Most viewed - HOKKAIDO 北海道
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Toyako Onsen Spa is Lake Toya's main town and tourist base on the southern shore. It is a cluster of hotels and ryokans offering hot spring waters.532 views
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With buckets and water testing kits, they do their testing.484 views1 comments
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The 61st Sapporo Snow Festival was held during Feb. 5-11, 2010 in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. Among the giant snow sculptures was Hawaii's Iolani Palace made of ice. It was the reason why I decided to see this festival again.405 views
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Yodobashi Camera store on west side of Sapporo Station.404 views2 comments
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JR Toya Station is the closest train station to Lake Toya. From this station, take a bus or taxi. There are also other buses going to Lake Toya from other places such as Sapporo and Date.376 views
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The Nishiyama Crater Trail (Nishiyama Kako Sansakuro) is accessible by car or bus from Toyako Onsen Spa or Toya Station. Get off at the Nishiyama Kako Kitaguchi which is in front of this former fire dept. station. 旧西胆振消防組合本部349 views
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Yodobashi, Hokkaido's largest camera and electronics store.342 views
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Sapporo Snow Festival in Sapporo, Hokkaido is held for about a week in early Feb. These are photos of the 61st Sapporo Snow Festival held during Feb. 5-11, 2010. The main festival site is at Odori Park anchored on the east end by Sapporo TV Tower. 312 viewsI started exploring this site from here.
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Hakodate's main attraction and landmark is Mt. Hakodate-yama, accessible by ropeway.305 views
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After bicycling through eastern Lake Toya, I continue my trip around Lake Toya as I head north, entering Toyako town.276 views
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Sapporo Station, morning train for Otaru.272 views
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Built in 1888, the former Hokkaido Government Office Building is one of Hokkaido's most famous buildings at the heart of Sapporo. With its red brick walls, it stands out among Sapporo's more modern buildings.260 views
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The Sapporo Ekimae-dori is the city's main drag running from Sapporo Station to the southern part of the city. This is what it looks like from Sapporo Station.258 views
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Kitaichi Venetian Art Museum opened in 1988. Facade is modeled after the Palace of Grassi.254 views
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Toya manhole showing the Ukimido temple and Nakajima islands. Hokkaido247 views
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Ticket gate and entrance to Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill (Hitsujigaoka Tembodai). 500 yen admission is charged so someone from the ticket office boarded our bus to collect admission fees.238 views
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The mannequin is a slightly larger-than-life likeness of Yokozuna Kitanoumi performing the Yokozuna Dohyo-iri (ring-entering ceremony). Yokozuna Kitanoumi Memorial Hall, Sobetsu, Hokkaido237 views
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Lake Toya lookout deck on Mt. Usu, near the ropeway terminal. Showa-Shinzan clearly in sight. 洞爺湖展望台232 views
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Mt. Showa-Shinzan is a lava dome which arose in the middle of farm land in 1943-45. Lake Toya, Hokkaido.228 views
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Way to Ekimae Sambashi Pier at Toyako Onsen Spa. A short walk from the bus terminal.225 views
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Tanuki-koji shopping arcade222 views
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Mt. Usu is on the left, Showa-Shinzan on the right. In the background is the conical Mt. Yotei. Between Usu and Showa-Shinzan is the tourist village and the Usuzan Ropeway terminal.220 views
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Road to Showa-Shinzan. That's the Showa-Shinzan Youth Hostel on the right. Best way to get to Showa-Shinzan is by bus from Toyako Onsen bus terminal.215 views
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New Chitose Airport, Hokkaido's main gateway, is the first place you see G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit welcome signs. As we get off (or get on) the plane.215 views
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The new JR Sapporo Station is the definitely the city's most noticeable change in recent years. It is a huge complex, a far cry from the old train station.213 views
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JR Toya Station is on the JR Muroran Line. There are express trains going directly to/from Sapporo.209 views
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Rickshaw service available at the canal.208 views
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In central Otaru, the Ironai-dori and Sakai-machi-dori streets are lined with numerous historic buildings. Architecture buffs will love this street. This is the Otaru Unga Terminal, formerly Mitsubishi Bank's Otaru Branch.208 views
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1982 Sapporo Snow Festival Sayonara ceremony. Very low-key, with few people attending. Also see my Sapporo Snow Festival 2010 photos here.203 views
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Sculpture: Anthem of the Sun, by Machiko Kodera 小寺 真知子「太陽の賛歌」201 views
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Restaurant near Otaru Canal.199 views
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It sort of looks like Kitanoumi...198 views
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Entrance to the dome. 198 views
