Hokkaido Shrine in Sapporo, close to dusk

October was a great month, maybe my favourite this year so far (although April in Ukraine and the Caucasus is hard to beat!). That’s somewhat unsurprising, since we spent it entirely in Japan, with very little time running around – just three cities all month!

Hokkaido






We started October with three days in Hakodate, the major city of Southern Hokkaido.

western style building in Hakodate



It’s a tourist favourite and I can see why: There is a lot of interesting history here, the seafood as well as the pub grub is to die for and the bay views are beautiful. It’s often called the San Francisco of Japan, and with good reason.



Breakfast in Hakodate!
It was also super expensive to stay there, thanks to the first few days of the month being a public holiday week in China. That said, we managed to avoid the crowds quite well, as they mostly hung around the converted warehouses (which are now all tourist shops). That’s the only bad thing I could say about Hakodate.

From Hakodate, we did a little side trip to Onuma National Park, which was a lot more built up and un-natural than we had expected, and the rainy weather didn’t help much, either. So on it was to Sapporo, a city I fell absolutely in love with!


Onuma National Park
Sapporo reminds me so much of Helsinki, just a Japanese version. A trendy, bustling modern city with lots of design and artsy stuff, without being pretentious, and a lot of green and great day trips in the vicinity. I was a bit sad to leave, but mid-October, it was starting to get seriously chilly up north!

Osaka

Where do I begin? Osaka is my big love, and with the way London is currently going, my favourite city in the world. If I have to describe Osaka in one word: It’s alive. Cosmopolitan but still utterly Japanese, non-touristy apart from a few streets, affordable, with amazing history, museums, constant low key, fun events and full of people you just have to love for their blunt but hearty ways.
We spent two weeks in Osaka, mostly doing nothing exciting, working, meeting friends, eating and running around Osaka Castle Park so the constant eating of all the things the city has to offer (ONE CAN NEVER EAT ALL THE THINGS IN OSAKA L )


The way things are going, we probably won’t be able to stay in Japan long term, but I am happy to know that we’ll be spending two more months in Osaka before we most likely head back west in late January.

Hell's Valley in Hokkaido... the sulphur stench was unbearable!


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