away in December 1988 in New York, he was able to finish the master plan and construction of the park began the following year. 

The park consists of 15 attractions - a mix of sculptures, water features, nature and buildings. Our challenge was to be able to see most, if not all, of the park's facilities built within 467 acres of lot., without getting the kids tired and getting sun burnt! 
approaching the main building in the park (from behind)

Glass Pyramid "Hidamari"
serves as the symbol of Moerenuma Park, and houses a gallery of Noguchi's works.
There was also a stamp station and I got the chance to get all of them in my mini scrapbook!

3 pages worth of stamps 

the Louvre of Asia? Looks like it.

we came in through the back door, and exited at the front door, 
which had a staircase leading to the top of the hill....

and a view of the facade of the Glass Pyramid, which was not actually a full pyramid!

dandelions galore, which kept Ira busy for the next for minutes or so

After gazillions of shots of the dandelions, the hill and the Glass Pyramid, hubby was finally able to catch up with us to the field below.

it was a nice, hot day to be in the park
with Mt Moere behind us
jump shot for the boys
admiring the grass, before we explore other facilities
our handy map/brochure

We started our walk from P2 (the parking lot) going to point I (Glass Pyramid), then walked past  L (Mt Moere) to get to F (Aqua Plaza and Canal). After that we hiked up Play Mountain (point C) overlooking points D and E, and walked down towards Moere Beach before heading to the playground at point A.
we strolled towards Mt Moere as Ira wanted us to climb the 62m mountain, which is the only mountain landmark in the northeastern area of the city of Sapporo. We agreed to do it at the end of our visit to the park as this was closer to where we parked our car. I also wouldn't want us to get too tired to be able to go to most of the other facilities.

Aqua Plaza and Canal
where the kids enjoyed a good 30mins or so of water play.
The canal is about 150m long with shallow water 
where the visitors can wade and play on a hot summer day.

removed their shoes and socks and walked back and forth (fountain to canal) 

while I sat under the shade and enjoyed the cool breeze...

and hubby took snap shots of the water fountain, the canal and the kids

just when they were called to play in the Aqua Plaza, the water stopped springing

the boys getting wetter by the minute

started from the edge of their shorts, and then to up their shirts
I wondered if they were really trying not to get themselves wet, 
or if they were intentionally tripping themselves to get wet.

They spent a good 30mins or so playing at the Aqua Plaza before we could finally convince them to move on to the next attraction, which was just a few steps away. We told the boys to just carry their shoes along and walk bare feet up the mountain. Kelvin then came to me and said, "Mom, did you know that the grass feels so soft when you walk bare feet?! Try it!" Hmmmmmmm, i think they need to go outdoors more often :) One of the reasons why we love to bring them along to travels - they discover new things and are amazed at these simple pleasures in life, and it's all free! (the park adventure that is, not the whole holiday).

Play Mountain
30m high and creates the major form for the entire park.

we gave the Music Shell and Tetra Mould a miss as we thought it would be best seen from above

preparing for the steep climb ahead

taking our first few steps up Play Mountain 

The following shots were taken remotely as we made our way to the top   
the first few steps were motivating, we looked forward to getting to the top...
after some time, we then asked, how long was it going to take us....
it seemed like we were never going to reach the top
but then we persevered and..... 
(by the way, that's hubby running back to the camera which he operated by remote)
final steps
and we were finally at the top! We conquered Play Mountain.

And here were the views of the different facilities from the top:

The Sea Fountain, which was not operating during our visit unfortunately, 
surrounded by what appeared to be lush forest
where we came from earlier, Aqua Plaza and Mt Moere
Music Shell and Tetra Mould, as well as the track and field stadium
the Music Shell is also a venue where performances like concerts and dancing are held
we're high up Play Mountain
but wait, someone's still down there....
finally, all of us 4 were at the top

we stayed at the top for a few minutes, to enjoy the view and to catch our breath
 Before we head down towards the other parts of the park, the boys decided to play hide and seek....
the path to our long way down. At least it wasn't steep anymore.
Ira led the way as he couldn't wait to get to the next stop
I walked past the boys as they stopped and checked out dandelions
a short walk from the path down Play Mountain was Moere Beach
the boys joined several Japanese kids and their families also enjoying the shallow pond 
running back for a quick lick off the ice cream cone 
we bought from the ice cream truck parked along the pond
while the boys enjoy the pond, we sat under the shade and admired the dandelions
after Moere Beach, we walked to the nearby play area

while the boys explored the different structures there, 
the parents had a chance to sit under the shade, yet again.
Then we made our way back to the Glass Pyramid...