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Sculpture: by Keiko Amamiya, 雨宮 敬子「洞照」. One problem with the outdoor sculptures, especially human figures, are the birds. Their droppings create unsightly white streaks down the body.194 views
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Lake Toya is decorated with almost 60 outdoor sculptures along the shore all around the lake. This is the first one you will likely see. By Tando Saka. 坂 担道「湖渡る風」193 views
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Susukino Station subway train186 views
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Otaru Orgel-do186 views
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Inside Sapporo Community Dome, nicknamed Tsu-dome.185 views
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Inside JR Toya Station.184 views
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Sculpture: Light of the Moon, by Igor Mitoraj. イゴール・ミトライ「月の光」183 views
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Near the Toya Mizunoeki is Toya High School whose Environment Club regularly take water samples from Lake Toya to test the lake's water quality. They go behind the Toya Mozunoeki and take water samples with plastic buckets.183 views
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Elevated train tracks on west side.182 views
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Hakodate Red Brick Warehouses at night. Photo by Hokkaido Tourist Organization.182 views
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Showa-Shinzan closeup. Still steaming.181 views
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Mt. Usu's Ginnuma Crater, one of the largest. It was created during the 1977 eruption. 銀沼大火口179 views
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I could only wonder if these girls knew the significance of the sculpture they were performing in front of.179 views
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Toya Station platform and sign for outgoing passengers: "See you again!" (Mata no okoshi wo)177 views
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If you want to bicycle around Lake Toya, do it in the counterclockwise direction from Toyako Onsen where you can rent a bicycle. It's easier slope-wise and you can see the lake better on the left side of the road.177 views
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Sculpture: by Aiko Miyawaki, 宮脇 愛子「うつろひ」 This is at the western edge of Toyako Onsen. It was past 5 pm when I got back to Toyako Onsen by bicycle.174 views
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Toyako Culture Center with G8 Summit flags172 views
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Stretching for about 1.5 km east to west in central Sapporo, Odori Koen or Park is the city's oasis in the urban jungle. This is the heart of the park.172 views
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"Boys, Be Ambitious" This famous statue of Dr. William Clark was built in 1976 to mark Dr. Clark's 100th anniversary of his coming to Hokkaido, the 100th anniversary of Hokkaido University's founding, and the USA bicentennial.171 views
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Warehouse along the Otaru Canal170 views
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Sculpture: Anthem of the Sun, by Machiko Kodera. Lake Toya has many nude woman sculptures.169 views
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Entrance to Toya Station from the train platform.169 views
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Makomanai site: Snow slides with Arare-chan, anime character popular in 1982.169 views
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Wrecked car168 views
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Sculpture: Recovery, by Rei Nibe 二部 黎「復活」166 views
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Odori Park's most photographed sculpture shows three ballerinas near a water fountain. Sapporo, Hokkaido166 views
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Kinkakuji Gold Pavilion in Kyoto, made of snow.165 views
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Usuzan Ropeway terminal on the left.164 views
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Susukino Station sign164 views
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On the west end of Toyako Onsen are more sculptures and a park. Sculpture by Kan Yasuda. 安田 侃「意心帰」163 views
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On approach to New Chitose Airport on an Air Do Boeing 767.162 views
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Otaru Canal is a short walk from Otaru Station.162 views
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Tanuki-koji shopping arcade161 views
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Heading back. Remember that the trail is not open during the winter months. For more info call 0142-75-4400.160 views
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit merchandise: T-shirts160 views
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Official logo of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit on the Toyako Culture Center.158 views
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Bus stop in front of Toya Station with Toyako town's slogan: Town of greenery, lake waters, and heartful encounters.158 views
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The ocean beach near Toya Station.158 views
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The summit welcome sign in front of JR Toya Station also lists environmental activities by local groups. Converting waste vegetable oil to diesel fuel, using snow for refrigeration, etc.157 views
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit welcome sticker on a bus window in Sapporo.156 views
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More dramatic terrain. There's no threat of further eruptions in this area, so don't worry about getting caught in a shower of hot lava and volcanic ash while walking around here.155 views
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Sculpture: At the Lake, by Akihiko Kurokawa 黒川 晃彦「湖畔にて」155 views
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Toya Station platform and local train.155 views
