Day three in Sapporo found us on the hunt for the Sapporo Beer Museum to drink some of their world-famous beer—and of course to learn stuff about it. But mostly to drink the beer. While I’m not much of a beer drinker, I do like Sapporo, so I was looking forward to spending our last full day ‘learning’ more about it.
For anyone heading to Sapporo be aware that since the beer and the city share the same name, it’s a little confusing as to where exactly you need to go to drink the cheap and delicious samples which come straight from the brewery. There is a Sapporo Factory which is a shopping mall, a Sapporo Gardens area which is a restaurant that specializes in a mutton glutfest along with Sapporo beer, and the Sapporo Museum which is where you can get glasses of Sapporo for less than $2. We wanted the Sapporo Museum.
We stopped and asked a concierge table in Sapporo Station where we could find the bus that would take us to the Beer Museum. After filling out a quick questionnaire as to why we were in Sapporo and what we were doing with our free time, then being forced to spin a wheel to win a Hello Kitty Shopping pin that I didn’t want, we were given detailed instructions and a map showing us where to go.
We left the train station and walked over the block or so to where the bus stop is located. We eventually found one that would get us there—called the ‘Sapporo Walk’ bus on the Chuo bus line. For 210Yen we were taken to the museum, and it also stops at the Factory if one wants to do a little shopping before heading to the museum for drinks. Since we weren’t interested in that, we stayed on the bus until the last stop and were deposited next to the museum, which happens to be located conveniently next to the Sapporo Gardens.
We walked into the museum, were handed a brochure with English instructions, and directed upstairs to the third floor for our quick walkthrough of the museum (which actually closed Feb 12th for a remodel).
All I got from the museum was pictures of old bottle caps, old bottles, old beer ads, old beer signs, and of dioramas which show that Sapporo is made by little elves.
It was all very enlightening, and we quickly headed downstairs to buy the 200yen tickets for the glasses of beer. There are also non-alcoholic choices if one prefers, though the Professor and I do not. With every ticket bought, one also gets a free snack choice of crunchy things, or a piece of cheese to go with each glass of beer. It is all quite civilized. And cheap. And not only do the Sapporo people make good beer, they are also smart. There are signs posted all around the room, as well as at the bar, requesting visitors limit their stay to 30 minutes—just in case one has any plans of making an afternoon of less-than-two-dollar beers and free cheese.
After trying a few chunks of cheese and crunchy things, we headed next door to the gardens hoping to have lunch. Unfortunately, our plans were foiled when we discovered the place closed.
We then headed back to the bus stop and caught the Sapporo Walk bus (which did not stop anywhere along the way for a walk) back to Sapporo Station. Our plans for the next day were to investigate the shops at the Sapporo Station so we didn’t hang around to explore—unfortunately, as it turned out.
Since the weather was still dry and not too cold, we decided to walk to Odori Park to catch a couple of missed snow sculptures and to eat a few missed festival food choices. I’m glad we did this because we saw these artistic igloos just a block or two away from the main snow festival and checked them out. They had artistic displays going on inside them.
We got to Odori Park and ate weird sticks of squid, and buns filled with pork and butter. They were all delish. Then we stopped to watch boys slide down a ski lift which seemed fraught with dangerous possibilities, but since everyone survived, it was interesting to watch.
By then it was beginning to get dark and the lights were starting to come on to show off the snowy statues. We started to walk, as I knew this would be our last chance to see the snow festival, and I wanted to see whatever we could see.
We ran into this scary bear—which traumatized a few kids by chasing them. I don’t know that he realized how scary he might seem with his blood-covered teeth—but I have a feeling that the little boy who cried the loudest is going to grow up with some psychological fears based on his quick, but terrifying encounter.
After leaving the bear, I started developing my own psychological fears because the snowy terrain was quickly turning icy. It became impossible to take a step and not turn into an episode of America’s Funniest Videos. I decided it was time to go eat dinner, and get away from snow before I fell a third time in three days (having slipped on my butt once on each of the first two days here).
Besides, I thought, we still had plenty of time to see more of Sapporo as we waited for our 730pm flight the following day.
Wednesday, Feb 10, 2016
We awoke to snow falling.
We ate breakfast to snow falling.
We called ANA to find out that snow was falling, and because of that they would not confirm our flight for that evening. We asked if we might change to an earlier flight. They said yes, but that all the flights from noon onward were filled up. They suggested we might try to find something once we were at the airport.
So, at 11am, we took off for Sapporo Station to catch the airport train, hoping it was not in vain. We then stood for the 35 minutes to the airport. Then we jumped into the craziness found at any airport during a snow storm when flights are being delayed and cancelled with every announcement.
We finally made it to an ANA window around twelve-thirtyish and luckily, were able to get on an AirDo flight originally scheduled for a 2pm departure. It had already been delayed 30minutes—which turned into 50minutes—by the time we left.
We got to our apartment around 730pm that night—which was about the time our flight was to have been getting ready to depart from Sapporo, and from what we could tell had actually been cancelled. Thank god we left when we did.
Maybe I'll be back someday to explore the missed Sapporo Station shopping mall. The ladies with the Hello Kitty Shopping pin were certainly hoping.