entered the Larch Grove to check the Sea Fountain which wasn't working at all
out of the "forest" and back to the field
on our way back to the carpark after a few hours of fun under the sun at the park

The boys felt bad that we had to leave so soon (yes, a few hours wasn't enough). If only we could stay longer, but we still have a few hours of driving to do to get to Noboribetsu.

our route for the day
from Sapporo's Moerenuma Park 
to Mitsui Outlet Mall
to Lake Shikotsu
to Sanseikan in Noboribetsu

That meant 2 more stops before we got to our hotel for the night. We stopped for an hour or so at Mitsui Outlet Mall to have lunch. As we didn't really have that much time to go around the mall, we just went through some shops and walked back to the carpark. But here was what Mitsui Outlet Mall (0113-77-3200) was like:

the nearest shop to our lift exit

these were just outside the restrooms, a good place for the kids to pass time

I went window-shopping (stress on the "window') but couldn't really decide whether to buy or not (with prices from US outlet shops in my mind, I had some reservations). 

From Mitsui Outlet Park, we drove around 50kms to stop by Lake Shikotsu (point C in the route map). It is a caldera lake which is a part of the Shikotsu Toya National Park.

we've noticed that it was a common pitstop to motorist passing by the area
the boys on their usual routine when there's a body of water - throwing stones
it was getting chilly that afternoon. We could see the clouds rolling on the nearby mountain.

a view of the surrounding mountains and Lake Shikotsu

After around 15-20 minutes stop at Lake Shikotsu, the boys were ready for the final leg of our drive to Noboribetsu - another 90kms (2hr drive). 
as it was cold outside, the car windows were moist. Ira decided to draw on his window.
he was very serious about his drawing and got frustrated when he accidentally pressed the button on his door and the window rolled down as his "artwork" was erased
foggy road ahead

It wasn't that late yet, around 7pm, but it was getting dark and not many cars were on the road. We remembered driving in almost the same condition (eerie, misty, forested area) in Switzerland. The difference was during that time it was almost 2am! So we were confident we were going to be fine. 

The fog was quite thick that we really couldn't see much of the road a few meters away so hubby had to drive slowly. All of a sudden we saw a deer in the middle of the road, trying to cross. Phew! 
we also saw a fox at the side of the road 

Few more minutes and we reached our accommodation for the night - Sanseikan (0143-842856). It is located in the Karurusu hot spring area and offers Japanese-style accommodation with indoor and outdoor hot spring bath. We paid quite a premium for this room (unfortunately, during the time that I booked our hotels, this was the only one available that can accommodate all of us in one room and close to Jidai Mura).

As it was a traditional Japanese accommodation of sorts, we had to remove our shoes to get to the reception area. Japanese slippers were provided. The receptionist had a smiling and welcoming face that made us felt better after a long drive.

Karurusu-cho 16 Noboribetsu 059-0553
Phone: +81-14-384-2856
Japanese style quad rm (4pax), private toilet, shared bathroom, 
breakfast included = 27,200 yen (1night) - cash payment only
150 yen per person per night tax (to be paid in addition to room rate)
Booked thru 
*** this was the most expensive accommodation we've booked in Japan (and in all our trips) but it was all worth it (if just for one night)
(+) free parking
(+) option to include breakfast / lunch / dinner in the package
(+) Japanese style accommodation 
(+) public bath (onsen) - separate for male and female

cup noodles for dinner as we didn't want to drive to dine.
The boys were also excited to get to the onsen.
our sleeping arrangement for the night - Japanese Style

We fixed our room after eating then headed to the onsen, in our Yukatas, for a late night bath. First time for the 3 of us (me and the boys). I was excited as were the boys. We didn't bring our camera as no photography was allowed (to protect the privacy of other bathers, and ourselves). But it was a very relaxing, rejuvenating experience. I was actually alone in the women's bath, so were the boys in the men's bath. A great way to end our long day.

After our onsen experience, we still had some energy left, so we decided to take photos with the tea set and dining table.
Ira carefully prepared the table and "poured" tea

cheers to Sanseikan and to more exciting experiences in Hokkaido!

Several family photos, and "rounds of tea", and we were ready to hit the sack.
Ira testing the futon and tatami as we prepared to sleep
joined by Kelvin, on his own set of bedding

We said our good nights as we dozed off, refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to face another day of adventure in Noboribetsu.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to LEAVE A MESSAGE, ASK A QUESTION or SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES, too. I would love to hear from you