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Passage at Fukuzumi Station, near Sapporo Dome155 views
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Inside Otaru Orgel-do, full of music boxes of all kinds. 小樽オルゴール堂154 views
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The new Toyako Onsen Bus Terminal153 views
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit Welcome sign in front of JR Toya Station.151 views
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Swan nesting. Photos continue here as I head to northern Lake Toya...150 views
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Iolani Palace, a giant ice sculpture at the 61st Sapporo Snow Festival during Feb. 5-11, 2010. During the day, it has a translucent, blue look. It is the festival's largest ice sculpture. This block is officially called the Mainichi Shimbun Ice Square150 views
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Dinosaur snow sculpture at 1982 Sapporo Snow Festival.150 views
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit Welcome banner on a building in Sapporo.149 views
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Usuzan Ropeway car holds over 100 people.148 views
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit welcome sticker on a bus window in Sapporo.148 views
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The airport has a huge shopping area full of gift shops.148 views
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Ramen menu148 views
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On the west side is Kinokuniya Bookstore.148 views
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Otaru Canal147 views
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Good-looking girls in Hokkaido are really good-looking. They look healthy, thanks to Hokkaido's clean environment, wide-open spaces, and good food. It's a different kind of beauty from the superficial/artificial looks of big-city girls.147 views
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit merchandise: Pins146 views
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Former Hokkaido Government Office Building and tulips, Sapporo146 views
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Otaru Orgel-do (Otaru Music Box Hall) is one of the more famous buildings. Built in 1912. 小樽オルゴール堂、旧共成(株)146 views
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G8 Summit sticker in bus145 views
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Inside Sapporo Station building145 views
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Toyako Onsen bus stop. "Toyako" means Lake Toya, and "Onsen" means hot spring. Lake Toya is within the municipalities of Toyako-cho town and Sobetsu-cho town (east shore).144 views
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Girl and Sheep sculpture at Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill, Sapporo, Hokkaido143 views
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The Nakajima islands in the center of Lake Toya. There are four islands. Most them have a conical shape.142 views
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Cherry blossoms and the Nakajima islands, Lake Toya. Early May 2008.141 views
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Toyako Town Hall, front side, festooned with G8 Summit flags.140 views
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Distance-wise, Showa-Shinzan is not very far. But the killer slope will get you... At least the return bike ride was a thrill and very quick.140 views
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Onna (Woman) by Chizuko Sasado. 笹戸 千津子「女」139 views
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Lake Toya's bald spot.139 views
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Behind the Date Kaitaku Kinenkan Museum is the former Mitobe house on display. It is a typical house of the first settlers of Date, Hokkaido. Based on Sendai-style (Miyagi Pref.) architecture. Important Cultural Property. 旧三戸部家住宅139 views
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With a very impressive carving of animals, this was clearly the crowd favorite. "Zoo of the Northland" features endangered animals at the 61st Sapporo Snow Festival.139 views
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Espoir is the name of this lake cruise boat shaped like a medieval European castle. Can't get more gimmicky than that.138 views
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A tourist village called Kazan-mura (Volcano Village) has developed at the foot of Showa-Shinzan. 火山村138 views
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Otaru Canal has a large walkway alongside.138 views
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The Yokozuna Kitanoumi Ki'nenkan or Memorial Hall looks like a miniature version of the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena in Tokyo. Although it's near Lake Toya, it's off the main tourist road. There is a bus stop nearby, but I rented a bicycle.137 views
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The Usuzan Ropeway terminal has gift shops selling a variety of G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit merchandise. T-shirts, bags, candy, etc.137 views
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A short bus ride from Toyako Onsen is the Nishiyama crater trail. Highly recommended. A series of craters can be seen up close. More photos here.136 views
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Ticket office inside JR Toya Station. Notice the G8 Summit flags.136 views
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East end of Otaru Canal135 views
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Eastern Lake Toya, with Mt. Usu in the distance.134 views
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Swans along Lake Toya, Sobetsu, Hokkaido134 views
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An impressive snow sculpture of Michael Jackson drew crowds.134 views
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Signs in English near the bus stop.133 views
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Next to the former fire station is this small pond, called Nishiyama Kako-numa, created by the eruption and blocking the road. 西山火口沼(西新山沼)132 views
