It’s been several months since the two of us went away for a night, and over 18 months since we last spent 2 nights away. We’ve had quite a lot to deal with lately, so thought we deserved a break. We both enjoy the peace, nature and cool temperatures that Hokkaido offers, and soon found a great package including flights, hotels and hire car.

During the trip we took a lot of photos with an iPhone 4, iPhone 5 and my Nikon D7000. Photos taken with the DSLR were immediately & automatically transferred to the iPhone 5 via wifi  (thanks to an Eye-fi card), where I touched them up a bit in iPhoto before posting to Instagram / Facebook / Twitter etc. I’m not editing any of them now we’re back home as I don’t have time, so they’re not as pretty as they could be… but I think they tell the story OK!

The adventure started at Haneda Airport early Saturday, with a flight to Chitose. Seemed everyone was trying to escape the path of the incoming typhoon – the 747 was packed nose to tail.


Having arrived in Hokkaido we picked up our hire care and headed south west for Norobibetsu, an onsen resort between Sapporo and Hakodate. Along the way we stopped off a few times – usually when we came across lakes. Here’s Twinkle at the first one, saying hello to a swan that didn’t seem too interested.


The next lake was Lake Kuttara, a perfect round lake with an island in the middle, the remainder of a volcanic crater.


Our hire car. I enjoy driving…. (incidentally, Twinkle too this with her iPhone 4 – note how badly it deals with the light. Never realised how bad the camera was until I upgraded 🙂



Twinkle looking lovely at another view point around the rim of  the Lake Kuttara crater.




Loved how the trees came down to the waterline all the way around. Untouched by human activity!


Just over the hill we were struck by a sulphuric stench – a sure sign of volcanic activity


In one particular area of Noboribetsu there’s a lot  of volcanic activity, creating this alien landscape


You can take a walkway to an active geyser that erupts every few minutes.



Following that we headed off the beaten track a little, in search of a natural foot-spa


And here it was, the geothermally heated stream. We think the temperature was about 40 degrees.


…or a little hotter in places!


I blame the iPhone 4 for making me look a bit ill


Twinkle waiting for a dragonfly to land, this time at Lake Toya. It never did.


Us at lake Toya.


We had a lovely evening at Noboribetsu. Eating, bathing in the outdoor hot spring, relaxing.

The following day we headed on further southwest, this time it was destination Onuma National Park.

I’d just mention that for this whole trip I was using the pretty crappy Apple Maps app on my iPhone 5. Whilst it may be impossible to find a lot of places on there, when it comes to turn-by-turn directions it’s pretty damn good. It was a pleasure to have an English navi with such a clean display. Worked flawlessly (once I’d managed to tell it where wanted to go!)

And yes, they had LTE in Onuma National Park. But don’t let the name fool you – it was soooo slow. Likewise with Hakodate. Still, it’s early days, and now Softbank has bought emobile…


Onuma National Park really was beautiful. A vast lake, dotted with little islands. I’d never been anywhere like it.


A solar-powered island



I managed to persuade Twinkle to share one of these with me. It wasn’t exactly disaster, but I’m not sure she’ll be leaping on a tandem the next time she sees one. Nethertheless, a lot of laughs, and no broken bones.

Delicious salad. (iPhone 4!)


I deliberately parked like this, as a joke, honest.


That night we headed into Hakodate for dinner.


Stopped by the impressive old City Hall – a great chance to try out the iPhone 5 / iOS6 panorama mode!


Illuminations on one of the old harbourside red brick buildings.


Back at the hotel, we caught up on the news. Typhoon 17 was causing havoc down south, and due to hit us in Hokkaido the following morning. As it happened we never saw it at all… must have been a magic bubble.


The outdoor hot spring there was nice, looking out onto a big pond, with what I swear were fireflies the other side. Twinkle tells me they were ‘reflective dragonfly’…?!

Breakfast featured local milk in the cutest little bottles.


Following that we went out for a walk around what used to be a golf course. That was just beautiful.


Photographing clover. It made me think of England.






Having checked out, we headed back into Hakodate to buy some seafood for the family. This market stall owner was a real character, had us talking for ages about this that and the other. It worked though – we later went back and bought a huge crab.

Twinkle disguised as a bear

The colour looks a bit flat in these two, taken in Hakodate.

Finally, back to the airort. Watching the ground crew waving off an aeroplane. How cute.

I think this is our plane landing. Without us on it of course.

Overall it was a nice little getaway. Throughly recommended for Brits who miss the English countryside!

Hopefully our next holiday will be even longer, and not too far off!


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