Good morning Obihiro! Taken from my hotel window, there’s the community centre on the left, Nagasaki store behind it and on the right is the JR Obihiro train station.
For breakfast, we had 3 options:
- Hotel buffet
- Drive to Mugioto, a large bakery cum cafe by Masuya
- Walk to Esta West Wing (Tokachi Shoku Monogatari) inside JR Obihiro station building where there’s Masuya bakery and other food kiosks, and a seating area with tables and chairs
We chose option 3. More choices and no driving.We were there at 8 am. The place only open at 8.30 am. We thought of hanging around to wait but upon a closer look at the sign in front of the shop, we discovered it was a rest day. What a bummer!I recalled from studying the Obihiro city map that Masuya main shop was within walking distance and it opened at 8 am so we headed there. Along the way we walked past Hageten, a restaurant known for butadon and other traditional Japanese dishes like tempura. It was supposed to be our dinner venue last night but no one could eat a full course meal after the heavy pork steak lunch. It took about 10 mins to walk from JR Obihiro station to Masuya bakery.The shop wasn’t big but it was packed with lots of delicious looking bread. Within the shop was a small sitting area for about 6. We left the kids and seniors there while the rest of us walked to the 7-11 opposite for our coffee and tea fix. By the time we were done with breakfast, it was past 9 am, just nice to visit Rokkatei main store which was 5 mins walk away.We almost missed the store as the sign couldn’t be seen from the pavement. Good thing I googled this place and knew what it looked like. This store didn’t offer free samples but you could buy their products in individual packs to try. They cost around 100 yen each. Just take a basket, select the items, pay and then enjoy them together with free coffee at the bar tables.
- Most products can be bought at the airport but best to confirm with the counter staff. Also ask for the name of the shop in the airport that carries the product. It’ll make things much easier as the products are often spread out across different shops.
- Look out for store exclusive products, which means the products can only be bought at that store and nowhere else. At Rokkatei main store, the unique item was Hiroboro (above picture, second row, in the middle), a wafer like biscuit coated with either strawberry or chocolate cream.
- Check the product expiry date. It can range from a few days to a few months. So as much as you want to buy something as a gift, it may expire before you reach home.
Everyone’s unanimous favourite was Marusei Butter cookies (above picture, first row, in the middle). No wonder it’s the number one bestseller Rokkatei product. My other favourite is 大平原, a round madeleine. It tastes like Chinese sponge cake but more buttery. I bought a packet of small ones to try first and immediately fell in love with it. It was a pity the small balls of madeleines were not sold at the airport and had a shelf life of only 5 days. Luckily, the normal size ones were available so I made a mental note to get a box of it before I fly off. And I did.We took a different route back to the hotel and passed by another popular restaurant, Fujimori, known for its curry. Since Esta was closed for the day and we had set aside time for shopping, I asked the hotel staff for recommendations and they suggested Itoyokado, a shopping complex 10 mins drive away. There wasn’t anything my family wanted to buy so after wandering a while, we left the rest there and drove back to the city centre. There was a famous butadon restaurant near the JR Obihiro station and we felt it would be such a pity to leave without trying. Say hello to Pancho, ranked number one in many food websites and a favourite among food bloggers. It was just past 12 noon when we arrived and a group of 4 was leaving. Perfect timing. The rest of the tables were fully occupied and after we were seated, a queue started forming. It’s that popular.Looked pretty ordinary but having already tried two other butadon restaurants, this one tasted the best. Full details can be found on my earlier post on butadon review.
We joined up with the rest of the group after lunch and made one last stop before leaving Obihiro. Ryugetsu is one of Hokkaido’s confectionery brands. It may not be as famous as Rokkatei internationally but locally, it’s known for its sanpouroku. It’s like baumkuchen or kueh lapis for those of us living in South East Asia.Within the building is the factory that produces sanpouroku and many other yummy treats, a retail shop, a cafe and a baking studio. Unlike Rokkatei’s main store, Ryugetsu offered free samples for a number of its products. For those without, you can buy individual packs to try. My favourite was the mochi with red tea filling. It was a store exclusive item with a short shelf life, so we only bought a few. I recalled reading on good!hokkaido! that the cafe sold crepes so I ordered the banana chocolate flavour.It was really good! Sponge cake, cream and lots of banana wrapped with a thin layer of crepe, drizzled with fudge and sprinkled with almond flakes. I polished off the entire thing by myself. It went very well with the free flow of azuki bean tea.The sun was setting when we left Ryugetsu Sweetpia Garden. It was a race against time to reach Hoshino Tomamu Ski Resort. My husband read about a sharp turn going into the resort and we didn’t want to risk making such a turn in the dark. Thank God the bend wasn’t that sharp and there was a brightly lit signboard showing the way. The resort was quite crowded despite the Ice Village not being opened. Majority were tourists from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. There weren’t many Japanese guests which made us wonder if the quality of our stay would be good. Well, our family room for five turned out to be fantastic.The room came with 5 beds, 2 bathrooms and a living room area. Super spacious and comfortable. Our package only came with breakfast so for dinner, we walked via the enclosed linkway (Sky Walk) to Foresta Mall, a semi open-air two-storey building that housed several restaurants. For those visiting in winter, dress warmly even when walking within the enclosed areas as the linkways have no heating. After studying the various options on the board, we decided on Grill King. It was nice to have western food for a change. Really loved the creamy texture of Hokkaido potatoes.
We headed back to The Tower and followed the signage to another linkway (Tube Walk) that would lead us to Buffet Dining “hal” where the Chapel on the Water was. We joined the queue, waited til 8.30 pm for the chapel to open, then walked into the open and climbed down the stairs to the entrance. Once seated on the wooden pews, we watched a slide show about the chapel that’s projected onto the ceiling. We were then given a few minutes to enjoy the tranquility of the place before being ushered out to allow another group to enter. The chapel was really pretty. I would have loved to attend their Christmas service or a wedding ceremony there.
There’re lots more places in Obihiro that I didn’t manage to visit. Some are closed on Wed, which was the day I was there. Others were too far to drive given that I only had 3/4 of a day. So I’ve listed these places for future reference:
- Tokachi Toteppo Factory – cheese speciality shop
- Happiness Dairy – ice-cream, milk pudding and all things dairy
- Okamedou Honke – bean factory
- Tokachimura – produce market, horse museum, horse racing
- Yutaka – restaurant
- Gardens – eg. Manabe, Tokachi Hills etc.
- Butadon restaurants – eg. Butahage, Butadon Ippin etc.
For more information on places to visit, eat and shop in Obihiro and its surroundings, check out the Tokachi website.
And if you have a sweet tooth, you may want to grab a dessert map from the Obihiro tourist centre at JR Obihiro station.