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Nakajima islands, Lake Toya132 views
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Urinal with a view in JR Tower132 views
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Otaru Canal132 views
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Buses from Toyako Onsen don't run very often, so check the bus timetable beforehand. I opted to rent a bicycle and rode to Showa-Shinzan. Unless you like to push a bicycle up a very long slope for about 30 min., take a bus.131 views
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Neon lights of Susukino, at the main intersection.131 views
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit merchandise: Confections sold at the train station kiosk.130 views
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This box of cookies show all the G8 Summit leaders bathing in a hot spring and scrubbing each other's backs. They also say, "Ii yu!" (great hot spring) which is pronounced "EU" as a pun.130 views
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Biodiesel fuel tank connected to a gas pump.130 views
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We cannot climb Showa-Shinzan.129 views
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The non-toxic auto exhaust smells like tempura.129 views
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Susukino Station platform129 views
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Miyako shopping arcade128 views
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Ekimae Sambashi Pier at Toyako Onsen Spa. The lake cruise fare is 1,320 yen for adults and 660 yen for kids. (Slightly more expensive during Nov.-April.) 駅前桟橋127 views
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Filling up the gas tank with biodiesel fuel.127 views
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Lake Toya and swan, Hokkaido126 views
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Waiting area in Sapporo Station.126 views
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Toilet with a view in JR Tower126 views
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The Espoir returns to Toyako Onsen. The cruise takes 50 min. if you don't get off to visit the Nakajima islands. Otherwise, allow at least 30 min. for any island visits.125 views
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Welcome banner on train platform.125 views
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Usuzan Ropeway, Lake Toya.125 views
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Sobetsu Park and plum blossoms overlooking Lake Toya, Hokkaido.125 views
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Next to Toya Station is the Toyako Town Hall, also with a G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit welcome sign.124 views
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East end of Otaru Canal124 views
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Michael Jackson snow sculpture at the 2010 Sapporo Snow Festival. Coiled wiring is used for the hair dangling below his hat.124 views
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Ukimido pagoda, Lake Toya, Hokkaido 浮見堂123 views
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Otaru Unga. "Unga" means canal.123 views
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Some artists show their work here.123 views
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Another cruise boat. The cruise boats leave every 30 min. from 8 am to 4:30 pm during April-Oct. During Nov.-April, it operates every hour from 9 am to 4 pm.122 views
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There's a large parking lot full of tourists.122 views
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Ramen at Ramen Yokocho in Sapporo122 views
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Local students from Abuta High School help beautify Toya Station.121 views
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Give back the Northern Territories121 views
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北海道美人121 views
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Waste vegetable oil collection box sign.120 views
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Dr. William S. Clark (1826-1886) was a professor from Massachusetts. The statue was made by a Japanese sculpturer and sponsored by the Sapporo Tourist Association. Hokkaido University has a bust of Dr. Clark which is also popular among tourists.120 views
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Sapporo Station train platform. The platform looks dark (black) since entire station is covered. The ceiling is black. The roof is also a parking lot.120 views
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A cutie poses with a fake salmon in front of the Northland sculpture.120 views
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Inside train to Otaru. It takes about 40 min. by regular train, and costs a mere 620 yen.119 views
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Wrecked confection factory. A dramatic reminder of what volcanoes can do.118 views
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Leaving the ropeway terminal.118 views
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Toyako lookout deck on Mt. Usu, near the ropeway terminal. 洞爺湖展望台118 views
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Some trains are decorated with G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit welcome sign.117 views
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Lookout deck on Mt. Usu, near the ropeway terminal.117 views
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Construction sign showing how the new underground pedestrian passage is being built from Sapporo Station to Odori Park. It is a 4-year project, scheduled to be completed in June 2010. I wonder what they will call it. I propose "Snow Town."117 views
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Neon signs of Susukino, Sapporo117 views
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Miyako shopping arcade117 views
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This yosakoi soran group was from Hokkaido University.117 views
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Windsor Hotel, G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit venue. It would've been great if it were shaped a like a mountain-top castle.116 views
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The building was akin to Hokkaido's capitol where the governor's office was located. It was used for 80 years. Open 9 am - 5 pm, closed Dec. 29-Jan. 3. Free admission. Near Sapporo Station's south exit and visible from Ekimae-dori road.116 views
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Right side of Ukimido pagoda, Lake Toya.115 views
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The fire dept. building was damaged by the eruption, so it is no longer used by the fire dept. However, you can enter it and see some display panels.115 views
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Park at the foot of Showa-Shinzan which means "New Mountain of the Showa Period." Showa-Shinzan is adjacent to Mt. Usu.115 views
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Minami-Chitose Station114 views
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This is Minami-guchi or the South Exit. On the far right is the JR Tower.114 views
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Lake Toya and cherry blossoms. Shikotsu-Toya National Park113 views
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New Chitose Airport's Central Plaza113 views
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Entrance to Pole Town, an underground passage and shopping arcade between Odori Station and Susukino.113 views
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Train platform in Sapporo Station. Well protected from snow.112 views
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The north entrance to the Nishiyama Crater Trail (Nishiyama Kako Sansakuro Kitaguchi). Open from April 20 to Nov. 10 during 7 am - 6 pm. Free admission, but donations accepted.111 views
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Road blocked by the pond. The Nishiyama Craters are part of Mt. Usu. They are on the west side of Usuzan and were formed by the March 2000 eruption.111 views
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Bottles showing the waste oil conversion process from left to right.111 views
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Sapporo Station, North Exit.111 views
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Daimaru Dept. Store on the west side. Notice the entrance sign celebrating the 5th anniversary of the new train station.111 views
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Tourist information office inside Sapporo Station. Very spacious with numerous racks or tourist pamphlets.111 views
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Sign promoting the Hokkaido Shinkansen to be built.111 views
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At the end of Chuo-dori is Unga Plaza which used to be Otaru Warehouse. Now find tourist info counter and gift shop.111 views
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Mt. Usu or Usuzan as seen from the lake.110 views
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Another wrecked house.110 views
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit welcome poster.110 views
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Ticket office inside JR Toya Station with G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit flags.110 views
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Susukino110 views
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Inside Kitaichi Venetian Art Museum with a real gondola once ridden by Prince Charles and Princess Diana.110 views
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Snow leopard, very impressive.110 views
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Iolani Palace, a giant ice sculpture at the 61st Sapporo Snow Festival during Feb. 5-11, 2010. During the day, it has a translucent, blue look. This block is officially called the Mainichi Shimbun Ice Square110 views
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On New Year's Eve, a crowd gathers to hear the Clock Tower ring in the New Year.109 views
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Murals showing some history of Otaru's marine transportation.109 views
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The Iolani Palace ice sculpture was especially beautiful at night, lit up with colorful lights. It was built by over 250 members of the Japan Ice Sculpture Association, most of whom were chefs working at Sapporo hotels.109 views
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No. 1 Nishiyama Crater Lookout deck for the most conspicuous crater, still emitting steam.108 views
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Along the road to the former government building are display panels about Hokkaido's hisotry. Here's one about the early foreigners in Hokkaido.108 views
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Going toward the lake. On the right is where you can rent a bicycle for 1000 to 1500 yen. On the left is the tourist office.107 views
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit merchandise: Confections sold at the train station kiosk.107 views
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New Chitose Airport terminal107 views
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Point Zero for Hokkaido's travel distances.107 views
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Aurora Town107 views
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Otaru in sight from the train window.107 views
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Done and almost like the real thing. The Iolani Palace is in Honolulu, Hawaii, originally built by King David Kalakaua in the 19th century when Hawaii was still an independent kingdom. It is now a major tourist attraction.107 viewsThis photo was published in a book called "The Companies We Keep 2," published in Hawaii by Bob Sigall in Jan. 2008. The book is a compilation of various tidbits and trivia about Hawaii (my home state).

This photo was also featured on Hawaii's TV talk show "Nighttime with Andy Bumatai." See the segment at YouTube here.
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Giant aerial photo of Lake Toya.106 views
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Miniature golf course106 views
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Statue of Masao Mimatsu, a post office worker who observed and documented the development of Showa-Shinzan. His records are valuable.106 views
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Bus stops on the north side of Sapporo Station.106 views
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The former fire station in the distance. The building still looks quite new.105 views
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This cruise boat, called Espoir, looks like a medieval European castle. It's a double-hulled boat. The lake cruise fare is 1,320 yen for adults and 660 yen for kids. (Slightly more expensive during Nov.-April.)105 views
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Glass door with G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit welcome sticker.105 views
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A working clock105 views
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JR Tower lookout deck (temboshitsu) called JR Tower Observatory T38. JRタワー展望室105 views
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Toyako Onsen Spa104 views
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The ropeway distance is 1370 meters. It takes only 6 min. to reach Mt. Usu. The roundtrip ropeway fare is 1,450 yen for adults, 730 yen for kids.104 views
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Showa-Shinzan gets smaller.104 views
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Bye-bye Hokkaido...104 views
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Sapporo Ekimae-dori as seen from Sapporo Station, left side. "Ekimae" means "front of the station." "Dori" means road.104 views
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Inside Unga Plaza104 views
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Uroko fish market popular with tourists.104 views
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Chibi Maruko-chan snow sculpture.104 views
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Lake Toya in early May103 views
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Toyako Onsen has a nice lakefront promenade for pedestrians. Cars no longer travel here so it's pleasant for a stroll.103 views
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When I got to the museum, the parking lot was quite full. It seemed that the museum was really popular. But most of them were there to play at the miniature golf course next to the museum.103 views
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Statue of Masao Mimatsu.103 views
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New Chitose Airport's Central Plaza103 views
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New Chitose Airport's beautiful Central Plaza.103 views
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Numerous flower beds in the park.103 views
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Inside Otaru Station103 views
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Hot spring foot bath is also popular with visitors.102 views
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G8 Summit welcome sign near the museum.102 views
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After a long walk uphill with a bicycle, Showa-Shinzan is in sight. Showa-Shinzan is in the town of Sobetsu.102 views
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit welcome sign at Usuzan Ropeway terminal.102 views
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View of Sapporo Station's north side from JR Tower.102 views
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My YouTube video of Iolani Palace at the Sapporo Snow Matsuri in 2010.102 views
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Inside New Chitose Airport at the check-in terminal, more G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit Welcome signs.101 views
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In my seat. Calbee is a sponsor, selling potatoes and potato chips.101 views
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Front entrance of the Clock Tower.101 views
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First floor corridor. Most of the rooms on the 1st floor are closed to the public.101 views
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Susukino Station101 views
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View of Sapporo Station's north side from JR Tower. Admission to JR Tower lookout deck on the 38th floor is 700 yen.101 views
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Otaru Station101 views
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Inside the Espoir lake cruise boat. This is the lower deck. The boat is obviously available for hire for private parties and cruises.100 views
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